130915 – Ocean- Into the Deep

ocean-dropYr C ~ Creation 1 ~ Luke 5:1-11

This is our third time marking the Season of Creation together. It’s a short liturgical season that leads us to consider spiritual metaphors based in the natural world. It challenges us to tune our hearts to see the Sacred in all of creation.

It does not mean I’m trying to turn you into creationists—people who tend to interpret the Genesis story as 6 literal days (or ages) of creativity by God and who argue for a young earth of only several thousand years. As comedian Lewis Black says when arguing with a creationist, “Fossils, fossils, fossils, I win!”

And I’m also not trying to turn you into caftan-wearing paganists. The Season of Creation is just about seeing God’s presence and blessing beyond Jesus and the bible. If God really is at the heart of all reality then we shouldn’t have too difficult a time seeing God in the reality that surrounds us—if we’d look!

This season is not saying that trees equal God. It’s saying that God’s Sacred Presence is not just beyond us, but is also infused within everything and everyone – and that deserves our attention. The Season of Creation doesn’t seek to worship creation, it seeks to draw on and explore the metaphors that creation offers for insights into God.

My message titles for the next four weeks are: Into the Deep (Oceans), Into the Wild (Fauna/Animals), Into the Wind (Storms), and Into the Sacred (Cosmos). We’re going INTO each realm to see what it can reveal to us about the Holy Mystery we call God. read on

130908 – The Fine Print

Walking-Water1Yr C ~ Pentecost 16 ~ Luke 14:25-33

If you’re walking through a forest of evergreen trees and you happen upon a giant maple, does that make it a deciduous forest? But you have to wonder ‘why is it there? What does it mean?’ Maybe the wind randomly blew a seedling there and up it sprouted. Or it could have been planted in that spot for some sort of specific purpose. The moral of the story is that you can’t simply dismiss something anomalous when you find it – you have to do a little work to make sense of it – and you have to be prepared to discover that it’s possible there is no sense.

In the case of Jesus telling us to “hate” our families though, there is a profound message to be heard. We just have to work for it! In this case the culprit is our modern ears.

I’d like you to think about this whenever you come across a verse of scripture like this. Does it sound like Jesus to you? Does it sound like something that the Holy Mystery we call God is really all about? If not, then it means one of a few possibilities:
Maybe it was added in by someone with an axe to grind.
Maybe it was added in by someone who wished Jesus had said it.
Maybe he actually said it but the turn of phrase meant something different in their time.
Or maybe he actually said it but the translation is misleading.

“Hate” doesn’t mean what you think it means here. read on

130901 – Walk This Way

walk-lightYr C ~ Pentecost 15 ~ Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

We’re just going to work our way through this passage verse by verse this morning.

13:1 Let mutual love continue.
What a great place to start a message about walking the Way of Jesus. Let mutual love continue. That’s the heart of is, isn’t it. Mutual love. Mutual love is a beautiful way of paraphrasing Jesus’ third commandment – love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34). It’s not a one-way love, it’s about mutuality. And it’s a message aimed directly at you – the church, the body of Christ in a particular place.

And I love that it says “continue!” – implying that mutual love is already in practice, which, if anyone has looked around this place for any length of time you would see being lived out in abundance. Faith United is rocking this verse! Let your mutual love continue – continue to love one another as Jesus loved – keep up the awesome work and witness!

So we’re doing great at verse 1. How are we doing at the rest of the passage? Pretty good, I’d say. Let’s have a look. It’s a series of exhortations to individuals and the church about how to walk this Way of Jesus. On their surface they’re pretty obvious. It’s kind of motherhood and apple pie stuff. And yet, if we go a little deeper we start to see how counter-cultural and challenging walking this Way can be. read on

130310 – Rocky Road 4 – The Offer

Yr C ~ Lent 4 ~ Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 

We are in the middle of our Lenten journey and we continue to explore texts that challenge us and show us that our path is often unsettling. We’re on a rocky road, such is life, but we are not alone. Today we encounter what might be the most famous story that Jesus ever told. It’s the parable of the prodigal, and it is designed to shake you up and offend you. Are you ready?

There are so many ways to preach this text. I’ve heard it said that if you could only have one text, one parable, one example of Jesus’ teaching, that this story of the prodigal would be the one to pick because it has it all. read on

130303 – Rocky Road 3 – The Invitation

rooted-cooperating.jpgYr C ~ Lent 3 ~ Luke 13:1-9
Let me begin by saying that I suspect that some of you are not going to like where I take you today. We may be traversing the rockiest part of our Rocky Road. We’re going to tackle one of the hardest questions people of faith ever have to wrestle with this morning, and what it means to our faith journey. The question is: If God is perfect, loving, and good then why is there unjust suffering? Although I should warn you right up front that I think the question itself is deeply flawed!

