Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sermon: Easter 6 - Year A

Do you remember the day when you received your driver’s license? How did it feel? Wasn’t it a glorious day?

I didn’t get mine until I was 19, and until then, I was content just taking the bus everywhere. Living in a city where the transit system didn’t suck, I got where I needed to go in good time and got a lot of reading done along the way.

But then my feet started to twitch. No matter how hard I scratched them, the twitching never stopped. I didn’t like being at the mercy of the bus schedule. I didn’t like having to carry around change, worrying they’d fall through the holes in my pockets. I didn’t like always having to remember to but new bus tickets every couple of weeks. I wanted to go where I wanted, when I wanted. I wanted my freedom.

Freedom. It’s how we define ourselves. We are free people. We live in “the true north strong and free.” If our freedom is intruded upon, we fight back. If our freedom is threatened, we resist.

Freedom is a right. It was hard won. Our fathers and mothers, our grandmothers and grandfathers, and even some of you, paid an incalculable price for our freedom. And we honour that sacrifice.

So we say our freedom is sacred. Putting a Christian colour on it. Something to respect, and rightly so. Freedom, after all, is a Christian virtue.

But then again, do we really know what “freedom” is? Has some of it’s biblical shine worn off?

What our culture means by “freedom” and what the bible says “freedom” is may be two very different things. Our culture talks...(the whole thing here)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Why Krister Stendahl read the Bible

Stendahl passed away a week ago and left a rich theological legacy. Here's a small taste.

...let me share with you as a tribute to the Bible—and perhaps in a strange way—five "no" statements. It is usual when one is describing love to describe it in positive and glowing terms. But my friendship with the Bible gave me the joy, and the courage, to express my love in five statements of "not." The first is the one I have pointed at: It is not primarily about me. Second, it is not always as deep as we think. Third, even Paul isn't always totally sure. Fourth, don't be so uptight. And fifth, it is probably not as universal as we think.

It is perhaps odd to express my love in such negative terms. But it is also perhaps in the line of that wonderful word of Jesus in chapter 15 of the Gospel of John: I do not call you any longer servants, but I call you friends. Somehow I became friends with the Bible. In the biblical tradition, and in the Jewish tradition, to be called the friend of God, you had to be one who argued with God. Abraham, arguing about Sodom and Gomorrah, was called a friend of God. Job was called the friend of God. To me, Jesus is the friend of God, because he argues with God. And so, these five "no's" of mine I bring to you as a sign of love and friendship.

The first "no" is the one which became the watershed in my love story with the Bible: It is not about me. In Galatians 3 it says that the law became, as many people translated, the tutor unto Christ. And I had learned, in good Lutheran theology—and John Wesley was on that line, too—that the law was for the preparation of my conscience. The law was the tutor, and tutored me so that I could fully understand not only what I should do, but also that I couldn't live up to it, and hence needed a savior. The law was a tutor unto Christ, preparing, tendering my conscience, so that my need for forgiveness would become so great.

Then I...(read the whole thing here. Top to bottom)
Thanks to Brian Rude for sharing this.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sermon: Easter 5 - Year A

So what do you think God looks like? If you could draw a picture of what God, what would God look like?

Would you draw a person? A bearded octogenarian with ripped abs scowling on a cloud, lightening bolt in hand?

Would you draw a nature scene, with radiant sunbeams shining luminously through soaring trees, with just the right mixture of light and dark to signify presence and absence, intimacy and mystery?

Would you draw a self-portrait, believing that since we are all created in God’s image, God looks just like each one of us?

Would you draw...(the whole thing here)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Planning for Earth Day - April 22

Here are some ideas to think about how you can make a positive impact for God's creation.

* Leave your car at home and reduce your automobile mileage by biking, sharing a ride, or taking public transportation regularly.

* Spring into green cleaning by using non-toxic household cleaning products with more natural ingredients and fewer toxic chemicals.

* Bring your own bags to the grocery store — it can take more than 1,000 years for a disposable bag to break down in a landfill.

* Support local farmers by buying locally grown food.

* Exchange your light bulbs for Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs in your home and work.

* Attend an Earth Day event in your local community.

Just a couple suggestions.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Debt Free! (almost)

Woo Whoo! I paid off my student loan at 11:46 this morning. No more monthly payments!

Also, no car payments (we paid cash for a second hand car that works AWESOMELY).

No credit card debt (we pay off the balance each month).

Only mortgage. But the good news is that our house as almost doubled in value over the past four years.

Just thought I'd brag a little. I'm in a smilin' mood today!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sermon: Easter 4 - Year A

So what IS our relationship to the world? For me, that is a hard question. And I think part of the problem is that Jesus was giving us mixed messages.

Jesus turns over the tables in temple, driving out the money changers, wreaking havoc at the centre of Jewish life and faith. But he also healed the Roman soldier whose ear was chopped off while he was trying to arrest Jesus.

Jesus stood in obstinate silence in front of Pilate, suggesting unspoken hostility toward those pagan Roman oppressors, yet expressed amazement at the faith of the tyrannical Roman guard whose son Jesus had healed, a guard who was probably never going to renounce his Roman religion and become a Christian.

And when backed into a corner and asked point blank if it is lawful and good to pay taxes to that disgusting wretch, Caesar, whose god-like image was stamped upon every financial transaction, Jesus had the opportunity to lay it all out on the line where he stood in relationship to the powers of this world. Instead he gave a non-answer. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s” H’uh? You’ve muddied the waters so thoroughly that nothing seems clear.

So, which is it, Jesus? Are we to embrace the world or reject the world? Are we to be salt and light for the world or are we to challenge its idolatry? How do we remain faithful in a faithless world? Jesus doesn’t seem to know what he wants from us.

All he says is...(the whole thing here)