Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Pregnant World

A birth is anticipated. It is the birth a a child. It is the birth of the child -- the promise of life. It is the Spirit of God, at work in our world, exciting our minds and hearts with all the potential in this world. There are so many people doing so many wonderful things in the world today. A new wind blowing, a new day approaching -- a world pregnant with possibility and hope.
listen view

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Changing Course

In this gospel reading, John the Baptist recognizes the potential God has planted in this world and in this time. We are called to recognize that potential, to discern it, to perceive it. And when we perceive it, we find ourselves looking in a direction that is at least a little bit different from looking straight ahead. To move toward it requires a change of direction. Thus repentance.
listen view

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Covenant Mercy

We need to take mercy out of the narrow context of wrongdoing and expand it to the difficulty of life. Scott Peck says that life is difficult, but once we accept that fact, it is no longer so difficult. We also speak of life in contentious, belligerent terms -- "how goes the battle?" Mercy makes life gentle -- eases the burden. Jesus says, "My yoke is easy and my burden light." Mercy is rest from our labours and the restoration of what we have lost.
listen

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Human Destiny

What lies ahead ultimately for the human race and indeed for the whole creation? In our time, we are offered an array of differing visions. How we choose makes all the difference.
listen view

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eternal Soul

What threatens our soul in the life and this world? What do we resist in order to preserve our life for eternity? We die at peace when our life has been given to something beyond our life. To what would we "lose our life in order to save it"?
listen view

Sunday, November 1, 2009

For All the Saints

All Saints Day is a time for celebrating all those who have died-- all of "the saints"-- by welcoming their spirits into our presence. In true Christian faith, the presence of the spirits of the dead is a blessed presence-- neither a morbid view of death, nor a denial of death, but a celebration of life beyond death.
listen view

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Affirming Stewardship

How do we do stewardship in an Affirming Ministry? We value our church in a diversity of differing ways. But above all, it is an opening of our hearts to one another. As the heritage passes from one generation to the next, it is cherished both in the receiving and in the letting go.
listen view

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rest in the Promise

Thanksgiving Sunday.
It is so easy to let our anxiety about the future take hold of us. But gratitude for all that God has done in our lives, makes us able to embrace God's promise for the future. It is in this simple and pure faith that we rejoice today.
listen view

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fighting for Life

(Ethics Series, Part 6)
When, if ever, is it appropriate for states to take military action against another state for the purpose of protecting people at risk in that other state? Here, we are challenged to join together as a global community to forge a consensus on how to prevent violence, and cultivate dignity and respect for the whole human family. The Christian tradition has its contribution to make along with the multicultural mix of people of good will throughout the world.
Responsibility to Protect United Church
Decade to Overcome Violence World Council of Churches
Listen View

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Caring for Life

(Ethics Series, Part 5)
We have very difficult decisions before us about how much money should be spent on Health Care and how available resources should be allocated. It appears that we cannot satisfactorily resolve these questions solely on the basis of scientific, economic and political direction. Hence the present movements to reclaim the art and the spirit of health care practice.
Listen View

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Responsibility for Life

(Ethics Series, Part 4)
Stem-cell production and the prospect of human cloning represent another new frontier in technology which brings with it enormous possibilities for good and for evil -- for blessing and for curse. And we are rightfully wary. It challenges us to look at life differently: to change our perception in some ways, yet trusting God's touch, we need not fear having our eyes opened in new ways. It also places enormous responsibility in the hands of the human family, yet trusting in God, we do not need to be overwhelmed by the choices, but only to proceed faithfully.
Listen View

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sharing Life

(Ethics Series, Part 3)
We are rightfully proud of our Canadian culture. And we recognize that it is a mosaic or blend of many cultures. Today many new cultures are being added and we celebrate the richness of even greater diversity. However, we also have difficult choices to make about the limits of tolerance for traditions that seem to conflict with our Canadian culture or even undermine it. How do we distinguish between the foreign traditions that are enriching, or at least harmless; and those that should be refused, because they represent to us a violation of human rights and dignity?
Listen View

