2019 02 17 The Middle Act


2019 02 17 The Middle Act

Toronto United Mennonite Church, series on Acts

Acts 14:27-15:33, Exodus 4:24-26

Listen to the sermon here

PETER: Good morning! Youth! Junior Youth! I know what it’s like. The sermon. For hours and hours the sermon. Where I grew up, you brought your Bible to church. And when the preacher read the scripture you read it along with them. And sometimes, you carried on reading. That’s how tough it was for us. We read the Bible to keep from falling asleep at the sermon. There was no library corner in my church. Activity period? Yeah the activity is listening to the sermon and the period is about 5 hours. And there were no tupperware containers with Cheerios. No wonder I defected to the Mennonites.

So the preacher would finish reading the bit in the Bible, and would start talking about it, but you would keep on reading, that was when you came to the really good stuff. Am I right, Ezra? Continue reading


2018 12 30 A Stable Place


2018 12 30 A Stable Place
Toronto United Mennonite Church
Colossians 3:12-17 – “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…”
1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26 – Samuel grows up in the Temple
Luke 2:41-52 – Jesus as a child in the Temple

Six and a half years ago, when I was still relatively new to Canada, and to this church, I was working with Christian Peacemaker Teams. If you don’t know much about CPT, it is what we euphemistically call a ‘lean’ organization – like a lot of the church world, we get a lot of work done without spending much money. I learned that there was to be a Mennonite Church Eastern Canada gathering in Leamington, and as I was interested in spending more time with the Mennonites, and had never been to Leamington, I thought it would be a good idea to attend, to staff a table for CPT and especially to talk to people about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

I went about organizing this in typical CPT, ‘lean’ style. Continue reading

2018 12 09 John the Cosplayer


2018 12 09 John the Baptist; Cosplayer
Advent II, First Lutheran Toronto

Baruch 5:1-9, Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 1:68-79
Luke 3:1-6 – the Proclamation of John the Baptist

In this sermon I will explore what we know of John the Baptist and show how his ministry invited others into repentance and re-entry into the sacred story of Israel’s covenant with God. I will speak of how John’s ministry was more than a precursor to Jesus’ time, but was part of the same prophetic stream that Jesus was. I will speak of the danger of only reading the Hebrew Scriptures as they relate to Jesus. And I will offer a way to understand the witness of John the Baptist to our time, both in the Advent season and in how we are invited to accompany Jesus today. Continue reading

2018 10 14 He Went Away Grieving


2018 10 14 He Went Away Grieving
Windsor Mennonite Fellowship
Job 23: 1-9, 16-17
Mark 10: 17-31 (see below for texts)

Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?

Futility, Wilfred Owen – May 1918

We are in the middle of the three great festivals of memory, the trifecta of remembrance:

  • Thanksgiving (Beginning October)
  • Hallowe’en (All Saints and All Souls) End of October
  • Remembrance Day, Nov 11

This is a time of remembrance. Seeking after comfort and remembering life at a time when there is the reminder, the spectre of death. It’s a time for bonfires, soups, and pumpkin spice, the first day cold enough to need last winter’s gloves and scarf. Continue reading

Practical Peacemaking 3/3 Sermon


Practical Peacemaking, session 3/3: ‘Reconciliation’ focus: National & Spiritual peacemaking.

Sunday Sermon, September 23, 2019, for Ottawa Mennonite Church retreat. See session 1 here. See session 2 here.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (see below for precise translation)

St Paul was many things, but he was not conflict avoidant. He was angry, defensive, grumpy, and critical at different times as he confronted his critics, adversaries and his friends. And from time to time, he got it right, when he remembered to point his friends and adversaries to Jesus, remembering ‘we have a new perspective; we don’t regard anyone from a human point of view, based on worldly standards and interests. We used to think of Christ in the same, human way, but we don’t think of him that way anymore. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.’

Recap of Practical Peacemaking. It… Continue reading

Lift Up Your Hearts


2018 10 07 Lift Up Your Hearts

Toronto United Mennonite Church: Thanksgiving, Communion, Being Church Together. Colossians 3:1-4 and 12-15
Listen to the sermon here (24 mins)

In this sermon I will discuss the ‘Sursum Corda’, the oldest piece of communion liturgy, and discuss the role of thanksgiving in the Eucharist and in the life of the church. I will propose that the giving of thanks is a good thing in and of itself, beyond the goodness of the thing you are giving thanks for. I will suggest that part of ‘Being Church Together’ is sharing our thanksgiving. Then I will detail some of the many things I am personally thankful about in TUMC specifically and show how participation in this church is a good way of centring thanksgiving in my life, not just of doing good but of being thankful for that good. Continue reading

Practical Peacemaking 2/3


Practical Peacemaking, session 2/3: ‘Practical Peacemaking explores possibilities’, focus: Collective & Structural peacemaking.

90 minute session facilitated Saturday, September 22, 2019, for Ottawa Mennonite Church retreat. See session 1 here. Read session 3 here. Continue reading