We catch a glimpse this morning of two failed men. Peter who just a couple of weeks ago, we remember, denying Jesus three times. And Paul who persecuted the early Christians with every ounce of energy he had. One a villain – one a coward. That’s how the world saw them – but God saw something else. God saw the men they would become. Strange how often it is that God sees differently than us. Take the Gospel reading this morning as a case in point. The disciples have gone back to their regular lives – back to their boats, returning to fish and I suppose to wonder about how it all went so wrong. It’s as if Jesus had never been. How quick we all are to turn the page and give up; quick to start again and deny the past.
The story of Thomas and his doubts is familiar, and we are sure that we know how to read it. We identify with Thomas because we assume the issue is one of belief. And we think that we might be better believers – in spite of the commendation for those who have believed with out having seen – if we could just get some better evidence. Like how we imagine Thomas – we want some good first hand proof.
One of our traditions greatest preachers began his Easter sermon with these words:
Are there any here who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Are there any here who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!
Are there any here this morning weary from fasting?
Let them now receive their due!
“No, I tell you; unless you repent, you will all perish, just as they did.”
( Luke Chapter 13, verse 3)
I have to tell you that does not sound like good news to me. I could have stayed in bed with the National Post and read about the unlucky, unrighteous, and lazy, who deserve their fate and felt myself lucky, righteous and comfortably blessed. After all, I worked hard to get here. Don’t go telling me, Jesus, that I have to change, turn around, and repent or else my fate will be no better than those I long ago left behind. God no, don’t go telling me that – I’m too afraid to hear that. I’m afraid.
An Episcopal Priest, Barbara Cawthorne Crafton wrote this reflection on Lent which speaks eloquently of the times we live in and this season of the Church which we’re entering.
We didn’t even know what moderation was. What it felt like. We didn’t just work: we inhaled our jobs, sucked them in, became them. Stayed late, brought work home – it was never enough, though, no matter how much time we put in.
So the disciples have spent the entire night out fishing. They caught nothing. And Jesus comes along as says, “ Put out into the deep water, let down your nets for a catch.” Now Peter informs the Carpenters Son, “ We’ve worked all night but have caught nothing….but if you give the word, we’ll give it another try.” And they caught so many fish that they thought the net would break ! End of Gospel; at least we want it to stop there. After all who doesn’t love a story with a good ending ? And look for once those disciples had the good sense to listen to Jesus.
So we have finally made it. Tomorrow is Christmas the culmination of weeks of preparation. Shopping for that one last present with a couple thousand of your closest friends. Last minute baking, wrapping, and decorating. And now its all done!
And here we are in church and you’re looking for the churches best. After all its Christmas, the birth of the Messiah, Christ our Saviour. And what do we get, not John’s Gospel and all its theological weight, not Matthew and the host of Angels surrounding the baby Jesus. No we get Luke. And the simple story of Jesus birth and the appearance of Angels not to Mary and Joseph but to poor Shepherds. The world has given us a season of heighten activity and frenzy – and the church offers simplicity. You have to admit, it is and interesting contradiction. Who says God doesn’t know what God’s doing! Continue reading
There are passages, events and people in the Bible that I think are best understood by woman. Mary is certainly a case in point. So this morning I’ve turned to a woman, Joan Chittister, a gifted writer of theology and her book, “In Search of Belief” which is a primer on the Creed. She writes this of the Virgin Mary and I think it’s worth sharing…
“The question of Mary’s place in the history of salvation has ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries. Mary raises many questions. What does God really want from woman? What kind of sign is Mary to us all? What, if anything, do we see in her that has any meaning for women today?” I remember, writes Chittister, “that as a young child, despite the efforts of the nuns who taught me, the parish that formed me, and the example of other girls my own age, I developed little affinity to Mary. She was they taught me, docile and passive, submissive and unquestioning. She was not the strong, self-directing, thinking woman my mother was. What could I possibly find in Mary to respect, to imitate?