Thursday, June 4, 2020

Getting turned inside out

This is normally the Sunday you let the junior member of the Clergy preach. Why? Because they will note that it is Trinity Sunday. In noting that it is Trinity Sunday they will take on the monumental task of trying (in one sermon no less!) to explain God and how God is God, being three beings and yet one God. What I have come to discover is something simple: God has revealed himself as Father, Son and Spirit and that they are indeed 3 persons, one God. As such, we need to recognize that the commission that we undertake is from God, with God and for God’s sake. We need to see how we as individuals and as a community fit into this mission and how we are chosen, called, blessed, and sent by Christ, in Christ and for Christ and his kingdom.

The Godhead works together in community to make redemption and salvation possible and available to all those who will come in the response to God’s call upon them and their lives. “For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined He also called; those He called He also justified; those He justified He also glorified. What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:29-31 ESV) 

What I believe is important in look at and considering God is not the mental math we try to wind ourselves in because we have to figure God out. Rather God wants us to God as a community of mission working out the redemption and salvation of the creation that God loves and created, that he might be with them and enjoy them forever.

The feasts of Ascension and of Pentecost (and of Easter as well) that the work of the Church is to multiply the efforts that Jesus himself was making. The Church is to reach out into the world and draw into its fellowship, those who are called and bring them in. So in a real sense, this is the day that the Church gets turned inside out so that we can work at turning the world right side up again. Maybe you think that I might have slipped there. I did not. You see, the world when it fell from its original grace into the sin with the ensuing chaos, destruction, and death, it fell like a piece of bread you have just buttered on to the floor, butter side down. God has reached down to pick us up and there is still the need to clean up the floor. That is where the Church comes in.

We are the Body of Christ and we are called to participate in the drawing of people into relationship with Christ through the life of Christ at work in all of us as the Church. As Bonhoefffer once said, ““The Church is the Church only when it exists for others... not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  Letters and Papers from Prison. And I think it needs to be said that trying to be rational, or philosophical is not going to do the job we are asked to do. We need to be a part of the revelation and the experience of living for God and with Christ through the Spirit.

In this moment, we go from being inside, in the upper room, hiding in the dark, fearful what happens next and praying we are not found out. Now we go from being in that room to be outdoors knowing and understanding that we live in perilous times and in a wound and broken Church. How do I know that? We live in a world where we see 20-25 seconds of a 9 minute video and suddenly the world is a fire for all of the injustices in the world. Have you noticed? What about the store owner or manager that called the police to come for Floyd George and the cashier that was handed a potentially fake bill? Why have they not been considered for anything? What about the person who took the 9 minute (8 minutes and 46 seconds) of video and stood there while another human being dies and no one is offended by that. How come? And lastly the wife of the police officer who immediately filed for divorce: did she do it to avoid the media glower? Did she do it to protect the property she has in case things go badly to protect the lives of their children?

Not that long ago, we remember that Good Day when Jesus died of asphyxiation. We recalled the pain, the darkness, and the suffering on that hill, not just of Jesus but of others as well. We can evoke the silence and the fear of the Saturday that leads into the joy, wonder and amazement of Easter morning. The questions remain before us though: what is our next move? We are called. We are chosen. We are blessed and we are sent. And as Archbishop Rowan Williams would point out, “The hardest place to be is where we are.” Are we staying in or getting out there?


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Breathing on us for renewal

I have to admit that the struggles to do ministry in the past few days have made me wish that we could go back to the days when we were younger. I wish we could go back to the days when we were not so dependant upon technology as we seem to be these days. In fact, I went 21 years in ministry without owning a cell phone. Sure there were times when I would use my wife’s cell for safety but often, we lived in places that were not well all that friendly to technology. The 40 minutes I spent in the car by myself between places was a change to get away from it all. I freely admit that I miss that.

This Sunday we will celebrate and participate (I hope) in the Feast of Pentecost – the 50th Day of Easter. Jesus came to that same place, to that Upper Room where he had spent his last night with his followers before his arrest, the trials and his crucifixion and death. It was the place of refuge from what might happen to them in the light of everything that happened to Jesus.