In Luke 13 we hear of a couple of news stories that would fit right in with today’s 24-hour news networks. First, Pilate apparently had some people killed while they were worshipping – their blood mingled with the blood of the sacrifices they were offering. A horrific story, not attested to in any other places but also not out of the realm of possibility considering Pilate’s reputation for ruthlessness. And second, a story about how 18 people were killed when a tower fell on them.

Jesus asks: Do you think these who died were worse sinners than the other people around who didn’t die? Why them? Did they have it coming? In a Clint Eastwood movie called “Unforgiven” a young man who has just killed a man says, “Well, I reckon he had it coming.”  To this the grizzled old gunslinger played by Clint Eastwood replies, “We all got it coming, kid.”

Hmm. Do we all have it coming? Does suffering indicate we did something wrong? I don’t think so. But the question remains – how do we account for unjust suffering in the world? If God is so great why do innocent people suffer? read on

130224 – Rocky Road 2 – The Bar

high-bar-kid.jpgYr C ~ Lent 2 ~ Philippians 3:17-4:1  (Iain Buchanan preaching)
I think that if Saint Paul were around today, he might be wearing a t-shirt something like this. YOLO.   If you haven’t heard it before,   YOLO is an acronym for “you only live once”. It implies that one should enjoy life, even if that entails taking risks. The phrase and acronym are especially popular in youth culture and music of today thanks to the hip hop song “The Motto” by Canadian rapper Drake. However, the phrase “you only live once”  has been in use for over 100 years.  It was the title of a waltz by Johann Strauss II in 1855. In November 2012, the Oxford American Dictionaries included the slang term “YOLO” in its shortlist for the 2012 English Word of the Year.  There’s your dose of trivia for today!

You only live once.  So what?  I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.  Since we only live once, we try to make the most of life, treasure every moment, take nothing for granted, and the like.   There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?  Ah, but wait, we need to see what’s on the back of the t-shirt too.  What would you expect the message on the back of Saint Paul’s t-shirt to say?   I think it would read something like this:  “Follow my example.”
So how many of us would walk around wearing a t-shirt boasting:  Follow my example?  Would you be comfortable in someone following your example? Is your example one that would encourage others to be more Christ-like? read on

130217 – Rocky Road 1 – The Choice

jesus-tempted-self.jpgYr C ~ Lent 1 ~ Luke 4:1-13
Lent is a season of prayer, reflection, confession, and commitment. The themes in Lent tend to be more challenging, more weighty, and we find ourselves squirming a bit sometimes when the subject matter strikes close to home. Following the Way of Jesus is no walk in the park. Traditionally, Lent symbolically follows Jesus as he moves closer to Jerusalem and the cross. His wasn’t an easy road to walk either.

So I’ve called our Lenten journey this year a Rocky Road. Hopefully two things instantly pop into your mind when you hear “rocky road.” One is the obvious – that we are following a path and from time to time there are bumps along it, places that are hard to walk on, where our footfalls are unsteady and we’re worried about losing our balance.

Or when the rocks on the road are big and jagged and we have to be careful figuring out how to move around and between them for fear of what they might do to us. We’d prefer a well worn path or a freshly paved highway to travel on, but that is not always available, or desirable. The narrow way is better, even though it’s sometimes rocky.

And the other rocky road I hope comes to mind is the ice cream flavour. A delicious, chocolaty treat with smooth bits and a bunch of chewy and bumpy bits that create some excitement and add joyfulness and surprise to our tastebuds. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see the rocks on our path like we see the “rocks” of rocky road ice cream – as delicious, surprising bits of wonder that bring something special to the experience? read on

130210 – Really

field-veil-illusion.jpgYr C ~ Transfiguration ~ 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Transfiguration Sunday is one of my favourite parts of the church year. Transfiguration means pretty much the same thing as transformation but it has the added connotation of being glorified – it’s a special spiritual transformation.

I love everything about the story. I love that it begins by telling us that Jesus went away to pray. I love that. The idea of Jesus needing to cultivate his prayer life, of Jesus needing quiet time, inspires me to do the same.  In fact, this transformation or transfiguration had to take place in a quiet place – it couldn’t happen amid the noise and distractions of regular life. We can be spiritual in the noise, obviously, but it’s virtually impossible to really focus on God when you’re distracted – even for Jesus!

I love that Jesus had this profound transformative spiritual experience, or possibly we could call it a mystical experience. He was said to be enveloped or enfolded in dazzling light, or a cloud. Mystical experiences are like that – ineffable, inexplicable, they lose everything in translation. But of course he had a mystical experience – he’s Jesus after all! He’s directly connected to God in a profound way.

Now for the best part! We turn our attention to 2 Corinthians 3 and we hear Paul say that WE ARE TOO!

We are directly connected to God in a profound way too! Not just Jesus. It’s not just for the spiritual superstars (whoever they might be) but profound transformative spiritual experiences (or maybe even mystical experiences) are for you! read on

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