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Respect for Life

(Ethics Series, Part 2)
The question of euthanasia or assisted suicide is really a matter of respect for human life. And there comes at time for some people when to let go of life is a true expression of respect for life. It is essential for us to be compassionate with one another, not judgemental, since the mystery of life and death is beyond our attempts to reduce and simplify.
Listen View

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blessed Are You Poor

(Ethics Series, Part 1)
God looks at the world through the eyes of the poor, the outcast, the vulnerable, the oppressed. This "strategic option for the poor" is an insight that is prevalent in the Bible and renewed in our awareness by the liberation theologies of the 1960s. It points to the change of perception and change of heart that is foundational to an ethical approach to economic decision-making and foundational to the hope for social justice.
Listen

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mission: Compassion

(Church Series, Part 3)
The church has moved from the centre to the edge of society, and this has a great deal of impact on our understanding of the church's mission. In some ways, it is an opportunity to reclaim the prophetic voice of Christianity in our deep commitment to the mending of the world.
Listen

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Witness

(Church Series, Part 2)
The proclamation of the gospel is part of our mission as a church. What is our authority to proclaim this gospel? This is a question around which a good deal of change has happened in the church in recent decades. And witness is one of the signposts that is pointing us to some inspiring answers.
Listen

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Deeper Hunger

Church Series, Part 1

Today we hear people talking about being more "spiritual" than "religious", so this challenges the church to creatively respond to this deeper hunger for spiritual life and growth.

To read the article quoted in the sermon, please see: "I'm Not Religious; I'm Spiritual", The Observer, 2009 June: http://www.ucobserver.org/faith/2009/06/not_religious/

listen

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Dancing God

(Trinity Series, Part 3)
In a dynamic sharing of life, the triune God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier; Father, Mother, Child - dance together in the eternal sacred dance of life. As God shares life within God-self and all of creation, so we are called to share each other's lives, dancing together as a community of faith.
listen view

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Community of Three

(Trinity Series, Part 2)
The three persons of the Trinity form a community, partnership, or family and this roots our understanding of God in relationship, the context of love, compassion, covenant and justice.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Blessings All Around

Celebration of Affirming Ministry
To be an Affirming Ministry is not only an act of justice and gracious inclusion of people who might otherwise be excluded, not only a blessing to them, but a blessing to all of us. None of us is truly included unless all of us are included. The whole life of the congregation is enriched and blessed.
listen

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Poetry of the Sacred

Trinity Series, Part 1
As we consider the words we use to name and describe the triune God, we touch a place of artistry and beauty, the wellspring of the poetry of the sacred. When we go beyond the rigid dogmatism of "trinitarian formulae" we enter the rich territory of the expression of our experience of the Sacred from the depth of our hearts.
listen

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In the Power of the Spirit: the Prophet

Christ Series, Part 5
The prophets of the Hebrew tradition left a rich legacy of vision and truth about God's purpose of peace and justice. In Jesus' time, that prophetic voice had fallen silent, but in Jesus, people recognized that voice speaking again. However, Jesus' prophetic voice had an immediacy, authority, depth of insight, and courage that not like anything they had heard before. He truly spoke in the power of the Spirit, and then declared that that very Spirit is poured out on all of us.
listen

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Covenant: the Priest

Christ Series, Part 4
Jesus is portrayed a the High Priest in his role as mediator between God and humanity, but this image is transformed in many ways. The blood of this covenant is his own blood, his life released and shared with all. It is a final sacrifice, once for all time, the end of sacrificial atonement. And its purpose changes from purification to compassion. Not just a new covenant, but an entirely new kind of covenant.
listen

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wisdom of God: the Sage

Christ Series, Part 3
Jesus was not primarily talking to wicked people, trying to pursuade them to be good; he was talking to good people who were living like fools, trying to pursuade them to open their hearts to sacred wisdom. It is an alternative wisdom that stands in ironic tension with conventional wisdom, both deeply rooted in the Hebrew tradition, and profoundly relevant for today.
listen

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Son of David: Christ the King

Christ Series, Part 2
The ancient promise of a kng who would rule Israel with wisdom, peace and justice stands in dramatic contrast with the brutality of the Roman empire of Jesus' time. Jesus proclaimed the reign of God, which challenged, fulfilled and transformed both images. Today, this ironic expression, Christ the King, shapes our understanding of what it means for God to reign in our world and in our hearts.
listen

