Join us on YouTube for pre-recorded virtual worship, led by Pastor Jennifer Wilson:
Please select a message below.
For messages from 2014 to 2016, please click here.
Join us on YouTube for pre-recorded virtual worship, led by Pastor Jennifer Wilson:
Please select a message below.
For messages from 2014 to 2016, please click here.
Daniel's Hope In God, Nov 29, 2020 TLC
Grace to you and peace from God our Creator and from Jesus Christ, the source of our hope.
The story today takes us to a very difficult time period in the history of Israel. The Babylonian empire had destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and taken the people of Israel away from their land into exile. Then, 50 years later, the Persian empire had conquered Babylon. The king of Persia was now the biggest shot in the Near East, and the ruler of all the land. The people of Israel continued to live away from their homeland.
When the Israelites had been taken to exile all, they had could do was to wait, and to hope. They did not know when they would return back home – or if they would return at all. The temple in Jerusalem, the centre of their worship life and a physical sign of God’s presence among God’s people, had been destroyed. Where was God now? Had God abandoned God’s people?
Like many other Israelites, Daniel continued to pray to God daily. The people would turn to face the direction of Jerusalem and praise God for God’s mighty acts of saving power, even in exile. They would recall the story of Exodus, and other past stories of deliverance, and they would believe that God could do it again. They remained faithful when all reasons for remaining faithful were gone. They continued to trust in God when God did not seem very trustworthy. They continued to hope, and to wait for God’s deliverance.
Hope. In this Advent season of waiting and expectation, that’s what our world needs. This year probably more than ever.
We need hope when the pandemic continues to plow its way through our communities. Over the past eight months we’ve seen the governments scramble as they try to balance the health of the people and the health of the economy. Some governments have done it better than others.
We’ve also seen the climbing numbers of infections, and this past week has been quite bad here in BC. We’ve been following the ever-changing guidelines about masks, sanitizing, and limited gatherings. We all need hope.
There are those who have lost their businesses or their jobs. There are those who have lost loved ones. There are those who have lost social connections with friends or grandchildren. There are those who were isolated before and are even more so now. The pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in some way. Even Christmas is going to look very different this year. We all need hope.
There are those who work in health care, constantly putting their lives on the line to battle the virus. They are getting tired. Most people are not wired to deal with constant death. We all need hope.
We are all waiting for this to be over. We are waiting for the second wave to pass; we are waiting for the vaccine that would protect us from the virus. But we don’t know how long that wait is going to be. Another three months? Another year? No one knows. We all need hope.
Hope, and waiting, are not passive words. We do not simply hope that all will be well. Like Daniel, we continue to do our work faithfully. We continue to do our part to stop the spread of the virus.
We wear our masks, wash hands, and follow the guidelines to avoid social gatherings. Those are all acts of hope.
Calling our friends to check in, picking up groceries for an older neighbour, and staying at home when we can be all acts of hope.
Prayer is also an act of hope. Like Daniel, we can pray – even when we’re not sure what to say. God hears even the silent sighs in our hearts and understands.
So, as we begin the season of Advent, we wait in hope. We wait for God to enter our story through Jesus. We wait for God to act, again – because we know what God can do. We wait for God’s deliverance, God’s kingdom. Like the exiles of Israel, we continue to pray and wait, praising God for God’s saving acts of power.
We wait for our King, our Messiah, to appear again. We wait for God who delivered Daniel from the lions. We wait for God who finally led the people of Israel out of the exile and back home. We wait for God who has delivered God’s people over and over again. We wait in hope because we know what God can do.
We continue to pray even when God seems to be far. We may not feel it, but through Jesus we have the assurance that God is always present. The Spirit is active in our lives, guiding us and comforting us, even in the midst of a pandemic.
This Advent season keep your eyes open for signs of hope. Look for the signs of God’s presence in your community, the signs of God’s kingdom breaking through into our daily lives.
What gives you joy? Is it the bright Christmas lights that light up so many houses already? Is it the friendly greeting from a neighbour or an acquaintance, from a distance of course? Is it the birds chirping in the trees or the neighbourhood kids at the playground? God is present in all the things that give you joy.
Where do you see community? God is present wherever people help each other out, support each other and encourage each other. God is present wherever there is kindness, generosity and compassion.
Where do you feel at peace? Out in the nature, or in front of the fireplace? While talking to the neighbour or the stranger during a walk? A video call with family members? Turning out the lights and going to bed? God is present whenever you feel at peace.
Wherever God is present, there is hope.
Isaiah 6:1-8 and Luke 5:8-10 Nov 15, 2020 TLC
Woe is me; I am lost
Context for scripture reading:
Isaiah’s context eight centuries before the birth of Christ was a dire situation…King Uzziah had just died after 50 years of rule. His death raises questions of stability…what will happen to the people of Israel now? Not unlike the silence after the battle of Vimy Ridge on that April morning 1917 when for the first-time soldiers from all across Canada fought together with thousands of casualties or the tension remaining after the recent presidential election in the US…with accusations of voter fraud, lawsuits, and an uncertain transition of power. In the 8th century, Isaiah’s people were threatened by the mighty Assyrian Empire expanding…it was a formidable army with advanced weaponry. Jerusalem was not a well-fortified city, filled with refugees from the countryside and other cities captured by the Assyrians.
So, Isaiah sees a vision of comfort; even though the king has died, and future is uncertain, the King of the universe sits on the throne, flanked by seraphs…some sort of winged serpent…the hem of the robe of this king fills the temple…this God is so huge, this God’s presence extends beyond the borders of Jerusalem and the region of Judah. Expanding to the universe; Isaiah feels small and insignificant.
Because we are living in a pandemic with new social restrictions imposed until Nov 23, I hear the words of Isaiah in a way I’ve never heard them before. Isaiah saw these incredible creatures…that were like a cross between an angel and Toothless, Hiccup’s dragon in the movie, How to Train Your Dragon…hovering above him, each with six wings. With two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet and with two they flew…calling back and forth to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the God of the Angel Armies. God’s light fills the whole earth. The whole place was trembling like an earthquake with the sound of these angel voices…and then the whole house fills with smoke. All he saw was the hem of God’s robe that filled the room. At first, Isaiah was so overwhelmed, he said “Woe is me! I am lost! doom! It’s doomsday! I’m as good as dead! Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted. Words that corrupt and destroy rather than build up and make whole”
These days we have all lost our lives in some way, and it is uncertain when we will get them back. And any one of us may not only have unclean lips but be carrying the breath of a super-spreader without knowing it. Coronavirus has shown us that each one of us is significant; capable of saving lives and taking lives. Dr. Teresa Lam says that three-layer masks are now recommended as she acknowledges that we each create an aerosol cloud that suspends the virus, particularly while indoors.
Woe is me! I am lost, Isaiah says. I am undone, I’m ruined. How terrible it is for me! Have such thoughts ever entered your mind? A couple of you have told me recently that what we are enduring is nothing compared to the suffering of those who’ve lived through world wars and the great depression, not to mention front line medical workers as the infection rate climbs. And yet, every day, we are faced with significant loss, many are struggling with: loss of income, loss of health, loss of safety about being in public spaces. And for those who just cast their ballots in the US, a lot of uncertainty about how the community spread of the coronavirus will be controlled when the country is so divided on best practices for dealing with the virus and stimulating the economy.
Even on a good day, we may struggle to think we have anything to offer others, that our life matters. Like Isaiah, we say “woe is me. I am unclean. I am broken” or like Peter, “Go away from me Lord, for I am sinful.” We wonder if we are good enough, if we have what it takes to make a difference in the world, to actually love someone else. Traditionally, sin has been described as pride, thinking too highly of ourselves, trying to be like God. We hear this in the story of Eve eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In dialog, the serpent voices what Eve is likely wondering about already: if I eat the fruit, I won’t die. Maybe I will become like God, knowing good and evil. After she eats it and gives some to Adam, they don’t physically die, but shame enters the human story, and they hide. They hide from the only one who knows all about them and loves them anyways. This story shows us what we all struggle with as human beings; when we try to be something other than fully beloved creatures, fail to trust God is for and with us, we give shame a foothold and end up hiding, keeping secrets. This leads to suffering and loneliness. On the flip side, sin also involves not only thinking too highly of ourselves but thinking too little of ourselves, listening to a critical voice inside our head that drags us down. We may think “I’m the only one who struggles like this.” Or “I should’ve been able to stop this. What is wrong with me?”
It’s like the Peanuts cartoon where in the first frame, Lucy is talking to Charlie Brown. And she says, “You know, Charlie Brown, the problem with you is that you’re you.” This Lucy voice can take over, so that we tell ourselves, “If you really knew who you were, it would be such bad news---let alone, if anyone else knew who you really were.” Last week, in talking with one of you courageously honest people in the recovery community, you said, “pastor, we’re only as sick as our secrets.” When we are ashamed, embarrassed about ourselves, we want to hide. And then we suffer alone.
One of the gifts of being a Christ-following community is that we are free to be ourselves, warts and all, sharing our secrets, stories of pain, loss, guilt and shame, with one another. As we share, the power of sin holding us dissipates; we can hear a word of grace from one another that sets us free. When we can be real with one another, we are broken open to hear the good news: you are God’s beloved at the core, from the inside out, chosen before you decided, loved before you earned it, claimed and loved as God’s own. Your broken places let the light of Christ in. Your broken places forge a river of compassion for others in your heart.
These days when we cannot gather in person, surprisingly, many new friendships have been sparked through the caring call team, zoom video small groups, the hiking group and others of you picking up the phone…. several of you have forged new connections: deep, honest relationships and you aren’t sure what the other person even looks like! As Christ followers, we are called to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. So, when someone is safe enough to come to you and say in so many words, “woe is me! I am lost!” you are called to listen, show them they are not alone, and that in fact such thoughts don’t disqualify them for being on God’s team. In fact, such honest disclosure allows each of us to take our part in setting the captives free, starting with the next person whom you meet.
Christ Jesus meets us on the edges of our lives, where suffering and loneliness push us. When first going public with his ministry, Jesus found his purpose in the words of Isaiah, saying “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, to let the oppressed go free.” On the cross, Jesus faced suffering and loneliness and promises to meet us there. Could it be that finding our purpose starts with admitting our suffering and loneliness to one another. One of the gifts of the pandemic is that as our social circles have shrunk, the depth of connection between us has grown. The smaller cohorts at school, Grade 12 student Jeremy says, are allowing him to develop deeper friendships than he’s ever had before. Though zoom is a video conversation, it does allow us to zoom in on one another, and as I learned last week when you turn off the video of yourself, you can truly pay attention to the other people.
This week we’ve been wearing poppies…to remember the sacrifice of those in military service. As children of God, we gather each week to remember we are beloved of God…one of the ways we do that is by making the sign of the cross, a reminder that our lives are not our own…like Isaiah and Peter who could only see how they didn’t measure up until the seraph and Jesus said otherwise, each one of us are called to give voice to our loss and loneliness. Another courageous person in the recovery community said I could share…several years ago when she was at her worst, she felt useless, hopeless and afraid; someone asked her for help and it saved her life. This week God is calling us to ask someone for help; it could be the way we save their life.
I invite you to make the sign of the cross on your forehead or on someone near you as I close with a prayer from Suzie: Lord, take me where you want me to go, have me meet who you want me to meet, tell me what to say and keep me out of the way.
Jonah 1 and 3 Nov 8, 2020 TLC
Jonah: What’s the catch? YOU ARE
乔纳 1和3 2020年11月8日TLC
With the threat of civil disorder looming over the presidential elections in the US this week, we’ve watched business owners in Washington DC, Portland, Los Angeles boarding up their store fronts to prevent looting and protect their livelihood. As I craft this message, ballots are still being counted; the presidential election is still a tight race. With news of an armed caravan of Trump supporters pulling over a Biden/Harris campaign in Texas, we see the US divided between which candidate they support. It is alarming that this division has the real potential to ignite violence. In this election, political affiliations have created enemies across party lines.
In the context of the scripture reading from Jonah today, the Ninevites had a history of endless cruelty with Jonah’s people, the Hebrews. The Ninevites were part of the Assyrian empire that held a dominating power in the ancient world 700 years before the birth of Christ. In the British Museum, stone wall carvings preserved from the time in which Jonah lived, tell the story of the Assyrians attacking, taking captive and beheading the Hebrews, as you see depicted in these images. So, it makes sense that Jonah, from the minority, marginalized Hebrew people, would avoid any confrontation with the Ninevites; can you blame Jonah for wanting to run away as far as possible? In the ancient world, buying a ticket for a ship headed to Tarshish was the farthest opposite destination from Nineveh.
In suburban Philadelphia, where ballots are still being counted into the night, two families have been featured in the news, who live next door to one another are close friends. Their kids play hockey together, they share Monday dinners together. They say they love each other. And yet, Stuart and Chris Mitchell voted for Biden-Harris and Jill and Bart Gates voted for Trump-Pence. Both display yard signs indicating their preferred candidate… but alongside those signs they planted two more signs with arrows pointing to their neighbor, saying “we (❤️) them.” Here in Canada, amongst students who cannot even vote, on social media they are asking one another, whom do you support? Biden or Trump? Does our answer need to draw a line in the sand, turning friends into enemies? In a crazy and dangerous twist, the political campaign has resulted in an anti-mask movement…with demonstrations across the US and here in Vancouver. Those who support Trump refuse to wear masks. Those who support Biden make it a point to put masks on. Somehow love of the neighbour, in old English this word literally means “those near-by,” has become politicized.
As we gather virtually this Remembrance Day to recognize the soldiers who’ve laid down their lives to preserve life and liberty here in Canada, we are called to listen for the voice of Jonah today, crying out, take care of your neighbours, wear a mask in all public spaces…we hear Jonah’s voice in Dr. Bonnie Henry, in premiers and governors issuing new guidelines for social interaction as the second wave moves across North America. I was shocked to hear about a family birthday gathering in a home a week ago, here in BC which included 10 guests. Nearly all guests contracted COVID19 and recovered but their 80-year-old grandmother died. The carrier was likely asymptomatic, as I’m sure people are all staying home if they feel unwell. What a burden to carry. Our own family and friends can become our enemy when we don’t wear masks and choose to eat together. Are we willing to take that risk?
Jonah may have tried to avoid confrontation with his sworn enemies by jumping aboard a ship, but a storm kicks up. With the crew throwing cargo overboard to lighten the load and bear the waves, Jonah is asleep in the hold of the ship. The captain comes to rouse him: “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps god will spare us so that we don’t die!” In the ancient world, sailors believed that many Gods controlled events in the natural world such as storms. So, when Jonah admits he is running from his God, the One who made all things, the sailors are terrified. Throwing Jonah overboard seems to be the only way for them to survive.
Some of you would say this is a story of a whale, while others would say it’s a whale of a story. Did a big fish actually swallow Jonah? Or did he metaphorically fall into the deep. Regardless, he cried out to the Lord in prayer: You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and billows passed over me…the waters closed in over me, the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped around my head….YET you brought up my life from the Pit, O Lord my God.”
I hear of youth and adults both struggling with depression and anxiety these days as a result of the pandemic. One of you said the real question is, “who isn’t struggling with depression?” The school district sent a link of mental health resources to parents last week, describing how to support our kids. The first thing mentioned is that teens need 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day, beyond walking to and from school. And they need a safe place where they can speak freely, a friend or caring adult. Screen time needs to be limited to allow enough sleep each night. These are things we all need but are often difficult to follow. If we are doing all these things and still feel as if waves and billows are passing over us, the waters closing in, weeds wrapped around our head, then we need to seek out a doctor for medication. What Jonah experiences sounds like a depressive state, doesn’t it? He felt as if his life was ebbing away.
As Jonah buys a ticket for Tarshish, God’s presence went with him. Thrown into the heart of the sea, even there God’s hand held him, bringing him up from the Pit. The deep changes Jonah, so that when he’s given a second chance to go to his enemies, he goes. He walks the entire city, archeologists who have dug up Nineveh report that its walls were 7 ¾ miles (11KM) around. It wouldn’t take three days to cross, so perhaps Jonah went to every neighbourhood, marketplace and city gate with his message. And to his dismay, the Ninevites listen to Jonah. Jonah realizes that not only is God his deliverer, but God will deliver his enemies.
Corrie Tenboom was a Christian woman who was sent to a concentration camp in Germany WWII with her sister, because their family had taken the extreme risk of hiding a Jewish family in their home. When the Nazi soldiers discovered their hiding place, the Tenboom family was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Corrie and her sister endured inhumane torture together. Her sister died, but Corrie survived and at the end of a documentary film called The Hiding Place, an aged Corrie appears and says, “No pit is so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”
What can we learn about God from Jonah?
Watching the Ninevites respond to God, the king declares a city-wide fast, and we finally learn the real reason Jonah ran away. Jonah knows that the God who met him when the waters closed in around him is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Seven hundred years before God took human form, this same God drew Jonah out of a pit. And comes among us now.
With the mail-in ballots still being counted, the president-elect will win by a slim margin, and the United States will remain sharply divided along party lines. God is calling us to walk in Jonah’s shoes. The Mitchell and Gates families are showing us a way forward. Shared dinners, kids’ hockey games. Today via e-mail, as we shared prayers about the election, Teresa Remple, Bob Remple’s daughter, who lives in Bellingham part-time, shared this way forward: My prayer is that we become curious about each other and ask clarifying questions, absent of the desire to shift someone else’s opinions. My thoughts have very much been around creating ‘safe spaces’. How can I create them, while maintaining healthy boundaries and also how can I lean into the ones which already exist?
And God won’t give up on all the cities anticipating civil unrest in the wake of the election. Jonah struggled to find a way to love his enemies. But God didn’t give up on him. The God of steadfast love and mercy won’t give up on you, no matter what pit you’ve fallen into, God’s love is deeper still.
Elijah and the Widow – All Saints, Nov 1, 2020 TLC
Grace to you and peace from God our Creator, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.
When I was learning about preaching in the seminary, one of the things we talked about was the importance of preaching each sermon in the congregational context. We talked about the importance of knowing the people and what matters to them. And here I am, preaching to you all for the first time. I have met a few of you in person, a few more on the screen, and most – not at all. And I’m preaching to the camera, so I can’t even see you nodding, frowning or smiling – I have no idea how you are going to react. But these are strange times, so we just do what we need to do.
Prophet Elijah is one of the best-known and best loved heroes in the Hebrew scriptures, and today’s text is the introduction to him and his story.
King Ahab of Israel was not exactly known as a kind and just king. He was power-hungry and self-serving. He ignored the commandments of God, worshiping other gods and doing all manner of evil and unjust things. King Ahab worshiped Baal, the Canaanite thunder god who was in control of the rainfall. So, when God sent Elijah to the king to declare that there would be no rain, it was directed against the worship of Baal who was supposed to take care of such matters.
Well, since the king was not known for his patience and kindness, it seemed wise for Elijah to go and lay low for a while… He and the king would meet again.
First God sent Elijah to a river valley where he had fresh water. Wild ravens brought him food there. Interestingly, ravens are among the unclean birds in the law code of Hebrew scriptures since they are scavengers and occasionally eat roadkill. Elijah, however, accepted what the ravens brought. But soon the river dried, and with it, Elijah’s drinking water.
Then God sent Elijah to a widow in Zarephath. The town of Zarephath is on the Phoenician territory, away from King Ahab’s control. Good place to find refuge.
So, Elijah meets the widow when she’s by the city gates collecting wood. The widow in the story remains nameless, as does her son. They provide shelter for the hero prophet for three years, yet we don’t get to know much about them.
But we know this: when Elijah requested for food, the widow did not seem impressed. All she had left was one meal for herself and her son, nothing more. Losing a husband in those days meant losing the piece of land the husband had owned since women had no right to inherit property. No land meant no ability to grow food. It meant having to live with other relatives, whoever might take you in, and beg for food from friends and neighbours. For women with no other opportunities, it meant prostitution. This widow was young, her son was still a child, but she had no hope. All she wanted to do was to go back home, make that one last meal, and die.
So, Elijah, a complete stranger, a foreigner, showed up in the city and asked for a meal. The widow decided to humour this stranger at the city gates and shared her food with him. Maybe she was willing to do that because she really had nothing to lose. It was going to be her last meal anyway.
But out of this hopelessness, out of this act of giving up her last, came a miracle. The jar of flour and the jug of oil never went empty. They did not have much – this is not a story of a miraculous feast or sudden appearance of meat and fresh vegetables. But they had what they needed for their daily sustenance – flour and oil. They had bread, and they broke bread together for three years.
But then the young boy got sick.
This poor woman! She had already lost so much. Finally, there had been a little bit of hope – at least there was food… But then her son got sick and died.
这个可怜的女人！她已经失去了很多。终于有了一点希望 - 至少有食物吃…但后来她的儿子生了病，死了。
This seems really unfair, doesn’t it? Why would God let her son die now, after taking care of them for a while already? After specifically sending Elijah to her to be housed and fed?
The widow seems to think that it was something she did, although clearly, she didn’t know what exactly. That certainly was the general idea back then, that everything had its cause, and the way humans acted had consequences.
But it really wasn’t anything she did. There was no hidden sin that she needed to remember and repent. God didn’t cause her son’s death either. I don’t believe that God operates that way, causing bad things to happen as a result of our known or unknown sins. I don’t think God causes suffering, or even lets it happen. I think that human life is hard, and sickness and death are part of it. It’s just the way the world works. We don’t know why this young child, the widow’s son, got sick and died. Maybe he was just weak from eating only bread for months on end. Maybe his body needed some fresh vegetables or maybe a little piece of meat to stay strong.
No, God does not cause suffering. Instead, God is present in the suffering, comforting us and giving us hope. The young widow had already received one miracle to give her hope – the never-ending supply of flour and oil. Now she received another. God brought her son back to life and health, responding to Elijah’s prayers for healing and recovery. God was not the cause of the woman’s suffering but the answer to it.
We do not always receive a miraculous response to our prayers. Some illnesses don’t heal. There is plenty of pain, suffering and death we encounter, and some of it doesn’t make any sense to us. In the midst of it all, God remains present in our lives. Sometimes God’s presence is found in the comforting presence of others. Sometimes God is a quiet whisper in our hearts. Sometimes God’s presence is a momentary sense of calm in the raging storm.
It’s All Saints Day, and so we remember those saints in our lives who have returned to God. We are left with the sorrow and grief. For some of you the grief is still fresh, for others it’s been a familiar presence for years. But today, when we remember those who made our lives richer, we also remember the presence of God in our lives.
We know that death is not the end. We know that God is powerful over death. Elijah’s story demonstrated this, and so did the resurrection of Jesus. Death cannot contain the loving power of God.
Our lives here are fragile. But illness is only temporary. Suffering and pain are temporary. Death is the end of all pain, but death is not the end of life.
So today, as we remember, as we hold our loved ones close to our hearts, we also remember God’s infinite love and grace. We remember with hope that in the end, all things will be well. And we continue to trust in God’s guidance and care throughout this life, until we also can leave all pain behind.
II Samuel 7:1-17, Luke 1:30-33 Oct 25, 2020 TLC
In the last month, I’ve pruned back our raspberry bushes so that next spring they will bear more fruit. Today we celebrate Reformation Sunday, a chance to remember 500 years ago when the Christian church pruned some branches that had overgrown. Back in the 1500s branches had grown in the church that put conditions on God’s amazing grace, revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The branches needed to be cut…so that the church could become more fruitful. The pruning started when Martin Luther challenged the teaching of the church in his day. So today we join our voices with the Lutheran World Federation, with Christ followers around the world, proclaiming that we are saved by grace, not by works. LWF member churches, in a multitude of languages, are sharing these words of Jesus from the Gospel of John, describing this grace through an image: I am the vine; you are the branches: Join me in the call to worship from John 15:1-5
When you hear this scripture from II Samuel you may wonder why is this important? God’s beloved people have been led by charismatic, military leaders called judges and now their second King David has been inaugurated. He is establishing the city of Jerusalem as the new capital, uniting the divided northern and southern kingdoms. And now King David is bringing the ark of God, the place where God, the Great I AM dwells, from a tent into Jerusalem. David wants to build a house for the ark of God. But God never asked for this. Instead, God promises to make David into a house, a kingdom forever, not built with human hands. As Christians we understand this promise of God’s everlasting kingdom on earth to be fulfilled in Jesus, a child born to Mary and Joseph.
II Samuel 7:1-17
With so much of our interaction virtually by phone, video and texting these days, we often need to prove we are members before we gain access to purchasing things on-line or communicating through Facebook or Instagram or e-mail. I don’t’ know about you, but I find it frustrating when I get kicked out of Gmail and cannot find my password. It is difficult to keep track of all of my passwords, and an aggravating whole process of retrieving them if I forget. If there is one place where we don’t require a password to enter, it is church. These days in order to enter the building you need a mask, a willingness to sign a liability waiver, use hand sanitizer, but is the church a members-only club? If there’s one thing we’ve learned during the pandemic, it’s that many more people have connected with us virtually than typically do on a Sunday morning in-person. Through YouTube, people in Norway, Germany, the United States, Delta and Surrey who worship with us who did not previously; 70 more households have joined our email distribution list so that 205 people receive our weekly newsletter.
Today is Reformation Sunday, a time we remember each year when Martin Luther challenged the direction that the medieval Roman Catholic church was headed. What had begun as groups of people gathering in homes to pray and break bread, following the way of Christ together had grown into a powerful institution that had more influence than kings and emperors. On October 31, All Saints Eve and Halloween night, 1517, in protest against the way the church of his day used its power, saying social, political, and theological changes needed to happen, Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Lutheran Church in Germany. In this document, Luther laid out his reasons that the church needed to change. Luther challenged the authority of the Pope, the leader of the church, saying that the living Word of God had more power and authority.
今天是宗教改革星期日，每年今天我们记得马丁路德挑战中世纪罗马天主教会前进的方向。一个从一群人聚集在家里祷告和吃面包，遵循基督的道路开始的宗教团体，现在已经发展成一个比国王和皇帝更有影响力的强大机构。1517年10月31日，万圣节之夜，路德为了抗议那个时代的教会使用权力的方式，声称社会、政治和神学需要改变，路德把他的95条教义钉在德国威滕堡路德教会 (Wittenberg Lutheran Church) 的门上。在这份文件中，路德阐述了他认为教会需要改变的理由。路德挑战了教皇的权威，教皇是教会的领袖，他说，上帝的话有更大的权力和权威。
One of the catalysts for the Reformation was that Pope had been collecting money to build a bigger house for God. This money was collected off of the backs of illiterate poor people; Luther protested against this in his 95 theses. These German peasants heard sermons where they were threatened with being thrown into the fires of hell; they were taught that if they purchased an indulgence, they could buy God’s forgiveness, escape condemnation for themselves and release their dead relatives from purgatory, a holding place for the dead who had not yet been given a password to enter heaven. In Luther’s day salvation had become a commodity; something you could buy, earn by this expression of your devotion. The church leaders were manipulating and abusing the people in order to build St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, a bigger house for God. Luther disagreed and brought his protest before Pope, finally saying “Here I stand:” we are all saved by God grace, made available for all by Christ Jesus on the cross, not by purchasing an indulgence. Luther’s protest resulted in him being excommunicated, kicked out of the Roman Catholic Church. Because of the invention of the printing press in Europe, Luther’s ideas could be printed and spread across Europe. Today these church denominations are known as the ones born out of Luther’s protest, the Protestant Christian Churches: Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, United, Pentecostal, Baptist, Mennonite and many more. The medieval church in the 1500’s needed to change. Through Luther, common people were empowered to question religion and other aspects of life.
For the past seven months, the pandemic has forced our church, along with all faith communities, to change. Being unable to gather, to pray and sing together, to support one another in our walk with Christ, as we face the troubles of this life and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and the lives of those who’ve died…this continues to be very difficult. Even when we seek to return to in-person worship each week, (which we are diligently working on right now as we experiment with livestreaming) we will be facing uncomfortable changes.
King David had settled into his new house in Jerusalem, the new capital city for his kingdom, uniting the divided tribes of Judah in the north and Israel in the south. The Lord had given him rest from all want and trouble, no enemies threatened his well-being. So, David said to the prophet Nathan, “Hey, now I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” David wanted to build a big house for the ark of God. The ark was the box containing the ten commandments, the teachings from the Great I AM about how to surrender ourselves to God as the Source of life and how to love our neighbours as ourselves. The ark had been God’s dwelling place among the people for generations. David had just brought it to Jerusalem but wanted to do more, to show his devotion by building a temple. But the Lord, the Great I AM saying: “Wherever I have moved about among all my beloved people, did I ever speak with the tribal leaders complaining: why have you not build me a house of cedar?” The Great I AM doesn’t want David to build a big house, but instead reminds David God has been with him throughout his life already: “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my beloved people. I’m down for you; I’ve been with you wherever you went…and I will make you a house.” The Great I AM promises to make a dwelling place for God through David and through the leaders who come after him. God doesn’t need a house of cedar. God will dwell with and among the people, establishing a kingdom forever.
As Christians, we look back at this promise of God given to David and see the seed planted for the everlasting king of all kings, Jesus, the child born to Mary and Joseph, the One who opened the way for God’s grace to live with and among us. This last Sunday, four-year-old Chloe and I took a walking tour of our memorial garden behind the church while her mom Vivian visited with others at our new 11:30 tailgate coffee hour. We were counting the rings in the stump of the cedar tree we had to cut down to prevent it from falling on the church during a windstorm. I asked Chloe, how old do you think this tree was? Bending down to count with Chloe was one of those times I met the Great I AM in the last week. The stories this tree could tell as it grew alongside Trinity Lutheran Church for many decades, witnessing all those who’ve come and gone from this place.
作为基督徒，我们回想神给大卫的应许，看见为万王之王的耶稣所种下的种子，就是马利亚和约瑟所生下的孩子，他为神的恩典开路，使它与我们同在。上个星期天，我和四岁的克洛伊步行参观了教堂后面的纪念花园，而她的妈妈薇薇安在我们新的11:30咖啡时间和其他人一起攀谈。我们在数雪松树桩上的年轮，我们不得不砍掉这棵树以防它在暴风雨中倒在教堂上。我问克洛伊，你觉得这棵树多大了？与克洛伊一起弯腰数树上的年轮是我上周一次与神相遇的时刻。这棵树可以讲述的故事，因为它生长在Trinity Lutheran Church教会旁边几十年，见证了所有从这个地方来来去去的人。
Howard Thurman, African American pastor who lived from 1899 to 1981 and founded the first cross racial church in the United States in San Francisco, CA, is still regarded as one of the most influential preachers in recent generations. On my reading list is his book: Jesus and Disinherited formed the civil rights leaders of the 1960’s in the US. Thurman asked: What does Jesus have to say to people who stand with their backs against the wall? Thurman saw a connection between our inner life and outer actions. He encouraged people to find the sound of the genuine in you, what makes you come alive, and find your place alongside the God of justice. Rev. Otis Moss III told this story on Krista Tippet’s on Being podcast last week:
When Thurman was a small boy, he saw an elder, man who must have been in his eighties, who was planting pecan” — or pecan trees, depending on what part of the country you’re from. “And young Thurman raised a question. He said, ‘Sir, you’re not going to be around. You will not live long enough to taste the fruit from these trees.’ And the old man paused and said, ‘Son, all my life I’ve been eating from trees I did not plant. It’s my job to plant for somebody else.’” And my father said, “Just plant. There will be trees that you will never see grow, that someone else will eat from. And it’s their responsibility to plant for somebody else. And so, we don’t have all that we should have, we’ve not reached the goals that we are supposed to reach, but we” are called to plant for somebody else.
In John’s gospel, Jesus describes himself as a tree in whom we abide, through whom we live, in whom we find our home. “Abide in me and I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches…. apart from me you can do nothing.” This past week on one of my walks, I noticed this branch that was broken during the last windstorm. As I stopped, I thought about how many of us feel cut off from one another, and perhaps from Jesus, from the One who abides in us, who lives in us. Though we aren’t gathering in person, Jesus comes to abide in you, to plant seeds of hope among us, to create in us a house for God.
What is God’s will for us as we become God’s house outside of this building on River Road?
I Samuel 1:9-11, 19-20, 2:1-10 Luke 1:46-55 Oct 18, 2020 TLC
God answers Hannah: A God of great reversals
Have you ever cut a deal with God in the midst of a struggle? You pray, are deeply distressed, nothing seems to comfort you…your deepest longings have not been fulfilled and you can’t seem to let go of it…so you pray, Lord God, you can do all things…if you give me this one thing, I promise to…… What happened? Did you get what you longed for? How do you understand it now? There are times when God seems silent, like we are knocking on a door where no one will ever answer. God is seemingly deaf to our pleas; the Living God seems to have forgotten us.
Listening to reports of rising infection rates in Canada and the U.S., Republican presidential campaign rallies turning into super-spreader events, people believing conspiracy theories that President Trump did not actually contract COVID-19, that it’s some kind of campaign strategy, meanwhile vaccine trials are going awry and being suspended, such news can lead us to wonder where is God in all of this? What we most long for seems out of reach.
Thinking I was about to hear some good news, I tuned in to witness the victory dance filmed as the team of three Nigerian teens from Ireland won first prize in a Tec Novation World Summit competition with 1500 entries from 62 countries. The young women had risen to the challenge of developing an app that helped solve a problem in their community. When their mentor’s mother died of dementia, they decided to design an app to help promote independence for patients and families living with dementia. And their victory dance for winning went viral. But then a social media post led to their first experience of racism; their mentor, Evelyn Nomayo, a graduate student in technology, tried to shield them from the hatred expressed in the post that included a monkey face, mocking the teens. In her classes, Evelyn says, she is often the only woman and the only person of color. She remains passionate about mentoring these teen girls.
我觉得我需要一些好消息时，我收看了一场胜利之舞，这场胜利之舞是由三名来自爱尔兰的尼日利亚青少年组成的，他们同来自62个国家的1500名参赛者一起参加一项Tec Novation World Summit的竞赛，并赢得了一等奖。这些年轻女性接受了一项挑战，开发一款应用程序帮助解决某个社区问题。当她们导师的母亲死于失智症时，她们就决定设计一款应用程序来帮助失智症患者和他们的家庭提高独立性。她们的胜利之舞在网上传播开来。但随后，一篇社交媒体的帖子让她们第一次体验到种族主义；她们的导师、技术专业的研究生伊芙琳诺马约（Evelyn Nomayo）试图保护她们不受帖子中表达的仇恨的影响，帖子中有一张猴子脸，嘲笑青少年。在她的课堂里，伊芙琳说，她常常是唯一的女性，也是唯一的有色人种。她仍然热衷于指导这些少女。
As we consider the longing of Hannah to conceive a child and dedicate him to God’s purposes in the world, are we not longing for each of our children and grandchildren to have a chance to change a world that tries to drag down teens like Rachel Akano, Margaret Akano and Joy Njekwa. These teens responded to the on-line hatred by singing and playing guitar on social media. Are we not crying out to God, on our knees for the human family to come together to build up young women who pursue careers in technology and science, to show us how to reverse the hatred erupting in response to their achievement? Again, we find ourselves pouring out our heart as we hear about St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School in Ontario, where somehow racist slurs about a gorilla were published in the school yearbook next to Joshua Telemaque’s entry, intended to honor his late grandmother. The school is recalling the yearbooks, but the damage has been done. How will the student body rise up and lift up Joshua after this? Are we equipping the TLC youth to respond with God’s heart to their peers who experience such words? Are we ready to speak up ourselves if faced with this in an offhand comment with friends or family?
