Lent 1, 2022 – Sermon

First Sunday in Lent – March 6, 2022. St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, Regina. 

We thank God for his protection, enabling us to enter safely into the season of Lent. In Lent we preach and learn about certain preparations for the upcoming season of Easter because we havecompleted witnessing great signs of the inbreaking and revelation of the kingdom of God into human history during the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

While the focus in our Anglican liturgical and preaching calendar is Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God whose birth, ministry, death and resurrection reconcile humanity with God, Lent particularly zooms into the description about how our life should emulate Jesus Christ and his suffering for others, thereby giving us a glimpse into Christ’s life and ministry as the benchmark of Christian teaching on discipline and discipleship. We will talk about discipline today.

Christian discipline is a thoughtful process of spiritual training, correction and practice that results in transformation of heart and behaviour and enables us learn about how we shouldinteract with and understand God.

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Quinquagesima 2022 – Sermon

Exodus 34:29-35​​
Psalm 99
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Luke 9:28-43a
February 27, 2022
St. Mary’s Regina
Transfiguration Sunday
Year C
Revd. Paula Foster

From our first reading this morning we hear these words: “when Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses (returning from the mountain), the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him.” From the gospel of Luke we hear these words: “And while Jesus was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became dazzling white…and the disciples were afraid.”  Both men climb a mountain; Moses by himself and Jesus with three close companions. Both men encounter God.  Moses returns with physical evidence of his conversation…..the 10 Commandments carved in stone and a face that shone with a brightness that was hard to look at.  Jesus has witnesses, but they are terrified by what they saw and heard and kept silent about it all until a later time. 

Obviously, coming face to face….having an encounter with God changes us.  It results in a transfiguration that is difficult if not impossible to explain.  I suspect that it can be intimidating to look into eyes that have seen God’s glory….seen the world as God sees the world…..seen us as God sees us. Moses’ face shone because “the Lord had been speaking to him.” 

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Sexagesima 2022 – Sermon

Classical economic theory tells us that, if left to their own devices, markets will balance themselves out — supply meeting demand — because the humans in those markets are rational beings who will behave in their own self-interest by making decisions based on reason.   It amazes me that anyone who has actually met another human being could espouse such a theory in good conscience and with a straight face, but somehow or other this idea has managed to hang on more or less up until the present age.

In my opinion, classical economic theory is more useful as a model you can hold up against actual economies to see just how far off the mark you are about people acting rationally.  Personally, I’m much more interested in behavioural economics, as developed in the 60s and 70s by Israeli psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.  Tversky and Kahneman developed a number of concepts that describe the ways in which people make irrational choices.  The availability heuristic, for example, says that people tend to believe things they’ve heard stories about are more common than they really are.  Like if you hear a story about a shark attack, it sticks in your mind, and you think shark attacks must happen all the time.  But you’re not stacking up the story you heard against the thousands of people who go into the ocean every day and aren’t attacked by sharks.  We are much more moved by a good story than by data.

Jesus in Luke chapter 6 is giving us his speech as the chief economist of the Kingdom of God.  If rationality states that when someone punches you in the eye, the fair thing is for them to stand still while you return the favour, the economy Jesus is describing here is based on a principle of abundance, not balanced ledgers.  “Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you.  Pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn to them the other also.”  I ask you, is this rational?  Is this an example of supply balancing with demand?

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Septuagesima 2022 – Sermon

Jeremiah 17:5-10
Psalm 11
Corinthians 15:12-20
Luke 6:17-26
February 13,2022
St. Mary’s Regina
Epiphany 6
Year C

            I have been to the Holy Land.  Six years ago, the clergy of the Diocese of Saskatoon went together on a pilgrimage to see the land where Jesus lived and taught.  I saw for myself how much of Jerusalem can be seen from the Mount of Olives and whether the Jordan is a rushing river or a flowing stream.  I saw the physical land around Tiberias where tradition holds that Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount (according to Matthew) or the Sermon on the Plain (according to Luke).  It is the same sermon recorded in three of the gospels and in my mind there is a difference between a mountain and a plain.

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Epiphany 5, 2022 – Sermon

Isaiah 6:1-13
Psalm 138
1 Cor. 15:1-11
Luke 15:1-11  
February 6, 2022
St. Mary’s Regina
Epiphany V
Year C

            There have been a few glitches in my life this week.  I won’t list them, but I was unexpectedly called to preach this morning because of illness. So in full disclosure, I have borrowed a large portion of this morning’s message, written by Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor,in her book “Home by Another Way” pp 39-41. 

Have you ever had a day when no matter what you tried, you could not get your work done?  A day when all your plans and schemes and lists and organization skills were in place and still, at the end of the day, you had nothing to show for all your hard work? Do you remember the feelings you felt?  Were you discouraged, frustrated, angry and tired?  Were  there other people depending on you and so they felt let down?  Our failures often have a domino effect on other folks.  That is what has happened to Simon and James and John and unnamed others…the village fishermen…when they pushed their boats onto Lake Gennesaret to go fishing.  

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Epiphany 4, 2022 – Sermon

Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71: 1-6
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Luke 4:21-30
January 30, 2022
St. Mary’s Regina
Epiphany 4
Year C 

            Faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is Love.  Faith, hope and love…these three remain…outlast all other things, but the greatest of these is Love. These words are beautiful words, familiar words. They hold a truth that most of us appreciate and value. The truth is that love is very powerful.  

