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Order Up: Remember Your Second Cup

By |2017-11-06T11:41:46-04:00November 6th, 2017|Categories: Blog Posts, News, Words from Matthew|

This shattered church in the ruins of Neuvilly furnished a temporary shelter for American wounded being treated by the 110th Sanitary Train, 4th Ambulance Corps. France, September 20, 1918. Sgt. J. A. Marshall. (Army)

Hi folks – here’s the sermon from our last Remembrance Sunday at SJUC. It’s a bit of a strange calendar this year, and our worship team really felt it would be better to kick off Remembrance week rather than hold a service after we’ve all been to the cenotaph and legion on the 11th.It was a remarkable day at both Wellington and St. John’s.  Thanks to all who came out and made it what it should be: a time to mourn, to remember, and to reflect how we can meaningfully create change so that our children don’t have to give their lives in anyone’s war.

A special thanks to Grant Kerr who read from his Dad’s diary during WWII.  Grant’s father was a prisoner of war for 2 years, and he recorded his experience in secret during his time in prison.  It’s a remarkable document that brings us face to face with the horror of the war that is both inspiring and disturbing. We all know it takes a spiritual and emotional toll – so thanks Grant for sharing with us!

Also thanks to Tyler Raycroft for reading “In Flander’s Fields” and to Jim Gunn for leading our “Let The Spirit Speak” with a lonesome rendition of Abide With Me on the harmonica.  So much soul food for thought this week.

PS: Remember to check your local paper or legion website about service times on November 11th this Saturday.

See you Sunday,

M

Readings are: John 8:1-11 and Galatians 5:1, 13-15

Order Up: A Fresh Second Cup Awaits…

By |2017-11-01T12:14:21-03:00November 1st, 2017|Categories: Blog Posts, Words from Matthew|

If you’re looking for a cup of inspiration, then we were on point last Sunday.  A big thanks for the ovation after the sermon and to the choir for almost taking the roof off the place with a spectacular rendition of Amazing Grace.  Vera Gillis opened our ears and hearts with why SJUC is such an important place in our lives and our faith – thanks Vera!  All in all it was a great Sunday. 

Check out the link below to listen to the sermon, “Will we rival or reconcile?”

 

 

See you on Sunday as together, we make time to remember as a very important week begins in November.

 

M

A Second Cup: 2 Sundays and a funeral

By |2017-10-26T16:29:47-03:00October 26th, 2017|Categories: News, Words from Matthew|

Most of you notice that when I take a while between postings, the church is moving at warp speed and I just don’t have time.  That’s the case for this post! 

Below you will find sermons from the last two Sunday mornings at SJUC and the funeral of Reid Myers.  I recorded the latter sermon because it’s one I wanted to remember.  It was an absolute honour to lead Reid’s service and I was and remain deeply inspired by his life. You can tell it was a sermon that keeps on giving because it also inspired the following Sunday’s sermon.

 

If things calm down a bit, expect another Rock & Soul to hit the blog next week!

 

See you Sunday,

M

 

From October 15th: Plotting Goodness

 

 

From October 22nd: It’s Never To Late To Grow Good Things

 

Reid Myers Celebration of Life: Keep On Growin’

A Second Cup: Stepping Out of the Flood Zone

By |2017-10-11T14:38:26-03:00October 11th, 2017|Categories: Blog Posts, News, Words from Matthew|

 

Hi folks – check out last week’s sermon below.  I did a big post for Rock & Soul this week so that’s where I spent my blog time.  I wish I had time to do it all!  Thanks for your kind words and support.  Remember, feel free to share anything you see with anyone for whom it just might be what they need to hear.  What makes for Good News is precisely that: sharing it!

 

Blessings,

M

 

 

A Second Cup: Sermons from Sept 24th and October 1st

By |2017-10-05T11:54:50-03:00October 5th, 2017|Categories: News, Words from Matthew|

Hi folks – It’s been a wild few weeks at the church and as a result, I’m a little behind on my postings.  This one will just be the sermons themselves, but I will offer more soon.  For Rock & Soul fans, I’m already working on the next post and shout have it up soon.  I hope these sermons offer you something to sip on as we continue to make the road by walking it together.

 

Blessings,

M

God’s Not Finished.

 

Grow With God. Go With Christ.

Second Cup: “To Be Or Not To Be More Human?” Sermon from Sept 17th 2018

By |2017-09-20T11:26:45-03:00September 20th, 2017|Categories: News, Words from Matthew|

So as I sip on what we talked about on Sunday, I can’t help but wonder about another saying we throw around a lot:

There’s two things for certain in life: death…and taxes.

Death. And Taxes. Nothing gets me out of bed in the morning like looking forward to that grim reality.

Why do we talk about life that way?  It’s not just negative or cynical.  After all, both of these are inevitable – it’s true.

But life isn’t just about death and taxes. If that’s what our days and nights consisted of…well…why bother living in the first place?

Surely there are other things we can count on – like the sun rising every morning, the stars shining at night, the breath that fills our lungs, to name but a few.

In a lifetime full of uncertainty and the twists and turns we can’t foresee that send us into a tailspin, it’s nice to have something you can count on.  Perhaps that’s what’s really going on in the underbelly of that folk wisdom.

We like certainty and predictability precisely because when it seems like the ground is often shifting beneath our feet, it’s nice to have something to stand on.

As we mentioned on Sunday, the Pharisees aren’t the only people in the Gospel’s story that live defensively. Everyone Jesus meets, and I mean just about everyone, lives defensively.

The encounter with Jesus is an encounter with the living Word of God – with life itself.  Life demands that if we want to be fully alive, we have to let go of pretending that living defensively is what we are created to do. 

It means giving something up, so our hands really are free to take up the cross and walk. So that we are truly free to become fully alive by the possibility of what God’s tomorrow will hold. 

Creation isn’t something that happened in the past.  It’s ongoing.  As we say in a New Creed – God created and is creating.  What is God creating in you today?  Are you clinging to who you were or are you becoming someone new?

When we live as if everything we do has to hold on to who we already are and what we already own, we ensure one inevitable conclusion.  Like death and taxes, it’s an extinction agenda for a human organism.

Every part of creation is made to be fully alive, to grow, to risk, to reach out and explore.

I can’t help but wonder at how we see this dynamic playing out on the world stage with North Korea.  We hear the defensive voice that’s wants to preserve “me and mine” over “you and yours” on all sides of this issue.  If you do this, we’ll retaliate with that.

