A Feminist, the Niqab, St. Francis and the Sultan: a sermon for the Commemoration of St. Francis

niqabThe Season of Creation ends today with the commemoration of St. Francis and the rhetoric of election season together with  the events chronicled in Paul Moses book “The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace” inspired this sermon.

The reading from St. Francis and the Scripture reading can be found here

Listen to the sermon here

Jesus Is the Memory of Our Future – a sermon for Creation 4B

GrandaThis long forgotten photograph of my Granda, William Anderson, moved my sermon beyond my miss-remembering as I attempt to respond to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s question: “Who is Christ actually for us today?” I first encountered the phrase “Jesus Is the Memory of Our Future” on a t-shirt from Holden Village. Readings for this the fourth Sunday of the Season of Creation included: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters from Prison (to Eberhart Bethge, 1944), Mark 12:28-34, Mark 16: 14-16 – click here to read texts

Listen to the sermon here

Encountering the Divinity Within Us – Mark 9:33-37


Then Jesus brought a little child into their midst and putting his arm around the child, said to the Twelve, “Whoever welcomes a child such as this for my sake welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the One who sent me.” Readings included Exodus 40:34-38, Mark 9:33-37 

Listen to the sermon here 

The Truth Will Set You Free: a Homecoming sermon


Homecoming after a splendid summer respite. Readings Proverbs 1:20-23; Ephesians 4:11-13 and John 8:30-32. I am indebted to Peter Rollins for his excellent insights into the need for church to be a place where we consult our suffering. I highly recommend the short video from which I have quoted which you can view here:  Peter Rollins video – Giving the Three Fingers. The story about the starfish on the beach is one I first heard many years ago. There is a version of the story in Marc Gellman’s book “And God Cried, Too: A Kid’s Book of Healing and Hope”

Listen to the sermon here


Spiritual AND Religious – a sermon for Pentecost 11B – John 6:35,41-51

Spiritual & Religious pastordawnListen to the sermon here

We Are the Bread of Heaven: a sermon on John 6:24-35 for Pentecost 10B

Hungry for?It is a holiday weekend here in Ontario. So, in the midst of our relaxed worship, I decided not to preach the sermon I had written and simply spoke briefly in response to the video animation which was shown after the reading of the Gospel John 6:24-35. You can watch the video: The Stonecutter here and listen to the recording of my comments here. The sermon which I prepared but did not preach is printed below. 

Following the video The Stonecutter (1960) Japanese Folklore  view here

Jesus said, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.” Food that endures for eternal life: WOW! Talk about satisfying. Who wouldn’t want some of that? Who isn’t hungry for food that does not perish but lasts for eternal life? No wonder the people cried out to Jesus. “Sir, give us some of that.” To which Jesus replied, “I AM it!” It’s clear that were not talking about ordinary food here. Jesus said to them, “I AM the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

But isn’t hunger and thirst the very stuff of life? Isn’t hunger, thirst, desire, longing, yearning, the very thing that drives us all? Don’t we all hunger for a better, fuller, more satisfying life? Don’t we all want to feed that emptiness that lies within? Aren’t we all looking for something?

If I were to try to tell that ancient Japanese fable in our modern Canadian context what might it sound like? You’re driving along in the car, widows open, listening to some tunes thinking hey look at me, I’ve got it pretty good, when all of a sudden a guy pulls up along side of you in a beautiful in a sleek e-type jag convertible, woe! If I could afford a car like that, just think about how great it would be to pull away from all the other traffic, the wind blowing through my hair, wouldn’t that be great. Well you save your pennies and you finally get the car of your dreams, and your driving along and you see this house, not just any house, but the most beautiful house in the neighbourhood, and you know there’s just got to be a pool in the backyard, and you wonder maybe, just maybe there’s a Jacuzzi in one of the dozen or so rooms and you know that if you could come home to a place like that, well then you’d be really happy. So you work hard and you scrimp and you save and one day, you get your hearts desire and you turn the key in the lock an all of a sudden your living in the house of your dreams. But there’s the pool to clean, and the gardens to maintain, and a lot of rooms that need dusting and you see that your neighbours have a pool boy, a gardener, and a housekeeper and you know if you could only afford to hire some help then you’d be happy. You know that with just a few more bucks in your bank account you’d be happy. So, you wish and you wish and one day you win the 649 and you have millions of dollars, several beautiful cars, lots of staff to keep everything ticking over, and no one to share it with. Continue reading

