archive-ca.com » CA » S » STJOHNSMEDICINEHAT.CA

Total: 543

Choose link from "Titles, links and description words view":

Or switch to "Titles and links view".
  • Will that be honey or mustard?
    keep this theme in mind when we turn to chapter 17 and the reading set for today Luke has been lining up more ammunition against the Pharisees in the parables of Jesus recorded in chapters 15 16 The lost sheep the lost coin the lost son these parables demonstrate to us how much care God will expend for the least and the lost No amount of trouble is too much trouble for God Then Luke records two parables about financial faithfulness stories in which Jesus urged people to recognize that we can t serve God and wealth at the same time Jesus was puncturing the popular faith of his day People believed that wealth was God s blessing No way argues Jesus Wealth distracts us from loving our neighbours Makes us slaves of the wrong master Luke presents Jesus stories as a challenge to the Pharisees But in chapter 17 we learn that Jesus challenge was almost too much for his own disciples So we d better pay attention too The disciples were people who left everything to follow Jesus just like Levi They weren t judgmental like those Pharisees They were sincere and committed to Jesus So they may have assumed that they were in God s good books Well then says Jesus think about this How do you treat each other when one of you offends or upsets another What do you when you re angry with each other You d better be prepared to sort it out Go to the one who s upset you lay it out on the table And if there s repentance if there s a willingness to repair things then forgive Let it go And if this happens seven times in one day be prepared to forgive seven times the same day Now by this point surely all of us who are brothers sisters parents children husbands wives or neighbours co workers want to say to Jesus You ve got to be kidding Forgive someone seven times in the same day Please Jesus I like to polish my resentments simmer my wounded feelings longer than that A few days a few years at least Jesus you expect too much of us Between verse four and verse five in our reading the disciples must have made some protest like this Told Jesus he was out to lunch Luke puts it a little more politely He says the disciples cried out Lord increase our faith You can t expect so much generosity of heart from us Jesus Such patience such forgiveness can only come from spiritual giants not from ordinary folk like us Picture Jesus shaking his head at this protest If you had faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to a tree Plant yourself in the sea and it would happen Jesus is saying we expect too little of ourselves as his followers If someone upsets us we feel the right to stay upset as long as we please

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2010-archive/48-will-that-be-honey-or-mustard?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive


  • When we don't feel all that thankful
    me tell you a few key things about the time in which he lived Israel was in big trouble as a nation The kings of Israel had chosen Egypt for their ally against the rising power of Babylon and its empire Remember that Babylon with its two ancient rivers the Tigris and the Euphrates was considered the cradle of human civilization Babylon was a military force to be reckoned with too under its king Nebuchadnezzar But Israel chose to forge an alliance with Egypt instead Now God s prophets had warned the kings of Israel for years to pay more attention to God s covenant than regional politics The prophet Micah for example warned the well to do in Israel to stop pampering themselves What does the Lord require of you he asked but to do justice love kindness walk humbly with God Micah 6 8 A century later when Jeremiah stepped on to the scene things had gone from bad to worse But now some prophets made their living by telling the King of Israel what he wanted to hear This Babylonian threat not to worry A few years and it will all be over God is on our side Things will be just fine It seems in every generation politicians can find pollsters and advisors to tell them what they want to hear But Jeremiah was too upset with the deal making around him to keep quiet He challenged the government prophets of the day and questioned their credentials They are not men of God said Jeremiah Listen to them at your peril His message was about as popular then as it would be now Jeremiah was arrested for his efforts but he would not keep quiet And sure enough the Babylonians scored victory after victory against the Egyptians and against Israel first capturing booty and then taking prisoners into exile Today s reading is part of a letter Jeremiah wrote to some of those first captives taken off to Babylon Try to imagine how you might feel if you had been captured and shipped off to a foreign land How would you view your situation How would you view your new home in that strange land How would you be thinking about God Well Jeremiah doesn t flinch He offers no word of comfort He sees the defeat exile of Israel s people as God s judgement for their betrayal of God s covenant And he knows that people might not feel like saying thanks to God who had delivered them into the hands of their enemies So Jeremiah offers these words about life in exile Build houses and live in them Plant gardens and eat the fruit Get married have children see your children married too Jeremiah is looking at Israel s life in captivity as a long prospect So he adds Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile pray to the Lord on its behalf For in its welfare

