praise & rage - Luke 4:14-30

The Gospel lesson for this coming Sunday is Luke 4:21-30. Here is a sermon I preached on February 1, 2004 that included the gospel lessons for two successive Sundays - Luke 4:14-30 ...

The text begins “Then Jesus”. We are picking up the story in midstream. Jesus has been led into temptation and been delivered there from evil. Then Jesus returns to Galilee. But he comes home a different person than the one who left to be baptised by John in the river Jordan. Jesus has been filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke is at pains to make this clear to even the slowest of readers. After Jesus’ baptism, Luke tells us that “the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.” The divine breath takes on materiality. It descends in bodily form. Then Luke tells us that Jesus, “full of the Holy Spirit” is “led by the Spirit in the wilderness”. And now, back in Galilee and in his home town of Nazareth we hear once more that Jesus is “filled with the power of the Spirit”. We talk frequently about spirituality and widespread contemporary longing for a more spiritual life. But this depiction of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, seems somehow different. Luke is testifying to an extraordinary occurrence. Jesus - the carpenter’s boy from Nazareth - is overtaken by a power from above and is changed. He is full of Holy Spirit and is led by this same Spirit into danger and an unexpected path. This is due warning that our Lenten mid-week gatherings to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit be result in unexpected change in our life. To receive the Holy Spirit is not simply to be given energy and health, it is to be changed and to be led into danger.

in a riddle - I Corinthians 13

The Epistle lesson for this coming Sunday is the famous passage at I Corinthians 13:1-13. Here is a sermon I preached on this text on February 3, 2013 In A Riddle. Looking back, it is a favorite of mine after many attempts to preach on this passage at weddings over the years.


calling jeremiah - Jeremiah 1:4-10

Jeremiah 1:4-10 is the Old Testament text for this coming Sunday in the Ecumenical Lectionary. Here is a sermon that I preached on this text on January 28, 2007 at University Hill Congregation ...

On Wednesday I asked the ‘Text to Sermon’ gathering for help. The problem is that all of the scripture set to be read by the common lectionary is so strong, so rich and so thick with vitality. After we had chewed on the texts from Jeremiah and Luke and 1 Corinthians, just as we were about to leave, I asked which one would best be given a voice in the sermon. “I think it is Jeremiah” said Margaret. Then Janet said, “I think it must be Jeremiah.” Betty and Bernice agreed. I am not sure that I know why they settled on Jeremiah. I am not sure that they know why. But I trust their hearing and hosting and intuition.


christmas eve preaching

After thirty-five years of preaching on Christmas Eve I am not spending the days before Christmas sweating over a sermon. It was always a struggle, one that I enjoyed even as I fell short of the challenge. The challenge included a packed house, many young and excited children, much music and little time for a sermon. In fact, some wondered if a sermon was really needed or desired. Yet on the occasion when the church gathers to wonder that the Word became flesh it seemed strange not to name the Incarnation of the Word with some honest words. So I imagined the sermon as a short form offering in the midst of the children dressed as angels and shepherds around Mary, Joseph and the infant (always the youngest baby in the congregation that year). The results were mixed, given the noise levels of the children and my capacity to find words fit to host the Word.

Looking back there are two Christmas Eve sermons that speak to me still ... 


pomalidomide (cycles nine, ten & eleven)

This week I began the twelfth monthly cycle on pomalidomide, dexamethasone and cyclophosphamide. Yesterday was in to see my hematologist for a regular visit. The good news is that there is nothing new to report since my last visit in August. All is continuing to go well. My blood reports show that the free light chain count has remained below 100 (going as low as 35, rising to 95, currently at 58). This means that the amyloidosis and myeloma is being well controlled by the trio of drugs. It also means that I continue to experience the side effects of the dexamethasone. As you know, it is not my favourite thing! But it is a necessary part of the treatment and the treatment is working.

Perhaps you have not heard the news that four new myeloma drugs have been approved for use in the United States this year. It is an unprecedented number of new drugs, with more on the way. It will likely be some time (perhaps a couple of years) before the drugs are approved for use in Canada. Once approved it is not certain that they will all be funded. While these new drugs hold great promise they are also very expensive. I hope that I will be able to have access to one or more of them in the future if, and when, I may need them. In the meantime, I feel very fortunate to be living with these diseases in the golden age of myeloma drug development.


advent trouble, newness, life

The new Christian Year begins this coming Sunday, November 29. With this in mind it was a delight to recently be interviewed by the Ancient Future Faith Network about the ancient and future practice of keeping time through the Christian seasons. You can find the interview here.

Looking ahead to the upcoming season of Advent here are the opening paragraphs of three previous posts that explore Advent trouble, newness and life as we have lived it over the years at University Hill Congregation. Click on the link at the end of each paragraph to visit the original post ...


salt of the earth: a christian seasons calendar 2015/2016

Good news - the 2015/2016 edition of Salt of the Earth: A Christian Seasons Calendar is now available. This unique venture had its beginnings in 1999 as we at University Hill Congregation imagined a calendar that begins with Advent and turns with the Christian seasons. The calendar continues to grow year after year by word of mouth.

You can find the calendar at the Christian Seasons Calendar website where you can view sample pages, read reviews and order online. Single copies of the calendar cost $15.95 (plus shipping and applicable taxes). There is a 20% discount on orders of ten or more and a 40% discount on orders of twenty five or more. Many people purchase in bulk and then give the calendars as gifts or make them available in congregations at a reduced rate.

We are grateful for your assistance in spreading the word about Salt of the Earth: A Christian Seasons Calendar 2015/2016 to friends and colleagues, near and far.