As a species, we’re remarkably flippant with the possibility of executing millions of human beings in a nuclear holocaust. Wow.  It’s been just long enough for short human memories to forget what happened at Hiroshima.

Holding on to the idea that war and violence will yield a peaceable kingdom is ridiculous and ensures one inevitable conclusion: extinction – either of some or all creation. Human beings have been inherently defensive and violent for a long time.  Isn’t it time for something new?

It’s a good thing you and I have encountered the Word of Life who calls us to come and follow a way out of the same defensive patterns that lead to the same dead ends that truly tax the human soul to the point that we can’t afford to pay anymore.

You can’t carry the cross if your hand is bunched up in a fist.

Look at your life today – what are you carrying?  What do you need to take up?  Do you have the courage to let go, and open your own hands to God and receive what’s even now, is being offered?

Blessings,

M

Mark 3:1-6Common English Bible (CEB)

Healing on the Sabbath

Jesus returned to the synagogue. A man with a withered hand was there. Wanting to bring charges against Jesus, they were watching Jesus closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Step up where people can see you.” Then he said to them, “Is it legal on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they said nothing. Looking around at them with anger, deeply grieved at their unyielding hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he did, and his hand was made healthy. At that, the Pharisees got together with the supporters of Herod to plan how to destroy Jesus.

Common English Bible (CEB)Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

 

Wellington Call To Worship (Gathering Pentecost 2 2017 p. 24 by Robin Wardlaw)

Listen! Listen to the waters of creation.

Listen to the plants and trees.

Listen to the creatures who creep and walk and fly.

Listen to the ancient hills and colourful reefs.

Listen to their joy, their wisdom, and their grief.

Let’s bring to this place all the other places we’ve been.

Let’s bring to this time, all the moments of awe and beauty we’ve had.

And in all things, let us worship God.

 

Prayer For The Journey (All): In gratitude and humble trust, we make this road by walking with You. We’re grateful for the beauty of the earth, for the wonder of being human, for the blessing of all life.  We’re humbled by the trust You place in our hands. You have shaped us in Your image, of what is good and true. We confess, we don’t always reflect the best of Your intentions. Help us to be wise in how we handle the holy things of life: our relationships with one another, with the earth, and with You. In all things, may we hold one another in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, who shows us the colour and the shape of what it means to live in Your love for everything and everyone. Amen.

Sermons & Catch Up For September 10th 2017

By |2017-09-11T13:00:46-03:00September 11th, 2017|Categories: News, Words from Matthew|

 

Hi Everyone,

Well it’s been a very busy few weeks as SJUC wakes up from summer slumber. As a result, I missed an entry last week. 

 

Below you’ll find the sermons from:

September 3rd’s “Better The Devil You Know Than The Christ You Don’t ” (with a title like that, how can you resist?)

This sermon was based on Matthew 16:21-28 (Get Behind Me Satan Sunday!)

 

And September 10th’s “Are You Too Worried To Be Alive?”

 

This sermon was based on two readings that we shared in different ways during the service:

Genesis 1:1-2:3 (Creation Story)

Matthew 6:25-34 (Today’s worry is enough for today)

 

I’ll be back in regular posting mode next week for A Second Cup, so this will have to tide you over.  I’m also hoping to get my Rock & Soul blog off the ground this week.  This project takes chart topping popular music and connects it to the Bible and to our soul.  Should be fun!

 

‘Till then, stay thirsty!

M

 

 

3 Lies Churches Get Caught In & Sermon from Sunday August 27th 2017

By |2017-08-28T15:35:32-03:00August 28th, 2017|Categories: News, Words from Matthew|

[Scroll down below for the sermon and prayers from last week]

When I hear Jesus ask Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” and I hear Peter’s response, “You’re the Son of the living God, the Christ!” – I take St. Pete to be genuine.

But I am going to venture to say that throwing around titles for Jesus is easy.

The devil’s in the details.  Literally.  Just read the verses that follow our reading from this past Sunday (click here).

I am jumping ahead a bit here, but this Sunday Jesus will call Peter out as being focused on anything other than God’s mission for the kingdom come, and this is the rock on which the church will be built! A rock on which not even the gates of hell itself can shake! But…Jesus just called him Satan…huh?

The gospel has a funny way of laying a firm foundation for faith.

But then, that’s the point.

Peter isn’t lying – he’s making the road by walking with Jesus.  Faith is an adventure, a journey. 

Faith is not a destination.

Confessing Jesus as being the Christ, your personal Lord and Saviour, the “Holy One”, just a cool rabbi, a dashboard figurine or (insert the nomenclature you feel most theologically comfortable with here) etc is not a pop quiz. 

Jesus and Peter aren’t pursuing anything trivial here. 

What’s your faith story? What part does Jesus play in it? That’s the heart of the matter.

In the sermon on Sunday, I note how adults often come to me asking questions about why they were taught what they were taught in Sunday School.

“So I memorized the names of the books in the bible?  So what? I still don’t know what’s in them.  I’m still hungry to live what’s between the covers rather than know whose name is on them!”

Faith is not a matter of reciting the proper answer.  It’s being vulnerable and curious enough to ask holy questions.

Encountering what’s holy challenges us.  It changes us.  No wonder we are overcome when we encounter the divine in our lives. It’s risky. No wonder we’re afraid of getting too close.

To many contemporary Christians, Jesus has the most backwards way of evangelizing. 

He doesn’t begin the journey of faith by telling us his proper name or by asking whether we believe it (in the United Church we just ask you to serve on a committee). 

He invites us. Come and see.  Come and follow me, that’s what he said to Peter.

Come follow me – I’ll show you mercy.  I’ll show you Grace.  I’ll show you Justice.  I’ll show you a love that colours well beyond the lines of what the human imagination allows.  Then…then you’ll want to go and tell the Good News.  Then…then you’ll figure out who I am for you.

For Jesus, living faith is the gateway into having faith. 

The Messiah stuff was left for people to work out as they stepped out…in faith.

Sure, Pete messes up in the next few verses – but don’t forget, he also left everything behind and followed Jesus into a new life (he even gets a new name to prove it). 

Peter is working out who Jesus is – he’s got a name – but he’s still puzzling out the details.  2000 years later, we’re still working on it.

When I hear Jesus ask this question, it’s so easy to spout off the names we hear at least in Christmas Pageants without asking – what do I think are between those syllables?  Lord of Lords.  Son of David.  Son of Man. Saviour.  Christ.

