Homilies

Homily – Christmas Eve, 2016 – the Rev. Gary Hamblin

Christmas Eve 10 pm December 24, 2016/ St. John the Apostle Anglican Church Page 1 of 6 Luke 2: 1-20 The Birth of Jesus In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. The Shepherds and the Angels In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah,the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’ When the angels...

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Homily – The First Sunday of Advent, November 27th, 2016 – The Rev. Gary Hamblin

Matthew 24:36-44 The Necessity for Watchfulness ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. You will notice that the liturgical colours in our church have changed since last Sunday. They are the colour blue which marks, once again, the beginning of the church’s year. You may be aware that, in our Anglican tradition, the colour blue is in honour of the Virgin Mary. And, in this season of Advent, Mary, the mother of Jesus is central to our thoughts as we prepare to celebrate her giving birth to Jesus. As well, church historians will tell you that, originally, the early church used the colour violet during Advent, as well as Lent, but in the middle ages, when the colour violet became too expensive, the colour blue was substituted. That seems to...

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Homily for November 6th, 2016 – The Rev. Anne Anchor

http://www.stja.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/20161106h.mp3 On this our Stewardship Pledge Sunday I am given pause to reflect on what this day means to us at St. John’s. I want to begin by offering thanks to the people of the Stewardship Committee who once again have presented an insightful and full month of reflection on Stewardship. I have heard the comment that the ‘ministry tables’ were a great way of showing what we are at St. John’s as a caring and seeking people. The witness from those over the past few weeks has given us insight into living into a life with God as our centre. It became very clear to me that we here have a healthy understanding that our stewardship is more than what we put on the collection plate weekly. It is about using all the talents and gifts God has given us to the best our ability. Our legacy from those who went before us means that we are to continue to build on the origins of the people who in 1898 began to worship in this city of Port Moody. We are a community who regularly examines our ministry, our mission and our theology. I have been recently reminded that at one of the Sunday morning book studies discussion groups Grant said to us …. ‘You are already theologians as you study and reflect on what it means to you, to St. John’s, to this city and to the world to be a person of Christian faith.’ As we lay our pledge sheets on the altar at the Offertory let us offer a prayer of thanks to God for who we are, for what we have pledged to do and give and offer a prayer of thanks for this community of faithful in this city. I am reminded of the...

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Homily for the 24th Sunday of Pentecost – October 23, 2016

http://www.stja.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/20161023ho.mp3 I am very conscious today that for many of you, this may be the last time we ever connect in person; I am also conscious that this is most likely the last time I will ever speak from this pulpit.  Over the last eight years, I have preached to you something like 350 times on Sunday’s alone, so, if you have been listening, you have already heard what God sent me here to say.  But keep the ears of your hearts open today too, just in case. I want to say to you that in all those 350 or so times, every time out, I was trying to proclaim to you, in the best way that I could, something significant, something worth thinking about, something of the truth and life of the awesome God we serve through Jesus Christ. We have studied and reflected together.  At least 60 (and probably more like 70 or even 80) of you have taken part in adult formation classes we have offered in the Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening studies and in sermon\discussion series. We have explored Benedictine and Franciscan spirituality, reflected on Jesus in the movies; we have considered “contemporary faith and spiritual practice,” and we have tried to imagine where the church might be going in the 21st Century.  We have re-visited the painful legacy of the Residential Schools and made an effort to empathize with contemporary First Nations people; we have looked at inter-faith issues and we have visited mosques together; with the help of Dr Nancy Reeves, we promised to say Yes to God; with the help of people like Matthew Fox, Marcus Borg, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Harold Kushner, Brian McLaren, Lillian Daniel, Thomas Green sj, Stephanie Spellers and Michael Ingham, we met Jesus again for the first time, we...

