Scripture Readings: Daniel 7:1–3, 15–18 | Psalm 149 | Ephesians 1:11–23 | Luke 6:20–31
Who comes to mind when you hear the word “Saint”?
I usually think of people like St. Luke, or St. Paul; the famous evangelists and apostles from the earliest days of the Church.
Or people like St. Patrick, or St. Augustine; Christians who made some significant contributions to spreading the faith, or helping the Church to grow in understanding of the truth of the Gospel.
Or people like St. Teresa of Calcutta, or St. Francis, those who devoted their lives to serving the poor and identifying with those who suffer, in order to share God’s love with them in real and tangible ways.
And it’s clearly for good reasons that the Church has recognized in folks like these the grace of God powerfully at work; shaping and guiding them to face the unique challenges of their days, and to take up their calling as those meant to share in the mission of Jesus Christ in the world. To take their place serving in the Kingdom of God, both now and forever.
But I sometimes wish we didn’t use the word “Saint” in this way… to single out someone we see as special… someone whose connection to Christ’s kingdom appears so exceptional. Not because I doubt that they are saints, but because it makes it seem as though sainthood is only for the exceptional… helping us to forget that to be a saint in the Christian Church is actually meant to be the norm.
I’ll say that again: in the Church, sainthood is norm… the rule, not the exception.
So where did this misconception come from? Why do we see saints as somehow set apart?
Well, it’s all in the name, I suppose.
The word “saint” in the Bible means “holy one”, someone set apart to share in the life of the Living God both forever someday, and in the here and now too. Someone shaped and guided by God’s Kingdom, living in it’s light here on earth as in heaven.
But this is what the Living God has always intended for all of His people! The whole community was to be set apart… together called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Their lives, both alone and together, were meant to share in and show off God’s holy love at work… shining like a beacon in the night, so that the whole world would draw near and be saved. They were to be set apart from the world, as a sign of God’s life and love still at work in the world… as His partners in the great rescue mission meant for everyone.
But somewhere down the line, we’ve come to see saints as those set apart, not from the world, but from the rest of us in the Church! As exceptional heroes of the faith we ‘normal’ Christians can safely admire from a distance, without having to worry about following their examples.
Somehow, we’ve separated ourselves from our saintly brothers and sisters.
Part of the problem, I think, is that our culture in particular sees faith itself as an individual project… simply our preferred way to have our spiritual needs met… which God’s life certainly does… but God’s life at work in us is meant for so much more than meeting our needs! To understand the Christian life the way the Scriptures invite us to challenges the idea that sainthood is something only for the “hardcore believers” to pursue, rather than the basic calling of the whole Christian community.
So, what does it mean for you and I to be numbered among the saints?
Well, first of all… and most important of all we need to remember that holiness is, from first to last, a gift of God! We need to remember that grace is the basis for our whole life with the Living God. That nothing we ourselves bring to the table can make ourselves holy… it’s God work that sanctifies.
And God works with all sorts of unexpected, unlikely, messed up people! People whose lives were just as broken, just as off course, and just as unholy as you could imagine. People who struggle and stumble and sin, and need a Saviour just like the rest of us.
People like St. Paul, who called himself ‘the chief of sinners’, remembering how his passion and religious zeal had turned him into a persecutor of the faithful.
Or people like St. Patrick, who was captured and sold into slavery in a foreign country. Or St. Augustine, a highly educated spiritual seeker, but who was also continually plagued by doubts and a deep sense of guilt.
Or St. Francis, a spoiled, wealthy layabout. Or St. Teresa, who, despite her famed devotion faced years of spiritual darkness and an agonizing sense of distance from God.
Or people like St. Luke… Well, we don’t know all that much about St. Luke’s life… just like the vast number of saints across time, who in their own ways and in their own days were somehow drawn into the Kingdom of God by the Good News of Jesus Christ, which turned their stories around… the Good News that shaped and guided them into every corner of our world, making God’s holy love and saving power known among the nations.
That is, after all the whole point of being a saint: not to get the best seats in heaven… not to impress everyone in the pews, or make a great name for ourselves out in the world, but to make known the Good News of Jesus Christ in all of it’s life-changing glory. It is God’s gift to us in Christ, drawing us into His rescuing story… touching and transforming our lives, and through us, reaching out to the world in holy love.
St. Paul, the self-proclaimed chief of sinners, encountered the forgiveness and grace of God in the face of Jesus the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus… and went on to become a missionary, church planter, and martyr whose efforts to spread the Good News of Jesus to the nations gave us much of the New Testament.
St. Patrick, the slave encountered the freedom of God through his miraculous deliverance from his Irish slave-owners, only to be ordained and return to Ireland as a missionary and bishop, who played a huge role in establishing the Church on the emerald Island, and beyond.
St. Augustine, the bewildered seeker, encountered the light of God through the reading of Scripture and prayer, with years of searching and struggling to know the truth leading to an invitation to believe… and who then spent the rest of his days as a teacher and bishop in a small town in North Africa, yet whose writings have shaped much of what the Church has come to believe, even centuries later.
St. Francis, the spoiled rich kid encountered the riches of God in giving away all he had, and taking up the life of a poor wanderer, embodying humility, compassion, simplicity, and faith in a way that inspired many others to reject selfishness, vanity, greed, and pride.
St. Teresa, who spent years without feeling the consolation of God’s closeness, encountered the presence of God in the lives of those she served, and she refused to give in to despair and doubt… remaining devoted to Christ, and sharing His love with those most unloved and ignored by the world… trusting in God’s holy love, even when she could not feel that love for herself.
And St. Luke, who is most known to us not for his own story, but for helping the world to hear the story of Jesus Christ our Saviour… helping us to encounter the one who was born to bring God’s Kingdom to life once and for all through His own death at the cross, and resurrection… rescuing us through the gift of His body and blood to make us holy united to Him.
And united in Him. Not just a collection of scattered saints, but a holy whole body… one family, one communion… together filled with the fulness of His resurrection life.