What do those names mean for you?

It’s easy to shoot first and ask questions later. It’s been a popular approach to Christianity for a long time.

The results are predictable and by in large, sad.

Here’s three easy lies Churches often bandy about that demonstrate how we place more emphasis on what we think we know rather than on asking why we know it.

 

Number 1: If we just said the Lord’s Prayer in School, our society would have a spiritual revolution. 

Seriously?  I get that many folks, including me, grew up doing it.  The activity recalls a simpler time perhaps, where the cultural debates of religion and secularism within a multicultural nation were tamer…but only just. 

I’m not saying it isn’t meaningful for many people either, but the reality is that just saying a recipe out loud is very different from actually making a meal that satisfies.  This is also true of prayer. 

Jesus didn’t call for a lip service revolution – he called for an insurrection of the human soul to loose what was tripping us up and to bind what continues to give people life. 

 

Number 2: If we just put a mandatory age for communion, our society would have a spiritual revolution. 

Seriously? It’s curious when Protestant churches say this, they often don’t say a peep about infant baptism.  That’s a whole other list of complaints and church jokes.

I get that with age comes a capacity to more fully ponder Holy Mystery – as does the Catholic church – but to believe that only taking communion as a teenager somehow creates a deep hunger to be engaged in faith while you’re a child is a little bit of a stretch.

Communion isn’t just a notch in your belt.  It’s not a star on your attendance sheet. To draw an analogy from last week’s reading, children should not pant at the table like puppy’s waiting for scraps. 

It’s the bread of heaven!  It’s for everyone!  Didn’t you read the feeding stories in the gospels – 5000 men, 4000 men, and women and children on top of that?

While respecting differences in tradition and theology, for the United Church, communion is a road map for walking the life of Jesus’ love and justice every day. 

Within our United Church tradition, it’s a table where Jesus is host.  Jesus.  Not us.  Not our congregation or denomination.

Jesus. Who an unclean Canaanite idolatrous woman convinced was also given a seat at the table by no less than the Living God of Israel. 

That’s a spiritual revolution. If we spent more time asking one another why we break the bread and pour the “wine”, it would be for us too.

 

Number 3: If it weren’t for Hockey on Sunday, our society would have a spiritual revolution. 

(Insert face palm here)

Notice a theme emerging?  It’s not about a spiritual revolution.  It’s not even about what feeds the soul. 

It’s really about being annoyed that someone chose something else as more important than what you or I consider to be paramount. 

It’s based on resentment, not on Grace, mercy, or love.  It requires not even a peck of faith and it’s wrapped up in a whole host of other things that really don’t have much to do with asking and answering:

But…who do you say that I am? 

Getting up is a choice.  Going to practice before the break of dawn is a choice.  Having worship at 11am is a choice. Going, and actually participating when you go – is a choice. Answering the call of Jesus Christ to come on the journey and going to serve is a choice.

Just changing what time the church gathers or when other groups in our society gather, doesn’t scratch the surface of a journey in faith.  Whether we take a step in any direction, it’s always a choice.

The question is whether we’re honest about where our feet are going and why.

When Jesus tells the disciples not to tell anyone else about what they’ve said, there’s a reason. They’re still figuring it out.  Much has been seen.  There’s still so much more to be revealed.

We don’t know Jesus by name.

We discover Jesus, by heart.

What’s in your heart?  That’s more important than the name on your lips. 

If you ask the former in faith, you might just find that like one foot in front of the other, the rest will follow.

See you next week for every minister’s favourite day:

“Get Behind Me Satan Sunday!”

Seriously.  It should be a thing.  Like…t-shirts and special bulletins, and best Satan impression gets a prize.

 

Blessings on your long weekend. Until we can sip again,

M

 

Sermon: We Make The Road By Walking

 

Matthew 16:13-20

13 Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human Onea] is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. 18  I tell you that you are Peter.b] And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. 19  I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ.

 

Call To Worship –  Like A Rock MV# 92

Listen – All you who seek to stand firm with justice and Grace;

Look to the rock from which you were hewn!

From Abraham and Sarah, an entire nation was born,

From a single life in Galilee, a kingdom has come.

Listen – All you who seek to stand on the Rock that won’t give way;

There is a firm foundation that won’t yield to fear!

For the arms of God’s everlasting mercy are eternal,

The Holy One delivers hope even in the barren and broken places.

Lift your eyes to the heavens!

Look to the earth beneath!

God is with us.

We are not alone! R

* Based on Isaiah 51:1-6

 

Prayer for the Journey:  On the journey of faith, we don’t begin with the destination.  We begin with a single step. We begin to discover You, when we make the road by walking. We make the crooked paths straight and cross the valleys, when we make the road by walking. We send loneliness and fear packing for the hills, when we make the road by walking. We discover You, when we make love, mercy and forgiveness by walking the way of Jesus together.  Then, only then, we come to You.  O Lord, we are on our way! Amen.

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving (All): You open our hearts, our minds, and our spirits.  You fill us with good things.  Everlasting things.  You have blessed this church.  You have blessed my life. You hold on to me, and you will not let me go.  You love me.  And Your love, Your love alone, is my saving Grace.  Bless my life, and what I offer You today, in service and in faithfulness, for the kingdom that even now is rising.  Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 16:13-20

 

What’s on the Menu: Mercy or Sacrifice? Sermon and Post for Sunday August 20th 2017

By |2017-08-21T12:55:54-03:00August 21st, 2017|Categories: News, Words from Matthew|

Can Jesus learn?

Here’s a second cup that’s far from being easy to swallow if you believe human perfection is a requirement for the One who saves.

A lot of folks get anxious about this story because at the very lest, Jesus looks like at he’s “caught with his compassion down” and at worst, he’s a hypocrite.

Sure, there’s food enough to feed thousands and thousands a few verses ago, but not when it comes to one of them.  A Canaanite.  An idolatrous unclean woman who doesn’t share religion, politics, heritage, race or gender with Jesus. 

Sure, sure – it’s what’s in your heart that matters. Of course you can’t just blindly adhere to “doing what we’ve always done because we’ve always done it” as your moral maxim.  That doesn’t even require a mustard seed’s worth of faith!

But all that goes in the sewer when Jesus is asked to have mercy on one of them.

At first glance, when the mercy of this Kingdom of God gets put the test, it looks like Jesus comes up short. 