当我们看到哈拿渴望怀上一个孩子，并将他奉献给上帝，完成上帝赋予他的在这个世界上的使命，难道我们不渴望我们的每一个子孙都有机会改变一个试图拖垮像瑞秋阿卡诺 (Rachel Akano)、玛格丽特阿卡诺 (Margaret Akano) 和乔伊恩杰克瓦 (Joy Njekwa) 这样的青少年的世界吗？这些青少年们通过在社交媒体上唱歌和弹吉他来回应网上的仇恨。我们难道不是跪着向上帝哭求，让人类这个大家庭走到一起，培养从事科技和科学事业的年轻女性，向我们展示如何扭转因她们的成就而爆发的仇恨吗？再一次，当我们听到在安大略省的圣玛丽天主教中学，在乔舒亚泰勒马奎伊（Joshua Telemaque）意在纪念他已故的祖母的感言旁边，有人发表了对一只大猩猩的种族歧视时，我们发现我们的内心在滴血。学校正在召回年鉴，但巨大的伤害已经造成了。在这之后，学生们会如何应对去鼓励约书亚？我们是否在准备TLC的年轻人，如果他们的同龄人经历了这样的事，他们该如何以上帝的心去回应？如果我们在与朋友或家人的无意交谈中遇到了这样的事，我们自己能否仗义直言?
God’s heart is moved by what is happening in our world today, as we hear Hannah’s song and Mary’s song speak of great reversals, lifting up the lowly, raising up the poor from the dust, scattering the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. Could it be misplaced pride that brings people, including each of us, to even consider ideas that prevent all people from being treated with dignity and respect.
Hannah was beside herself…as the beloved, favored wife of Elkanah, in fact her name Hannah means “favored or gracious.” Yet, she had not been able to conceive a child; her deepest longing had been unmet. To make matters worse, Elkanah’s second wife, Peninnah, whose name means “fertile or prolific”, had not only conceived multiple sons and daughters, but she would taunt Hannah at the annual sacrifice when the whole family traveled to Shiloh…Penninah would provoke Hannah, rubbing it in and never letting her forget that God had not given her children. This went on year after year. Every time she went to the sacred place to meet God, she could expect to be taunted. Hannah was reduced to tears and had no appetite.
Her husband knew her distress and would give her a double portion of the meat from the animal sacrifice, but she refused to eat. Elkanah asked her four questions: “Why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? Why is your heart sad? Am I not worth more than 10 sons to you?”
But Hannah was inconsolable…in deep distress, she went into the sanctuary and wept bitterly, pouring out her heart before God in the presence of the priest Eli. And this is when Hannah cuts a deal with God: If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain, if you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action on my behalf, by giving me a son, I’ll give him back, without reservation, to you. I’ll set him apart for your purposes in the world.
When Eli sees her lips moving with no vocalized prayer, he watches her closely and jumps to the conclusion that she has been drinking too much. Eli then voices his assumption, criticizing her: “How long will you make a spectacle of yourself? You’re drunk! Sober up, woman!”
Hannah says, “Oh no, sir, you’ve got it all wrong. I haven’t been drinking. The only thing I’ve been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out before God. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I’ve stayed here so long.”
Eli says: “Go in peace. May the God of Israel give you what you have asked for.”
Hearing this, we may be tempted to assume that God is like a divine genie in a bottle, “Your wish has been granted.” Assuming that if we are desperate enough or if we promise to make a significant sacrifice once we receive what we’ve asked for, God will give it to us. But there is no formula for prayer in terms of getting what we want. In fact, prayer may be the spark that moves us to change what we see happening in the world, by praying with our feet, as the late US congressman John Lewis did throughout his life, leading to protests on the streets of the American south.
In Hannah’s case, God moves through this boy Samuel to mark a shift in the entire nation of Israel…God isn’t simply granting Hannah her wish, but through Samuel, granting the nation what they’ve been asking for. In her plea a child is born; God’s grace takes the shape of a child conceived in a womb. She names him Samuel, which means “God hears. God listens to our prayer and responds.”
Over the years, I’ve related with many couples who struggle with fertility issues…one couple, marrying later in life, eventually resigned themselves to being childless and giving birth to creative pursuits such as publishing poetry and plays, creating jazz rifts, nurturing the lives of students, while raising dogs. Another couple, both employed as doctors, spent well over $30,000 on fertility treatments to conceive twins. And a third couple found themselves spontaneously conceiving triplets with three children already at home…their family instantly doubled putting a strain on the family system. They ended up hiring a nanny. Each of these couples cried out to God in their desperation…the prayers of each were answered in different ways. When we pray, God is at work in ways that may remain a mystery…answering yes, no, and wait. Looking back on our lives, we may thank God for not giving us what we so desperately wanted.
When Hannah’s plea is answered, she breaks into song. Is there anything these days that makes you break into song?
Let’s look at Hannah’s song (find it by clicking the arrow in the bottom right corner of the YouTube video where the order of service link is. Click on it and you will find the scripture reading for today) …what does she praise God for doing?
God brings death and God brings life, brings down to the grave and raises up. God brings poverty and God brings wealth, God brings low, God also lifts up. God puts poor people on their feet again; rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, restoring dignity and respect giving them a place in the sun! The very structures of the earth are God’s…Hannah sings about how God will set things right all in the world.
We hear this song echoed in Mary’s song…the mother of Jesus. Both Hannah and Mary sing thanks to the God of great reversals. Turning death into life, racism into deep regard for each human being, presidential elections into a way to build up the common good
Could God be at work through ALL THINGS, even death, racist attacks, and presidential elections? Hannah and Mary say, “yes indeed!”
For Hannah, God’s grace takes the shape of a son…I wonder what shape God’s grace will take in our human family, as we pour out our hearts in these desperate times？
Exodus 32:1-14, Luke 23:34 Oct 11, 2020 TLC
God’s Change of Mind
出埃及记32:1-14，路加福音23:34 2020年10月11日 TLC
The people whom God loves have walked a long way into the wilderness and Moses went for a hike up Mount Sinai. He’s been gone a long time; they are done waiting. They feel lonely and afraid. They want Moses to come back but they’re not sure he will. It feels like God has forgotten all about them too. So, they ask Moses’ brother Aaron to make them a god they can follow, someone who will lead them out of the wilderness. Aaron says “give me your gold jewelry…earrings…I’ll melt them down into a calf. When we sing together in a few minutes the picture on the video shows how the calf could’ve looked…like the Egyptian bull god Apis.
It wasn’t until 1990, thirty years ago, that archeologists dug up the first golden calf in Palestine…to their surprise it was only a few inches tall. The calf that Aaron created out of the melted jewelry may have been this size, mounted high for all to see… gold plundered from the Egyptians when they fled, symbolizing the life they used to live; enslaved, powerless.
Asking Aaron to do this, the people were saying they couldn’t trust in a God they cannot see, hear, and touch…When God hears what they did, God is angry…when we get angry at each other, it’s because we love each other and are disappointed. Anger can be one way of saying you care about someone…you just want them to change in some way.
God told Moses “Go down the mountain right now!” This is where the volley starts between God and Moses. “YOUR people whom YOU led out of Egypt have been quick to turn away from me. And I am angry.” But Moses throws the ball back to God, saying “no these are YOUR people whom YOU brought up out of Egypt. Remember you promised to give them many children and grandchildren and to bless all families on the earth through them. Take a deep breath, turn away from your anger and give them another chance to trust you.”
So, God changes God’s mind after taking a breath and decides to give the people a second chance.
As I spend time with several of you each week in physically distant walks, tailgate parties, phone calls, backyard small groups and zoom chats, some of you are finding more time to reflect. This week one of you asked if everything in our lives is pre-determined by God. Does God know all things before they happen, like what we are going to eat for breakfast tomorrow, that we will our sister the silent treatment next week after a big argument, or that the coronavirus would claim over one million lives in 2020? Do we live in what philosophers call a ‘deterministic universe’? Where all outcomes are pre-set: what jobs we are going to get, whom we will marry, how long we live? If so, what does it mean to be in a real relationship with the living God, if everything is pre-determined? Wouldn’t we just be like puppets on a string? Then why even bother to pray?
Moses doesn’t settle for a deterministic universe. We get the inside scoop on his prayer life as Moses courageously stands his ground, arguing with the LORD. The conversation between Moses and the LORD from Exodus is a story about trust. When we trust someone, we are free to argue with them, to persuade, to challenge. Today we hear what a trust relationship between God and human beings sounds like, a living, dynamic relationship. God’s beloved people have finally been set free from slavery in Egypt and they head into the wilderness.
And this is where trust becomes difficult. In the wilderness they face daily uncertainties. What will they eat, and drink, and how long will they be wandering in this vast emptiness? To top it all off, Moses, the guy who challenged Pharaoh’s strangle hold on their necks, Moses has gone for a hike up the mountain. And they have no idea when he’s coming back. Tomorrow, next week, next month, or maybe he’s run away. Moses said they were brought into the wilderness by the LORD’s outstretched hand, but where is the LORD now? Will they be safe? Whom will they run into? Who will protect us from the wild animals? And where the heck is Moses anyway? No phone call, text message, e-mail, not even a smiley face emoji, nothing but emptiness. They are all alone and they cannot bear it. Who is going to show them the way out of the wilderness? What direction do they head next?
So, they say to Aaron, the brother of Moses, “Come, make gods for us.” They will show us the way through. God’s beloved people have decided that Moses, he’s a piece of work, totally unreliable. He led us out of Egypt. But now for days on end he’s MIA, missing in action, might even be dead. We have no way of knowing for sure. But we are done waiting. The emptiness is consuming us. It’s painful and lonely in the wilderness. We miss the life we had before all this happened. We miss Moses. We need a god we can see, touch and rely on. One like the Egyptian bull-god Apis or the Canaanite god Baal.
In their panic to fill the void, the emptiness, they put their trust in something other than the living God. The calf offered a temporary comfort; but it didn’t actually satisfy. The calf couldn’t bring peace. It couldn’t provide a real relationship.
So, the LORD hears what has happened; fuming, says to Moses: Get your hiking boots back on and head down the mountain…YOUR people whom YOU led out of Egypt have been quick to turn aside from the way I taught them. “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are!”
The phrase stiff-necked is something Andrea, who gave me permission to share, has experienced for the last 12 weeks and 4 days. After breaking her neck, she has been living in a neck brace…unable to turn to the left, right, up, down…no playing guitar and singing, no digging in the garden, or picking up her grandbabies. It really does limit her vision…Andrea has had to sit in another position at the dinner table in order to see her husband Larry. She literally cannot see what’s going on around her.
In Exodus, the phrase stiff-necked refers to more than the physical limitation; it speaks of an orientation to life. The LORD describes people as ‘stiff-necked’ who tried to stuff a calf into the god-shaped emptiness in their lives. These people are stuck looking one direction, unable to see a way to live in the wilderness. They cannot bear the emptiness carved out among them in the wilderness. They stubbornly refuse or are simply not able to see: the LORD is with and for them in the emptiness. So, they say to Aaron, “Come, make gods for us” to fill the emptiness and lead us out of the wilderness.
We may prefer to think of God as unchanging…an all-knowing and all-powerful reality upon whom we can rely. But the dialog between Moses and God challenges both of these character traits of the Great I AM…why would God change if God knows all things that are to happen? When the Lord complains about how stiff-necked the people are, the Lord continues saying “Now let me alone, …. I will consume them and start over with just you…make a great nation of you, Moses. But Moses refuses to let the Lord alone…Moses leans in asking why are so angry? These are YOUR beloved people, whom YOU brought out of Egypt. Moses reminds the Lord that the people belong to the Lord, not to Moses. Going one step further, Moses asks ‘what will the neighbours say?’. The Egyptians will think you brought them into the wilderness to kill them. What will they say if YOUR people die? Going yet another step…you promised to multiply YOUR people like the stars in the sky.…you cannot keep this promise if you wipe them out and move forward only with me.
The Lord’s mind is changed, deciding not to destroy the people out of anger… God is moved, persuaded by Moses’ prayers, influenced by interaction with human beings, where is the all-powerful, omniscient character of God? God is willing to share power with Moses, with human beings…including you.
Some of us grew up afraid of God’s anger…we don’t want to do, say or think anything that would make God angry…fearing we may be punished or rejected forever. Others of us wonder if God is even a reality in our daily lives, if prayer makes any difference. Some of us wonder if God even cares, if God has power to change any outcomes.
Today, Oct 8th Betty Nixon celebrates her 90th birthday today and this week I had a chance to visit with her on the phone. Betty said, “I always thought 90 would be so old, but being 90 isn’t so bad.” When I asked if we could record a zoom call with her so you all could see and hear her, she said “people would just see my wrinkles.” Then she paused and said, “Pastor, I’ve earned every wrinkle.” Betty has been led into the wilderness many times throughout her life with the untimely death of many loved ones. Through the grace of God, she has not stuffed a golden calf into the empty space carved out by grief. She has waited; the LORD has shown up to be with and for her. Most recently through her neighbour Fay, who moved in a year ago and ever since has been a reminder that God is with and for Betty. Fay drops by with meals and in countless other ways, shows Betty that she has not been forgotten, that she is not alone. The pandemic has postponed the plan for a family reunion and birthday party, but Betty accepts that. The pandemic is just an inconvenience. She facetimes with her grandson every Friday night. And until August her daughter bought her groceries. But now Betty puts on her mask and grocery shops for herself. She misses her church family but loves watching the weekly worship video, saying “it is what it is.”
Has God abandoned us in the wilderness of the pandemic because we cannot gather to sing and hug, share bread, wine, coffee and treats as a community? Definitely not! In the wilderness, God’s beloved people hadn’t moved to the place of trusting the LORD, the Living God, the One who delivers all who are oppressed. But nevertheless, the LORD, an unseen reality, at work in, with and through all created things, including regular, sinful people like Moses. Remember, Moses murdered an Egyptian slave master who was beating a Hebrew slave. The LORD is at work, giving us every breath, listening to our every prayer, collecting every tear, and responding as we pray, even changing God’s mind, changing what happens in the world to bring us all together, to preserve life.
Exodus 12:1-13, 13:1-8, Luke 22:14-20 What is Your Egypt? Oct 4, 2020 TLC
Context in Exodus: In today’s reading from Exodus we come alongside the Israelites, a people that has grown to two million, starting from Joseph and his eleven brothers who took refuge in Egypt many generations before, during a great famine. After three centuries of co-habituating with the Egyptians, this generation of Israelites have become enslaved under the most recent Pharaoh. And God has sent Moses to deliver the people from slavery, saying to Pharaoh: “let my people go!” This is what convinces Pharaoh to let the people go.
This was the final plague that convinced Pharaoh, with the
death of his firstborn son, to heed Moses’ request. With a loud cry throughout
Egypt, Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night and said, “Rise
up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites. Go, worship the Lord,
as you said. Take your flocks and your herds and be gone
. And bring a
blessing on me too!” So, the Israelites, flee out of Egypt into the
wilderness. Bringing their unleavened bread because they were driven out of
Egypt with no time for it to rise... every year, an annual festival is
established to remember, how the Lord brought them out of Egypt, the house of
Rabbi Jesus, a Jewish teacher, gathers his followers for their final Passover festival meal. This feast is how they remember moving from bondage to the wilderness, eating bitter herbs, roasted lamb, unleavened bread. On this night, Jesus is arrested.
What is your Egypt?
This week I bumped into grandparents, Graham and Val, on a walk at Deas Island Park. We talked openly about the struggle of living in isolation from friends and family. While things had opened up over the summer, allowing families to gather safely, Val said now they can no longer see their kids and grandkids because they are exposed to a cohort of classmates at school with potential virus transmission. Prime Minister Trudeau, in his recent throne speech, talked about potential cancellation of Thanksgiving due to increasing infection rates. Doug Ford has already closed bars, restaurants, restricting chances for people to escape isolation. The social isolation as a result of the pandemic can feel like being trapped, enslaved, cut off from life-giving relationships.
Last Sunday, I loaded up my wheelbarrow and shovel into my ‘new’ 2014 Honda Fit, just to see if it would work, since these compact cars boast a generous load capacity…and to my surprise it all fit! I headed to Cougar Canyon to join the mask-wearing volunteers to shovel and haul woodchip mulch along the hiking trail next to the creek bed for spawning salmon. The mulch will prevent further erosion in the rainy season and prepare for the seedling planting next weekend. I joined a team of strangers whose families have immigrated to Canada from India, China and Europe, ages 7 to 75. And after shoveling my first wheelbarrow full of mulch, I was trying to maneuver over a rock and the wheel fell off of my wheelbarrow. The nut and washer had fallen off of the bolt. The Dad and son behind me noticed it and we all began to look for the nut in the leaves and woodchips along the trail. Another grandmother a few steps back carrying a bucket full of mulch, glanced down and found the nut. We couldn’t believe it. What are the chances. Then Jay, the man in front of me knelt down and started putting it all back together with his gloved hands, since we didn’t have a wrench or plyers. He managed to get it tight enough to keep hauling another couple of hours. The Dad and son then checked their bolt and realized his wheel had nearly fallen off. Getting outside, forming a cooperative team with strangers for the sake of spawning salmon, delivered me out of Egypt. Out of social isolation.
上个星期天，我把手推车和铲子装进了我的2014款本田飞度（Honda Fit），只是想看看它是否能装进去，因为这些紧凑型车号称有着宽大的载重量……令我惊讶的是，既然装进去了！我前往Cougar Canyon，与戴着口罩的志愿者一起，沿着小河床旁的徒步小径铲运木片覆盖物。覆盖物将防止雨季时的侵蚀，并为下周末播种做准备。我加入了一个小组，他们是从印度、中国和欧洲移民到加拿大，年龄在7岁到75岁之间。在铲完我第一辆装满地膜的独轮车后，我在一块岩石上移动，结果轮子从我的独轮车上掉了下来。螺母和垫圈从螺栓上掉下来了。我身后的父子俩注意到了，我们开始沿着小路寻找树叶和木片中的螺母。另一位祖母背着一桶满满的地膜，朝下看了一眼，发现了这个螺母。我们简直不敢相信这个可能性。然后杰伊，在我前面的一个人跪下来，开始用把所有的东西重新组装起来，但因为我们没有扳手或夹钳他设法把它弄得足够紧，能再拖几个小时。这对父子随后检查了他们的螺栓，意识到他们的车轮也几乎快掉下来了。到了外面，为了产卵，和陌生人组成了一个合作小组，把我带出了埃及。脱离孤独的生活。
What is your Egypt? What is it these days that traps you, snags you, keeps you in bondage, turned in upon yourself? Slavery in Egypt kept the Israelites from being fully human. Living under oppression robs human beings of life. Social injustice around the world has led to many people suffering severe illness and dying from the coronavirus. The wealthy can afford better food and housing, have less exposure to industrial pollutants, more access to recreation spaces and in health care. The lowest paying jobs, many of which lead to greater risk of exposure to the virus, are filled by those who don’t have access to adequate health care, have developed hypertension, diabetes, obesity that make them more vulnerable. The inequities amongst us have become more visible with the virus.
This story of the exodus out of Egypt is the central story in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible and it drives our understanding of what Jesus has done for the world, dying and rising. On the cross, Jesus has set the world free from slavery to the ultimate power of sin, death and evil. As followers of Christ, washed in the waters of baptism, we die and rise with Christ, we are set free from bondage to anything that keeps us from living as God’s own beloved. In our baptism, we are given the power to work for the flourishing of the world. It’s what our Jewish brothers and sisters call the on-going repair of the world (tikkun olam). Shoveling mulch into a wheelbarrow for the sake of salmon is one way of repairing the world. Calling up someone who is isolated at home for a meaningful conversation is another. In what ways is God drawing you to repair the world?
In Exodus, as the Israelites flee slavery in Egypt, they discover the answer to the question: who is God? God is the One who delivers the people from oppression, in every time and place. That includes you, me, everyone vulnerable to the virus because of social injustice. The Lord establishes an annual festival in order to re-member, to re-live, to participate in this deliverance, in the experience of moving from slavery in Egypt into the wilderness. “Remember this day on which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, because the Lord brought you out from there by strength of hand; no leavened bread shall be eaten.” (Exodus 13:3) Eating unleavened bread for seven days, concluding with a festival when the whole community gathers to tell the story once again how the Israelites were brought out of Egypt.
This is how we pass on to the next generation the good news about who God is: gather together, tell the story our Deliverer. The One who sets us free from whatever holds us down from trusting God and loving others. “You shall tell your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” (Exodus 13:8) So what the Lord did generations ago for the Israelites, God did for me. I came out of Egypt. And our Deliverer is still at work right now today, for you bringing you out of Egypt. For teachers, students, essential workers, transit drivers, restaurant employees, who face exposure to the virus daily. The promise of Passover has been passed down through the generations to us, the promise to deliver us out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, out of whatever entraps us, snags us, holds us captive, enslaved.
This festival is called Pass-over; because the angel of death passed over the homes of the Israelites so that the firstborn human beings and animals did not die. A “loud cry goes up in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.” (Exodus 13:30b) All the firstborn in Egyptian households perish, including Pharaoh’s son. The divine violence at the center of this story is troubling…it was for ancient readers as well. In the Talmud, a collection of Jewish writings that expound on the Old Testament with creative license, a passage recounts God rebuking the angels in heaven because they want to sing praise while the Egyptians, who are also God’s creatures, perish in the sea (Megilla, 10b). One way of thinking about the angel of death is that Pharaoh is reaping what he has sown. When Moses was born, Pharaoh was threatened by the growing population of the Israelites. Pharaoh orders Hebrew midwives to kill the baby boys upon birth, but they refuse. So, Pharaoh employs all Egyptian people in genocide, ordering them to throw Hebrew boys into the Nile River. Pharaoh is an instrument of death and has become an enemy of God. The final plague, resulting in the death of the first born, is God’s way of defeating this oppressive ruler.
As the Israelites prepare the lamb to roast, if a family couldn’t afford a lamb, another family stepped up to share what they had. The families from different homes joined together to prepare and eat the roasted lamb. Not unlike multi-family households and Co-Ops throughout Vancouver that make housing more affordable for everyone. The Bible is committed to the good of the community as a whole, not generally focused on the rights of individuals. In the news this week, you heard the protests in the Strathcona neighbourhood of Vancouver. Neighbours spoke on behalf of their homeless neighbours who need adequate showers, washrooms, shelter and protection from violence. These neighbours are giving voice to God’s heart for the homeless, by urging city officials to allocate funds and commit to the good of the whole community. Ellen Davis, Hebrew Bible scholar, says that Egypt’s economy was built on a whole lotta food produced on the backs of the poor, and enjoyed almost exclusively by the very rich. The ‘have-nots’ were enslaved to the ‘haves’. The Israelites fled this system and head into the wilderness. The wilderness taught them to trust in God as deliverer and provider of food, as they escaped through the Red Sea and found manna on the ground each morning. In order to do this, they have to leave certain ways of thing behind…. hoarding, like we’ve done with toilet paper and yeast during the pandemic, and scarcity, the idea that there is not enough for everyone. What might it look like for you to move into the wilderness, leaving hoarding and scarcity behind, in your daily practices and way of thinking?
What is your Egypt? No matter what shape Egypt takes for you these days, through the dying and rising of Christ, God is at work behind the scenes to deliver you, to raise you up from the depths and bring you home, home to yourself as God’s own beloved. From this place we are called to mend the world, one shovel at a time, one zoom gathering at a time, one phone call at a time, as our Deliverer is at work to bring us all home together.
Genesis 37:3-8, 17b-22, 26-34, 50:15-21 Sept 27, 2020 TLC
Here Comes This Dreamer: Transforming our pain
The story of Joseph, fueled by envy and fear, reminds us that the Bible is full of family dysfunction, not unlike the families into which we are born. Joseph’s father Jacob fuels the envy by gifting the son of his old age with a long-sleeved coat, what a modern-day musical call the “coat of many colors”. This coat was his father’s way of saying “you are my favorite above all other sons.” Seeing their brother in this coat was a daily reminder, that the brothers would never measure up compared to Joseph. In the ancient world, people didn’t have walk-in closets full of clothing for every day of the week. A single piece of clothing was handmade to fit only you, out of woven material that was shorn from or sewn from an animal hide; it took a long time to create and would be worn daily until it fell apart.
As the brothers saw their father loved Joseph more, they grew to hate him, and wouldn’t even talk to him. They tried to block him out of their lives. As a teen, we don’t know if Joseph was arrogant or naïve, but regardless at seventeen, he told his brothers about his dream and they hated him even more: ‘We were all out in the field gathering bundles of wheat. All of a sudden my bundle stood straight up, and your bundles circled around it and bowed down to me.’ The dream ignited the hate and fear of his brothers, for not only did their father favor Joseph, but God seemed to be on his side as well.
Even his father reprimanded him about the dream… “What’s with all this dreaming? Am I and your mother and your brothers all supposed to bow down to you?” His father stewed over this and sent Joseph out to find his brothers pasturing his sheep. Tracking them down in Dothan, his brothers see him from a distance, plotting to kill him. Most of us cannot relate with these blood-thirsty brothers…we may have envy, resentment, and bitterness toward others, including our family members, but we could not imagine becoming violent with them to the point of bloodshed or death.
As I read the Joseph story this week, I was drawn to Rueben. He is the well-intentioned older brother. He tries to talk his brothers down…saying shed no blood. ‘Go ahead and throw him into this cistern out here in the wild, but don’t hurt him.’ Rueben thought ‘I’ll go back later and get him out and take Joseph back to his father.’ But when the slave traders come by, Judah says ‘hey, we’re not getting anything out of killing Joseph and hiding the evidence. Let’s make some money off of him…sell him for profit.’
Reuben wants to rescue his brother. But when Rueben realizes he’s too late, that Joseph is no longer in the pit, his vision of himself as triumphant deliverer of his brother in a crisis, vaporizes. And his focus is not “where is my brother?” but rather, “and I, where can I go?” Rueben doesn’t know where to turn except into himself. “Instead of confessing to his father what happened, Rueben goes along with the lie his brothers tell. Isn’t this more like us? We have good intentions, but we get caught up in forces larger than ourselves, losing our power in the midst of it all.” (Jacqueline Lapsley, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Princeton University)
This story of Joseph being thrown into a pit of darkness, is told during Hannukah in Jewish communities every December, the darkest time of the year. When we find ourselves moving through dark times…where we get caught up in forces larger than ourselves, struggle with depression and anxiety, try to navigate life without a loved one by our side, or wait two weeks for a face-to-face conversation with our loved one in a care home, we may wonder if the dark times will yield anything?
The cross of Christ says: We come to God not through our strength but through our weakness, through our pain, our desperation, in dark times.
If you were to name the Christian religion, what would you call it? Richard Rohr says he probably call it “‘the way of the wound.’ Jesus agrees to be the Wounded One, and we trust in the wounded healer. If you were going to create a religion, would you think of creating, as your religious image, a naked, bleeding, wounded man? It is the most unlikely image for God, (the all-powerful One.) None of us in our wildest imagination would’ve come up with it. It must expose a central problem of human existence for God to come into the world in this form and in this way. Sadly, we Christians have become accustomed to the cross—perhaps we have domesticated it—and we no longer receive the shock and the scandal of all that image of failure is saying. Being wounded, suffering and dying (to our ego) are the quickest and most sure paths to truly living.” (Richard Rohr Sept 18, 2020 digital meditation) Avoiding our pain is the path to addiction. Denying our pain, we project it elsewhere and inflict it onto others. Which are you choosing these days?
如果你给基督教取名，你会怎么称呼它？理查德罗尔（Richard Rohr）说他可能称之为“伤口之路”。耶稣同意成为受伤者，而我们信任受伤的治疗者。如果你要创造一种宗教，你会考虑创造一个裸体的，流血的，受伤的人作为你的宗教形象吗？对于上帝（全能者）来说，这是最不可能的形象。在我们的想象中，我们谁也不会想到。上帝以这种形式以这种方式来到这个世界上，必须揭露人类存在的一个重点问题。可悲的是，我们基督徒已经习惯了十字架，也许我们已经驯服了十字架，我们不再受到失败的形象所说的震惊和丑闻。受伤，受苦和死亡（对我们的自我而言）是通往真正生活的最快、最可靠的道路。”（Richard Rohr，2020年9月18日数字冥想）避免痛苦是上瘾的途径。否认我们的痛苦，我们把它投射到别处，然后强加给别人。这些天你选哪一个？
These past couple weeks, until torrential rainfall, we had been walking around in smoke. The smell and sight of destruction blown in by wildfires in California, Washington and Oregon…untold loss of human, animal and plant life. Last week writer Terry Tempest Williams gave voice to our grieving hearts by crafting these words: “With these ashes in hand that have fallen from near and far on the drought-cracked desert of Utah, I raise my fist to a smoke-choked sky to honor the holy creatures, human and wild, who have lost their lives and homes to the galloping flames like rider-less horses burning through the West…there is no place to run. There is no place to hide. There is only our love and grief to hold us in the terror of all we are seeing, sensing, denying. We can’t touch the source of our despair because we can’t touch each other. And so we retreat inside when everything outside is screaming…no one is reporting the smells of burnt fur or feathers or leaves…not even…biologists in New Mexico who are picking up the bodies of hundreds of thousands of migrating birds in mixed flocks of warblers, flycatchers, sparrows and finches found dead on the ground in Great White Sands…forced to flee the forest before their bodies were fattened ready to make the long journeys south….we have constructed a dream. We have cajoled and seduced ourselves into believing we are the center of all things; with plants and other sentient beings from ants to lizards to coyotes and grizzly bears, remaining subservient to our whims, desires and needs. This is a lethal lie...” (A Burning Testament, Mid-September 2020 New York Times) Terry’s words make me weep for all creation impacted by the fires and for our role in the climate crisis. We are walking in dark times together.
在过去的几周里，在暴雨之前，我们一直在烟雾中行走。加利福尼亚、华盛顿和俄勒冈州的野火带来了毁灭性的气味和景象……无数人、动物和植物的生命损失。上周，作家特里•坦佩斯特•威廉姆斯（Terry Tempest Williams）为我们的悲伤之心倾诉了自己的心声：“当这些灰烬从犹他州干旱的沙漠中从四面八方掉落下来时，我举起拳头向烟雾弥漫的天空致敬，他们无论是人类还是野生动物，都在奔腾的火焰中失去了生命和家园…没有地方可以奔跑。无处藏身。只有我们的爱和悲伤把我们困在我们所看到、感知、否认的恐惧中。我们无法接触绝望的根源，因为我们无法接触彼此。所以当外面的一切都在尖叫的时候，我们就缩回到家里面去……没有人报告说有烧焦的毛皮、羽毛或树叶的气味……甚至……新墨西哥州的生物学家正在收集成千上万只候鸟的尸体，这些候鸟是莺、捕蝇草，麻雀和雀鸟都死在大白沙地上……被迫逃离森林 ……我们构建了一个梦想。我们诱使自己相信我们是一切事物的中心，植物和其他生物从蚂蚁到蜥蜴到郊狼和灰熊，都服从于我们的冲动、欲望和需要。这是一个致命的谎言……（一份燃烧的遗嘱，2020年9月中旬，纽约时报）特里的话让我为所有受火灾影响的造物主和我们在气候危机中所扮演的角色而哭泣。我们一起在黑暗中行走。
Joseph’s brothers threw him into the darkness, taking away his dignity, selling him as a slave.
By the time the brothers see him again, Joseph has risen to second in command of Egypt, seated next to Pharaoh, the most powerful in the land. From the darkness of the pit to the right side of the throne, Joseph has somehow been able to grieve. With his father’s death and proper burial amongst his ancestors in the land of Canaan, Joseph allowed space for great and sorrowful lamentation, pouring out his pain for seven days of mourning.
His brothers don’t know what’s changed in Joseph. They are afraid that Joseph will lash back at them: “What if he still holds a grudge against us?” Perhaps even lying again about their father’s dying wish, his brothers beg him for forgiveness. Joseph’s teenage dream seems to be coming true! The bundles of wheat all bowing before him. This is the moment he’s been waiting for…but then something happens that changes everything.
Tears begin to fall down Joseph’s face. He lets go as the tears fall…he lets go of resentment over being brutally rejected and enslaved so that his brothers could make a profit off of him and gain their father’s favor. He lets go of bitterness over the lie his brothers told his father, who lived with unspeakable grief over his son’s supposed death. Joseph lets go of the right to get even. He feels the pain, born out of his life circumstances. And by doing so he finds a new way of being with his enemies. He finds himself standing in a new place.
Weeping with him, his brothers cry out, “We are here as your slaves!” This is deja-vu! His brothers all bowing to the ground. But Joseph is compelled in another direction by the many tears he’s shed to get to this place in his life. So instead he says to his brothers: “Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God?” Joseph rejects his dream. He refuses to become Lord over his brothers as he says, “Even though you intended to harm me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve life. So have no fear, I myself will provide for you and your little ones.”
“Most of us are like electric wires: what comes in is what goes out. Someone calls us a name and we call them a name back. That is, most people pass on the same energy that is given to them. Now compare an electric wire to those big, grey transformers that you see on utility poles. Dangerous current or voltage comes in, but something happens inside that grey box and what comes out is in fact, now helpful and productive. That is exactly what Jesus does with suffering.
Jesus doesn’t return the violence thrown at him—not during his life nor when he hung on the cross. He absorbed the blows against him. That is how ‘he took away the sin of the world.’ He refused to pass it on!” (Richard Rohr Sept 18, 2020 Daily Digital meditation)
Back in 1968 in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death, his beloved community wrote the words of Joseph’s brothers on the hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. King was killed: “Here comes this dreamer. Let’s see what becomes of his dreams….”
What are God’s dreams for the human family struggling under the weight of the climate crisis, the weight of racial injustice, the weight of a second wave of COVID19…could it be the power to make God’s dream for the human family a reality starts with our tears.
Narrative Lectionary, 16 a (September 20, 2020) TLC, Delta BC
记叙文选集，16 a（2020年9月20日）TLC，Delta BC
Texts –Genesis 15:1-6 (7-21) with Luke 3:8 in the b.g.
O precious ones of God, grace to you and peace from God the Creator, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in One. Amen.
Promises, promises... As an old saying goes, promises are a dime a dozen or maybe now a loonie for a hundred and ten. If you doubt me ponder these realities. Each week my wife purchases what I would call a “Woman’s” magazine at the local grocery store. Often I scan the front page. Quite often it includes headings like this “Examples – LOSE 40 POUNDS A MONTH by just drinking this or eating that. And then there are those amazing before and after pictures. There’s a promise. Or do you remember any of the election campaigns you have lived through? They go something like this. “If you will just vote for this candidate or this party” well just about all of the problems of our town or city, province or country will be solved. Just trust us. We will do the rest.
All advertising thrives on promises and the human desire to do better, look better or feel better. Of course, we know the promises will not necessarily be kept even though they are vigorously made. From wedding rings, “THE GIFT OF A LIFETIME”, to gym workouts, “Live longer and healthier, so that you can be happier”, to hucksters using religious claims asserting that if you just join their way of believing about god, their television, radio or podcast “community”– well all your financial, relationship problems will end and you will be RICHLY blessed with a pronounced emphasis on RICHLY.
Promises are all around us. As we grow older (and maybe a little wiser?) we realize that many of the promises may not be kept. Or if the promises are kept there are consequences to us and others. So, we become and often rightly so, wary of promises. We honestly ask ourselves, how can we know that any promise will be kept? That is, how can we know that the one making the promise is trustworthy?
2. Can you identify? Have you ever had a promise made – that hasn’t been kept? Have you ever made promises that you haven’t kept – to others, to yourself? I mean, seriously”
I remember my closest friend’s father, John. John contracted bone cancer in his late 40’s. He was a business owner. He was married with 3 sons, ages 20, 18 and 13. He was blessed with faith, a faith that made a difference in his life. He also still wanted to live. He and his family sought treatments near and far, travelling even to the southern United States and Mexico. Eventually John came home and died. He was 49. In some ways his family was disappointed at the lack of hope from some of the promises they had heard in the various treatments.
I have watched couples make solemn but joyful promises on their wedding day. I have no doubt that they have every intention of fulfilling these promises. They may have some inkling of how difficult and worthwhile the promises they make are to keep. Over the course of my nearly 40 years as a Pastor I would dare say about 30 % of these marriages, end in separation and divorce. Most of these people tried very hard to keep their promises but reached a point where for a variety of reasons they could no longer live together.