Jesus Christ is still at work in His people, in His saints… the ones He makes holy… set apart to be filled with His saving life… to be shaped and guided by His holy love, and to share it with everyone… even with those who seem to be working against God’s good Kingdom.
Which brings us to another important part of what it means to be a saint… a part of the holy people of God: it means choosing to stay true to Christ in the midst of a dangerous world, where we will have our share of suffering, rejection, and even apparent defeat.
Remember Daniel’s vision from our first reading today… where brutal, vicious nations are depicted as monstrous beasts rising up in violence against one another, and terrorizing God’s people.
There have been so many examples of this happening in our history… and even today, with the wicked seizing power, and eagerly crushing the innocent. Sadly, even the Church has not been immune to the allure of violent oppression. We too can easily side with the beastly powers at work in the world.
But remember too what was also revealed to Daniel: “the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever—forever and ever.” (Daniel 7:18). The time of the beasts will come to an end, but the saints will endure forever.
And how do these saints, theses holy ones receive the promised Kingdom? Are we to rise up and destroy these beastly powers at work in the world by force? No. No.
We receive the Kingdom through faithfulness… through being true to the Holy One who Himself has won the victory.
Our reading today from Daniel skipped over a few important verses, but we find the sure foundation of all our hope here in Daniel 7:13-14.
“As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.”
Our hope is in Jesus Christ the Holy Son of God, and Son of Man who gave His life to be trampled and crushed by the beasts in all their rage and fury at the cross, and who conquered them once and for all through His resurrection… disarming the dreadful power of sin and death forever… for us, and for the world. Forgiving even those who took part in His betrayal and crucifixion, and paving the way for anyone to come to Him and be transformed by His holy love.
And so, our Holy Saviour Jesus Christ gives us the gift of holiness to be like Him… to take on His life of holy love, and put it into practice… revealing to us what it looks like now to reign in God’s Kingdom forever:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
…Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:20-23, 27-31).
This is not the exceptional, optional path for a handful of spiritual over-achievers to take on… this is the rule… the way of Christ, His gift to us to make us holy like Him.
It’s no surprise that God’s people today face many struggles, in our own lives and in our communities… but we’re called to face these struggles faithfully, filled with the grace of God given to us by Jesus Christ in all it’s fullness through His Holy Spirit at work in us… living lives set apart that stand out… simply because they have been shaped and guided by God’s holy love.
Today on the Feast of All Saints we remember our holy brothers and sisters of the past, and how God’s grace was given to each of them in Jesus Christ, shaping and guiding them all in different ways to share in the life of God’s Kingdom here and now, and forever.
But we are called to remember that this is our story too! That all those who are in Christ Jesus, who have believed in Him, received His gift of life, and have given our lives to Him in return, are called to be His holy people: shaped and guided by His grace to take up our part in the story of the Gospel… the Good News of God’s saving love.
How has God’s grace encountered you and I? What ways has it shaped and guided our stories? What ways are we being called today to embody God’s holy love? How can we help one another to faithfully share in Christ’s Kingdom life among the saints?
I’ll end now with these words from St. Paul’s letter to the saints in Ephesus: “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.” Amen.
Today we are marking the Feast of All Saints a few days early, remembering the stories of our Christian sisters and brothers who, along with us, have received God's grace in Jesus Christ, and have been drawn into the story of God's eternal Kingdom.
The word "Saint" stirs up all sorts of ideas for us, some of them more helpful than others. But at it's root, "Saint" is deeply connected to another word: "Holy". To dig a bit deeper into how the Bible talks about holiness, and what it means for us today, check out this great video put out by the folks at the Bible Project.
Our service of Morning Prayer, Bulletin, & Sermon this week can be found here:
And our Songs for this week can be found here:
Freed from Pride, Bound By Love - Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost (October 23, 2022)
Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 14:7–10, 19–22 | Psalm 84:1–7 | 2 Timothy 4:6–8, 16–18 | Luke 18:9–14
“all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14).
In our parable today from Luke’s Gospel, God’s word brings to mind a familiar theme that runs right through the entire Biblical story: the contrast between Pride and Humility… and the story of which one will end up on top in the end.
It's a story we’ve heard many times before. One that has grabbed and even saturated our culture’s imagination… found in just about every novel, and drama, and narrative we create, a story we even expect to play out in real life as well as fiction. After all, pride comes before the fall. And who doesn’t cheer for the underdog?
But as familiar, and even cliché as this simple message may seem, it’s still needed today. The temptations to take the path of pride are certainly as potent as ever, with one strong example being the way so many engage online.
One of the simplest ways that pride is fed by social media is through how it encourages people to ‘self-brand’… to market themselves… to treat their online profiles like a constant advertisement, only revealing what we want others to see… the best pictures of ourselves… only perfect family photos… striving to make it look like we have it all together, all of the time… all the while hiding the messiness of life off camera, where no one can see. No one, except the people we actually share our lives with day to day.
Another way pride shows up online is through something called “virtue signaling”, where people make a point of showing off their ‘goodness’ in public to build up their reputation.
And consider “cancel culture”, the practice of publicly shaming those we feel don’t deserve any more attention… cutting off those we deem unworthy for the wrongs they have done in society’s, or our eyes.
In all these ways, people today are pushed into constantly comparing ourselves to each other… to figure out who’s in and who’s out… who measures up, and who’s best left behind.
Of course, all this has been around a long time, in one form or the other. Our online technologies and practices have just amplified and nurtured what was always at work in the human heart. But this online world is the world young people are growing up in. They’re breathing in this online atmosphere that they did not create for themselves… it was handed to them… created for, and basically forced upon them. No wonder so many of them are struggling, when this is the world as they have known it: only show other’s your perfect side, and don’t dare step out of line.
Do they have anywhere that they can be truly known, accepted, and loved? Would they even know where to look for it?
I know that many of us probably don’t spend that much time online, or worrying about social media, or self-branding, or cancel-culture. But this online world is just an amplification of this broken world we all inhabit. The world we have all had a hand in creating and breaking. The world we are handing onto future generations even now.