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Homily October 2, 2016 – The Rev. Trudi Shaw

Proper 27:  Lamentations 3:19-26; Psalm 137; 2Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10; and World Communion Sunday. Jesus said, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed…” I knew a woman who would have been considered a pillar of her church.  She attended services every Sunday, was a regular at Bible Study and Prayer Meetings, helped out with church suppers, and did whatever else was asked of her to support the life of her church community. Others would have looked to her as an example of a life of faith. But when she lay dying, she was gripped by fear that she would be rejected by God because she had not been able to convince her son to go to church. It was challenging to be her chaplain – there were no words or actions that brought her any assurance or relief from her terror.  It didn’t matter that she had tried her best all her life to please God, or that her son was a grown man who had to make his own life choices.  She believed she had failed God, and would not receive the ultimate reward of heaven. The problem was not that she had too little faith – but that her faith was shallow – informed by a rigid system of belief that was based on the concept of reward and punishment.  God was “the Big Guy in the Sky” who could only love her for her good behavior.  One slip-up and she was doomed forever. Sadly, despite her “faithfulness” and her “good works”, she had become a perfect reflection of her understanding of God – looking down on others, judging them when they did not measure up to her expectations. I would bet that we all know people like her, or have maybe even been her...

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Homily for the 20th Sunday of Pentecost September 25, 2016 The Rev. Grant Rodgers

  Today’s readings have much to do with learning to see the true and lasting value in situations and in people, from our first reading in Jeremiah, through the reading from I Timothy to the Gospel from Luke 16. In our Baptismal Covenant (which we all re-visited last Sunday and to which we just re-committed ourselves), we answered the question: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself,”  by saying “I will, with God’s help.” Last week’s Gospel quoted Jesus saying it is impossible to serve both God and wealth.  As the First Letter to Timothy says: “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” One of the prayers of the Burial Office of the |Book of Common Prayer says “we brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we carry nothing out …” It is a great and solemn and yet absolutely truthful statement that puts everything into much greater perspective, and it is a direct quote from I Timothy, the second reading today, which also says: “As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.” It points up our tendency to accumulate so much stuff and to identify with it so completely that it...

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HOMILY – THE REV. GRANT RODGERS – REFLECTIONS ON MY IMMINENT DEPARTURE – AUGUST 21, 2016

THE 15TH SUNDAY OF PENTECOST-AUGUST 21, 2016 http://www.stja.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/20160821h.mp3 A year ago I accepted an appointment to Vancouver School of Theology  (VST) as Director of Anglican Formation, a position which seems to suit me and which I love. Initially, it looked like the arrangement – of working 1/3 time there and 2/3 time here — had the potential to be a new lease on life for me and for St John’s as well, with creative interaction between the two realms.  It was ideal for me, as it allowed me to remain in this parish which I have loved leading and serving. It also carried the exciting possibility of bringing another person into the ministry picture at St John’s.   After nearly a year, though, we had some supply help, but no one emerged to fill that 1/3 space that my being at VST created.  I began to be aware that you can say you’re 2/3 all you like, but 100% of the work and expectations of the Rector were still present, despite my efforts to delegate and draw back.  Those expectations and assumptions are only natural when people have been so accustomed to one pattern. The problem is that I have at least 1/3 less time to do all that, and to meet all the expectations. I spoke to people at the Synod office several weeks ago about whether there was someone out there who might provide ministry on a 1/3 basis but there seemed to be no one at all on the horizon. Despite all that, until very recently I saw myself continuing indefinitely as St John’s – to retirement age and beyond.  It has been a place that I have enjoyed, I have had good support, we have a great clergy team, we have dedicated leaders, and there is a...