Jesus had promised to immerse them in the Holy Spirit for power to be witnesses of his life death and resurrection. We as the One, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, so that his people might draw men women and children into a relationship with him and thus, into his kingdom. Let us keep in mind that Pentecost is not just about the coming of the Spirit but the fulfilment of the promises of God around Easter and what he would do for his people. The Spirit comes to and resides in everyone who believes that Jesus is Lord. And in fact, Scripture is clear that when a person declares Jesus as Lord, they do so through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are called to declare that Jesus is Lord through the whole earth and to serve these whom we find to be our neighbours. As we live and serve the Lord, we make known the reality of his incarnation in us. We do these things with amazing love and incredible power so that people around us might see him in us. The immersion of believers into the life and work of the Spirit is foundational and of first import to the work of the Church here on earth.

As a first step, if we are going to take the message of God around the world, would it not be essential to take this message, this news home first? Many are called to the kingdom and there are a few who are called to lead in that work. God calls whom God calls. The Church like the people of Israel is his people, his royal priesthood, his holy nation and therefore his own possession. The Spirit rests upon all those whoa recalled and believe led by a chosen few. And the power that was available to the Church in those early days is still available today – for you and for me in the exercising of ministries.

We can set people free or we can leave them bound and in darkness by how we live and share the Good News with them. The Church’s failure to make known the Good News means that we fail to bear witness to Christ in the world, leaving people in darkness and unable to grasp just who Jesus is. The Church in those circumstances is unable to participate in the life it thinks it has in Christ leaving it both powerless and lifeless. Maybe that means that we need Jesus to come through our barricaded doors at least one more time so that we have to struggle anew with what it means to declare the Jesus has risen and that means he is Lord. We need to see Jesus in our midst, ready and willing to engage us, to breathe out his Spirit upon us so that we are willing to go and help set people free.

If in the going, there are going to be struggles, issues, and problems; if there are going to be disappointments and plagues, then we must remember that Jesus sent us and he is with us in the going and doing of ministry.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

My phone is dying!

Have you ever heard a person cry out, “My phone is dying, my phone is dying!” and then demand that you give up your table so they can sit down and plug they phone and charge while they continue to play Candy Crush? Have you ever done something like that to another person? In this digital age, we obsess with whether our electronic devices are going to continue operating for us and is there a source of power we can tap into to make sure that we can use our digital devices.  Have you ever considered that there are ways in which we need to live so as to care for our lithium batteries so that they give us the most? The very first time you put it on to charge, there are recommended lengths of time for the battery to be charged. How we treat the battery and how often it is charge have a lot to do with how long the battery will last and what kind of service it will give over its lifetime.

The Christian life is no different in that regard. We are now in a ten-day waiting period before we are completely charged and ready to do what God asks of us as individuals and as a Church community. Without waiting and preparation for what is ahead, there could be no blessing and no source of strength for worship or blessing, there is no boom for the work that needs to happen for the kingdom of God to be established in people’s lives. If we do not prepare then we are weak. How did the first disciples prepare for the Charge of Pentecost? They prayed, they worshipped, and they focused on Jesus and on the Father, giving thanks and blessing. Without these things, we are a weak battery and ill-prepared for the job ahead.

It is why in the Easter litany, we have been asking for the believers to be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, so that we can take the joy and the life that Jesus made possible to  the world, that they would see and know him and receive that life because they have seen and known Jesus in us. We are filled with the life of the Holy Spirit for that very purpose. Receiving the Spirit into our lives makes us supercharged to carry out the mission that Jesus has in mind for us. The Holy Spirit is at work in each and in all of us and has been since the very thought of our creation by the Father, creating, renewing and sustaining each and all of us as we work to seek, to see and to serve Jesus in others.

I know that when my time of ministry and life here on earth is done, I don’t want to stand before the Master, and for him to ask me, “So, how was it?” for the only response I am able to give him is, “Well… I survived”. It is not that I would fear wrath but rather that I would disappoint and make him cry because I chose not to completely offer myself to him and use everything available to me in the life of the Spirit to win people into the kingdom of God.

