Ordinary Time: Forgiveness

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2017 09 17 TUMC Sermon

Ordinary Time: Forgiveness
Psalm 103:1-13 – Thanksgiving for God’s Goodness
Matthew 18:21-35 – the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

You may have seen it in a classroom or office – on faded paper, pinned to a board: “The floggings will continue until morale improves.”

If you’re going to cite a verse to describe the worst that people think of Christianity, you could try the conclusion of this parable.

In anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

Forgiveness is either difficult, or it is unnecessary. Continue reading

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Creation Drama Script

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Cahoots June 12 2017
Sunday Extravagation Script

Our worship at Cahoots in 2017 focused on the land we live on, sacred land, holy ground, in this year of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Each morning we presented perspectives on the land and complicated matters of identity, as mostly Christians and mostly Settlers.

For our Sunday morning service, instead of a sermon we decided to do a telling of the Creation Story, as counter-narrative to Canada’s own narrative of its history. Our performance was rough but meaningful, introduced the communion elements, and led into the Passing of the Peace. As it was Trinity Sunday we asked three youth to take on the roles of ‘God’, and help direct the younger children about the work of creation.

I worked on this along with the authors of the blogs Singing Menno and Broken Into Song.

God 1 (Action director and commentary)
God 2 (Narrator of scripture)
God 3 (Voice of God)

[Start off with the big door a bit closed and not a lot of light.]

God 1: Stories tell us who we are. There are many stories about this land. One story says that this land was created 150 years ago. Created by people who came from Europe, and brought civilization. They worked hard and made a wasteland into a place of peace and prosperity.

There are other stories. Indigenous nations have stories. Refugee communities have stories. The animals and the rivers have stories.

Stories tell us who we are. Once upon a time, the people of God were captives in a foreign land. They were slaves. They were told a story about how they were created to be slaves. How the world was an evil, violent place. How the king ruled over them by the will of the gods.

They decided to tell a different story. Continue reading

Pearls before Swine: reclaiming sacred identity

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Pearls Before Swine: reclaiming sacred identity

An outline of a morning reflection time I have offered on a number of CPT delegations to Treaty 3 territory. This was often done on the first morning, both to offer some critical engagement with scripture and our lives, and to set things up for the workshop on Undoing Racism and Colonialism.

Although presented in note form, I also wrote it up as a short reflection for Wretch 2013, which I have included below. Continue reading

Dangerous Liaisons – We might just be moved…

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2017 06 25, TUMC Sermon

Three different rainbow banners at Toronto United Mennonite Church

Banners at TUMC on Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dangerous Liaisons – We might just be moved… – listen to the sermon here
Song of Songs 8: 4-7 – love is as strong as death

Just this last week, at the memorial service for a longtime member of the Student Christian Movement, we sang many of the old Social Gospel hymns from the SCM songbook. At the close of the service the familiar “We shall not, we shall not be moved” sprang up spontaneously.

It’s a great song; a protest classic with Biblical overtones – “like a tree planted by the waters, we shall not be moved”. On the streets it cools people off and helps a group find a sense of unity and purpose. The imagery of the song is firm and resolute. We are firm in our ideals and principles and position, and we shall not be moved. Even while we’re getting dragged away by the police we shall not be moved!

But being firm in your principles is not the only virtue. Our summer preaching series is about times when this song does not apply. Times when “we might just be moved…” Continue reading

We are part of a movement

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We are part of a movement.

When we look back, we see saints, prophets, matriarchs & patriarchs, dissidents and activists, peace-makers, history-makers and home-makers. We see faithful people responding to the fears of their time.

We are part of a movement.

When we look below us we see the Earth, Creation, our world. It is a place full of life and creativity! But our footstep is heavy and our world is suffering. Our place in the web is growing tenuous. As we open our eyes to see the truth, help us recall our kinship to all creation.

We are part of a movement.

When we look around we see each other. The people to your left and right are your comrades, your community, your colleagues and co-conspirators. Each of us has a gift to share. Each of us has a need to be met. In our communion of purpose, let us remind each other that we are all made in God’s Image.

We are part of a movement.

When we look ahead, we look together. We see challenge, adversity, and much work. We also see grace to do, grace to be, and grace to become.

[Name], we are grateful that you will be part of our community. We will endeavour to support you in your peacemaking ministry. We will pray with you and work with you. We are part of a movement. Amen.