As people, human beings, it’s often easy to make promises. The words of promise may slide from our lips. But it’s oh so difficult to keep them. Again, think about New Year’s resolutions. There is something fundamental to our humanity that limits our capacity, our willingness to make sacrifices, even to be changed in order to keep our promises. Part of that is our mortality. Part of it is our brokenness – our refusal to admit that sometimes we are wrong, that always we are not God. In addition to all of this we also live with changing circumstances around us that are beyond our control. I had hoped to be with my father when he died but as he was dying I found myself in Moncton New Brunswick, while he was in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I go on three planes as quickly as I could beginning at 5 AM. But my dad died before I even landed in Winnipeg.
作为人，许承诺往往很容易。承诺的话可能会从我们的嘴边滑落。但是很难遵守它们。再次，想想新年的决议。我们人性中有一些基本的东西限制了我们的能力，我们做出牺牲的意愿，甚至为了实现我们的承诺而改变自己。其中一部分原因是我们的死亡。还有一部分原因是我们的心碎 - 我们拒绝承认我们有错的时候，我们不是上帝。除此之外，我们还生活在无法控制的变化的环境中。我本来希望在我父亲去世时前能和他在一起，但当他快死的时候，我发现自己在蒙克顿New Brunswick，而他在萨斯喀彻温省的Prince Albert。我从早上5点开始，以最快的速度乘三架飞机。但我爸爸在我到达温尼伯之前就死了。
3. Abram knew about promises – and the difficulty of them being kept (see Genesis 12:1) The LORD God had made incredible promises to he and his wife Sarai. They were to go from all that they knew, their homeland, Haran, in order to be particularly blessed by the LORD God with a land, and become a great nation, even a blessing to others. Now Abram may not have been sure about all of what this blessing to others may have meant, but a land for his descendants and a great nation of his descendants sure sounded good.
So, Abram and Sarai obey God and leave home, with a certain degree of trust and hope in God’s promises. And many good things had happened in the years since that promise. But years had passed. Now Abram and Sarai are old – I mean really old. And still they don’t have even one child. So, what good are all these other blessings, this stuff. Many descendants? They don’t even have one.
I don’t know about you. But sometimes I am appalled by Abram’s behaviour. Like when he passes his beloved wife, Sarai, off to the Pharaoh of Egypt, as his sister, to save his own skin. Can you imagine? Gee, thanks honey. . . That’s truly appalling. But at other times I admire Abram’s words and action. Today’s text is one of those times.
Abram dares to call God out on God’s promise. Abram complains directly to God. Do we see that this honest complaining when God, from our perspective, is not delivering on God’s promises, is more than OK? Basically Abram says – yah, you are promising a great reward, but what exactly is that? Right now, after ALL THESE YEARS of Sarai and I wondering around, at YOUR BEHEST, of at least trying to do what YOU TOLD US TO DO, well we still don’t have ANY KIDS. So just how it is we are going to be a great nation, have a land and be a blessing to others? Right now, my slave will be my heir.
4. Amazingly, God hears Abram’s direct complaint and responds. Now, God makes an even greater promise. God tells Abram, no slave will be your heir but your own child. Do we see how directly this promise flies in the face of the present evidence, of any human logic?
The promise is grandiose. God takes Abram out into an unclouded night sky, not in Vancouver or Beijing or any city where light pollution dulls the night sky. Now Abram sees the expanse of the milky way. The LORD God says count them Abram – and Abram, of course, can’t. And then the LORD God has the audacity to say – “Well so shall your descendants be – greater in number than these” . . . Wow
5. But what do we, what can we make of this grandiose promise? We must see and hear the promise in the light of all the evidence that is to the contrary of the promise being fulfilled. Abram and Sarai are both old. Let me tell you they have been having what younger people today would call “unprotected” sex for decades – and nothing, nada, has been the result. They have been living with what they would call their ‘barrenness’ “forever”.
Abram could have said – may have even thought, ARE YOU NUTS LORD? Do you think I was born yesterday? It hasn’t been happening. We’ve had this promise for years and NADA.
亚伯兰可以选择说 - 也许会想，你疯了吗，上帝？你认为我是昨天出生的吗？一直没发生过。我们拥有这个承诺已经很多年了。
But somehow, amazingly, that isn’t Abram’s response this time. Here the text isn’t completely clear here as to who renders who as righteous. The Hebrew text says “And he believed the LORD and he reckoned it to him as righteousness. Whether or not the second he is the LORD reckoning Abram as righteous, that is a trusting relationship with God or whether Abram reckoned the LORD as being righteous, that is actually being God and therefore the ONE who can keep the promises that One has just made – is of secondary importance. What matters is that Abram somehow is enabled to trust that God is God! And that dear people is amazing since it flies in the face of at least some of what Abram is experiencing as an old man, who as many old men do, begin to seriously reckon with our mortality. Abram realizes deep within his being, that through his own power these promises that God is making cannot and will not be ever kept. But Abram also begins to trust that God somehow and, in some way, will keep these promises, bring them into reality...
The book of Genesis tells us that some 14 years later, Abram and Sarai are gifted with a son. They name him laughter, ISAAC, for a whole host of reasons.
6. Let me ask, what about us, you and me?? Are we able to trust God – the promise maker, the self-proclaimed PROMISE KEEPER?
In profound ways this is the question of our living and of our dying. Such trusting – I mean actually trusting God in how we live and move and have our being, is anything but easy...
Think about that. Wrestle with it in terms of your daily decisions. If you are young – how will you choose a vocation – what you want to do with your life. Is that decision all about how much money you will make, what others will think of you? If you are beginning relationships, how will you choose a life partner? Indeed what are your goals today whether you are 16 or 26, or 46 or 86? If you don’t have goals, well is that not part of following Jesus? Yes, where is God in all of this? Don’t you think that God wants to provide us with direction, inspiration, hope, courage?
想想看。在你的日常决策中想想。如果你还年轻 - 你将如何选择一个职业 - 你想在你的一生中做什么。这个决定跟挣多少钱，别人会怎么看你有关吗？如果你刚开始恋爱，你会如何选择生活的伴侣？不管你是16岁还是26岁，还是46岁或86岁，你今天的目标是什么？如果你没有目标，那不是跟随耶稣的一部分吗？是的，在这一切中上帝在哪里？难道你不认为上帝会给我们指引方向、灵感、希望和勇气吗？
Remember we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in ongoing relationships with the earth and all her creatures, including other human beings, other uniquely God breathed pieces of star dust who share so much with us.
Today, as we attempt to live our lives in the smoky haze that reminds of our interconnectedness with the earth and how we have so often abused her, as we examine and sometimes revel in or struggle the relationships we are blessed to be part of with other people, do we hear and see God’s promises not only to Abram and Sarai but also to us?
Again and again these words from God echo throughout history – Do not be afraid. I am with you. I am your sword and shield. I am sending you a COMFORTER.
7. Dear people – there are promises all around us. Some of them, maybe even many of them aren’t worth a puff of dust in a windstorm. But there are those promises which when made by the ONE who is trustworthy that we are called to live our lives from and in.
亲爱的人们 - 我们周围全是承诺。有些承诺，也许甚至很多承诺都不值在暴风雨中的一扫风尘。但有些承诺，从那个可信赖的人许下来的，就是召唤我们去过生活。
How can we know that one is trustworthy? Examine their actions. Do they match their words – I love you! I am with you? For sure there are questions. They are valid.
我们如何知道一个人是值得信赖的？检查他们的行为。他的行为和说的话是否相符 - 我爱你！我和你在一起？当然还有问题。它们的存在是有愿意的。
8. This One who makes Abram and Sarai promises follows through on those promises not only to them but to and for all people. There are descendants. There is a land. And they are a blessing to all.
The climax of this follow through is God taking on our vulnerable human flesh, suffering, dying and being raised to show us not only that Abram and Sarai’s barrenness doesn’t have the final word, – but here it is – that the significant power of death and evil experience definitive limits in the very face of the powerful and loving God, who ultimately overcomes death and evil.
9. I deeply realize that we live with all kinds of struggles – from life sucking illnesses that may well claim our lives and the lives of those we love here and now, to systemic racism that has held countless millions down, too often when we haven’t even been aware of our privilege and actions that have hurt others, to the crushing disappointments of many human relationships, to the results of our collective selfishness and grabbing after more. These struggles and wrongs often tempt us to trust only what we can see, feel and touch ourselves or maybe even nothing or no one at all.
10. But Abram and Sarai imperfectly flesh out for us, that God has wondrous plans for God’s wondrous creation. That plan, that dream often involves pain, and suffering but God is moving us, any and all who will be moved to embrace this promise, new life and ongoing hope.
Look up and see the stars even if you have to go outside of the city. Or as the Psalmist implores us, “Be still and know that God is God!” Look to the cross and see there the One who loves us beyond anything we could ever deserve or on our own hope for. There is God our life and our hope – the PROMISE KEEPER.
O Lord we believe help our unbelief. For Christ’s sake, Amen.
Genesis 2: 4a-7, 15-17, 3:1-8 We Are All Interconnected…how do we live out of this reality?
创世纪2:4a-7，15-17，3:1-8 我们都是相互联系的… 我们如何在这个现实里生活？
Kids’ Message: Runaway Bunny
These ancient words alive among us this morning from Genesis, words first put together from three different sources (Jahwist, Elohist and Priestly editors) six centuries before the birth of Christ when God’s beloved people were living in exile in Babylon, to offer them hope that God hadn’t abandoned them; they would one day return home. As I talk with many of you who remain at home under the social restrictions of the coronavirus, you are physically well, a bit bored since you cannot get out and about as you once did. But your kids bring your groceries and you keep in touch with them by phone or computer. Others of you returned to work or some hybrid form of it several months ago and have adapted to restrictions. Many of you are stressed as your kids return to school, some having chosen distance learning to keep your kids safe at home. Life with the coronavirus is like living in exile, where nothing is familiar anymore and things change daily to keep everyone safe. We all wonder when will things go back to normal? Many of you have said you’d welcome a chance to come worship, pastor, ‘when things are normal.’ Likely we will never go back to the way things were…this is a chance for us to trust God to help us reorient to a new way of being together.
I don’t know about you, but I find people starved for meaningful human interaction. We are all a lot like Adam, no surprise, right…that’s the point of this narrative…to find our common ground with our human ancestors. ‘Adam…the human being made from the dust of the ground, into whose nostrils God blew the breath of life. God discovered with Adam that it wasn’t good for human beings to be alone. Forming all the animals, bringing them to the earth creature, the dirt man, and naming the animals wasn’t enough. Adam needed a helper…not a subordinate, but someone who could help him work, to tend to the land, to serve the ground. This is the fundamental relationship between ‘Adam and ‘adamah, the earth creature and the earth. We are all called to be groundskeepers.
This week we heard the mayor of Ucluelet crying out to those visiting their beaches to be groundskeepers rather than trashing the place. As young people desperately seek human connection, gathering at illegal campsites overnight, even human feces have been found at some of the party spots along the ocean. We are all called to be groundskeepers.
Last weekend, on our intergenerational fishing outing on the Harrison River, I met a family out walking their new three-month-old German shepherd pup…Mom, Dad and seven-year-old son were spending the day with their grandmother. As I stopped to visit, asking about their pup, they said friends told them not to get a puppy because the dog training classes were booked for months. But Dad said they got a dog for their sanity as a family…gives their son a chance to take care of another living creature and they are all amused by the pup’s playfulness. Mom is clearly frustrated by the pup’s chewing and biting habits. But we talked openly about how animals offer companionship and admitted we all struggle with mental wellness these days. But the grandmother said, “I’m so glad they came to visit because I was thinking about ending it all.” She was so candid, willing to admit how much she needs human interaction. Though she has a little dog, it just wasn’t enough. She needed their visit.
We human beings are not fundamentally evil. We are all created good along with all of creation, a profound, inherent goodness. But we resist our creatureliness. Making mistakes is not sin; sin is being anything other than who we are as beloved of God, as creatures who are finite, limited and yet made in the image of God. We are made in God’s likeness, but we are not God…nor are we called to become God. We are called to become fully human, tending the earth, all living things, and one another. Soren Kierkegaard, Christian philosopher from the 19th century, said when we encounter God and realize, wow, that’s not me. We stand in awe. Then we have to decide will we take the leap of faith, reveling in the goodness of our created being or will we fight it.
Life is complex and full of mystery, Genesis seems to say, as we are made to be in relationship. Yet, we struggle to experience connection. We hide in our vulnerability…from God and one another. Yet, we need to be real, vulnerable with one another and with God. Genesis tells the same story that I heard last weekend talking with the family who adopted a puppy. ‘Adam, the earth creature, made from ‘adamah, the dust of the cosmos…is put in the garden to till and keep it. Unlike Genesis 1, Adam is not called to have dominion over the earth and its creatures but to serve it, to honor the fundamental relationship between Adam and adamah. But the animals are not enough for Adam; the earth creature needs something more. We don’t know if Adam is a homo-erectus or Neanderthal or homo-sapiens because Genesis is not a scientific log of human evolution. Genesis was written to address people living in exile, people who were hoping to find their way back home, not to inform scientific inquiry. Genesis asks different questions than science…not how we came to be living on this earth but why. Genesis asks why do human beings struggle to get along with one another, with creation, and with the Creator? How do we find peace, how do we find meaningful connection with the Holy One, the source of life, the One who is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega? And why do we get stuck trying to be what we are not, trying to live as anything other than beloved creatures at home with all living things?
One of the things we’ve been doing during the pandemic is going through stuff in order to simplify our life, donating to the Thrift store. I finally went through a bag of photos that I have vacuumed around for two years (!) …photos of my childhood, after my parents downsized into a condo. I found a photo of my brother and I that I’d never seen before…as I looked at myself in Grade 4 or 5, it was like I was seeing myself for the first time, before I started to wonder what other people thought of me, before I compared myself to others, before I was conscious of myself as the nerdy, clarinet-playing, uncoordinated, skinny, never dressed like the cool kids. That was me as a teenager.
Along the twists and turns of life, we human beings wander away from our belovedness, as creatures, formed in the image of God. Whether this happens as we grow up, or when we encounter deep loss that doesn’t make sense. We hear this human dilemma play out between Adam, Eve, and the serpent. From the mouth of the serpent we hear questions we ask ourselves as we move through life: Can God really be trusted? When a friend takes their own life and we wonder why? How did we miss the signs of desperation? Why didn’t we call? When our friends post stuff on Instagram that tell us we are ugly or stupid or not cool, whom do we trust: God who says we’re beautiful, good and loved? Or our friends?
From the mouth of the serpent, who was craftier than any other wild animal, we hear: Did God say you shall not eat from any tree in the garden?” The serpent plants a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind, will God really provide all I truly need? With this suspicion now taking root, the woman, Eve, whose name means mother of all the living, moves through a series of prohibitions…you shall not eat or even touch it or you will die…God said we may eat from all the trees except this one. Eating the forbidden fruit is a metaphorical way of pointing to how we all wander away from our beloved creatureliness, we get snagged by ways of thinking about ourselves, others and God that pull us down in a vicious current. And we cannot help ourselves; we get swept away from God, pulled downstream and don’t know the way home.
Our greatest challenge as human beings is not disobedience so much as getting swept away from God as we live our life, from seeing and knowing ourselves from God’s point of view, as beloved creatures. As Eve eats the fruit and shares a bite with Adam, they don’t die physically, but they suffer death…death of a trust relationship with God the Source of Life, the One in whom we live, move and have our being, the One whose love is revealed fully on the cross, giving for the life of the world. As they eat, their eyes were opened, and they realize they have been naked all along. They were conscious of themselves in a new way. They knew they were vulnerable, exposed. We are all born into this reality…estranged.
作为人类，我们最大的挑战，与其说是不顺服，不如说是在我们生活的过程中远离上帝，没有从上帝的角度，作为被爱的生物，看待和认识我们自己。当夏娃吃着果子，和亚当分享时，他们并没有在肉体上死去，而是在遭受死亡……与上帝的信任关系的死亡，上帝是生命的源泉，我们在其中，生活， 行为， 拥有一切，他的爱在十字架上被完全揭示，为世界的生命奉献。当他们吃的时候，他们的眼睛睁开了，他们意识到他们一直是赤裸的。他们以一种新的方式认识自己。他们知道自己很脆弱，暴露于危险之中。我们都出生在这个现实中…彼此疏远了。
Now, though they hear God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, they hide from God, among the trees. Genesis tells us about ourselves as human beings when relationships break down, we tend to hide rather than make amends. We run away rather than face one another in our nakedness. We are born into this estrangement from God…we run away, turn away from God. We resist being God’s good creation.
But Jesus doesn’t fight his estrangement…he enters into it, deep into the limitations of being human, born as a helpless baby, God takes human form. Becoming one of us in order to be with and for us in all things, not looking down on us from on high, but walking with us in our pain and suffering. Jesus in the garden on the night of his betrayal didn’t fight his creatureliness, he cried out finally surrendering ‘not my will but yours be done.’ From the cross in his creatureliness saying ‘my God, my God, where are you? I am all alone. Have you forgotten to be gracious to me?’ And finally, ‘into your hands I commit my spirit,’ taking his last breath.
Throughout our lives we may feel as though we are taking our last breath as we face loss and heartache. In these times God comes to breathe new life into us. To raise us up. To reconnect us with all living things. We are all interconnected. The Genesis narrative points to the web of interconnection…that we all are dependent upon one another and upon a source of life beyond ourselves, revealed as the one who walks with us in the evening breeze…. searching for us whenever we hide.
God searches for us not to punish us or give us a time out or to teach us a lesson, but to love us more, so that we finally cannot resist any longer. When the earth creatures eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they do not die physically. Their eyes are opened, and they become aware of their creatureliness. They become conscious of themselves apart from the Creator. We need not be afraid of our own nakedness, of being creatures. The One who knows all about us, loved us anyways. Why fight it?
Love will always win.
From the cross, we are offered a love that will endure through all things, promising a new normal, a new way of seeing ourselves as beloved creatures, make in the image of God. Christ offers total acceptance…Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.
Matthew 18: 15-20, Romans 13:8-14 Sept 6, 2020 TLC
Kids Message: There are many things I wonder about? How about you? This week because I replaced a defective battery on our new car, I wondered how do cars move? When your mom, dad, grandparent turns the key in the ignition, how exactly does that start the car? Ken Wu, Jeremy and Nathan’s Dad and Larry McBride can answer this question…they are both mechanics…Ken is still working, and Larry is retired. Ask them next time you see them.
孩子们的信息：有很多事情我很好奇？你呢？这周因为我给我的新车换了电池，我想知道汽车是怎么运动的？当你的妈妈、爸爸、爷爷奶奶在开汽车时，汽车到底是怎么发动的呢？Ken Wu，Jeremy和Nathan的爸爸和Larry McBride可以回答这个问题…他们都是机械师…Ken还在工作，而Larry已经退休了。下次见到他们的时候可以问问他们。
Do you ever wonder why we do certain things in church? …like lighting candles? When human beings, tens of thousands of years ago, first discovered how to make fire, it changed everything…they could stay warm in winter, be protected from wild animals at night, and most of all cook their food. This allowed them to digest food more easily, gave them more energy, helped them change, evolve, learn and grow. So, when we light candles (light one) we remember the power of fire, a living flame, to keep us alive…and we remember Jesus says “I am the light of the world. You are the light of the world…a living flame. We light candles to remember that Jesus, risen from death, is with, among us, when even two or three people gather together. The light of God’s love is alive in each of you….no matter how old you are…no matter how you are feeling…tired, sad, joyful, worried, angry, or scared. So today, I invite you find someone to be the acolyte for your family each week we gather for worship on-line…someone who finds and lights a candle as worship begins. This is your job to remind us Jesus is the light of the world. We are the light of the world. Let’s pray and sing…
Context for gospel reading…. Jesus’s disciples had just asked him who is the greatest in God’s eyes. Jesus called a child whom he put among them…truly I tell you unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…if your hand or foot causes you to stumble cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame …if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away…take care of the little ones…if a shepherd has hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, the shepherd leaves the 99 and goes in search of the one…to find it, rejoice over it and carry it home to join the 99.
It is hard to get along with each other. We see this in our own homes where underlying tension festers under the stress of pandemic restrictions, marriages are strained, our fuses are short, we are easily sparked to anger. And in the coming weeks, many families are stressed with the return to in-class learning and wonder how we will contain the potential virus transmission at school. Others are scrambling to find a way to homeschool their kids.
We see it is hard to get along with each other on social media, as newsfeeds fuel the fires of conflict between groups of people…this week I heard a woman say she had to delete the Facebook app on her phone because she was getting consumed by on-line arguments. We see it is hard to get along on the streets of our cities…in Toronto with a drive by shooting this week at a bakery, and in Kenosha, Wisconsin where Jacob Blake was shot and paralyzed by police, and in Portland where Black Lives Matter protesters clashed violently with Trump supporters, resulting in more loss of life.
We know perhaps as never before that where two or more are gathered, conflict can erupt. Those of us trying to follow the way of Christ are not immune to the struggles of getting along. We know that the church, where each one of us are a mixed bag, both saint and sinner, can also be a place of tension, parking lot discussions fuel the fires of disagreement…we tend to hide our negative feelings, stuff our hurts, and hold unrealistic expectations of one another as church-goers. More often than not, in churches, as in any social gathering, people talk more about one another than with each another. When a churchgoer offends, many expect them to live fully into I Corinthians 13, expressing a love that is patient, kind, never jealous, boastful or rude. But the closer we are, the more we share our lives, the more transparency, the more chance we have to offend one another. These days, as we rely on digital and voice communication, we are more likely to cause offense and be unaware of it…we cannot see one another’s faces or body language, which is 80% of communication.
Given all that is happening in the world, in our lives, we hear the words written to the Christ followers in Rome and wonder how can we live into this? Owe no one anything, except to love one another. In other words, we owe one another everything because love is a tall order. On the streets of our cities, on social media, in our homes, owe no one anything, except to love one another. As my daughter and I leave the house these days, we wear masks in every public space, as one tangible way to owe no one anything, except to love them. Even though many people are not wearing masks, not keeping 6.5 feet from one another, we will continue to wear masks. With 64 cases of COVID in Delta, are we not all called to wear masks?
All the commands, the teachings of God embedded in scripture can be summed up: Love your neighbour as yourself. I was shocked to hear that the Delta schools are not requiring students to wear masks in classrooms…but only in the hallways. But I am grateful that Superstore just made masks mandatory after an employee tested positive a week ago. Love your neighbour as yourself.
Jesus’ teachings on our relationships with one another include a set of things that seem impossible: You’ve heard it was said of those in ancient times, “you shall not murder” and “whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment. If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. Do not resist an evildoer. Love your enemies. Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. We owe no one anything, except to love.
Living together with our fellow human beings is not easy. Listening to one another is not easy. Loving one another in the way Jesus teaches is impossible on our own effort, without the Spirit dwelling in us.
Whenever we consider the words of scripture, we need to consider what’s happening before and after those words. It helps us discover both law and gospel, Law: words that hold us to account and gospel: words that set us free to trust God and love our neighbours. Jesus’ words about repairing relationships are spoken in the context where he takes a child, whom he puts among them, saying, ‘unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’. By welcoming a child, Jesus points not to a kind of innocence that we associate with kids today, but rather to the child’s low social and economic status. People in the ancient world gained privilege over others through social status and financial means…same as it is today. In our cities, who has little social and economic power? The Black Lives Matter movement is a response to social and economic injustices faced by black communities in the US and Canada. In first century culture, children lived at the bottom of the status ladder.
The three steps to repairing wrongs don’t take into account these kind of power differences between people. For a woman to approach a man who has caused her harm, when they are alone, could become life threatening. For a child to approach an adult who has abused them, when they are alone, could cause more harm to the child. For a trans-gendered person to approach a cisgender person who has offended them, when they are alone, could put them at great risk. And what about cultural differences where some cultures value saving face above all else, any kind of direct approach to resolving conflict would not be effective. Where saving face is an important cultural value, conflict is addressed indirectly, through communal, public dialog that can easily be missed by other cultures that value speaking directly and are not afraid of expressing emotion.
Whenever one person or group has more power than another, this approach to resolving conflict could be problematic. Israel Kamudzandu, Associate Professor of New Testament studies at St Paul School of Theology in Missouri says ‘If this love is going to be realized in countries where there is a history of colonization….where one nation has endured experiences at the hands of more powerful nations, (such as indigenous peoples and settlers in Canada, African Americans and colonial slave masters the U.S)…then the once colonizer and the once colonized must have a clear and transformed mind to be able to face the pain imposed on each other.’ Finding peace with one another starts with facing the pain, the historical transfer of pain down through the generations.
The intent of this three-step process of repairing wrongs is that it leads to confession and forgiveness, setting both parties free. Listening is hard…and its part of every step-in repairing wrongs. I don’t know about you, but when someone points out a fault, many of us become defensive. We don’t want to listen maybe because we don’t trust it could lead to forgiveness, to a new level of self-awareness, of understanding one another, to healing.
Professor Kamudzandu asks: “How do we see ourselves in each other’s face? Both the once colonizer and the once colonized owe each other a different love that leads to genuine relationships. How do we humanize one another?” I believe this all starts with honest conversation that leads to self-awareness, to seeing how what we say, how we say it, what we do impacts others. Each Monday night, a book group welcoming all voices, is reading Robin Diangelo’s book…White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism…hosted on-line each Monday night welcomes a diverse group of people having conversation about how we recognize and dismantle the ideas that, down through the generations, those with lighter skin have been given higher social status than those with darker skin. It’s led to a kind of conditioning that impacts all human relationships.
In the ND Reporter’s quiz about Labour Day, I was reminded that physics defines work as the process of energy transfer to move an object. What moves us to see ourselves in another’s face? It can start with hearing their stories. Love activates love in others…In the last couple of months, as Bea waited in hospital for a placement at a care home, I kept in touch with her husband Les. Last week, Les called to share their backyard harvest so that the raccoons wouldn’t devour it. Les couldn’t bear to see their fruit trees go to waste as he talked about how for so many years, he and Bea would harvest the apples to make applesauce to sell at the annual church bake sale. When the pears would ripen, Les and Bea used cut up a pear each morning for breakfast harvested from the tree in their backyard. So, at Les’ insistence, we went over to harvest the apples and share them with another family who made applesauce. And we’ve distributed the ripening pears to several families who are now eating them for breakfast. Love activates love in others.
As Bea was placed at a care home a week ago, Les, upon hearing of her transfer that morning, drove to the care home and waited for his beloved wife to arrive. Having been restricted from hospital visits for two months, having missed a chance to celebrate their 64th anniversary on August 10, Les hoped to surprise Bea, before she went into a 14-day quarantine. All Les wanted was a few face-to-face moments where he could tell Bea he loved her and planned to see her soon. After waiting five hours in front of Careplace Fleetwood, Les finally called the nurse’s station at the hospital and found out Bea’s transfer was delayed…wouldn’t happen until later that evening or next morning. Love activates love; through Les and Bea, this week among all you listening.
Living together is not easy, but Jesus says: where two or more are gathered, I am there among you. Love is what we were made for and love is who we are at the core. When we live outside of love, we are not living from our true identity. Love is a little tiny flame (hold candle) of the God revealed as Creator, Savior, Spirit, three in one, love itself, God’s very self, living within us…enfolded in a reality we cannot always perceive.
A prayer as I put on my mask: Creator, as I prepare to go into the world, help me to see the sacrament in the wearing of this cloth - let it be "an outward sign of an inward grace" - a tangible and visible way of living love for my neighbours, as I love myself. Christ, since my lips will be covered, uncover my heart, that people would see my smile in the crinkles around my eyes. Since my voice may be muffled, help me to speak clearly, not only with my words, but with my actions. Holy Spirit, As the elastic touches my ears, remind me to listen carefully - and full of care - to all those I meet. May this simple piece of cloth be shield and banner, and each breath that it holds, be filled with your love. In your Name and in that love, I pray. May it be so. May it be so. (Edit: All of the prayers I post here can be shared under a Creative Commons – Attribution Rev Richard Bott)
我戴上口罩祈祷：造物主，当我准备进入这个世界时，帮助我看到圣礼，穿着这件衣服-，让它成为“内在的恩典的外在迹象”-一种有形和可见的生活方式，去爱我的邻居，像爱自己一样。上帝啊，既然我的嘴唇会被遮住，揭开我的心扉，人们会从我眼睛周围的皱纹中看到我的微笑。因为我的声音可能会很低沉，所以请帮助我说清楚，不仅要用我的语言，而且要用我的行动。圣灵，当橡皮筋碰到我的耳朵时，提醒我要仔细地去听，并且要充满关心地倾听我遇到的所有人。愿这一块简单的布成为我的盾牌横幅，每一个呼吸，充满你的爱。 以你的名义和那份爱，我祈祷。愿它是如此。（编辑：我在这里发布所有的祈祷都可以分享在一个创作共享- 引自理查德博特牧师）
Exodus 3:1-15, Matthew 16:21-28, Romans 12:9-21 August 30, 2020 TLC
These days I’ve been thinking a lot about feet…my feet in particular, since as some of you know, I’ve been rehabilitating a sprained ankle, the left one, since January…early this summer I just got to the point of biking long distances without pain and swelling. Well, the end of July, as I was walking out of the bank, putting my wallet back into my backpack, I stumbled when I missed a step down and sprained my other ankle. So, I just met with physio this week to check in on how I stretch and strengthen the ligaments, allowing them a couple more weeks to heal.
Our feet connect us to the ground, to the elements which form the molecular structure of our bodies, reminding us we are human. Our feet move us forward, allow our bodies to be set in motion, to respond when threatened, to stay put in order to listen, to walk 6.5 feet around our neighbour in the grocery store and wear a mask if we cannot maintain distance. In Matthew’s gospel today, we hear about Peter, whom Jesus has just named the Rock, as we heard last week, a firm place to stand. The Rock upon whom Jesus promises to build his church, the ecclesia, which means the called-out ones…you are a called out one…called out of your house in the midst of a pandemic with new restrictions, called out of ways of being that would infect your neighbours.
Now Jesus begins to describe how he must suffer and be killed, on the third day be raised. Jesus knew he must move this way. God’s way, losing your life to find it. But Peter didn’t get it. When Jesus asked, ‘who do you say that I am?’, Peter answered: “you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” But Peter didn’t understand where the feet of the Messiah were meant to walk. The via dolorosa, the way of suffering, didn’t make sense. In Peter’s way of thinking…Messiah’s don’t suffer and die, they raise up an army and fight off the enemy, setting people free through violent confrontation. However, Jesus says there is no other way to find life except through the cross: rejection, suffering and death, not over it, not around it, not under it, but through it, one foot in front of the other.
So, Peter rebukes Jesus for saying that he must walk the way of suffering that leads to death…this must never happen to you! But Jesus turns to him and says “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me…” You are preventing me from moving forward, from going where I need to go. Peter has quickly moved from being praised by Jesus as the rock on whom he will build his church to be a stumbling block. Something you trip over, that gets in the way, prevents you from becoming who you’re called to become.
Peter is both the rock and a stumbling block. We Lutherans know what this is about…we are realistic about our sinful condition…we know we are simultaneously saints and sinners our whole lives, 100% made right with God by grace and 100% sinners…we are both rocks and stumbling blocks. We stumble when we think too highly of ourselves, too much of ourselves, when we are complicit with a system that grants privilege to some but not all. We also stumble when we fall into self-deprecation, when we think we will never be good enough. Theology professor Cynthia Rygby calls this the sin of the Witch of the West…you know the scene from the Wizard of Oz, those of you older than 50 (look it up online if you who’ve never seen the Wizard of Oz) when the witch of the west says, “I’m melting” as she disappears under her black hat. This is the way some of us stumble away from following Jesus…we melt when challenged, or faced with an opportunity, instead of standing tall as beloved of God. Sin looks different on different people on different days.
When we decided to travel to Ucluelet for a three-day weekend recently, I insisted on bringing our 50 lb inflatable double kayak, even though with a sprained ankle there was no way I could launch it. I refused to live within the limitation of having a sprained ankle. I had envisioned vacation kayaking around Ucluelet bay and couldn’t let go of the idea. Instead, I stumbled around, wishing I could kayak and missed a chance to be creative. If I had embraced my limitations, I may have discovered the short hike near our Airbnb, leading to breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean, where I could sit and paint.
Sin is being anything other than who we are as beloved of God, human beings who are finite, who are intimately connected with all living things. When we fight against the limits of our creatureliness or fail to stand up for those who are beloved of God, we sin.
Before the pandemic, Sunday morning was the most segregated hour in North America; now around the world we are a church without walls. What might this mean for how we do church in the future? Our brother in Christ, Lutheran Pastor Lenny Duncan, grew up invisible, where he was not seen by his teachers, by his parents, his neighbours in the white community as fully human. He shares his story, his love for the church, and his hope for who the church can become, in his book: Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black preacher to the whitest church in North America. We all know racism is a sin. But as Lenny says, changing “the system that keeps racist structures in place is where our real work will need to begin. We need to name evil for what it is, and we won’t overcome it until we do.” Jesus names evil when he says to Peter, get behind me…you are a stumbling block. How might we be a stumbling block to Jesus, preventing all people from finding a place as followers of Christ, as beloved of God?
Mae Sylvester, who lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, shared this story that opened her soul in her TED talk on The Sense of Being. Early one Sunday morning, Mae was walking the deserted streets of downtown Saint Paul and she had just turned a corner to head home, when she noticed a young man up ahead, his trousers low, his dark hooded sweatshirt pulled up. Her immediate impulse was to cross the street and avoid him. But earlier that morning, she’d been reading Deepak Chopra who says, ‘we are all one.’ So, she had a little back and forth with herself, and giving the nod to Deepak, she walked on without crossing the street. She came up beside the man as he had observed a red light, though there wasn’t any traffic on the street. Mae says, “As soon as I came to stand beside him, the hooded head turned to face me head on. And it revealed a young, dark skinned face, lit with the brightest, most penetrating smile I will ever receive. He said, “Hi.” This young man knew that I had debated with myself and decided against my fears. Some generosity in him enabled him to forgive me and greet me. I said, “Hi” returning his generosity. In that moment, Mae says, ‘the young man and I were one. I still carry his generosity with me today.’
居住在明尼苏达州圣保罗市的梅西尔维斯特（Mae Sylvester）在TED关于存在感的演讲中分享了让她敞开心扉的故事。一个星期天的清晨，梅正走在圣保罗市中心荒无人烟的街道上，她刚拐个弯准备回家，这时她注意到前面有一个年轻人，他的裤子很低，黑色的连帽运动衫也拉了起来。她的第一时反应是过马路避开他。但那天早上早些时候，她在读迪帕克乔普拉（Deepak Chopra）说的“我们是一个整体”。所以，她自已来回走了一点，向迪帕克点头，她没有过马路而选择继续往前走。她走到那个男人身边，因为他看到红灯了，尽管街上没有任何车。梅说：“当我站到他旁边时，戴着兜帽的头就转过来面对我。它露出了一张年轻的、皮肤黝黑的脸，脸上闪耀着我所能得到的最灿烂、最具穿透力的微笑。他说：“嗨。”这个年轻人知道我和自己辩论过，决定克服我的恐惧。他身上的慷慨使他能够原谅我并向我问好。我说了声“嗨”回报他的慷慨。在那一刻，梅说，“那个年轻人和我是一体的。我今天还带着他的慷慨”
Grace is free. But loving our neighbour is costly. Addressing ways, the church discriminates may cost our very lives and the church as we know it, but Jesus says when we lose our lives, we will find them. It involves moving into a place of discomfort for the sake of love, trusting the God of the universe is with us, that immersed in the waters of our baptism, we are called to walk wet into the world, take risks for the sake of love, each day, in simple acts like Mae walking next to the young man on the street, to receive his greeting. We know that Jesus lost his life, pouring it out for love of the world but Christ is no longer dead. Because he lives, among us in our church without walls, in the faces of our neighbours, we know we are not alone.
Get behind me; Jesus names evil for what it is, a mindset trying to prevent Jesus from being the One who moves through suffering to bring life, the One who sets the captives free. Peter is called to change his position…to get behind Jesus, to walk the way Jesus is walking rather than against him. The word we translate as “get behind me” is the same Greek word we translate as “follow me.” So, Jesus is calling Peter to follow, to change his direction. Jesus doesn’t give up on Peter, when he stumbles, Jesus reroutes him.
