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Monday, October 29, 2012

Bartimaeus: A man with vision

October 22nd, 2012, Pentecost 22, Proper 30

In a broad sense, the Book of Job tells the story of a man who feels that he has been wrongfully persecuted by God, who turns against God, and who eventually turns back to God.

Three other characters who play heavily in the Book of Job are Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  The bulk of the book consists of these three trying to convince Job not to curse God for what has happened to him.  After lengthy discussion, Job ignores their counsel and curses God.

Ironically, the epilogue of the book which we read today portrays God rebuking the three for having not spoken rightly of Him as Job had done.  In defending God, one would have thought God would be pleased with the three, but this is not the case.

Some theologians feel that Job’s saving grace was that he was honest with God.  He was angry at God and he let Him know it instead of trying to subdue his anger with religious platitudes.  This invites us to reflect on the degree of honesty with which we approach God.  Do we let Him know how we really feel?

The book ends much like a familiar fairy tale, with Job being rewarded and receiving much more than he had before all this began.

Having outlined and explained that Christ is a high priest, the author of Hebrews places an emphasis on the perfection of Christ.

This perfection does not seem to refer so much to the perfection of Jesus as a person, but rather to the perfection of his sacrifice, as sacrifice which the author links back to the animal sacrifices performed by the high priests.

The author seems to indicate that the Law and animal sacrifices were unable to bring perfection to the priesthood because the priests themselves were mortal and fallible.

Christ, being eternal and being of one substance with God, was able to establish that perfect covenant with God through his own sacrifice.

These are lofty concepts, and difficult to grasp, but it must be remembered that Hebrews was written sometime in the early 60’s.  While Christianity was at that point a movement distinct from Judaism, many of its adherents had come from a Jewish background.  With its consistent references to the Old Testament, it can be deduced that much of the Book of Hebrews is an attempt to reconcile the two thought systems.

This sermon focused mostly on the Gospel passage for this week, Mark 10:46-52

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sermon Podcasts

Hi all,

I have decided that as speaking rather than writing is more my thing, I will be recording and podcasting my sermons instead.  I truly hope you enjoy them and I hope that they will generate some fruitful and respectful conversation on this page.  Please feel free to agree or disagree with anything I or anyone else has said, but please be respectful and tolerant of one another.

One thing that I have cribbed from my colleagues at St. Mary's, Kerrisdale is the policy of situating and contextualizing Bible passages.  Part of the problem with the lectionary is that we read Scripture passages in isolation from their wider context, and unless you are a Bible scholar, that often makes weekly Scripture passages difficult to understand.  Therefore, I have taken in upon myself to write an introductory passage to situate each weekly reading, and this has been very well-received at the church.

As such, I will include on my blog links to the readings, my introductory "blurbs" and my sermon.  I hope you enjoy them.

October 21st, 2012, the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 29

Job 38:1-7, (34-41)

In last week’s passage, Job vented his anger at God for treating him so unfairly.  He finishes be calling on God to respond, which God does, appearing before Job in the form of a storm.

God does not answer Job directly by addressing his questions, but rather interrogates Job at length about the marvels of His creation, asking Job if he is capable of doing any of the things God does.

The point of God’s speech is to remind Job and we, the modern readers, of the mystery and grandeur of creation, and to remind Job that he is one small part of it.

This may cause us conflict as it sounds as though God is telling Job (and us by extension) that he is not important, but this was not the intention of the book.  Rather, the book is meant to lead Job and the reader to embrace a wider view of the world rather than focus on his own personal human sphere.

Hebrews 5:1-10

At this point in Hebrews, the author has already referred to Christ several times as a “high priest” without really justifying the statement or explaining what it means.

The author takes the opportunity to explain just that in today’s passage.

He does this by hearkening back to Old Testament passages which describe the qualifications required for being a high priest:

A)   that he be chosen from among the community;
B)    that he can be representative of the people because he shares in their human weakness;
C)    that he be called by God and not by his own choice.

The author then goes on to describe how Christ meets all these qualification.

This sermon focused mostly on the Gospel passage for the week, Mark 10:35-45.

To hear this week's sermon, click here.