Monday, September 26, 2016

Looking Forward to October 2, 2016 -- Worldwide Communion Sunday, The Feast of Passover

This being the first Sunday of the month, we will celebrate the sacrament of communion.
Also, being the first Sunday of the month, we will have our 2nd Offering in support of our local outreach fund.

The Scripture reading this week is: Exodus 12:1-13; 13:1-8

The Sermon title is Meal of Faith, Meal of Freedom

Early Thoughts: FREEDOM!

It is the last word (if I remember correctly) of the movie Braveheart [certainly it is the death cry of Mel Gibson's William Wallace]. It is also what Wallace uses to inspire the Scots to fight against a larger, superior English army: "They may take our lives but they will never take...our freedom!"

It is described as a worship word int the Star Trek episode The Omega Glory.

It is also what we are promised as people of faith. God promises that we are set free from those things that enslave us. And to celebrate God's acting out that promise we eat!

Okay, that might be a bit of a simplification. But that is a big part of what the Passover feast is, a communal meal to remember what God has done for God's people, to remember the time when they were freed from slavery.

Being set free is one aspect of the ministry of Jesus as well. Jesus comes to free us from bondage. Jesus comes to remind us that God wants us to be free, to not be in chains. In Jesus God shows that the burdens which bend us over can be lifted off our backs. And so our central meal of faith (which tradition tells us grew from the Passover celebration) is also a meal of freedom.

What do you need to be set free from? What chains need to be broken in your life?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Looking Forward to September 18, 2016 -- Abraham is Promised many Descendants

This Sunday we will be celebrating the sacrament of Baptism.

The Scripture Reading for this week takes us into the story of Abraham: Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-18; 15:1-6

The Sermon title is Descendants

Early Thoughts:  Poor Abraham. God calls him out of his settled life and challenges him to go to a new place with the promise of many descendants.  And yet as time passes there is not even ONE child.  To have many descendants you at least need to start with one child right?  Over and over again God promises descendants like the stars in the sky or the sand  on the ground, but still no child.

Can you blame Abraham for being a little worried or skeptical?

In the end, the story tells us, Abraham believed and trusted in the promise. And by his death he has multiple sons who become the founders of nations.

But the interim period was a little tough.

The story of Abraham is a story of trust. It is a story of promise. As the spiritual descendants of Abraham we also are challenged to have trust. We are challenged to trust that God is at work sometimes despite all the evidence.

As this week starts I am pondering if there is a link between Abraham desperate for a child so that his name will continue and so that there will be someone to care for him in his dotage and the present church's desperation to know if there will be a generation of faith to fill the pews after we are gone.  Who will be our descendants in the faith?

Do we trust that God is at work? Or do we think that it is all up to us to ensure the survival of this thing we call church? Or do we know that God is at work through us -- if we let ourselves discern and submit to how God is at work?

I think there is some linkage between Abraham's desperation and our own.  I wonder what that might mean for what we do next?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Looking Forward to September 11, 2016 -- Creation and Fall

Source (though the Scripture story never actually mentions an apple)
This Sunday we will be celebrating the Sacrament of Communion.

For Children's Time this week we will be talking about IALAC

This Sunday marks the beginning of Year 3 in the Narrative Lectionary cycle. This means that between now and Christmas we will be looking at passages from the Older Testament.  The Scripture Reading for this week is Genesis 2:4b-10, 15-17; 3:1-13.

The sermon title is Paradise Lost?

Early Thoughts: This week we read from the second account of Creation. While the first chapter of Genesis contains the hymn of seven days and the recurrent affirmation that the Creation was Good, this second account is the story of Adam and Eve and the story of what is commonly called "The Fall".

Traditionally the story of Adam and Eve eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is described as the point where it all goes wrong. Before then we have a picture of the two humans living in harmonic relationship with God. Afterward the relationship is broken and God is constantly trying to repair it (the people's efforts at such repair work tend to ebb and wane). The question I have always had is whether the eating of the fruit changed the very nature of humanity or if the affirmation of Very Good a the end of the hymn to creation continues to stand.

I think the affirmation is never taken away. I think the fact that for the rest of the faith story (a story that has yet to end) God continues to seek to be in relationship with God's peoples tells us that the original affirmation still stands. There just happens to be some "stuff" that gets in the way of us living as if it were true.

At the heart of the story we find God and Adam and Eve. We find a couple who are tempted by pride to be like God and so become wilfully disobedient. And as a result the world is changed. Now few of us think this is history. Few of us seek the site of Eden (though over the centuries may have postulated where it might have been).. But the story still rings true.

The story rings true because there is a part of us that knows things are not what they could/should be. The story rings true because there is a lived sensation that we could be in a fuller relationship with God and so we wonder how we might get that. The story rings true because in our heart of hearts we know that we are proud, that we are headstrong, that we do not always follow the rules.

But is that all there is?

Scripture makes it clear that God seeks to be in relationship with humanity. I wonder if God could be in relationship with a humanity that remained innocent of the knowledge of good and evil. Could God have known that there would be harsh consequences to humanity gaining that knowledge and yet also wanted/needed us to have ti at the same time? Could we ever be who we were created to be by remaining innocent and naive in Eden or did we have to grow and change and move beyond that point?

So part of me wonders if in addition t pride and disobedience part of the story is impatience and lack of trust, Maybe God would eventually have said "OK, eat that one too", at a time when humanity was more ready for the knowledge. And maybe then the story would be different?

Hmm, sounds a whole lot like many parenting decisions and challenges to me....