We as a church have been rerouted by the pandemic. Which path will we follow in the future? Jesus says any who want to become my followers let them deny themselves. What does it mean to deny yourself? Is it as simple as denying some of your cravings, like saying “no” to the Tim Horton’s drive through? Some of us may think denying ourselves means that we negate ourselves…women who cry out, “I’m melting.” Caring for their families while neglecting their own mental health. Then they are unable to love anyone.
Peter refuses to let Jesus be who he’s called to be. Denying ourselves is about finding the path that leads to life. Could it be we are called to deny what is comfortable, familiar, in order to see the radical in-breaking of Christ, as Mae denied herself, moved through her fear, claimed the truth that ‘we are all one’ on her early morning walk in order to see Christ in the face of her neighbour. What might it mean for the church today to dismantle what we are familiar with in order to find a new path, a new way for all people to follow as one beloved community?
August 23, 2020 TLC Power of Peaceful Resistance
Exodus 1:8-2:10, Matthew 16:13-20
Welcome: If someone were to come up to you and ask, “Who do you say that I am?” what would you say? Jesus is asking that question of us today, just as he asked his followers centuries ago… how we respond can make all the difference…for our lives and for the life of the world.
Kids’ Message: How do you know if something is alive?
Starts by observing it, watching it…take a banana slug…watching it slowly move across a hiking trail…garter snake…slithering quickly. Spider on a web…all curled up waiting for an insect to get caught in its web…not sure until you tap the web…and the spider springs into action. The daisies in our front lawn turning brown and shriveling…signs they are dying…the apples on Starheim’s tree…still connected by a stem or fallen on the ground…
How do you know if something is alive?
IT: Moves, breathes, eats, poops, smells, grows
Are you alive? How do you know?
Is Jesus alive? How do we know?
…story of Naomi on a beach in Bozeman, MT…two 7-8-year olds came up to her and asked where she was from. She said her mom was from China, her Dad was from Bozeman…these 7-8-year olds told six-year-old Naomi that China was a bad country…and that her Mom brought the coronavirus to Bozeman! What would you say to Naomi if you were her mom or dad, sister or brother? When any one of us has the power to say NO to hatred, evil, racism…to say YES to love, mercy, peace we know Jesus is alive。
Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ If Jesus were to ask you, how might you respond? What difference does it make how we respond? How does the One in whom we trust, or whom we fail to trust, shape our life? Some say it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. …hummmm…I would venture that whom we trust makes all the difference as we move through our lives. Do we trust in someone bigger than ourselves, than our loved ones, than our political leaders? Is this one in whom we trust out to get us? Or does God actually care about us? about our neighbors, about all living things?
As those who are trying, I emphasize trying…because none of us does this perfectly, nor is that the goal. As we try to follow, the goal is to become more fully human and let God be God, who fills us with a love deeper than we can imagine. As we try to follow the way of Christ in the world, a world in desperate need, we affirm that God is with and for us, not against us, that God is with and for our neighbors, with and for every living thing. This is a bold claim. If it is indeed true, this changes everything. It shapes a life lived for something greater than our own well-being. As those trying to follow Christ, those “on the way” to becoming fully human, we answer yes, God does care, enough to become one of us, to enter into the limitation of being human, to fully embrace being human to the point of suffering and death. How might this reality shape our lives and call us outside of ourselves?
Perhaps the One in whom we trust matters the most when we suffer or when those whom we love suffer …it shapes how we move through the suffering, who we become in the midst of it. As our hearts turn towards our brothers and sisters in Beirut, struggling to move on in the midst of human devastation, injuries impacting the rest of people’s lives, hunger crippling the entire region, we are moved to respond. Trinity Lutheran Church Women have responded with funds raised from the 2019 bake sale offering a $250 gift, which will be matched by the Canadian government. We all trust the TLCW to use these funds to help those who need it the most, as they listen for the Spirit’s lead. They set an example for all who may have the capacity to give…
也许当我们受苦或我们所爱的人受苦时，我们所信任的那个人会变的最重要……它影响我们如何在苦难中前进，在苦难中塑造我们。当我们的心转向我们在贝鲁特的兄弟姐妹们，他们正处在人对类毁灭性的灾难之中、伤害会伴随他们后半生，整个地娶陷于饥饿，他们在挣扎中前行，我们感动地作出反应。Trinity Lutheran 教会的妇女们以2019年烘焙义卖筹集的资金作为回应，捐助了 $250，加拿大政府将会给出匹配的捐助。我们都相信TLCW会利用这些资金来帮助那些最需要帮助的人，因为他们在聆听圣灵的指引。她们为所有有能力去付出的人树立了榜样…
This past week, my pastor’s e-mail was used in an iTunes scam, with an invitation for a favor. Those who responded were asked to purchase iTunes gift cards for women in cancer treatment. What is infuriating is how the scammers take advantage of the trust relationship between pastors and the people whom they lead…this same scam went through the email of several key leaders in the United Church of Canada…our own community. The scammers are counting on a compassionate response from those of us trying to follow the way of Christ in the world. Financial generosity in the face of human suffering is one way we express compassion; those who walk with Christ are willing to sacrifice for those who suffer…we receive this power from Christ’s love poured out on the cross. Jesus the Christ knows our deepest sorrow, meets us in the midst of it and walks with us. As we grieve the death of loved ones, the loss of life the way it used to be, Jesus the Christ meets us in the letting go, in letting God love us in this new place, so that we can embrace what is.
In her On Being podcast, Krista Tippett, aired a previously recorded interview with the late US Congressman John Lewis. In 1965, when he was in his 20’s, John led a peaceful protest march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, the capital of the state, seeking voting rights for Black Americans, who until this time, had been denied full humanity by being denied the right to vote. 600 people gathered to kneel in prayer at a church and then walk silently, two-by-two, through Selma. As they crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge the marchers were brutally beaten by police; John was nearly beaten to death. In fact, he thought he was dying. Recalling this with Krista, John talked about how at that time, he was drawn to learn about redemptive suffering from Ghandi, who protested against British rule in India through non-violence. John realized a power in redemptive suffering to bring about social change. Choosing to walk the way of the cross, in the face of hatred, violence and systemic racial injustice. Redemptive suffering involves peaceful acts of protest; in the 1960’s John led Black students would walk into a segregated restaurant in the southern United States and be greeted with “Sorry this place doesn’t serve you.” But they would sit down. They stayed as people spat on them, beat them, poured ketchup and mustard on them, without becoming violent in response. Nashville was the first city to collapse under the power of non-violent protest and desegregate.
克里斯塔蒂佩特（Krista Tippett）在她的播客节目中播出了此前录制的对前美国国会议员约翰刘易斯（John Lewis）的采访记录。1965年，20多岁的约翰领导了一场和平抗议，从阿拉巴马州的塞尔玛到蒙哥马利，为美国黑人争取投票权，在这之前，黑人一直被剥夺投票权， 因此他们的人性也被否定。600人聚集在一个教堂里跪下祈祷，然后两个两个的安静地走过塞尔玛。当他们穿过埃德蒙佩图斯 (Edmund Pettus)大桥时，这些抗议者遭到警察的残酷殴打；约翰差点被打死。事实上，他以为自己快死了。与克里斯塔一起回忆这段经历，约翰谈到当时他是如何被吸引去了解甘地的救赎痛苦的，甘地通过非暴力去抗议英国在印度的统治。约翰意识到了这种救赎苦难会带来社会变革的力量。面对仇恨、暴力和系统性的种族不公，选择走上十字架的道路。和平抗议也就是一种痛苦的救赎行为；在20世纪60年代，约翰领导的黑人学生会走进美国南部的一家种族隔离餐厅，他们会说“对不起，这个地方不为你服务”，但他们依然会坐下。当他们留下来时，人们会朝他们吐唾沫，殴打他们，把番茄酱和芥末倒在他们身上，但他们没有用暴力去反抗。纳什维尔（Nashville）是第一个在非暴力抗议和种族隔离政策下崩溃的城市。
John said to practice non-violence, when faced with an angry, aggressive or hateful person, you need to understand them as much a victim as yourself. One way to do this is to imagine them as a baby. If you can see this full-grown attacker as the child they once were, then you can love them…your enemy. It’s the hardest thing in the world to carry out, John says. Impossible without God’s help. To pursue justice non-violently, you cannot let violence win your heart. If you do, you’re surrendering to the dark force you’re trying to fight. Throughout his life, John prayed with his feet…he was willing to suffer in order to change the minds and hearts of the white community and leaders in America.
This is what Shiphrah and Puah did when the king of Egypt told them to kill the Hebrew boys at birth. They refused to follow the king’s order. They chose what John Lewis called redemptive suffering; in the face of violence they took the risk of saying “no.” Shiphrah and Puah’s Hebrew people had immigrated to Egypt 400 years before, when Joseph provided food for them in a nation-wide famine. And the Hebrews had thrived with the Egyptians until a new king rose to power, a king who saw the Hebrews as less than human, as a way to build cities with cheap human slave labor. The king grew suspicious of the Hebrews growing too numerous, afraid they might join his enemies, fight back and then flee. So the king set taskmasters over them. The Hebrews lived under the thumb of the Egyptians, an entire group of immigrant people who were considered less than human, enslaved in order to be used and controlled like cattle.
当埃及国王吩咐希弗拉 (Shiphrah)和普亚 (Puah) 杀死出生的希伯来男婴时，他们就是这样做的。他们拒绝服从国王的命令。他们选择了约翰刘易斯所说的救赎的痛苦；面对暴力的险境，他们冒着风险说“不”。400年前，当希普拉和普瓦的希伯来人移民到埃及时，正值全国范围的饥荒，约瑟为他们提供食物。希伯莱人与埃及人一同繁衍生息，直到一位新的君王掌权，他认为希伯来人低人一等，把他们看作是建造城市的廉价奴隶劳力。国王开始越来越怀疑希伯来人，害怕他们会加入敌人阵营，反击，然后逃跑。于是国王派督工去管理他们。希伯来人生活在埃及人的控制之下，希伯来人是一个移民群体，他们被视为低一等的人类，被奴役，像牛一样被使用和控制。
But the Hebrews continued to multiply, so the king ordered Shiphrah and Puah to kill the Hebrew boys at birth. Walking the way of the cross, these courageous women refused, in the first act of civil disobedience recorded in scripture. This infuriated the king, who then ordered all people to kill every Hebrew boy by throwing them into the Nile river. The king made murder the law of the land.
Today, our brothers and sisters in Lebanon have been living under such injustice, leading to unimaginable suffering after the explosion. And in North Korea, Kim Jung Un issued an unjust order this week to round up and kill all domestic pet dogs, saying they were a luxury that cannot be tolerated. They must become food. Across North America, families have adopted all the pets from the local shelters, as animals offer unconditional love in the midst of the pandemic. Ripping animals out of the homes of families is an act of cruelty in a time of global distress.
John Lewis told a story of raising chicks on his family farm in the southern US as a teen. He grew to love his flock of chickens; but his family relied on them as a source of food. So, when his parents served chicken for dinner, John protested by going on hunger strike. His first act of non-violent protest was at his family dinner table. As a teen, John began to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King, and to recognize what needed to change in America. In his 20’s, John began to learn about how redemptive suffering affects not only ourselves but touches and changes those around us. “It opens us and those around us to compassion, a force beyond ourselves, a force of truth that is the basis of human conscience.” Redemptive suffering, walking the way of the cross, choosing non-violence in response to violence, as John says, “puts us and those around us in touch with our conscience…makes us feel compassion where we need to and guilt if we must.” (Krista Tippet Podcast on Being interview of John Lewis)
Shiphrah and Puah risked their lives to save the Hebrew boys; Moses was one of those boys. The mother of Moses and his sister are two more courageous women who conspire to sustain his life, hiding him for three months. Moses was born in a particular time and particular place so that he might set his people free from slavery, free to become fully human, free to trust God and love their neighbors. Without a circle of women surrounding and standing up for Moses, he wouldn’t have survived birth and infancy. We each have been born in a particular time and place in order to live into God’s dream for our family, our neighborhood, nation, and the universe. What do you see that needs to change in our community? In our world? Who else recognizes it? How might we work together?
Years ago, I took youth on Urban Immersion retreats in Minneapolis, MN. The young adults who led the retreat would ask at one point, “are you uncomfortable yet?” because they were sharing how a family ends up homeless, something outside of the experience of the youth on the retreat. They said they hoped to plant a seed of indignation in the hearts of the youth over the weekend, a seed that blossoms into action in the face of injustice and poverty so they say “this isn’t right. Something needs to be done to change this.” These days, with the end of government CERB checks, businesses closing their doors, many are struggling to make ends meet. How might we respond?
Jesus’ question to the disciples is general at first…. “what are people saying about me?” It’s easy to speak in third person…. oh, you’re a miracle-worker, a teacher with good morals, a crazy man, a prophet come back from the dead. But then Jesus moves in closer and asks the intimate question we whisper to those whom we love, “Who do you say that I AM?” Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush. He comes right out and says directly, where are you at in relationship with me?
Peter is quick to voice his opinion without pondering his response. You remember Peter from a couple weeks ago…. he’s the one who jumped out of the boat when Jesus comes walking on the stormy water. And after he jumps out, again without considering the wisdom or practicality of such a move, Peter notices the wind and waves, begins to sink and cries out for Jesus to save him. When Peter first met Jesus on the Sea of Galilee, he was the first to leave his fish nets and follow. So impulsive Peter says: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Messiah…the one sent from God to set the captives free, bring sight to the blind, to bring down the mighty and lift up the lowly.
If Jesus were to ask me today “Who do you say that I AM?” On some days, as we navigate this pandemic, I would say: “You are invisible; I cannot see, feel or sense your presence. I am all alone, and I wonder if God has forgotten me.” On other days, I would say “You are the One in whom we live and move and have our being. Apart from you, we can do nothing. With you all things are possible. Even walking in the shoes of those who live with racism and discrimination every day of their lives so that together we can change the world.” If Jesus were to whisper in your ear right now, “Who do you say that I AM?” how would you respond?
Pentecost 11a, August 16, 2020
“DOGS” AND GOD’S BOUNTIFUL MERCY
Matthew 15: (10-20) 21-28
马太福音 15: （10-20）21-28
Main thought – Trust in Jesus can spring up anywhere (Here the source is the profound love of a mother for her hurting daughter. This woman had been seen heretofore as somehow being outside the active, present love and mercy of God)
主要思想 - 对耶稣的信任可以在任何地方出现（这里的源头是一个母亲对她受伤的女儿的爱。这个女人以前一直被视为在上帝的积极、爱和怜悯之外）
Sometimes we limit the work of the Spirit of God, being convinced that trust in God (faith) can only rise up in people that we somehow view as “like us”. Then knowingly or unknowingly, we like the disciples, seek to be boundary keepers. As if we keep the love and mercy of God in Christ ‘boxed’ in. We (all of us) need to be freed from such propensities.
Another thought – how do we deal with our realities – when Jesus doesn’t answer our requests, our perceived needs as we had hoped?
另一个想法 - 我们如何处理我们的现实 - 当耶稣不回应我们的要求，我们所感知的需要，如我们所希望的？
O precious ones of God, grace to you and peace, from God the Creator, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in One. Amen.
Whenever we actually take the Bible seriously, we are encountered by realities that make us very uncomfortable. Have you ever noticed that? Listen to just some of Jesus’ words. He says, “Love your enemies!” “Pray, do good to those who persecute or harm you.” “You have heard it said, ‘do not kill!’ But I tell you if one has evil in his or her heart, he or she has already murdered.” And then there’s those words just before the text we heard read today, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” ... Wow!
These sayings of Jesus are very important. Here God shows us at least part of God’s intent for our lives. As we begin to glimpse that we necessarily see how far short we fall. We begin to know that we need help from beyond ourselves to be changed and changing. That’s what theologians call the law and the gospel – the oh so necessary new life that comes to us from God in Jesus the Christ. Thanks be to God for all of this! ...
There are also other times when the discomfort we experience as we hear Scripture arises from the way we see God or Jesus acting or speaking. So it is, in today’s Gospel. Did you, do you hear it?
We meet a woman. She’s actually a mom. Matthew tells us that this mom is ‘Canaanite’. In some ways his designation doesn’t make sense because by the time of Jesus there were simply no longer people who would have referred to themselves as being Canaanite. There were however Phoenicians living in the cities of Tyre and Sidon where Jesus and his disciples had just arrived. But no one living there then would have called themselves a Canaanite.
我们遇到一个女人。她其实是个母亲。马修告诉我们这个母亲是迦南人。在某些方面，他的命名是没有意义的，因为到了耶稣时代，已经没有人会把自己称为迦南人。然而，在推罗 (Tyre) 和西顿 (Sidon) 的城市里，有腓尼基人，这就是耶稣和门徒们刚到的地方。但在那时，住在那里的人不会称为自己是迦南人。
For Matthew’s Gospel to designate this mother in such a way, there must have been an important point to be made for his hearers and for us. This term, ‘Canaanite’ would have underlined that this woman came from a people who were somehow opposed to the people of Jesus’ background. Matthew is bluntly saying, this mother isn’t from the people of Israel. She is outside of them. She is different from those Jesus usually lived and moved and shared his being with.
But that’s not all we learn about this ‘Canaanite’ mother. We also learn that her daughter is not well, that her daughter is in serious trouble. Her daughter has a demon. This means then that this woman’s daughter has a life that is anything but normal. Her life is not her own – is out of control, may very well have been in serious danger.
So, this Canaanite mother is very worried for her daughter’s well being. So it is that she comes crying to Jesus. Crying may not even be close to the right word. The Greek word employed here actually means shrieking loudly, like a raven. Are we listening to her words shrieked to Jesus? “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David!” She is pleading desperately with hope that Jesus will help her daughter.
The disciples, Jesus’ closest followers, are not impressed with her. Who is she, to even approach our Jesus? After all, even women of Israel were to remain at least 2 arm lengths from men they didn’t know. Talk about social distancing. And this “woman” isn’t even one of them. And she is so DARN LOUD!
So, the disciples implore Jesus. SEND ... HER ... AWAY. Get rid of her. She’s bothering us. Let’s move on.
As we listen in to this encounter between the desperate Canaanite mother, and Jesus and his disciples, it’s like there are 2 competing riffs. The first is a solo voice, hitting strong, loud notes. That voice arises from the woman’s desperate love for her daughter. Her voice is piercing but oh, so true. Her notes hauntingly plead, “HAVE MERCY ON ME, LORD, SON OF DAVID!”
But then there is also another chorus, dismissive of her, loud, multi voiced, repeating again and again, SEND HER AWAY, SEND HER AWAY, SEND HER AWAY, SHE IS NOT ONE OF US, SHE DOESN’T BELONG HERE.” ...
Whom will Jesus hear? How will he respond?
At first, Jesus says nothing to her. That in itself is disquieting. She is in great need!
But then as those disciples keep encouraging him to get rid of her, Jesus makes what feels like an aside comment, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
Is this the way he understood his mission, his calling at that moment in time? ...
But the Canaanite woman will not leave him alone. She doesn’t let that aside stand in some kind of vacuum. She loves her daughter too much. Now she comes even closer to Jesus falling on her knees right in front of him pleading, “Lord, HELP ME!”
Now, Jesus responds directly to this woman on her knees. But he responds in ways that make me very uncomfortable. His response underlines his humanity, his being rooted at least on that day in his particular culture. He says to her, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” His insinuation is that she is a dog. How derogatory! It’s the way we sometimes have referred to our minority peoples – in words we don’t say in church, we should never say anywhere.
To be sure this Canaanite mom isn’t of the house of Israel. And Jesus says to her, that is to whom his mission is in that moment. She and her daughter are to him at that point in time, somehow other than those he is sent to. And now my heart and mind are racing, full of questions, frustration and pain.
But this Canaanite mother rescues us. She will not be dissuaded from seeking Jesus’ help. She accepts the put down – but points Jesus and all of us far beyond any such thinking, such acting. Now she directs Jesus and us to the great mercy of God, the boundless riches of God’s grace. In doing so she responds to Jesus’ words with her own words. O dear people, hear her. “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Wow!
Now we witness something literally amazing. Jesus is moved! He acknowledges her faith. Her faith, not in the sense of some words articulated through a thoroughly vetted doctrinal confession like the Apostles’ Creed or Augsburg Confession. NO! Rather, her ‘faith’, her trust and hope in God through Jesus arises from the deep realization of her own limitations in helping her daughter and trusting that God alone can help her.
In her plea to Jesus, her profound insight that even mere crumbs from the plentiful table of God will be more than enough for she and her daughter, Jesus’ mind is changed. You heard me correctly. His mind is changed by this Canaanite mother’s earnest trust and hope in God’s ability to help her daughter.
Now Jesus says to her, “Woman”. It is no longer ‘Canaanite’ woman but just woman. “Woman, great is your faith. Let it be done for you as you wish.” And then Matthew tells us that the woman’s daughter is healed....
This is the only time in Matthew’s gospel that anyone is told by Jesus that their faith is GREAT. Usually Jesus says “you of little faith” or to Peter in last week’s Gospel, “Why did you doubt and not believe?” But here, Jesus acknowledges this woman’s GREAT faith.
Somehow, faith in God, trust in Jesus that is beyond mere words or convenience springs up in places, within and among people, where we might least expect it. Thanks be to God! This woman likely didn’t know the Hebrew Scriptures. She probably had never been to the temple or a synagogue. None of the New Testament as we know it had even been put together. Yet, Jesus says, she has great faith...
Are you aware, am I aware of OUR NEED for God’s help, God’s deliverance in our own lives for ourselves, and for others? Whom do we put our abiding trust in – ourselves, our resources, the resources of others around us, God?
Just two days ago, on a beautiful golf course I caught myself saying something to an acquaintance about one of our mutual friends. Initially I felt my words were merely a joke. But later, as I thought about them, I realized that my words were anything but kind.
Do you ever do or say things like that? You say something – and then you wonder, where on earth did that come from? It was so unkind, so thoughtless or even so hurtful, so biased, perhaps even racist?
你有没有做过或说过这样的话？你说了些什么 - 然后在想，那到底是从哪里来的？这是如此无情，如此不体贴，甚至如此伤人，如此偏颇，甚至可能是种族主义者？
The text just before the Canaanite’s woman’s plea to Jesus underlines in no uncertain terms that what disqualifies us from relationship with God or others, what damages our relationship with God and others often has nothing to do with the outward things we do, such as washing our hands, or even attending worship or assuring that we look good to others. Rather, it is what flows out of the inner parts of our beings, our hearts and minds that hurts ourselves, others and damages our relationships with others, ourselves and God.
We notice that about ourselves when we are paying attention and taking Scripture seriously. Because we are often blind to ourselves, we may also notice it in others.
So, what shall we do, as individuals, as parts of Christian communities, as a part of our neighborhood, this city, this province, this country? Shall we just try harder to love others and God? Or, shall we rationalize and delude ourselves into thinking, “Well, at least we are not as bad as some other people we know?” Or, shall we try to convince ourselves that our words and actions don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things? Really – have we heard anything the Scripture says – that Jesus says and does?
We must take care. God is God. God loves us, all people, all creation deeply! So, it is Christ becomes human. So it is, Jesus suffers and dies and is raised.
God is also holy. God has dreams that we would strive to reflect God’s holiness in terms of mercy, hunger to love and work for all people’s inclusion. This doesn’t mean that we somehow then are perfect. Far from it. Nor does this mean that we are somehow better than others. I mean, do we hear God and Jesus’ commands and see how far short we fall from them daily?
But taking God’s love and holiness seriously means that we are called to be aware of God’s love for all in Christ and to seek to live from that love ourselves.
Ah, but we miss that mark, don’t we? So it is we can cry out with the Psalmist from our own need, “Create a new heart within us, O Lord”.
The Canaanite mother cries out unashamedly for her daughter, “Lord, have mercy on me”. Somehow she knew she could cry out to Jesus. Somehow, she hoped in Him.
Do we know that we can cry out to him – that our hope is in Him, now, each day in any and all circumstances?
Should he not respond immediately in the way we had hoped, do we give up? Do we pack it in? Or, do we keep crying? Do we see that sometimes God sends others around us to bear with us, to listen to us, to aid us also?
This Canaanite mother has it right. In her heart of hearts she knew – even the crumbs from the Master’s table are more than enough for her, for her daughter. God’s mercy has the capacity to bring hope, new life, new beginnings for each of us, for all of us.
Lord God we believe – HELP OUR UNBELIEF. Kyrie eleison! Should it, whisper it, unapologetically, for Christ’s sake, for our sake and for the sake of the world. Amen.
主上帝，我们相信 - 帮助我们的疑惑。凯丽埃利森！为了基督，为了我们，为了世界，毫无歉意地低声说出来。阿门。
Pentecost 10a, 20
Trinity Lutheran Church Delta, BC, August 9, 2020
Text – Matthew 14:22-33 (background Psalm 105)
Key verses – 22 – Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.
关键诗句 – 22 – 耶稣随即催门徒上船，先渡到那边去，等他叫众人散开。
26 – But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
26 – 门徒看见他在海面上走，就惊慌了，说：“是个鬼怪！”更害怕，喊叫起来。耶稣连忙对他们说：“你们放心，是我，不要怕！”
30 – But when he (Peter) noticed the strong wind, he became frightened and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”31. Jesus immediately reached out his hand caught him.
30 – 只因见风甚大，就害怕，将要沉下去，便喊着说：“主啊，救我！”耶稣赶紧伸出手拉住他，说：“你这小信的人哪，为什么疑惑呢？”
33 - And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
33 – 在船上的人都拜他，说：“你真是神的儿子。”
O precious ones of God, grace to you and peace, from God the Creator, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in One. Amen
1.We’re all in the same boat! Have you heard that? Do you believe it?
2. Are we in the same boat as the people of Beirut? Do we know what it’s like to lose our homes, to not know where some of our loved ones are – if they are even still alive, or trapped somewhere in pain? Have we ever been in the situation where we had absolutely no idea whether we will have a home or food for tomorrow. I suspect some of you have had those experiences – in the war or after the war – or even during immigration. But still it’s not present in the same way as those people in Beirut over the last 4 days.
Are we in the same boat as minority peoples who often battle racism and its effects – not just through words as scathing or hurtful as they can be but also through deeds, played out in opportunities that don’t come their way because of the color of their skin, because of the ignorant stereotypes of those in places of influence, in charge of recruiting or hiring to offer such opportunities. Such stereotypes color families where parents and grandparents have been known to strongly discourage or even prohibit their children and grandchildren from dating someone, in their words, who is “different” from them.
Some of you are minority peoples in Canada. Some of you, who have been here the longest are viewed by others as a minority, as somehow different. Are we all together in the same boat?
Over the last 5 months we have been forced to realize that on this globe, like it or not, we are in the same boat. The pandemic of COVID 19 moves surreptitiously among all peoples, young and old, regardless of race, religion or creed.
3. So, let me ask you this: as would be followers of Jesus, regardless of where we are from originally, or how long we have been marked with the cross of Christ and wrestled with the Holy Spirit – are WE in the same boat?
I ask for two reasons. Firstly the Gospel lesson for today literally begs the question. Did you notice how at the very beginning of the text Jesus “made” the disciples get into the boat and head out onto the water of the sea of Galilee. That’s right, MADE.
Secondly, if you were actually physically present with me in this church building – you would be sitting in the part of the church that is not called the sanctuary (that is the part of the church where the altar is, behind the altar railing) but the part of the building which the congregation usually sits in is actually called the nave – from the Latin word Navis, which means boat. How fitting that is for this congregation of Trinity which originally had many fishermen as part of its body.
The reason for church buildings to be constructed and named in this way and named is to remind followers of Jesus that as part of the body of Christ, which is the meaning of the word Church, we are called to be on a journey – a journey that is initiated by God. The purpose of this journey is not just to get to the other side but to move throughout life with a profound sense of God’s presence, God’s empowerment, God’s love and mercy for all people and all creation whatever may or may not be happening in and around us.
4. As Jesus’ followers we are not just to stay put or seek foremost personal satisfaction and stability. Nor are we as followers of Jesus to see “our” faith as something merely “personal” and “private”. We are called to hear God’s commands through time immemorial – to love God with all we have – which most certainly includes the money we have been entrusted with and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Remember - our neighbors are all people including the people in Beirut, the people with COVID, the people who are proclaiming falsely that COVID is fake news – and all the people in our neighborhoods regardless of their racial or religious origins. This includes people we already like, those we are afraid of, those that irritate us. This is a command from God – an integral part of the journey we are on as followers of Jesus.
5. I need to tell you that this journey is and will often be difficult. See those disciples in today’s Gospel, the ones Jesus made get into the boat. They are out on the Sea of Galilee for hours. They are being blown around by winds from all directions. I don’t know whether they were afraid for their lives or not. The text doesn’t tell us. For sure some of them were accomplished fishermen. I am sure they were tired. They may have wondered why Jesus sent them out in circumstances where they couldn’t make any headway. That’s how we see them now, physically and emotionally exhausted. Remember all this occurs within a few days of Jesus hearing that John the Baptist, one whom Jesus knew, respected and loved had been brutally murdered by Herod on a whim, so that Herod “save face” at a party.
Grief was their companion. And then just when they and Jesus thought they could have some ‘down’ time alone, there had been all the people who wouldn’t leave Jesus alone. Over 5000 people had shown up. Somehow, miraculously, Jesus had fed them all. Following that he sent them on their boat. And now, they are caught in this storm and their exhaustion.
7. But then in the very midst of all that they glimpse a figure walking on the water. For their culture water, especially larger bodies of water were symbols of chaos – the home of forces that worked against life and goodness. It wouldn’t be out of the question that something evil could arise from those waters. So as they see that figure they are terrified. They cry out in fear.
8. But now ‘that figure’ identifies himself. It is Jesus. He speaks to them, “Take heart. I am. Do not be afraid. “
Now it becomes even more interesting. Peter, ever one to speak or act without thinking much, says (and here interpreters differ) “If it is you Lord, command me to come to you”. Or, “Since it is you Lord, command me to come to you”.
Jesus responds. “Come!” This part we may remember. Peter begins but stumbles and starts sinking. Can we ever identify. We start something. But then all that the task involves or even the resistance to the task from within or without or both overwhelms us. We give up
Though sinking Peter exercises what Jesus calls his “little” faith. Peter cries out to Jesus for help: “Lord, save me!” And miraculously, Jesus immediately reaches out his hand to Peter, holding him up, guiding him back into the boat to join with the others.
9. Dear people we are in the same boat, with all others! God, the creator of the universe, has placed us here to journey together on this planet earth alongside myriads of others of God’s creatures. There are incredible opportunities, challenges and wonders to be experienced and shared on this journey. May God help us to meet them with expectation and hope.
10. Dear people, in a special way, as followers of Jesus, we are all in the same boat. I am convinced that God has placed us in this boat together with others of many different races, many different political and economic convictions and perspectives. This is not by accident. We are in this boat to be moving at God’s behest, to flesh out the love, the hope, the mercy, the forgiveness of God with each other and all others, the very dream of God.
11. But don’t think that this journey will only be smooth sailing. It won’t. It can’t. Anything that is good that is wonderful, that seeks to include and involve all has challenges. That is something I have learned in my short 66 years of living outside my mother’s womb.
But also know this. Our journey is one with a purpose – a purpose that is God given and God gifted. We who have somehow miraculously become aware of the infinite, communal and personal love of God around us and within us involving blessings that include daily life and breath, minds that can both question and be amazed – friends and family that sometimes confuse, anger, frustrate and birth new life within us – and glimpses that somehow eventually or suddenly move us to the conviction that death and all its powers are no match for the love and mercy of God, fleshed out so powerfully in the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus – well, we could never somehow hoard that or attempt to keep it to ourselves. We are called by God to share all of these blessings, hope and dreams, with those whom we meet – not arrogantly but uniquely with the gifts we have been and are being given including our time, our talents and our financial resources. If we are not sure how to do this we are called to ask God for daily direction.
但也要认识到这一点。我们的旅程是一个有目的的旅程 - 一个上帝给的和上帝赐予的目的。我们奇迹般地意识到上帝在我们周围和我们内心无限的、共同的和个人的爱。这包括在日常生活中和呼吸的祝福，可以质疑和惊奇的心灵，有时会困惑，愤怒，挫败的朋友和家人，并在我们心中孕育新的生命。但以某种方式最终使我去们相信，死亡及其所有的力量都无法与上帝的爱和怜悯相提并论，在耶稣的生、苦、死和复活中得到了如此强大的充实，我们永远不会把它藏起来，也不可能试图把它藏起来。上帝呼召我们与我们相遇的人分享这所有的祝福、希望和梦想——这不是傲慢自大，而是独特地拥有我们已经和正在获得的礼物，这包括我们的时间、才干和财力。如果我们不确定如何做到这一点，我们就被呼召向上帝祈求每日的方向。
12. Sometimes this means we may need to stay in the boat with some others, as we wait for God through Jesus and the very Spirit of God to come to us, to direct us in ways we can fathom. At other times this means that one or more of us may need to jump out of the boat, even to invite and challenge others to join us as we seek to follow what we have been moved as Christ’s urging.
Always, always, dear people, this means realizing that we are not alone! This is especially so when we are terrified. Be not fooled. On this global journey as we face climate change, as we realize maybe for the first time the power of systemic racism and our parts in that, and with God’s help seek to make changes beginning with ourselves, will we be like Peter, trying at first by our own “power” or...
13. Will we, as our eyes and ears are opened to hear and see Jesus, sometimes in the places or through the people or things we least expect, with Peter cry out, “Lord, save us!”? As we cry and seek to follow Jesus God will give us the courage. As that occurs like the early physically and emotionally exhausted disciples, we will be enabled to take heart and follow not might take heard and follow not merely ourselves, nor be limited or captured by our fears. As our minds, ears and eyes are opened we can be given the courage to follow Jesus. And then dear people, who knows what is, what can, what will happen? We may get to the other side and by God’s grace be agents of new life and mercy. Yes, even us. I suspect at least some of that is happening right now. Be assured – there is more to do. For Jesus is truly the Son of God and loves his entire creation, including all and all others more than we can imagine. So many have yet to experience the concreteness of that love… Amen.
Job 42:1-17 and Romans 8:26-39 July 26, 2020 TLC
If God is for us, who can be against us? Job: Finding a Foothold
约伯记42:1-17和罗马书 8:26-39 2020年7月26日TLC
We gather on the traditional and ancestral territory of the Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking peoples, including Tsawwassen and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam). We recognize our neighbours the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Tsleil-Waututh, Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen, Hwiltsum, and Qayqayt First Nations. As traditional territories overlapped, they too may have a relationship with the lands we now call Delta.
我们聚集在传统的Hən̓q̓min̓m̓m̓祖先的领土上，包括 Tsawwassen和xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam)， 我们将Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Tsleil-Waututh, Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen, Hwiltsum, 和 Qayqayt 的原住民视为我们的邻居。由于传统领土的重叠，它们也许与我们现在称之为三角洲的这片土地有联系。
Announcements: Neighbourhood clean-up, badminton and campfire at Pastor’s house Friday night, Virtual Pride week starting Saturday check out events on-line, Walk at Rice Lake in North Vancouver Sunday morning 9AM, tailgate picnic at church parking lot Sunday night 6PM with bell ringing, White Fragility small group
Intro to reading Job 42…Job has argued with his friends for 37 chapters about his innocence in the face of unjust suffering and demanding an answer from God. His big question: WHY is this happening to me? Finally, God asks Job a series of questions. If we listen to these questions, they have a way of showing us our place in the universe, much like an astronaut who glimpses the earth from space. Where were you when the earth was formed from the dust of stars? Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? Where is the way to the dwelling of light? Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or walked in the recesses of the deep? Hearing this barrage of questions, Job is ready to shut up and listen. As Job listens, he comes to see God, to see through God’s eyes. And Job answers the Lord:
Kids’ message: Romans 8 If God is for us, who can be against us? How do we know if someone is for us? Or just with us? Jesus prays for you
***Story of a husband making dinner for his family while his wife teaches a class on-line or story of carrying a backpack too heavy to manage…bring my pack…burdened by the load, Jesus comes alongside us to lighten our burden, to give us a foothold.***
Sin: pride we turn away from God….or self-deprecating we melt…Job doesn’t know his place until he has moved into suffering and voiced his sense of abandonment…Jesus enters into human limitations, he entered into it fully but didn’t fight his creatureliness like we all do. He struggled, “not my will” and cried out “where are you? Have you abandoned me?” and submitted to being fully human in dying on the cross. Jesus comes to us when we think too highly of ourselves or when we are melting into the ground and gives us our rightful place…like lightening the burden we carry on our back…giving us a foothold.
