Matthew 9:35-10:1, Psalm 51 1-2, 11-18, 1John 3:17-24
Practical Compassion: Beginnings
Today we begin our Practical Compassion Sermon and Small Group series. Beginning today and for the month of October we will explore and reflect on what Practical Compassion means, how listening is imperative, what role empathy plays and how all of this relates to being a disciple of Jesus Christ in the modern world. Today we begin to explore what we mean by Practical Compassion. To begin this morning I would like to share a story I found about a birthday party.
We are celebrating a few things today. We are celebrating the sacrament of Baptism, the feast of St. Matthew’s, the patronal saint of this parish and the wonderful food from a local rib truck. The Barbeque comes after the service, you will all just have to wait. For those of you who are wondering what each of these things has to do with each other, … I am with you, because I am not all too clear on how BBQ connects with Baptisms either! So before we get to the baptisms let’s a take few minutes to see if there is anything that links all of these things.
As a minister I completely empathize with the synagogue leader from today’s reading in the gospel of Luke. Here is a leader of a community trying to lead the people in the education and worship of their God, and then some pipsqueak traveling preacher comes in and up stages him. Jesus can be a real jerk some times. Does Jesus not know the importance of hearing and understanding scripture? Does he not care for the rites and traditions of his own people? Surely he would have understood the importance of community leadership and communally singing the praise of God. In his act of healing the crippled woman he upstages all of this in one motion.
Better yet, imagine for a moment that St. Matthew’s and this worship service is the synagogue from the reading. Think about the
” In fact, Jesus makes it clear that we are to be peacemakers and “to live in peace with each other”. This is not to be confused with being nice, and this is a distinct challenge for many Canadians.”
Welcome back? Luke 12: 49-56
I am making a note to myself. Check the readings before going on vacation and ensure the Honouraries get the hard ones.
Yes I had a good vacation, and I have rediscovered that I am really in love with my wife and kids. I was looking forward to getting back into the swing of things this Sunday, until I read the Gospel. Ugh. I could almost hear God chuckling, “Welcome back Ian … good luck.”
This reading is hard. There is no getting around it. My first reaction was, “What happened to gentle, peaceful, comfortable Jesus? Did Peter say or do something dumb again? The section follows a series of parables and warnings from Jesus to the disciples, Pharisees and other general listeners. He was preaching about the coming of God’s Kingdom and he knew that people were hearing but not listening. His message was feeling like it was falling on deaf ears.
Jesus bring … division not peace?
When Darth Vader says, “Luke, I am your Father” in Star Wars, your heart stops. This moment forces you to stop and reinterpret
Have you ever picked up an old book and tried reading it? It can almost feel like the words on the page are alien. At home I have a collection of Sherlock Homes and selected Robert Louis Stevenson stories. These are classic works of fiction and can be marvelous to read. But oh my can the language and content be hard to wrap your head around at times.
A couple of years ago I read Treasure Island. It is a classic story and a marvelous book, but the language was so cumbersome and wordy. I have grown up in a world where you state what you mean as clearly and concisely as possible and then move on to the next point. Sentences that are shorter are better. All I wanted Robert Louis Stevenson to do was get to the point! Consider the following, “I lay there, trembling and listening, in the extreme of fear and curiosity, for, in those dozen words, I understood that the lives of all the honest men aboard depended on me alone.” What great writing, but all I wanted to read is, “I was scared and I could feel the gravity of the situation.” They essentially mean the same thing, but I have to translate it to make a bit more sense. The same disconnect often happens when we read the bible.
When I was a chaplain years ago I would go for lunch with many of the caregivers I worked with. Many of the people being cared for had dementia, Alzheimer’s or were recovering from strokes. Normal lunch conversations were reserved for chit chat about the weekend, or what was going on in the news. Every once in a while, usually when something challenging happened during the day, the caregivers would swap stories about some of their more memorable experiences. I did not have much to share so I chose to sit quietly and listen.
One care giver started, “Once around Christmas Mr. Noname, who has Alzheimer’s, was talking with his daughter and son-in-law. He asked if they were married, and after they told they were he started singing, “All I want for Christmas is a mem-or-ree!” We all laughed well with that one. “