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The Good Samaritan- Who is my neighbour?

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  Deuteronomy 30:9-14; Psalm 25:1-10; Colossians 1:1-14;  Luke 10:25-37 Today we are looking at the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The phrase “Good Samaritan” has entered into our language, and is used by people who don’t know it comes from the Bible. We have “Good Samaritan” laws that protect bystanders from liability who help people in trouble. “Good Samaritan” is a familiar phrase, but there is a lot that is in this parable that might not be so familiar. I thought we could spend some time walking through the parable and unpacking it a bit today. Jesus tells this parable in response to the questioning of an expert in the law. This expert starts by asking about how a person can inherit eternal life. This expert in the law answers Jesus’ question about how he understands the law by giving the two commandments that summarize the law-  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour a

Naaman is made clean

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2 Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; Galatians 6:1-16; Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 In our reading from 2nd Kings we encounter a powerful man, a commander of an army- and an enemy of Israel. This powerful man, named Naaman, contracts a skin disease. All his muscular strength, and wealth, and political power were unable to protect him from this. … This powerful man was powerless against this skin disease. In this powerful man’s house there was a little girl. She was not powerful. She was kidnapped by Naaman’s army, and he gave her as a slave to his wife. This powerless little girl becomes the key to healing this powerful man. … This little slave girl speaks to Naaman’s wife, and this little girl seems to have compassion for this man who has enslaved her. She also seems to have held onto her faith in the God of Israel, in spite of her circumstances. She says, "I wish my master would go and see the prophet who is in Samaria. He would heal my master of his skin disease." She continued to believe th

He has a legion in him- Lk 8:26-39

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1 Kings 19:1-15; Psalm 22:19-28; Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 8:26-39 Many of us who have been brought up in the modern west have a hard time believing in the idea of demons and spirits. … We tend to boil all evil down to psychological or sociological factors. … When there is a mass school shooting, we tend to say that the shooter has a mental illness. Or we might say that this is an expression of a toxic gun culture, or an expression of toxic masculinity. The shooter is a puppet, and the strings are pulled by psychological factors shaped by their past experiences and neuro-chemical makeup, or the strings are pulled by societal forces. … We won’t always hear a lot of talk about “evil”. … I’m not denying the power of psychological factors and sociological factors, but maybe that doesn’t give us the complete picture. When we read the Bible, what we will sometimes do when we read about a person with a bad spirit is say that the ancient world didn’t have a good grasp of mental illness or neur

Trinity Sunday

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  Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15 Isaac Newton once wrote in a letter,  “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. [1] What he meant was that he was building on the thinking and discoveries of those who have gone before him. This is ultimately what education should be. We should be learning from those who went before us, so we can benefit from their struggle, so that we can then build on that knowledge. Imagine someone who has an old pair of binoculars, and they set out to become a world class astronomer, but they want to start from scratch. They don’t want to be influenced by anyone else who came before them. They refuse to read any astronomy books, or take any classes on astronomy. They just go into their back yard at night and start looking at the sky. … Even if that person is a genius, they will only be able to get so far. … If that person is willing to learn from those who came before them, however, then they will be able

Pentecost

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  Genesis 11:1-9; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:8-17, 25-27 Jesus said that after he ascended to the Father, he would send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. The Spirit is not an impersonal force; He is a person. The New Testament usually refers to the Holy Spirit with the male pronoun, as Jesus does in our Gospel reading, where he says, “You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you” (Jn 14:17b). … Though, there are very old Syriac liturgies that used female pronouns to refer to the Holy Spirit, associating the Holy Spirit with the feminine Wisdom as we see in Proverbs 8. … Gender, when speaking about God is really a metaphor anyway, but I think it’s just helpful to know why sometimes pronoun use seems a bit more wiggly when talking about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given many names. The Paraclete, which means the “one alongside”. The Comforter, Guide, Counselor, Advocate, and Helper. He is called

The Ascension of Jesus

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  Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:15-23; Luke 24:44-53 Whenever I think about the Ascension, I think about a cell phone. Let me explain. With a cell phone, I can speak into a little microphone and it will transform my speech into a radio wave that can be sent to my brother’s phone in Vancouver, or just about anywhere else on the planet. … But there is a strange transformation that has to happen to my voice in order for my brother to hear it. My voice, which is audible to those standing near me, has to be transformed into radio waves, which are invisible and inaudible. In fact, my voice becomes completely imperceptible when it is transformed into radio waves. If my brother in Vancouver wants to hear my voice it has to be transformed into a state that can’t be heard. I think about that when I think about the Ascension of Jesus because Jesus was visible and audible. He was with his disciples for 40 days after he was resurrected from the dead. He met with them, they touched him, they at

Those who love me will keep my word- John 14

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  Acts 16:9-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5; John 14:23-29 In our Gospel reading today Jesus says, “‘Those who love me will keep my word…”. … I would like to take some time to look at that. … When a lot of us hear that, there might be a bit of panic that arises in us. Do I really keep Jesus’ word? Do I really love Jesus? It is important to define what Jesus means by “word”. Jesus says some things that we might have questions about regarding “keeping his word”. For example, In Matthew 5 Jesus says,  “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt 5:29-30). So, does this mean that if I love Jesus that I should pluck out my eye and cut off my hand? … This might be the case if what Jesus was giving