I love to read autobiographies, where you get to walk into someone’s life from their own perspective. Lately, while I make dinner and harvest raspberries from our backyard, I’ve been listening to Michelle Obama tell her life story in the bestselling book: Becoming. Michelle gives me a window into her childhood growing up on the south side of Chicago, her relationship with her older brother, a star basketball athlete who paved the way for her socially and academically. And what it was like growing up with a Dad who was more and more limited by the degeneration of multiple sclerosis. She never remembers her Dad running, but rather beginning to use a cane and refusing to quit working in the water filtration plant or go to the doctor. Michelle tells how her mother intervened when she was in third grade in order to develop a curriculum at her southside public school that stimulated learning for her classmates in a way her teacher was failing to provide, and how that opened up the world to her young mind.
I love listening first-hand to Michelle speak about her life, what she’s learned, how she has become who she is. In the midst of global pandemic, I bet we are all starved for firsthand conversation, hearing another person tell their story to us directly. So much of what we are fed is a regular diet of second-hand information, hearsay is another word for it. A reporter says something about what this person said or did, or what is happening in the world. I wasn’t orbiting the international space station last month, but I heard a report about one of the astronauts who said: “An earth in crisis is still an earth worth returning to.”
As infection rates continue to climb at an alarming rate in the southern United States, and even more in B.C., we continue to be aware of the fragility of our life together here on earth. The systems we had trusted in to keep us safe, to keep us financially secure, are no longer secure. Richard Rohr (Job and the Mystery of Suffering) says “the trouble with so many of us is that we opt to stand in one little system---the American system, the Christian system …. or the white middle class system…and stand in it justified and self-assured. We think we have all the answers, but we’re not very wise.” Job calls us beyond the systems. “The only way the Lord can call us beyond the system we stand in, is by making the system fall apart. That’s called suffering. It’s how God shows us that life is always bigger than we presently imagine it. Faith allows us deliberately to live in a shaky position so that we have to rely upon Another.”
For many years of our lives, we may rely on second-hand knowledge about God… what the church says about God, or what my pastor says about God, or what my parents say about God. We may rely on second-hand knowledge about God until we find ourselves in the trenches, suffering and struggling to understand why. I relied on second-hand knowledge about God until I was 14 years old, when I began to wonder if this god-stuff was real, if God actually listened when I cried, laughed, and wondered about my place in the world. If I prayed, would it make a difference? If someone suffered, did God even care?
When we find ourselves pushed against a wall with no way out, finding no relief, second-hand knowledge of God, hearsay about God, doesn’t hold any power…God becomes like sand sifting through our hands instead of a rock, a firm place to stand. When we are really struggling, hearing someone say about God, “God has a bigger plan” or “all things happen for a reason” falls flat. Hearing Romans 8:28 will bring no comfort to those in pain: “we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose.” These statements all may be true, but it’s not the gospel for someone suffering, not the good news that raises us up from death and despair, a word that sets us free to trust God and love our neighbour. At such times what we want to do is curse God. Hearing this while suffering may lead someone to think, maybe I don’t love God enough…that’s why I’m suffering, or maybe I’m not called to God’s purpose…that’s why I feel abandoned. Such thoughts lead us deeper into despair, just as Job’s friends string him along.
Job’s friends bring him second-hand knowledge about God, one after the other, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. If you read Ch 38-42, you will notice they never speak directly to God, they don’t pray with him, they just spout what they’ve heard about God, second hand, in Job’s face. In the midst of these arguments, Job has hoped to see God firsthand, for himself when he says, “I’m nothing but a bag of bones; my life hangs on by a thread…still, I know that God lives---the One who gives me back my life—and eventually God will take a stand on earth. And I’ll see God—even though I get skinned alive---see God myself, with my very own eyes. Oh, how I long for that day!” (The Message Ch 19:20,26, Eugene Peterson translation)
约伯的朋友们，一个接一个地给他带来了关于上帝的二手知识，就是以利法 (Eliphaz)、比勒达 (Bildad) 和琐法 (Zophar)。如果你读第38-42章，你会注意到他们从来没有直接跟上帝说话，他们不跟他一起祈祷，他们只是在约伯的面前把他们听到的关于上帝的二手知识说出来。在这些争论中，约伯希望亲眼见到上帝，他说：“我只不过是一袋骨头，我的生命悬在一根线上……然而，我知道上帝活着——他把我的生命还给了我，最终上帝会在地球上站稳脚跟。即使我被活剥了皮，我也要去见上帝，亲眼看到上帝。哦，我多么渴望那一天！“（The Message Ch 19:20,26，Eugene Peterson翻译）
Finally, the Lord asks Job a series of questions: If we listen to these questions, one after another, they have a way of showing us our place in the universe, much like an astronaut who glimpses the earth from space. Like Rodger Wu who took the front-page photo of the NEOWISE comet hurling through the universe right now, visible at a distance of 103 km from Vancouver tonight. The comet’s tail leaving a trail of gas and dust debris visible from the night sky of Westham Island. Where were you when the earth was formed from the dust of stars? Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?
最后，上帝问了约伯一系列的问题：如果我们一个接一个地听到这些问题，它们会向我们展示出我们在宇宙中的位置，就像宇航员从太空中俯瞰地球一样。就像Rodger Wu，他在拍摄了NEOWISE彗星在宇宙中穿梭的头版照片，今晚在距离温哥华103公里的地方可以看到。这颗彗星的尾部留下了一道从西汉姆岛（Westham Island）夜空中可见的气体和尘埃碎片。当地球由星尘形成时，你在哪里？是谁设计了宇宙的蓝图与尺寸？
With these questions, Job is brought to a whole new place to stand in silence. Last week, as youth and parents joined the Cougar Canyon Streamkeepers to tend to the raingarden at Sungod Rec Center and McCloskey Elementary, they were taking their place in our interconnected world, preventing the death of salmon fry, that you see pictured in the newsletter where this worship service was embedded. Salmon fry that perished as a result of human negligence, dumping a contaminate down the storm drain in our neighbourhoods. When we find our place in the world, we, like Job, are humbled and open to loving those who suffer. CLWR has made an urgent plea for us to stand with those around the developing world for whom the pandemic means their children go hungry.
带着这些问题，约伯被带到了一个全新的地方，静静地站着。上周，当年轻人和父母加入Cougar Canyon Streamkeepers，前往Sungod 体育中心和McCloskey小学的雨水花园时，他们在这个相互联系的世界中找到了自己的位置，防止了鲑鱼鱼苗的死亡，你可以在推送这期敬拜视频的通讯中看到这张照片。由于人类的疏忽，将污染物倾倒在我们附近的雨水排放管道中，导致了鲑鱼鱼苗的死亡。当我们在这个世界上找到自己的位置时，我们和约伯一样，都是谦卑的，愿意去爱那些受苦的人。CLWR紧急呼吁我们与发展中国家的人们站在一起，对他们来说，大流行意味着他们的孩子会挨饿。
Standing in silence, Job says to the Lord: “I’m convinced...I know that you can do all things…you asked, ‘who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head…. I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand---from my own eyes and ears! I had heard of you second-hand but now my mind has been changed; now my eye sees you. I’ll never again live on the crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.” (excerpts from The Message, Job 42:1-6 Eugene Peterson, NRSV Lutheran study Bible notes)
约伯默默地站着，对上帝说：“我确信……我知道你可以做所有的事……你问我，‘谁在搅混水，无知地混淆是非，猜测我的目的？“我承认。我就是那个人。我喋喋不休地谈论着我所不知道的事情，在我的脑海里谈论不可想象的奇迹…。我承认我曾经听到过关于你的谣言；但现在我已经掌握了所有一手信息——通过我自己的眼睛和耳朵获到的信息！我曾经通过二手的信息听说过你，但现在我已经改变主意了；现在我的眼睛看到了你。我再也不会生活在传闻的外壳，谣言的碎片上了。”（摘自信息，约伯记42:1-6尤金彼得森 Eugene Peterson，NRSV路德教会研究圣经笔记）
What does it take to see the Lord? In order to move from knowing about God, second-hand, like a rumor, to meeting God first-hand, we need to feel what it means to be empty, abandoned, uncared for and cry out to God directly, firsthand, with our whole being. This change of position is conversion…metanoia…it means turning around or changing our mind. This kind of conversion happens again and again throughout our lives as we enter into suffering, our own and the suffering of other people and all creatures.
Job changes his mind concerning dust and ashes. Dust and ashes are a metaphor describing the place of human beings in relationship with God. We are all made from star dust and will return to the earth as ash. This metaphor of dust and ash comes from Abraham praying to God to have mercy on Sodom: “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.” (Genesis 18:27) We are all but dust and ash. While at the same time beloved of God, a uniquely evolved combination of star dust that will only be in this particular combination once in the span of all time, so how are we called to live this one wild life we’ve been given?
In the end, God is fed up with Job’s friends. What they’ve said about God, their second-hand talk has not been honest with or about God.
Through suffering, and the agonizing process of wondering why, Job has finally been given God’s eye view and realized God’s perspective is not the same as his own… “Job thinks God should be sensible, well-adapted to human purposes and predictable. God calls Job to take his human place in a ravishing but dangerous world…to let go of his personal expectations which are always too small for the huge freedom built into the world.” (Ellen Davis in Getting Involved with God) Job chooses, even at the risk of more suffering, to love again as his wife gives birth to more children. In modern Israel, it’s been said, the most courageous act of faith was to have babies after the Holocaust, to trust God with more defenseless children. That’s what we do when we become parents. We open ourselves to the terrible vulnerability of loving those whom we cannot protect against suffering and death. God restores all of Job’s losses…gives him a new place from which to live out his days.
In all of this, Job realizes what Paul tells the Christ followers in Rome, who are struggling to trust God in the midst of hardship that threatens to separate them from the love of Christ…If God is for us, even in the midst of this pain, who is against us? Not only is God with us, but is for us, coming alongside us to lighten the load we carry, to give us a foothold on the portage, so that we can keep going. Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God revealed fully in Christ, who has gone down into the depths of human struggle to bring us to a new place.
Pentecost 7a, 2020 (July 19, Trinity Lutheran Church) virtual worship
PAINFUL GROANING AND HOPE: GOD, CREATION INCLUDING AND INVOLVING US
Texts - Psalm 139: 1-12, 23, 24; Romans 8:12–25
Key Verses –
Psalm 139 – 1. O LORD, you have searched me and known me... 24. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way ever lasting.
诗篇139 – 1.0 耶和华啊，你已经鉴察我，认识我。。。24. 看在我里面有什么恶行没有，引导我走永生的道路。
Romans 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
罗马书8:22 我们知道一切受造之物一同叹息，劳苦，直到如今。 23 不但如此，就是我们这有圣灵初结果子的，也是有自己心里叹息，等候得着儿子的名分，乃是我们的身体得输。24 我们得救是在乎盼望；只是所见的呢？25 但我们苦盼望那所不见的，就必忍耐等候。
O precious ones of God, grace to you and peace from God the Creator, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in One. Amen.
There is so much pain around us... There is pain within us. Are you aware of it?
I remember, years ago but it seems like yesterday. It was 5 am on a beautiful early summer morning. The sun was just rising. I was getting up to write my sermon. I was walking across our church building’s parking lot. And then I heard it. The yelling was unmistakeably painful. It was frightening. For this wasn’t the kind of yelling that was caused by a slight frustration where someone forgets something that is promised. No this was the kind of yelling where danger is in the air, cutting the air like a knife. This yelling reflected anger and fear where a woman’s very well being was at risk. What should I do? What would I do as I was on my way to write my sermon, in the face of my own fear and my time deadline?
I remember this for a number of reasons but not the least of which is because of the increased danger of domestic violence in this COVID time as people are being inside with just each other for prolonged periods of time. For quite a while people weren’t going into work, places where others might observe the bruises, the cuts. Even now many children aren’t going to school or daycare where others, any other might sense the pain or hear their story.
I also think about this because of Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians. Here Paul talks very directly about the suffering of the present time and the groaning of creation. Ah, yes, the groaning of creation.
Don’t we know, aren’t we intimately involved in the groaning of creation? Suffering is all around us and within us. Often even ads ‘kill’ me. Sometimes they should ‘kill’ us. Have you heard this one on the radio? A young woman speaks. She talks about the inconveniences of COVID 19 for so many of us. She says, “You know they say we’re all in this together. And then you complain about having to stay at home. But I don’t have a home...” She goes on: “You know you complain about waiting in line for groceries. But at least you have money to buy groceries. I don’t.” And I am moved – to think about how I often waste money, God has entrusted to me. I am moved to think about what I can do to help, hear, be supportive of others like her. Her ad – no, her voice gets me to be aware of her groaning and suffering. (bp)
难道我们不知道吗，我们难道不是与受造物的呻吟息息相关吗？痛苦就在我们周围和我们的内心里。甚至广告也常常会令我痛苦，有时候也应该让我们痛苦。你在收音机里听过这个吗？一个年轻的女人讲的。她谈到了COVID19给我们很多人带来的不便。她说：“你知道他们说我们都在同一条船上。然后你抱怨不得不待在家里。但我没有家……”她接着说：“你知道你们抱怨要排队买食品杂货。但至少你们还有钱买食品杂货，可我没有” 我很感动——这令我想到我是如何浪费上帝赋予我的金钱的， 令我想到我能做些什么来帮助、倾听、支持像她这样的人。她的宣告----不，她的声音让我意识到她的呻吟和痛苦。
I am also forced to embrace the groaning of creation as I think about one of my closest friends. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about 20 years ago. His career as a Physical Education teacher then suddenly ended. He was in his 40’s. He was told then by his neurologist that within a year or so he would need to be institutionalized. But he battled and battled. He stayed active, in many ways willing his body to keep, keeping on. Some 17 or 18 years after his diagnosis with Parkinson’s he contracted cancer. With the help and support of many, primarily his wife, he overcame that and now lives with a colostomy. Last year at the urging of a number of Parkinson’s experts he underwent brain surgery to stem the progress of the Parkinson’s disease. But then he developed an infection inside his head and had to have the surgery re done. Can we even begin to imagine? And now he has suffered a serious spinal cord injury and lies in hospital. My friend is only one living example of so many who face incredibly difficult and painful health challenges. But he is my friend, a husband, a father. And I cannot, I must not run from or try to escape all of their suffering, their groaning.
Just lately many of us have become aware of the human suffering and groaning outside of ourselves. There is systemic racism – yes in the US but also here at home. It’s not new. It’s been going on around the world, I suspect from the beginning of time, however we mark that. But for many of us, even despite the Truth and Reconciliation Commission “findings” and call for action from all of us, for the first time we are beginning to be aware of our parts in systemic racism. For the first time many of us are beginning to ask ourselves – how are we contributing to systemic racism? How can we, how must we change? How can we hear others, and be open to the changes that must happen within and without so that all Indigenous and black lives matter to all of us? (bp)
Finally, and just as importantly we need to realize that it’s not only people who are suffering and groaning. No! The entire creation is groaning. Paul underlines this. We, the so-called developed world people have taken creation for granted, often treating it as a commodity, to be seen as something outside of us, disconnected from us, to be treated as a commodity, enslaved to us! Instead, God has shown us that all of creation, including we human beings, people of the earth, are inextricably linked to each other. The polar ice caps are melting, the water and earth is warming. And there are dire consequences. Species are becoming extinct at alarming rates. Fires, windstorms and hurricanes intensify. Small islands are beginning to disappear. And so many, suffer and die. This suffering and dying will involve and effect not only us, but generations to come, people, other species, the fabric of creation - air, water, land. (bp)
All of this has the capacity to plunge us into despair. Sometimes I, myself, teeter on the edge of despair feeling helpless, even hopeless. The suffering, the pain, the death are overwhelming. The powers and forces that are beyond me, of which I am still part, drive the carnage of the earth. The temptations in the light and darkness of all of this, are to hide or literally bury ourselves in self indulgence or in the sands of the busyness of our ‘own’ lives. Some may even give into the temptation to dwell on “their” future in some kind of disembodied state and call that “religion” or even “faith”. Marx rightly called that kind of religion the “opiate of the masses.”
But Paul would lift us up from such temptations. He reminds us that those ways are not Jesus’ way! The Psalmist agrees with Paul. For us to forget others, to disregard them is not God’s way!
The Psalmist makes this crystal clear. God knows, God cares for us and FOR ALL PEOPLE. God intimately knows and cares for us and all people with deep love, abundant mercy and justice that plumbs the depths of all that is. Because God knows us so deeply and intimately, because God links us to God’s own self, to all others and the rest of creation, we are vulnerable! But this vulnerability, though often difficult is also very good. We can love! We can hurt!
St. Paul proclaims incredibly good news. We are given the very Spirit of God through Jesus whom God raised from the dead. And that Spirit of God, dear, precious people births within us hope. Such hope, grounded in God’s action, is not mere optimism. Such hope is far, far removed from wishful thinking, which when troubles arise often disappears as quickly as any other mirage.
圣保罗 (St. Paul) 宣布了难以置信的好消息。神的灵是耶稣赐给我们的，神令耶稣从死里复活。上帝的灵魂，亲爱的，宝贵的人们，在我们心中孕育着希望。这种希望不仅仅只是一种乐观，它根植于上帝的行动。这种希望与一厢情愿的想法相去甚远，一厢情愿的想法在出现麻烦的时候往往会像其他幻景一样迅速消失。
But such hope isn’t easy. For this hope encompasses that which is now but also not yet. This hope is like a baby growing in her/his mother. She and others can feel that baby. Yet the baby is not yet born. The baby cannot be born until and after those birth pangs – those excruciating and anxiety causing birth pangs.
So we are. There are moments when we actually see the Spirit of God vibrantly acting in others, in ourselves, in creation. Think about when you behold God at work! (bp)
I see my 3-year-old granddaughter telling me, “I love you poppy”. I see a man, caught up in the throes of addiction going to his first AA meeting. I see a woman, a mother having the courage and I mean courage, leave her abusive partner. Ah, there is new life. There is God working to bring new life in so many ways.
But such hope is not yet fully completed. I suspect there will be days when my granddaughter doesn’t show her old poppy her love – or worse yet I fail her. The man in AA may have a slip or many. The woman may feel compelled to go back to that abusive partner, to give him one more chance. (bp)
So it is that we gather dear people – in person, or virtually around the Word of God. We must know that this Word can never be contained by a book, as amazing as it is. Rather this Word is embodied in God’s own Son, Jesus the Christ, in His life, in His suffering for others, in His death and in His being raised. We gather to hear of His love for us and all creation. We gather to be empowered by God, the Creator, the Son and the Spirit to share God’s love and forgiveness, to be emboldened by God to try living with God’s love and hope again and again with and for others and creation.
因此，我们跟亲爱的人聚会 -- 面对面，或在网上，我们沉浸在上帝的话语中。我们必须知道，这个话语永远不可能囊括在一本书里，尽管这本书很神奇。更确切地说，这些话体现在上帝的儿子耶稣基督里，在他的生命中，在他为别人所受的苦难中，在他的死亡中，和在他的复活中。我们聚在一起倾听他对我们和所有受造物的爱。当我们聚集在一起时，我们被上帝，造物主，圣子，圣灵赋予力量来分享上帝的爱和宽恕，被上帝鼓舞去尝试心怀上帝的爱和希望，一次又一次地与其他人和其他受造物一起生活。
We all belong to God. We need to be reminded that nothing can separate us from God! In Christ we see God’s love, mercy and suffering for all.
So, dear people, may our eyes, our ears, our hearts and minds be widely opened to each other, to all creation – yes -to the groaning, the suffering, the injustice that is around and within. May God show us and may we be opened to our part in all of that...
May we also be opened to how we must be changed, day by day in big ways and small ways. For dear people, we can be changed and change. We can be part of the change God dreams of, God longs for that we can long for – where indigenous lives matter, where black lives matter to all because God cares. We can work at, we can strive for living as brothers and sisters, hearing each other, bearing one another’s burdens and joys, praying, giving to and for each other, weeping together, dancing together, eating and drinking together.
Dear people, this is the hope that has its source in God, that we behold as Jesus lives, suffers and dies but is also raised again for all people and all creation. This is hope that hears and enters into all suffering and groaning but somehow is also led by God into new life.
Dear people let us live with, die with and live from such hope. Indeed who knows what then can and will happen ... for Christ’s sake and the sake of this world, Amen.
Job 31:35-7, 38:1-11 Psalm 13 July 5, 2020
Out of the Whirlwind
When someone we love is suffering, crying out “How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever? …. How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?” These ancient words from Psalm 13 are on the lips of those who suffer today. In the face of such suffering, often people wonder why; saying, there must be a reason. We may try to take their pain away or try to figure out why so many bad things are happening. Convinced of his moral innocence, at first Job believes that always choosing to do the right thing should’ve warded off disaster, should’ve protected him from suffering. Initially, Job believes he is a man of integrity and the world is a manageable place run by a demanding but predictable God who owes the righteous the good life. But by time we hear him today, Job finally rests his case, takes a break from arguing with his friends. He comes to a new place of quiet, where he listens to God question him: Where were you when the foundations of the earth were laid? Tell me if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who laid its cornerstone, when all the morning stars sang together…
Job knows the answer to these questions. He wasn’t there at the beginning of all things. Job is not God. This is a really big deal; Job is discovering the way to find true peace. Realizing, like Job, we are not God, that God doesn’t operate the way we’d like, according to the way we humans would prefer, is a way to find true wisdom, to find true peace. We all know the answer to these rhetorical questions…it wasn’t Job who laid the foundations of the earth and shut in the sea with doors and walked in the recesses of the deep. With these questions, God takes Job on a walking tour of the universe.
Barbara Brown Taylor, author, teacher and Episcopal priest, began writing about the way science and faith work together, which I first read twenty years ago in her book, The Luminous Web. She reflects on who God is, which is what these questions invite Job to do:
In Sunday school, I learned to think of God as a very old white-bearded man on a throne, who stood above creation and occasionally stirred it with a stick. When I am dreaming quantum dreams, what I see is an infinite web of relationship, flung across the vastness of space like a luminous net. It is made of energy, not thread. As I look, I can see light moving through it as a pulse moves through veins. What I see “out there” is no different from what I feel inside. There is a living hum that might be coming from my neurons but might just as well be coming from the furnace of the stars. When I look up at them there is a small commotion in my bones, as the ashes of dead stars that house my marrow rise up like metal filings toward the magnet of their living kin. (Barbara Brown Taylor, The Luminous Web: Essays on Science and Religion (Cowley Publications: 2000), 73–74.)
芭芭拉布朗泰勒，(Barbara Brown Taylor) 作家、教师，圣公会牧师，开始写有关科学和信仰如何共同协作的书籍，这是我20年前在她的书《发光的网络》中第一次读到的。她反思上帝是谁，这些问题也一样引导约伯去反思：
Barbara is conceiving God as this vast web of relationship that brings everything to life. We are not alone…we are part of this web, with “energy available to us that has been around since the universe was born.” As I head out on my bike these days, it gives me a chance to notice what is happening in the world around me, to breathe in the exhaust from cars nearby, breathe out as I greet my neighbours walking on the sidewalk, or listen to the vireo singing it’s heart out in the cedar tree. Something happens each day when I venture out, something that reminds me I am a human being, grounded in the midst of a planet orbiting around a star that keeps us warm, allowing seeds to germinate, raspberries to ripen, everything to live.
God invites Job to step outside, beyond himself, take a look around, to notice the stars in the heavens, the intricacy of a spider’s web, and wonder how did all of this come to be? God asks Job to take a giant step backwards to the beginning of the cosmos, with a series of questions that give Job a new place in the universe. With these questions, Job is thrown into the vastness of the cosmos, the chaos of the sea, into forces beyond his control. “Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb…and said, ‘Thus far shall you come and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped’?” (Job 38) With these questions, God walks Job through the beginning, what we now call the big bang, as scientists make an educated guess about what sparked a singularity to explode into elements containing the seeds of carbon life forms. God isn’t addressing his suffering directly. Instead, God seems to be asking: where are you, what is your place, Job, in all of this?
Job finally comes to the end of his argument with God and his friends, to realize there may be no good reason that he suffers. God says, “Look away from yourself. Look around you, far back in time right up to now, Job.” For a moment see the world with my eyes, in its intricacy and wild beauty. The beauty is in the wildness. You cannot tame all that frightens you in this one wildlife you’ve been given without losing the beauty. (adapted from Ellen Davis in Getting Involved with God)
Consider the great sea dragon, the Leviathan. Both the sea and Leviathan in the ancient Near east were a symbol and force of chaos. Many stories in ancient Mesopotamian and Canaanite literature are about the gods’ defeating the sea at the beginning of the cosmos. It was thought that a battle with the sea needed to happen before creation came into existence. But here in Job, as in Genesis, the God revealed in the scriptures doesn’t fight against the sea, but rather is a midwife, giving birth to the sea. And like a rambunctious toddler who needs to be restrained so that it doesn’t hurt itself or others, God makes sure the sea has a place in creation with boundaries, so it doesn’t overrun the rest of creation. God delights in everything, even the sea and the great Leviathan, swimming wild and free. God asks Job, will you make the great Leviathan your pet? Tame and control it?
想想伟大的海龙，利维坦 (Leviathan)。古代近东的海洋和利维坦都象征着混乱和力量。在古代美索不达米亚(Mesopotamian) 和迦南石 (Canaanite) 文学中，许多故事都是关于神在宇宙开始的时候是如何打败大海的。有些人认为，在造物主出现之前，需要与大海进行一场战斗。但在约伯记中，正如在创世纪中一样，圣经中所揭示的神并没有与海争战，而是象一个接生婆，生了海。就像一个挑剔的蹒跚学步的孩子一样，他需要克制自己，以免伤害自己或其他人，上帝确保海洋在受造物中有其边界，这样它就不会侵犯其他受造之物。上帝爱一切事物，即便是大海和巨大的利维坦，上帝也爱，让它们自由地游动着。上帝问约伯，你愿意把大利维坦当作你的宠物吗？驯服并控制它？
One year ago, I was driving into White Rock on Oxford Road, and caught a glimpse of a huge gray whale, at least five times the size of the whale watching boat that was pulling up nearby, with people who’d paid good money to catch a view. I was determined and terrified to launch my kayak and paddle near this magnificent creature who calls the ocean home, swimming from the birthing bath of Mexico to the coast of Alaska to feed each summer. Paddling nearby gave me a glimpse of the power and freedom that expresses who God is in this vast universe.
According to commentator Ellen Davis, the great question God poses to Job and every other person of integrity: Can we love what we do not control?
根据评论员艾伦戴维斯 （Ellen Davis）的说法，上帝对约伯和其他人提出了一个伟大的问题：我们是否能爱我们不能控制的东西？
Anyone who has raised a child knows that we are called to love our son/daughter whom we cannot control. When teens begin making their own way in the world, every parent realizes they are not in control of choices their child makes. As parents, we are called to love, not control, our children. Love is, ultimately, about allowing another to live freely, which is tricky as a human being grows, right? Every human being is created with the freedom to become their own person, separate from their parent, unique from every other human being. As parents, we try to figure out how to love in such a way that leads to freedom for our sons and daughters. If we dictate their every move, they will never develop the confidence and freedom to live on their own…and they will live under their parents’ direction forever.
Could it be that God’s way of being in the universe has nothing to do with our human standards of right and wrong? Ellen Davis presumes that ‘God’s involvement with the world is expressed in huge, unapologetic delight in creation whose outstanding quality is magnificent: power and freedom on a bewildering and terrifying scale.’ We see this in the sea, in creatures like a Leviathan, a great sea dragon, in a gray whale navigating Boundary Bay.
God shows Job a self-giving generosity that brings another into free being. Like a loving parent raising a son/daughter, God loves but does not control us or any created thing…May the peace that surpasses human understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Job 14:7-15, 19:23-27 Psalm 31:1-10, 14-15 June 28, 2020 TLC
When God seems hidden: I Know That My Redeemer Lives
约伯14:7-15，19:23-27诗篇31:1-10，14-15 2020年6月28日 TLC
On the streets of Minneapolis, where protests have taken place, artists are calling out for racial justice on the boarded up store fronts …Be the change you want to see in the world: Ghandi, Strange Fruit: Billy Holiday’s song about racial violence in the south, embrace hope, I hope you hear inside my voice of sorrow, and that it motivates you to make a better tomorrow: Stevie Wonder, Living in the City
在明尼阿波利斯街头上，发生抗议的地方，艺术家们在用木板围起来的店面上呼吁种族正义……成为你想在世界上看到的改变：甘地 (Ghandi)，奇异的水果 (Strange Fruit)：比利霍利德 (Billy Holiday)， 关于南方种族暴力的歌曲，拥抱希望，我希望你能听到我内心悲伤的声音，它激励着你去创造一个更美好的明天：史蒂夫旺德(Stevie Wonder)，住在城市里 (Living in the City)
Last Friday, the 19th, was a day called Juneteenth. I was not familiar with this day when it popped up on my calendar, so I found out more. When you don’t know something, go investigate. Juneteenth is a day for commemorating something enslaved African people prayed for, fought for, hoped, for centuries after arriving in America. Many hoped yet believed the day of freedom would never come. The freeing of slaves was legislated by the thirteenth amendment to the US Constitution in January 1863 with President Abraham Lincoln’s signature. But until the civil war between the northern and southern states ended in April 1865, the proclamation was meaningless. On June 19, 1865, the Union Army General Gordan Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas where slaves had not yet been set free. The General said, “In accordance with this proclamation, all slaves are free,” announcing the thirteenth amendment for the first time in Texas. This led to the freeing of 4 million slaves in the southern United States. For a short while federal troops from the north provided food, medicine and shelter for the freed slaves; protecting them from those southern slave owners who wanted them to remain enslaved. When the federal troops pulled out of the south, the freed slaves were no longer protected. Racially fueled violence against the black community has continued randomly down through the decades since 1865 in America. From 1865 to the 1960’s many southern states passed Jim Crow laws that kept the black community segregated from public spaces such as churches, schools, restaurants, sporting events, and many opportunities such as jobs. If anyone spoke out against the Jim Crow laws, they would be shunned at church, work, school. The police force evolved from vigilante groups who enforced this racist legislation in local communities.
上个星期五，也就是19号，是一个叫Juneteenth的日子。当它出现在我的日历上时，我并不了解这一天是什么日子, 就多了解了些。当你不知道的时候，去调查。Juneteenth是一个纪念被奴役的非洲人民在到达美国几个世纪后为之祈祷、战斗、希望的日子。许多人希望自由的日子永远不会到来。1863年1月，美国宪法第十三修正案在亚伯拉罕林肯（Abraham Lincoln）总统的签署下，通过立法，释放奴隶。但直到1865年4月南部和北部各州之间的内战结束，这一宣言才有意义。1865年6月19日，联邦军将军戈尔丹格兰杰（Gordon Granger）抵达德克萨斯州加尔维斯顿，那里的奴隶还没被释放。将军说：“根据这一宣言，所有奴隶都是自由的。”他在德克萨斯州正式宣布了第十三修正案。这导致美国南部400万奴隶获释。有一段时间，北方的联邦军队为获释的奴隶提供食物、药品和住所；保护他们免受南方奴隶主的奴役。当联邦军队撤出南方时，被释放的奴隶不再受到保护。自1865年以来，在美国，由种族引发针对黑人社区的暴力事件在几十年中一直持续不断。从1865年到1960年，许多南部州通过了吉姆克劳法案 （Jim Crow Laws），将黑人社区与许多公共场所，教堂、学校、餐馆、体育赛事，以及许多工作机会等隔绝。如果有人公然反对吉姆克劳法案，他们就会在教堂、工作场所、和学校受到排挤。警察部队就是从当地社区执行这项种族主义立法的团体演变而来的。
Ta-Nehisi Coates says the enslaved African community made a down payment on America’s mortgage. Americans are indebted. Here in Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has at least opened a door to healing between Indigenous and Settler communities. The question then becomes how do we walk in the way of repairing the debt? What do we owe one another? What could Americans learn from Canadians in opening such a door?
塔内希西科茨 (Ta-Nehisi Coates) 说，被奴役的非洲裔社区支付了美国抵押贷款的首付款，意指美国人负债累累。在加拿大，真相与和解委员会至少为土著社区和定居者社区之间的关系的修复打开了一扇大门。现在的问题是我们如何走在这条关系修复的道路上？我们欠对方什么？美国人能从加拿大人那里学到什么？
Like our brothers and sisters crying out in pain at racial injustice, Job rails against God not as a skeptic or stranger to God’s justice but as a believer, struggling to understand why. Suffering loss of wealth, senseless death of his sons and daughters, loss of health and human dignity, Job cries out at the injustice, saying its more than he can bear. The more he talks, the more confident he becomes in arguing his case against his friends and with God. His friends keep looking for what he’s done to deserve such foul treatment. Eliphaz accuses Job of being a wind bag, arguing with unprofitable talk, in words which do no good. Bildad insists Job should repent, saying Job has forgotten God. And that his children must’ve sinned in order to be killed. If you repent, Bildad says, then God will restore you to your rightful place. But Job refutes his friends, insisting he has does not deserve such pain and loss, turning directly to God as a Judge from whom he demands mercy. German poet from the 18th century, Goethe, expresses the strong way Job lays hold of God, our Rock:
And so at last the sailor lays
Upon the rock on which he had
就像我们的兄弟姐妹因种族不公而痛哭流涕一样，约伯不是以怀疑论者或陌生人的身份对待上帝的正义，而是以一个信徒的身份，竭力想弄明白为什么会这样。约伯遭受着失去财富、失去儿女、失去健康和失去尊严的痛苦，他对这种不公大声疾呼，说他无法忍受。他议论得越多，就越有信心与朋友和上帝辩论。他的朋友们一直在寻找他所做的某一件事导致他遭受如此恶劣的境遇。以利法 (Eliphaz) 指责约伯是个夸夸其谈人，用无益的言语争辩。比勒达 (Bildad) 坚持认为约伯应该忏悔，说约伯忘记了上帝。他的孩子一定是犯了罪才被杀。比勒达说，如果你悔改，上帝会恢复你应有的地位。但约伯驳斥他的朋友，坚称自己不该遭受这样的痛苦和损失。 他直接转向上帝，上帝是他的法官，他向上帝求怜悯。18世纪的德国诗人歌德（Goethe）表达了约伯坚定地相信上帝，我们的磐石的方式：
When Job first suffers deep loss, he curls up the fetal position, wishing he’d never been born. But gradually he opens his eyes to realize his agony is not unique. Others also suffer for no fault of their own. As he finds his voice, Job says:“Ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, they will tell you, ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you, the fish of the sea will declare to you…in God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being…if God tears down no one can rebuild; if God shuts someone in, no one can open up…God loosens the sash of kings, overthrows the mighty, deprives of speech those who are trusted.” Raging in this way before God is a valid way for us to live faithfully. Job’s outcry extends over several chapters; we who seek to follow God’s ways in the world may stay in this place for a long time。
As restrictions lift and people get outside to explore B.C., I heard one-man voice pain…he said, BC may have flattened the curve, but we have not been doing well, day-time drinking and night time binge watching leads to mental anguish. So, Psalm 31 resonates with us…be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also. As we listen to Job’s cry this morning, we hear the cry of all those generations who’ve suffered injustice through no fault of their own.