We follow the Lord Jesus, bodily risen from the dead and raised to the right hand of God the Father almighty that he would rule in power and with authority until such time as he is to come again. He lives in this moment, close to the Father, to make intercession for the saints (you and I) and his eyes are fixed on us and all we do and his ears hear all that we say and think. Let us ask our King of glory that we would be given the power and whatever else we need to complete the work, the mission, to draw people to him and that there would be a wonderous celebration of all the saints in light and to the pleasure of our heavenly Father.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

It is a part of our nature

In consideration of the context of this week’s Gospel (John 14:1-14) it is important to know where Jesus said these things, to whom he said them and when he said them. The where is easy: in Jerusalem, in the Upper Room. The when of what he said it was the night he was betrayed and arrested by the authorities while at supper with his disciples. They were celebrating the Passover. Judas had made his plan with the authorities and had been paid the price of his betrayal – 30 pieces of silver. When he discovered at the table that he could bend Jesus to be a political Messiah, he tried to stop the trail and execution but failed. It cost Judas dearly. Peter had promised to be faithful even if it meant his own death. Jesus told him that he would deny his Master three times before the cock crowed in the morning.

That last night, this one last chance was meant to encourage his followers to live the life and walk the road ahead of them. Jesus called on them to live like him, to walk and talk like him. We need to look live and act like Jesus. Jesus to the time to tell them about the road ahead and about the promises of presence and other things.

He tells them not to allow their lives to be shaken to the core by what is about to happen. Jesus encourages the disciples (and his apostles) to go on believing in the Father, which is important but to also continue believing in him. Please understand that faith is far more than head knowledge and a choice to believe that God is here. It is a life that is given into the living of that belief, that you trust the Father and the Son to enable you to have that relationship, welling up into eternal life. Our relationships with God and with one another can grow up and out to become eternal life because God sustains them and eternity is a part of his nature.

So we are challenged in the midst of grief and loss to not allow our lives to be shaken to the core. We are asked to put our trust in God for the way ahead. We are called personally and corporately to love and to believe (that is, to trust in God and participate in what God is doing). We are called to serve and eat together. We are called to hold things in common. Christ calls us to these things and to unity in him so that we can know him and the Father better. Unity, in this case, is not about conformity. It is far more and far above one’s personal or a Church’s corporate theology. We are together for the sake of Christ and in doing so, for the needs of one another who are called into community with him and with us. Jesus prayed that The Father would bind us to him and to one another by and not by fine-sounding doctrine. The unity that Jesus prays for and seeks for the Church is about a deep and profound love rather than for fine sounding doctrine that puts up walls that divide.

Deacon Stephen (Acts 7) would have recognized this. He was called into the ministry of a deacon to enable the Apostles to preach and teach the Word. The awesome thing is that he was able to serve at the table, meet the needs of his community and it doing so was enable to preach and minister to those he was responsible for. Stephen was a man attested to for being a man of deep faith and full of the Holy Spirit. He was known for being full of grace and for his deeds of power through the working of the Spirit. The Book of Acts describes Stephen as the protomartyr because his life, arrest, trial, condemnation, and execution were carried out in a mirrored way to the way the Jesus did. Keep on thing in mind though, not all of us are called to be martyrs. If you are gifted as a martyr, you will only get to use your gift once and at the end of your life.

How we live and how we give to the point of giving and living sacrificially is important first for the life of the Church, then of the winning of the world. The Church is the medium through which God transmits his message of grace mercy and love. We know the way home. It is in Jesus and through Jesus that we live and move and have our beings. Living like Jesus at this moment is what we are called to do so that we can draw others into our fellowship and make our way home together.


Friday, May 1, 2020

There are two kingdoms. Which will you chose?

As I sit to write this week, I am aware that Sunday, May 3rd is a major anniversary for me. I was speaking with a long time friend and brother priest who reminded me that May 3rd was coming and that the day marks the start of our 30th year in full-time ministry. He asked me if I was aware of it and what I thought about it. Sheepishly I admitted that it had not really crossed my mind because of all that had been going on in the day to day stuff in recent weeks. As I have pondered these things and looked at a journal I keep of my ministry, I came to realize just how faithful God has been to my family and to me over and over again through the years. So I want to tie this together with some thoughts I have about the life and ministry over the past 30 years and what still needs to happen because, in the immortal phrase of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m not dead yet.”

This Sunday is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday” because the lessons reveal Jesus and the Father to be such. In fact, in the Old Testament, God is extolled as the Shepherd of Israel. So it is not a surprise for Jesus to reveal himself as the Good Shepherd. He connects his life and ministry both to his Father and to the life and faith of the People of Israel. The Gospel Lesson is a statement that Jesus makes to leaders of the faith in Jerusalem after the healing of a man who was born blind (John 10:1-10). The basic tenor of the speech is about choosing whether you want to live in the Empire or if you would rather seek a better kingdom. That is why the man born blind lives out his faith and is tossed by the religious leaders – he chose to follow Jesus rather than be led by pretenders. Which do you choose, the status quo of the Empire or the freedom of the kingdom?

