Will You Come (back) to Church the Vineyard with me on September 25th???

5 Comments


Normally I don’t use this blog to post any of my sermon thoughts/material….but I guess my vanity wins out today :P. There have been a few things that occurred to me this week that I figured might be of some use to those who are reading this blog. 🙂

This morning I was blessed with a chance to preach on the Parable of the Vineyard Workers. This is a story where we are given a glimpse into the type of person God is and what God is doing in the world.

Like all parables, the story is not to be taken literally, but as a metaphor for the kingdom of God; a narrative reflection of our longing for God’s peace and love and justice…and what that reality will look like when it finally reaches fruition at the end of the age.

In Jesus’ story of the Vineyard workers….each of the workers is valued and loved. It doesn’t matter who they are, or how long they have worked, they are all given an equal share of God’s abundant love and grace.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what this means in light of Back to Church Sunday which is being adapted from the UK for Huron, as well as several other Dioceses in Canada.

Are we preaching and teaching a message that invites all people to join us??? Are we creating an environment where they feel welcomed, loved, and that any work they do or walk of life they are from has value??? What kind of community are we welcoming them back to???

I am totally aware that of course, we can never measure up to the level of God’s generosity….and that we will indeed fall short.

There might even be some level of hostility and resentment that we–who have been faithful attendees at Sunday worship for decades–should be considered equal to those who are just entering the sanctuary for the first time….or finding their way back after a long journey away from home.

And yet….I think there is a tendency to forget that we too at one time were new members of the Church. Whether baptized as infant or as an adult…there were people who helped to build us up in spiritual strength and confidence. We all at one time or another are unsure of our call to discipleship….and hesitant to offer our gifts and talents to the wider community, for fear that we might be rejected.

But here’s the Good News: God says that he will not reject you…..he won’t bother taking into account the crappy things you have done in your life….he won’t reject our attempts to live morally in this world…..he won’t reject you even if there is anger, fear, or doubts that lingers in the back of your mind. All of that has been left at the foot of the Cross.

Regardless of what you have done….. you are worth it! You are made in the image and likeness of God…and God loves you so much that there is nothing he won’t do to reclaim you as his very own child…even if it costs him pain suffering and death.

You are beautiful, irreplaceable, and vital to the world around you….and no one can take that knowledge away from you. ❤

If you have been thinking about surrounding yourself in a community of the faithful…don't hesitate! :D….Come….not because I told you to….but because it is Christ who invites you here….All are welcome, all are accepted, and all are loved. 😀

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their reward.

If any have come after the third hour,
let them with gratitude join in the feast!

Those who arrived after the sixth hour,
let them not doubt; for they shall not be short-changed.

Those who have tarried until the ninth hour,
let them not hesitate; but let them come too.

And those who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let them not be afraid by reason of their delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
The Lord gives rest to those who come at the eleventh hour,
even as to those who toiled from the beginning.

To one and all the Lord gives generously.
The Lord accepts the offering of every work.
The Lord honours every deed and commends their intention.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

**Excerpt from the Paschal (Easter) Homily of St. John Chrysostom**

Advertisements

Evening Prayer: Feast of the Holy Trinity

Leave a comment


So this is not my usual posting style…but I figured I would throw this comment up there for Internet posterity. 🙂

Today was indeed very good and filled with worship, genuine surprise, and a sense of awe and wonder at God’s greatness.

Sometimes you can feel God’s grace abounding in such a way that it fills your whole day. It was like that for me. I had uplifting worship (both Eucharist in the morning and Evensong in the early hours of the night). Add that to fascinating conversation with some amazing teenagers, a Footloose viewing, and finding joy in the presence of another…..

that my friends is what you call a an awesome Trinity Feast. 🙂

Part of the reason I don’t want to be bogged down by form tonight is because sometimes prayer has to be spontaneous. And tonight all I have to say one huge thank you to the blessed Father, Son, and Spirit who now and always give me life. ❤ +

Evening Prayer: Eve of Trinity Sunday

Leave a comment


Psalm: 104
Old Testament: Sirach 42:15-25
New Testament: Ephesians 3:14-21

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19-20)

Man after reading words like that, St. Paul is a tough act to follow. :P.