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2010-archive/54-when-we-dont-feel-all-that-thankful?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • The world is knocking
    Jesus Jesus Yes Peter Peter When the Son of Man comes do you think he will find faith on earth Jesus God will not give up on us God will keep knocking at your heart until you open the door uh Peter Peter Yes Jesus Jesus Where are you going Peter I just remembered my mother in law s neighbour has a door that s falling off its hinge I m going to fix it right now The world is knocking at our door Yesterday on World Food Day people around the world paused to reflect on food how scarce it is in some places and how much food prices have shot up there recently how plentiful food is in other places and how people often consume too much there Tonight we host an ecumenical conversation on food called Hunger for Justice because all around the world people try to balance the food supply and hungry appetites It s not an easy balance to achieve given unpredictable harvests in so many places and given the desire in the developed world to ask the developing world to grow food for us tomatoes bananas strawberries all those things we love to eat in January But when fields in hungry lands produce food for our tables children there often don t get enough to eat So the world comes knocking asking us to share asking us to pay fair prices and fair wages for the food we import asking us for help when crops fail and the cost of food goes through the roof if the hungry can afford a roof The world comes knocking And what will we say The world comes knocking again when poor and frightened people need a safe place to live Today we re showing a short documentary Seeking Refuge You ll hear the stories of four people who came knocking on Canada s door each from a different part of the world facing a different kind of danger These days Canadians don t know what to make of refugees Rather than greet them as strangers in need we tend to look on them with suspicion as if they re going to take advantage of us This summer a second boatload of Tamils from Sri Lanka raised many hackles But we should remember that between 85 and 93 of Tamils who made refugee claims in Canada in the last three years were granted refugee status That s double the average acceptance for refugee claims here The world comes knocking and before we slam the door Canada has agreed to hear the stories of those who come to listen carefully and critically so that those who truly need a safe place are not turned away Come and see the film You ll see that proving your status as a refugee isn t easy More people are turned away than allowed to stay When the world comes knocking it s important we learn the facts and not be swayed too

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2010-archive/55-the-world-is-knocking?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive



  • The Wrong in Righteousness
    assumptions about his faith As far as I can find out Mr Nenshi is an Ismaili Muslim And in my experience of dialogue with Canadian Muslims Ismailis are deeply committed to understanding their neighbours and working with us Christians and Muslims have to work through our present tendency to caricature each other and really try to understand each other s faith hopes The health and safety of the world depends on our willingness to move past righteous posturing and truly learn how to be good neighbours The parable we read today is all about such posturing It portrays the wrong in righteousness the temptation to become so self assured about the rightness of our own position before God and the world that we stand in judgement on everybody else The Pharisee in the parable would have been part of a spiritual renewal movement in Jesus day Pharisees held themselves doubly accountable to the Law The law said share a portion of your earnings with God so Pharisees shared a full tithe at least ten percent of everything they had sometimes more The law encouraged fasting and prayer once a week as a faithful stance before God so Pharisees fasted two days a week You get the picture Pharisees wanted to set a good example to others so they were doubly faithful in their righteous practice But Jesus parable lifts up the temptation for doubly good people We can become so assured of our own goodness our own rightness and righteousness that we begin to look down on lesser mortals people like the tax collector who just can t cut the mustard the way we do We justify ourselves by our own good opinions of ourselves and dismiss others without regard to their circumstances or honest hopes Jesus sees through this veneer of self righteousness with a pretty scathing conclusion All those who exalt themselves will be humbled Gee Wouldn t I like to email that reminder to all those American candidates slinging mud at each other Jesus could teach them a thing or two Ah but there s the catch I can be hooked by my own self righteous attitude toward the mud slingers All of us humble pie Presbyterians could begin to pray God we thank you that we are not like those Pharisees standing in judgement on poor folk like the tax collectors Thank you we re not like those Republicans Democrats slinging mud at each other We are your nice mild mannered disciples Thank you for making us so humble and polite With such a prayer with such a self perception we slip into the very shoes we think we re resisting The wrong in righteousness can sneak into our lives too whenever we think we re on the right track with no need of any correction to our own course The tax collector in the parable is praised because he recognizes his need for God s mercy God s correction God s leading He does not