It's easy for us to look down on those who have very different experiences of life than we do. To dismiss or disparage those who have temptations and struggles that we will likely never know, or have to overcome. Lots of folks look down on young people today without a second thought for what they’re dealing with every day… the fears, the pressures, the uncertainty, and isolation and temptations we’ve never had to face.
And there are all sorts of folks that we do the same things to: people with struggles, and failures, and fights far beyond our experiences… people with stories we’ll likely never know, that we just dismiss as unworthy.
After reading our Gospel this morning, maybe we’re tempted to look down on that Pharisee? Have we ever wanted to say “God, I’m so glad I’m not like those self-righteous jerks?”
We can look down on anyone. We can tear down anyone in our hearts. So who are we tempted to look down upon today? Who are the people or groups that we find it easy to disregard?
Maybe we’re tempted the most to look down on ourselves… to see ourselves only with contempt. If we do, we’re certainly not alone. So many today are just about consumed with self-loathing and shame, hidden in all sorts of ways. Despising the person they see in the mirror more than anybody else.
And sadly, this self-contempt is sometimes held out as the cure for pride… the antidote for self-righteousness, some claim, is to hate yourself instead. For some of us, this is a much stronger temptation than looking down on those around us. But far from being the way to life, this self-hatred brings only more burdens.
Yet the Good News we hear in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who speaks to us in this parable today, seeks to set us free from the chains of contempt and pride… and show us another way. A way open to anyone who will truly seek it. To catch a glimpse of this way, let’s take a closer look at today’s parable, where Jesus invites his hearers to imagine two people approaching the Temple of God: one a Pharisee, and the other, a tax collector.
In that culture, it would have been perfectly clear to everyone who would be the hero of this story. The Pharisees were the moral standard bearers of their day, the ones who were by far the most devoted to doing what was right. And this Pharisee it seems is on the right track… and he knows it. So, coming to God’s Holy Temple, he thanks the Lord that he is such a good person.
And yet, Jesus tells us that something is deeply off with this Pharisee’s standing in God’s eyes. Something is standing in the way between him and the Lord.
Turning now to the obvious villain: the tax collector, infamous not only for taking people’s money, but for giving it to their Roman overlords. Tax collectors were seen as collaborators with those oppressing God’s people, and were often able to profit personally by taking more than their fare share for themselves. Right from the start, we know he’s no good. He’s chosen the way of selfish greed over his own community. If there’s anyone unworthy of our concern, surely it’s him.
And he knows it.
In contrast to the Pharisee, Christ paints this picture:
(Luke 18:13) “the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’”.
He knows he’s made wrong choices. He knows he’s gone down the wrong path in life, wronged his neighbours and disgraced himself in their eyes. He knows it all. But he does not sit alone with his self-hatred… as hard as it must have been, he draws as near to the Holy Temple of God as he could… deeply aware of his very real faults and failures, weighed down with guilt and shame… he humbly asks for help. He asks for mercy. He pleads with God for forgiveness… not based on his own goodness, but based on faith… trusting that the Lord of all must know what’s right, and yet still might have mercy on a sinner like him.
And Jesus tells us that his prayer for mercy is heard in heaven, and he is forgiven. That amazingly this tax collector’s standing with God is on better terms than the Pharisee who did all the right things, but who only though about his own reputation. The lowly sinner is set free by God’s mercy, which was freely given to him.
This is the point of the parable: not just the general downside of pride, or the virtue of humility, but that the Living God is truly merciful to those who seek His help, and that God will not play along with those who seek only to puff themselves up with pride. It is God Himself who declares that “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14), which is both a warning and invitation for us all to not go along with the prideful patterns and habits of our world, but to turn to Him and place our trust in His mercy and faithfulness alone. Whether we’ve kept our noses clean… or completely messed up our stories, we are all invited to be set free of the chains of contempt and be bound by His saving love instead.
Bound by His love.
That’s the freedom we need: freedom from fear… freedom from having to present the perfect self-image… freedom that comes from knowing we’re truly known, even the worst parts of ourselves, and yet still forgiven… still wanted… still welcomed. Bound by love.
Guarded and guided by God’s merciful love.
This is what Jesus Christ was up to all along: making the merciful love of the Living God known and available to us all. This is why He healed the sick and raised the dead, and ate with outcasts and sinners: making it clear by His teachings and actions that no one was too far gone for God’s great mercy to reach them.
This mercy led Him to take up His cross and face the full weight of our broken world… and to bare it Himself. To be publicly rejected and utterly shamed for all to see; the righteous Son of God humbling himself to the point of death on a cross. We held him in complete contempt, yet God raised Jesus from the dead and crowned Him in glory… exalting Jesus the Risen Lord to His Father’s side to reign forever.
And He did this all for us! To share His glorious life with our broken world… to spread God’s healing, forgiving, and freeing power through the Spirit at work in the lives of His people… not because we’ve got everything right… not because we’ve picked ourselves up… but simply because we have believed in Christ’s great mercy given once and for all at the cross.
In Jesus we’ve come to believe in the saving power of God’s love. Pride and contempt only get in the way of sharing this love… with ourselves, with each other, and with all those around us who desperately need it today.
So how can we actively work towards saying yes to God’s love, and no to our pride? Or to our temptations to look down on some of our neighbours who God has called us to love?
One way would be for us to learn to listen. To simply let others tell their stories, share their experiences, and work through their struggles without dismissing their concerns, or looking down on them for their choices, even when we don’t agree.
In other words, we can learn with the Holy Spirit’s help to look at others, and even ourselves, through Jesus’ eyes… through the eyes of His love… eyes that can see clearly that all of us are broken by sin, that we all need to receive mercy and help to turn back to God with all of our hearts. Eyes that looked out at those who were eagerly calling for His unjust death, and yet saw in them God’s own beloved children… whom He was willing to die for.
So may the merciful love of God we’ve come to know in Jesus Christ bind us, and keep us from falling to pride and contempt. And may his merciful love guide all we do, at St. Luke’s and beyond.