Apologies for not posting this morning……I was even tempted to skip tonight……but ’tis a Feast day and I think a pretty important one to cover…At least when I neglected an Ascension Day, I had a relatively good excuse with the conference going on…but no such loophole exists for me tonight lol 😛

In the Western Church, Trinity Sunday is a moveable feast that always falls on the first Sunday of Pentecost. It celebrates the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

More specifically we celebrate the doctrines of uniqueness of the Three Persons, the One substance whereof they are made…..and a handful of other statements from the Ecumenical Councils of the Early Church

For those who came to the blog hoping for a succinct definition of the Trinity….I’m afraid to say that you will be disappointed. I try and not get bogged down with the specifics of God. I will put on record though the way that I understand the Trinity at this particular point and time.

For me, it’s helpful to think of the Three Persons in light of the role that they fulfill. Just as I–a lowly mortal–can be a student, a middle-class worker, a significant other, &c. without my “Matthew Arguin-ness” being diminished in any sense; I think that’s how it works with God.

In the first instance you have:

God the Father who is the primary mover and shaker. The one whose will is both emulated and enacted by the other two Persons. It is in God the Father we have our initial identity as created beings

Then we have:

God the Son Who finds his identity as God’s eternal Word…through which all things are made. In a great act of love, that Word became incarnate of the Virgin Mary…and it is through Jesus’ death and resurrection, humanity finds its new identity as a redeemed and new creation

And finally:

God the Spirit-who is our Advocate and Guide. Who allows our hearts and minds to be illuminated by God our Creator and his Eternal Word. It is in this communion with the Spirit that we embrace our identity not only as redeemed and new creatures…..but creatures who are a work in progress. Slowly moving towards Holiness and Love.

Each of these three cannot exist without the other, and they all proceed from one Source while having various characteristics and functions.

It is not only static doctrines we rejoice over tonight……but the dynamic way that God has chosen to reveal himself to the world. 🙂 +

Evening Prayer: Palm Sunday (Combo Post)

Leave a comment


Psalms: 24, 29, 103
Old Testament: Zechariah 9:9-12; 12:9-11, 13:1, 7-9
New Testament: 1 Timothy 6:12-16
Gospel: Matthew 21:12-17

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech 9:9)

You might not know this but Handel’s Messiah was originally performed in theatres during Lent and Holy Week….as an over-view of the divine drama of the prophets’ foretelling, the Messiah’s birth and miracles, and the whole composition reaching it’s crescendo with the Passion narrative and the Resurrection.

Today we have started our journey down that road. To that time and place immortalized in the hearts and minds of Christians….where they are greeted with an unfamiliar King. A king who comes not with riches or dressed in fine clothes….but in simple rags and offering His very self.

His kingship is one that is vastly different to the ones we are used to….even democratic leaderships. I think it highly unlikely that Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff or Jack Layton would lay down their lives so that we might live. That’s not how politics work. You need to stay alive…..to survive another day so that the people can vote for you.

That’s not to say that Jesus’ agenda is any less provocative then those of our own day. Imagine being a Jewish peasant…going to the holiest place on Earth and finding people asking a fellow peasant to save them. Even worse, this is a dirty peasant who only a few moments later is causing disruption and chaos in the Temple. The very place where the LORD dwells.

Every Christian is invited into Jesus’ threefold ministry of priest, prophet, and king….but our diadem is not one adorned with jewels…it is pointed with thorns and although painful, has the potential to offer us new life and hope. I wonder–as we explore the Paschal mystery once more–whether we accept the gift, or turn it away. +

Morning Prayer: 3rd Sunday in Lent (March 27th)

Leave a comment


Psalm: 93, 96
Old Testament: Jeremiah 6:9-15
New Testament: 1 Cor 6:12-20

Do you not know that your body is a temple* of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body. (Romans 6:19-20)

One thing that I find kind of shocking in the wording here is that Paul tells us that we have been bought. This seems to fly in the face of virtually every modern sensibility. Generally, in North America, we don’t tend to think of any human being as property that can be purchased or sold. Didn’t abolition rid us of that???