Human beings because of who and what we are, like to have things that stay the same. The lack of change leaves us thinking that we are in control. Consider carefully who things went for the people of Israel before they were freed by the acts of God on their behalf and what happened between the people and God once, they were across the Red Sea and away from Egypt. Even in the aftermath of the plagues and the moment of being rescued through the Red Sea, the People of Israel started complaining about there being no water, no bread and no meat. They complained and complained and yet God comes through, providing water in the desert, manna in the evenings and birds for meat (Exodus 16 and 17). Yet they kept on complaining saying things like, “Were there no graves in Egypt that you brought us out into the wilderness to die?” we would rather live in chains and be slaves to taskmasters because that life is easier and more predictable than learning to trust that God is going to provide and that we have to depend on him for our daily bread.

That is the biggest lesson I have had to learn and in fact, am continuing to learn. That I need to seek Christ to find my daily bread, my life in him. He is the gate over which I come and go from the sheep pen. He knows my name and calls me to come and follow him each day. He knows my needs, my hopes and fears, and through them draws me, calls me and encourages me. Thus the call on my life is about being willing to give away to others and to serve other people, giving where I can, making sacrifices when necessary.

Let’s go into a better kingdom, you and I.


Thursday, April 23, 2020


In the past few weeks, I have heard a lot of strange phrases uttered, like “the new age of COVID-19” and learning to “live in the new normal”. Well okay, the second one I have used my own self to talk to people about dealing with loss and death. I do it to help them understand that there is a path that needs to be walked and that they can walk it because they are not alone. But there is a list of things that we need to be aware of that can help us to live that new life.

For example, we are to “self-isolate” or to quarantine ourselves to protect lives – including our own. We need to work out our economic troubles and worries. Some demand that the Government support their way of living so that it does not cost them anything. In my own life and ministry, we are dealing with the pandemic and now we are dealing with a flooded church hall. The Church has been broken into and there are looks and doors to fix. There are other important church building issues that need attention but are going to have to wait until things are back to whatever normal looks like. This is when I realized that we need to remember that we must not lose sight of the fact that this is not about us but about God and his Church.

If we consider the words of this week’s Gospel lesson and the Walk on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) There is a great phrase I heard, listen to a bunch of videos as I worked away – Mary Lower, a Christian musician and comedian said, “When the dead sit up, the funeral is over!” The walk to Emmaus then is about three simple things: (1) get the story in, (2) get the story straight and lastly (3) we need to get the story out. (Becky Pippert, “Out of the Saltshaker”) In asking the question, “What things?” Jesus invited the people he was walking with to share what they knew and saw of the events in Jerusalem. They had taken the events of Holy Week in and thought that things were at an end. Things had been really bad on Friday on that hilltop when hope died.  In walking with them and talking with them, Jesus opened up the Scriptures and showed them how Christ had to suffer and die and rise again – helping them to get the story straight. Then at the table together, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them. This caused the people who had been with Jesus to get up from the table and run the seven miles back to the City of Jerusalem and report what they had seen and heard to get their story out.

In doing so they were sharing with others, including Peter, who had seen the risen Jesus the same day.
Remember now, when the dead sit up, the funeral is over. And we have our story to tell. It is not just that Jesus lives, but that because he is alive, Jesus reigns. We need in this time of plaque (and that is what this is) to get the story in, get it straight and then get it out into the community because we have a message that will help people live in hope and with courage. We can help people to turn to God and to begin build relationships with God and with those who God is redeeming. But we must become reenchanted with our story – the Good News of God in Jesus Christ. That he has been crucified and raised from the dead for you and for me. He lives and he reigns.

Do we have the courage to become re-enchanted with our message and through the message to rediscover our first love? We cannot afford to preach a lukewarm, mediocre gospel because if it is true. And because it is true is life-giving. And if our message is lifegiving, it is the most important message in the entire world. This message can make and does make all kinds of real difference in the world and that, beloved, matters to the world who is looking for and in need of some good news and hope in this age of COVID.