I’ll end now with the words of a well-beloved hymn:
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.
See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
Our service of Morning Prayer, Bulletin, & Sermon this week can be found here:
And our Songs for this week can be found here:
Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 31:27–34 | Psalm 119:97–104 | 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5 | Luke 18:1–8
Today our parish remembers and celebrates the life and ministry of our patron Saint, St. Luke the Evangelist: who is most well known as the author of the Gospel account that bears his name, which carefully tells the story of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and how this message of hope began to spread… a story that continues to unfold in St. Luke’s second book, the Acts of the Apostles, which highlights how God’s Holy Spirit fills the first believers after the resurrection of Jesus, empowering them at Pentecost to share in God’s New Life in a whole new way… to experiencing it’s transforming grace for themselves, and striving to share it with the wider world.
In short, St. Luke tells the story of Jesus Christ and His Church. He tells us our story… inviting us to believe in the Good News and New Life the Living God is offering us, and to let this story guide and shape our lives.
That is, after all, what the best stories do: they invite us to see everything differently. To recognizes how our own lives fit into the narrative, and to let it guide our choices and actions in the light of its message.
Of course, we can choose not to let even the best stories effect us in these ways. We can let the words we hear go in one ear and out the other, without allowing them to take root in our hearts or our imaginations. We can read them, and leave them there on the page. We can memorize them, but still refuse to engage with their deeper meaning.
In other words, we need more than mere words. We need true inspiration.
Our Scripture readings today all help tell this story… and they invite us to engage with more than mere words, but with the One who has spoken through them, and who is still speaking to us today.
Our first reading this morning from the book of the prophet Jeremiah contains the promise of God to make a New Covenant with Israel and Judah. Their first Covenant confirmed at Mt. Sinai, had been the grounds for their unique relationship with Yahweh, the Living God; clarifying for everyone what it would mean for this nation to share in the New Life that God had prepared for them: being set apart to live in the light of God’s faithful love.
They all knew the story… how God had rescued them, and led them to a New Land, and a New Life… but time and again, they kept on refusing to let that story sink in… to take root in their hearts and minds, and guide their actions and choices. And so, time and again, they found themselves wandering away from their Lord. This led them into all sorts of trouble, including in Jeremiah’s day, to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, and exile out of the Promised Land.
But even as this bleak fate loomed large over God’s unfaithful people, the Lord remained faithful to them… longing to draw them back to Himself so they could find life again… offering hope that one day God Himself would repair their shattered relationship, and open a whole new way for them to take part in His saving story.
Jeremiah 31:33-34 - “this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”
God will write His own Law on their hearts… so they can truly be His people, and He their God… so they all will know Him… and know the power of His forgiveness and love.
This is moving far beyond what mere words can accomplish. God is promising here to pour out His grace on His stubborn and sinful people, and turn their hearts back to Him. To bring them His own life-giving power, able to work within His people to will and to do what is truly pleasing in His sight. To move beyond a written code and towards a living faith… a story to trust in, and live by, based on the rescuing love of God that they would all come to know intimately.
In short, God promised to share His own life with them. To draw them near to Himself, grounding their hope in His faithful love.
This beautiful promise began to be fulfilled at Pentecost, with the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit on the first disciples, empowering them to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Risen Son of God, who through His life, death, and resurrection accomplished God’s ultimate act of saving love: atoning for, not only Israel’s sins, but for the sins of the whole world. In Jesus, not only was God drawing one nation near to Himself to share His New Life with them, God was at work opening wide the way for all nations to enter His Kingdom. What had once been a story known by one community, one family was now being proclaimed to all: in Jesus, the Living God has given His life to rescue Israel, and everyone else.
This is our story, which St. Luke longed for us to learn, and live by, and which the Living God is still at work in, speaking to us today.
Turning now to our second reading from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, we hear the Apostle urging His fellow believer to delve deeply into this story: 2 Timothy 3:14-15 - “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The sacred writings, the Holy Scriptures, the Bible, (at that time referring to the Old Testament, as many of the books of the New Testament were not yet written). Though Timothy had learned their words as a child, St. Paul knew they are essential for every stage of the life of faith, instructing us regarding the salvation of God Christ came to bring.
But St. Paul goes on to say that these stories and writings are not simply words on a page: “All scripture is inspired by God”, he writes in verse 16. “God-breathed” is another way to put it. The Living God who created the universe, from the smallest atom to the largest star, had His careful hand in the formation of these writings too… working through those who had come to know Him, and His story… taking up their human words and making them into true instruments of His grace… making them a means of receiving His grace… as God’s own word to us.
But being “God-breathed”, or “inspired” is not just about their origins and creation by God’s grace, it’s also about how God is still at work through them speaking to us today.
And it’s meant to do something! Or rather, God does something with it: He shapes us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 -
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”
All of Scripture is God’s tool, to teach, correct, and train us… to equip us to carry on the mission that Christ Jesus has called us into… the mission of God to reconcile the world.
Sometimes we can treat the Bible like it is our tool… pulling out the verses that suit our purpose, and trying to convince others, or ourselves, that we’re the ones who are on the right track. People use Scripture to justify all sorts of things, to build up their status, and tear down their rivals… most of us use it without ever wondering what it’s really all about. St. Paul faced this, even in his day, warning Timothy that "the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4). How true are these words today?
What better description of our so-called “post-truth” world?
The answer for St. Paul’s, back then and today, is the same: stay true to the true story! Stick to and share the message! Don’t get pulled off track by distractions, or dishonest desires. The Good News of Jesus proclaimed all throughout the Holy Scriptures is God’s gift to us, and as we learn to live by this sacred story, with lives shaped more and more by the Bible, God’s Spirit will be at work preparing us to faithfully share in His New Life here and now, and forever. Stay true to the true story, for that is where God is at work.
