Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Last Sunday's sermon reflection was challenging.  The staff determined that during Advent we would look at some of the characters of the Christmas story and see what they might have to say to us about the lives we live.  We are going to be aided each week by insights from some folks within the church.  This week we looked at the little known character of Simeon, an old man, who was wandering around the Jewish temple hoping God would send a saviour to Israel.  When Mary brings her new babe to the temple Simeon believes that his hope has been realized in the baby Jesus.  So I got musing about hope - Dayle's comments about supporting refugees also spoke about the need for hope.  What I found challenging is that although Simeon's long experience of waiting was realized, our hopes don't always result in what we hoped for.  Lots of couples long for a baby but it does not come.  Lots of refugees long for a new life in Canada but remain in refugee camps.  It is not an easy "one, two step" from hope to realization.  So what is the gospel message for us?  My conclusion is that "holding on to hope" is the vocation of Christians.  Sometimes all we have to offer someone in despair is the willingness to hope with them.  Does this make sense to you?  Have you had hopes that were realized?  Have you had hopes that were not realized?  Do you help to carry hope for some people?  I look forward to any insights you might share.

Monday, 13 November 2017

In yesterday's sermon I explored the often uneasy relationship between science and faith.  The Governor-General's recent remarks on this topic left me sad because she seemed to suggest that science and faith can't co-exist.  It was important to acknowledge the culpability of religious institutions in dismissing science -mostly in bygone centuries, but sadly in certain segments of Christianity to this day.  Only a person with their head in the sand can't see the important impact of science on human life; however; I am convinced that spiritual pursuits also had, and continue to have, important contributions to animating human life.  We need to recognize the metaphorical nature of ancient texts even while allowing that there may be embedded mysteries we don't understand - what we must not do, in my opinion, is dismiss them as irrelevant or outdated.  In the sermon I argue against a dualistic and oppositional view of science and spirituality and suggest a mutual respect in so much as they bless and enhance our lives and the life of the planet.

What are your thoughts about the relationship between science and faith?  I look forward to your comments.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Vision and Investment

Even though I believe that no one in the church should apologize for speaking about money (after all every dimension of our lives involves saving, managing and spending money), the Annual Stewardship Sermon always seems a little uncomfortable for the preacher.  This year it occurred to me that money and vision are inextricably tied together.  If we have a vision for our community of faith it will invariably involve money whether that's to welcome a refugee, heat the building or employ the custodian.  Yet, giving money without a vision is not very exciting.  I invite you to use this blog to name some of the visions/hopes you have for our community of faith.  In what should St. Martin's being investing itself?  Where does the gospel story, our personal passions and the interests of the culture intersect?  That is where our focus should be.  I look forward to your ideas.  

PS - in a recent workshop I was introduced to the idea of saying "thanks" for one's financial commitment.  As one of the most public figures for our congregation I decided to express personal appreciation to everyone who exited the church today for their financial commitments.  It was fun and felt good to say thanks ...  if you weren't in church on Sunday then, "Thank you for every way in which you support St. Martin's United Church!"