Sunday, October 02, 2016

God not in a box

I will be away during the coming week. But here are my initial thoughts about next weeks readings. There will be no sermon notes. I will not be preaching. Just holidaying and such.



Theme for next week.
It is so easy to box God in, to define who God is and how God will act. And usually it is in ways we can manage. We do it all the time. It shapes how we read scripture, how we see God at work in the world and in our lives and how we see ourselves. Too often we are blinded and mislead by this easy definition.
Today’s readings invite us to let go of our assumptions of God. In the gospel reading Jesus steps beyond the accepted boundaries and shows mercy to all who ask, even when they would not have seemed worthy. His criteria, God’s criteria for mercy are endlessly generous.  Jesus does that. Just keeps stepping out of our safe definitions and inviting us to a much bigger and more generous life. Are we brave enough to accept?

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Francis and our pets





     1.    Introduction


The sermon of St. Francis

‘O birds, my sisters, you owe much to God your Creator and you must praise Him always and everywhere for he has given you freedom to fly wherever you like, and he has also given you double and triple raiment, and he has preserved your seed in the ark of Noah, so that your kind should not grow less on earth; and furthermore you must thank him for the element of air which he has assigned to you. What is more you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you, and has given you the streams and fountains to drink from, the mountains and the hills to shelter you and the high trees whereon you can build your nests. And although you can neither spin or sew, God clothes you and your children. Therefore the Creator loves you dearly, as he has given you so many blessings, and so, my sisters, beware of the sin of ingratitude and be always eager to praise God’

                                                         

    2.    The sin of ingratitude


Let’s spend a moment then thinking about our pets

            those we bought

            those at home

            those we have shared our lives with over the years

what it is that we are thankful, grateful for?

conversation



     3.    A tale


It is reported that the following edition of the Book of Genesis was discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls. If authentic, it would shed light on the question, "Where do pets come from?"

And Adam said, "Lord, when I was in the garden, you walked with me every day. Now I do not see you anymore. I am lonesome here and it is difficult for me to remember how much you love me."

And God said, "No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will know I love you even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish and childish and unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourself."

And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam; and it was a good animal. And God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and he wagged his tail.

And Adam said, "But Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and all the good names are taken and I cannot think of a name for this new animal.”

And God said, "No problem! Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a mirror reflection of my own

name, and you will call him DOG."

And Dog lived with Adam and was a companion to him and loved him. And Adam was comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a while, it came to pass that Adam's guardian angel came to the Lord and said, "Lord, Adam has become filled with pride. He struts and preens like a peacock and he believes he is worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught him that he is loved, but no one has taught him humility. "

And the Lord said, "No problem! I will create for him a companion who will be with him forever and who will see him as he is. The companion will remind him of his limitations, so he will know that he is not worthy of adoration."

And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam. And Cat would not obey Adam. And when Adam gazed into Cat's eyes, he was reminded that he was not the Supreme Being. And Adam learned humility. And God was pleased. And Adam was greatly improved. And Cat didn't give a damn one way or the other.[1]



We have much to be grateful for in our pets

they remind us how much we are loved

and how to love – that it is not a one way street.

and they keep us humble



     4.     St. Francis


Today we also remember one great saints – Saint Francis

who knew all his sins – saw himself as greatest sinner

and that with that he was still deeply and profoundly loved

            most of us struggle to accept that

must have had a lot cats and dogs in his life when growing up

more than that

knew that every single person was deeply and profoundly loved by God

            most of us really struggle to get our heads around

knew it

lived it amongst the poorest

            among lepers and despised

            among hate foe – Muslims of Sultanate of Egypt

                        in midst crusades

today our pets invite us to know that despite all our faults

we and all who live in this land are deeply loved b God

we are invited to live in such way that they experience that love

            no matter who they are

            no matter how different

            no matter what they believe



5.     Conclusion


So let us not be quality of the sin of ingratitude

Let us give thanks for our pets

Live out our gratitude





[1] http://www.uuman.org/pdf/04-03-11-PetTales.pdf

Friday, September 30, 2016

Having Enough Faith?



