4/20/14

not enough security

A sermon for the first Sunday in the fifty day Season of Easter

Matthew 28:1-10

Today we arrive at the end of Matthew’s gospel only to discover it is the beginning of the story. Reading the gospels is like being in a company of actors who are performing a play in which the script is missing the second act. The first act tells the story of Jesus’ birth, of his baptism and temptation, of the calling of the disciples and his parables and ... well, you know the story. Today we find ourselves on the final page of the incomplete script. Tomorrow we begin to improvise the second act. We will remain in character, disciples of Jesus who are learning to follow him and to invite others to live in light of the good news revealed in and through him. Today we pay close attention to the surprising script so we know what to expect and how to act - how to live - in the days to come.

4/18/14

with our friday fatigue

On Good Friday we hosted a neighbouring Anglican congregation in worship (next year that same congregation will host us). It meant that the Anglican priest was our powerful preacher. At University Hill the prayers are not led by the preacher. Since I am regularly the preacher it means that I rarely lead the prayers. However, on a day when I am not preaching it is my turn to offer prayer. The prayer of confession today took the form of the Solemn Reproaches of the Cross. My task was to speak the prayers of approach and of intercession on behalf of the congregation. Here they are ...

4/16/14

to take the downward path

Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday, the day when Christians re-enact the scene when Jesus gives a new commandment as he washes the feet of his apprentices. There is some more about this tradition posted here at the eleventh commandment. The washing of feet is a central act in the life of L'Arche communities around the world. Here are some words about this practice from Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche ...

“To wash the feet of a brother or sister in Christ, to allow someone to wash our feet, is a sign that together we want to follow Jesus, to take the downward path, to find Jesus’ presence in the poor and the weak. Is it not a sign that we too want to live a heart-to-heart relationship with others, to meet them as a person and a friend, to live in communion with them? Is it not a sign that we yearn to be men and women of forgiveness, to be healed and cleansed and to heal and cleanse others and thus to live more fully in communion with Jesus?”   
                                                                                                - Jean Vanier

4/10/14

consumer or patient?

Some thoughts of mine about the shift from speaking of patients to consumers of health care have made their way on to the blog of Vancouver Sun writer Douglas Todd. You can find the blog post at Are we health care "consumers"? What's wrong with "patients"?

4/3/14

st. lydia's dinner church

One of the aspects of life with University Hill Congregation that I have come to appreciate are all the meals. Not owning a church building means that we don't have a church in which to meet during the week. Yes, on Sundays we rent a wonderful chapel in which to worship. But on weekdays when we gather we need to find space. As a result we meet in homes and offices and restaurants. When we do we inevitably find ourselves sharing a meal. It is breakfast when we gather on Wednesdays at a restaurant to discuss scripture together. It is dinner when we meet in Janet's home for discussions about discipleship. Even our working sessions with committee work almost always involve a meal. Over the years we have been increasing our celebrations of the sacrament of the Eucharist - Communion - as we grow in our understanding of the ways in which Christ is present among us in the breaking of the bread. There was a period in our life as a congregation when two families hosted a household they named The Welcome Table through which they lived out a Eucharistic ministry of hospitality. Now the Campus Ministry that we partner with offers a weekly celebration of the Eucharist as part of its life as the Food and Faith Community. And every summer we host First Nations (Native American) leaders from near and far at an Agape Meal - a love feast - in which our desire to be reconciled with one another is symbolized and realized as we eat and pray and sing together. All of this leads me to wish I lived closer to Brooklyn, New York ...

why worship?

Prayer in the Church of Reconciliation at Taizé
Why do Christians gather to worship? In a time when gathering in public to worship God is increasingly out of fashion in North America it is worth considering why this communal practice is crucial to Christian life. For, if we are not careful, we can easily begin to imagine that worship is meant to serve those who show up. We are such well-schooled consumers that, without realizing it, we begin to assume that worship exists to meet our needs. Then our worship planning focuses on the consuming congregation, aiming to send home satisfied “Sunday shoppers.”

3/31/14

hosting the word

Whenever it gathers to worship the church gives the Holy Bible (literally, the “Book set apart for God”) a place of prominence. For us it is scripture.  In other words, it is the church’s script.  In the Bible we discover the plot that is God’s saving mission in the world. Scripture provides us with parts to perform as actors in the great drama called “Gospel.” The Bible is our source book, the deep, thick memory that reminds the church of its peculiar identity in every cultural context. Reading the world through the lens of the cruciform biblical narrative gives us new eyes to see (II Corinthians 5:16-20).