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2010-archive/58-the-wrong-in-righteousness?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Three reasons to give
    tax collector like an old friend Jesus seems a little inconsistent here But then we remember all the stories Luke tells about Jesus spending time with tax collectors sinners Jesus didn t hesitate to receive the hospitality of these men who were regarded as collaborators with Rome So the way this story is told all the important conflicting themes in Jesus ministry suddenly converge in the character of Zaccheus And if we ve already come to the conclusion that the rich are out and marginalized are in we re challenged to think again The Gospel is not quite so straightforward in its judgements as we like to be This new reading of Zaccheus asks us to consider 3 possibilities to explain his generosity to the poor those he s cheated at work The first possibility is to argue that he s trying to win Jesus approval impress his guest and receive Jesus blessing Now this would be the weakest reading of the story but I think we can recognize this impulse as part of human nature People do give things away to friends to charity even to the church in order gain approval We might say to ourselves If I give generously God or my friends will surely bless me love me forgive me think well of me We give to get a result But this was one of Martin Luther s chief complaints against the church of his day He accused church leaders of currying favour with the rich to attract them to the church promising them eternal reward if they became benefactors So on Reformation Sunday Presbyterians have to shake our heads This is not our view of God We do not believe we buy our way into God s favour We don t give so that will God to save us That kind of thinking that reason to give makes a mockery of the Cross Zaccheus wasn t giving to impress Jesus and win his approval So what s another reason to give The second possibility is that Zaccheus acts with new generosity because Jesus has given him his approval Zaccheus repents of his former miserly hoarding and gives lots of his stuff away because he s so grateful to Jesus He wants to show Jesus his gratitude for God s mercy This is the most common reading of the story Many translations build this interpretation into their wording Both the NRSV and the New International translation probably the two most favoured translations in use right now spin out the story this way Lord Zaccheus says to Jesus I will give half my possessions to the poor I will repay anyone I ve defrauded four times what I took These translations suggest that Zaccheus is going to be generous from now on because Jesus has changed his life We understand this logic too When good things happen to you you feel more generous God has blessed me so now I will bless you Because Jesus loves me

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2010-archive/59-three-reasons-to-give?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Embracing Shalom
    populations promotes self reliance and addresses the root causes of poverty and injustice that take away from the dignity of people made lovingly by and in the image of our Creator God During August I accompanied the Rev Dr Herb Gale the 136 th Moderator of our church on his international visit that included Guatemala One of the places we visited is a special school often referred to as the Dump School This is a program where I have been involved almost since its beginning in 1995 Faithful support from a handful of Presbyterian congregations since its inception has transformed the once small and drab school located in the garbage dump in the middle of the capital city into a thriving oasis of over 300 eager children who learn how to read and write and hope for a future where they can seek gainful employment other than scavenging in the landfill or entering a very short and often violent life of youth gangs From its humble beginnings where the administrator and teachers of the school had to beg parents to let their kids go to school rather than accompany them to pick through mounds of garbage for edibles and recyclables the families now recognize the value of this special school that values the dignity of each student and provides them with tools to seek a better future In the beginning it was our eventual hope that we would have some who would reach the sixth grade Since then we ve had dozens of grade 6 graduates who continue their education to eventually graduate from high school thanks to Presbyterians like you who ve supported scholarships for them One of these young people is Ana who graduated as a teacher two years ago She is now a 2 nd grade teacher in the same school where she went for six years and is now able to give back to the same institution that offered her an alternative to a bleak or violent future so common to many young people She thanks you for the blessing that she has received She has taken a gift and will now return it ten fold to other children SHALOM You have helped to make this possible B is the name of a 10 year old student in Afghanistan whose picture I shared during my presentation last evening She is the top student in her grade She explained that she was frustrated not being able to learn more as she did not have all the required books Today she has all the required texts and notebooks as a part of a program initiated by PWS D with a local partner agency B shares with joy her desire to be a doctor one day to serve others in her community Her parents support her desire to study Her father by the way is an Islamic cleric in her community Who can see God smiling now when we Presbyterians through PWS D provide for the education of an

