2014-03-27

I wish you enough


Spring is here! :)


I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final goodbye.

Unity Church, 'I Wish You Enough'



God bless ya'll :).

2014-03-10

Breathing

Sorry about the delay on posting sermons! I have no excuse. It's just been hectic but that is how it usually is always. This is the sermon one, which is more a meditation than a sermon, that I held Shrove Sunday. God bless. 

At its best a sermon will bring comfort, challenge, enlighten and/or excite those who are listening to it. That’s what all preachers strive for and there most certainly are just plain awesome sermons out there.
The very basic problem with a sermon, any sermon, is - at the same time - that it is an interpretation of what someone or several someones think of a Bible reading or several Bible readings. Nothing wrong with that – seriously – but, the thing is, that what a service like this sometimes lacks is space to be together with God, listening to Him. That can of course be done at a different setting and yet to me there is much to be said about coming together and just listening. A little like in a silent retreat.
A text, and today that text is the beautiful description of God’s love written by St. Paul, needs to be conveyed to  the person who is listening to it (or reading it) in a way that allows it to breathe. Breathing to me is the rhythm of the Holy Spirit.
If you attended the Shrove Sunday service last year you might guess that what will happen now is the following:
I’ll read the 13th chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and then there will be 5 minutes of silent meditation. I’ll then read it again and we will, again, have 5 minutes of silent meditation.
You can if you’d like to come and kneel in front of the altar or you can walk quietly around around the chapel. The idea is to let God speak to you through the words of Paul and gently start to lead you towards the period of Lent in the coming couple of days.

What if I could speak all languages of humans and of angels?

If I did not love others, I would be nothing more than a noisy gong
or a clanging cymbal.

What if I could prophesy    and understand all secrets    and all knowledge?

And what if I had faith that moved mountains?

I would be nothing, unless I loved others.

What if I gave away all that I owned
and let myself be burned alive?
I would gain nothing,  unless I loved others.
Love is kind and patient,
never jealous, boastful,  proud, or rude.

Love isn't selfish or quick tempered.
It doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do.

Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.
Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.
Love never fails!

Everyone who prophesies will stop, and unknown languages
   will no longer be spoken. All that we know  will be forgotten.

We don't know everything,   and our prophecies are not complete.
But what is perfect will someday appear,
and what isn't perfect will then disappear.
When we were children,  we thought and reasoned
   as children do.
 But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways.
 Now all we can see of God  is like a cloudy picture  in a mirror.

Later we will see him face to face.
We don't know everything, but then we will,  
just as God completely understands us.
For now there are faith,
hope, and love.
But of these three,   

the greatest is love. 

2014-02-05

The Lord God is waiting to show how kind he is

Days just seem to rush past me these days there is such a lot to do. But here is my sermon from January 26th (I know!).

Sometimes I really don’t understand our lectionary. Today’s Gospel reading is the ending of the Gospel reading of last Sunday and in my mind it would work far better to keep the whole story in tack: The story being that of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well. However, a point can be seen in the way the readings are divided which is that this way the theme of faith becomes more predominant.
To recap the whole story, though, it is about Jesus coming to a Samaritan city and sitting down at the well of the city because he was tired and as it was noontime it was also very hot.
As a woman comes to the well to draw water Jesus asks her to give him some water to drink. The woman is surprised when Jesus, a Jewish man, asks for something to drink from her, a Samaritan woman. A discussion ensues where Jesus tells the woman that he himself is the source of living water and says : “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.”
The woman misunderstands Jesus and asks for this kind of water so that she wouldn’t have to draw water and Jesus tells her to go
get her husband, and come back. The woman replies that she doesn’t have a husband and gets the most unlikely answer from Jesus since they have only met and Jesus could not possibly know anything about her.
Jesus says to her: “You are right to say, ‘I don’t have a husband. You’ve had five husbands, and the man you are with now isn’t your husband. You’ve spoken the truth.”
At least two things are striking here: the fact that the woman has been rather industrious husband wise, and the fact that she is cohabitating with a man in rather a modern fashion.
Interestingly she doesn’t seem embarrassed about her secret being known by this unknown man but keeps talking with Jesus and gets into a theological discussion with him which ends with her saying; “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.”
And Jesus replying: “I Am—the one who speaks with you.”
Just then, Jesus’ disciples arrive and are shocked that he is talking with a woman. But as the Bible says: “No one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” I like this bit in the story tremendously. I like the sense of, oh well, it’s Jesus, that’s exactly the kind of thing he does.
And here we come to our reading today, the part when one person’s revelation, one person’s realisation spreads and leads to something much more. At first people hear the woman’s story and here it is important for me to point out that this female evangelist in fact does something astounding in that she who came to the well at the peak of noon to avoid meeting others is now telling everyone about Jesus. Meeting Jesus quite simply changes everything.
Upon meeting Jesus the people of the town in their turn are so impressed with him that they ask Jesus to stay and he does! He, a Jew, doesn’t say: “No, I cannot, since we Jews cannot associate with Samaritans”, but instead he stays and for two days.
More Samaritans put their faith in Jesus because of what they then hear him tell them and then say to the woman the words every evangelist wants to hear: “We no longer have faith in Jesus just because of what you told us. We have heard him ourselves, and we are certain that he is the Savior of the world!”
Now, I am not an evangelist, not at least in the Billy Graham kind of a way and I doubt I never will be, but given God’s funny sense of humour these are the kinds of comments that can sometimes turn out to be proven wrong. That aside my point is, though, that this is essentially what every pastor desires, to be able to tell about God’s redeeming plan for the entire human race in a way that leads His children to Him and to a point where they can say the very same thing: “We are certain that Jesus is the Savior of the world.”
Isaiah’s words of today were:

The Lord God is waiting
to show how kind he is
and to have pity on you.
The Lord always does right;
he blesses those who trust him.