The theological police get indigestion here too.  Traditionally, Christianity has believed Jesus is the perfect, spotless, sinless lamb who must be sacrificed to atone for the sins of the world.

My thoughts on the theological rabbit hole of dedicating one’s faith to this narrative of perfection are elsewhere.

I just can’t swallow it.

As I mentioned in the sermon, Jesus makes clear again and again and again in Matthew’s Gospel, that God’s desire is mercy not sacrifice.

We choke on that a lot in this world. We’d much rather look for someone to blame, someone to vilify, someone to crucify. 

After Jesus’ crucifixion, God doesn’t send the flood out of anger.  There’s no plagues.  The four horsemen don’t come racing onto the scene.  God doesn’t send us all to court to be condemned to hell for crucifying Jesus! 

It’s not about perfection or sacrifice.  As the man asked again and again folks: Do you not yet understand?

“Father, forgive them.  They know not what they do.”

There is only Grace.  There is only Mercy.  Both of which are divine, because they transcend the limits of what ought to be possible. God is the impossible! Without God – nothing is possible.  With God all things are possible!

Just look at what’s happening in Virginia or in North Korea – humanity has a tendency to favour escalation, retaliation, violence and death.  The idol of sacrifice is gobbling up the front page these days and so many innocent people will pay the ultimate price.

But God has a different news cycle to tell – Good News.

This Good News – isn’t fake.  It’s real. Jesus is real.  A real human being who lived in First century Palestine in a culture that was patriarchal, exclusive and racially motivated.  It also was generous, spiritual, and deeply steeped in morality, ethics, and the pursuit of justice. Go figure. 

I believe that far from being worried that this story takes away from a know it all Saviour – it makes him fully human and divine in a way that leaves me wanting more, not less.

The teacher is taken to school here – and it’s a Canaanite woman giving the lesson. 

The Gospel really means at least this: The first shall be last and the last shall be first. 

No one is excluded from that truth – not even Jesus.  When even the Son of God is silent, an unclean idolatrous Canaanite woman will preach the Good News.

That’s the gospel!  Small things count, Jesus said, cups of water, bits of bread.

Mustard seeds.

Bits of yeast.

Even the people who are barred from the wedding feast have not just any seat at the table, but the greatest one.

The gospel is going to the dogs, and Jesus is loving it.

Listen to the sermon for more about the brilliance of this woman and her argument for why she is included in the kingdom.  It’s an incredible story that doesn’t paint Jesus in a flattering light.  And that’s why Scripture is so beautiful and true – the warts aren’t hidden here, and the power of God to heal them isn’t either.

Jesus looses this argument – and everyone wins.

He looses face because as a Rabbi, this woman has out maneuvered him in a public debate.  Jesus response isn’t to throw a temper tantrum.  He doesn’t scold her, insult her, or walk away from her.

He praises her.

Because even he can see, that God takes the smallest things and dreams big – on a scale bigger than we can imagine.

God sees even in the crumbs that fall in a dogs lap the possibility for mercy, healing, and a whole world brought to new life in love and justice.

What makes Jesus divine here for me is that he not only sees it too, he swallows his pride.

Imagine if we could all do that a little more, instead of playing the game of sacrifice.

The gospel lays it at our feet – what’s really on the menu in how you and I consume the life we’re given on this earth?  Mercy?  Or Sacrifice?

Our challenge in the choices we make everyday, is to choose what’s impossible – mercy – because that’s where God is.

In a world hell bent on favoring racism, violence, hatred and intolerance – let’s remember, it only takes crumbs of courage, to move such mountains.

A Canaanite woman told me so.

If even Jesus learned at her feet – we can too.

See you Sunday,

M

 

Sip to Savour: There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea.

 

 

Matthew 15:10-28

10 Jesus called the crowd near and said to them, “Listen and understand. 11  It’s not what goes into the mouth that contaminates a person in God’s sight. It’s what comes out of the mouth that contaminates the person.”

12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended by what you just said?”

13 Jesus replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father didn’t plant will be pulled up. 14  Leave the Pharisees alone. They are blind people who are guides to blind people. But if a blind person leads another blind person, they will both fall into a ditch.”

15 Then Peter spoke up, “Explain this riddle to us.”

16 Jesus said, “Don’t you understand yet? 17  Don’t you know that everything that goes into the mouth enters the stomach and goes out into the sewer? 18  But what goes out of the mouth comes from the heart. And that’s what contaminates a person in God’s sight. 19  Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adultery, sexual sins, thefts, false testimonies, and insults. 20  These contaminate a person in God’s sight. But eating without washing hands doesn’t contaminate in God’s sight.”

Canaanite woman

21 From there, Jesus went to the regions of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from those territories came out and shouted, “Show me mercy, Son of David. My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.” 23 But he didn’t respond to her at all.

His disciples came and urged him, “Send her away; she keeps shouting out after us.”

24 Jesus replied, “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.”

25 But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.”

26 He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.”

27 She said, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off their masters’ table.”

28 Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.” And right then her daughter was healed.

 

Prayers From Sunday:

Call To Worship:

What binds us together?

It’s not the building – we come and go to many churches in our lives.

What binds us together?

It’s not the service time – some like it early, some like it late.

What binds us together?

It’s not the music – we like different hymns and styles.

What’s left over?

The Spirit – who sees small and dreams on horizons bigger than we can imagine.

What’s left over?

Jesus – our heart hungry teacher whose appetite for mercy and understanding makes us hungry too.

What’s left over?

The Holy One – God’s love that continues to shape us all, like clay at the potter’s wheel.

What’s left over?

You. Me. God.

That’s what makes us church. Now let’s give thanks for the ties that truly make us as one.

Refrain: Verse 2 and chorus

 

*A Prayer for the Journey

All: Even when we ignore the good news of Jesus Christ from unlikely places and people, freshen and remake us. Even when we act as if you’re not love and have no power, let our lives begin again. Even when we mar your image in us, Creator God, recreate us, on this day and every day.

One: Even now, love is being born anew within us and all the world. Even now, hope is springing up amidst shacks of poverty and refugee camps.  Even now, You come to our dark and deserted places. Even now, bridges of concern and common cause are growing between those with much, and those with little – for great is our faith, that Grace abounds and it will always be more than enough.  Thanks be to God.

