Showing posts from 2015

What happens when you baptize a six year old?

Today I had the privilege of conducting the baptism of a six year old child. In the Presbyterian Church, there is no defined age for a baptism and I have baptized people at various ages through the years, but this was my first six year old. I found it a deeply meaningful celebration for a number of reasons but mostly because the child got to have a say to and express his faith at the level of understanding. I adapted the baptismal questions as followed:

Minister: Candidate, I know that you have heard the name of Jesus, that you are learning about him, his words and his stories. Candidate, I want to ask you a very important question. Based on what you know right now about Jesus, are you willing to trust him and to serve him as best as you can? Candidate: Yes, I am. Minister: Candidate, as a sign of your trust in Jesus, are you willing to be baptized? Candidate: Yes. Minister: Mother and Father, in his own way, Candidate could probably teach us all a great deal about what it really means to …


Hespeler, 27 December, 2015 © Scott McAndless – Baptism Matthew 2:1-5, 13-15, Luke 2:22-35, Psalm 148 T he people of Alexandria were all stirred up and you could understand why. After all, didn’t the city have enough of its own problems? The economy had been dismal for years. Ever since the death of Anthony and Cleopatra, Roman taxes had only gone up and up. (It seemed as if nine out of every ten bushels of wheat produced in the Nile valley was shipped overseas to feed the ever-hungry people of Rome) and the lack of a descent flood of the Nile in, like, three years, meant that there just didn’t seem to be enough to feed Egypt’s population.       And then there was the labour market. It had been, what, like a thousand years since anybody was hiring in the pyramid building industry. And really, what other work was there for good hardworking Egyptians? Mummy wrapping? Hieroglyphic drawing? Slavery? The guys who whip the slaves? Listen, the point is that there were only so many good jobs …

How the Leper found Christmas (or "What if Mark 1:40-45 were written by Theodor Geisel")

Video Version:

Hespeler, 20 December, 2015 © Scott McAndless Mark 1:40-45
Every Jew in Capernaum really mattered a lot But the leper, who lived outside Capernaum, did not! Because of psoriasis his skin was all white And the people who saw him reacted in fright. But as much as they scorned him for being impure The leper detested himself even more. He was certain that all this had happened to him Because he’d deserved it – because of some sin. So he spent all his days in a terrible mood And in dark depression he constantly stewed. For nobody loved him – no body at all And that’s why his heart was two sizes too small.
     It is fair, I think, to compare Dr. Seuss’ story of the Grinch who stole Christmas with the story of the leper from Mark’s Gospel. They actually have a great deal in common. Both the Grinch and the leper live outside of town – away from the society of other people. This is not stated in the gospel story, of course. But it is understood. There were numerous laws and rules in the Galil…

Making Christmas Specials: A Charlie Brown Christmas

St. Andrew’s Stars Episode:

Hespeler, 13 December, 2015 © Scott McAndless Psalm 107:1-16, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, John 17:13-19 A lmost exactly fifty years ago today (think about that for a moment!) On Thursday, December 9, 1965, viewers who were just settling in to watch their favourite television show on CBS, the Munsters, were in for a surprise. The show had been pre-empted, replaced with a brand new television special: A Charlie Brown Christmas. For the very first time the popular comic strip was brought to life through the magic of animation. And the executives down at CBS were huddled in fear. They were bracing for what they were sure would be an embarrassing failure. And they had some very good reasons for that fear. The special had been made on a shoestring budget and had definitely suffered for it. The animation was very poor quality. It was jerky and repetitive. The sound was hardly better. The film was poorly edited as well and the action cut from one thing to another in strange…

Making Christmas Specials: Frosty the Snowman

St. Andrew's Stars Video:

Hespeler, 6 December, 2015 © Scott McAndless – Communion Genesis 2:4-7, Luke 1:46-55, 1 Corinthians 15:12-28 I n 1969 the decision was made to take a silly little winter children’s song about a snowman who came to life and turn it into an animated Christmas special. It was not really a very radical idea. Five years previously producers had taken another popular Christmas song, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and turned it into what is probably the most popular Christmas special of all time. If they could do it for Rudolph, they could surely do it for Frosty and in fact they even hired the same man, Romeo Muller, who had written the Rudolph special to expand the song’s story to fill an entire half hour.       But didn’t Romeo Muller have quite a challenge before him? How do you take a little lightweight song about what is, I guess, just about everyone’s childhood fantasy (What do you suppose it would be like if this snowman I’m making came to life?) – how …

Thought and Prayers

Something finally broke over the last couple of days. And, as far as I'm concerned, it is about time.

In the aftermath of the latest mass shooting, which led to the death of 14 in San Bernadino in California, people began responding, as they often do, by sending out their "thoughts and prayers." It is, I would suggest, a common and generally positive response to events that are tragic and largely outside of our control. We feel so powerless in the face of tragedy and the impulse is to want to do something about it. Often enough, prayer and positive thoughts are the only things that we feel able to do.

But this time there was a strong twitter reaction against the response as people began to tweet out criticisms that sought to shame those making such statements with the hashtag #thoughtsandprayers. The criticism and shaming was not directed (at least not for the most part) towards people who were truly powerless to do anything except pray about it, but in particular at peo…

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…