Posts made in February, 2019

February 10, 2019 sermon

Posted by on Feb 17, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

February 10, 2019 This story occurs near the end of the first century. It is almost 100 years since the birth of Jesus of Nazareth and close to 65 years since his death on a Roman cross in the city of Jerusalem. A lot has happened during the time between Jesus’ death and now. Those first disciples who had followed Jesus while he lived and taught throughout the land of Galilee and Judea have managed to expand the number of people who now believe that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah the Jewish people had been hoping for. Through the work of the apostle Paul, possibly Jesus’ greatest evangelist, and the work of Jesus’ other disciples and followers, the Christian church, for that is what it is now beginning to be called, has spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Yet, Christianity remains a faith that is on the fringe of society and its adherents often need to meet in secrecy, depending on where they are located, out of fear of being persecuted. All of those first disciples, followers, and apostles are now dead and it is the second and third generation of Christians who are carrying on the message of and about Jesus. The city of Jerusalem was sacked by the Roman army about 25 years ago, the temple was destroyed, and the Jews have been dispersed across the Roman Empire. The Jewish people now worship in synagogues in various cities in Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, and beyond. Often the Jewish Christians worship in the same synagogues as they are part of the same Jewish families. For many years, those Jews who are leaders of these synagogues have tolerated their fellow Jewish Christian worshippers but the message of Jesus as the Messiah has opened a deep rift or wound between those Jews who believe Jesus was simply a great Rabbi or Teacher and those Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah or Anointed One. The letters of the apostle Paul were written over 40 years ago and are well-known within the Christian community. The Gospels known as Mark, Matthew, and Luke are only 20 years old at the most, and some were only written 10 years ago and are not as well-known and certainly not universally approved of by the Christian community. All of the Gospels were written after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and dispersed the Jewish people. A more recent document, known as the Gospel of John, was begun by a Jewish author a number of years ago and gone through two revisions by now as the Jewish Christians in the city of Ephesus prepare to begin their worship lives outside of the Jewish synagogue. The Jewish religious leaders have made it known that they will no longer tolerate this disruptive group of Jewish Christian members in their midst and have expelled them from their worshipping committee. It is in this situation that the fourth and final revision of the Gospel of John is being written. The fourth author is adding a prologue and an epilogue to the Gospel to reflect the current state of affairs in his community and give what he feels is a necessary explanation to this mystical Gospel which has been misunderstood by too many who read it. We pick up the story as this Author who we will call John, even though that is not his real name, puts the final touches to this Gospel or Good News of Jesus and prepares to share it with his Christian community. Almost twenty people are gathered in John’s house on a Sunday morning and have...

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February 3, 2019 sermon

Posted by on Feb 3, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

February 3, 2019 “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy!” (Jeremiah 1)Those are the words spoken by the prophet Jeremiah when he felt called by God to speak the Word of God to the people of Israel and was attempting to find a way to avoid this call. It seems that Jeremiah, like many people who feel such a call, was intimidated by it, felt anxious about it, and sought to escape from it. After all, often God asks such people to speak out against injustice, stand with the oppressed, proclaim freedom for those being held in bondage, and risk one’s own life for the benefit of others. At least that was how it was in the days of Jeremiah, and continues to be in many areas of the world today where speaking out against powerful rulers can lead to imprisonment, torture, and even death. Who wouldn’t try to get out of following such a call? Thankfully, it’s much safer to answer the call of God here in Canada, although it is not always easy, as shown recently as Canada speaks out against human rights violations throughout the world. Doing so often comes with a cost. So, what does it mean to be called by God? Some might say it means a person has to become a religious leader or dedicate one’s life to charitable causes. Others might claim a person called by God to proclaim God’s Word needs to study scripture endlessly and spend many hours in prayer and contemplation. Still others may have other ideas about what the call of God means. But do we really have to make it more than it is? In my opinion, most people feel the call of God at various times in their lives. When we celebrate the sacrament of baptism, those who choose to be baptized and those presenting an infant for baptism are feeling this call in some way. The call of God, in my opinion, is nothing more and nothing less than the call to love God and love one another. In the Christian tradition, answering that call means being baptized in the name of Jesus, who demonstrated love of God and love of others amazingly well. We teach that baptism helps a person to grow in love as the Spirit of God makes itself known in that baptized person’s life. There is a song sung by Jackie DeShannon that says, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love; it’s the only thing there’s just too little of; no, not just for some, just for everyone.” In the letter of Paul to the Corinthians, the author writes: “And now, faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13) Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, God will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather God will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?” There are many other people who have spoken or written about love, both well-known and powerful people, and little-known and everyday people. It seems all people instinctively know that love is probably the greatest gift anyone can ever give and receive. Being called by God is simply a call to live one’s life with love. That is what we hope for all people baptized into the Christian faith. That is what...

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