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2010-archive/61-embracing-shalom?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Who do you say that I am?
    booth and he said to him Follow me 28 And Levi got up left everything and followed him LK 5 27 28 A woman in the city who was a sinner having learned that Jesus was eating in the Pharisee s house brought an alabaster jar of ointment 38 She stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment Lk 7 37 38 These are not empty gestures They are costly acts in which people s lives are redirected reconnected redeemed that is to say these lives had their true worth restored That s part of Jesus attraction But right from the get go we know not everyone was so taken with Jesus Superstar My left foot Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question Who is this who is speaking blasphemies Who can forgive sins but God alone Lk 5 21 Even John the Baptist whom Luke considers Jesus own cousin wasn t too sure what to make of Jesus and his reputation his healing his teaching his confrontations with the powers that be The disciples of John reported all these things to him when he was in jail So John sent two of his disciples 19 to the Lord to ask Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another Lk 7 18 19 The local Roman governor didn t want to wait for his answer Herod got rid of John the Baptist who was just a bit too critical of Herod s shenanigans So Herod cut off his head But then Herod didn t know what to make of this Jesus fellow who seemed even more challenging Herod said John I beheaded but who is this about whom I hear such things And he tried to see Jesus Lk 9 9 Jesus Christ Superstar explores all these angles on Jesus what his friends thought how his enemies fretted and schemed how those who loved him deeply still struggled to understand Jesus vision his mission These are our struggles too Jesus can be so appealing so comforting so full of hope that we are drawn in he can also be so demanding so totally committed so outside the box that we draw back Like this lawyer we d like a clear answer to our questions about him J ust then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus Teacher he said what must I do to inherit eternal life Lk 10 25 And we d like the answer in 25 words or less thank you very much Jesus not one of those cute but annoying stories we never quite pin down Or like Martha we d like Jesus to take our side and sort out every situation in our favour But Martha was distracted by her many tasks so she came to him and asked Lord

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2010-archive/62-who-do-you-say-that-i-am?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • In Him
    faith in him Those early Christians in Colossae lived in him in Christ because they had a vision of Jesus significance for every created thing from the tiniest earthbound creature to the most glorious stars glittering in heaven s vast reaches To live in him in Christ was to catch this immense vision of how we mere mortals fit into God s great scheme of things To live in him in Christ was to sense the promise of peace reconciliation God set in motion when Jesus was born as we are when Jesus died as we do and when Jesus was raised firstborn of creation firstborn from the dead to initiate a new creation in which we will share if we can catch this vision too St Paul put it so simply for the Colossians In him in Christ all things hold together The Colossians had to commit to this vision of how Christ held all things together during a time of great upheaval only 25 or 30 years after Jesus lived and died The Colossians had to take this promise on faith for they were persecuted people subject to arrest humiliation by Roman authorities They couldn t see what would become of this movement which we now call The Church They had to live through uncertain discouraging times believing all things would hold together in Christ despite their fear They had to live believing that in him in Christ all things would hold together despite pain persecution And we are here today because they held this vision In Christ all things will hold together against all odds the odds St Paul faced as he wrote to them from his prison cell in Rome In Christ all things hold together It is this vision we are invited to hold against all the odds we face as individuals as a church It is a big vision It is a vision of the fullness of God embracing us in him in Christ JB Phillips an important Biblical scholar of the 20 th century wrote a memorable book in 1961 called Your God is Too Small Phillips worried that modern Christians were missing the all encompassing vision which inspired the Colossians The modern vision of God Phillips argued was too tame making God a buddy there at our behest to give us what we want He thought we d given up on a sense of God as the awesome power and purpose in whom all things in heaven earth hold together Perhaps these days JB Phillips could write a sequel entitled Your Church is Too Small But he wouldn t mean the numbers of folk in the pews No I think JB Philips would warn us that we can get so worried about congregational details so lost in our search for friendship and for worship that makes us feel just right that we lose our trust in the bigger picture of the Church which held the Colossians together in those early days the

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2010-archive/63-in-him?tmpl=component&print=1&page= (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive