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Advent 1- The Coming of Christ

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  Jeremiah 33:14-16;  Psalm 25:1-10;  1 Thessalonians 3:9-13;  Luke 21:25-36 Today we are starting a new year in the church’s calendar. The Church year always begins with Advent. Advent is about expectation. It is about anticipating something that we have no control over. We read in Jeremiah, “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made” (Jeremiah 33:14). We can’t force this. Our impatience won’t make this come any faster. We are waiting for a door to open that we have no key for. Over our history, humanity has tried to make heaven come to earth on our own. … For example, the Late Victorian Era was known for its optimism and activism. Optimism is the pervasive belief that things are getting progressively better. Activism is the disposition towards acting to make change in the world.   For the Late Victorians they believed that Colonialism was about spreading civilization. They believed they were making the world a better place through the spreading

Christ the King Sunday

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2 Samuel 23:1-7; Psalm 132:1-12, (13-18);  Revelation 1:4-8; John 18:33-37 Today is “Christ the King” Sunday. Sometimes it is called the “Reign of Christ” Sunday. It marks the very end of the church calendar. It brings us to the ultimate end of history as we know it, which is the eventual recognition of all of creation that Christ is the ruler of all- that his love triumphs over hate and greed. That he is greater than all the false idols that try to tempt us into their worship- like money, power, and lust. Christ provides the ultimate meaning for our life, and is the ultimate power at the foundation of the universe. God has allowed a certain level of ambiguity to continue until the Day that all creation recognizes Christ as King. That ambiguity allows the question to remain in the air. This means that in our own day there are many possible answers to the question of the ultimate power of the universe and meaning of our lives. So, we are surrounded by alternative beliefs regarding the

Letter to the Hebrews

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  Hebrews Today what I thought we could do is to talk about the book of Hebrews. We often look at a smaller portion of a letter or book, but sometimes it is good to step back and look at the overall book. I thought we would do that today since we have had a number of readings from Hebrews over the weeks. Hebrews is a bit mysterious. We aren’t sure who the author is. There are a number of different theories. The author seems to be a “he” as he refers to himself using masculine grammar (11:32). He seems to have been highly educated based on writing style and vocabulary. He also seems to have known Timothy, who knew Paul. He may have known some of those who heard Jesus and the original disciples. So, he would be considered a second-generation Christian. He believed on the basis of hearing the witnesses of Jesus. The title is the “letter to the Hebrews”, but it doesn’t really follow the letter writing forms of the day. Hebrews seems to be a sermon that was probably written to be

Mark 12- The Widow's Gift

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  Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17; Psalm 127; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44 Our Gospel reading begins with a warning about the Scribes, who were among the religious experts of the day. They were the experts in the Scriptures. They were the ones who taught the people how to live according to God’s Law. They answered the tricky questions people had about God and how they should be living. In their culture, that also meant they were highly respected people. Jesus says,  “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers” (Mk 12:38-40). If you are looking to be admired, while also taking advantage of people, a great place to hide is where the culture will place you beyond accusation. … In a highly religious culture that is to become a religious authority. You can hide behind the robes

All Saints & All Souls

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  Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21:1-6a; John 11:32-44 In our readings this morning we hear a lot about the dead. First, in our reading from the book of Wisdom, which is a book found in the Septuagint. The Septuagint was a highly regarded Greek translation of the Old Testament from nearly 300 years before Jesus was born. It may very well have been the Old Testament that our New Testament authors were most familiar with. Some of those books didn’t make it into our Old Testament because some of the folks who were translating into vernacular languages during the reformation wanted to translate from Hebrew, rather than a Greek translation of the Hebrew. They couldn’t find Hebrew versions of some of those books, so they sometimes included them in a separate section called the Apocrypha and were considered to be beneficial to read, but didn’t have the same authority as the rest of Scripture. This reading today from Wisdom includes the lines,  “the souls of the righteous are i

Mark 10- Jesus said, "What do you want me to do for you?"

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  Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22); Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark10:46-52 Our Gospel reading today follows right after last week’s Gospel reading where we meet James and John asking for the place to the right and Left of the throne of Jesus. They thought that serving Christ was about power, authority, and glory. But they missed the cross. They didn’t understand yet that authority in the kingdom came with self-sacrificial love and service. Their discipleship to Jesus wasn’t only about them, it was for the benefit of others as well. They saw Jesus only in part, but, in a way, they were blind. … And, I don’t think it is a coincidence that the very next encounter they have on their journey to the cross in Jerusalem, is to encounter a blind man in Jericho. Jericho is on the way to Jerusalem if you are coming from Galilee. It is about 25 km to Jerusalem from Jericho as you come up through the Jordan River valley. There might also be some symbolism involved here, since Jericho was the first

Mark 10- Sharing in the service and suffering of the Messiah

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  Job 38:1-7, (34-41); Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35; Hebrews 5:1-10;  Mark 10:35-45 When we meet the disciples in our Gospel reading, they are on their way up to Jerusalem, where Jesus will soon be killed. The disciples obviously don’t know this, but as the readers, we know this, and I think Mark wants us to keep this in mind as we read this passage. James and John are part of the inner core of the disciples. You might remember that James, John, and Peter are often selected out from among the disciples by Jesus. They were allowed to be present when Jesus brought Jairus’ daughter back to life (Mk 5). They were the ones on the mountain with Jesus to witness the Transfiguration (Mk 9). He brought them aside at the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before he was taken by the authorities (Mk 13&14). So, these three seemed to have been the inner circle within the 12 Apostles. Given that James and John are a part of the inner circle, it isn’t completely out of nowhere that they request the places