Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sermon: Lent 3A

Last week, Jesus encountered Nicodemus. This week, he meets the woman at the well. And the two encounters couldn’t be more different.

Nicodemus is a man. She’s a woman. Nicodemus arrives at midnight. Jesus meet the woman at noon. Nicodemus is a highly educated, a greatly respected moral and religious leader.

The woman is an outcast, forced to retrieve her water from the well under the hot sun, instead of during the cool morning breeze, with the rest of the women.

He’s received honours throughout his life. She’s been rejected by most people who knew her.

I’m more like Nicodemus than I am like the woman at the well. I think most of us here are as well. We may have our fair share of rejection in our lives, but we managed to get through it with the help of friends, family, and fellow church members.

While the woman at the well has been the victim of her circumstance, she was also a survivor. She lived in a culture that placed woman in the same category as livestock. She observed a religion on the fringes of her world.

She was a member of a race that was met with hostility by the surrounding peoples. Her family was held together by the flimsiest of strings. She bounced from one bed to another, just to secure food and shelter for another night for herself and her children.

We know his name. We don’t know hers.

Like I said, I have no idea who this woman is. I can’t imagine what her life is like.

Despite the pain I’ve experienced in my years, I can’t measure it against her suffering. I can’t put myself in her dusty sandals. I don’t see my face in hers. She’s a stranger to me.

I’m guessing it’s the same...(whole thing here)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sermon: Lent 2A

“Ask me what I know,” he told me, “don’t ask me what I believe.”

This was from a well-known bible scholar, who, in a moment personal honesty, confessed that what he knew intellectually after a lifetime of dissecting ancient texts, was different than what he believed personally.

It wasn’t that he didn’t believe the Christian faith to be false, or that what he learned from studying the bible all those years turned out to be a fabrication or delusion. He had no malicious intent.

“Ask me what I know. Don’t ask me what I believe....Because,” he said, “I don’t know what I believe. I’m still searching.”

I appreciated his openness. It couldn’t have been easy for him to share his personal faith crisis with some young punk who had more answers than there were questions.

Sharing his doubts was his way of saying that a lifetime of searching doesn’t necessarily mean a lifetime of finding.

Just ask...(whole thing here)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sermon: Lent 1A

In a sermon a few months ago I asked you, “How would you recognize God’s voice if you heard it? And how would you know it was God’s?”

Today, I want to adjust the question a little, and ask, “How would you know the Devil’s voice if you heard it? What does the voice of evil sound like? How would you know evil if it was sitting across the table from you?”

On the surface, the answer may sound obvious. Just listen for the sound of the guttural voice, growling under your bed at night.

Or you look for the goateed fellow in the red pajamas and pitch fork standing on your shoulder, whispering naughty suggestions in your ear.

Or the guy with horns growing out of his forehead, laughing at you while you try to follow the bible’s moral guidance.

Is that what you hear when you listen for the voice of evil?

Or maybe you’re not so fanciful. You know that there’s evil in the world and it bears no resemblance to a cartoon character. You’ve seen it. Heard it. And felt it.

Maybe for you, the voice of evil is...(whole thing here)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.

Today is about death. Your death. My death. There’s no sugar-coating or watering it down. We are dust and to dust we WILL return.

And you came to hear this message. Many of you were here last year as well, so it’s not as if this was a case of bait-and-switch. You knew what you were getting into when you laced up your boots, put on your coats, and negotiated the dirty streets to get here.

You arrived expecting to hear that “you are dust and to dust you will return.” And if you didn't hear that message, you might just turn around and walk out.

And it’s not as if you didn’t have other options. Especially when we’ve had the first beautiful day in months and an evening walking might have been mighty tempting

But something drew you to this place to hear this specific message, a message that you probably wouldn’t hear anywhere else: “remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.”

Maybe you’ve come because...(whole thing here)