-based on Robin Wardlaw, Gathering Pentecost 1 2017 (Year A) p. 36

 

* Prayer of Thanksgiving (All): When you call us to be disciples, Loving God, we sometimes think that you do all the asking – asking us for our time, asking us for our money, asking us for our commitment, and asking us for our very lives. We forget that, in the beginning, we had nothing at all. Everything we have today was given to us by You. You only ask from us what we are willing to freely return to You. In the name of boundless Grace and mercy, bless these gifts that they may in turn, free others with a heart hungry for justice and compassion. Amen

 

– based on Fern Gibbard, Gathering Pentecost 1 2017 (Year A) p. 39

Walking On Water & Sermon for Sunday August 13th 2017

By |2017-08-16T16:08:04-03:00August 16th, 2017|Categories: News, Words from Matthew|

On Sunday we shared a story that is deeply embedded in our wider culture, let alone the religious imagination of the church: Jesus walks on the water. That story has effected us so much that we use it as an everyday expression. 

Sometimes we talk about someone “walking on water” as if what’s expected of that person is impossible.  Sometimes we use it to describe someone who thinks so highly of themselves, like Jesus, they must be able to walk on water.

When you hear someone talk about walking on water – what thoughts come to mind?  How have you heard it used?

In a church bible study on Mark in one of my previous congregation’s, the group was astounded that some people literally believed Jesus walked on the waves while others scoffed that it was anything more than a metaphor.  Others were determined to explain it by saying the water was shallow and Jesus was walking on rocks below the surface (making them explain the waves and wind in the storm put that hypothesis to the test…)

Either way – we do biblical ju jitsu trying to save this story. 

Why not let Jesus do the saving, and just let the story be told?  One of the best pearls of advice I ever received in preaching was – “Get out of God’s way.”  Let the Spirit speak – just let it sit in your soul and see where it leads.

When we remember this story, we often forget the details.  We often refer to it as a miracle of Jesus and a failure of Peter.  Nothing could be further from the biblical account.  Peter walks on water too: “…and Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water towards Jesus.” (MT 14:29b) 

Peter does something beyond his wildest expectations – that is often the case when we keep our eye on Jesus. I know that sounds trite to some, but I fully believe that’s true.

I can think of larger than life examples – like the role of the wider church and the United Church in particular has played in civil rights and justice issues (ie. ordaining women, women’s right to vote, LGTBQ+ rights, reconciliation with First Nations…) – we kept our eye on Jesus and the mission he gave us and we did things and went places we could never have imagined. 

I see that at play in the every day lives of people in our congregations too. I shared some of those examples in last week’s sermon which is posted below.

The truth of the matter is that Jesus never asks Peter to walk on water. Read the story – it’s just not there. Peter’s mission is still yours and mine today, “22 Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds.

Why did Jesus ask the disciples to cross the lake? To get to the other side!

It was a journey no less risky as walking on water.  It was a journey the disciples said they understood in the parables Jesus had told them and the feeding of thousands by the lake shore. Peter wants Jesus to prove himself by inviting a stroll across the storm for reasons that I outline in the sermon. 

I believe Jesus is calling us to step up in our faith, and not just step out of the boat.

Our mission has never been to walk on water.

That doesn’t mean Christ doesn’t call us to strive for things beyond what we can imagine.

Our mission is to get to the other side.

The mission is to get over ourselves – our doubts, our vanity, our selfishness or self-absorbed ways that steer us into choppier waters rather than to the places God longs for us to go.

We need to get to the other side – to the people and the places that are hurting and in need of Good News: the kingdom is coming, we are not alone, love and justice are blooming even now in the dark and deserted places of our lives. (IS 35:1-2)

The Good News, is that even when we veer off the course Jesus calls us to take, we are held in everlasting arms.  We often hear Jesus patronizing Peter with the “little faith” comment – but I think nothing could be farther from the truth. Jesus doesn’t let Peter languish for a second. 

“Immediately” he scoops him up in his arms – mercy always triumphs over sacrifice for Jesus Christ.

We often see what little we have and that’s where Peter gets lost in the storm.  He doesn’t see the abundance and presence of God at work in Jesus that he saw on the shoreline behind him.  Instead he sees one man against a storm in the midst of impossible odds.  Peter’s got nothing here.

Just remember – Jesus believes God sees little and dreams big.  It’s with mustard seeds and a little yeast that God achieves the greatest symbols of abundance and plenty in the kingdom according to Jesus.

If you feel like you’ve only got a little faith to go on today – Good News – that’s exactly what Jesus is hoping for. 

I may be at risk of being a little flippant here but I think this popular saying also holds true: The size of your faith doesn’t matter.  It’s what you do with it that counts. 

How often do you doubt you don’t have enough to make it through the storm?

Is your faith set on stepping out of the boat into the same stormy waters – or are you set on getting to the other side, surrounded by your community and the presence of the One who treads across the waters? (Job 9:8)

I think Jesus hopes that after the feeding of thousands by the lake shore, the disciples would step up, cross to the other side, and feed others the same bread of heaven they’d received.  That’s the mission of the church.

We are called to share the grace we know has been freely given and has turned our lives upside down with the joy and the values of the kingdom.

Our popular culture often believes churches are hypocritical pockets of “perfect” people – people who think they walk on water. This story makes it abundantly clear – we don’t need to walk on water. 

Our mission is to trust God’s presence and to boldly go where no one has gone before – to the other side.

On the other side, who knows how we will be changed?  Who knows what God has imagined that we will never be able to concieve?  In contrast to this story with his disciples, Jesus himself will be one such person from the other side this Sunday – a racial enemy who changes the course even Jesus himself is on.

When we steer towards the kingdom shore, we do things and go places we never would have imagined before.

No matter how small the faith you hold, you will not capsize in the storm.

In this boat, which we humbly call the church, we are surrounded by people who will be with us and God’s Spirit that will never let us go.

Remember the mission: “the time is now, and the kingdom of God is at hand; turn your life around and believe there is Good News!” (Mark 1:15)

Our call is to be Good News to each other even as we are in the same boat and endure the storms of life. 

Our call is to be Good News to everyone, trusting that in each of us is an incredible and powerful creation of God and Jesus calls you to bring all of that to bear as a blessing in this world.

Why be content to step out in the storm when together, we can step up and get to the other side?

See you Sunday,

M

 

Sip for the Soul:  When God’s in it, little is much.  What are you doing that requires faith?

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew 14:22-33Common English Bible (CEB)

Walking on the water

22 Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. 23 When he sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone. 24 Meanwhile, the boat, fighting a strong headwind, was being battered by the waves and was already far away from land. 25 Very early in the morning he came to his disciples, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” They were so frightened they screamed.

