Viewing entries in
Jeremy Duncan

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.


When in Rome IV

When in Rome IV

We return this year for a penultimate swing through Paul’s letter to the Romans. We’ve been working our way, chapter-by-chapter, through this monumental letter. And this year, we pick up where we left off last spring starting in chapter 9.

Romans is full of heavy theology, but underneath it all is the tender heart of a disciple who wants to communicate the story of Jesus. What is the “good news” of Jesus Christ? Why do people need to hear it? How can we experience it? What will it mean for our future? And what does Jesus have to do with our everyday lives?

It’s these fundamental questions that form Paul’s agenda in Romans—an agenda dictated by a combination of audiences, circumstances and purposes but always pointing us back to Jesus.


Chapter 1-8 Recap - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

We are starting our year four in Romans by doing a brief overview of the first eight chapters of the letter.

Bonus Material

For those interested, here is a more detailed breakdown of the major schools of interpretation when it comes to reading Paul.


Part 2 - The Sovereignty to Love - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

We are diving into chapter 9 to learn about Paul’s internal conversation with the Israelites and what the sovereignty of God looks like.

Bonus Material

One thing we have to keep in mind when reading Romans is that Paul does not experience the world through the same hyper-individualized lens we do. He experiences life through a much more communal set of categories.


Part 3 - The Righteousness Problem - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Our focus today is on what happens when God chooses us, and we defiantly choose to walk away.


Part 4 - Finding God Everywhere - John Van Sloten

Discussion Notes

Our focus today is on how God can be experiences through everything we see and do.

Bonus Material

Paul’s double entendre in Romans 11 reminds us that there is not such thing as a story that God has not been at work cultivating.


Part 5 - So What Now - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes

Today we wrap up our fourth series on Romans and discern how to move forward.

Bonus Material

We're finished with Romans until next year but we need to make sure we get Paul's heart. Good thoughts only get you so far. What really matters is how we live and love in community.


Friendship

Friendship

Best friends. Old friends. New friends. Kind friends. Weird friends. Hilarious friends. Sad friends. Forgotten friends. Facebook friends. Forever friends.

Let’s really think about our friendships across a lifetime. Who was your best friend growing up? How did your friendships shape you in your twenties and thirties? What do you hope your friendships will look like in your forties, fifties, and beyond?

The terrain of friendship is well- travelled by some, and less familiar to others. There are days when you just know you wouldn’t make it without your friends. But other days you find the rules of friendship shift right under your feet.

We’re asking what the Creator’s intention is for friendship. How did Jesus extend radical welcome and still hold his best friends to a high standard of love and loyalty? Why do we need friends to find the Spirit at work in our lives? Bring all your experiences to the conversation on friendship and be reminded why this work of love matters so much in the end.


Why Friends? - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Today we look at the place friendship occupies in our social world and the role it played in the life of Jesus.

Bonus Material

Sometimes the Gospels invite us to read between the pages in order to encounter the fullness of Jesus.

We’ve also created a page with links to some of the research cited in the sermon.


Vulnerability - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes
Today we are talking about vulnerability and how it shapes both us and our friendships.

Bonus Material

The fact that Jesus has to learn who he is, speaks to the fact that your journey of self-discovery is holy and sacred as well.


Forgiveness - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes
Today we are talking about what to do when you are sorry and why it matters.


Unfriending - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes
Last week we talked about Peter’s denial, today we will see Peter’s transformation and talk about new chapters in friendship and the option to unfriend. 

Bonus Material

Forgiveness is what we do for our own health. Holding on to bitterness and anger eventually becomes toxic. Reconciliation though, requires both people to come to the table and when the other person isn’t willing to do that you need to remember that you can’t control that.

Unexpected

Unexpected

Christmas is packed with personal traditions. Every year we hang up the same tree decorations. Every year we gather with our loved ones to celebrate the same big holiday. Every year we try to come up with a creative gift for someone special and basically get the same gift we did the year before.

So the question is, can the story of Jesus in a manger really surprise us one more time around? Can Christmas hold more meaning than all the ornaments, intricate family meals, and presents wrapped under the tree?

Advent is a time to return to the story of Jesus’ coming. And in returning, we find that we aren’t the same person we were even a year ago. The Divine’s coming to us in human flesh is charged with the unexpected. There’s the unexpected way an old story becomes new. There’s an unexpected baby who holds the mystery of the universe. There are unexpected angels sent to declare that heaven has come to earth and nothing is the same anymore.


Advent 1: The With-ness of God - Jeremy Duncan

DIscussion Notes

Today we are looking at how in the birth narratives both Luke and Matthew draw inspiration from and transform the text of Isaiah.


Advent 2: The Magnificat - Bobbi Salkeld

Discussion Notes

Today we are looking at how the songs of Hannah and Mary expand our imagination of God and speak to our deepest needs.


Advent 3: The Flight - Scott Wall

Discussion Notes

Today we are looking at Matthew’s creative use of the prophet Hosea’s words, while reflecting on what it means to practice holy remembering during Advent and how God does not sidestep the costs associated with being human.


Advent 4: Full Filled - Jeremy Duncan


Christmastide - Yelena Pakhomova

Joseph

Joseph

Over the past few years, we have been seeing what the Bible has always known: that human stories, when viewed through the lens of faith, teach us how to live. Together we have explored the stories of Abraham and Jacob. This year we come to the story of Joseph.

The journey of Joseph’s complicated relationship with his brothers will be our focus for this fall season. This is a common and extraordinary tale: sibling rivalries, dreams of destiny, acts of betrayal, realizations of loss, sudden reversals, acts of kindness, restored peace. And in this whole mix, there is God. In fact, like any really good story, there is more going on here than at first meets the eye.

Joseph was a person in process, just as we continue to be. We see him grow up from a despised younger brother to a respected leader, from one presumed dead to the centre of life and action. And if we pay close enough attention, we might see what perceptive readers have always noticed: that Joseph’s story carries an uncanny resemblance to the story of Jesus himself.


Joseph 1: But First… - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

We will not do justice to Joseph without remembering where he comes from. When the Hebrews called their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it was their way of rooting their identity in their experience of God and their history as a people. 


Joseph 2: Big Dreams, Bad Timing - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Nahum Sarna describes the story of Joseph as “set forth by a master storyteller who employs with consummate skill the novelistic techniques of character delineation, psychological manipulation, and dramatic suspense.” You are invited to pay attention to how this beautiful narrative is put together and to listen to those particular moments when it speaks to us about what it means to be human.


Joseph 3: Brothers Gone Bad - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week we’re looking at how the brothers’ hurt that has not been dealt with turns into rejection and sets off a series of events that will eventually shape Joseph into a person of welcome. 


Joseph 4: #metoo - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Today we follow Joseph to Egypt and see how the presence of God manifests itself in small and big ways in Joseph’s life and creates an alternative reading of reality that exposes the imbalances of power.


Joseph 5: In the Pit - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

So far the intent of the story was to get us to listen to the voices we do not usually listen to and to pay attention to the more complex and nuanced perspectives of the world. Today we are talking about what it feels like to be stuck and forgotten, and yet never outside of the Divine presence and grace.


Joseph 6: Smart v Wise - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Last week, we were invited to pause our conversation after the chief cupbearer forgot all about his friend Joseph and left him in prison for another two years. Today we are looking at more dreams and what it means to speak peace in wisdom.


Joseph 7: Plan Well - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

This week we are moving from smart and wise to strategy, and we will consider practical plans for big problems. 


Joseph 8: Who Moves First - Jeremy Duncan

Discussion Notes

Today we are bringing the story to a close by focusing on the reconciliation of Joseph and his family.