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Suffering Servant: Lamb of God

Christ Series, Part 1
The suffering servant songs in Isaiah portray a redemptive meaning to innocent suffering and the connection to the passion of Christ is unmistakable. We have difficulty with this idea because it has been interpreted in ways that are tragically wrong. But we must ask, When we clear those wrong interpretations away, is there an interpretation that contains genuine truth for understanding God's action in relaiton to human existence?
listen

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Light out of Darkness

This Christ-light now rises from the darkness of the tomb to shine far beyond the darkness of the world, inviting us to behold with Christ the light of eternity. This is the vision of eternity that transforms our perception of the world and our life in it.
listen

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Light into Darkness

This one we call the Light of the World rides into the heart of the darkness of the world, boldly declaring that the darkness will never overcome the light.
listen

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Healing Grace

Grace series, Part 5
For many people, life feels like a struggle to find your
true self. It often feels like we're disjointed inside. The
trouble is that we seek affirmation on the outside when
what we need can only be achieved from the inside out.
Through the gift of grace, we come to a sense of inner
wholeness.
view listen

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Guiding Grace

Grace series, Part 4
As we seek guidance from self-help books and counselors, it sometimes feel like the blind leading the blind. We want to be told what to do, but there’s no quick fix. Instead God offers the gift of wisdom to help us find our way. The trick is learning to recognize God's voice.
view

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Forgiving Grace

Grace series, Part 3
In the face of our own wrong-doing, we experience grace as acquittal after being found guilty. There is a healthy experience of guilt that we need not fear. There is a truly soul-destroying moment in life when we are broken and paralyzed by our guilt until we can admit the whole truth before God and receive the Divine Grace which truly sets us free.
listen view

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Awakening Grace

Grace Series, Part 2
So much that is in our modern world is designed to put us to sleep, to domesticate us, to manipulate and controll us. We are lulled into complacency by our fears and our addictions. There is a kind of awakening that returns us to a wild state in the sense of being alert and wary of the dangers and hazards of life, especially on the spiritual plane.
listen view

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Liberating Grace

Grace Series, Part 1
We are suburban captives -- caught in a merciless treadmill of life blazing on as if in free-fall. The biblical answer is Sabbath. We have all but lost Sabbath in our modern culture, especially with the deterioration of our Lord's Day Act. So we have to learn to practice Sabbath with more creativity and flexibility. This spirit of Sabbath is our transition into Lent.
listen view

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Respect in Creation

Creation Series, Part 6
The planetary ecological crisis demands a changed view of our relationship with nature. According to our own creed we are called, as the church, "to live with respect in creation". So we seek a mutuality in our true relationship with the rest of creation.
listen view

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Single Family Planet

Creation Series, Part 5
Our faith in God the Creator gives us a profound unity with all of creation, including the poor and oppressed. It also moves us into a commonality with many other faiths and philosophies.
listen view

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Our Sacred Grove

Creation Series, Part 4
We are inspired by special places in nature, and native and Celtic spirituality recognize sacred places: locations where the “veil is especially thin”. We need contact with nature (walking, gardening, camping, hiking, etc.) as an essential part of our spiritual well-being.
listen view

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cosmic Holiness

Creation Series, Part 3
The unimaginably vast expanse of the universe makes it harder for us to picture a loving creator throughout it all. So we have to shift from linear (God is up) thinking to circular (God is in the centre) thinking. We look inward more than upward to see God.
listen view

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Image of God

(Creation Series, Part 2)
God is the author of nature, and this includes human nature. This points to a high view of human nature. And it portrays nature and grace as complimentary, rather than contradictory opposites.
listen view

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Creation

(Creation Series, Part 1)
Our baptism is a re-entry into the primal waters, alluding to the story of creation. So here we begin the new year with the beginning: Creation as a foundational element of our Christian theology.
listen view

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Close to the Father’s Heart

This follows up on the heart theme at Christmas. We spoke of the heart of Christmas. Now, in a way, we can speak of Christ as one in whom we see the heart of God. This living from the heart of God is part of the way of wisdom. So this is a new year's message, pointing us toward the way of wisdom for the living of the coming year.
listen view