In the midst of his pain, Job observes creation and notices “there is hope for a tree; if it is cut down, it will sprout again, that its shoots will not cease. Though its roots grow old in the earth and its stump dies in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud. But human beings die and are laid low. Humans expire and where are they? …Oh, that you would hide me in Sheol!” Sheol was understood in the ancient world as the place of darkness and death for all people, regardless of their track record with God, where they are cut off from life. Job’s suffering brings him to the point of pondering his own death, with no hope of being resurrected. His only hope is to be shielded from the pain and suffering of being alive.
The Book of Job hints at a strange truth connected to the mystery of suffering. Though our culture says, “don’t feel your pain” scriptures like Job and Psalm 31 give room to voice our pain. When we fully admit our pain, allow ourselves to weep in the face of loss, own our anger at God for senseless suffering, a door opens. A place opens within us that otherwise would’ve remained locked, a way of communing with God that would’ve remained closed if we had refused to feel our pain. Vancouver therapist Dr. Hillary McBride says “our pain is a doorway to God. Think of your life as a house full of rooms. When we neglect our pain, we close doors to God. There is room for grief, pain, uncertainty, not knowing in relationship with God.” As Christ followers, we may think we’ve always got to be happy and think positive, otherwise we are not being faithful, or in fact we are in danger of losing faith. But when we move into our brokenness, admit we are afraid and anxious, we are entering into the life of God in the world. When we weep, the Trinity, a living relationship between the Creator, Savior and Spirit, weeps with us.
《约伯记》暗示了一个与苦难有关的奇怪真相。虽然我们的文化认为，“不要感觉到你的痛苦”。 而在圣经里，约伯和诗篇31给了我们空间来表达我们的痛苦。当我们完全承认自己的痛苦，让自己面对失去而哭泣，为无谓的痛苦向上帝宣泄我们的愤怒时，一扇门就会打开。在我们内心里的某个地方会被打开，否则它将一直被锁着，这是一种与上帝沟通的方式。如果我们继续拒绝感受我们的痛苦，这种方式将一直被关闭。温哥华的心理医生希拉里麦克布莱德 （Hillary McBride）博士说：“我们的痛苦是通往上帝的大门。把你的生活想象成一个有很多房间的房子。当我们忽视我们的痛苦时，我们就关闭了通往上帝的大门。在与上帝的关系里，有悲伤、痛苦、不确定和我们不知道的空间。”作为基督的信徒，我们可能认为我们必须永远快乐、积极正面，否则我们就不忠诚，或者事实上我们有失去信心的危险。但当我们进入我们的破碎，承认我们的确害怕和焦虑，我们就进入了在这个世界上的上帝的生活。当我们哭泣时，造物主、救世主和圣灵三位一体的神与我们一同哭泣。
Sheltering at home, practicing physical distance, for some, has become like being trapped in Sheol, a place of darkness cut off from life. In these seeming endless weeks of sheltering at home, our friends in the recovery community struggle to maintain sobriety. Those who have just started the journey towards sobriety are struggling the most, with sponsors reaching out by phone and meetings on zoom. But without attending a human gathering where hugs are shared and tears can fall, lament can be heard by another who doesn’t try to fix or help us escape our pain, we struggle. The lack of human connection results in depression and anxiety that has led to overdose and at least three deaths in the recovery community here in Surrey/Delta. When we are in pain, because our cultural says, “don’t feel pain…cover it up at all costs…don’t admit you are suffering” we tend to isolate ourselves, ashamed of admitting our pain to others. AA meetings on video conference call are not the same as being in person. Just as pre-recorded worship is not the same as singing together, passing the peace with a handshake or hug, and sharing coffee and conversation. But being cut off from a community of deep acceptance, love and accountability can lead to death for those who struggle with addiction. So how do we come alongside one another in these days? As fellow sufferers, those who help unlock the door of pain, we come willing to listen to another’s pain, not to fix it, or take it away. Nor to pray the person into silence or try to defend what God is doing like Job’s friends.
Together we live in the tension between raw grief and the hope of the resurrection. This means that as we open the door into the pain of our losses, alongside our human family, we look forward to a time when all things will be made new. As we come alongside our brothers and sisters who are grieving violence fueled by racism, admit how prejudice distorts our way of treating one another, we will be raised up together into a new human family. Job’s words: I Know that My Redeemer Lives are the basis for the song we are about to sing. As Christ followers we hear Job’s words speaking of the One who finds us in our distress, when our bones are wasting away, and raises us up. Our Redeemer lives in Christ, who was raised from death, God of both the living and the dead. We have hope in the midst of our pain, because our Redeemer Lives, among us now, and entrusts each of us with the power to change the world one interaction at a time.
(show slide) Change starts here…with each of us. Together we trust in you, O Lord; our times are in your hand.
Job 3:1-10, 4:1-9, 7:11-21 Psalm 42, June 21, 2020
My Sighs Are My Food
Since the week before the pandemic restrictions, we have been disoriented by the loss of our car. Since I want to stay physically active when the gym is closed, I’ve outfitted my bike with saddle bags for grocery shopping and other errands. We can get everything we need by walking or biking from our home. Church is accessible by bike within 10 minutes. But it takes more planning ahead to get what we need. We continue to do this with the hope of investing in a condo in near future and are grateful to Helen and Kathryn who allow us to borrow a car when necessary. It is disorienting and at times, frustrating, to make life work by leg power. In these pandemic days, it seems that what used to be manageable obstacles or irritations can easily become big frustrations. Like Job, in these days of continuous adaptation, my sighs are often my food, my groaning poured out like water.
We have all been disoriented for the last 95 days. In these disorienting times, what we thought we could count on, our health, our income, our supportive relationships, have fallen away or is unstable. Gradually we’ve gotten used to new daily patterns, while taking a walk we detour from our path when we meet another person. You may find yourself staying up later to get things done after the kids go to sleep, or your kids are awake throughout the night, wanting snacks. Many of you tell me you can’t keep track of what day it is; one day blends into another. Others of you who are working full time you wonder how you are going to take a refreshing vacation while sheltering at home. The words of Psalm 42 give voice to our disorientation: “Why are you cast down O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?”
Job has been completely disoriented. He who seemed to have everything; more than any human being could ask for, loses it all in a short span of time…his wealth, his entire family, and his health. In the shock of many losses, Job sits in silence for seven days with his friends sharing his pain. At first, both he and them are speechless. The silence opened a place for Job to access his whole mind and find words to speak his pain.
During the Sanctuary small group this week, we took time to understand the healing power of grief. Ruth Lawson McConnell shared what she learned from psychologist Gordon Neufeld who worked on the premise that frustration underlies all our lives. When we face frustrations, we have three options: 1) Change our external circumstances, 2) adapt, meaning we change our response on the inside, or 3) attack. If we allow ourselves to find what Ruth calls ‘our deep tears of futility’ we can find the resources to adapt to the frustrating changes the pandemic has brought, to ‘live soft-hearted in the world’ instead of attacking.
在本周的圣所小组活动中，我们花时间了解了悲伤的治愈能力。露丝劳森麦康奈尔（Ruth Lawson McConnell）分享了她从心理学家戈登纽菲尔德（Gordon Neufeld）那里学到的知识，在Neufeld的书里他说沮丧是我们生活的基础。当我们面对挫折时，我们有三个选择：1）改变外部环境，2）适应，这意味着我们改变内部的反应，或3）攻击。如果我们让自己找到Ruth所说的“我们徒劳的眼泪”，我们就能找到资源来适应这场流行病所带来的令人沮丧的变化，“以一颗温柔的心活在这个世界上”而不是攻击。
Silence opens a place in us for pain to do its work and then be released by tears. Silence allows us the chance to let pain penetrate our heart… in the words of Psalm 42: ‘deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts, all your waves and billows have swept over me.’ Silence says, “Come more deeply into yourself, in the dark places in which doubt emerged and pain can be perceived, loss can no longer be denied.” Ellen Davis in her book Getting Involved with God, says that “Silence is the friend that challenges us to be healed when we wish simply to be soothed.”
(show image) This sculpture by Albert Gyorgy depicts the way in which silence heals us: first by making us emptier, carving a space in our hearts. From that emptiness, Job finds his voice so that he can speak honestly of pain to himself but also to God. After this… Job opens his mouth and curses not God, but the day he was born. Why didn’t I die at birth? Job asks. ‘Now I would be lying down and quiet. I would be at rest instead of feeling all this pain.’ Job complains to God saying, if he didn’t exist, if he’d never been born, he wouldn’t be suffering so much.
Job’s friend Eliphaz is the first to speak in response to Job’s pain…Eliphaz starts out gently, pointing out how Job has supported others who stumble, strengthened the weak hands, and made firm the feeble knees. But then Eliphaz starts to think he can read God like a book. Eliphaz presumes to know what God is doing. This is dangerous ground. Eliphaz decides that Job must have done something to deserve this suffering, for God to punish him with such unimaginable losses. Both Eliphaz and Job have the same belief system; they believe that God will punish human beings for their sinfulness. The idea that the universe operates according to a system of just deserts… We get what we deserve. God blesses those who obey God’s law; God punishes or curses those who disobey. This was the traditional wisdom of the ancient world. Sinners will be punished by loss of wealth, family, blessings. Righteous will be rewarded with the same. So the reason Job is suffering, according to his friends, is because he must’ve done something to deserve it. Eliphaz and his friends are determined to figure out how Job messed up. Because that would justify his suffering in their minds. But the whole book of Job is an argument against this belief system. God doesn’t punish people by making bad things happen.
Job refuses to buy what Eliphaz is selling. Job insists he has done nothing to deserve his losses. His suffering is not God’s punishment for sin. The silence has given him confidence to speak in the anguish of his spirit not only to himself but directly to God. Job gets angry with God. His anger is a confession of faith because he holds God to account. Job rewrites Psalm 8. You may recall hearing the psalm from a couple weeks ago…’O Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth…when I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers…what are human beings that you are mindful of them, that you care for them?’ Job mockingly restates the psalm, furious at God: “What are human beings that you make so much of them, that you set your mind on them, visit them every morning, test them every moment? Will you not look away from me for a while, let me alone until I swallow my spittle? If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of humanity? Why have you made me your target?”
After his release from a Siberian prison in the Soviet Union, Alexander Solzhenitsyn became famous overnight as a novelist. One day he was summoned to the lavish office of a Soviet official who admired him. In those comfortable surroundings, the agony of the Soviet prison camps seemed very far away. “It is impossible for a man who is warm to understand one who is cold,” Alexander concluded. Job accused his friends, and even God, of the same lack of sympathy.
Job’s friends think they know how God is at work in Job’s suffering, but wisdom starts with admitting what we don’t know. Before all of his losses, Job was piously religious…he prayed and sacrificed to God every day, thanking God for his blessings and asking forgiveness for any sin. Job was pious but he wasn’t yet wise. He doesn’t become wise until he realizes how much he doesn’t know. Job doesn’t understand why he is suffering or how God is at work in his life anymore. So he makes a case against God, arguing toe to toe with God, against the traditional wisdom of his day. Job is determined not to let God off the hook. Job wrestles with his friends, who argue that he deserves his suffering and loss, that he somehow brought it upon himself.
Job’s silence gives him the courage to challenge God, to demand that God meet him in the dark abyss of loss and be revealed to him there. Job’s complaint gives each of us room to pour out our hearts, to be honest with ourselves and with God. This way of being with God may be new for you; the pandemic has been pushing us to do many new things.
Have you made time for silence in these days? Have you made a space in which you can be alone? Such silence will lead to emptiness. God heals us first by making us emptier, carving a space in our hearts healing… God longs to meet us in the silence, and give us words where deep calls to deep, allowing tears of futility to fall, giving us a song to sing in the night. Hope in God, for we will yet again give God praise.
Job 1:1-22 Psalm 6 June 14 2020 TLC
约伯记1:1-22诗篇6 2020年6月14日 TLC
Undeserved Suffering…how do we deal with suffering?
Intro: For the next four weeks, we will be exploring the mystery of suffering. How do we human beings deal with suffering and how God is at work through it all. We will do this by coming alongside Job, a human being who had all you could want and more and lost it. And by praying a psalm of lament, today Psalm 6. The book of Job is part of a collection of wisdom books in the Bible which includes Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs. Job is a legendary hero, not a historical figure who actually lived, but a hero who seemed to have all you could imagine (wealth, family, opportunity) and suddenly, for no apparent reason, Job loses it all. Job is pushed to his limits by senseless, unjust suffering.
We are tempted to buy into a distortion of the good news made real in the dying and rising of Christ; it’s called the prosperity gospel. The idea that good things will happen to those who follow God’s way. This way of thinking is shattered through the parable of Job. If we were to tell the parable of Job in 2020, what might Job’s life look like? There once was a man from La La Land who had everything you could imagine and more. He drove a BMW, ate king crab and lobster every week, owned a yacht and a crew to sail it, owned several million-dollar homes, he and his wife had seven sons and three daughters and never lacked a thing. He didn’t hoard his money; he was generous beyond measure, walking with God in all his dealings with people. There was no one like him on earth. But living right didn’t protect him from suffering.” Several other ancient cultures told stories about Job, not only the Israelites.
In this parable of Job, the heavenly council, God’s leadership team holds a meeting, and surprisingly the divine team includes Satan…. the Satan, in the book of Job is not a character tempting poor souls to evil, wearing a red suit and carrying a pitchfork. Satan is not a name, but a job title best translated as “the accuser”; more like a chief prosecutor in the divine realm, or a CIA detective, who investigates the entire earth. Upon finding Job, the Accuser says to the divine council: “Did you notice my servant Job, that there is no one like him on earth, a man of integrity, and straightforward, who fears God and turns from evil?” The Accuser then asks a question of the divine council: Does Job love God only because everything is going his way? Because he’s been blessed with more than any human being needs? He is a man who lives with privilege; a fence is built around him and everything he has. What if we remove those good things, then Job’s faith would melt away along with his riches and his health? Would Job continue to trust God when his life was falling apart?
在约伯的寓言中，天堂里的议会，上帝的领导团队召开了一次会议，令人惊讶的是，神圣的团队中竟包括撒旦…。《约伯记》中的撒旦并不是一个引诱穷人堕落，身穿红色套衫，手持干草叉的角色。撒旦不是一个名字，而是一个翻译为 “指控者” 的职位；更像是一个神圣领域的首席检察官，或是一个对整个地球进行调查的CIA侦探。找到约伯的时候，指控者对神的议会说：“你注意到我的仆人约伯了吗？世上没有一个人像他一样，一个正直，直率的人，敬畏上帝，远离邪恶？指控者接着向神的议会提出一个问题：约伯之所以爱神是不是因为他事事如意？因为他比任何人都要幸运？他有特权？在他和他所有的一切的周围都筑了篱笆，受到保护？如果我们去除这些好东西，那么约伯的信仰会不会随着他的财富和健康而消失呢？当约伯的生命崩溃时，他还会继续相信上帝吗？
Job’s world crumbled around him. First raiders stole his belongings and slaughtered his servants. Then fire from the sky burned up his sheep, and a mighty wind destroyed his house, killing his sons and daughters. What did Job do in response to these losses? Job tore his clothes, a sign of his deep pain, shaved his head, and fell on the ground…and worshipped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” At first, Job grieved and turned to God, in this statement of trust…the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.
These days we’ve been faced with losses on all sides. With the pandemic, a loss of freedom, loss of financial security, potential loss of mental and physical health. We’ve all been re-oriented from our daily patterns. But now with the unjust killing of yet another black American man George Floyd, pinned between a police officer’s knee and a Minneapolis street, we see the losses faced by African American and Indigenous communities who have endured centuries of racism. The loss of dignity, of being treated with equal respect, the loss of countless opportunities afforded those with white privilege. As we listen to the news, we may be asking: What is happening to the world we’ve known? Can we endure this? Nothing seems to make sense anymore. Or could it be the collective human family is waking up and ready to become WE? Perhaps you, like me, wonder: what is our part in dismantling the ideas that have shaped an unjust society where people suffer loss of dignity every day?
George Floyd was a tall, gregarious, legendary athlete in high school in Houston, Texas. One of his high school classmates, Jonathon Veal, recalled walking home from school 30 years ago with George and a group of friends. As they were all nearing graduation, they were asking one another what they wanted to do with their lives. George turned to Jonathan and said, “I want to touch the world”, thinking then of becoming a professional athlete. Jonathan says, “It was one of the first moments I remembered after learning what happened to George…. He could not have imagined that this is the tragic way people would know his name.” In witnessing the last eight minutes of George’s life when he was arrested for attempting to use counterfeit $20 bill, the world has been galvanized. It’s drawn millions to the streets to protest in spite of the pandemic, speaking with their bodies, demanding change to stop police brutality and systemic racism. The call to defund the police force has been heard by the Minneapolis city council as they seek to reimagine how we build up communities broken down by discrimination. Perhaps Minneapolis can lead the world in reimaging how to build community-based policing, how to live together.
George Floyd在高中时，是德克萨斯州休斯顿市一位高大、善于交际、富有传奇色彩的运动员。他的一位高中同学乔纳森维亚尔（Jonathon Veal）回忆说，30年前，他和乔治一帮朋友一起从学校走回家。当他们快毕业时，他们互相问他们想做什么。乔治转向乔纳森说：“我想接触这个世界”，然后想成为一名职业运动员。乔纳森说：“在得知乔治的遭遇后，这是我第一件想起的时刻…。他无法想象人们会以这种悲惨的方式知道他的名字,”在目睹乔治因试图使用20美元假钞而被捕的最后8分钟时，全世界都被刺痛了，尽管处在一场大流行期间，这还是导致了数以百万计的民众上街抗议。他们与自己身体语言，要求改变，阻止警察的暴行和系统性的种族主义。明尼阿波利斯市议会听到了解散警察部队的呼吁，他们试图重新考虑我们会如何建立被歧视破坏的社区。也许明尼阿波利斯可以引领世界重新思考如何建立社区警务，如何共同生活。
The New York times interviewed several people this week, who shared about the moment in their life that brought him to the streets in protest. Donfard Hubbard, shared about growing up in his North Minneapolis neighbourhood. One day his parents were fighting, and the police were called. When they arrived, the white police officers pointed a gun in seven-year-old Donfard’s face and forced his entire family onto the ground in their front yard at gun point. From that day on, he has never trusted police officers. What would it take to build a world that has not yet been?
《纽约时报》本周采访了几位民众，他们分享了在他们生活中把他们带到街头抗议的那一刻。唐法德哈伯德 （Donfard Hubbard），分享了他在明尼阿波利斯北部社区长大的经历。一天，他的父母正在吵架，警察被叫来了。当他们到达时，那些白人警察用枪指向着7岁的唐法德的脸，在枪口下，他的全家被逼到了他们前院。从那天起，他就再也不信任警察了。要建立一个尚未实现的世界需要什么？
It starts with acknowledging the injustice, simply by saying the names of unarmed black people killed across America by police. On a chain-link fence circling the Silver Lake Reservoir in Los Angeles, a recently installed art protest weaves into the fence over 100 names. Co-organizer Eli Caplan says, “we may hear about the George Floyds, the Breonna Taylors. But for each of those, there are hundreds of other names that get lost…those gunned down by police while unarmed. Say-their-names memorial is part of the shape protest is taking. African American and Indigenous communities have endured unjust suffering in the United States, in Canada.
开始承认不公正，只需说出美国各地被警察杀害的手无寸铁的黑人的名字。在洛杉矶银湖水库周围的铁丝网围栏上，最近安装的一个艺术抗议活动在铁丝网上刻了100多个名字。联合组织者伊莱卡普兰（Eli Caplan）说：“我们可能会听说 George Floyd，Breonna Taylor。但每一个名字背后都会有数百个其他死者的名字…那些在没有武器的情况下被警察枪杀的人。说出他们的名字是抗议活动的一部分。非裔美国人和土著社区在美国和加拿大遭受了不公正的痛苦。
How do we deal with our suffering? With the suffering of our brothers and sisters who are pushed away to the margins by white privilege? Other than turn to alcohol or binge watch Netflix…how do we allow ourselves to weep, to speak out about our pain, to fall on the ground before God? In these days we need to allow room in our lives to grieve, to cry out at the pain and injustice of the world. Black communities across the United States are grieving as they take to the streets, grieving what happened to George Floyd and hundreds more, saying “we are done…time for a change.” As I listened to George Floyd’s funeral aired live from Minneapolis, Rev. Al Sharpton’s words challenged the world: it’s time to take your knee off of our neck!
我们如何对待我们的痛苦？当我们的兄弟姐妹被白人特权推到了边缘？除了酗酒或看看Netflix……我们如何让自己哭泣，说出我们的痛苦，在上帝面前倒在地上？在这些日子里，我们需要让我们的生活有空间去悲伤，去为世界的痛苦和不公而哭泣。全美国的黑人社区都处在悲伤之中，他们走上街头，为乔治弗洛伊德和其他数百人的遭遇而哀伤，说 “我们受够了……是时候改变了”。当我听到乔治弗洛伊德的葬礼在明尼阿波利斯现场直播时，阿尔夏普顿 （Al Sharpton）的话向全世界发出了挑战：是时候把你的膝盖从我们的脖子上挪开了！
Too often, when we suffer loss, we Christ followers think we should only praise and thank God instead allowing ourselves to lament. Job leads us by tearing his clothes, shaving his head and falling on the ground before God…an image of what lament looks like…what grief looks like. The psalms give us the words, if we are unsure how to lament…Psalm 6… “be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror…my soul is struck with terror…how long, O Lord will this go on? …. I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears, I drench my couch with my weeping. My eyes waste away because of grief” …Complaining to God, pleading with God, railing at God, not letting God off the hook for a minute…at last we will be admitted to a mystery. We pass through a door that only pain will open, says Ellen David in her book, Getting Involved with God and are thus qualified to speak of God in a way that others, whom we generally call more fortunate, cannot speak.
很多时候，当我们遭受损失时，我们基督的追随者认为我们应该只称赞和感谢上帝，而不是让自己哀怨。约伯带领我们撕破衣服，剃光头，在上帝面前伏倒在地……哀叹的样子……悲伤的样子。如果我们不知道如何哀叹，诗篇教给我们这样的话， …诗篇第6篇…“耶和华啊，求你可怜我，因为我软弱！耶和华啊，求你医治我，因为我的骨头发战…我的心也大大地惊惶…耶和华啊，你要到几时才救我呢？…. 我因唉哼而困乏，我每夜流泪，把床榻漂起，把褥子湿透。”……向上帝抱怨，向上帝求情，对上帝怒斥，一分钟都不让上帝脱身……最后我们将进入一个神秘的世界。 “我们通过一扇只有痛苦才能打开的门，” 埃伦大卫 （Ellen David）在她的书中说，与上帝接触(Getting Involved with God)，这样我们才有资格用那些通常被认为更幸运的人不能说的方式来谈论上帝。
As Job falls on the ground, and soon finds himself covered in boils. Suffering alone, his wife tells him to curse God, but three of his friends show up, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they see him, they raise their voices and weep aloud, tore their robes in grief and threw dust upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground for seven days and nights, an no one spoke a word to him. Those seven days of silence where they share his grief lead to a transition for Job. In the Jewish tradition this is called “sitting shiva” a form of care for those who are grieving. In the shared silence, Job finds the words to speak his whole mind, to admit the pain of all he has suffered. Are we listening to the pain of George Floyd’s family and community?
约伯跌倒在地，很快就发现身上长满了疖子。独自受苦，他妻子叫他咒诅神，但他的三个朋友，以利法 (Eliphaz)，彼勒达 (Bildad)，琐法 (Zophar)，都来了。他们聚在一起去安慰他。当他们看见他时，就高声哀哭，撕裂衣服，把尘土撒在头上。他们和约伯一起在地上坐了七天七夜，没有人跟他说话。七天的沉默让他们分担了他的悲伤，这导致了约伯的转变。在犹太传统中，这被称为 “坐地湿婆” （服丧七日）一种照顾那些悲伤的人的形式。在共同的沉默中，约伯找到了表达他全部思想的话语，承认他所遭受的一切痛苦。我们在倾听乔治弗洛伊德的家庭和社区的痛苦吗？
If we listen, perhaps we will we be brave enough to imagine a new way of living together? What might our neighbourhoods look like? Maybe a place where people all come outside together, like a mother of a Grade 6 student in North Delta shared this week…she didn’t know until the pandemic that seven kids lived in their cul-de-sac…she thought there were only three her son’s age. Now there are basketball hoops and seven new kids outside together.
如果我们倾听，也许我们会勇敢地想象一种新的生活方式。我们的社区会是什么样子？也许是一个人们都聚集在外面的地方，比如本周North Delta 的一个六年级学生的母亲分享……直到大流行爆发，她才知道七个孩子住在他们的钥匙扣里……她原以为只有三个和她儿子一样大的孩子。现在外面有篮球网，七个孩子在一起。
Holy Trinity Sunday, June 7, Trinity Lutheran, Delta BC
Texts – Psalm 8:1,4,5,9 – O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! What are human beings (sons and daughters of the earth) that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion... O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
诗 8:5你叫他比天使〔或译： 神〕微小一点，并赐他荣耀尊贵为冠冕。
Matthew 28:16,17, 19,20 – Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted (could be and doubted)... Go therefore and make disciples of all (Gentiles) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
马太福音28:16、17、19、20 16 十一个门徒往加利利去，到了耶稣约定的山上。 17 他们见了耶稣就拜他，然而还有人疑惑。 ….. 19 所以你们要去，使万民做我的门徒，奉父、子、圣灵的名给他们施洗[a]， 20 凡我所吩咐你们的，都教训他们遵守。我就常与你们同在，直到世界的末了。”
O precious ones of God, grace to you and peace, from God the Creator, God the son and God the Holy Spirit, three in One. Amen.
How ARE YOU these days? This isn’t a question to be asked or taken lightly. How are you doing in the light or darkness of COVID 19, when so many people have become ill and died – particularly those most vulnerable, older people, people who have to go to work because they have jobs that don’t pay them enough to stay home ever, people who have no homes for many, many different reasons. How are you doing when to be physically safe we are prevented from gathering together to hug, to be with each other in large groups – even as faith communities to celebrate weddings or anniversaries, to mourn together? Yes, how are you doing?
I must confess, these days I am ... DISTURBED. I am deeply disturbed as I have watched the video of a white police officer in Minneapolis pressing his knee violently on the neck of George Floyd, a black man until Mr. Floyd died. I am disturbed as 3 other police officers watched Mr. Floyd die. I am disturbed as I read about a black man in Georgia out jogging and then being shot and killed by two white men. And I am disturbed as the reality continues to unfold regarding Regis Korchinski-Pacquet, a young black woman in Toronto who fell to her death after police were called to her home.
我必须承认，这些天我有些不安。当我看到明尼阿波利斯 （Minneapolis）的一名白人警官用膝盖猛压在黑人George Floyd的脖子上，直到弗洛伊德先生去世的视频时，我深感不安。当其他三名警察看着弗洛伊德先生死去时，我也很不安。当我读到乔治亚州 （Georgia）的一名黑人男子在外慢跑，然后被两名白人开枪打死时，我感到不安。多伦多一名年轻的黑人妇女，里吉斯科尔钦斯基（Regis Korchinski Pacquet），在警察被叫到她家之后摔死，同样的现实令我感到不安。
I am also disturbed as I face racism here at home. A few short weeks ago an elderly Chinese man was literally shoved out of what I think was a convenience store in Vancouver, falling to the sidewalk. I am disturbed when I hear about serious verbal assaults and even physical attacks being launched at innocent people, simply because they are of Chinese or certain Asian heritage. And I continue to be disturbed, although ashamedly I must confess, my frustration and anger ebb as I get busy in my life, over the reality of the way I myself and many of the majority of Canadians have treated our first Nations people. If you doubt me witness the reality of Missing and Murdered indigenous women and girls, go over the different testimonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The racism, the hatred, the injustice and violence perpetrated against minority people is not just a major problem in the United States. It is also a major problem for we Canadians. Nor is it only a problem amongst the police and judiciary. It is also our problem – yours and mine – often living, flickering or roaring within us.
So I ask, “What we are called to do and be as Christians in the midst of these realities, the prejudice, racism and injustice around us and within us?”
As I watch the protests unfold in Minneapolis, London, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver – some peaceful, some violent, I am sure that I cannot even begin to fully understand what those people protesting are thinking and feeling. After all I am a white male, very middle class. I have enjoyed my white privilege for all of my life. Should the police pull me over their guns are not drawn. It has never even entered my mind that they may hurt me or worse yet kill me, my wife, my children or grandchildren. I have felt free to go for a jog or a walk anytime day or night whenever, wherever I want. But that isn’t true for my daughters or my wife who are white and very middle class. Sometimes they are the ones to remind me that Not everyone is safe in our society!
Given all of this – what are we, we who seek to follow Jesus, who are convinced that God is sovereign of the earth and cares deeply about all people and all creatures, what are we to do and be? Is this violence, hatred, violence God’s fault? Why is God allowing it? Is it God’s responsibility because God has had the audacity to give we human beings degrees of freedom: to organize ourselves in societies as we see fit, to allot power to those with the most wealth - to explore new lands while exploiting resources and plundering the earth and many of her creatures? Is it God’s fault that as we have done this we have even gone back on our promises made to peoples long ago as we “claimed” their land?
As human beings we have a tendency to assign blame – especially to others. I have observed children do that again and again when there’s an accident at home or at school, “It was him, it was her, it was anybody but ME!”
So, we could seek to blame God for all of this, but doing so avoids our part in creating such injustice, in perpetrating it. Doing so would also in no way address the problem. Psalm 8 shows us that God has entrusted us with significant responsibility to care for each other and all creatures.
Many times Psalm 8 has brought peace and order to my life reminding me that God is God – and that I am not. This is most certainly true. Look and see creation, from our tiny sphere of this earth and the earth’s amazing wonder to the universe, or at least what little we can glimpse of it, the stars and sun in the sky, a planet or two. God the Creator is God and we are not. Thankfully this is true.
But Psalm 8 also confronts us with more truth. As we look at the stars and the moon we are told that God is very mindful of us, we creatures of the earth. We are called by God to care for the earth, fellow human beings, all other creatures and plants. This is our vocation.
And that is humbling. Frankly when we hear that call – I mean really hear it not just with our ears but with our minds and our hearts – well, we can no longer focus solely or most importantly only on ourselves, or our nuclear families or congregations. To be sure, that is disturbing. This call and awareness of our interconnectedness with each other from God shakes us out of our comfort zones to be aware and care about and with and for each other. To do so we need to be still and listen, listen for God, listen for what others are saying and doing, listen to what is going on inside of us. Such listening takes practice, discipline, intention. The resulting dislocation, this being disturbed though difficult can be very, very good – for us, for others and for creation. . .
Such disturbance has caused me to hear today’s gospel lesson in a completely new way.
Can you imagine how disturbed the disciples must have been to see Jesus after his death, now alive, back in Galilee where everything had started for them together? I’m not sure that we ever can imagine how disturbing that must have been for them. They had witnessed his arrest, his great struggles with the oppressive systems he continually encountered, with their own lack of trust in him, with their abandonment of him. Even if they hadn’t personally witnessed his death, being too afraid to be present, they certainly had heard graphic descriptions of his horrific suffering and death on the cross.
But now, today, HE IS ALIVE. HE MEETS THEM BACK IN GALILEE WHERE HE HAD FIRST CALLED THEM. And now He sends them out – those people who had failed him so miserably – who even now when they see him worship him and doubt. That’s right, even now, with him right in front of them, they worship him and doubt. Who can blame them? Whether they doubted at first that he was alive or whether they doubted their own ability to do any of what Jesus is commanding them to do – to go and make disciples, baptizing in the name of the triune God AND teaching them, these new learners, disciples to do everything that Jesus commanded them – to love their enemies, to pray for those who persecute you – to give to any in need – live with great faith, hope and love. How could any of this be? (bp)
But WE NEED TO KNOW THIS. Jesus’ commission isn’t just for those 11 or the thousands, or millions who have come after them attempting to follow Jesus. No, Jesus’ commission is also for us. We are to go and make disciples, to baptize and teach all that Jesus has taught us. We can only do that by living discipleship ourselves.
This commission from Jesus is both disturbing and miraculously, incredibly hopeful. It’s disturbing because we are called to action – to be and do, in the light of Christ’s love and authority. We are to show and be examples of what we ourselves have experiencing and know – the love, the mercy, the dream of Jesus the Christ: life matters to God infinitely: black life, indigenous life, Asian life, Caucasian life, the life of this planet and all it enfolds.
Why else would Jesus come, suffer, die and be raised but to show us God’s love for us, God’s power to lift us up form death, hatred, fear, brokenness with each other, with God and with creation, delivering us sometimes kicking and screaming to new life, a different life. Sometimes, maybe always, we need to be dislocated, disturbed from where we are to realize who God is, to be open to God’s presence so that we can see and be reminded of whose we are and who we are called to be.
We are sinners and saints. We are the people who too often have hatred, fear, prejudice arise and flow out from our hearts and minds. We are also people who too often will take the path of least resistance and remain silent even as we see abuse, neglect or ourselves benefit from such abuse or neglect. We people need to see this, to be honest about it, to be turned to God and to be redirected, empowered by God to be different, to be the people God names us as in our baptisms, to be reflectors of Jesus the Christ, his love, his burning ardor for justice and mercy – especially for those who are most vulnerable.
As such we are to be people of hope. Not the kind of false hope that lotteries sell – having us imagine that if we just had a million or ten million or gazillions millions all would be well. That’s not true.
It’s not true because life matters. Until all lives matter and all are treated with justice we are far less than God intends.
So, yes I am disturbed. I trust that many of you are also disturbed. Although that may make us and many uncomfortable– it is necessary for us to be changed and for us to be included among the agents of change that God calls us to be in this world.
May God help us not to resort to self escaping blame of others in this time of disturbance. Instead may God move us to a living, active disturbing hope as we face the darkness of this present time both within and without.
As the church father Augustine once wrote, “Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger at the way things are and courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”
May God move us through the Spirit to such honesty with ourselves and others to such hope, including both anger and courage for the good, the safety, the well being of all, particularly those who are now being excluded the daily bread of justice, love and safety.
And now may God the FATHER/MOTHER/CREATOR, SON/REDEEMER/SUFFERER, SPIRIT/STIRRER/COMFORTER lead us in this disturbance to hope for all. Amen.
I Corinthians 12:1-13, Acts 2:1-4 Pentecost May 31, 2020 TLC
Gifts of the Spirit
Two thousand years ago, the Spirit showed up on Pentecost, in Hebrew Shavuot, the Jewish Feast of Weeks, 50 days after the dying and rising of Christ. All the disciples were gathered together in a home for the festival in Jerusalem. Suddenly the rush of a violent wind filled the house where they were sitting, and tongues of fire rested on each of them and they began to speak other languages as the Spirit gave them power.
两千年前，圣灵在五旬节 (Pentecost) 显现，希伯来语是Shavuot，在基督死亡和复活的50天后，犹太人连续几个星期庆祝的节日。门徒都聚集在耶路撒冷 (Jerusalem) 的家里过节。突然一阵狂风吹过他们的房屋，火舌掠过他们，他们开始说不同的语言，好像圣灵赐给了他们这个能力。
A Mighty Wind surprised them, took their breath away with tongues of fire descending upon each of them as they were then filled with the ability to speak multiple languages. They weren’t ready for this…it was not something they expected. The Spirit of the living God blew in, with and through them to transcend differences between peoples, build a bridge between nations, cultures and languages. Now, as we fight an invisible enemy and seek to protect our neighbours who speak many different languages, we need the Spirit to build bridges between us, to break down stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.
When the mighty wind showed up some three thousand people were drawn around them, from all the nations: Greeks, Arabs, Romans, Africans, and Asians could understand what the disciples were saying about God’s acts of power in their own languages. As they heard what God was doing, they were moved to respond and some three thousand joined the disciples in following the way of the Risen Christ. The Spirit brought them together as one, united by a common understanding. And the good news went viral, not through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but one person to another, sharing good news. The good news of God becoming one of us, entering into our deepest pain and suffering, transforming it on the cross, rising to bring hope and healing to the world.
