In the shadow of the white supremacist terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand, Laurence reflects on the readings for Lent 2. He asks if people of faith should expect opposition, even violence in today’s world. Three of the readings suggest the answer is “Yes”. Should people of faith employ violence to fulfill God’s purpose? At least one reading includes a promise that can only be fulfilled through war.
The last Sunday in the Season of Epiphany is also the last Sunday before Lent. The day is traditionally taken for reflection on the fantastic and puzzling story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. This year we read Luke’s version of the story. Laurence tells the story of a man who lost his sight as a small child and regained it many years later.
The Rev. Dr. Sarah Travis was our Anniversary Preacher. Her sermon was a reflection on Philippians 2:1-11 and John 15:9-17. Sarah is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and holds a Doctor of Theology in Preaching from Knox College, University of Toronto. She serves as the Minister of the Chapel at Knox College, the Interim Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at the Toronto School of Theology, and teaches courses in the areas of preaching and worship. Sarah served on the PWS&D committee for five years. She is the author of Decolonizing Preaching: The Pulpit as Postcolonial Space, as well as Preaching the Good News: A Handbook about Preaching for Presbyterians in Canada.
The Angel Gabriel (WIngs and All!) is our Guest Preacher for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.
For our Christmas Pageant our Church School and Youth adapted a format from their curriculum, The Whole People of God. “Christmas Through the Centuries” travels through time, shedding light on Christmas traditions. The program moves toward the collection of White Gifts. The recording is of just the spoken parts.
Beginning with a reference to Flannery O’Connor’s story “Revelation”, Laurence reflects on the story of Hannah, mother of the prophet, priest, and kingmaker Samuel as told in 1 Samuel 1:4-20 and 2:1-10. Then he takes on Sunday’s Gospel, Mark 13:1-8, the first verses of what’s sometimes called the “Little Apocalypse.” Prophets like Hannah and Jesus trace God’s behaviour toward the world, and remind us that God follows a pattern that creates and renews life. The pattern of human behaviour leads in a different direction.
In a sermon for Remembrance Day, Laurence offers contemporary examples of “addiction to privilege”. He compares them to the Scribes Jesus warned his disciples about. Jesus says they “devour widows’ houses.” Then a poor widow shows up to give her offering. Laurence moves on to two more widows, Naomi and Ruth, and to Boaz. Boaz can help these widows, and he does. He understands that, with privilege comes responsibility. The link to Remembrance Day is with the men and women who fought in the past, because they understood that the privilege of living in Canada, in freedom came with great responsibility. Readings are Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17 and Mark 12:38-44.
In this sermon for All Saints Sunday, Laurence reflects on Ruth 1:1-18 and Mark 12:28-34. He also refers to recent events, in which people of one faith surrounded the place where people of other faiths worship with a circle of loving protection. Due to problems with the recording the first and closing words of the sermon are not in this podcast.
In this service Reformation Sunday Laurence preaches on a key text for Reformed Christians who follow in the steps of John Calvin. The troubling concepts of election and predestination have been extrapolated from Romans 8:28-39. Laurence also pays tribute to pastor, preacher, and author Eugene Peterson, who offers a different reading of the text from Romans 8.
In a sermon reflecting on Mark 9:35-45 Laurence takes the words of Jean Vanier to compare what Vanier calls “The Normal” with Jesus’ New Normal, by which the path to greatness is a downward journey, not an upward trek.
Acknowledgement: Laurence’s source for some content of the sermon comes from this article.