Love people perfectly. Live life totally. Be what people need you to be in this moment and serve where you are sent. Be ready to be a help in another person’s trouble and remember, it is Christ himself we serve. In this way, we will get his story out.


Thursday, April 2, 2020

What God is going to do about it.

On Palm Sunday five-year-old Jason had a very sore throat and had to stay home from church with a sitter. When his family returned from the Church service, they carried several palm fronds. Jason asked them what they were for. "People held them over Jesus' head as he walked by," his father told him. "Wouldn't you know it," Jason fumed, "the one Sunday I don't go, and He shows up!"

This will for certain be one of the oddest Palm Sundays of my nearly 30-year ministry. It will be odd because it will be almost totally silent. Palm Sunday s one of those services where we let our liturgy out for a walk. Literally. This is the Sunday where we go for a walk around the Church in procession singing hymns like “Ride on, ride on in majesty”.  There would be tambourines and noisemakers and lots of voices signing as they strode along. That will be happening this year. This year, there will be silence and I suspect I will be straining to hear the rest of creation cry out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

In the Gospel for Palm Sunday, Jesus rides in on a donkey to the City of Jerusalem. As he and the others go along a people gather into a crowd calling on Jesus “Son of David have mercy on us!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” People were looking for healing and mercy so that their lives could be better and they could do better things, do more things and have a better life. They wanted safety. They wanted to be rescued. They wanted to be blessed. Most of all they called for God to be merciful.

You know what mercy is? That is when one person stands between another person and the second person’s disaster, and first-person calls the second to himself to avoid the disaster. That is why Jesus and his death on the cross is crucial. He is lifted up so that we can see him and be drawn to him. God is providing mercy through executing judgment so that we can have that mercy and that rescue, that salvation. Through the cross, Jesus takes our judgment and our punishment. We, in turn, receive the mercy, the grace and the peace of God that passes all our human understanding. We are healed by the stripes he took for us. The cross teaches us about who we are and how far we are going to take this to make sure that we are in control. The cross also points out what God is going to do about it.

We are to follow, even chase if necessary, Jesus up the hill as he makes his way up the hill at Golgotha. We are to seek out the opportunities to build and reconcile relationships. We are to call out for healing and for rescue in the midst of the storm. We are prevailed upon to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus up the hill. We need to count the costs of following and not following Jesus. We need to guard our message and our integrity. We need to be wise in the ways that we walk and act, including our service of God.

Take time to look for Jesus. He is here and he has shown up. Cling to him!


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Responding to life's crisis

In this time of minimalized ministry, I have been taking time to watch and listen to various clergy and preachers to see what is being said about the Covid-19 pandemic and how we should respond to it. There seems to be a common theme of “Choose faith not fear” amongst us. We all have two dogs in this fight: one called faith and the other called fear. Fear at this moment is only natural and total human. We are in a state of fear, of chaos, of sickness and of death. People ask me which is stronger faith of fear? Want to know which one is the strongest? It’s the one you feed. In point of fact, only a fool would have no fear in all that is going on. But there is the other side of things. Where is your faith? Do you remind yourself of what Jesus said, “Who among you can add a single hour to your life by worrying?” What do you believe at this moment? Who do you trust in times of trouble and of fear? Do you choose Jesus?

There is a reality setting in for many of us that we are not in control. This present crisis has highlighted this fact. We are tempted to think about ourselves and do want we want because what doctors, nurses and the governments are supposed to do, is look after us if we get into trouble. I suspect that this is why we are seeing governments at various levels restrict and curtail liberties that we are used to enjoying. Work is shutting down. Schools, gyms, restaurants, even Churches are closed. We are not to be within 6 feet of each other. And yet there are still some who think that this is someone else’s issue, someone else’s problem. It does not affect me. I am not sick. I am going to continue on as usual until I have to change. This is not helpful and is not caring for yourself nor for the people around you.

On the upside, there are some things that we can do and should do in this time of restrictions that are not against the law. These are things that can build us up and allow us to be caring of others and even to effectively proclaim the Good News of God in Christ. (h/t to Nicky Gumbel from Holy Trinity Church, Brompton in the UK as I draw from his inspiration)

Stay Prayerful
Many will know the story of Jesus getting in the boat with his disciples to go across the lake and they end up getting caught up in a storm that is powerful enough to sink the boat. Keep in mind many of these men in this boat are experienced fishermen. They were watching the waves, rain and bracing themselves against the winds. They grew afraid. Where is Jesus? He is in the stern fast asleep on the pilot’s cushion. (Luke 8.22-25). In frustration and fear, they wake Jesus and ask him, “Don’t you care if we die?” Jesus gets up from his nap, and speaks to the storm and says, “Be at peace, be still.” Jesus then turns to his disciples and  asks them, “Where is your faith?”

