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Jesus on the mountain; Jesus on the level place

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Hespeler, 17 February 2019 © Scott McAndless Jeremiah 17:5-10, Psalm 1:1-6, 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, Luke 6:17-26 (From the high pulpit) T he blessed evangelist, Saint Matthew, has to us written that on a particular occasion, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ did go up into a high mountain and, when he was set, his disciples came even unto him and he looked upon them and opened his mouth and he spoke some of the most enduring words of all history:       “How blessed are those who are poor in spirit for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. How blessed arethey that mourn: for they shall be comforted andthe meek: for they shall inherit the earth. How blessed arethey which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” And you know those words; they are justly famous. What’s more, how perfectly apt it is that they should have been spoken from a mountaintop – you might even call it a Sermon on the Mount. After all, have mountaintops not always been seen as unique places – as p…

But look how clean our nets are!

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Hespeler, 10 February, 2019 © Scott McAndless Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 138:1-8, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Luke 5:1-11 I f there is one thing that these fishers knew, it was that you have got to wash your nets. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how hard you have been working, your shift isn’t over until those nets are completely clean. A net is designed to fall swiftly through the water and to fall invisibly over the fish so that they are not frightened away. And after you have been fishing for a few hours (even if you haven’t caught a thing, as they hadn’t) the net will have scraped the bottom countless times and picked up enough sand and seaweed and shells and bits of dead things that it no longer glides invisibly to the bottom.       Also, they knew from long experience, that a dirty net will not only stink up the whole boat and anyplace you dock it, the filth and gunk will also make the ropes rot and then, before long, you have a tear and a much bigger repair job in front of you. No, they …

A still more excellent way

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Hespeler, 3 February, 2019 © Scott McAndless Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Luke 4:21-30 O f all the passages in the entire Bible, the one we read this morning has got to be one of the most famous. Almost all of the time when I meet with a couple who are planning their wedding, it is their very first choice of a passage that they want to have read. And you can certainly understand why. It offers a description of the kind of love you are going to need to support and sustain a marriage through good times and bad times. It is so perfect. It so beautifully describes what it was that brought these two people together and to the place where they are willing to commit to each other to such depths that it is almost a shame to have to explain that that is not actually what it is about.       Oh, the description of love applies to marriage and if we really did all love each other in our marriages in the way that it describes, it would certainly help a lot to make marriages be…

That'll get you pushed off a ledge

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Hespeler, 27 January, 2019 © Scott McAndless Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 44:1-26; Luke 4:14-21 I n the Gospel of Mark, there is a story of Jesus’ visit to his own hometown of Nazareth. Jesus, who has already established himself in other places throughout Galilee, goes home and he speaks in the local village gathering or synagogue. But the people in Nazareth reject him saying, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3) Their reaction seems to indicate that they think they know Jesus too well and so are not willing to accept the authority that he is claiming for himself.       What we don’t get in Mark, however, is an actual account of what Jesus said to inspire such offense. For that you need to turn to this morning’s reading from the Gospel of Luke. And what you find there is a little bit surprising. You see, I know, having read the Gospel of Mark, that the people in Nazareth are go…

Six Stone Jars

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Hespeler, 20 January, 2019 © Scott McAndless Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalm 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, John 2:1-11 T here were six stone water jars, I mean really large water jars that each held twenty or thirty gallons. And they were just sitting there by the entrance when the mother of Jesus brought a crisis to his attention.       They were at a wedding – a wedding that was the most important event that would take place in Cana that year. Life in Cana – life in most any Galilean village – could be pretty bleak. It was nothing but a hardscrabble existence working from dawn to dusk just to survive. By some estimates, about 90% of what they were able to produce was siphoned off in taxes, rents and fees to support the temple and religion of Judea.       Opportunities to celebrate anything were few and far between. So when those opportunities came, they were of vital importance to everybody. A wedding feast in ancient Galilee was as close as many of these people would get to feeling that lif…

WARNING: Flood and Fire Ahead!

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Hespeler, 13 January, 2019 © Scott McAndless Isaiah 43:1-7, Psalm 29:1-11, Acts 8:14-17, Luke 3:15-22 I t is kind of amazing the difference that one little word can make. Our reading this morning from the Book of Isaiah begins with a pretty amazing promise. Do not fear,” God says through the prophet, “for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Can you even imagine what is being said here? The eternal creator, the ruler of the cosmos and the King of all kings reaches out to a people who are lost, confused and distressed and God chooses them.
      And it is not just in that passage; it is a theme that runs through all of our lectionary readings this morning. Why are the people flocking to John the Baptist out in the wilderness? They are there because they are filled with expectation. God is doing something and they are being baptised because they want to be part of it. In that baptism, they are experiencing the same thing – God’s redemption, calling them by nam…