(Modified 2022-06-19: Added audio recording of sermon)
“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you” (Luke 8:39).
In Christ Jesus, we have a lot to be thankful. One of the precious gifts from Triune God is freedom. What is freedom in God? Freedom from what? Freedom to do what? How does freedom feel?
The picture that Apostle Paul and Evangelist Luke have painted for us this First Sunday after Trinity is that of a jail, including the handcuffs, chains and chackles, and the image of the possibility of being locked in the most feared maximum-security cell without the possibility of a parole.
In today’s gospel story of breakfast on the beach, we enter further into the Easter season, and the work of Easter: working out what it means to have Resurrection set loose in the world, in the church, and in our lives.
One of the oddest experiences of Easter is that it can feel empty, after the graphic realities of Holy Week: bread broken, feet washed, thorns pressed into Jesus’ scalp, crosses raised, a body laid in a newly hewn grave. Easter, by contrast, is about an absence: the body is no longer in the tomb; and we are left to work out what that means.
Today’s story makes it clear that one of the functions of Resurrection life is restoration of relationship, and deep forgiveness.
Acts 10:34-43 Psalm 118:1-2,14-24 1 Cor. 15:19-26 John 20:1-18
April 17, 2022 St. Mary’s Regina Easter Day Year C Revd. Paula Foster
Alleluia! He is Risen, the Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! That’s our shout, our cry, our joyous exclamation today. Three days after He died, the tomb is empty…..our Lord Jesus is risen! It’s amazing, it’s baffling, and yet it’s unbelievably true. We celebrate The Resurrection of Jesus along side millions of Christians throughout the world today. We all know the story,..most of us have heard it all our lives, but do you believe it? Does it make you stop and think about your life and the way you live? What do you believe about God and about Jesus…about the cross……and about the empty tomb? (Pause)
Good Friday is the most significant day that we remember or reflect on the only moment when humanity and God were reconciled in a drastic process of love, forgiveness of sin, and the death of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God whose ministry has revealed God to humanity.
This is even a simplistic representation of the theme of the cross for us because Christians have no consensus on how the death of Christ has reconciled us to God or led to the forgiveness of our sins. After reading William Placher’s book, Jesus the Saviour, this week I was struck by his remarkable discovery: “the Christian tradition has never taken an ‘official’ position on how Christ’s death helps save us” (p. 113). For this reason, John Calvin has acknowledged a plurality of possibilities: “If the death of Christ be our redemption, then we were captives; if it be satisfaction, we were debtors; if it be atonement (reconciliation), we were guilty; if it be cleansing, we were unclean” (113, emphasis added).
I would like us to approach our preaching today through the atonement (reconciliation) perspective, in view of the same theme in Leviticus 16 (I encourage you to read this chapter at your free time).
Maundy Thursday St. Mary’s Regina Rvd. Paula Foster
April 14, 2022
This is a holy, sacred time and a holy, sacred place. This time and place are both holy and sacred because of two gifts that God has given each one of us. The first of these gifts is the ability to remember. What would we be if we could not remember the events, people and places we encounter in our lives? We’d be only creatures who react out of instinct for self-preservation like any other animal.
But because we CAN remember, we are not just creatures of the present, but people with a past and memories that influence, guide and shape our lives in the present and for the future. We remember the joys and the sorrows of our upbringing, of our growing up and going out into the world. At a deeply fundamental level, our memories root us and help us define who we are as people. We become separated from ourselves without our memory and that is part of the tragedy of diseases that destroy our ability to remember.
Isaiah 50:4-9a Psalm 31:9-16 Philippians 2:5-11 Luke 22:14-23:56
April 10, 2022 St. Mary’s Regina Palm Sunday Year C Revd. Paula Foster
Anyone visiting us today might wonder what we are doing because our liturgy is quite different this morning from at any other time of the year. You were handed a palm branch (or a palm cross) as you came in the doors. There are two gospel readings; one that tells of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the other covering the events of several days in time.
There is much happening this morning because today marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most important week within the Christian church. Christians all over the world come together this week to reflect on and participate in the events of the final week of our Lord Jesus’ life.
How do you feel about extravagance? Extravagant gifts, extravagant gestures? Lent may seem like an odd time to talk about extravagance, but really, isn’t Lent about extravagance in the other direction? In Lent we are called to an extra level of self-abnegation – to more intentional prayer and fasting, to giving our attention to God, and our physical lives, our time, our talent and our treasure, to the needs of the world around us. In Lent, we are called, in fact, into extravagance.
Last Sunday morning before the service began, Paula asked me how I was doing. And I told her that I had been feeling sad because in these times of the church year when I most wish for time and space to be quiet and contemplative, I am instead most busy. Probably I am fooling myself that if I didn’t have tasks to perform or events to attend during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent that I would spend more time meditating on the Word or in quiet contemplation and prayer. But I do feel longing at these times for those practices.
What is Lent for? I was trying to imagine what the cultural understanding of Lent looks like these days. I think if you asked most people outside of the Church what Lent was, they wouldn’t have heard of it at all. Those who have might talk about giving up chocolate or meat, eating fish on Fridays. Maybe if they are really informed, they might talk about giving alms or acts of service.