Showing posts from 2020

Acts 17- To an Unknown God

Acts 17:22-31
Our reading from Acts today has some interesting lessons about sharing what we believe.

The first lesson has to do with knowing who you are talking to. The message has to be something the listeners can relate to. You don’t talk to a child the way you talk to an adult. You don’t talk to a Buddhist in the same way that you might speak to Muslim, or an atheist.

So who is Paul talking to here?

Paul has arrived in Athens. This is a city known for its philosophy. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were sons of the great city of Athens. It was a major center of culture, art, and religion. … As a modern equivalent, you might imagine a place like Oxford or Cambridge.

There were a couple of important philosophies floating around Athens at this time. The Epicureans believed that the gods didn’t have much to do with humanity. The gods gave no more thought to human beings than human beings give to ants. The universe was governed more by chance, than any sort of divine plan. They didn’t …

Acts 7- Stephen the Martyr

Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14
There is a great unity in our readings today.

In Acts we see the church after the resurrection of Jesus. They were marked by the resurrection power of Jesus. They were full the assurance of everlasting life as they followed their master. The followers of Jesus were fearlessly teaching, and their teaching was marked by healings and miracles, which confirmed them as having God’s stamp of approval.

Last week we read about how the members of the church were willing to sacrifice their goods to help those they cared about. They took care of those who were in need among them. At one point some of the Greek speaking widows were beings overlooked. So, the Apostles chose seven men who were full of the Spirit and wisdom to make sure that the needs of the Greek-speaking widows were met. This is where we get the order of deacons. In our reading today we meet Stephen, who was chosen as one of the seven.

Jesus said, 
“'Servants are no…

Acts 2- The Fellowship of Believers

Acts 2:42-47
In our Gospel reading Jesus says he came to give us abundant life. Assuming the early disciples were living the way of the abundant life Jesus was talking about
What we read about in Acts is a group of people who are caught up in God’s mission of love. After the resurrection, the power of God was still present in the disciples. … We read in Acts about what that community was like- 
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42). These are essential aspects of the early church, and they are also essential for the modern church.

First, when these early believers gathered they dedicated themselves to the teaching of the Apostles. “The Apostles” are understood to be those who spent time with Jesus while he was teaching before his crucifixion and resurrection. The Apostles were the ones who wandered the roads with Jesus as he went from town to town teaching and healing. They were the ones that were with hi…

Luke 24- Emmaus Road and the Hiddenness of God

Luke 24:13-35

In the Gospel today we read about two disciples leaving Jerusalem, “while they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him”. … After the resurrection, two disciples of Jesus are walking with their resurrected Lord and they don’t recognize him. Isn’t that strange?

This isn’t the only time this happens. We read that Mary Magdalene encounters Jesus outside the empty tomb, but for some reason she assumes he is the gardener … until he says her name. … People have tried all kinds of ways to explain this. Maybe she is blinded by her tears and her grief. Maybe seeing Jesus was too much for her mind to process, so she couldn’t see him. Maybe Jesus is hiding behind some bushes. … I’m not sure if Rembrandt meant his painting to be comical, but when he painted this scene Jesus is even dressed like a gardener! He has a big sun hat on and he’s even holding a shovel! It’s so amazingly odd!


John 20- Thomas and Doubt

John 20:19-31
Most of us have no problem relating to Thomas as he struggles to believe something that seems too good to be true. We live in an age of science and belief based on evidence. I speak to many people that are plagued by doubts. I meet many people who would like to believe but they feel they just can’t bring themselves to that point. 
If you struggle with doubts, it can be comforting to read about people like Thomas, who doubted the resurrection. … When Jesus meets the disciples in Galilee and they are standing in front of the risen Jesus as he is giving them the great commission to go out into the world to make disciples, Matthew tells us, “And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17). Believing isn’t always easy, especially in our world.

Thomas says he won’t believe “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side” (John 20:25). He wants proof. And, to be fair, h…

Good Friday

Like other liturgical Christians, Anglicans save the hopeful stuff for Saturday night and Sunday. So today is dark. We gather with the disciples who have prepared the body of Jesus and we place him in the tomb. We are here for a funeral. And like a funeral we gather to support one another in our grief. We are here to remember a death. Our Lord, our teacher, and our friend has been crucified. …. But, that in itself is not extraordinary. There are plenty of people who have been crucified.