In moments like this, we are tempted to look at the storm, the things that are going on around us. Such things can cause us to despair and event to fall into depression. Notice what the disciples did, they went to Jesus with their fears and frustrations and asked him to do something about it. Jesus spoke to the storm and calm the situation because his disciples asked him to. It is a simple prayer and of course, God cares for each and for all of us. We need to make our petitions known to God and do so with thanksgiving that God is already there in the situation working for us and for good. We need to be prayerful which not just words, but also keep an attitude of altitude. This means that we know that Jesus in the boat and we are with him. Because we are tempted to fix our eyes on the storm, we need to work at fixing our eyes on Jesus. We can ask for Jesus to stop this illness and to bring health and whole back to us.

Stay wise
One of my favourite verses of Scripture that I use in my own life is “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2nd Timothy 1.6-7 ESV) So, it makes sense for me to say to you, have faith and use soap. When you wash your hands, instead of singing Happy Birthday, sing the Doxology and give thanks to God. We can choose to have faith over fear. We can choose to limit the amount of cable news we get, the amount radio news we listen to and we can choose to fill ourselves to listen to music, make time to pray and to worship which will take our eyes from the storm and help us to focus on Jesus. We can choose faith and put fear in its place.

Stay kind!
Maybe this is a no brainer but there is no need to hoard when we go to the grocery store. People are hoarding hand sanitizer, wipes, toilet paper, flour, meat and other things. We need to consider carefully the examples of the selflessness of others and then try, as best we can to follow in that way. I think of a priest in Italy who came down with this horrible virus and his parish went out and bought him a ventilator so that he could survive and continue to serve his people. Then he heard of a young boy who needed the ventilator and he demanded that he be removed from his and the machine be taken to the boy. Shortly after the priest died of the illness but the boy he gave the machine to, lives. Be kind to others. It is life-giving. Be generous and let us make sure that we care for the vulnerable.

Stay united
Remember to stay united with one another. We are fighting a virus, not one another. Never waste an opportunity to extend forgiveness or for reconciliation. Invite people to the online services and there might be opportunities to share the Good News with those who need it.

Stay Connected
Be wary of isolating yourself to the point where you cut yourself off from everyone else. There may need to be physical distance, but we need to stay connected. There are lots of ways to do this through phones, emails, texting, video chatting, even old fashion note and letter writing.

Stay Confident
Finally, I know that when I discovered what might be coming in terms of illness and that as a person with an “underlying health condition” I was going to increasingly isolate myself for my protection I found myself angry because I could not control what was happening and going to happen. It was a reminder, that as much as I like to think I am in control, I am not. But then I know that Jesus is and that he has called me into the boat to be with him in this storm. Jesus is in control. Jesus reigns. He came to us in flesh and blood. He suffered and knew pain. He has been through it all including death and the grave and yet he lives. And because he lives, he is in the boat and he is in control right now.

Let us put our eyes on Jesus. Let us cast our burdens on Jesus for he cares for us. Let us choose faith over fear. And let us remember we are in the palm of his hand. He has us so much more than we have him. Thanks be to God for that.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Are you blind?

The furore of the last few days and the decisions of the last 24 hours have left a few people relieved and some others reeling just because of the speed and magnitude of the decisions. I have no doubt that when (and not if) we come through the other side of this latest crisis and latest virus, that a scene, not all that different from what happens in John 9 is going to take place.

I discovered that people with powerful testimonies of God’s rescue and restoration had to endure much pain and suffering to obtain them. We don’t and we didn’t consider much less get that as human beings. I know I didn’t. I used to sit as a student in the Church Army College/Headquarters in prayer meetings on Thursday nights with a cast of characters, including my classmates. Many of them had wonderful and occasionally very funny stories to tell about God reached out to them when they thought life was coming to an end. There was a logical progression of things – who you were before, what Christ did to transform you and how your life is different now from the first.

