Carol – the First Noel
The popular Christmas Carol, The First Noël, is believed to date from the 13th or 14th century, a time in which all medieval civilization in Europe was springing to life. The inspiration for the story of the song comes from dramatizations of favorite Bible stories for holidays, which were called the Miracle Plays, and were very popular during this time. It tells the story of the night that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, based on the Gospel accounts […]
Isaiah 49: 1-7, Psalm 40, John 1: 29-42
It is interesting that during a time of adversity and conflict that God calls for a style of leadership that is not ashamed of vulnerability but sees in it an opportunity to share experience and strength with other people who are equally or more vulnerable. God uses words and servants to accomplish God’s purposes in the world.
This message is expressed so eloquently in Isaiah 49, today’s reading, which is the second of […]
Isaiah 42:1-9 ,Psalm 29, Matthew 3: 13-17
We have been worrying a lot about water these days in the middle of winter, especially the water that has been falling from the sky in the form of rain and freezing rain, coating branches and sidewalks making it an icy and dangerous terrain for people on foot and vehicles on the roads. On the other side of the world however, in Australia they are dealing with the devastation caused by lack of […]
Ephesians 3: 1-12, Psalm 72, Mt 2: 1-12
We think that we know this birth narrative story very well, along with the story from Luke where shepherds and angels lead the way to the Christ child. But like any good story, it endures, not because the details are historically accurate, but because it spins a story out of the anxiety of a particular age while tapping into the yearning for a different and better future, a yearning which is universal […]
Christmas Eve Meditation
It is interesting to me how so much of Christmas has become about the gifts, which comes with a certain amount of anxiety as well as a sense of anticipation of the expression that will be on the faces of those we give to, as well as the sense of affirmation we might receive in being given a most thoughtful gift. It doesn’t matter that we know this celebration is coming every year for Christians, many of […]
Isaiah 7: 10-16, Psalm 80, Matthew 1:18-25
We all know that our names carry a lot of meaning, pointing towards our family lineage and identity, carrying the stories of our family’s journey with all their hardships and successes. Any parent knows both the joy and challenge of finding the appropriate name for a new born child, deciding whether to carry on some vestige of family names to honour your past, or to express some spiritual quality found in nature such […]
Isaiah 11: 1-10, Psalm 72, Matthew 3: 1-12
In the Advent season we open our hearts again to the prophets both ancient and modern who will help us find our way on the path toward life, toward the vision that God has planned for our world, our societies and even for every heart that longs for change and renewal. Last week we met the prophet Isaiah who was a prophet that worked within the system to both critique it and […]
Advent 1, Isaiah 2: 1-5, Matthew 24: 36-44
Today we begin our season of Advent, the season of waiting, longing and re-imagining the world and our lives through the lens that God will give us through the visions of prophets – Isaiah and John the Baptist, Mary as she brings to fullness the Christ child, and through the actions of the courageous and loving husband – Joseph. By the time we welcome the birth of Jesus and join our voices […]
Philippians 1:3-11 Psalm 98, VU 818, Refrain 1 Luke 6:39-49
Let’s play a game. Can you guess when this was written?
“I came to St. Paul’s-Eastern United Church nine years ago. For me it was a great joy as I like the church building and downtown Ottawa. It was obvious, though, that there were great needs here. The church had been and we are still buffeted from the general malaise our society today has toward churches, the gentrification of this area, […]
Haggai 1:15b-2:9, 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-5, 13-17
There couldn’t be a message more timely than this speech from Haggai who brings a word of encouragement to a people who have grown weary in rebuilding their lives and their temple, reminding them of the presence of God not only in the past, but even now in their present circumstances, planting seeds of hope for a promising future. Especially in this season of Remembrance when we look to the past century stained […]
2 Thessalonians 1: 1-3, 11-12, Psalm 119 past 6, Luke 19: 1-10
Luke has taken us deeply to the heart of the message that Jesus repeatedly taught -that God’s love and redemption is meant for all kinds of people – the poor, the blind, the lame, men, women and children, lawyers and fisher folks and even those who may have earned their wealth through corruption. Everyone can be redeemed or saved. Jesus also knows that the disciples and his followers […]
2 Kings 5: 1-15c, Psalm 66, Luke 17:11-19
Again we hear of the chasm between the world’s ways of thinking and God’s ways of thinking. The world thinks these things matter to God and salvation—war horses, chariots, generals, kings, letters of introduction from the influential, wealth, complicated religious rituals, cleaner and better rivers and waters. And those who are successful according to the ways of the world think such things matter too and will influence God.
But they do not.
The Old […]
Timothy 1:1-14, Luke 17:5-10
It is so important for each of us to find encouragement for our journey of faith as Christians and one of the most important ways is to keep in touch with your faith roots – after all, faith seeds will not grow if there are no roots sent into the ground to draw nourishment. Paul reminds the younger pastor he is mentoring to rekindle the gift of God, to recapture the spirit of courage, power, love […]
1 Timothy 6: 6-19, Psalm 91, Luke 16: 19-31
As we move more deeply into the current elections campaigns, it seems as though this parable was designed for this fall as the various political parties put forward their platforms for bridging the various gaps in our society, between the rich and the poor, the housed and the homeless, the healthy and those needing care…. Some folks of course just want to give the promise that if they had the power […]
1 Corinthians 1: 18-31, Psalm 29, Luke 8: 22-25
After many years of marriage and a number of tense moments, our friends, Don and Kevin, had come to an agreement: Kevin would not interrupt Don’s concentration when he was in the middle of a project. On a number of occasions Kevin had interrupted Don when he was deeply involved in a task, much to his consternation. Finally, they agreed that when he wanted to ask him something, he would wait […]
Psalm 57: 7-10, Psalm 98: 4-6, Ephesians 5: 19-20a, Luke 15: 25
What music and what groaning do we hear in creation today that we might not have heard before? How might the church sing a new song for the sake of creation?
I heard an amazing story this week from a new CBC series called ‘Faces of Ottawa’, somewhat ironic given that it was a radio interview. She began the series with a gentleman who has been playing his saxophone […]
Psalm 81 Part 2, Hebrews 13: 1-8, 15-16
Wedding practices aren’t what they used to be, at least in our culture here in Ontario. Millennials seem to be challenging the customs that their parents may have had (unless of course they had hippies for parents who favoured flower child weddings in the woods). Many couples are doing away with the formal meal at their wedding in favour of holding the ceremony and festivities in a restaurant, arts centre, museum or […]
Hebrews 11: 29-12:2, Psalm 80 VU 794-5 Part 2, Gospel: Luke 12: 49-56
“I’ve come to start a fire on this earth – how I wish it were blazing right now! I’ve come to change everything, turn everything rightside up- how I long for it to be finished! Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront!” Luke 12, 49-51 The Message
No doubt this is one of those […]
Hebrews 11: 1-3, 8-16, Luke 12: 32-40
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”.
In the midst of these times of fear and mistrust, it is important for us to hold onto this promise that Jesus reminds us of – that our Creator cares about us and our world and desires that we assist God in creating a world of peace, justice and compassion. This is our vocation. Of course, […]