Gate Pa – Year C - 20th  Sunday Pentecost; 27th  Sunday of Ordinary Time
Readings:
Psalm                          Lamentations 3:19-26
First Reading:                         Lamentations 1:1-6                            
Second Reading:        2 Timothy 1:1-14                          
Gospel:                        Luke 17:5-10                                         

What I want to say:
What does it mean to increase our faith? Is this a real question? What is it we have faith in God to do? Fix it? Be with us in the midst of life?
What I want to happen:
people to reflect on what it is we have faith in God to do?

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

sad story from Facebook
people posted – praying hard son healed
            believed son healed
            God glorified
            have faith
three days – son died
            hard imagine devastation
            family
many people who had had faith God would intervene
God would heal little boy
several posted how angry and devastated they were that God had not healed him
some wondered if they had had enough faith
            maybe if they had had more?
so many asked
-         why God has this happened
-         and why did you not heal this little boy
-         why did you not spare this faithful family this terrible pain?
They had faith that God would fix it
but God didn’t fix it
maybe if they had more faith?

     2.     Disciples

disciples too were looking for more faith
today heard how they asked Jesus for more faith
with each story
            Jerusalem gets closer
with that disciples get both more hopeful and more anxious
            they hope that their arrival will cause miraculous toppling of both Rome and Judean elite
            reign God restored
            Jesus at centre of all that
            they - his disciples also at centre
seen enough crosses on the road and during their lives to know how this story usually ended
seen enough death to know that Romans, Herod and Sanhedrin did not take threats lightly
so they wavered
            they believed
            and they doubted
“increase our faith!” they said
increase our faith that you will win
that we will win
with the friends on Facebook they prayed
increase our faith that you God will fix this
and it will be all good

     3.     The cross

We the hearers know that with each step the shadow of the cross grows darker
we know that God does not fix it
we know this path leads to betrayal
guilt
devastation
death
Jesus knows that with each step the shadow of the cross grows darker
that God will not fix it
that this path leads to betrayal
guilt
devastation
death
What then is faith?
what it is that we are to have faith in God to do?

     4.     Jesus responds

to be honest it is hard to know how to read Jesus’ response
some suggest he is saying that with the smallest amount of faith we can do miraculous things – including planting mulberry bushes in the sea
-         which is miraculous, and silly
some say that he is saying faith will lead us to see things in new and out of the box ways
-         like planting a mulberry bushes in the sea
-         who would have thought of that
some say that they really are missing the point
            either have faith
            or not
ð like your arm is broken, or not
ð or pregnant – or not
just giving facetious answer
because Jesus wasn’t about casting mulberry bushes into the sea
he was about changing the world
was faithful to his disciples
loyal to them as they were to him
that is what we are talking about here
being loyal
being faithful
trusting
that is faith
saying – either you are loyal and trusting
or you are not
together we are living reign of God
wherever that will lead

     5.     Faith

what it is we have faith in God to do?
fix it all?
Bible really clear that God will not fix it
reading of Lamentations is this astounding reading of grief in face fall of Jerusalem
people are left crying out
-         why God has this happened
-         and why did you not stop the destruction
-         why did you not spare we your faithful people this terrible pain?
today we join in that lament
that prayer to a God who does not fix it
and we bring our own griefs
our own cries
-         why God has this happened
-         and why did you not stop this
-         why did you not spare us your faithful people this terrible pain?

     6.     Faithful Praying

to be able to pray that is to have faith
trusting that God is with us even when it is not fixed
            even when we are in midst of the darkest place
God is there
faith is not gaining rewards
faith is not holding on to a God will fix it all
we are not asked to trust that God will make it all good if we have enough faith
So what is faith?
faith is trusting God
that God is bringing in reign of God
creation is being restored
faith is trusting in reign of God when all evidence is to the counter
faith is trusting that God is with us
            even when nothing is fixed
            when there seem to be no rewards
            even when all we can do is join in the lament
so then
what it is that we are to have faith in God to do?