But just like every means of grace, it’s not always clear in the moment how God is at work… or what the final result of receiving this gift will be. Some of us have been reading the Bible for ages, but still struggle to make sense of it. Some of us have been wounded by someone else using the Scriptures against us like a weapon. Sometimes, even those of us who long to know God more deeply find time reading His word draining, confusing, or dry.
Sometimes it’s a real act of faith to flip through it’s pages.
An act of faith. So much of the Christian life comes down to this: choosing to believe. To persevere. To not give up, especially when it seems we’re not getting anywhere. Which brings us back to St. Luke, and the words of Jesus we heard from his Gospel today, where our Lord offers a parable to teach us “to pray always and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).
In this parable, Jesus portrays an unjust judge: someone entrusted with maintaining justice and doing what’s right for all, but who really couldn’t care less about what God or anyone else might want. Whether led by corruption, self-centredness, or just plain apathy and laziness, this judge refuses to do anything when a poor widow brings her case before him. And yet, because of the sheer persistence of the widow, the unjust judge gives in and grants her justice.
But the point of the parable isn’t that God is like the unjust judge, and that we just need to pester Him to make Him care enough to hear our prayers. The point is that God is nothing like the unjust judge! The God we see in the Scriptures cares deeply for us all: for the oppressed, the lonely, the heartbroken and powerless… as well as for those who are strong, healthy, and whole. The God of the Bible cares deeply about justice being done for all: about the proud and wicked being disarmed, and the humble being lifted up.
Christ’s point is that if even an unjust judge will be moved by persistent petitions, how much more will the Living God respond to those who keep calling on Him in prayer?
This parable is a call to faith. To not give up praying, even when it seems that God does not answer, trusting in His faithful love to see us through to the end.
And as with prayer, so with reading Scripture. We are called to trust that God is at work in us as we read His word. To trust that God actually wants to speak to His people. That He longs for us to know Him better… to share in His New Life… to have a living faith, not mere words alone.
We are invited to keep reading the Bible as an act of faithful prayer and devotion… drawing near to the Lord as we seek to learn about who He has shown Himself to be, both in the story of Israel, and especially in the life, and death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ His Son.
We are invited to read, expecting Him to do something with this story… even when it might not seem that way… even when it may not feel like much is happening… trusting that He actually wants us to know Him… to come to know Him, and share in His eternal life… and that His Spirit will be at work in these words to bring His life within us.
Reading the Bible is a means of receiving God’s mysterious and life-changing grace, so don’t give up on it! And don’t just settle for Sundays. In Church, as we gather for worship, we catch glimpses bit by bit, passages from here and there, which is a good place to start, but this practice of worship is meant to support a life soaked in God’s story, not as a replacement for it. And there are all sorts of ways we can all delve more deeply into it’s beautiful truth.
We can read it with others… with a Bible Study group, with our family or friends.
We can read it alone… in times of prayer, slowly listening to each sentence.
We can read it quickly, in large portions all at once, like a novel… getting a broader picture of its scope.
We can read it with the help of guides, tools, studies, and commentaries, benefitting from the insights of those who have spent their lives exploring these words before us.
Above all, we can read it in faith, trusting that God will be at work within us, and through us… so that the Good News of Jesus Christ may take root in our hearts, and shape our lives, preparing us to take our part in telling the world what has been first told to us by people like St. Luke: that in the ultimate act of faithful love, the Living God has come to us in Jesus Christ to bring His New Life to all who will believe.
So, stay true to the true story. It’s how God’s going to change the world for good. Amen.
This week we remembered and celebrated our patron Saint, St. Luke the Evangelist, well known as the author of the Gospel that bears his name, and it's sequel, the Book of Acts.
For a visual overview of the story St. Luke offers us, check out this collection of videos exploring the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts put out by the Bible Project.
Our service of Morning Prayer, Bulletin, & Sermon this week can be found here:
And our Songs for this week can be found here:
On Wednesday evenings from 6:30-7PM we at St. Luke's Gondola Point host a Contemplative Prayer service open to all seeking a moment of sacred stillness.
These services begin with and make use of several moments of silence, a few simple prayer-songs, a reading from Scripture, and always conclude with the Lord's Prayer.
For more information about the Taizé Christian community, click on the button below.
For more information about our Services at St. Luke's, please contact Rev. Rob.
Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 26:1–11 | Psalm 100 | Philippians 4:4–9 | John 6:25–35
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35).
One of the pictures that comes to mind most often when I think about Thanksgiving has to be the food: the family meals where we’d all share delicious dinners together… eating until we were well satisfied, and then some… stuffed with all sorts of tasty treats and traditional recipes.
Now that I’m a bit older, I’ve come to appreciate these meals even more because I’ve come to understand a bit more about just how much work actually went into preparing them. As a child, I’d just show up and eat. All was made ready for us kids just to receive. It was all a big gift, a labour of love from those who put in all of the effort to share it… in the hopes that all who were gathered around the table would enjoy this time together.
But as wonderful and plentiful as all those Thanksgiving dinners have been… eventually, we’d always be hungry again. Usually, not right away of course. But eventually, the delicious tastes in our mouths would fade. The feelings of fullness would give way to familiar needs for another meal. And eventually we’d have to look for another source of sustenance.
In our Scripture readings today from Deuteronomy and the Gospel of John, we’re invited to reflect on the saving sustenance offered to us by the Living God, and on the kind of response most fitting for those who would receive it.
The Book of Deuteronomy is a series of speeches that takes place with the people of Israel on the borders of the Promised Land… in sight of the beautiful end of the road their whole community had been heading towards for 40 years… a prosperous land unlike any that they had known… a land that God had promised to their ancestors, and had miraculously now led them to.
As we know from the book of Exodus, their parent’s had all been slaves in Egypt… without a homeland or a life of their own, but the Living God had seen their sufferings, and had mercy on them, and set them free in an act of care and compassion. Doing for them, something they could never do for themselves.
God had then led and sustained them through the long years in the wilderness… a journey made much longer as their parents kept on wandering away from the LORD in their hearts, and chasing after their own destructive desires.