27 Just then Jesus spoke to them, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.”

29 And Jesus said, “Come.”

Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!”

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, “You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind settled down.

33 Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, “You must be God’s Son!”

 

Prayers from Sunday:

 

If I come here, is there room for me and my doubts?

Don’t be afraid. Come.*

If I come here, is there room for me – even if I’m drowning in my pain?

Take heart, it is I.  Come.*

If I come here, is there room for unconditional love?

Don’t be afraid. Come.*

If I come here, will I find judgement or compassion?

Take heart, it is I.  Come.*

The One who is greater than all our fears, gathers us here.

The One who wades into our stormy waters, gathers us here.

Then come, sister and brother – let’s give thanks and praise together. 

* Jesus of Nazareth, MT 14:22-33

 

Prayer (One): Lord, save us! Like our ancestors of faith, we know what it’s like to be up to our neck in troubled waters. Many of us are sailing against gale force winds. Some of us are treading water in choppy seas.  Some of us are swimming against the tide.  Others are being pulled along by currents stronger than we can resist. Lord, save us!  And help us, to be saving grace for one another.  Today we remember, that even as Peter stepped out in faith, you were there to lift him up when his limits were tested.  May we trust, that just as you were there for Peter, you are here, for us. For your grace and mercy that sustains us through the storm and carries back to safer shores, we give you thanks and praise. Amen.

 

Prayer of Thanksgiving (All) :  A pinch of yeast, a mustard seed, bits of broken bread and fish: You see small and You dream big. Too often, we see our gifts as a drop in the bucket, compared to the seas that surround us.  We see oceans of suffering, rivers of tears, currents of hunger and poverty.  When we leave you behind, we see small, and dream smaller.  But with you, front and center, we can wade out into the deep. With You, we can trust that even a little faith brings the kingdom so much closer. Bless us now, that we too, would see small, and together, we would dream bigger than we ever imagined!  Amen.

 

 

What Are You Hungry For? Bread Pudding. Sermon and Post from August 13th

By |2017-08-10T11:12:42-03:00August 10th, 2017|Categories: News, Words from Matthew|

After Sunday’s funeral at SJUC for Dale McKenna, a number of folks mentioned last Sunday’s sermon.  One of you even went so far as to tell me I should just preach “What are you hungry for?” for the rest of the summer! Not all sermons are so satisfying, but I’m happy to hear the Word gave us lots to feast on.

So here’s a big post with all the fixin’s.  I’m working on this Sunday’s sermon and it will be a second helping of last Sunday. Let’s call it a different dish but it will still be part of the same course. If you’d like to catch up before the 10:30 summer service at Wellington this week, the link for the sermon is posted below, along with the scripture and prayers – just scroll down.

And now for dessert. Well…sort of.

 

Do you see that bag in the middle of that delicious pot of Jiggs Dinner? That’s bread pudding.  That’s my soul food in more ways than one. My Dad once compared a single slice to eating a pile of lead.  This stuff sticks to your ribs – you won’t be hungry for a long, long time.

If you don’t know what a Jiggs Dinner is and you’ve never been to Newfoundland, Lord have mercy, I’ll pray for you. You can educate yourself by clicking here.

Just about every Sunday was some form of boiled dinner growing up.  We may not always have salt beef in the pot – but cooked veggies of all kinds with a bag of bread pudding was a family favourite.  I’ll gross out any Newfoundland purists by saying that as a kid, and as an adult to this day, I love it with ketchup. It makes no sense and I don’t know why I love it so, but I do and that’s all there is to it. I offer no apologies. 🙂

All of us have “soul food” in the common sense – foods that comfort and remind us of a special place and time. Now that both my parents have died, Bread Pudding is very important to me.  Just the smell of it takes me back to our humble kitchen table on Wheymouth Street in St. John’s while my mom and dad would be busy in the kitchen while my brother and I tried not to maim one another…ah the memories.

As I got older, I asked my dad where Bread Pudding came from.  It’s basically a big lump of condensed bread – who would have ever thought to mix that up in a bag and boil it with vegetables and brine?

I never forgot Dad’s answer.  “It came from poverty. And our refusal as Newfoundlander’s to be defined by it.”

Who would have thought a bad of bread was a spiritual and political protest against the injustice of poverty and a hymn of victory over the struggles of life?

Many a Newfoundland family could heartily identify with the crowds who were ravenously following Jesus.  Many a cupboard held but a few loaves and fish to feed what felt like thousands.  Part of poverty means knowing how to stretch modest means more than they should ever have to go.  So, when it came time for dinner, if there were any crumbs or heels of bread lying around, they were mixed with flour, butter, salt and pepper.

My ancestors knew how to make something from basically, nothing.

Bread pudding is made of the broken pieces of being poor. To the average eye, it looks like nothing – just scraps that aren’t worth anything let alone holding the ability to stave off hunger. But like a mustard seed, those scraps can be transformed with some grace – and that’s exactly what bread pudding is.

After some time in the pot, it transforms into what I call Manna – the bread of heaven that can sustain you through any wilderness.  Where before, there were only crumbs of desperation, now there’s enough to feed everyone with more left over.

After slavery in Egypt, the Israelite’s were sustained by Manna.  My dad explained, that in his eyes, this was our version – shaped by the journey of our ancestors as they sought to sustain themselves on their journey in a hard life on an even harsher land.

I never forgot that. It really is soul food and that’s exactly what Jesus is serving up.

On Sunday, we saw how MacDonald’s has done an incredible job of serving millions and millions what they’re hungry for – even as the restaurant has had to completely transform to do it.  We may all disagree about the merit and nutritional value of that endeavor – but there’s more than meets the eye there too. 

In reading Jesus feeding of the 5ooo (which is a completely inaccurate title – see the sermon), we wondered what we were feeding people as the church?  Are we serving millions and millions?  What are we hungry for?

Jesus knew what people were really hungry for. It wasn’t a club, a political party, a committee, or a social action group.

It was soul food. Food that sustained us in the dark and deserted places we all tend to sup – perhaps even more than when we darken the MacDonald’s drive thru in desperation for a snack.

We live in an age where people consume fast food and even faster faith – but Christ has something on the menu that’s much more than a snack.  The question is whether we have the courage to honestly ask – what are we really hungry for? And can we trust Jesus to feed us even in the wilderness of our deserted places?