There was a slave rebellion between 73 and 71 BC called the Third Servile War. About 120,000 rebel slaves were led by a man named Spartacus in revolt against the Roman republic. This led to about 6000 of his followers being crucified along the 200km stretch of road between Capua and Rome as a warning to those who would oppose Rome’s power. (Just to help you visualize that, if you drove from Olds to Edmonton that is just over 200km … Imagine every telephone pole is a crucified slave).

Psalm Sunday

Matthew 21:1-11;  Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 27:11-54

As Jesus enters the great city of Jerusalem some begin asking, “Who is this?”

It is a question that comes up a lot in the Gospels. Jesus calms the storm, “Who is this?” (Matt 8). Jesus declares a man’s sins forgiven and then heals him and the religious leaders ask, “who is this?” (Luke 7). Jesus asks his disciples “Who do people say that I am?” … and then “who do you say that I am?”

When people answer this question in the Bible they often get it wrong, or only partly right. Some of the religious leaders thought Jesus’ power came from demons and so he was some kind of dark magician. … Some called him a prophet, which is getting closer. At least he’s playing for the right team. Peter declared that Jesus is, “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mat 16:16). But, Peter still didn’t quite understand. Right after he declared this about Jesus he pulled him aside and began to scold him for saying that he w…

Raising Lazarus- John 11

Ezekiel37:1-14; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45
We speak about different kinds of death. 

Obviously, there is bodily death. Our heart stops beating. Our brain stops working. We breathe our last breath. We grow cold. … But we also speak about death in other ways.

Sometimes when a loved one dies we say things like, "A part of me died with them". The pain of grief can hurt to the point that we feel forever changed. The person we were before our grief is no more. Part of us has died. We can feel like our hopes and dreams dissolve when the person we wanted to share them with can no longer be a part of them.

We sometimes speak about the death of a relationship. When two people stop caring about each other, trying to revive the relationship can feel like trying to re-animate a corpse.

We sometimes say we feel “dead inside”. We can feel like we are zombies walking around, going through the same motions, doing the same things over and over, but not real…

Let us Pray

Let us pray:

O most mighty and merciful God, in this time of grievous sickness, we flee unto thee for succor. Deliver us, we beseech thee, from our peril; give strength and skill to all those who minister to the sick; prosper the means made use of for their cure; and grant that, perceiving how frail and uncertain our life is, we may apply our hearts unto that heavenly wisdom which leadeth to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (1928 American BCP, 45).

O Almighty and merciful God, with whom are the issues of life and death: Grant us, we beseech thee, help and deliverance in this time of grievous sickness and mortality, and sanctify to us this affliction, that in our sore distress we may turn our hearts unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (1929 Scottish BCP, 42).
Almighty and merciful God, in your goodness keep us, we pray, from all things that may hurt us, that we, being ready both in mind and body, may accomplish with free hearts those things which belong to yo…

Lent 4- John 9- Jesus heals a blind man

1 Samuel 16:1-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
All of our readings today talk about seeing. They talk about obscuring sight (such as darkness) and illumination (when light reveals what had been hidden in the darkness).

In our Old Testament reading the prophet Samuel is told to go to Jesse of Bethlehem and anoint one of his sons as the next king of Israel. The prophet Samuel thinks he sees the obvious choice, but God says, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). Unexpectedly, the youngest son, who they did not even consider bringing along, is the one chosen by God.

Our Epistle reading is all about darkness and light. “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light” (Eph 5:8).

And in our Gospel reading, just before healing a blind man, Jesus states, “I am the light of t…

Lent 1- Anatomy of Temptation

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Romans5:12-19; Matthew4:1-11
Our Genesis reading and our Gospel reading tell us a lot about temptation. I want to share something that I found particularly helpful.

When we think about temptation, we often think about being tempted to do something bad. Maybe we are tempted to cheat on our spouse. Or maybe we are tempted in anger to yell at someone we disagree with. … However, what our readings show us is that when someone is tempted to cheat on their spouse, they aren’t usually tempted by “adultery”. They think they are ‘following their heart’. They think they are chasing love. They aren’t tempted to do something bad; they are actually tempted to do something good. That is why we justify our sins. We will say things like, “well, the heart wants what the heart wants. You can’t help who you fall in love with”. We are tempted by something good.

Likewise, if we are tempted to yell at someone, we aren’t tempted to be angry and mean. Usually, we think we are being a…