It had been a rough road, alright. But now by God’s grace they were finally about to enter the land… to finally find rest. Peace. Freedom. To begin a New Life together as a gift of God.
And so the Book of Deuteronomy is largely about getting ready for this New Life, and how to live faithfully with God and with one another in the Promised Land… including the kinds of practices and traditions that will keep them on track.
The ceremony described in our reading today is one of those practices, and at it’s heart it’s really a way of giving thanks to God… of offering back the first portion of the gift they had received… the first produce from the ground in the new life God had given them. They were not offering what was left over, but off the top, so to speak… as an act of trust that God would continue providing in the days to come.
And when this first-fruits offering was brough before the LORD, the giver was then to recall and retell the story of God’s faithfulness, mercy, and care for their ancestors. How God took “a wandering Aramean”, Abraham, and made from him a whole new community. How God rescued them from slavery in Egypt “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm”, and provided for them, bringing them into “a land flowing with milk and honey.” Honouring the Living God as their people’s Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, they would give back a portion of what God had first given them… which was everything. Everything. This sacred ceremony reminded the Israelites that everything they had was a gift from God. Absolutely everything.
Why would this be important? What did God, the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of all that is want with this little offering? These humble baskets of food from His people? Well, their offerings were a way to show with their outward lives what was going on in their hearts: a response to His gracious gift of faithful love with gratitude. Not as a token gesture, or merely a duty devoid of deeper meaning… but as a tangible way to draw near to Him, as a child draws near to a beloved parent: with sincere trust, wholehearted fellowship, and eager to share in each other’s joy. God gave Israel a way to cultivate gratitude, stirring up in them a hunger for faithful communion with Him, and with their neighbours!
We know this because of what they were to do with the gift that they brought to the LORD: they were supposed to have a party! To share a special, joy-filled meal… not only with their friends and family, and Levites, those who served in the Tabernacle… but also with “the alien”, or the foreigner in their midst… the people from other nations who had become part of their lives. Just as the Living God had mercy on their ancestors when they were aliens in foreign lands, Israel was now meant to show mercy and share what they had with strangers in their midst.
In short, God wanted His people to practice gratitude and joyful fellowship with everyone around them, sharing with them what they had first received from His hands.
And this is still God’s heart for His people today: to stir up within us a grateful and joy-filled response to His own great gift of love, so that we will draw near together and share this with all those around us too.
Drawing near to God’s Table today for Eucharist, a Greek word literally meaning ‘thanksgiving’… we have been given our own ceremony where we are invited to remember all that God has done for us… where we get to respond to the New Life that God has given to us… gathering with friends, and neighbours, and even strangers to celebrate God’s grace and faithfulness… doing for us what we could never do for ourselves… in fact, doing far more than we could have ever asked of imagined.
As our reading from John’s Gospel today reminds us, the real gift that the Living God is offering to us is so much greater than we can wrap our heads around… but it’s also what we truly need to find New and Lasting Life.
Our scene from John’s Gospel takes place the day after a miracle: Jesus had fed a crowd of thousands by giving thanks, then breaking, multiplying, and sharing a small lunch of bread and fish. Jesus had been pursued by crowds of His fellow Jews, the one branch of the Israelite family still dwelling in the Promised Land, who were hungry to experience the New Life He was bringing about. Worn down by life’s many pressures and burdens, physical, social, and spiritual… many came to hear Him speak, and to receive healing and find freedom at His hands. They followed Him far from the cities and villages where food could be found, and so moved with compassion, Jesus provided more than enough food to satisfy their stomachs… calling to mind God’s own miraculous care for their ancestors as they traveled through the wilderness /on the way to the Promised Land.
Jesus had just fed the crowd, and they wanted more. And Jesus wanted to give them more. Just not in the way they expected: not just with more bread, or fish, or food, but with more Life… with a share in the life of the Living God… offered to them once and for all as the ultimate gift… that is, His own life.
Jesus said to the crowd: “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal” (John 6:26–27).
The crowd saw Jesus as someone who could get them what they wanted: healing, hope… satisfied physical hunger. Christ could, and did give them all those things, but that was not all, or even the most important things He had come to bring to His people. He came to share with them God’s own eternal life.
How often do we follow the crowd’s lead and just come to Jesus to give us what we want? Expecting Him to basically be there to satisfy our hungers?
Of course, Jesus does care about our needs. He can and does provide for His people, graciously sustaining us in all sorts of surprising ways. But just like a special family dinner is not merely about filling stomachs, but about drawing near together in fellowship, sharing in much more than food, Christ came not simply to satisfy our desires, but to bring us the gift of communion with the Living God… of unending fellowship with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, which is the only gift that will fully satisfy forever.
In the light of this gift, what kind of response does God want from us? The confused crowd chasing after Jesus in John’s Gospel asked the same thing: “Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:28-29).
Believe in Jesus… trust in Him… entrust our very lives, our broken pasts, our shaky presents, and our uncertain futures, to the One the Living God has sent to save the world. Trust, not only with words, or ceremonies, but with our lives shaped and guided by that trust.
And God wants us to place our trust in Jesus, His Son, because this is the true path to New Life… to sharing in God’s own divine Triune fellowship. To look back and remember all that Christ Jesus has done for us, especially in giving His own body to be broken at the cross, and to see in Him the true bread of heaven sent to sustain, satisfy, and save once, and for all time.
As we gather today, just as we have done many times before around Christ’s Table, remembering the gift of His life, His death, and His resurrection… receiving His invitation to commune through Him with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer… as well as with all those, here present and around the world and across the ages, who also belong to Him… let us respond with thankful hearts. Let us remember that all we have is a gift, meant to draw us nearer to God, the Great Gift Giver. Let us remember that we are invited to share what we have received from Christ with those in our lives. Let us trust Him in tangible ways, inside and out, confident in His compassion and care. And let us continue to come to Him and find in Him New Life. Amen.
 Deuteronomy 26:5. All Scripture passages are from the NRSV.
 Deuteronomy 26:8.
 Deuteronomy 26:9.