We will easily see what we do not have and conclude – we got nothin’ in the face of tremendous adversity.

But that’s not the way of the Israelite’s in the wilderness.  That’s not the way of my ancestors on the shores of the salt and unforgiving sea. That’s not the way of Jesus Christ. Jesus was clear: even in their poverty of spirit, the disciples had more than enough.

What are you hungry for?

Can you trust that you have something – even here – in your most broken places?

If you’re looking for the recipe for that dish, Jesus keeps repeating himself lately:

God sees small, and dreams big. Really big.  Millions and millions and millions served BIG.

If we want to eat at that table, we’ve got to see with kingdom eyes. We’ve got to believe that in one another, with all that we have in common, we’ve got all the ingredients to feed what so many peopel are starving for.

Soul food.

I hope your belly’s rumbling.

See you Sunday.

M

A sip to savour: Holy One, You are more than enough!

 

 

Feeding the five thousand

13 When Jesus heard about John, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. When the crowds learned this, they followed him on foot from the cities. 14 When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion for them and healed those who were sick. 15 That evening his disciples came and said to him, “This is an isolated place and it’s getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

16 But Jesus said to them, “There’s no need to send them away. You give them something to eat.”

17 They replied, “We have nothing here except five loaves of bread and two fish.”

18 He said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves of bread and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them and broke the loaves apart and gave them to his disciples. Then the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 Everyone ate until they were full, and they filled twelve baskets with the leftovers. 21 About five thousand men plus women and children had eaten.

 

Prayers from Sunday:

 

Call to Worship:

When people came to Jesus, sore with sorrow;

He looked up to Heaven.

When people came to Jesus, starving for something more;

He looked up to Heaven.

When the disciples looked at the crowds, at the few loaves and fish, and at the hour;

Jesus told everyone to stay and he looked up to Heaven.

As we gather here in this sacred time where we’ve come away with You,

May we also look up to Heaven.

In You, anything is possible – for it may just be in taking the time to lose ourselves

That we find who You really call us to become.

May we also have the courage to linger in our deserted places,

That we also would be leavened by Your endless Grace and Mercy.

Blessed be your name.  Let us worship!

 

A Prayer:  We chose to come away with you, here, on foot. We walked through those doors.  We took a bulletin.  We found a seat.  We sat in clumps of people – some neighbours, some strangers – all seeking Grace – all welcome at your table,  in this, your place.  We chose to come away with you, here. Now help us to have the courage to stay, to open our hearts and minds to the presence of your Holy Spirit.  May we hunger enough to see with kingdom eyes and hear with kingdom ears the Good News – that the greatest things under Heaven all start with the smallest things – a step, a choice, a moment, a few fish and two loaves. God, break open our craving for the comfortable and ordinary, that together, we might live in the extraordinary Grace of the Kingdom come for all. In Jesus’ name, we hunger for it.  Amen

 

Prayer of Dedication: We don’t live by bread alone, but by your everlasting Word. Without mercy, without grace, without justice, without love, we have but crumbs of humanity. What a rich feast you have set before us! Thank you God for this life and for those we share it with.  Thank you for this house where we all belong, and where we are empowered to go out and be blessings in your name. Now may these gifts be used for just that purpose: to be food that feeds with everlasting grace, hope ever new, and compassion everywhere we go.  With all you have given us, may you leaven our world with the life we share in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Nobody’s Perfect (Especially God) & Sermon from July 30th 2017

By |2017-07-31T11:59:31-03:00July 31st, 2017|Categories: News, Words from Matthew|

 

Hi friends,

After a refreshing vacation with my family, it’s great to be back in the saddle. It feels really good to be blogging again as our church serves “A Second Cup” after Sunday morning. 

If your summer time takes you to strange and far away places, or if you just can’t seem to get beyond the hammock in the backyard, I hope you can find time to savour some soul refreshing service here on the blog.

The sermon from Sunday is posted at the end of this entry along with the biblical text, so feel free to take a listen. Also at the end of the post are some of the prayers that we shared on Sunday.

 

Over the summer I saw this ad on TV. It really stuck in my mind. When I heard Jesus tell this parable as part of our reading last Sunday, it took my soul in all kinds of directions.

Jesus said, “Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46 

Here’s a parable from Coca Cola that also talks about what’s of the greatest worth.  

Take a look:

Those cheeky Coca Cola advertisers!  Simultaneously hijacking our Canadian insecurity of sleeping next to an elephant while making us feel smug about our superiority complex!

In a single frame lasting only a second or two, American’s are painted as rude, overweight, and selfish while we’re polite, peaceful, and strikingly attractive.

Did you notice the well placed American flag in the background of the cruise ship?

 

I really pay attention to advertising

Since PVR, we whiz past those endless TV ads while catching up on the shows we missed last season, but ads aren’t just annoying distractions. 

In so many many ways, they tune us into the broader cultural consciousness precisely because ads work!  They sell us an idea that we so often buy whether we believe the message or not.

“Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.”

– Will Rogers

If this is our equivalent cultural parable to the one Jesus told in the first century…Lord, have mercy!

 

On Sunday we talked about our longing for a perfect world and we asked what it might look like.

What does your perfect world look like?  What would you’re perfect life be like?

As I suspected when I wrote the sermon, most of our responses could be summed up by saying:

In a perfect world, no one suffers.

I think Coke really tapped into our thirst to drink the…cola…of “perfection”.

 

In the ad, both the characters are picture perfect, fit and young. 

They don’t have a care in the world except chasing a glass bottle across Canada. 

They have unlimited resources – no cost is too big in order to find that one thing they must have!  They leave their entire life behind in hot pursuit of this one thing that’s valued above all others.

They rent helicopters, ride ski doo’s, drive tractors, hire taxis – you name it. Nothing is worth more than this bottle of Coke.

 

Canada has no poor and no problems.  The scenes are devoid of anything but Mother Nature in the Great White North playing second fiddle to the unfolding commercial plot.

And even in their “competition” to be the victor, these Canucks insist the other person should have all the glory and honour of victory…while the Americans can only hope to catch a glimpse of such moral superiority through their binoculars.  How nice? How polite?  How…Canadian?

 

I know it’s just a cheeky commercial, but it taps into our cultural pining for a perfect world.  After all, would a world where we have nothing better to do but chase a bottle of Coke be such a bad world to live in?

No cancer, no broken relationships, no bills, no poverty, no hunger, not a single other demand or stress but Coke.