L-O-V-E is one of the most over used words in our English language.  We use the word Love to describe the things in our life for which we feel passion and there is quite a range of things that we love.  We love certain foods, sports, activities, books and of course, people.  I love chocolate and I love my family but the two feelings are hardly comparable.  And yet we use the same four letter word to describe them both. 

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Epiphany 3, 2022 – Sermon

Well, I won’t pretend this is ideal.  Doing church this way, through a computer screen, has borne home to me how disconnected I feel from all of you.  How are you?  Are you doing okay?  Have you got anyone asking you those questions face to face these days?  All of the distance the pandemic has created between us has also made me think about how profoundly true it is that one person cannot be all things to all people.  You know, when Claude is here, I tend to be content to let him try and fill that role.  Claude was the conduit for me to all important information about what was going on in people’s lives.  That’s how I found out who was sick; whose relative had died; who had a new grand-baby.  The rest I could fill in when I saw you on Sunday mornings.  But now, Claude’s not here, and neither are you, except through a computer screen.

But the pandemic is only one factor in my sense of disconnection from all of you.  After all, I could pick up the phone, couldn’t I?  Don’t think I haven’t thought of it numerous times over the last two years.  The reasons I mostly haven’t done that are personal failings I cannot, unfortunately, blame on a virus.  Inertia is one.  It is, after all, much easier not to do something!  Another other is energy.  On the introvert/extrovert spectrum, I’m in the 90th percentile on the introvert side.  Literally, conversations exhaust me.  Which gets twisted up with how much I love you and want to know about your life.  Result: inertia.  The third reason is depression, which either causes or is caused by the other two; I’m not sure which.  But man: it is January.  It’s dark, it’s cold.  I am so over this pandemic.  And so depression has set in.  And that just coats inertia and exhaustion with a nice brain fog.

So the result is that while I think about you all the time, and I’m worried about how you’re coping with the dumpster fire that is our lives these days, I am wholly inadequate to do anything about it.  But thankfully for me and for all of you, that is not how being brothers and sisters in Christ works.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he gives what is, in my opinion, the most useful metaphor about what Jesus’ Church is.  It is a body, full of distinct parts.  Eugene Peterson said about Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “When people become Christians, they don’t at the same moment become nice.  This always [seems to] come as something of a surprise.  Conversion to Christ and his ways doesn’t automatically furnish a person with impeccable manners and suitable morals.

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Epiphany 2, 2022 – Sermon

On this Second Sunday of Epiphany, we continue our reading about the manifestation or revelation of Jesus Christ to the people, cultures and the nations of the world. 

One may ask why Jesus Christ should be revealed to us? It is because Christ is the Son of God who has revealed God’s love for us by offering to be the sacrificial lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. According to the Gospel of John, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart (bosom), who has made him known” (1:18). 

Epiphany is also about the compelling personal transformation as become aware and accept the new identity that uplifts us beyond our normal life to the new lifecycle of love, hope and faith.

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Baptism of the Lord, 2022 – Sermon

(Modified 2022-01-10: Added audio recording)

Isaiah 43:1-7
Psalm 29
Acts 8:14-17
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

January 9, 2022
St. Mary’s Regina
Baptism of our Lord
Year C

Audio recording of this sermon

Within the season of Epiphany, we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord. It is one of the traditional times for baptism in our church year.  Most, if not all of us have been baptized. (If you haven’t and are interested in baptism, please see me after the service.)  Most of us have been witnesses to many baptisms over the years. Some of us are God-parents or sponsors. We ourselves were presented for baptism by parents or someone who cared about us or for us.  We, in turn, have presented our children for baptism and perhaps grandchildren…I had the privilege of baptizing my grandson Owen and Boyd had the privilege of baptizing all but one of his grandchildren.  We know that Baptism is a holy time within families and for the people of God.

           When we present our children or ourselves for baptism, we are responding to the gentle call of God…to begin a journey with God. Baptism marks the beginning of a life long journey of discovery for us as we learn to love God.  As we learn to love God, we discover that we too, are the beloved of God.  Therefore, Baptism is a time of joy within the church as well as a time of celebration for families.  We warmly welcome the newly baptized who are brought, by faith, into the family of God.  So with these thoughts in mind, let us turn our attention to the baptism of our Lord and his call to ministry.

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Christmas 2, 2022 – Sermon

Isaiah 60: 1-6
Psalm 72:1-14
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2: 1-12
January 2, 2022
St. Mary’s Regina
Epiphany Sunday
Year C

         Whenever people gather in groups, it is almost inevitable that one will hear stories.  Stories are the vehicle that we human beings most commonly use to make sense of the world in which we live.  Through stories told around kitchen tables over cups of coffee or tea, or maybe something a wee bit stronger, we share some of the things that have shaped and informed our lives, both present and past and these stories become our family histories.  In my family I have noticed that through the years, some of the details of the events are changed depending on who is telling the stories and even though it makes for lively discussions on occasion…the inherent truth it holds for us doesn’t change.  This is one of the ways that families pass on the values and traditions that have shaped and formed their lives.  

Story telling is so important that we are taught from a young age to listen carefully and respectfully when someone is telling a story. Stories are powerful. Survivors of all sorts of trauma often need to tell their story in order to move forward from the event. A dear friend of mine once told me that we will re-tell or relive a traumatic event/story until we can make some kind of sense of what happened OR until we can find a safe place to store it inside us. It is a well-documented fact that being able to share our story often leads to healing and restoration.  There is something powerfully sacred in the telling/sharing as well as in the listening. And I believe THAT is evidence of God’s grace in the world.   

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