Showing posts from 2017

Christmas and the Grinch

Luke 2:1-20
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!Now, Please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.But I think that the most likely reason of allmay have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
But,Whatever the reason,His heart or his shoes,he stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos, Christmas seems to always include a Grinch. There is always someone who just doesn't get caught up in the season. They are doubters and scoffers. The decorations are offensive to their eyes. The music annoys them. They feel busier than they want to be. There are too many people in the stores. Parking is awful. The streets are slippery. And, they are resentful at the social pressure to conform to the season. In response to "Merry Christmas" inwardly they "Bah Humbug".

Of course some of us have good reasons to not be in the Chris…

Advent 4- Mary and her song

Luke 1:26-38, 46-55

The mother of Jesus has had a particularly important place in Christianity. Tradition tells us that when Luke was writing his gospel he interviewed Mary, among others. Mary receives high praise in Scripture. The angel Gabriel comes to her saying, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you" (Lk 1:28). At seeing Mary her cousin “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’” (Lk 1:41-42). Recognizing her favored status Mary proclaims, “from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48).

We find Mary’s presence throughout the gospels. She created the context for Jesus’ first miracle in John when he turned water into wine (Jn 2). At the cross Mary is there with John as Jesus declares her his mother, and John her son. She is present with the disciples after the resurrection as well. She is also at the end of the Bible in Revelation chapter 12 where …

Advent 3- John the Voice

John 1:6-8, 19-28

In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe four children arrive in a mystical land called “Narnia”. It is a land ruled by a witch who has caused the whole land to become enchanted- her magic makes it always winter, but never Christmas. The land is still good, and there are still good creatures there, but it is an oppressed land. The potential of the land is locked away. The potential of the good beings there is repressed. The green grass is frozen under the snow. The trees are locked in a stasis. The good people are not free to do good, but have to avoid the eye of the minions of the witch. The potential for joy, for love, for laughter, for goodness is frozen.

The four children are at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver when they hear that someone is coming to help. … “’They say Aslan is on the move- perhaps has already landed.’ And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spok…

Advent 2- Being at home in God's presence

2 Peter 3:8-15

There is an interesting TV show Crystal and I saw recently. It’s called “The Good Place”. The premise of the show is that a woman named Eleanor has died and has arrived in the “Good Place” (as opposed to the “Bad Place”). The Good Place is for those who have done an incredible amount of good in their life and very little bad. So a kind of paradise has been created for them by an “architect” named Michael, who seems to be a kind of angel.

Eleanor soon realizes that she doesn’t actually deserve to be there. Someone with her same name died at the exact time she did and there was a mix up. The other Eleanor was a human rights activist and a lawyer who got people off death row who were wrongly convicted. … This Eleanor actually deserved to be in the “Bad Place”. She actually worked selling fake drugs to seniors over the phone, and was just generally not a great person. … Eleanor then goes about both trying to hide the fact that she doesn’t deserve to be there, and also trying…

The Spirituality of Apocalypse

Mark 13:24-37
Advent throws a lot of us off. For most of us Advent is about preparing for Christmas. We are putting up Christmas lights on our houses, and our Christmas trees in the living room. We are starting to hear Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby echo in the stores. We settle into the fact that winter isn’t going anywhere, and we even hope for a white Christmas.

Then we come to church and it is doom and gloom- “in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken”. … It’s a far cry from “baby, it’s cold outside” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. It seems like every year we are caught off guard. We want to jump into Christmas carols and there is some liturgical Grinch holding it all back and telling us we have to think about this thing called Advent.

Advent means “coming” or “arrival”. It is the season when we think abo…

Christ in disguise

Matt 25:31-46
This is a challenging passage of Scripture. I think everyone who cares about being a disciple of Jesus hears these words and feels a little twinge of fear wondering if we are doing all we can.

Jesus is going to judge all of humanity, and what is the basis on which he going to judge humanity? He is going to judge humanity on the basis of how they treated him when he came to them in a kind of disguise. He is disguised as the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned.

There are a couple of ways we can interpret this passage. To the original hearers they would have probably heard Jesus speaking about his disciples going out to the nations. Jesus speaks about the “least of these my brothers and sisters”, which would most likely refer to his disciples. You might remember that when Jesus sends out his disciples in Luke chapter 10 he gives them directions saying, “Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, … Whatever house you enter, first say,…

What do you do with what God has given you?

Matthew 25:14-30
We find our parable today surrounded by teachings having to do with Jesus’ second coming and how we are to live in the meantime.

The parable before today’s reading is about the ten bridesmaids. Five were wise and were prepared with enough oil to last through the night, but five were not wise and their oil ran out. While they were out buying more oil the groom arrived and the wedding began without them. The lesson is to be prepared for his arrival. The second coming of Jesus is the groom’s arrival.

Next week our Gospel lesson is about Jesus separating the sheep and the goats depending on what they have done for Jesus in the guise of those who were in need- the hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison, those in need of clothing, or a stranger. The lesson here is that Jesus has so identified with those in need that whatever we do for those in need it is as if we have done it for Jesus himself. And, as much as we haven’t served those in need we haven’t served Jesus ei…

Remembrance Sunday

Micah 4:1-5; 1 Thess 4:13-18; Matt 5:38-44 
Before I begin, I just want to say that not everyone is going to agree with what I'm about to say, but I hope that leads us to deeper conversation and thought.

I find Remembrance Day to be a difficult day, which is probably how it should be. I would like to share a bit of that struggle with you this morning. I think it is important to remember the suffering endured in times of war. It is important to remember how fragile peace can be. It is important to remember the sacrifices of those who tried to do something to bring peace because to sit back and do nothing was a worse evil. It is also a day to remember Jesus' words to us about violence and enemies.

When I think of Remembrance Day I primarily think of my grandparents telling me about their time in Holland. My Opa spoke about being dragged out of bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night and being robbed by Nazi soldiers. My Oma tells me about her brothers …