Viewing entries tagged
Matthew

Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount is one of the most famous speeches ever given. This is Jesus at his most accessible.

The intriguing phenomenon is, however, that the closer one looks the more one becomes fascinated with the beauty through which Jesus addresses each topic.

“The experience can be compared with visiting famous old castles or cathedrals. Tourists may put in thirty minutes to walk through, just to get an impression, and that is what they get. But if one begins to study such buildings with the help of a good guidebook, visions of whole worlds open up. Whether it is the architecture, the symbols and images, the statues and paintings, or the history that took place in and around the buildings, under closer examination things are bound to become more and more complicated, diverse, and intriguing, with no end in sight.” –Hans Dieter Betz

Our hope is that this familiar sermon can become just as intriguing again if we take the time to look closer.


Matthew 5:1-10

Discussion Notes
This week we look at how Jesus upends our understanding of what it means to be blessed and invites us to see ourselves as already beloved.

Bonus Materials

Here's a a quick series looking at each of the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5 in more detail than we were able to on Sunday. We’ll be adding videos over the next few weeks until we cover all 8 Beatitudes.


Matthew 5:11-16

Discussion Notes

This week we are looking at what it mean to be salt and light.

Bonus Material

We looked at each of the beatitudes but what do we do with them now. How do you use them to orient ourselves with Jesus mission?


Matthew 5:17-48

Discussion Notes
Today we are looking at how the law is part of a larger story and how we are invited to be participate in it.

Bonus Material

Jesus' approach to the law is instructive on a number of levels. We all have guidelines we have put in place in our lives but sometimes those rules need to re-interpreted so that we can faithfully live out the original intent.


Matthew 6:1-13

Discussion Notes
Today we are talking about intent and how to move from performing to living.

Bonus Material

I'll never achieve humility, but being aware of that and asking myself the right questions about my intentions is what keeps me moving in the right direction.


Matthew 6:19-34

Discussion Notes
Today we’re looking at what Jesus has to say about worrying.


Matthew 7:1-5

Discussion Notes

Today we are talking about what happens when we start to judge each other and how our judgement can be a gift.

Bonus Material

Humility is not about downplaying our contributions to those around us, it is about not believing that our contributions entitle us to some kind of special or privileged treatment.


Wealth

Wealth

The great land owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away...

—John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

We live with wealth. And not just money. We have time and resources and talents and opportunities that surround us here in Canada. And so the question is not so much whether wealth is good or bad but instead how we will steward such wealth— comparatively slight as it may seem at times—into channels that serve the Kingdom of God on earth.

Walter Brueggemann writes, “a study of the various biblical texts on money and possessions makes clear that the neighbourly common good is the only viable sustainable context for individual well-being.”

Our challenge then is to explore what
it means to enjoy our blessings, to plan wisely for our individual needs, all while contributing to the common good around us.

May we be wealthy well.


No Coveting

Discussion Notes
Today we are exploring the connection between memetic desire and the promise of God to set us free.

Bonus Material

Sometimes wealth is as much about perspective as it is about bank accounts.


Generosity and Justice

Discussion Notes
Today we are looking at the relationship between generosity and justice.

Bonus Material

A scarcity mindset can make it hard to celebrate with those we love but it can also steal from us our motivation to change the world for the better.


The Pursuit of Happiness

Discussion notes
Today we’re looking at wealth and our experience of happiness.

Bonus MaterialS


This weekend was also Pentecost Sunday. You can read through the liturgy we created for the day here.

Parables of Grace

Parables of Grace

Our lives are a collection of stories. The ones we find ourselves in. The ones we watch and read and listen to. The ones we invent and create.

And what’s curious is how Jesus’ life and ministry were shaped by these same contours. His lived experience...the Hebrew Scriptures and traditions he learned...and, of course, the stories he told.

In our walk through Lent this year, we turn our attention to a particular set of tales Jesus gave his followers. Parables of lost sheep, midnight visitors, and trees that don’t grow fruit.

In the end, we come back to the words of Jesus each year to understand the Divine story and its connection to the meaning of our own. And we hope too that, whether we ‘get’ the parables or not, we begin to see them as “first and foremost God’s way of getting to us.” –Robert Farrar Capon


Lent

Ash Wednesday is the traditional beginning of Lent, the six week season which precedes Easter. For generations now, Christians have sought to deepen their connection to Christ’s death and resurrection by journeying through a season of preparation. We give something up–we create space and lack–in order to participate fully in the moment of resurrection.


On Lost Sheep

We talk about extravagant love that leaves the ninety-nine to look for the lost one, and how when it touches our hearts we want to at least try living in the way of Jesus; to love in the way that does not make sense.