This week we grieve the senseless, violent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during his police arrest. That viral video led to peaceful protests that turned violent in Minneapolis with burning and looting of buildings. The video shows the knee of the police officer on Floyd’s neck as he cries out: “I cannot breathe, I cannot breathe” and finally stops moving. George Floyd died shortly afterwards. This shows us the kind of brutality we human beings are capable of when instead of good news, prejudice and discrimination, are passed from person to person, down through the generations.
这个星期，我们为乔治弗洛伊德 (George Floyd) 在明尼苏达州明尼阿波利斯市 (Minneapolis, Minnesota)警方逮捕期间的无谓暴力死亡而感到悲痛。这段视频导致了明尼阿波利斯的和平抗议活动演变成了暴力，抢劫和焚烧建筑。这段视频显示，警察的膝盖压在 Floyd的脖子上，他大声喊道：“我不能喘气，我不能喘气”，最后不动了。乔治弗洛伊德之后不久就去世了。这向我们展示了， 当代代相传的不是好消息，而是偏见和歧视时，人类会何等残忍。
Whenever we judge someone as less than or not worthy, based on the color of their skin, we fail to see them as fully human. This happens whenever we look at someone and think “I am better than you.” This week during Sanctuary, we learned about the stigma associated with those who struggle with mental health. Stigma originally referred to “a mark or sign of disgrace of discredit.” The word stigma comes from the slave trade; a mark slave masters placed on men, women and children brought from Africa to the American colonies that gave them an enslaved identity. Their own story was no longer valid for identifying themselves. They became chattel, property owned by their slave master. Stigma today refers to the experience of being set apart or seen negatively due to stereotyping. Prejudice and discrimination happen, not only between people whose skin color differs, but also with the hidden struggles with mental health. Three out of four people who are diagnosed with mental illness experience stigma. With the pandemic causing grief in many ways among us, we can be certain that behind every door in our neighbourhood of well-manicured lawns is pain. People may not admit it. Those who already struggle with mental health may isolate themselves even more. What can unbind the power of stigma?
To each one of us, Paul tells the Corinthians, has been given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To manifest something is to reveal it, to show it, to make it real. When you show up with another and take time to listen to them pour out their heart, to be open about their struggles, you unbind the power of stigma, you allow them to become fully human. Each of us has a way that the Spirit shows up through us in order to build up others. That includes YOU! You have been given a gift of the Spirit of the living God in order to build up everyone around you. How many of us wake up every morning and think, I wonder how the Spirit is going to move through me today to build up someone else?
保罗对哥林多人 (Corinthians) 说，我们每一个人，都被圣灵赐予了为了共同利益的灵。展现某物就是揭示它，展示它，使它成为现实。当你出现在另一个人面前，花时间倾听他们的心声，用开放的态度去面对他们的挣扎，你就解开了耻辱的束缚，并让他们成为完全的人。我们每个人都有一种方式，使圣灵通过我们显现出来，以建立其他人。这也包括你自己！你们都拥有永生神的属灵恩赐，去建立你们周围的人。我们当中有多少人每天早上醒来会想，我想知道今天圣灵会如何通过我去建立另一个人？
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes about spiritual gifts entrusted to each of us, not only to the followers in ancient city of Corinth or to the 12 disciples or to pastors, but to each of us. It is only through the Holy Spirit that anyone can say Jesus is Lord of every created thing in the universe including us. We cannot by our own reason or understanding trust Jesus Christ or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called us through the good news and given us spiritual gifts. By spiritual gift, we are not talking about a gifted individual who has the ability to get ahead, earn the admiration of others or get promoted at work. A spiritual gift is a way God’s mercy and grace are released into the community for the common good. When our abilities are energized by the Spirit for the common good, they are no longer oriented towards self-interest and promotion.
The City of Delta’s Mayor George Harvey and his wife chose to give 10% of the mayor’s salary, $16,000 to Deltassist and the Delta Hospital Foundation. The Spirit has energized them to release what’s entrusted to them for the common good, exercising the spiritual gift of generosity. The City of Delta staff has pooled their resources to exercise the spiritual gift of generosity, in the midst of the uncertainty of economic impact of the pandemic, together raising: over $17,000 for organizations that build up the common good.
Delta市市长乔治哈维 (George Harvey) 和他的妻子选择将市长工资的10%，共计1.6万加元捐给Delta 互助协会和Delta医院基金会。圣灵激励他们为着共同利益，释放自己所赋予的，发挥了他们在慷慨这方面的属灵恩赐。在这场大流行对经济影响的不确定性中，Delta市的工作人员发挥他们慷慨大方的属灵恩赐， 汇集他们的资源，共同募集，为构建共同利益的机构筹集了17,000 加元。
What gifts have you been given by the Spirit? Gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, mercy, generosity, encouragement, healing, administration, hospitality. The TLC youth exercised the gifts of mercy and encouragement by putting together and delivering care bags. Hilde received hers last week and offered this reflection: Thank you for the wonderful package of goodies…from the turquoise bag, with floral art and my name on it, the comforting letter mentioning my mother and my children, the card of prayers to find meditative music and prayer, and light the candle while listening to the song. Then the card of the hummingbird butterfly and flower to colour and share with a friend…. the lovely Jergens moisturizers, and of course, all the sweets. Thank you again. All this arrived the week of my 78th birthday, so it was extra special. My very best, Love, Hilde.
When we exercise spiritual gifts, people receive God’s grace and mercy. We are one body with many members…we are all interconnected in Christ, like a grove of Douglas Firs connected to the mother nursery tree, God’s Spirit…is a benefit with which we are graced for the common good, the benefit of all those around us, for the world…a gift of grace we are freely given.
当我们运用属灵的恩赐时，人们就会领受到神的恩典和怜悯。我们是一个身体，有许多成员…我们在基督里彼此连接，就像一片道格拉斯冷杉林 (Douglas Firs)，都连在母树上，上帝的灵…是一种恩惠，我们因着共同的利益，因着我们周围所有人的利益而接受恩典， …我们被赐予的恩惠礼物。
Now may the peace that surpasses human understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
I Corinthians 15:1-12, 51-52, 54b-57 Life After Death May 24, 2020
哥林多前书 15: 1-12, 51 -52, 54b-57 死后的生命
For the last two months we have all been starved to hear some good news. Last Sunday was the eighth and final edition of SGN, John Krasinski’s weekly news show; a counterpoint to the major news headlines, he’s been keen to show how human beings are being raised up during the pandemic by celebrating stories of front-line health workers. In one episode, John surprises a teen with Miranda Lin Manuel and the cast of Alexander Hamilton singing her favorite song, on another he hosts a virtual prom dance with a visit to the astronauts on the international space station and guest Billie Eilish. If you haven’t seen it, just google SGN.
在过去的两个月里，我们都渴望听到一些好消息。上周日是约翰克拉辛斯基（John Krasinski）每周新闻节目SGN的第八期，也是最后一期；与主要标题新闻不同的是，他一直热衷于通过庆祝前线卫生工作者的故事，来展示在大流行期间人类是如何受鼓舞的。在其中某一期节目中，约翰与米兰达林曼纽尔 (Miranda Lin Manuel) 和亚历山大汉密尔顿 (Alexander Hamilton) 的演员一起演唱了她最喜欢的歌曲，而在另一期节目中，他主持了一场虚拟舞会，拜访了国际空间站的宇航员和嘉宾比利艾利斯 (Billie Eilish)。如果你还没看过，可以在网上搜索 SGN.
Around the world we’ve been digging graves. Perhaps you’ve seen the mass graves on Hart Island in NYC is a burial ground for those who’ve died from COVID19 and whose bodies are unclaimed or those whom the overwhelmed funeral homes cannot bury. As businesses open up, we are bracing for a second wave of outbreak. The reality of death surrounds us in the daily reports of infection rates and deaths in our province and around the world.
在世界各地都在挖坟墓。也许你见过纽约哈特岛上 (Hart Island) 的万人坑，那是为那些死于COVID19，尸体无人认领的人，或者那些不堪重负的殡仪馆无法埋葬的人准备的墓地。随着工商企业的开放，我们正准备迎接第二轮的爆发。在省里和世界各地的每日感染率和死亡报告中，我们意识到自己被死亡的现实围绕。
But death is not merely the last breath we take. Death is all those forces that diminish life…that rob all living things of life and dignity. Moving into the third month of physical distancing, we are discovering new ways of being together, of stepping out of overpacked schedules, trying new hobbies, growing vegetables, and listening to artists produce music that lifts us beyond ourselves. But on the whole, we are being robbed of life. Crisis help lines are continuously busy…across Canada this last week, 8000 people have stepped forward to offer support to those who are struggling with mental health. Offering to help others will contribute to our own mental well-being. I know that was the case for me last weekend, as I had the incredible privilege of delivering a few care bags put together by TLC youth. Having a brief conversation outside someone’s home, just seeing another human being whom you know face to face, helps you to breathe more deeply, filling your lungs with life-giving oxygen molecules.
The words of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians stands in stark contrast to the death-dealing pandemic: “Remember the good news in which you stand, through which you are being saved...hold firmly to this message.” What is the good news? Though death is real, it’s all around us, we will not be swept away in the end. We need not fear death; because Jesus Christ died and was raised, we too shall be raised. And raised not only after our physical death, but as the pandemic restrictions are lifted, we are being raised up from all the forces that diminish our lives. In brief, outdoor, face-to-face two-meter distant conversations, we are raised up to new life.
This account of the resurrection in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is the first one written down…twenty years after the crucifixion, before Matthew, Mark, Luke and John told their versions of the resurrection. Some of the Christ followers in Corinth were teaching that the resurrection didn’t happen. Dead bodies don’t come back to life. They decompose. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. But Paul says the risen Christ appeared to Peter, then the 12 disciples. Then to more than five hundred people at one time, most of whom are still alive. Paul then shares his own account… the risen Christ appeared even to me, the least of all people, unworthy of being chosen and sent by God, for I was hellbent on wiping out the Jesus movement, silencing those who shared good news.
这篇保罗写给哥林多的书信第一次记载了对复活的描述……这写在耶稣受难二十年后，在马太、马可、路加和约翰讲述他们的复活版本之前。在哥林多 （Corinth）的一些基督信徒教导说，基督的复活并没有发生。死尸不会复活，它们会腐烂，尘归尘，土归土。但保罗说，复活的基督向彼得 （Peter）显现，然后向十二个门徒显现。然后在500多人前显现，他们中的大多数还活着。保罗也分享了自己的经历…复活的基督甚至向我显现，在所有人中最不配的，不配被神拣选，因为我一心要消灭耶稣运动，这让那些传讲福音的人哑口无言。
Paul was blinded by a light that brought him to his knees enroute to Damascus to round up Christ followers and bring them bound to Jerusalem. Falling to the ground, Paul, then called Saul, heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?” Saul said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city, you’ll be told what to do next.” Though his eyes were open, Saul could see nothing. His companions were dumbfounded, because they could hear the voice but see no one. So they led him by the hand into Damascus…Saul’s old way of walking with God was dying. And his eyes were beginning to open to a new way. Three days he continued blind. He ate nothing. He drank nothing. Until he met Ananias
保罗围捕基督的追随者，要把他们绑去耶路撒冷，在他去大马士革 (Damascus) 的路上，被一道光击瞎了双眼，跪倒在地。保罗，当时的名字是扫罗，仆倒在地， 听见有声音说：“扫罗，扫罗，你为什么逼迫我？”扫罗说，主啊，你是谁？“我是耶稣，你要追捕的那个人。我要你起来进城去。在城里，有人会告诉你下一步该怎么办。”虽然扫罗睁大眼睛，却什么也看不见。他的同伴们目瞪口呆，因为他们能听到声音却看不到任何人。于是他们牵着他的手进了大马士革 (Damascus) ……扫罗旧的与神同行方式结束了。他的眼睛开始有了新的方向。持续三天，他什么也看不见，他不吃不喝直到他遇见亚拿尼亚 (Ananias).
Ananias was called to stand to stand in good news, but it didn’t sound like good news at first. He was called to a rhythm of dying to his own way of doing things and rising to trust God and love his enemies. While praying, Ananias was nudged by the Spirit to go find Saul who’d been blinded. At first, Ananias protests: “Master, I’ve heard about this guy. You can’t be serious. Everyone is talking about this guy and all the terrible things he’s been doing. His reign of terror against those who follow your new way. He’ll carry us off to jail, torture or worse.” But the Spirit says, “Go, for I’ve called him out to bring this new way to all people everywhere.” Dying to his fear, Ananias is left the comfort of his home to risk meeting Saul. As Ananias prays for Saul, something like scales fall from his eyes, and he can see. He gets to his feet, is baptized and sits down to eat with them all.
亚拿尼亚 (Ananias)被呼召为好消息站台，但这在一开始听起来不像是好消息。他被呼召走进一个新的乐章，在旧的生活方式中死去，在相信上帝，爱自己的仇敌的过程中复活。祷告的时候，亚拿尼亚被圣灵带领去寻找那个瞎了眼的扫罗。起初，亚拿尼亚抗议道：“主啊，我听说过这个人。你不可能是认真的。每个人都在谈论这个家伙和他做的所有可怕的事。他对那些追随你新道路的人的恐怖统治。他会把我们送进监狱，折磨我们甚至更糟。”但圣灵说，“去吧，因为我已经叫他把这条新的道路带给世界各地的所有人。” 亚拿尼亚战胜了恐惧，他没有停留在自己的舒适区 ，他冒险去见了扫罗。亚拿尼亚为扫罗祷告的时候，好像有鳞从他眼里掉下来，他就看见了。他站起来，受洗，坐下来和他们一起吃饭。
Paul met the Resurrected Lord on the road, through Ananias, and was raised up to a new way of seeing himself, his fellow human beings, and God’s work in the world. Paul is still amazed that God chose him, and called him to share good news, as he writes: By the grace of God, I am what I am.
Last Friday, I was invited by a friend to kayak out of Steveston harbor around Westham Island…what was thought to be a three hour tour turned out to be a bit longer, so by the time we were ready to cross the Fraser River back to Steveston harbor, I was quite worn out. We watched a couple tugboats pass by with barges before we attempted to cross, we were trying to paddle past an island and into Steveston harbor. Half-way, I discovered that the current was sweeping me quickly downstream, where I would miss the harbor entrance. So I called out to my friend and decided to paddle onto the island rather than around it. For a few minutes, I knew what it would be like to be swept away by forces greater than I could overcome.
上周五，我受一个朋友的邀请，划皮划艇离开西咸岛 (Westham Island) 附近的史蒂文斯顿港 (Steveston Harbor) ……原本以为是三个小时的旅行，结果时间长了一点，所以当我们准备穿越弗雷泽河 (Fraser River) 回到史蒂文斯顿港时，我已经精疲力尽了。我们看着两艘拖船载着驳船经过，然后我们试图横渡，我们试图划过一个岛屿，进入史蒂文斯顿港。半路上，我发现水流很快把我冲到下游，而我会错过港口的入口。所以我向我的朋友喊了一声，决定划到岛上，而不是绕着岛转。在这几分钟里，我知道了被我无法克服的力量冲走是什么感觉。
For many, the pandemic has threatened wash away their hopes and dreams. The retirement funds have decreased in value dramatically. They’ve been laid off from their job or will be forced to close their small business. They struggle to pay their mortgage. Working from home while homeschooling their kids has taken a toll on their mental health. COVID 19 has claimed the life of their loved ones, whom they cannot imagine living without.
Good news lays hold of us, keeps us from being dragged away in the overwhelming current of anxiety, fear, loss of income and meaningful connections… together we stand waist deep in good news. As restrictions lift, Christ Jesus who was raised from death, promises to raise us up day after day, filling us with the breath of life.
I Corinthians 13:1-13 and the greatest is love TLC May 17, 2020
哥林多前书 13： 1- 13 最伟大的是爱 TLC 2020年 5月17日
Welcome: The foundation, cornerstone of our life together in Christ is love. Not a sentimental, romantic or convenient love but what Paul in his letter to the Corinthians called agape: a love freely given for the sake of another. Whoever loves this way is born of God and knows God, for God is love, God is agape.
欢迎词：我们共同生活在基督里的基石，就是爱。不是感性的、浪漫的或随便的爱，而是保罗 (Paul) 写给哥林多 (Corinth) 信中所说的爱：为了他人而自由付出的爱。凡使用这种方式去爱的人，他源于神，认识神。因为神是爱，神是阿加贝。
Message: Like many of you, I’ve been trying some new recipes during the pandemic. And since we only shop once a week, we don’t always have the ingredients we need…so we either ask a neighbour for help or make do without it (improvise). But some ingredients are key; the dish won’t work without it. The other day we wanted to make pizza crust and we didn’t have any yeast. Yeast is a key ingredient in pizza crust. Uschi heard what we needed, she couldn’t find any at the grocery store, but she insisted on sharing some of the yeast she had in her cupboard, dropping it in our mailbox. Thank you Uschi!
The first Christ followers after Jesus died and rose in the ancient Roman city of Corinth were struggling to get along with one another; they seemed to be missing a key ingredient for life together. After Paul had established their community a year earlier, conflicts had erupted about which leader they followed, whether or not to eat food sacrificed to idols, how to worship together. So in his letter to the Christ followers, Paul names the most important ingredient for life together: love.
In the original languages of the Bible: Hebrew, the word for Love is hesed, meaning loving kindness, mercy, faithfulness, loyalty, and steadfast love. And in Greek, there are more than three words describing different kinds of love: philio (brotherly affection…you rub my back, I’ll rub yours), eros (sexual attraction for another) and agape (love willing to give for the sake of the other). Agape and Hesed come from God, poured out on the cross, as a gift to the human family.
I Corinthians 13 is likely the most popular scripture text used for couples getting married…it is quoted as a slogan for weddings, printed on napkins and programs, even engraved on wedding rings. Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love. Love never ends. When a couple is standing at the altar, they are overflowing with of all kinds of love…definitely eros, hopefully philio and if the marriage lasts more than a year, they will have discovered agape. But when Paul wrote these words, he was declaring agape as the greatest power in a community that seemed to lack it, seemed it was in short supply as they fought about all kinds of things. The situation in Corinth is a far cry from a young couple gazing at one another with adoration, promising lifelong faithfulness.
《哥林多前书第13章》可能是最受欢迎的圣经文本，用于新婚夫妇……在婚礼上被引用，印在餐巾纸和节目单上，甚至刻在结婚戒指上。如今长存的有信、望和爱，其中最伟大的就是爱。爱永不止息。当一对夫妇站在祭坛上，他们充满了各种各样的爱……当然有性爱 (eros)，希望有兄弟般的爱 (philio)，如果婚姻持续一年以上，他们会发现阿加贝 (agape)。但当保罗写下这些字时，他宣称阿加贝 (agape) 是这个社区里最强大的力量，可这个社区似乎缺乏这种力量，当他们为各种各样的事情而斗争时，这种力量似乎是紧缺的。哥林多 （Corinth）的情况与一对年轻夫妇朝思暮想、承诺终生忠诚的情景相去甚远。
Paul says that human achievements are nothing without love, without agape…you can win awards for your Toastmasters speech but without love, you are a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. You can earn your doctorate in astrophysics, uncovering mysteries of the universe, but if you do not have love, you are nothing. You can even exercise faith to move Mount Seymour but do not have love, you are nothing. You could sell your home worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and give it to the homeless, but if do not have love, you gain nothing. Love, agape, is the missing ingredient; without it, we are nothing.
保罗说，没有爱，没有阿加贝 (agape) ，人类的成就就没有意义……你可以为你的演讲赢得奖项，但如果没有爱，你就是一个嘈杂的锣或铿锵的钹。你可以获得天体物理学博士的学位，揭开宇宙奥秘，但如果你没有爱，你就什么都不是。你甚至可以有信心，挪动西摩山（Mount Seymour），但没有爱，你什么都不是。你可以卖掉价值几十万美元的房子，把它送给无家可归的人，但如果没有爱，你所作的就毫无意义。爱，阿加贝，是缺失的成分；没有爱，我们什么都不是。
I Corinthians is typically heard in a wedding ceremony just before a couple is about to speak their marriage vows, affirming their love for one another. But when Paul first wrote those words, he didn’t write to the Corinthians about agape as a way to affirm what is already happening among them. He introduces a new way of being together that is absolutely necessary if they are to survive as a diverse group with many different worldviews, cultures, and expectations. The Corinthians didn’t come from similar backgrounds. They didn’t share similar values and experiences. Quite the opposite. They needed more than a sentimental, feel good kind of love. They needed a love that gives freely, no strings attached, even at great cost to the giver.
During the pandemic, what does agape look like?
Agape is staying home even when your business is in danger of closing, cancelling your travel plans in favor of backyard BBQ’s, all the while trying not to eat potato chips and ice cream continuously.
Agape/love is staying awake for meaningful conversation past bedtime because that’s the time when a loved one wants to talk.
Agape/Love is wearing a mask in the grocery store to protect your neighbour from the virus.
Agape/Love is buying one package of T.P. so that others will have what they need.
Agape/Love is TLC youth delivering care bags to those who live alone and haven’t had a hug or any caring human touch in 9 weeks, to those who work in essential services, risking infection while everyone else stays home.
What does love look like? A nurse at the bedside of a COVID19 patient in ICU. As we recognize International Nurse week, we lift up 400,000 nurses across Canada who work in the most difficult times of people’s lives. Worried whether or not their PPE will protect them from the virus, nurses are removing all contaminated clothing before entering their home, sleeping in the garage, or an RV in the driveway. Fear of bringing the virus home to infect their families can be the heaviest burden they carry.
As Lutherans, we trust that I Corinthians or any passage from the Bible speaks both law and gospel to us. The law is like a mirror, showing us where we fail to live as God calls us to live. I don’t’ know about you, but while “staying home together” patience may be in short supply. When we hear “Love is patient…we may realize we have failed to love.” That’s the law speaking to us. The law is more than the ten commandments; the law is any portion of scripture that shows us our sin, our need for forgiveness. As we read I Corinthians, we hear that “love is kind, not irritable or resentful” …as I went to buy a special treat of Krispy Kreme donuts for Mother’s Day, I found myself irritable as more than 50 cars waited in the drive through line…drove to Tim Hortons with a shorter line and lost it when someone took forever to order. Seems that comfort food is in demand these days.
作为路德教会的信徒（Lutherans），我们相信哥林多前书或圣经中的任何一段，都会对我们讲律法和福音。法律就像一面镜子，向我们展示了在哪些地方我们没有按上帝呼召我们的去做。我不知道你们的情况，但在“待在家里”的时候，可能会欠缺耐心。当我们听到“爱是恒久忍耐……我们可能会意识到我们没有去爱。”这就是律法对我们说的。律法不只是十诫；律法是圣经里任何让我们认识自己的罪，我们需要宽恕的经文。当我们读到《哥林多前书》时，我们听到“爱是恩慈，是不轻易发怒，是不计算人的恶”……当我去为母亲节买一份特别的Krispy Kreme甜甜圈时，我发现自己很烦躁，因为有50多辆车在开车点餐通道上等着……开到了一个排队短一点的Tim Hortons，当有人花了很长时间点餐时，我就完全失去了耐心。似乎这些天人们都需要简便的食物。
The gospel brings us comfort, reassurance, a word of hope, that despite our failure to love, God will forgive and lead us into a promised future. I Corinthians speaks gospel saying “love never ends” even when everything else does. God in Christ comes to each one of us with a love that is patient and kind, keeping no record of wrongs.
Right now, we live between an outbreak of COVID19 and an unknown future yet to unfold. Together we trust agape flows in the midst of the pandemic as a gift…Christ Jesus, risen from the grave, comes among us, pours out loving kindness, a love willing to give for the sake of the other, breathing into the world a love that not even a pandemic can take away, a love more resilient than we are on our own, holding us with agape when human touch is in short supply.
Acts 18:1-4, I Corinthians 1:1-10, Mark 9:34-35 May 10, 2020 TLC
使徒行传 18：1-4 ，哥林多前书1：1-10， 马可福音9：34-35 2020年5月10日TLC
Early Church in Corinth: Message of the cross
This week Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord invited several religious leaders to check in and have a zoom conversation with him. He wanted to hear how our community is coping, offer support and answer any questions. The Chief takes care of keeping the City of Delta safe, leads those first to respond when anyone calls 911, (whether we are in need of medical care or the stress from COVID19 restrictions at home leads to domestic abuse and a mental health crisis.) Among other things, we talked about how we’ve been physical distancing for eight weeks, as long as summer break typically lasts in Canada. And in the first few weeks of March, police and firefighters were invited to participate in nearly continuous birthday car parades like we did for Horst and Joyce’s 60th wedding anniversary. Regrettably they had to pull out because they were being asked to drive around with sirens to celebrate daily. Chief Dubord praised the creative ways families are adapting, appreciated our bell ringing and prayer in support of essential workers. Of all the community leaders who have a pulse on the community, Chief Dubord knows our full humanity…the desire to find alternate ways to celebrate and the struggle of being broken human beings who in desperation, boredom, stress, and grief can suffer and hurt one another.
This week we gathered for the second Sanctuary small group to share and learn about mental health and how faith communities can promote healing and growth during the pandemic. We listened to a military veteran and pastor named John, who shared his struggle to admit he needed help with PTSD after serving in a war zone. Quoting Richard Rohr, John said, ‘Why are we so surprised in church when we find an actual sinner, when we find someone who’s suffering?’ Martin Luther, 16th century reformer, said church is a hospital for the sick, a place where we gather to find healing for our sin-sick souls. As you gather around a screen in your home, we are here to admit we are sinners, broken and suffering, standing together at the foot of the cross, ready to find healing and hope together. The coronavirus reminds us we are all vulnerable; we are all in need of God’s grace and our neighbour’s help to stay well.
本周，我们庇护小组第二次聚会，我们一起分享，了解精神健康，以及信仰社区如何在大流行期间促进人们的康复和成长。我们听了一位名叫John的退伍军人和牧师的演讲，他分享了他在战区服役后承认自己需要帮助以克服创伤后应激障碍的困扰。John引用Richard Rohr的话说：“当我们发现一个真正的罪人，一个受苦受难的人在教堂里时，为什么我们会如此惊讶呢？16世纪的改革家马丁路德（Martin Luther）说，教堂是一个病人的医院，是一个我们聚集的地方，来寻找治愈我们的病态灵魂之道。当你们聚集在家中的屏幕周围时，我们在这里承认我们是罪人，破碎而受苦，站在十字架的脚下，一起去寻找治愈和希望。冠状病毒提醒我们，我们都是脆弱的；我们都需要上帝的恩典和邻居的帮助来保持健康。
Worshipping from our homes today, in some ways, mirrors how the Jesus movement evolved in the decades after the dying and rising of Christ. The followers of Christ met secretly in homes, hiding from public view. Facing discrimination and persecution, all Jews had been kicked out of Rome by Emperor Claudius. That is how Paul bumped into Aquila and his wife Priscilla…they had been ordered to leave Rome and ended up in the capital city of a Roman province, Corinth. Corinth was like our neighbourhoods: full of people from diverse ethnicities, cultures, and religions with a large, prospering urban center.
Aquila and Priscilla earned a living as tentmakers, a trade that kept them fed and clothed. Paul went to see them and because he was also a tentmaker, he stayed with them and they worked side-by-side. As they worked, they shared stories…undoubtedly Paul talked about how he had been blinded by a light as he walked on the road to Damascus. He had been intending to round up, arrest and torture any followers of Christ. But stopped by a blinding light, Paul met the risen Christ and found himself in the home of Ananias, a follower whom Paul would’ve arrested….but who now prayed for him, scales falling from his eyes. Opening his eyes, Paul realized he’d been fighting against God; his whole life changed direction. Sharing stories about our human frailty, our struggles, gives God space to meet us in our suffering with amazing grace. And share that grace with others. Eventually Aquila and Priscilla began to follow Christ. After some time in Corinth, in modern day Greece, they joined Paul as he sailed for Syria and ended up in Ephesus, along the Mediterranean Sea in modern day Turkey.
One relationship at a time, these communities developed in along the Mediterranean Sea in Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Galatia…the names of books in the Bible for the communities that received letters from Paul as he traveled around the Roman empire, planting faith communities who followed Christ. Some of those who’d been drawn to listen to Paul were people of considerable social power and wealth, like Erastus, but most were of lesser means and lower social standing. Throughout the city there were small groups who would come together regularly in homes to share a meal and prayers. As they came together, some were more hungry than others, while some were eating more than their fair share. So Paul urged them to make sure everyone has enough to eat when they gather.
随着关系的建立，这些社区在地中海沿岸的哥林多(Corinth)、以弗所 (Ephesus)、腓立比 (Philippi)、和加拉太(Galatia)发展起来……圣经中的书名是以那些在保罗周游罗马帝国时收到信的社区而命名的，他建立了基督跟随者的信仰社区。有些被吸引来听保罗讲道的人，有一定的社会权势和财富，如伊拉斯托 （Erastus），但大多数人都收入较低，社会地位较低。在城市里有一些小团体会定期在家里聚餐和祈祷。当他们聚在一起时，有些人比其他人更饥饿，而有些人吃得比他们应得的多。所以保罗劝他们聚集的时候，要确保人人有足够的食物吃。
We are no stranger to conflicts in the church for the last two thousand years…from the very beginning…this fledgling community trying to follow the way of Christ in Corinth, started dividing themselves along the lines of whom they follow as a teacher of the Way…some saying, “I belong to Paul”, others to “ I’m all about Apollos”, or “I follow Cephas” and still others, saying “I belong to Christ.” Paul wasn’t encouraging them to bow to the authority of any leader, nor to sweep disagreements under rug, but to bend to the message of the cross.
What is the message of the cross? As I walked through the bog this last week, I noticed several two-inch long salmon fry swimming in the creek, freshly hatched from the eggs laid by spawning salmon whose death yielded new life. Dying yields life. We see this in nature…as composted soil worked into our garden provides nutrients for sprouting seeds. Creation is the first Word of God. Observing new life sprouting, hatching, singing all around us, points us to the message of the cross: the rhythm of dying and rising. Take time this week to notice new life around you as you venture outdoors.
In the midst of human conflict, distress and suffering, the message of the cross comes to break down divisions, to reveal and absorb all human violence into Godself once for all. Whenever we take time to share our own struggles or listen to another human being pour out their heart, we participate in the dying and rising of Christ. Dying to our agenda and rising to enter into our neighbour’s need. As we eat and drink the body and blood of Christ, we participate in our Lord’s dying and rising. We join the life of God, a Greater Love than any human being can fully imagine. Eating and drinking, we are drawn into a living presence, who knows and loves us as we are. On the cross, God gives up keeping track of our sin, enters human pain, absorbs the violence humans inflict on one another, and gives us a way to come together. I continue to be amazed at how the human family is coming together during the pandemic, as I listened to Charlotte talk about her sewing team at Chelsea Gardens is no longer able to gather in person to sew mastectomy pillows for women with breast cancer. During the pandemic, sewing groups across Surrey have been stitching pillowcase bags for Delta hospital staff to carry their soiled PPE garments home from work, and keep their families safe from infection. Charlotte sewed 14 of the total 500 pillowcase bags completed in recent weeks. One stitch at a time, she is joining with the life of God, dying and rising among the human family. The message of the cross frees us from ourselves, so that united we may work together for the common good.
Holy God, in whose presence is known the walls we build, and also in their collapse; establish in us a community of hope, not to contain your mystery, but to be led beyond security into your sacred space, through Jesus Christ. Amen. –Janet Morley
神圣的上帝，我们所建造的城墙和倒塌的城墙，都在你的面前；求你在我们中间建立一个盼望的团体，不是要保守你的奥秘，乃是要藉着耶稣基督，领我们越过安全，进入你的圣所。阿门。— 珍妮特莫利 (Janet Morley)
John 10:1-10, Psalm 23, Acts 17:1-9, I Thessalonians 1:1-10
约翰福音 10：1-10， 诗篇 23， 使徒行传 17: 1-9 帖撒罗尼迦书 1：1-10
The world has been turned upside down by the coronavirus, bringing death and yet, new life for the earth and its creatures, in ways we could not have imagined before. As you exercise around your neighbourhood these days, you may see all kinds of messages hung in windows. The messages mirror the George Mackie Library sign: STAY HOME AND SAVE LIVES. All kinds of colorful hearts, created by young artists adorn windows, sending messages of thanks to essential workers and loving from a safe distance. The one that jumped out at me this week was a huge banner that said: STAY SAFE. Staying safe has become our global mantra for the last many weeks as we learn to practice physical distancing and hand washing. We keep our doors closed for now. No unnecessary coming and going. We will likely continue a whole set of “stay safe” practices for many months to come.
In the midst of learning how to ‘stay safe’, Jesus’ words from John’s gospel talk about the good shepherd who leads the sheep, who calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. We are known by name. As we come and go, a love greater than we can fully understand, leads us.
The families who founded Trinity Norwegian Lutheran Church came from around the world at the turn of the 20th century, drawn to the hope of a new life, drawn to salmon fishing. We gather where they gathered their families from Norway, Finland, Japan along the river. They built homes to stay safe, heading out into dangerous waters to bring home salmon. Weeks and months went by when the fishermen were gone fishing with, can you imagine, no cell phone communication. Families wondered when they would walk back through the door to be home for a while. Coming and going was uncertain. So they built a church where they could gather to live in hope, not fear. A place to grieve when loved ones died, when life didn’t go as they’d hoped, and they could begin life anew. The story of Jesus calling the fishermen to leave their nets and follow, learning how to fish for people, has shaped Trinity Lutheran Church.
创建Trinity Norwegian Lutheran教会的家庭来自20世纪初的世界各地，他们被新生活的希望所吸引，被捕鲑鱼所吸引。他们沿着河流从挪威、芬兰、和日本而来，在这里安家落户，我们现在在这个地方聚会。他们建造房屋以保证安全，他们驶入危险的水域将鲑鱼带回家。几个星期，几个月过去了，渔民们都去捕鱼了，你能想象，当时没有手机通讯的情景吗？人们都想知道家人什么时候才能从门口走回来，在家里待上一段时间。他们来去不定，所以他们建造了一座教堂，在那里他们可以聚集在一起, 生活在希望中，而不是恐惧中。这是一个当爱的人死去可以悲伤的地方，当生活没有如他们所希望的那样结束，他们可以重新开始的地方。耶稣呼召渔夫放下渔网，学习如何为人捕鱼的故事，创建了Trinity Lutheran教会。
Jesus gathered his first followers from the fishing community. When Jesus begins to talk about himself as the shepherd of the sheep, he says to the fishermen, “the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” Jesus was speaking to fishermen about sheep and shepherds. They didn’t get it.
So, Jesus says: I AM the gate, the door, for the sheep. Whoever enters by me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. This metaphor invited them and this morning, us, to imagine that Jesus is the gate and those who listen are the sheep. The gate is a way in which the sheep come in and go out. The sheep metaphor does fall apart at a certain point; sheep are not too clever. They are dependent upon their shepherd for their well-being. Sheep, if you’ve ever been around them, do follow the voice of their shepherd, of the one who gives them food…and they will also follow one another to their own destruction without a shepherd to guide them to pasture. But all metaphors or ways of imagining God eventually break down because God is a mystery beyond our full understanding.
The gate is both an opening and a safe keeping. Without a gate, sheep would wander away and get lost. Jesus did not come among us to start a new religion, but to make a way, a gate, an opening, for all to become fully human. We are free to come in and go out and find all we truly need.
Being saved, as we live in the midst of the pandemic, is about grieving, letting go of how life used to be, as we embrace a new way of being together. Many are grieving…loss of contact with grandkids, loss of income, loss of freedom. For many, anxiety has grown over the last several weeks…that what is outside the door, beyond the safety of our home is dangerous. We may actually be anxious about interacting with anyone outside of our home. They may be carrying the virus…whatever public surface we touch becomes suspect, potentially dangerous. So, as the stay home guidelines are lifted, some may be troubled.
Together, we will find new ways of being. Being saved, is about trusting that we are not alone.
