Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pentecost 19A (Farewell Sermon at Good Shepherd)

...Good Shepherd is better than that. I know you’re better than that because I’ve seen you be better. You have worked too hard to build this church into the loving, caring, dynamic congregation that it has been through most of your history. You have prayed too many prayers together to allow this church to descend into division.

You have been to too many bedsides, visited too many shut-ins, attended too many funerals, danced at too many weddings, witnessed too many baptisms, sang too many hymns, ate at too many potlucks, and received too many eucharists, together to simply walk away from the life you have created, from the years of faithful service, from the love that has bound you together since the church began.

You are STRONGER and you are BETTER than anything that threatens to destroy what has been so carefully and lovingly built.

I know that you are stronger and better than your divisions because...(whole thing here)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sermon: Pentecost 18A

You can almost feel the tension rising. The way Matthew tells the story is that time after time, Jesus encounters these religious leaders who were trying to trap him, condemn him, and reveal him as a fraud, and time after time Jesus humiliates them.

This morning’s reading was probably the encounter that broke the camel’s back for both of them.

The religious leaders probably thought they were going to trap him once and for all. They start by buttering him up, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you don’t show favouritism. Tell us then, what do you think, Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?”

But Jesus sees right through them. And uses some pretty strong language,” Why are you trying to trip me up, you hypocrites?”

Then he asks, “Who has one of those idolatrous coins on them, the ones that taxes are paid with?” One of the religious leaders fumbles in his pocket and pulls out a coin.

“Whose head is on this coin and what’s his title?” Jesus asks holding the coin to their noses and his eyes lazar-beamed into theirs.

“The emperor’s” they respond.

“The give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s and the give to God the things that are God’s,” Jesus snipes, throwing the coin back at them.

On surface, Jesus seems to be...(whole thing here)

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sermon: Pentecost 17A/Thanksgiving

I have a confession to make: I find preaching on Paul’s Letter to the Philippians really hard. It’s not that there no content to work with. Like all of Paul’s letters, this letter is overflowing with wisdom. And it’s not as if I have trouble understanding what Paul is trying to say, although, I do gain more insight his message every time I read it.

It’s just that Paul seems to be writing with a perpetual smile on his face. He seems abnormally happy. Which is particularly jarring given his circumstances. He’s sitting in jail knowing that, at any time, the cell door could open, and he’d be taken away to die an excruciating death.

But he sounds almost giddy in this letter. Which I find unsettling. I don’t know if I’d be in such a good mood where I in his position. I don’t know from where I’d summon the strength to get through the day, much less write a hope-filled letter to a struggling church that I just founded.

Of course, we can say that...(whole thing here)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Sermon: Pentecost 16A

One of the things they tell us in preaching class is to NOT use ourselves as positive examples of gospel living. The preacher should never be the spiritual superstar in the sermon.

It’s arrogant. It assumes that the preacher is on a higher spiritual plane than the listener. It suggests that its the preacher’s behaviour the listener is supposed to model rather than Christ’s.

It puts the preacher in the centre of the sermon, rather than God. And the pulpit is not the place to show off the preacher’s spiritual prowess.

Paul would have failed that class. He wouldn’t have listened to instructions. He’s not afraid to plop himself down right in the middle of his proclamation. He inserts himself into a story that he did not create.

Just look at...(whole thing here)