Jesus is the Human One: Just Look Beneath the Surface of the Text: a sermon on John 6:1-21 for Pentecost 9B

Fully HumanI am indebted to the work of Origen of Alexandria, John Dominic Crossan and Peter Rollins for providing a deeper understanding of the stories of Jesus’ Feeding of the Multitude and Walking on the Water. You can listen to the sermon here

Come Away With Me…Sanctuary for Refugees: a sermon for Pentecost 8B, Mark 6:30-34,53-56 and Ephesians 2:11-22

MerkelI chose to extract two readings from the lectionary to reflect upon sanctuary for refugees. Splitting the prescribed gospel text into the first and second readings and using the epistle text as the Gospel: Mark 6:30-34, Mark 6:53-56, Ephesians 2:11-22. The video which was shown during the sermon, along with the English translation, can be viewed here, listen to the sermon here

The Reign of God Is At Hand: Our Hands – a sermon for Pentecost 7B – Mark 6:14-29

John the Baptist's headThe beheading of John the Baptist is an unusual subject for a beautiful summer morning. However, from time to time the lectionary takes us where we are reluctant to go. Our readings included: Mark 1:1-11, Mark 1:14-15 and Mark 6:14-29

Listen to the sermon here

Time to stop holding our noses as we suspend reality! Let’s tinker with the rite of baptism…

Baptismal Liturgy pastordawnOver and over again, I hear from colleagues who find it difficult to use prescribed baptismal liturgies. In my own denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal was published in the 21st century (2006). But the liturgical rite for Holy Baptism still prescribes the use of questions which contain images that harken back to medieval times. We have long since given up teaching our members to personify evil in the form of the devil. But the authors of our new liturgical texts insist that we continue to ask parents and sponsors to “renounce the devil an all the forces that defy God”; locking participants into some sort of cosmic battle in hich both evil and indeed God are personified in ways that most 21st century folks find archaic. As a confessional church, creeds continue to include proclamations of a virgin birth; an obstacle that seems laughable to people who have had the benefit of New Testament scholarship. Clergy who preside at baptisms are expected to hold our noses, while participants suspend reality and still the church continues to bemoan the fact that few and few parents bring their children to our fonts. In an effort to work with parents and sponsors to create baptismal rites that allow for the possibility that the Spirit is alive and well and working in, with, through, and beyond our feeble attempts to celebrate the miracle of new life, I have over the years tinkered with the rite of baptism. We have for several years now celebrated the rite of baptism using the liturgy which is provided here as an inspiration for others to tinker with the rite. 

click here for a pdf of our 21st Century Baptismal Liturgy

Peter Rollins on Radical Theology

thedivinemagicianIn April, I had the privilege of travelling to Belfast to attend Peter Rollins’ Festival of Light where he gathered together some of the thinkers who have influenced his thinking. In his book The Divine Magician the fruit of this influence provides an expression of radical theology which has the power to ignite what Pete calls “pyrotheology”. Here are a few short videos which are designed to fan the flames. Enjoy!  

Baptism – Opening to the MORE – two baptism sermons

Evelyn AdeleThe opportunity to baptize my lovely granddaughter brought with it the task of preparing a sermon on the sacrament of baptism. So, I diligently prepared a carefully thought out sermon for the occasion. Standing in the pulpit after reading the Gospel text from Matthew  19:13-15, the sight of all seven grandchildren challenging the abilities of their parents and grandparents to maintain order and decorum gave me pause. Fortunately our pulpit at Holy Cross is on wheels, so I quickly pushed it aside and reached into my missal for a folder I had placed there so that during the announcements I could draw the attention of our members to some very good news about the success of a child of the congregation. The folder contained a story which I proceeded to tell in place of my carefully prepared sermon. You can listen to the story here. I am indebted to the author, Travis Dermott for providing the good news on this very happy occasion. As promised, the text of the carefully and lovingly prepared, undelivered sermon is provided below. 

Listen to the story here

When someone places a newborn human in your arms, it opens you to MORE. Humans have a strange relationship to MORE. Most of us spend our entire lives longing for more, looking for more, hungering for more, desiring more, striving for more, waiting for more, searching for more. Holding a newborn in your arms opens us to the power of MORE. I’m not talking about the more that the world so often gets caught up in seeking, more stuff, more money, more things, more wealth, more land, more resources, more power, more sex, more popularity, more gadgets, more food, more, more, more, more, for me and mine, more. I’m talking about the MORE with a capital M. MORE. The kind of MORE a newborn baby lying in your arms opens us to is the kind of MORE that poets, storytellers, artists, musicians, and messiah’s have been trying to capture for centuries. Holding a newborn in your arms opens us to this MORE because the reality of this new little being connects us to some Beyond ourselves.

