Showing posts from November, 2015

Making Christmas Specials: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

St. Andrew's Stars Episode:Hespeler, 29 November, 205 © Scott McAndless – 1st Advent 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Psalm 133, Matthew 20:24-28 A baby is born in a cave, a baby who is different from every other child who has ever been seen. And his parents look on him in wonder, not comprehending just how unique their son will be, not understanding how he will grow up to be the saviour of all his kind. That is the classic Christmas story isn’t it? That’s what it’s all about.       What? Oh, I’m not talking about that baby. For lots of people Christmas has very little to do with his birth. You misunderstand me. The baby I’m talking about was actually a fawn. And the parents who wondered at his birth were named Donner and Mrs. Donner. The cave was just an ordinary reindeer cave. That’s the birth I’m talking about. It is a birth that says Christmas to a lot of people because it is the opening scene of the classic Christmas special, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and, for them, Christmas can…

Christmas Armistice

It is the end of November and we all know what that means: it is time for War.                 Yes, every year at this time of year we are reminded that we are supposed to be at war. It is called the War on Christmas and we are apparently all conscripted as foot soldiers.                 The first shots of this year’s battle have already been fired. The skirmish was fought over the holiday season cups at Starbucks. A few Christians took offence because the plain red and green cups being filled by the iconic cafĂ© this year don’t have any explicit Christmasy words or symbols on them. But we all recognize that that is only the beginning and there will be many more fights to come. What will be next? Will we have to take offence at someone who says Happy Holidays? Will we need to be appalled by a lack of mangers in public squares? Where will it end?                 I’ve got to say that in this particular war, I am pretty much ready to declare myself a conscientious objector. I’m not sure I wa…

Script Out Passages: Script Out Principles

Hespeler, 22 November, 2015 © Scott McAndless 2 Timothy 3:10-17, Romans 1:26-32, Psalm 19:7-14 T oday we come to the end of what I think is the longest series of sermons that I have ever preached. Since the beginning of September we have been looking at what I call the Script Out passages of the Bible – passages that we love to hate and often wish weren’t there in the Bible at all. I’m going to confess that I am kind of glad to bring this series to a close on this, the last Sunday in the church year. It can be a little bit difficult to spend all that time focusing on Bible passages that you don’t really like. Next week, the first week in Advent, I am going to be very happy to turn to some more traditional themes of the Christian gospel.       But I hope that you have picked up that, even if it is hard, I do think this kind of work is important. If we are people who believe in the Bible and take this book seriously, we have to be willing to invest the energy to struggle with those part…

Script Out Passages: Lessons from Sodom and Gomorrah

Hespeler, 15 November, 2015 © Scott McAndless Genesis 19:1-13, Matthew 10:5-15, Isaiah 1:9-18 I n late August, 2005, as we all remember, a powerful hurricane named Katrina made landfall on the southern coast of Louisiana. Katrina did a whole lot of damage, but no place was hit harder than the City of New Orleans. Many who surveyed the damage at the time gave the opinion that a great American city had simply been wiped off of the map. It was positively apocalyptic.       As always happens in the face of that kind of tragedy, there was a great deal of soul searching and people asking why. Why did this happen? And there were lots of answers that were offered. Climate change and weather, the failure of the levees was blamed on the army corps of engineers, the failings of disaster assistance were blamed on the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But by far the clearest answer to the why question was given by a Christian evangelist by the name of John Hagee. Hagee declared that the cause of th…

The Script Out Verses of the Bible: "Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock."

Hespeler, 8 November, 2015 © Scott McAndless – Remembrance Sunday Matthew 5:43-48, Joshua 5:13-15, Psalm 137 A bout our Psalm reading this morning, I just wanted to let you know that I saw your reaction. In fact, we actually read this same Psalm in the same way a few weeks ago. I chose to have us read it responsively even though, at the time, I was not intending to preach on it as a part of my Script Out series. And then we read the closing words of the Psalm together: “O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us! Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!”       When we all read that, I saw it. There was this little, “Wait, what?” moment. “Did we just read what I thought we read? How can there be people in the Bible who are congratulating themselves for dashing little Babylonian babies against the rocks? I thought that the Bible was supposed to be a nice book!”       It is an awful couple of vers…

Is it really about freedom of conscience?

Freedom of conscience clause eliminated by Church of Iceland

I was reading the above news item from the church of Iceland and some of the online discussion around it today. The reactions that I was read mostly seemed to be from people who have serious theological objections to participation in same sex marriages. The tone of the comments was basically: "See, this is why we can't give an inch on same sex marriage. If we give an inch, they'll take a mile and take away our freedom of conscience to refuse."

It was making me think a lot about what I believe about freedom of conscience.

I really do believe in freedom of conscience. I believe that, when people struggle in good faith with the meaning of the Biblical text and come to a conviction about how they should act, we ought to do what we can to give them the freedom to live out their faith according to their conscience.

There are, of course, some limits to that. We couldn't possibly tolerate someone who sincerely…

Script Out Passages: The men of her town shall take her and stone her to death.

St. Andrew's Stars Episode that goes with this sermon:

Hespeler, November 1, 2015 © Scott McAndless Deuteronomy 22:13-30, Matthew 21:28-32, Psalm 72:1-14 I f you are going to look at the passages of the Bible that people sometimes struggle with and maybe even sometimes wish weren’t there at all, you are going to end up, sooner or later, talking about sexual morality. Well, today is that day and we are going to delve into some of the sexual themed passages of the Bible.       Talking to some people, of course, you will definitely get the impression that the Bible is all about sexual morality, that the only thing that matters, as far as the Bible is concerned, is what happens in the bedroom. Certainly when you hear somebody complain about how nobody follows Biblical morality anymore, you can be almost certain that the morality that they have in mind is the sexual kind. For many people, that is the only Biblical morality that matters.       Now, is it actually true that the Bible is t…