While that might hold true for us, the society in which Paul found himself was working out of a very different mindset. Wealthy individuals could own vast tracts of land and countless numbers of slaves. We must not forget that the original authors of the text, didn’t necessarily intend to speak to a 21st century audience.

With all of that said….look at some of the implications of what Paul says. If we are not our own person…..if we don’t have full ownership rights. who does????

The answer (as is so often the case in Churchland) is Jesus ;).

In our baptismal right, after the candidate has been cleansed with water, we mark them with holy oil saying:

I sign you with the cross, and mark you as Christ’s own forever.

It is Jesus himself who adopts us as his own. We are bought by his Blood to be saved from our sins, and given a visible sign of that promise in baptism.

One of the things that I have learned in the past few years is that living the Christian life is about slowly realizing this call. That our bodies and minds are not to be used lightly…but rather to be respected, loved, and nurtured. It is to be nurtured because it is not simply our individual needs that need to be satisfied, and we are not the only ones with a stake in our actions.

God too is affected by the way in which we take care of ourselves in all aspects of life; physically, emotionally and spirituality. We are the hands and feet of God in this frail world…let us take that responsibility seriously. 🙂 +

Evening Prayer: 1st Sunday of Lent (Combo post)

Leave a comment


Psalms: 63, 98, 103
Old Testament: Deut 8:1-10
New Testament: 1 Cor 1:17-31
Gospel: Mark 2:18-22
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a commentary on the Psalms by St. Augustine

[The LORD] humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut. 8:3)

I’ll tell you what else you don’t live off alone….beer coupled with jagar shots :S…..Needless to say I was hurtin’ this morning. Coupled with daylight savings time, I didn’t even make it out to church today 😛

But anyways enough about my drunken adventures….today’s lection from Deuteronomy provides us with the original text which Christ uses in answering the first temptation.

Food is an important part of our lives, and we cannot survive without it for very long….but it is not the only thing which provides sustenance. Just as we need material bread to live….we also need to feed our souls with the bread of the Word.

That’s why the fasting portion of Lent was such a central focus. It wasn’t necessarily the sacrifice of hunger that was the focus, but rather on the thing that took its place…..namely contemplating our relationship with God.

In contemplating this relationship…..the road will not always be easy….when we give God our full attention….there is the possibility that a lot of feelings can be drudged up. Remembering not only those times when we felt blessed by God…..but also those times in which we felt angry with him……lost in the dark night of the soul.

Both parts of this journey (angst and joy) are essential to bring us closer to Christ….since at its core, it involves being honest with our own spiritual struggles.

As you experience these emotions in all of their variety, may you embrace them fully….it is only by continuing to walk that we will make it through the desert and find ourselves in the promised land of prosperity, peace, and wholeness. +

Evening Prayer: Last Sunday of Epiphany (Transfiguration Sunday)

Leave a comment


Psalms: 114, 115
Gospel: John 12:24-32
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Confessions of St. Augustine

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25)

The whole idea of dying to ourselves is a scary idea; especially in a culture that puts so much emphasis on the individual self. Note though, that Jesus’ words here don’t advocate dying just for the sake of dying, but so that we can grow and gain true and abundant life.

It’s also somewhat appropriate that we are reading this *just* as we head in towards Lent; a time when traditionally we let something go or give something up.

The Lenten discipline is not so much about self-induced torture as it is recognizing something as an excess……as something which is potentially holding us back from our getting to know Christ fully.

For me this year it’s coffee…I rely way too much on stimulants to keep me going rather than a regular cycle of prayer, eating healthy, and exercise.

On the surface this may seem like a simple self-help technique…..but it’s really not. Christian living is one that is Incarnational; a lifestyle which celebrates body and soul being interconnected and whole. Something which I have not attended to in a very long time.

So what about you? What are you willing to give up this Lent???? What might help you to grow spiritually, emotionally, or physically this year and bring you closer into line with God??? +

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: