Sorry ____, God is Not on Your Side – A Sermon for Sept. 20

Texts: Jonah 3:10-4:11; Matthew 20:1-16

We can read the book of Jonah like a parable. It’s a bit like the book of Job in this way. Both of these books reference some known people or places, but neither is really intended to relate historical events. Instead, what both Jonah and Job do is present a story as an invitation to think about difficult things. Difficult things being the ways of God with the world and the ways of our hearts with God. Continue reading “Sorry ____, God is Not on Your Side – A Sermon for Sept. 20”

Sermon for Sept. 6 – Debt, Love and Courage

Text: Romans 13: 8-14

I want to use my time today to encourage us to think about two virtues. A virtue is a quality of character. A virtue is an expression of who we are. All of us cultivate virtues over time. And the virtues we cultivate, or the virtues we practice, go a long way in determining how we respond to the things that happen to us. Down through the ages, this language of virtue has been a way for Christians to connect with good people outside the faith. Hope, self-control, justice, bravery, joyfulness, patience—these are virtues our neighbours praise and respect, just as we do.

I want to commend two virtues here: the virtue of love (of course) and the virtue of courage. Let’s do this in conversation with Paul’s words from Romans chapter 13. Continue reading “Sermon for Sept. 6 – Debt, Love and Courage”

Sermon for Sunday, August 16 – “Send her away. She keeps shouting at us.”

Texts for August 16 -Matt. 15: 10-28

Some time ago I came across an essay suggesting that pets introduce us to theology. The basic idea was that we don’t learn about God only from parents or teachers. We learn about God from animals. I forget the name of the theologian who wrote the piece. Before we dismiss the idea, think about this: several early Anabaptist leaders were known for advocating what they called the “gospel of all creatures.” It’s the idea that somehow the good news God displays in the life of Jesus is good news for, well, all creatures. Or consider this: the end of the Gospel of Mark (in what we refer to as the long ending of Mark) Jesus instructs his students to “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” We could add on here a list of saints who affirmed the gospel of all creatures and other biblical passages that show God cares for more than just people. Continue reading “Sermon for Sunday, August 16 – “Send her away. She keeps shouting at us.””

Homily for Sunday, July 26 – Of Fungi and the Kingdom

Texts: Psalm 105:1-11, 45b; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a rock star biologist, but if there is then E.O. Wilson is one. Wilson is retired now. He’s hook-nosed and in his 90s. But he remains one of the world’s leading experts on ants. Wilson spent his career teaching biology at Harvard, doing field research, writing books, and winning a slew of awards. E.O. (or Ed) Wilson is a fierce advocate for protecting and mapping the full diversity of life on earth. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, July 26 – Of Fungi and the Kingdom”

Homily for Sunday, July 12 – The Pressure Sparrows Feel

Text: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Creator God, in the loveliness and intricacy of your world may we see the beauty of your infinity.  

Canadian birds have recently made an appearance in the New York Times (and the Smithsonian Magazine, the CBC News, ABC News, Popular Science, NPR and even the Technology Times of Pakistan). All of these news outlets have recently run stories about Canadian birds, specifically, about the white-throated sparrow.

In the New York Times Cara Giaimo tells the story this way: several years ago two ecologists were together in some forest in western Canada. One was Scott Ramsay from Wilfred Laurier University. The other was Ken Otter from the University of Northern British Columbia. Scott, the fellow from Ontario, noticed something strange. The birds were singing something weird. His ear had caught the song of the sparrow. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, July 12 – The Pressure Sparrows Feel”

Homily for Sunday, July 5 – Bounding over the Hills

Texts: Song of Solomon 2:8-17; Matt. 11:28-30

The voice of my beloved!

Look, he comes, leaping over the mountains,

bounding over the hills.

My beloved is like a gazelle

or a young stag.

Whenever I hear lines from the Song of Solomon I remember how a woman at a church I once attended would read them. She would pretend to swoon and would fan her face. I always believed she meant it as a joke. Texts like these read in church can make us shifty. But I also thought her little bit of acting did a good job highlighting how this part of scripture cuts through our moldy piety.

Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, July 5 – Bounding over the Hills”

Homily for Sunday, June 21 – “I Have Not Come to Bring Peace, but a Sword.”

Texts for June 21, Psalm 86: 1-13; Matthew 10:24-39

“Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth.” Many have repeated that line, but far fewer have meant it.

In 1935 an American religious leader named Howard Thurman led a “friendship delegation” to India and British Ceylon, what is now Sri Lanka. Thurman would have been 36 at the time. One day, after giving a talk at a law college, he was invited by the principal to have coffee. The two men drank their coffee in silence until the principal asked a question. He asked what Thurman was doing there. The principal knew the intention of the friendship delegation, but what he didn’t know was why Howard Thurman, a black man, would come there as a Christian. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, June 21 – “I Have Not Come to Bring Peace, but a Sword.””

Homily for Sunday, May 31

Readings for Sunday, May 31 – Acts 2:1-21; Numbers 11:24-30

Today is Pentecost Sunday. The age in which we’re living is an “age of authenticity.” This is a strange pairing. I’ll say a bit more about that in a moment, but first let’s consider a story. We’ll begin with this lovely little line from Numbers 11:19. God, speaking to the Israelites through Moses, says this: “You shall eat [meat] not only one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you.Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, May 31”

Homily for Sunday, May 17

Sunday, May 17 – Reading: Acts 17:22-31

I really like the image of the Apostle Paul going through the city of Athens and looking the place over. Did he look like a tourist or like an anthropologist? We know that he was especially intrigued with the Athenian’s “objects of worship.” He would have studied the temples dedicated to the old Greek gods. He might have run his hands over monuments connected to the Roman imperial cult. People would have hurried past him as his mind mulled over all that he saw. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, May 17”

Homily for Sunday, May 3

Sunday, May 3 – Reading: Acts 2:42-47

The book of Acts tells us about the early church. Acts is intended to be read as an extension of the story told in the Gospel of Luke. If you would have asked an early Christian how to follow Jesus after the resurrection they would have said, “Come join us and see.” In the minds of those believers there was no such thing as lone-ranger Jesus following. The distinction we sometimes make between spirituality and religion would have made little sense to them. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, May 3”