Happy Thanksgiving from St. Luke's Gondola Point.
Our service of Morning Prayer, Bulletin, & Sermon this week can be found here:
And our Songs for this week can be found here:
Scripture Readings: Lamentations 1:1–6 | Psalm 137 | 2 Timothy 1:1–14 | Luke 17:5–10
How lonely sits the city that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal (Lamentations 1:1).
For a lot of folks, this has been a pretty heavy week.
Our neighbours to the East in Atlantic Canada have been dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Fiona; many places are still without power, and many lives have been completely upended, as homes and businesses were blown away by the waters and the winds.
Then came hurricane Ian, striking the island of Cuba with terrifying force, and causing horrendous damage there before slamming into Florida, South Carolina, and other Southern States. Again, many places in the storm's path were simply destroyed… lives were shaken to the core, or lost completely… with whole communities uncertain of how to rebuild and carry on.
These two storms were heavy enough, but this past week also gave us cause to remember that we humans can be just as brutal as the winds and the waves.
This week we also witnessed a big escalation in the war between Ukraine and Russia, with Russia now claiming control of large swaths of Eastern Ukraine through rigged votes, and threatening to use all necessary force to hold onto the territory they seized. These past seven months, we’ve already seen so much devastation in that conflict… cities leveled… civilians and soldiers alike viciously slain. And this same kind of story has played out so many times throughout our history… as we humans, created in God’s own image, to tend and care for each other and God’s good world, become instead agents of de-creation… and evil.
And this week, we were also reminded that evil and devastation don’t just take shape on battlefields far away… our own country has had its share in the spreading of desolation. This Friday was the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day set aside to reckon with the legacy of how indigenous peoples had so much of their lives and cultures stripped away by Canadian institutions and society… particularly in the practice of forcing First Nations children into residential schools, specifically designed to erase their traditional ways of life… and where they also faced incredible cruelty and abuse… often in the name of God.
(The Scream, by Kent Monkman)
As painful, and as shameful as this part of our story is, it needs to be told… and re-told… remembered… and brought into the light… in order to bring its evil to an end… in the hopes of finding a better way forward for everyone.
Like I said, this week was a heavy reminder of the devastation and de-creation of God’s good world at work in all sorts of ways. What should be said in response to a week like this?
Well, this morning, as we gather to worship the Living God, and hear His word to us, I’m sure we’ve noticed we’ve had some heavy Scripture readings to receive… especially the reading from Lamentations and Psalm 137.
Yet as heavy, as pain-filled, and shocking as these passages are, they remain God’s Good News, His gift to us… intended for days and weeks like these. Offering us not an escape or evasion of evil… but a path to take to endure it, leading us through the darkness and into the light of life.
The first step on this path is a clear commitment to the truth… to facing reality, as painful or as frightening as it may be. Sometimes we can be tempted to just try and deny the darkness… to just put on a happy face, and pretend that everything’s fine. Sometimes this temptation can be quite strong in the Church, when we think that believing the Good News means that real troubles won’t come our way.
But the Scriptures don’t offer a vision of life where the faithful are immune to trouble… or one in which the Living God is unmoved by our suffering. No, we’re given, again and again, the promise that God goes with us into the deepest abyss… and through the darkest night. He walks with us in the valley of the shadow of death, as the Psalmist reminds us… but more than that, He also raises us up out from its frightful grip… not giving us, as St. Paul says: “a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). In short, even in the most pressing and painful circumstances, the way forward isn’t to deny or ignore, or downplay the devastation at work around, or even within us… but to be honest about it with the Living God, our Saviour.
This is what we see at work in our first reading today from the book of Lamentations, a series of poems written in the aftermath of the downfall of Jerusalem. In our reading today, we heard the expressions of anguish and grief over the destruction of the Holy City at the hands of the brutal armies of Babylon. Jerusalem had become the last bastion of refuge for God’s people, surrounded by great and hostile empires on all sides, and with Jerusalem’s end so too seemed to end the promises God had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all of their descendants. For Jews, it seemed like the end of the world… with no future, and no way home again.
Perhaps we have had times in our lives like this… when everything stable seems to have been ripped away from us, leaving us lost, bowed down low with grief. Lamentations invites us to bring even our broken hearts to God… to be completely honest with Him, even as our world is falling apart.
The devastating fall of Jerusalem was the same wellspring from which Psalm 137 drew its bitter waters… with unspeakable grief turned into cries of fury against cruel conquerors. This Psalm is deeply unsettling with its graphic and horrific imagery… but coming as it does from the depths of despair, it’s not meant to be easy to hear. It’s the heartfelt expression of Jewish exiles wishing that what had just happened to them would to be done to their captors… calling for God’s justice to be done to those who had just mercilessly slain their children.
And remember, this is not a call to arms… it is a prayer… the pouring out of someone’s heart to God, and yet also inspired by God’s own life-giving Spirit.
In the book Hard Sayings of the Bible, one scholar makes the point that “These invocations are not mere outbursts of a vengeful spirit; they are, instead, prayers addressed to God. These earnest pleadings to God ask that he step in and right some matters so grossly distorted that if his help does not come, all hope for justice is lost.”
Where do we turn to when our grief turns into fury? When we are unable to contain our outrage at injustice, done to ourselves or to others?
Along with Lamentations, this Psalm is a gift to us… inviting us even in those extreme moments to turn our eyes and our cries to God… reminding us that even in when facing our most intense suffering and anguish, we can still be real with the Lord… we can come to Him, bearing every ounce of the weight we are carrying… calling on Him to do what is right, and trusting Him to not let evil go unchecked forever.
All this is the first step on the path: honesty… commitment to the truth… with ourselves, with those around us, and especially with God, who gives us space to grieve… and sacred words to pray that point us to His outstretched arms, calling us to trust in Him even when we must walk through the darkness.
So what is the next step, then?
Here’s where we turn to our Gospel reading.
At first, this passage seems like an abstract lesson about the power of faith, followed by some confusing statements about slaves simply doing what they’re told. It’s hard to see what’s going on here, and how it fits into the Good News.