They are such comforting, gentle, loving words and such a promise.
It is the calling of a pastor to bear witness of God’s love in Jesus our saviour but it is in fact every Christian’s calling, too. Not everyone is an evangelist and on the other hand every Christian really is. We tell the world about our God in the way we treat each other, in the way we talk, in the way we look at the world around us, basically in every possible way and more often than not, not with our words but through our actions. And the message of our life and that of the church, well, it should be and of that I am sure if we trust our God will be that:

The Lord God is waiting
to show how kind he is
and to have pity on you.
The Lord always does right;
he blesses those who trust him.


2014-01-17

I can see clearly now :)

So sorry but must milk this just a little bit :). My eyes were operated the day before yesterday and I now no longer need glasses, well except to read, but not all the time and not unless it's very small print. So may I just say, yay! :)
 

2014-01-09

Creator of time and space of season and epoch

Our sermon this past Sunday was divided between myself and the awesome Ruth Carroll who through Godly play took us from First Advent to Epiphany. As a result I thought I share the intercessions of the Sunday here. I forget the origin of the prayer so if you recognize the prayer do tell me so that I can give credit where credit is due. I love this prayer.


Almighty and everlasting God, creator of time and space of season and epoch, of birth and evolution of both living creatures and galaxies alike, hear us as we humbly come before you as we mark our brief passage of time as another year has just began. We have heard the Christmas story, about how you, Father, came to live among us. As we try to understand what this means in our lives we pray that you will guide us in our requests for others in our prayers of intercession.

Lord have mercy upon us
Christ have mercy upon us
Lord have mercy upon us

Lord we thank you that you promised the possibility of making a fresh start at any time and not just as part of new year resolutions. Help those who have recently made important decisions in their lives to see them through. Life is full of pressures which often pull and push us in directions we would, and should, not normally take. Give us strength of purpose and faith in you to take decisions seriously, to understand the consequences for others, as well as ourselves, and, always, to seek your guidance through prayer.

Lord have mercy upon us
Christ have mercy upon us
Lord have mercy upon us

At the start of this new year we are reminded of the worlds deafness to the message of peace sung by the Christmas angels. We pray for all caught up in conflict or its preparations.

Father, give strength and courage to all peacemakers that they will not be dissuaded from the difficult decisions needed to bring about an end to open conflict or acts of terrorism.

Lord have mercy upon us
Christ have mercy upon us
Lord have mercy upon us

We pray for Finland [and for all other countries], for the president, the ministers and all in authority, that they will govern wisely and with due regard for the needs of all people. We pray for all our people facing this New Year without some of the basics of life that we take so much for granted. We think of the homeless, the unemployed, the asylum seeker, the addict, the ex-prisoner. Lord Jesus who became a refugee from the oppression of Herod be with all those who find themselves marginalised from our affluent society. Support all who work through state and voluntary agencies to relieve their hardship and restore dignity.

Lord have mercy upon us
Christ have mercy upon us
Lord have mercy upon us

We pray for all families represented here today. Each one is made up differently and faces the normal ups and downs of family life in different ways. We remember that Jesus was born, nurtured and grew up in a family which would have known all the emotions that we know in ours. We pray that each family finds a place for that selfless love, revealed to us through the life, teachings and example of our Lord.

Lord have mercy upon us
Christ have mercy upon us
Lord have mercy upon us

We Pray for the world-wide church and pray especially for all peoples facing religious intolerance often by those who distort the teachings of their own faith for political ends. We pray for our bishops and all who serve the Church, guide and support them and all who contribute to the Church's vision of service and witness.

Lord have mercy upon us
Christ have mercy upon us
Lord have mercy upon us

We pray for the sick, both at home and in hospital, or hospice. We think of the elderly, the housebound and those in care homes. And we pray for all who care to their needs, both professionally and in the family. Lord Jesus who responded to the needs of all those who had faith; comfort and sustain those who are in need of your grace at this time. As we share a moment of silence together, we bring before you those known only to ourselves and name them in our hearts.
Lord have mercy upon us
Christ have mercy upon us
Lord have mercy upon us

Especially do we pray for those who mourn the loss of loved ones, whether recently or some time ago. Let the knowledge of your resurrection in glory be comfort to all those who mourn.


Merciful Father,
 accept these prayers for the sake of your Son 
our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Amen.


2014-01-02

Happy and a blessed New Year 2014!


The photo is from the Turku Cathedral where one of the side chapels has been converted to a lovely nativity scene. As I am right now preparing for the Epiphany service this seemed like the most fitting photo for today.


2013-12-10

Hamba Kahle Tata Madiba

The President of United States Barak Obama today during his eulogy for Nelson Mandela
"Given the sweep of his life, and the adoration that he so rightly earned, it is tempting then to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. Instead, he insisted on sharing with us his doubts and fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. “I’m not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
Rest in peace Mr. Mandela. Hamba Kahle Tata Madiba.




Note: The photo is from here.