If we drink the cola of a perfect world, then we swallow a society where we spend everything we have in pursuit of a commercial product with no regard to the cost.  There’s no room for the Spirit in that world – because it isn’t God’s creation. It’s not real.

 

In the world both of us woke up in this morning, there is suffering – yours and mine, let alone that of Creation and all the people who therein do dwell.

We remembered on Sunday, that Jesus never says the Kingdom of Heaven is without suffering. 

On the contrary, Jesus suffers – a lot – precisely because of it! 

If you’ve ever read the Bible, so does God.  From Genesis chapter two onward, God suffers because of us and with us while never giving up on loving us. Good News: that’s really the world God made.

 

Without preaching the sermon again here – how can you truly love anyone or anything, while doing everything you can to escape the possibility of pain and suffering?

To risk suffering, is also to risk loving – to see them as mutually exclusive is to confine yourself to the truest sense of a fantasy. 

I really believe that at the root of all extremist positions is our ability to commit ourselves to such a fantasy – for when we cease to have the capacity feel one another’s pain, we can no longer love one another as human beings that share this creation.  Instead we judge, we hate, we persecute the imperfect from our sense of entiteled righteousness (the church was shockingly good at this in its historic past)

In short, when we become”perfect”, we cease to be human.

Nobody’s “perfect” – not even Jesus…and especially God.

 

All the parables Jesus used on Sunday are taken from real ordinary life in this world that is far from this definition of “perfect”. 

We don’t need to escape in a self-obsessed fantasy to experience the kingdom of heaven.  God really is right here with us, even if you find yourself in the hospital room or on the beach this summer.

In the sermon, I told a parable of Robert Fulgum’s and many of you asked if I would post it again here for further reflection.  It’s definitely worth A Second Cup. 

I would only add that’s it’s not just important to reflect the light in your brokenness, it’s also just as open to be willing to receive the light that’s being reflected by the world and the people around you.

I post it here with thanks to the Rev. Sally Shaw for sharing it with me during a small group retreat several years ago.

 

“At the end of Professor Robert Fulghum’s lectures, he’d be tempted to ask the audience: Are there any questions?

 

Were they brave enough to ask, at the end of many a preacher’s sermon, the common response might be:

 

Can we go home now?

 

Even Jesus turns to the disciples and asks:

Do you understand all this? Yes…they answer…can we go home now…

 

But instead, Fulghum would ask his audience the most important question of all: 

 

What’s the meaning of life?

 

Usually people would laugh or give silly answers.

 

But this one day, when he was lecturing at the Orthodox Academy on the isle of Crete, an institution that overlooks the airstrip where Nazi paratroopers landed and attacked peasants with kitchen knives during world war II, he got a very different response.

A man raised his hand and said: I’ll give an answer. 

 

Then he took out a small round mirror from his pocket and said,

 

“When I was a small child, we lived in a rural village during the war. 

 

One day I found pieces of a broken mirror on the road next to a smashed up German motorcycle.

 

I tried to put all the broken pieces together,

but I couldn’t – so I kept the largest one.

 

This one.

 

I scratched it on a stone to make it round. It became my favourite toy.

 

I would reflect the light into dark places where the sun would never shine. 

 

It was a game – closets, storm drains, deep crevices, you name it.

 

As I got older, I understood it wasn’t a game.

I wasn’t the light, nor the source of the light. 

 

But light – Love, Grace, Truth, Justice, Light is there –

and it will shine anywhere if I would but choose to reflect it.

 

I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know.

 

But I will use what I have to reflect light into the shadowy places in the hearts of men and women and change some things, in some people. 

This is the meaning of my life.

 

The man’s name is Dr. Papaderos.

 

He founded the academy where Fulgum was lecturing –

its sole mission is to bring healing and reconciliation for the wartime atrocities between Germans and Cretans.

 

Dr. Papaderos doesn’t live in a perfect world.

 

But he is as close as any to the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

He doesn’t live without suffering, he chooses, to live through it and beyond it. He chooses to love.

 

He took a broken piece of glass, from a motorcycle belonging to the people who attacked his community with kitchen knives,

and he built a mosaic of reconciliation, peace, and love.

 

Jesus took two wooden beams and a handful of nails of pure hatred and violence, and he built a mosaic of life everlasting for everyone and everything.

 

What are you building today?”

 

Blessings & Peace,

 

M

 

A Sip to Savour:

I am not the light, nor am I the Source of the light, but even broken pieces can illumine the presence of Grace, Mercy, Love and Justice.  Whether I suffer or celebrate in this moment, may I be open to reflect the Light and to receive the Light.

 

 

Scripture from Sunday: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

31 He told another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his field. 32  It’s the smallest of all seeds. But when it’s grown, it’s the largest of all vegetable plants. It becomes a tree so that the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through all the dough.”

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that somebody hid in a field, which someone else found and covered up. Full of joy, the finder sold everything and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. 46 When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it.

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that people threw into the lake and gathered all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, they pulled it to the shore, where they sat down and put the good fish together into containers. But the bad fish they threw away. 49 That’s the way it will be at the end of the present age. The angels will go out and separate the evil people from the righteous people, 50 and will throw the evil ones into a burning furnace. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

They said to him, “Yes.”

52 Then he said to them, “Therefore, every legal expert who has been trained as a disciple for the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings old and new things out of their treasure chest.”

 

 

A Prayer

Holy One, there is such joy in this place as we gather to pour the water, to pray with promise, to praise the blessing of your life made new for all.  And yet, we admit that there is not only joy in our hearts, but pain too.  Some of us come with struggles in our souls, strife on our lips, and yokes of yearning across our backs. Thank you God for reminding us that faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t pretend otherwise.  Faith is having the courage and conviction to live into the joys and sorrows of our lives, knowing that at the very depths of our being, we are not alone.  You are with us.  This world, this life, is also your world and your life and we are all a blessed and sacred part of it. Praise be to you God, now and forever. Amen

 

A Prayer of Dedication

You have sown your sacred gifts of wonder, of peace, of challenge and change within us in the name of Life everlasting.  Thank you, God. You are insistent and persistent in Your hope of justice and compassion for all living things.  Thank you, Holy Spirit.  You are right here, beside us in the everyday struggles and joys of our living, shining the way home.  Thank you Jesus.  Now may these seeds sprout in every nook and cranny of what is broken, that what is beautiful and good may be revealed for your glory.  In your name we ask it.  In your spirit we seek to live it.  Amen.