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Sermon Ideas 4U - Archived Sermons -- AFTER Advent 2002

This page is in honour of the 'pesky, perpetual, predictable and persistent return of the Sabbath'!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This Week's Sermon !

May 22 - A Stewardship Sermon - Non-Lectionary -

Exodus 35: 20-29
Luke 1: 1-14

A Letter Written to US!

I’ve been watching episodes of Dr Quinn Medicine Woman this spring. If you wanted to send a message to someone in the world outside of Colorado Springs just after the Civil War, you went to the telegraph office and, for a fee, Horace Bing, would tap out a telegram for you in morse code. Apparently they had the telegraph even before they had the railway tracks to run it alongside! Of course there were letters but they came and went by stagecoach and were much slower. Considering that the telegraph operator had to hand print the telegrams and deliver them, it seems, in the show at least that telegrams were almost as fast as our modern e-mail.

When I went to Mount A, there were no personal computers, let alone the “internet”. We did not talk to our parents very much because of the cost. We weren’t allowed to have our own phone in residence! Most of the campus had a daily ritual: checking our mail. Between the third and fourth classes each and every weekday there was a run to the mail-room, which was in the basement of the library. Many students went down the stairs hoping for mail and most went back up - disappointed. Most of us wanted a real letter - a connection with someone from home; family member or a high school friend. Sometimes a cheque was inside! At the beginning of e-mail, AOL created a notification sound for the arrival of a new message, which said, “you’ve got mail!”

Now I receive so much junk mail by e-mail that such a notice over and over again would be so much more irritating than a simple chime! I don’t know about university students these days but they all have email, are on Facebook and most would have smart-phones. Some are even in daily contact with their parents - as if they never left home!

A year or so aga, I received a letter, via CanadaPost from a university friend. There was something special about seeing her handwriting, and being caught up on all the happenings that had been missed in occasional e-mails. I have read the letter several times.

The entire Gospel According to Luke, and its companion piece the Acts of the Apostles was written by someone named Luke to a mysterious “Theophilus”. It seems like it was a research report, converted to a very long letter.

We actually don’t know who either of these people, Luke and Theophilus, were. We have probably all been told that Luke was a physician. The identity of Theophilus remains a mystery. Some have surmised that he was was some sort of government official - being referred to as “most excellent” is not a usual thing.

However, there is a another possibility with respect to his identity. Theophilus is a name composed of two Greek words and it, in essence, can be literally translated as, ‘lover of God’ What if this letter was written to any person who is a “lover of God”! What if it was designed for all lovers of God who were yet to be born, even 2,000 years later including bith the oldest and youngest people in this congregation.

What this says to me is thatthe events recounted in the gospel have been selected and told so that we might believe and that our lives might be informed and changed by the story of Jesus of Nazareth.

Any and all of the Gospel stories are much more than a mere telling of events. The events have been chosen so that we can know the identity of Jesus and so that his life and teachings which show the heart of God, will show US God’s heart and God’s call to US.

Each story, each parable, is good news for you and for me.

The older testament sometimes has stories that seem, at first to have little to teach us. The one read today is a detailed account of the furnishing of the first, great temple in Jerusalem.

We have all been thinking of the people of Ft McMurray these days. I think of them re-building their houses. Each family rebuilding a house will need to build the actual house with all of the materials that involves, lumber and nails, shingles and siding, gyprock and floor covering, paint and wiring and light fixtures and plumbing and much more. Then they will have to buy furniture and bedding, clothes, appliances and housewares.

Similarly, the temple needed to be outfitted with everything and the vestments for their religious leaders had to be made. This was seen as a labour of love and we are told that God had put it into their hearts to do this. No one person had to bring everything but each person donated what they had that was needed. In telling this story, the long ago writer of Exodus, was teaching that when things are important - the community gets together and gets it done.

In this day and age it is good for all of us, on a regular basis to review our budgets with respect to our charitable giving. We know the church budgets keep increasing. We know the needs in our community are great. We also know that there are more empty pews every year. No one can answer the question for us: “does my giving reflect how important this church community is to me?”

We offer PAR as a way of being able to count on a certain amount each month and people on PAR avoiding the mad rush to find the appropriate amount to put in the envelope on the way out the door.

I know that when I was a university student it was hard to budget for my church offering and I could not afford the entire $20 bill that would have been dispensed by the bank machine and for the most of my university career I didn’t have a chequing account.

All Canadians have been asked to dig into our pockets to send aid to the families of Ft. McMurray and to the agencies helping as they stay away from home and try to cope with the stress and the displacement.

I read a Facebook post yesterday and the Rev Donalee Williams, the minister of the United Church in Ft McMurray, is calling her congregation together tomorrow afternoon - they have been given space in a United Church in Edmonton - it will be an opportunity to meet together for support, prayer and, fellowship around a pot-luck table. It will be an important community time.

As a church we are called to support one another, to share the good news of Jesus of Nazareth and reach out to the wider community and world.

We are a people who are sustained by the Word but also by gathering at the Table - as we do today. May today’s meal give us bread for the journey.


1995- 2016 The Rev. Beth W. Johnston.

For some good stuff go to:
journeywithjesus.net-a weekly webzine for the global church

The United Church has a great online bookstore and here is the link. If you live in Canada they will even send you a book display for your event and people who dont get to see that many books at once can have a ball!

Links to My Other Pages at this Site

  • Sermon Ideas 4U Sermon Archive Site!
  • My Main Page
  • The Kings United Pastoral Charge
  • Who is Beth Johnston
  • An Anniversary/Memorial Service Sermon
  • A Sermon for a "Covenanting Service"
  • Sermon on Teenage Suicide
  • Story Page (Called 'Q')
  • Various Links to Other Pages I Like
  • A Teaching Communion Service