In a sermon for The Second Sunday of Easter, Laurence reflects on the beautiful story of two disciples who met Jesus on their journey home. This story is told so we can find ourselves in it, as disciples far removed from the time and place of Jesus' resurrection. Gospel is Luke 24:13-35.
In a sermon for Good Friday Laurence invites us to reflect on the presence of the cross, an instrument of death, in our worship. He says the cross and the death of Jesus call us to healthy Death Awareness.
Laurence quotes this article and refers to the work of Dr. Robert Firestone. He also points to the Celtic cross on Glenview's Communion Table and this window, in the west transept of the church. (Photo credits: Paul McDonald)
In a sermon based on two stories of Jesus in Jericho, from Luke 18:35 - 19:10 Laurence invites us to hear the tales of the blind beggar at the city gate and the tax collector up the tree in the town square. Did the beggar already have saving faith when he met Jesus? Was Zacchaeus already a good and generous man when Jesus saw him out on a branch and went home with him?
Laurence begins the sermon telling part of the story of Fiona Stewart-Darling, a Church of England priest who is a Chaplain to the business and financial community at Canary Wharf in London. You can read an interview with Fiona here.
Laurence's sermon reflects on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. It's sometimes called "Dives and Lazarus". "Dives" means "rich man". He doesn't have a name in the story. In fact Lazarus, a poor man whose ironic name means "God helps", is the only character in any of the parables who has a name. He isn't the Lazarus we meet in John's Gospel when Jesus calls him out of his grave. This Lazarus dies and stays where he's planted, with Father Abraham in Heaven. "Dives" also dies and he's surprised to discover where he's planted for eternity. This story gives the gap between rich and poor an unexpected twist. Reading is Luke 16:19-31.
In a sermon for Transfiguration Sunday Laurence reflects on the purpose of mountaintop experiences in our lives. He begins with Lady Gaga's song, "The Edge of Glory" to describe the experience of Jesus' first disciples. Jesus took three of them up on a mountain, where they got to look beyond the edge of glory and see more of who Jesus was than they had ever seen before. Laurence quotes from Col. Chris Hadfield's book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth to illustrate the power of a mountaintop experience to change us, and send us back down to live everyday life in a way that changes the world. Gospel for the day is Luke 9:28-45.
Laurence responds to current events, including the shootings at the mosque in Quebec on January 29 in a sermon on Luke 6:1-10. In that Gospel story a Roman Centurion reaches across the divide between the conquerors and the conquered. Jesus reaches back, heaving the slave of an enemy of his people. This enemy turns out to be compassionate, and respectful of the community among whom he serves the Empire.
These were the Words for Meditation offered to the congregation before worship on Sunday:
To invoke God to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but of sacrilege. It is a kind of blasphemy. Too often in the history of religion, people have killed in the name of the God of life, waged war in the name of the God of peace, hated in the name of the God of love and practised cruelty in the name of the God of compassion. When this happens, God speaks, sometimes in a still, small voice almost inaudible beneath the clamour of those claiming to speak on his behalf. What God says at such times is: “Not in My Name.” ~ Rabbi Jonathan Sachs
Laurence quotes the Imam of the Imdadul Mosque in North York. These are the Imam's words as he preached to his congregation last Friday morning:
For, though we are grieving and many in our communities are afraid and feeling victimized, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not come to teach us to be paralyzed by our fears or to wallow in self-pity, or to be mouthpieces for grievances. He came to teach us how to heal and how to be healers, how to respond to ugliness with beauty, how to be fully human in times of ease and in hardship.
To celebrate Glenview's 92nd Anniversary Guest Preacher Rev. Helen Smith talked about carrying the things we value from the past forward, without being afraid to change or adapt to meet new challenges. Glenview was born in a time of controversy and struggle, but grew to be a vibrant congregation. Text was Luke 6:1-16.
In a sermon for the Third Sunday After Epiphany Laurence reflects on the story of Jesus calling his first three disciples, as told in Luke 5:1-11. Before the three fishermen leave everything behind to follow Jesus, he challenges them to dare to fish in deep water. Secondary reading was Ezekiel 47:6-10. The service included the Sacrament of Baptism.
In a sermon for the observance of the Baptism of Jesus Laurence talks about Jesus' immersion in the history and life of his people, Israel, and in our life today. At Jesus' baptism God called Jesus "my son" and the Spirit descended on him. God calls us beloved children in our baptism, and ordains us for service in this world. Reading was Luke 3:15-22.
In a sermon for the first Sunday after Christmas Laurence reflects on the story of Simeon and Anna, calling them spiritual grandparents of Jesus. What makes a spiritual grandparent? Maturity in faith isn't always synonymous with maturity in years, but how we learn from life experience helps us find a wider, deeper faith. Reading is Luke 2:21-38.
In a sermon for Christmas Eve Laurence reflects on the shepherds who were near Bethlehem when Jesus was born. Who were they? Who would they be today, in our city? Reading is Luke 2:1-20. Recording starts with the reading of the Gospel, followed by the hymn "Joy to the world". The sermon starts at 6:05.
Laurence reads a poem by Howard Thurman:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.
- "The Work of Christmas" in The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations (1985)
Thurman also wrote:
Where refugees seek deliverance that never comes
And the heart consumes itself as if it would live,
Where children age before their time
And life wears down the edges of the mind,
Where the old man sits with mind grown cold,
While bones and sinew, blood and cell, go slowly down to death,
Where fear companions each day's life,
And Perfect Love seems long delayed.
Christmas is waiting to be born:
In you, in me, in all mankind.
- "Christmas Is Waiting to be Born" in The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations (1985)
In a sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent Laurence reflects on the good and troubling news that God calls whom God will call, God chooses whomever God needs, and God speaks through human voices (usually voices people don't expect to hear from). Readings are Isaiah 61 and Luke 4:16-21. He reads a poem, "Said the Lord", by Moira Burgess.