Showing posts from June, 2016

How do we apply, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord they God in vain," today?

Hespeler, 26 June, 2016 © Scott McAndless Exodus 20:1-7, Matthew 5:17-20, 33-37, Psalm 119:1-8 S omewhere around 3500 years ago (as the story is told) there was a group of tribes wandering together through the desert when they encountered their God in a pretty remarkable way. And the God that they met in that desert apparently had some clear ideas about how ancient tribal people like them needed to live their lives and what they had to do. And so God gave them commandments – rules that they were supposed to live by. Even more important, he promised them that if they lived according to these rules they would be blessed and live good lives in a land to which he would lead them.         And they were good commandments and wise commandments. But they were also tailor-made for tribal people living somewhere about 3500 years ago. What I mean is that, for them, the application of the commandments was usually pretty straightforward. The situations that they came across in their normal lives were …

Why I am Running

I am not a runner. I never have been.

Do you remember that kid, the one back in middle school who, every time the class was told to run a few laps of the track or to head out across country - that one kid who fell right to the back of the pack, who pulled up with a stitch in the side, who was panting like a dog?

That kid was me.

To this day, though I enjoy being active, I probably would not choose running as an enjoyable activity. I've heard of people who derive a great deal of pleasure from running. I have heard of what is called a "runner's high," but I can't say I have ever experienced it. Nevertheless, I am planning to run 10 km this fall.

Why am I running?
The Event
I am running because the Rev. Jeff Veenstra Memorial Walk-a-thon in support of Presbyterian World Service and Development (Better known as the Jeff-a-thon will be held on Sunday October 16, 2016 at Crieff Hills Community in Puslinch, ON,
The Man and his Passion for a Better World
I am running bec…

Was Jesus an "atheist" because he taught that God is Abba?

Hespeler, 19, June 2016 © Scott McAndless Galatians 4:1-7, Luke 11:9-13, Psalm 103:1-14 Long before the time of Jesus, it was not uncommon for people to use father language to talk about God and about various gods. Take the Romans, they loved to use father language to talk about their gods. The ruler of all the Roman gods was a fellow named Jupiter and his name actually meant “Father God” in primitive Latin. In addition, the Roman emperors were also worshipped as gods by the Romans because they were the so-called fathers of the nation. But when the Romans spoke about their gods as being fathers, they had a very particular idea of fatherhood in mind. Fatherhood, in ancient Rome, meant one thing above all: authority. The Latin name for a male head of a family was paterfamilias: father of the family. And a paterfamilias was not just a warm and fuzzy dad figure sitting in a La-Z-Boy, wearing slippers and reading a newspaper. For the Romans, he was a man who had ultimate authority over every …

Hallelujah, Benediction Song

This Sunday I will complete a series of sermons where I have been examining some of the strange and wonderful things that Jesus taught about God. I'm not sure how many have noticed this, but as a part of this series I have been writing a benediction for each service to be sung by the congregation. Each benediction has gone with the radical teaching of Jesus (or his disciples) that we have been talking about.
All of these have been sung to the tune of Sinclair's Hallelujah (#294 in the Presbyterian Book of Praise).
Here is a YouTube video of the music (though we sang it much faster than that!): Sinclair's Hallelujah
As the series now comes to an end, I would like to present all of the verses that I have written. I keep singing them, I hope you might too:
1. God is Spirit so we worship God in spirit and in truth. Holy places are wherever God our wounded hearts does soothe.
2. God is Father, Son and Spirit, Three in one and one in three, Like a dance that spins forever Throughout al…

Was Jesus an "atheist" because he taught that God is insurgent?

Hespeler, 12 June, 2016 © Scott McAndless Luke 6:20-31, Matthew 5:1-16, Isaiah 1:10-18             If you were given the chance to invent a god – a god that everyone else would have to acknowledge, worship and obey – what would your god look like? What would be important to your god? Well, that would probably depend, wouldn’t it? It would depend on you and what your priorities were.       If you were a committed vegetarian, for example, the god you would invent would probably be very likely to get judgy about people killing animals for food. If your greatest passion this summer was for your country to win more Olympic medals, then you might invent a god who closely followed the games and cared about the outcomes. If you were poor, you might invent a god who called for the rich to give away some of their wealth to the poor but if you were rich – oh, if you were rich – you can be very sure that the god that you would invent would be very keen on making sure that rich folks got to keep what…

What we miss when we read the Lord's Prayer in translation

I have spent some time reflecting on the Lord's Prayer this week - especially the opening word in the original language: "Father" (because I'm working on a sermon for Father's Day).
Now, I am hardly what you would call a Greek scholar. What I learned in school is a bit rusty, but I was struck by some of the things that you see when you read it in the original language. The prayer, as it originally appears in the Gospel of Matthew is in Greek, although Jesus himself likely spoke Aramaic and would have prayed in that language.

The prayer, at least as it appears in Greek, has a poetic structure that is simply impossible to get across in an English translation. When you read it in the original, you see that most of the prayers and petitions are written in parallel phrases.

The first word is "Father." The second word is "of us." From there the prayer seems to bounce back and forth from the deeds of God to the needs of humanity - from the concerns of …

Was Jesus an "atheist" because he taught that God is within you?

Hespeler, 5 June, 2016 © Scott McAndless – Communion, New Members Psalm 139:1-12, Matthew 6:5-15, Romans 8:26-27        There is one very big assumption that lies behind all of our religious and spiritual practices. It is an assumption that is so taken for granted that I think we almost forget that it’s there. The assumption is this: we assume that God exists out there somewhere.         It is an assumption that goes with the very idea of existence. Existence, as an idea, implies existence within a certain space. Now, of course, we may not know where that “somewhere” is in the case of God. We would actually resist being very specific about the place where God exists because we’re really not very sure about that.         People used to talk about God being “up there,” but I’m not so sure we’re as comfortable with that phrase anymore. People used to mean it literally. They actually imagined God as being right up there – just beyond the solid blue dome of the sky looking down upon us – …