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Homily for the Twelfth Sunday of Pentecost, July 31, 2016

Jesus and the Rich Fool  – The Rev. Grant Rodgers The American political process, and especially the Republican and Democrat national conventions held over the past couple of weeks, has captivated Canadians, generating something like a morbid fascination – like a traffic accident you just can’t look away from. Both parties are eagerly if not desperately looking for support, for the validation that comes via the ballot box, and also quite keen to enlist divine help if possible. The Republican party began their convention with a prayer or benediction from an evangelical preacher from North Carolina that could go down as one of the worst prayers ever offered in such an important public setting.  MSNBC used quotation marks around the word prayer (“prayer”) when referring to it – it is a prime example of how not to pray. This pastor commenced with what has become a standard address for God among conservative evangelicals, “Father God,” or Fathergod (all one word), a patriarchal and sexist way of referencing God which makes God sound more like a “god” than God, in the same category as a thunder god or a water god or perhaps a garden sprite.  In so many ways, this prayer seemed to shape the direction and set the tone for the Republicans’ gathering.  “Republicans,” this pastor continued, “we got to be united because our enemy is not other Republicans — but is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.” (!) Interfaith Alliance President Rabbi Jack Moline said “I have rarely heard a more inappropriate contribution to political proceedings than the benediction by Pastor Mark Burns at the opening session of the Republican National Convention.  The idea that a member of the clergy would invoke God’s name and, in the next breath, declare the candidate from the other party to be...

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HOMILY FOR THE 10TH SUNDAY OF PENTECOST – July 17, 2016 The Rev. Grant Rodgers

  Mary AND Martha As they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.”  When you think about the set-up of this gospel, of Jesus arriving at someone’s house, you have to ask, why would Luke pay attention to whose house this was?  Who cares that the two women who lived there had sibling rivalry issues with each other?  It seems like pretty incidental stuff. Luke cared about these details and there are reasons for that, which may help us understand how Luke conveyed this incident not merely as history but as catechesis, and as an insight into the deeper meaning of Christ’s mission. One fairly obvious thing to note would be that the home belongs to Martha, and it is she, not some male figure, who welcomes Jesus and his immediate followers into her home.  She has a sister, named Mary, it says, who seems to be the only other resident – this was not unknown but it would not have been the norm in an overwhelmingly patriarchal society. This acknowledgement of women as autonomous home-owners and partners in the mission of Jesus is significant to note.  This is one of those passages that can make women cringe, due to the tendency to portray one kind of woman as good and another as bad.  So let it be said that both women are significant in the meaning of this event and the Gospel in general. I would suggest that both women are portrayed in a positive light — Martha as a take-charge, competent sort of woman, who graciously opens her home to Christ at a time of need, and organizes hospitality for what was probably a large group of weary travellers, and Mary, whose intense interest in the...

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HOMILY FOR THE NINTH SUNDAY OF PENTECOST – JULY 10, 2016 THE REV. GRANT RODGERS

  What must I do to inherit eternal life? The lawyer in today’s Gospel asks two extremely important questions.  The first relates to how we connect with the eternal realm, with the  ultimate, i.e. with God.  The second question is the result of Jesus reminding the man that the commandments always point in two directions: toward God and toward those around us.   There has to be integrity in both directions, or one tends to invalidate the other.  So in this case the real question for this lawyer becomes:  Who is my neighbour?  We live and work and ride the train beside people who won’t even look at us, who avoid personal contact at all costs.  There are many reasons for this but the reality is that we live in the midst of strangers.  In the midst of so-called “communities,” many people if not most are isolated and alone and afraid. Look at the picture on the front of the leaflet – the young woman walking by the homeless woman. What’s wrong with this picture?  The young woman has her earphones plugged in and therefore has removed herself from her immediate surroundings.  Remember those figurines of the three monkeys?  I seem to recall that one of them covered his eyes and another one was covering her ears.  To me, it’s a powerful modern-day symbol of the way in which we try to block out what is going on around us rather than being open to what and whom we may encounter.  In the midst of huge cities, we are trying to live in our own little worlds and it’s not working.  We may think it’s ridiculous to attempt to build walls that separate countries, but look at that picture and tell me there isn’t a wall between those two people that’s...

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