Discussion Notes

Bonus Material

Part 1: Jesus has this remarkable ability to spot the Divine everywhere. We could certainly learn a lesson from his creativity.
Part 2: Grace calls us to live toward a world we can’t quite grasp yet.


The Good Samaritan

This week we are looking at the story of the Good Samaritan and how grace invites us to transcend our categories and see ourselves in the person across from us right now.

Discussion Notes

Bonus Material

Sunday was the parable of the Good Samaritan and one of the really intriguing elements of this story is the question that precedes it: Who is my neighbour?


The Unmerciful Servant

This week were are talking about how our experience of grace allows us to extend it to others.

Discussion notes

Bonus Materials

The parables aren't designed to give you black and white answers, they are meant to help learn how to think theologically.


The Unhelpful Friend

Today we are looking at one more story that explores the dynamics of grace in our lives and shows what prayer is about.

Discussion Notes

Bonus Material

There are a couple clues that push toward my reading of this parable.


Mustard Seeds

This week we are looking at the mustard seeds and how Jesus challenges the assumptions of the religious establishment of what the kingdom of God is like.

Discussion Notes

Bonus Material

I think René Girard can add a new layer to our understanding of the mustard seed parable.


The Problem with Prayer

The Problem with Prayer

We can be honest. Prayer is hard sometimes. And yet, prayer is perhaps the most precious and most under- utilized gift we have. For a multitude of reasons, people who follow Jesus often struggle with it. And the more capable you think you are, sometimes the more significant the struggle becomes. Perhaps this is because we fail to see the profound practicality of prayer, the deeply connected way it can reorder our lives. Perhaps we need to look at life, and ourselves, in a new way.

In this series, we want to imagine the Lord’s Prayer as a series questions we can ask daily. We want to take the practice of talking to and being with God, and see this way as something solid and tangible, something daily, something that matters to our experience of life.

If you have grown a little stale in your personal prayers, this series promises to re-energize what is most basic. Prayer is more practical than you ever dreamed.


Part 1 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This past Sunday we acknowledged the problem with prayer, talked about learning the language of payer, the role of liturgy and imitation of the “masters” in our prayer life, and the call to align our prayer with God’s vision of us and of the world.


Part 2 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week we looked at the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer - “Our Father…” as pointing us both towards God and towards one another. We were reminded that our prayer is an expression of intimacy with God to the extent it engenders the expression of God-like care extended out of us to those around us.


Part 3 - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

In this last session on the Lord’s Prayer, we’re looking at a series of questions, sometimes called petitions, that Jesus gives as a framework for prayer. And, hopefully, they can become tools for your own creativity in prayer or will help you to say and to hear the Lord’s Prayer differently.

Ritual

Ritual

We believe we need a recovery of sorts. Contemporary culture has pushed us to think that public life is mostly structured (show up on time, fulfill your obligations, do your job), but private life is mostly unstructured (free time to use as you see fit). But what happens then when spiritual life is relegated to the unstructured part of life, to our private“off work” world where there are few obligations? Well, it tends to exist in emotional spurts, through momentary impulses. It tends to lose focus. You know what I am talking about.

And so the recovery we need is the wisdom of basic spiritual ritual. Grace is not only a gift, grace is also a way of being. Grace is the life we are called to enter, the life of form and formation.

It’s been said that we don’t so much think our way into new life but instead live our way into new thinking. In this way, our spiritual identities are shaped through sustained commitments to gracious practices: practices of time like honouring sabbath, practices of stewardship like generous giving, practices of self-forgetfulness like service.

This is a series about some of our central rituals: work, rest and play.


The Ritual of Work - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

If what drives our imagination of work is hoping we won’t have to, that’s a problem— because work was created by God to be holy. In fact, the very beginning of Genesis starts with God doing work. And then humanity is tasked with doing more of the same— more work. They are instructed to take care of the land around them, and be fruitful, and to reproduce. Work wasn’t originally supposed to be just about surviving. It was (and is) the way we participate with God in the ongoing creation of the world.


The Ritual of Rest - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week we spoke about how work and rest depend on one another— all rest without work isn’t healthy, nor is all work and no rest. Sometimes rest is actually harder than work; while work tends to have tangible outcomes, rest can feel unproductive. We may think that sabbath rest is something God wants from us… but it was actually something God wanted to give to us. Sabbath shows us that while we are loved for what we offer, we are equally loved for what we don’t.


The Ritual of Play - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Play is the space where we can give ourselves what we need to be who we are, and where we can give to something outside of ourselves. Giving time to that hobby you never seem to have time for, investing in the relationships that matter to you, and serving those in your community… this is all play. It is where we create and contribute and participate in the stories that sit somewhere firmly between work and rest.