Again, this passage makes much more sense when we see its larger setting and context, but for some strange reason, the lectionary cuts off the first half of this episode. That’s frustrating because it’s the first five verses of Luke Chapter 17 that set up the whole conversation, and help us get our heads around what Christ is saying to His disciples, back then and today. It's a heavy message, but one that is at the very heart of the Gospel.
After a series of confrontations with those who were claiming to be close to God, yet were opposing Christ’s ministry, Luke 17:1-2 says this: “Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
Speaking to His followers, Christ warns them about causing little ones to stumble. How can we not call to mind all the indigenous children devastated by those claiming to be doing God’s will? Or the countless other examples of the weakest and most vulnerable of our society being exploited or abused? Clearly, these sins have no place in the Kingdom Christ came to bring.
Jesus continues in verse 3: “Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender…” No cover-ups. No downplaying abuse. If a fellow Christian sins, Christ tells us, we are to rebuke them. This isn’t about shaming people, but about honesty… integrity… commitment to the truth. Cultivating a community where things aren’t covered up, or dismissed, but dealt with. How much damage and devastation that has been done in the name of Christ would never have happened, or would have been stopped much sooner if we had just heeded His words?
But as important as all this is, Jesus has even more to say. Verses 3-4: “If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”
It's to these words… this radical call to the way of forgiveness that makes the disciples respond: “Increase our faith!” They’re struggling to wrap their heads around this way of life… commitment to truth and to forgiveness, again and again and again.
And Jesus picks up on their resistance… their hesitancy to walk down this path He is leading them on. He responds to their call for more faith by pointing out that the amount of their faith is not the problem. As N.T. Wright puts it, in this passage Jesus gives us “one of the great lessons of Christian living: you don’t need great faith, you need faith in a great God… the stress is on the extraordinary power of God when invoked even by apparently tiny faith.” Lack of faith was not the issue. Lack of commitment to following God’s way of forgiveness was the real obstacle. Which helps make sense of what Christ says in the rest of our reading today.
The image of slaves at work would have made plenty of sense within their ancient context. Jesus is not advocating for the institution of slavery, He is using a common example of someone who is clearly not free to go their own way, and do whatever they like, but must follow another’s command. “Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded?” Christ says to His followers. The obvious answer in their day would be no. They’re just doing what’s expected. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just like a soldier is simply expected to follow proper orders as a matter of course, Christ is pointing out that if we claim to be following Him, then we must go where He leads us.
In this case that means, alongside truthfulness, practicing forgiveness is simply the basic, bedrock, ordinary pattern of life for Christians. It may be heavy. It certainly is hard work. It may take all that’s in us, and more, but it’s not really optional. Forgiveness is central to God’s Kingdom.
That said, a few caveats: First of all, the call to forgive those who repent and actually turn from their sin is directed to us. We are to forgive those who wrong us. We don’t get to turn this around and demand that other people forgive us.
Sometimes people twist Christ’s call to forgive into a kind of weapon to help them keep getting away with hurting the people in their lives. They might say “I’ve said I’m sorry, so you have to forgive me!” But those who would misuse Christ’s call to practice forgiveness in this way should well remember what He said about those who cause “these little ones” to stumble.
At a less intense level, it’s important to remember that forgiveness is not a switch that we flip on or off, just like it’s not simply a feeling either. It is a choice, a commitment to let go of our resentment and our claim for revenge against the other person for what they have done to us, but it is a choice that must be made again and again. It is a process… a path forward. One that brings freedom, and leads to peace and life. But it is not one we can force anyone else to choose. We can repent, and ask for forgiveness, and hope and work to be reconciled. But we cannot demand that they forgive us. That choice is between them and God, who we can trust to help us forgive, even when our wounds, resentment, and bitterness seems as deeply rooted as a tree. And with even a tiny bit of faith that trusts and turns to Him, that deeply rooted tree can find itself thrown in the sea.
That’s because forgiveness, along with truthfulness is at the centre of God’s Good News, and everything Christ came to do. As He said to Pontius Pilate, “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). Jesus made known the truth that God’s good world had run off course, led by our human hands towards all sorts of injustice, abuse, and devastation.
And at the cross, He held this truth up for all to see; as an innocent one crucified and killed. There’s no clearer sign of our sin.
But at the cross, in the midst of His agony and shame wrongfully heaped on His head, He cries out, not for vengeance… but for mercy. He cries out “Father, forgive them…” (Luke 23:34). Forgive us. Christ feels the heavy weight of all that is wrong with our world, but breaks the cycle of retribution and de-creation by the power of God’s love. His death becomes our path to life. His shed blood the means of our forgiveness… not just one time, but once and for all. And His resurrection from the grave means forgiveness will reign forever.
We Christians are called to take the steps of truthfulness and forgiveness as the path to life which Jesus leads us through the darkness into the light of God. And we can walk this path, as hard as it is at times, because we don’t walk it alone. Christ Jesus our Saviour has walked this path before us, and through His Spirit He is with us every single step of the way, leading us into all truth, and empowering us to practice true forgiveness. Amen.
 Walter C. Kaiser Jr. et al., Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996), 280.
 N. T. Wright, Twelve Months of Sundays: Reflections on Bible Readings, Year C (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2000), 111.
This has been a heavy week around the world, and our service today calls us to hear and receive some heavy passages from Scripture today, including a passage from the Book of Lamentations.
Lamentations was written in one of the darkest moments in the story of God's people, and it offers us sacred space to grieve honestly in God's presence. And yet this book is often neglected, and its gifts to us left unexplored.
Here is a video from the Bible Project looking closer at the Book of Lamentations, explaining its context, and how its message still speaks to us today.
Our service of Morning Prayer, Bulletin, & Sermon this week can be found here:
And our Songs for this week can be found here:
Rev. Rob serves as the Priest-in-Charge at St. Luke's Gondola Point, and as the School Chaplain at Rothesay Netherwood School