Cradling a newborn you can’t help but wonder and marvel at the miracle of life itself. Gently rocking a newborn in your arms opens you to the powers of the cosmos coming together for billions and billions of years to create life. Gazing down at a newborn softly breathing in your arms fills your heart with emotions so powerful that in just an instant you can fall in love. Adoring a newborn in your arms transforms you out of the confines of the ordinary and mundane and into the reaches of time itself as you search for signs of ancestors long gone in tiny features that draw us into futures as yet unknown. And just when you think your heart is going to explode from the shear magnificence of the miracle in your arms, suddenly the newborn in your arms opens up the power of their new little lungs and you can’t help but be stunned by this tiny little creature’s ability to turn your world upside down. Continue reading

Raging Storms are All Around Us – a sermon for Pentecost 4B – Mark 4:35-41

lift every voiceIn addition to being Fathers’ Day, today was National Aboriginal Day, the beginning of Pride Week celebrations, and yesterday was International Refugee Day. All of these events were overshadowed by the tragic events in Charleston on Wednesday. The Gospel text from the Gospel of Mark tells the story of Jesus stilling the storm and calming the waters. Our worship begin with the singing of what has become known as the African American anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.  Listen to the sermon here

Truth and Reconciliation – sermon for Pentecost 3B

Pastor Tom Doherty & Terry Hutchings shared their experiences at the Kairos events which preceded the Truth & Reconciliation Commissions delivery of their report. Our readings included Ezekiel 17:22-24 and Mark 4:26-34. The hymn sung after the sermon, “As One” with  words by Gretta Vosper to the familiar Huron Carol – UNE JEUNE PUCELL

The video is a bit choppy at the beginning but settles down in a few moments.

A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing: a sermon for Pentecost 2B

Schrodinger's Cat

Readings: Genesis 3:8:15 and Mark 3:20-35

Listen to the sermon Pentecost 2B sermon

Maybe Jesus was as the Gospel says, “out of his mind.”

The gospel reading prescribed for this coming Sunday (Mark 3:20-35) paints a daunting picture of the perceptions of the people of Jesus’ hometown. The folks who knew Jesus, including his family worried that he might just be “out of his mind.” This is indeed a contrast to the ways in which Jesus is typically portrayed. This is a dangerous Jesus who ran the risk of being perceived as deranged. In his book “The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus” Robin Meyers captures some of this danger when he points to Mary Oliver’s poem “Maybe” in which Jesus’ “melancholy madness” is seen by his fellows as more dangerous than a storm.  Safely ensconced in our imaginations, Jesus is rarely allowed to threaten the status quo to which we cling for dear life. Are we prepared for the stormy waters that would be stirred up should we take Jesus at his word? Maybe…

Maybe Mary Oliver pastordawn

Moving beyond doctrines of Original Sin, The Fall, and maybe even the Doctrine of Grace, so that we can embrace our role in the Evolution of Humanity – a sermon on Genesis 3:8-15 for Pentecost 2B

We Are Stardust!!! Billion Year Old Carbon!!!

We Are Stardust!!! Billion Year Old Carbon!!!

Try to remember the summer of 69. Pierre Trudeau had only been in office for a year. Richard Nixon was in the White House. The Vietnam was raging. Chappaquiddick and the Manson Murders dominated the news that summer. Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. The Beatles’ Album Abbey Road was number one. Sesame Street debuted on Public television while the Brady Bunch debuted in prime time to compete with I Dream of Jeanie and Bewitched. In that last beautiful summer of the 60’s, 350,000 young people flocked to a farm in upstate New York for the three-day musical extravaganza that was Woodstock.

My family moved to Vancouver that summer and I turned twelve; too young to be a flower child of the sixties, but old enough to become a fan of the music of the sixties. Not many of us knew about Woodstock while it was happening. But when we found out, many of us wished we’d been there. Over the years millions of people have claimed that they were at Woodstock, despite the fact that the site could barely manage to accommodate the 350,000 thousand who did attend. News didn’t travel so quickly in those days. Woodstock may have captured the imaginations of millions but that was almost a year after the event when record albums began to hit the shelves.