We are told of a man (in John 9) born blind. He was clearly known to Jesus and to his disciples because they could look at him and know at least a few things about him. The disciples assumed that there must have been spiritual wrong in this man’s life: why else would he have been blinded. So, it is a natural question: “Who sinned? Did he? Did his parents? Who is responsible for this tragedy? Who needs to be blamed?”

Is it not incredible, that Jesus points out that it is not about the man or his parents but about God and the kingdom? This man’s life is about putting on full display, the grace and glory of God for the world around him to see. Then, interestingly, Jesus ducks out and goes away. He disappears almost completely along with the disciples. What gives? Where did he go? Why did he leave? Did anyone see where Jesus went?

If there is a single lesson that I have learned about being healed, it must be this: there is life at the end of the miracle that needs to be lived out like a light in the darkness. As believers, we are called on to reflect his light through our lives so that even though Christ seems absent. And that takes work to be reflective of his light, his love, his life. And doing so we bring Jesus to the community and make him visible. It is why the man with new eyes says to those question him about Jesus asks the question, “Do you want to be his disciples too?”

The goal of John’s Gospel is a simple one: that having encountered Jesus that you would believe in him and through him, have eternal life. Those who look to accuse Jesus of being a false healer and teacher, of breaking the rules of the Sabbath are then told by Jesus that because they claim to know God and his ways are actually blind. They are blind to who God is and to what God is doing. It is interesting that unlike the man with new eyes, the religious people are willing to sit there with mud on their faces and refuse to go and wash, remaining blind to the reality of what God is working amongst them. Being blind, leave them guilty of not recognizing the presence of God amongst them and therefore are sinning by calling it the power of evil.

It is his light in us and it is up to us to make that next move. He has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Ought we not to be 'pumped' about God being present here, in this place, at this moment and to be with him? Should we not take that next step to bring light to the darkness, hope to the helpless and courage to those who are frightened. Should we not feed the hungry, clothe the naked and befriend the lonely and the stranger? Should we not offer them Jesus, that might have life in his name?


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Come and see then go and tell

You need to come and see and then you can go and tell… did you know that? I think you might have. The Gospel this week is about the day after Jesus is baptised and revealed to be the Messiah (John 1.29-42). He walks by John who baptized him the day before. You remember. John had objected to the idea that he should baptize Jesus – he wanted Jesus to baptize him. Why was it important for John to baptize Jesus? In a word, revelation. John did not know for certain that Jesus was the Son of God until this fact was revealed to him by the Father and the Spirit. There was the bird coming down to him and a voice that John could hear. At that moment, John knew that he knew that it was Jesus that he needed to tell other people about.

Hence, this is why he loudly declared the next day that Jesus was “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world… behold him!”. We use it in our eucharistic worship to declare that we too see Jesus and recognize him for who he truly is. We come forward to receive the bread and the wine so that we can participate in and declare ourselves to be a part of his body in the world. From there, we are sent out into the world (having been broken up like the bread and dismissed from the presence of the Lord) to see and serve Jesus in the world. In fact, we are living out our own baptisms, is spite of the fact that most if not all of us don’t remember the act of being baptised our own selves.

We are compelled to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbour as ourselves.” It is something that is promised in act of baptism and continues in the living out of that baptism: that we are going to actively search for Christ and wherever and whenever we find him,  serve him in the places and spaces and in the people we discover we are neighbours with. It is not upon us to fix them, agree with them, like or even like them. We need to leave the notion that we remain trapped in high school behind and disabuse ourselves of such notions.

It is incumbent upon us to serve Christ wherever and whenever we find him, seeking to love him through our service and love of those who we find to be our neighbours. We do this not as individuals but as a community of believers. We see and receive Jesus together and then we through out the rest of the week seek Jesus, to find him wherever we ourselves go. There is a pattern to the ways in which we witness to Christ’s presence in this community.  We look for Jesus and when we find him, we receive him that we might know him. In knowing him, we can tell others about our encounters with Jesus and how we saw him. This will encourage others to seek him where they are and where they go, so that they can see Jesus and know him for themselves.

If there is to be another generation of the Anglican Church of Canada across this country then there is a necessity in people, believers and followers of Christ to draw people who have not seen into their lives, their homes, their schools and workplaces, their churches. We need to invite and draw them in so that they can see and receive him and then go out and tell others what they have seen.