Back then one of my prized possessions was my small transistor radio, which I held up to my ear so that I could listen to all my favorite tunes. The quality of the sound was abysmal. So, if you liked a song you heard you just had to rush out and buy a 45, for less than a dollar. I remember lining up to buy a copy of the number 1 tune that summer: Sugar Sugar by the Archies. But if you really liked a singer or a group, then you would have to save your money so that you could plunk down $5.00 for an LP, shot for Long Playing Album. That summer I spent weeks saving my baby-sitting money, about .25 cents an hour so that I could get my very own copy of The Fifth Dimension’s latest album, The Age of Aquarius. I was dancing and singing, “Let the Sunshine” and dreaming of becoming a teenager. Back then it took a whole year for the music from Woodstock to begin to seep into the culture. And so it was long after the summer of 69, that I got my very own copy of the quintessential album of the Woodstock generation: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Déjà vu. I wore that album out. Our House, is a very, very, fine house! Teach your children well! Helpless, helpless, he…lpless! And then there was the best song on that album. Joni Mitchell may have written the song called Woodstock, but it took Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to make it timeless.

Well, I came upon a child of God

He was walking along the road

And I asked him, Tell where are you going?

This he told me

Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm,

Gonna join in a rock and roll band.

Got to get back to the land and set my soul free.

I must have listened to that song a thousand times trying to learn the lyrics, but try as I might a line from the chorus eluded me. I just couldn’t figure out what they were saying. Do you remember the chorus? We are stardust, we are golden,
 We are ???? what was the next line? We are stardust, we are….something, something, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden. We are stardust, we are golden… We are ….billion year old carbon,
 And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

 Well, then can I walk beside you?

When I finally figured out the lyrics, I was no wiser, I was lost…I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what they were on about. But it sounded good!!! So, I kept playing and I kept singing.

Over the years, I’ve hummed and sung along, trusting that we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden. And longing for a simpler time, when I was young and still believed that Adam and Eve had once frolicked blissfully in the pristine garden of Eden, and if we could only recapture the innocence of that garden all would be right with the world. I remember as a teenager, hearing sermons about Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, as the start of it all. Something went terribly wrong; if only Eve hadn’t have listened to that snake and if only Adam hadn’t listened to Eve, then evil wouldn’t have entered creation and we’d all be able to frolic in the garden with God. If only we could get ourselves back to the garden, Jesus would not have to suffer and die for us: “For we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against God in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved God with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. And so for the sake of your Son , Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in our will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.” Week after week, year after year, Sunday after Sunday, I grew to understand that I along with all of humanity am in bondage to sin and we cannot free ourselves. Because Adam and Eve fell from grace, the stain of that original sin marks me as inherently sinful. Continue reading

Poor Old Nicodemus – Doomed to Play the Fool: a sermon on John 3:1-17, Trinity Sunday

foolReadings: Psalm 29, Matthew 28:16-20, John 3:1-17

Listen to the sermon here

Fellow Tricksters – Belfast 2015

Tricky PeteA month ago, I journeyed back to the city where I lived when I was but a child to attend Peter Rollins’ Tricks of the Light Festival. There I was privileged to  explore radical theology with about fifty fellow tricksters from around the world. It was an amazing experience which took me into the realm of the Great Beyond. This merry band was collected together by glimpses of magic each of us has garnered from Pete Rollins’ work. Together we encouraged, challenged, comforted and inspired one another to step beyond ourselves, our ideas, our carefully constructed realities, so that we might see visions of the Perhaps that lives in, with, through, and beyond us all. For three amazing days and four rollicking nights we let loose our trickster-selves on the city of Belfast.

Fellow trickster, Laura Landry created the video below which captures the flavour of our experiences together. Iain Archer, who preformed a private concert on the closing night of the festival, provides the musical backdrop and you will see glimpses of the amazing tricksters who spoke at the festival including: John Caputo, Kester Brewin, Barry Taylor, Gladys Ganiel, the God-father of Punk – Terry Hooley, and the man himself – Peter Rollins. A big thank-you to Belfast’s own fearless, intrepid, trickster Adam Turkington  not only for keeping Pete from leading us all astray, but for ensuring that each and every one of us enjoyed so many of the sights, sounds, pleasures, and magic of Belfast! 

As for Pete, the instigator of this grand adventure, when he’s not inspiring tricksters in the flesh, he’s doing so with his work. Check out his latest book The Divine Magician: The Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith. But be warned: Pete’s work will inspire you to more than a few tricks of your own!!! As for me, I am forever changed, transformed by the tricks of the light Pete magically creates!!!