A beloved psalm, which Gerry, Diane, Andrea and Larry all sang for you…uses the metaphor of God as our shepherd and we as the beloved sheep. Psalm 23 is a psalm of trust that some scholars say is a response to Psalm 22 a psalm of lament. Lament is a complaint. Psalms of lament give voice to our deepest human pain. We heard Psalm 22 a few weeks ago on the lips of Jesus as he was nailed to the cross, crying out: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Where are you when I need you the most? Have you forgotten me in my pain? I am all alone with no one to comfort me. O my God I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night but find no rest. Words that in some form, are on the lips of the thousands of families whose loved ones have died from the coronavirus…and on the lips of Roanne and Neil and Scottie as their cousin Cindy died last week on Vancouver Island and in the cries of Roanne’s daughter, Krystal, as her boyfriend died here in Surrey a few days ago. With the tragic death of a top emergency room doctor, Dr. Lorna Breen, who laid down her life at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in New York, we cry out for our human family. Before Dr. Breen’s death, she had told her father about patients who were dying before they could even be taken out of ambulances.
Gerry、Diane、Andrea和Larry为大家演唱了一首深受大家喜爱的诗篇……用上帝作为我们的牧羊人，我们作为被爱的羊来比喻。诗篇23是个信任的诗篇，有学者说是对诗篇22的回应，诗篇22是个哀叹的篇章。哀叹是抱怨，哀歌是为我们人类最深的痛苦发声。几周前，当耶稣被钉在十字架上的时候，我们听到从他嘴里喊出的诗篇22，他喊道：我的神，我的神，你为什么离弃我？我最需要你的时候你在哪里？你在我的痛苦中忘记了我吗？我独自一人，没有人安慰我。我的神阿，我白日哀求，你不应允，在夜间也不得安息。这些话以某种形式出现在成千上万的人死于冠状病毒的家庭的嘴边……也出现在Roanne、Neil和 Scottie的嘴边，因为他们的表妹Cindy上周在温哥华岛去世。这些话也在Roanne的女儿Krystal的哭泣中，因为她的男朋友几天前在素里去世。一位顶级急诊室医生Lorna Breen博士在纽约爆发的冠状病毒疫情中献出了自己的生命，不幸去世。我们为我们的人类家庭而呐喊。在Breen医生去世之前，她曾告诉过她父亲有些病人，他们甚至还没来得及被抬出救护车就已经去世了。
Together we cry out and lean into Psalm 23. Though there are many reasons to fear, the psalmist reminds us that, come what may, together we trust: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures, leads me beside still waters, restores my soul. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me.
This is good news…we never walk alone, even through the darkest valley. Delta school district and staff are coming and going each week, bringing 125 families to pasture: shopping for, preparing and delivering food hampers every week, the majority here in North Delta…Lisa Flemig, whose friend is on staff in Surrey school district. So, Lisa is baking for Surrey families receiving hampers…see photos…this is what it means to be saved during the pandemic. If you contributed to Deltassist by April 30, a matching grant of $2 million was added, supporting families across Canada with food hampers.
这是个好消息…我们从不孤单，即使是在穿过最黑暗的山谷时。Delta学区和教职员工每周来来往往，为125个家庭带来食物：每周购物、准备和运送食物篮，大部分在North Delta……Lisa Flemig，她的朋友是素里学区的教职员工。所以，Lisa正在为素里的家庭烘焙食物…看照片…这就是在传染病大流行期间被拯救的意义。如果你在4月30日前向Deltassist捐款，就会有200万美元的拨款匹配你的捐款，通过食物篮的方式来支持加拿大各地的家庭。
We are all helping one another STAY SAFE. Jesus makes a way, as we learn new practices, so that we find green pastures each day. Coming and going, none of us walk alone.
Kids’ Message: Today is Good Shepherd Sunday, as the fourth Sunday after Easter is every year, with a reading from John’s gospel, chapter 10. Jesus wanted people to know he would always love them and take care of them. He called himself the Good Shepherd…and told people they were like sheep. I brought with me today a sheep skin from my grandparents’ ranch in Montana…I was given this when I was a child. My grandfather was a shepherd who took care of sheep. He used this shepherd’s hook to pull sheep when they needed to stay safe inside the gate.
Some people didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about being a shepherd, so Jesus told them this story.
Act 3:1-10 Peter and John went to pray April 26, 2020 TLC
使徒行传 3：1-10 彼得跟约翰去祷告 2020年4月26日 TLC
Hearing this story, some may ask: ‘Did this really happen?’ This man who was lame from birth, his muscles atrophied because he had never walked, was suddenly able to dance and leap? Science would say such instantaneous healing is impossible. Science would say the resurrection is impossible. It’s accounts like this in the scriptures that call us to find a way to integrate scientific ways of knowing with religious or spiritual ways of knowing; how do we trust in what we can know through science and yet also trust in a way of knowing that allows us to pray, to trust in a mystery bigger than ourselves, to walk by faith.
With so many people struck down by the coronavirus around the world, undoubtedly many are praying for their loved ones as they struggle to breathe on ventilators or deal with complications related to blood clots and kidney failure. What if we pray for a miracle and it doesn’t happen? Does this mean that God isn’t listening, doesn’t care, or doesn’t have the power to do what we’re asking?
Reidun’s niece, Peggy, who was a healthy 61-year-old, was infected with COVID19 and hospitalized in Washington State. We’ve been praying for her, as she was put into a medically induced coma on a ventilator, with a tracheotomy and feeding tube. After three weeks the doctors had given up hope of her recovering, telling her husband that her brain was unresponsive. They advised her husband to pull the plug and resign himself to her becoming a vegetable. So, last week they removed the ventilator, and stopped giving her drugs through her IV. When she started to come out of her coma, she found her cell phone near her bed and called her husband at 3AM, panicking because she was suddenly aware of how sick she had been. Her husband called the nurses who ran into her room, shocked that she was able to communicate. Peggy is due to be discharged sometime this week, cracking jokes and completely alert, while in need of rest and recovery at home. What doctors said was impossible was shifted, life overcoming death.
Peter and John walk by a man, who’s been lame from birth, as he sits near the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, on a mat, begging for his next meal. Every day his friends carry him to there. He’s chosen a strategic spot; a place where those with privilege and wealth pass by on their way to pray, to meet God. The Temple, as it was understood for centuries before Jesus died, was what the Celtic religion calls a ‘thin place’; a place in which heaven and earth meet, a place where the holy one is made known, where human beings meet God. Everyone who prays at the Temple recognizes this man who begs; he’s become a fixture in their mind, so that they no longer see him.
But when Peter and John walk by on their way to meet the One who raises the dead, who is at work to draw all created things together, they stop. They turn to this man being who is begging. And they see him, not as a piece of furniture sitting next to the Beautiful Gate, holding out his hand every day. But as a fellow human being, trying to make his way through the world. They stop and fix their attention on him and they say, “Look at us.” If there’s one thing that COVID19 has done for us, it’s made us stop, push the pause button on economic productivity. Fix our attention on our families, on reconnecting with friends.
Peter and John say to the man: Look at us. We’ve (ain’t) got nothin’…no money, no food, no clothing, nothing that you’re asking for.
Who were Peter and John? Well they first met Jesus as they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus called them to leave their nets and follow, saying “I’ll teach you how to fish for people.” For several years, they had walked with Jesus around Galilee. They watched Jesus give sight to those who were blind, give hope to the hopeless, listened to him teach about God coming among and within them right now. When Jesus begins to talk about how he must face suffering, rejection and be killed. And after three days rise again. Peter grabs Jesus in protest. Peter couldn’t imagine this happening to Jesus. And certainly not on his watch. But Jesus tells Peter: you have no idea how God works.
On the night of his arrest, Jesus gathered Peter, John and the rest of the rest of the disciples for the Passover feast and what would be their last meal together, Jesus says, “You will all run away when I need you the most, but after I am raised up I will meet you in back in Galilee, at home.” Peter says, “Even though everyone else will desert you when things fall apart, I will not.” Jesus says, “Don’t be so sure. Today, this very night in fact, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” When he hears the cock crow, Peter weeps, because Jesus knew him better than he knew himself. Three days later he runs to the tomb because Mary says it is empty and angels told her Jesus has been raised. Peter and John touch Jesus’ wounds as he appears to say, “Peace be with you.”
Peter and John were there as Jesus breathed on them, giving them the Spirit…all they need to walk God’s ways in the world.
Since the resurrection, Peter and John have been sharing all things in common with the community following the way of Christ together…they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. They may be entering the Temple through the Beautiful Gate where people of privilege and means enter, but they clearly don’t have either. “Look at us,” they say, to the man begging for his next meal. “We don’t have any silver or gold, but what we have, we give to you.” What do they have?
They have all they truly need, the mercy and forgiveness of God…they have received it from Jesus. When the One who could’ve taken revenge, shows up behind locked doors and offers peace instead. Breathing on them the Holy Spirit, they are given the power to forgive, a power the world desperately needs. After Peter denies Jesus, hears the cock crow, and weeps with regret, he is still welcomed by the community…he touches Jesus’ wounds. And he is forgiven.
Peter and John have realized that life is not about them. They are about life. Life is about participating in a larger mystery. In this pandemic …life as we have known it has stopped. Look around you. The people around you are sitting, walking, standing in a pool of tears. All of our celebrations have been suspended: 50thanniversaries, weddings, birthdays, funerals. Tens of thousands have died and the virus has just begun to infect the continent of Africa where medical care is a privilege reserved for the those with economic means. Twenty-two people have tragically perished from senseless violence in Nova Scotia.
Jesus knows our pain, the pain of the human family. On the cross, Jesus gathered all suffering to himself, carried it on the cross---in a cosmic act of love…pouring out his blood. The blood represents all the violence, injustice and death in the world. The cross means that Jesus, who is also fully God, knows human suffering and gathers it into the heart of the Divine.
As I watched the One World: Home Together event filmed around the world from people’s homes. In spite of President Trump threatening to withhold funds from WHO, One World raised funds to support the global collaboration in the fight against coronavirus across political and cultural differences. In today’s fractured world, this kind of collaboration is miraculous, reminding us we are one human family brought to our knees. We trust that the Spirit of the living God is at work in the collaboration of scientists will find a vaccine eventually, if we work together, sharing what we are learning for the greater good.
In the worst of human suffering, God sees us. God suffers with us. God promises to show us a way through the pain, drawing us into a deeper mystery, the way in which new life is born out of pain and death.
John 20:19-31 April 19 2020 TLC God Still Shows Up
约翰福音 20： 19 -31 2020 年4月19日上帝仍会显现
This week, as I cultivated our raspberry patch, I was chatting with our new next door neighbour who was mowing his lawn. He is part of the team enforcing the new by-laws related to the pandemic: making sure we practice physical distancing from one another, regulating the closure of non-essential businesses and how essential businesses function. Perhaps you saw the viral video of a by-law officer giving a $900 fine to someone who was doing chin-ups in a Vancouver Park this week. The pandemic is setting new boundaries for all of us in order to protect those most vulnerable to infection.
这周，当我种覆盆子的时候，我和正在割草的隔壁新邻居聊天。 他是与疾病大流行有关的新法规的执法团队的成员：确保我们彼此保持距离，确保非基本服务生意的关闭以及基本服务的正常运作。 也许您看过一个视频，视频中说到本周一位市执法人员给在温哥华公园做仰卧起坐的某人处以900加元的罚款。 大流行给我们所有人设定了新的界限，以保护最容易受到感染的人。
The pandemic is also forcing us to face our deepest fear: the fear of death. All of us, no matter what our age, are facing this fear together. For some this fear has resulted in increased anxiety, interrupting our sleep. For the first couple of weeks, my greatest fear was that many of you who are older than 65 would catch the coronavirus, become hospitalized or even die. This caused my mind to race, shortened my breathing, I couldn’t focus or concentrate on anything. My fear manifested as anxiety. Knowing I couldn’t keep in touch with all of you while we cannot worship in person, I was drawn to organize the Caring Call Team. A huge shout out to the Caring Call team of Uschi, Helen, Wendy, Janet, Jocelyn, Jack, Andrea, Liz and Rosa Maria who’ve checked in with you over the last month to make sure you have groceries, family support, and to note any prayer concerns. (The caring calls will now happen every other week or once a month for some of you).
(Some of you will need to continue to stay at home for several months until a vaccine is available, to protect yourself and your loved ones from infection. This leads to more mental health challenges…Sanctuary small group to learn about mental health…how to take care of ourselves and others in the midst of the pandemic…announcements)
For those who work in essential services or on the front line in health care, the fear of death is very real. One of my dear friends is a family doctor on the East coast of the U.S. With the rate of infection still climbing and Pres. Trump’s eagerness to get the economy going again, another outbreak may be on the horizon. All doctors, no matter what their specialty, are on-call to join the front lines in hospital care. This has caused anxiety affecting my friends’ sleep patterns; not knowing if tomorrow she may be called into the hospital. Several of you work in essential services or have loved ones who do, so you deal with the fear of death every workday. Those who work in hospital have been told to put on all of their protective gear in the parking lot before they enter the building. Even then, the virus has found a way to penetrate protective gear, claiming the lives of health care workers. Some people suffer from social anxiety, so the additional restrictions on interactions with others have thrown them into a paralyzing fear of any interaction. The fear of death is very real for us as a global community. We are all facing it together. Walking through it together will lead to new life.
On the evening of the resurrection, the disciples were stacked upon one another behind locked doors. Because they were terrified. Fearing death, if Roman authorities could find them. This fear was not unfounded. Roman soldiers wanted to eliminate the Jesus movement in the first century. Persecution by Roman authorities against the followers of the Way of Christ in the first century resulted in death.
Huddled together in fear, the disciples had heard unconfirmed rumors about the empty tomb from the women. The women who had gone to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. The women met angels where Jesus’ body had been. The angels told them to bring a message from Jesus to the disciples: go to Galilee where I promised to meet you. But instead they went home and locked their doors. Even though Jesus had told them he must die and after three days be raised, they were clueless about the meaning of his death. They were deeply disappointed in the cross; their hopes had been dashed. Their hope of Jesus being the Messiah, the One who would save them from Roman political oppression, making all things right in the world. He had died a humiliating death on a cross where criminals die; though he had done nothing wrong. They are all confused, full of disbelief and overwhelmed with fear. The empty tomb wasn’t enough to convince them that all Jesus taught them was true.
These days, we are all hiding, afraid of infection, afraid of contact with our contagious neighbours, afraid of death. In the simple act of going outside of our house for a walk or grocery shopping, we face the fear of death. We put off errands until absolutely necessary. Some are wearing masks and gloves; we all stay two meters away from other shoppers. Many of you need to stay home continuously and rely on family and friends or grocery delivery.
But we may not realize that facing our fear of death is a chance to meet God…walking through our fear of the last thing becomes an encounter with the One who holds all things together. Once we face our fear of death, we are free to live, often for the first time outside of our head. Living in our head, we overthink everything, trying to manage and control it. But in the face of death, none of us are in control.
On the day of the resurrection, with the disciples hiding behind locked doors, Christ Jesus, who died and rose again, walked through the locked doors to be with them. Jesus shows up. Now talk about fear. The One whom they abandoned when he was arrested. The One who asked them to stay awake while he prayed in agony. Instead, they fell asleep. Now they are in big trouble! They can’t run away; Jesus has come to their hiding place. So they face their fear, thinking Jesus is coming back to take revenge, to pay them back for running away, to bring God’s wrath. But no, The Risen One comes to say: ‘Peace be with you.’ He invites them to come to him: ‘Touch my wounded hands and side.’ Holding their breath in terror, they reach out and touch him…breathing a great sigh of relief; they rejoice!
复活的那天，门徒躲在锁着的门后面，死了又复活的基督耶稣，穿过锁着的门与他们在一起。 耶稣出现了。 现在谈谈恐惧。 当他被捕时，他们抛弃的那个人。 一位在痛苦中祷告时，要他的门徒们保持清醒，相反，他们却睡着了的人。 现在他们麻烦大了！ 他们逃不掉了， 耶稣来到了他们的藏身之处。 所以他们很害怕，以为耶稣会回来报仇，为他们的逃跑复仇，带来神的愤怒。 但是，没有，复活者说：“愿你们平安。”他邀请他们来找他：“触摸我受伤的手和两肋。”屏住呼吸，恐怖地伸出手触摸他…… 大大地松了一口气; 他们很高兴！
This morning we gave thanks for our baptism…a ritual bath where we face our death. In the waters of baptism, we die and rise, drowning our old self, our deepest fear, (our ego), we rise to become a new creatures in Christ…we die to going it alone, and rise to trust God is with us as we walk into our fear, compelling us into the world with love. Martin Luther teaches in the catechism that every day we die and rise in the waters of our baptism; dying and rising is rhythm we enter into, a spiritual practice of owning our fear, walking into it, and discovering God is with us.
What does the resurrection mean? God still shows up. When we face our fear of death, God walks with us. Just as Jesus did with the fearful disciples behind their locked doors. Where are you hiding these days? What causes you fear and anxiety these days? God is looking for you in the midst of your fear.
What does the resurrection mean? In our hiding places, God will find us. In our fear and anxiety, God still shows up, through neighbours who check in, through friends who reach out after losing contact. Jesus, reveals a rhythm to us on the cross, praying in agony that this cup might pass from him, Jesus prays “not my will but yours be done” and goes to the cross. dying and rising, comes to show us the way to life: when we are afraid, Jesus shows up. Jesus says come, raising us to new life.
Mark 14 Unnamed Woman Anoints Jesus at Bethany April 5, 2020 TLC
马可福音 14 无名女子在伯大尼膏抹耶稣 2020年 4月5日 TLC
Extravagant Love Outpoured
I don’t like to waste time. I don’t like to waste anything. When we have leftovers from dinner, I always save them, especially now as we are limiting our trips to the grocery store. And I always eat the leftovers. I’ll eat most anything rather than let it go to waste. Groceries are expensive. We are not going to waste any food. I don’t like to waste time. In fact, many of you have experienced this…when I am in “get it done” mode, I want to make the most efficient use of my time. Before worship on a Sunday morning from 7-10AM, I used to be in this mode. This affects my interaction with people; when you want to be efficient with every moment, you cannot be fully present for people. I don’t like to waste money; perhaps you can relate…Peter can. This week I talked with him because been he’s laid off from work for six months. When I asked him how his family will make ends meet, he said I could share his text: ‘my wife is still working, our mortgage is manageable and we always save money, it’s the Chinese way…always saving for a rainy day. And now it’s raining, pastor, LOL.’
So there’s something about the woman who comes to Jesus at the home of Simon the Leper with the jar of perfume, wasting it, pouring what is worth a year’s wages, on Jesus’ head. There’s something about this that seems wrong. Like the disciples, I complain, this ointment could’ve been sold and the money used to help someone who really needs it, who can’t make ends meet.
有一个女人带着一瓶香膏来到麻风病人西蒙的家中，走到耶稣身边，把它浪费了，把价值相当于一年工资的东西倒在了耶稣的头上。 这件事有点不对劲。 就像门徒们一样，我会抱怨说这香膏本来可以卖掉的，而这笔钱也可以用来帮助那些无法维持生计，真正需要的人。
Scholars would say the unnamed woman doesn’t know that Jesus is about to be crucified, but she comes to him just as the religious leaders were looking for a way to arrest Jesus. This woman comes to anoint his head with an extravagant gift of love. And Jesus is moved by it. Death is all around Jesus now. The shadow of the cross looms. The day is soon when Jesus will be taken from his disciples. Judas is about to go to the religious leaders and betray him. They promise to give him money when he does. Jesus says to the frugal disciples: “leave her alone…she has done what she could, she has anointed my body for burial.” What she has done for me will be told for generations to come. And here we are, 2000 years later, still telling her story.
As the world battles COVID19 many have done what they could, many have given their lives trying to save others. Last December, Dr Li Wen Liang suspected that the virus causing pneumonia was something that could threaten many lives as he treated multiple cases breaking out in Wuhan. He warned many of his doctor colleagues and was told by the government to stop spreading rumors, but as the infection spread, the world began to see what he was trying to say. Dr. Li Wen Liang contracted COVID19 and died. He was the whistle blower, warning that world that a devastating virus was spreading, and we needed to work together to stop it. Since the virus has spread globally, Chinese doctors have flown around the world to consult in Iran, Pakistan, Italy, Europe sharing what they’ve learned, sharing what they know.
在世界与COVID19奋战的过程中，许多人竭尽所能，许多人为拯救他人而献出了生命。 去年12月，李文亮医生怀疑这种引起肺炎的病毒可能会威胁到许多人的生命，因为他在武汉治疗了多起病例。 他警告了他的许多医生同事，并被政府训诫停止散布谣言，但随着感染的蔓延，全世界开始明白他在说什么。 李文亮医生感染了COVID19并去世。 他是吹哨人，向世界发出警告，说毁灭性的病毒正在传播，我们需要共同努力制止这种病毒的传播。 由于该病毒已在全球蔓延，中国医生开始奔赴世界各地，在伊朗，巴基斯坦，意大利和欧洲进行咨询，分享他们的所学，所知。
There’s something about love that involves being wasteful. To waste our time, our attention, our gaze on another. Love isn’t efficient, it doesn’t follow a timetable; in fact, when you try to manage and control it, love die. Love just happens, like the woman who shows up at the home of Simon the Leper. Love is not reasonable; love gives fully, completely, lavishly.
While some are compelled, in the midst of a pandemic, to rip off catalytic converters from three ambulances in Delta a couple of days ago, others have been drawn to work together to love and save the world.
Together we are doing our part, staying home, preventing the virus from spreading. If you are working in essential services, we are praying for you. And we are standing in solidarity with hospital workers…as we zoomed dinner with our Vancouver friends, when the clock struck 7 pm, they ran to the window to bang pots and pans as well as their entire neighbourhood, cheering on hospital workers during their shift change. This movement started in Italy as a way to support medical teams working around the clock with insufficient supplies, under incredible stress in a war zone, with a high risk of contracting the virus themselves. As we enter into holy week, the final days of Jesus’ life on earth, set your phone alarm for 7pm, grab a pot and pan from your kitchen and bang it from your window in solidarity with all those in essential services. Pots and pans replace the palms today and for the rest of the pandemic.
我们共同努力，留在家里，防止病毒传播。 如果你从事的是基本服务，我们正在为你祷告。 而且我们与医院工作人员团结在一起……当我们与温哥华的朋友们共进晚餐时，晚上7点钟时，他们跑到窗户前，跟整个是社区一起敲打锅碗瓢盆，在医院工作人员交接班期间，为他们欢呼 。 这项运动始于意大利，是一种支持医疗队全天候工作的方式。医务人员在战区承受着巨大的压力，他们极有可能因个人防护设备不足而使自己感染该病毒。 当我们进入圣周时，即耶稣在地球上生命的最后一天，将手机闹钟设置为晚上7点，从厨房拿起锅碗瓢盆，透过窗户，敲打它，与所有从事基本服务的人团结在一起。 在当今的疾病大流行期间，锅碗瓢盆取代了棕榈枝。
Last Friday, the governor of Minnesota issued a stay-at-home order that would go into effect at midnight. And Serenity Village, a Minneapolis church based on the step steps of recovery from addiction, mobilized volunteers to reroute semi-trucks loaded with food for local restaurants. Since the restaurants were closing at midnight, all the food supplies for the restaurants were distributed to families in need before the stay-at-home order came into effect. This church organized its people with protective gear, to distribute truckloads of food. Cars lined up for blocks, directed by local police, to stop, open their trunk and receive food. Somehow, in a very short period of time, this church was ready to pour out an extravagant love upon their neighbours.
We are not in control. We are not God. COVID19 has shown us, more clearly than anything else could, we are not in charge of final outcomes. But together we cry out Hosanna, ‘Save us’, show us how to work together. Those working on the front lines pour out extravagant love to sustain life. We are each called to do the same…to do our part, waste our time, energy, and attention on those most vulnerable, allowing two-three meters next to everyone whom we meet, and calling others to do the same. Delta’s call center, just set up to report any group gatherings, will help us keep each other accountable. Together we are participating in a divine love, revealed fully on the cross.
我们无法控制， 我们不是上帝。 COVID19向我们展示了比任何其他事物都更清晰的信息，我们不负责最终结果。 但是我们在一起呼喊Hosanna，“拯救我们”，展示我们如何共同努力。 那些在前线工作的人倾注了奢侈的爱以维系生命。 我们每个人都被要求做同样的事情……尽我们的一份力量，把时间和精力浪费在最弱势的人身上，与我们遇见的每个人都相隔两三米远，并呼吁其他人也这样做。 北三角洲的呼叫中心刚刚成立，可以报告任何团体聚会的情况，这将帮助我们彼此负责。 我们在一起共同经历这份在十字架上彰显的神圣的爱。
The unnamed woman pours out love, without thinking about the waste. She reflects..a love that holds nothing back, a love that is costly, scandalous, giving of itself unto death. A cross-shaped love poured out for you, for me, for the life of the world.
这位不愿透露姓名的女人在不考虑浪费的情况下倾吐爱意。 她反映出..一种爱是无法遏制的，一种爱是昂贵的，是令人震惊的，是将自己献给了死亡。 十字形的爱为你，为我，为世界的每个生命喷薄而出。
Mark 13:1-8, 24-27 Stay Awake March 29 2020 TLC
马可福音 13：1-8 ， 24- 27 2020 3月29日 TLC
What I say to you, I say to all: Stay Awake! We are living in a time when the words of Jesus from Mark’s gospel echo all around us. Over and over, around the world people are hearing: stay alert…for an invisible enemy.Stay home, wash your hands, only go out for groceries, medicine and keep a safe distance between yourself and others. When you listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s daily update, people are calling for an even stricter enforcement of lockdown here in B.C. Living in this state of high alert can lead to angry outbursts, sleepless nights, worry about financial well-being. People unable to afford rent and mortgage payments. When people cough or sneeze on other people, fights break out, people run home to wash any potential virus off.
As the infection rate climbs over 450,000 globally, the world is crying out for help. Canadian auto assembly lines are scrambling to adapt to produce ventilators. New York City hospitals need help to care for the estimated tens of thousands of people who will need them in days to come…we are preparing for overwhelming outbreaks here in B.C.
随着全球感染人数攀升超过45万，全世界都在寻求帮助。 加拿大的汽车组装线争先恐后地改为生产呼吸机。 纽约市的医院需要帮助，以照顾未来几天估计数以万计的需要帮助的人……我们BC 省也正在为这里疫情的大规模爆发做准备。
“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars,” Jesus says don’t be alarmed. But today we are alarmed because the world is at war with this: (show covid19 slide). COVID 19 can exist on your mail for 24 hours, 8-9 days on a doorknob, waiting for a host. Keep awake!
We are…wiping down doorknobs with Lysol wipes, bleaching our countertops, sanitizing our homes daily, washing our hands until they are raw. We are living on high alert with anxiety hanging over us like a cloud. I talked with a teacher this week who said, “I’ve worked in a petri dish for decades…I know all about hand washing. I wonder if we’ll be able to convince people it is important.”
Nearly two hundred years ago a German, Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweiss, was the first doctor to realize that hand washing was essential to preventing the spread of infection. Back in the 1840’s Ignaz was working in a labor and delivery hospital. Back in those days, 25-30% of women died after childbirth. Ignaz wondered why more women were dying in one hospital than another. He speculated that doctors’ hands were carrying something …as they were performing autopsies and then moving directly to the delivery room. Ignaz suggested that doctors wash their hands before entering the delivery room. In that hospital the mortality rate for mothers dropped from 18% to 1% and he was convinced that hand washing was preventing their death. Though bacteria had been discovered a hundred years earlier, no one knew that micro-organisms could harm us. Ordering doctors to wash hands was seen as an insult, as if doctors weren’t being treated with respect that ‘gentlemen’ deserve. Ignaz was blacklisted as a doctor. No one in the medical profession believed him. He was given charge of a hospital overrun with disease in 1851 and in that year, the death rate dropped to 1% for the people in his care. In 1865 he suffered a mental breakdown and died. In the 1860’s Louis Pasteur developed the germ theory that was finally embraced by society. And by 1905, Florence Nightingale was given an award for discovering that being clean was essential in patient care.
大约200年前，一位名叫Ignaz Semmelweiss的德国匈牙利医生是第一位意识到洗手对于防止感染扩散至关重要的医生。早在1840年，伊格纳兹（Ignaz）曾在产科医院工作。那时，有25-30％的妇女在分娩后死亡。伊格纳兹想知道为什么在一家医院中死去的产妇多于另一家。他推测医生的手上有什么东西……医生这边还在进行尸检，然后直接就到产房接生。伊格纳兹建议医生在进入产房之前要洗手。在那家医院，产妇的死亡率从18％下降到1％，他坚信洗手可以防止产妇的死亡。尽管一百年前就发现了细菌，但没人知道微生物会伤害我们。要求医生洗手是一种侮辱，好像医生没有得到“绅士”应有的尊重。伊格纳兹被列为医生黑名单。医学界没有人相信他。 1851年，他因医院疾病泛滥而受到指控，那年，他所照顾的病人的死亡率下降到1％。 1865年，他因精神崩溃而去世。 1860年，路易斯巴斯德（Louis Pasteur）提出了细菌理论，该理论最终被社会所接受。到1905年，弗洛伦斯南丁格尔（Florence Nightingale）因发现清洁对病人的护理至关重要而获得了奖项。
As we listen to nurses and doctors call out for masks, gloves and gowns that will prevent them from getting infected, we know how essential this is. Protective gear is in short supply. We didn’t listen to our friends in China, to learn how to get ready, as the infection started to spread globally. We didn’t start producing gear and ventilators until COVID19 was on our doorstep. How might we respond to the cry of medical staff? I’ve seen pictures of nurses making their own protective gear. First responders who sleep in their garage trying to prevent infecting their families.
我们听到护士和医生呼求，他们需要口罩，手套和隔离服来防止被感染，我们知道这有多么重要， 现在防护装备短缺。 随着感染开始向全球蔓延，我们没有听取中国朋友的经验，学习如何做好准备。 直到COVID19出现在我们自家门口之前，我们才开始生产防护装备和呼吸机。 我们如何应对医务人员的呼求？ 我见过护士自己制作防护装备的照片，看到急救人员 在车库里睡觉以试图防止感染家人。
As I talked with a Save On employee stocking vegetables, he said the reason the shelves are empty of meat, canned and frozen food is because a week ago Thursday people panicked and came in to buy a month’s worth of groceries. The grocery stores will continue to receive food from suppliers; we just need to buy less and trust more will come.
我和一位Save On 的蔬菜上货员交谈时，他说货架上之所以没有肉、罐头和冷冻食品，是因为一周前的星期四人们惊慌失措，进来买了可用一个月的食品杂货。食品杂货店将持续从供应商那里获得食品；我们只需要减少购买量，相信食物会源源不断地送到。
We don’t know what will happen in the days to come. But we are all in this together. When the cloud of anxiety seems to overshadow everything and your mind is racing, you cannot seem to calm down. Turn off the TV, put your phone down, shut down the computer. Go outside for a walk, focus on your breathing and repeat a word or phrase from scripture. This week, I have turned to Psalm 63:7a, 8a: “for you have been my help…my soul clings to you.” Notice the creatures, plants around you. Greet your neighbours with a safe social distance between you. We can still talk from two meters away: say “hello.” If you are more anxious by leaving your home, then sit upright with your back tall, your hands open in your lap….breathe in, hold it, breathe out…try this for 10, 15, 20, 25 minutes each day, twice a day. Doing this can help us name our fear and anxiety and discover God with us.
We are in a war against an invisible enemy; this is not the end of all things. But it may be the end of life as we have known it. All of us have been bumped out of our usual mode of daily life…but we are not alone. None of us know the day nor hour of the end; only God knows. But maybe ‘not knowing’ is the best place to be. It gives God room to work with us, to come alongside us, to be our help. The doorkeeper is on the watch.
As I went to buy cat litter this week, the doorkeeper met me…asked me what I needed as I stood behind tape on the floor. Many stores are regulating social distance as we shop. Keep awake, the doorkeeper is on the watch, for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight or at cockcrow or at dawn.
这周我去买猫砂的时候， ……当我站在地板上的胶带后面时，看门人问我需要什么。 我们购物时，许多商店都规范了社交距离。 保持清醒，看门人在守望，因为你不知道房子的主人什么时候来，是在傍晚，午夜，鸡叫时还是黎明。
As Jesus nears his own suffering and death for the love of the world, his closest friends cannot keep awake. In the evening before his arrest, he gathers them for the Passover meal, and says one of them will betray him. “Surely not I,” they all say. At midnight, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus takes aside Peter, James and John, saying “Stay awake, watch and pray.” Yet three times, Jesus returns to find them sleeping. After the third time, Judas arrives with the Roman guards who arrest Jesus. All of his friends desert him, running away for their lives. At cockcrow, Peter comes to the painful realization that he has denied knowing Jesus three times, just as Jesus said he would. And at dawn, the chief priests and scribes bring Jesus before Pilate to be tried as a criminal. Jesus stands utterly alone. Not one of his closest friends wait and watch with him.
Today we are all waiting and watching for the infection rate to flatten or continue to rise. PM Trudeau has told us our waiting and watching will be enforced if we don’t stay home. The world is suffering together. God in Christ, knows our suffering, knows the war we are in. The One who was betrayed, denied and forsaken on the cross comes to us who denied the seriousness of COVID19. God in Christ comes to us now, to help us breathe in and out, to lift up our eyes to our neighbours in need, in all these ways, bringing mercy and grace. Even for those sleepy, unprepared, miserably failing disciples, there was hope. Just as Jesus came to them and said, “Peace be with you. My peace I give you.” So too, as we wait and watch, no matter what happens, Jesus comes to us, to the world, to give a peace that the news headlines can’t give, a peace that surpasses human understanding, a peace that not even death can hold down.
今天我们都在等待，等待感染率趋于平稳或继续上升。特鲁多总理告诉我们，如果我们不呆在家里，我们的等待和观望将被强制执行。世界人民在一起受苦。基督上帝，知道我们的苦难，知道我们正在经历的战争。在十字架上被背叛，被拒绝，被遗弃的人来到我们这群没有意识到Covid 19 的严重性的人面前。上帝基督现在来到我们这里，来帮助我们呼吸。用一切的方式，让我们举目关注有需要的邻舍，给我们带来怜悯和恩典。即使是那些昏昏欲睡，毫无准备，惨败的门徒，也有希望。正如耶稣来到他们那里，对他们说：“愿你们平安。“我把我的平安赐给你们。”同样，当我们等待和观望时，无论发生什么，耶稣都会来到我们这里，来到这个世界，给我们一个新闻头条无法给予的平安，一个超越人类理解的平安，一个连死亡都无法压制的平安。
Mark 12:1-17 Give to God what is God’s TLC March 15 2020
马可福音 12： 1-17 把上帝的东西给上帝
There are two things we can be sure of: death and taxes. I just visited with my tax accountant last Friday, getting all the paperwork together. As Canadian residents, paying taxes is not optional; taxes support the common good like public schools, police force, tunnels and bridges, public transit, equal access to health care for all. It’s tax time. But it’s also a time of high anxiety due to the COVID-19 virus being transmitted around the world. And now impacting our local community. Betty and her son are on a 14 day quarantine. Colton's secondary school in Surrey was one of those infected with the virus this last Monday. His mom pulled him out of school early for spring break. In these days, we are more conscious of protecting ourselves from infection because it could lead to grave illness in communities like ours with many over the age of 60. Scientists are working around the clock to create a vaccine; in the meantime, we need to change our social interactions until the vaccine is available. In coming weeks, we may be tempted to panic, like many are doing in the grocery stores with the run on toilet paper and hand sanitizer…I heard of guards at Costco breaking up fist fights that are breaking out between customers, fighting over food. Others are stockpiling the TP and sanitizer so that they can sell it for a profit on-line.
Where is God in all of this?
Maybe it’s appropriate that we have just entered the season of Lent as the COVID 19 spreads. A time of reflection over forty days when we are walk in the wilderness with Jesus, tempted to panic, as we head toward the cross on Good Friday. During Lent, several adult mentors are being asked to engage in a faith talk with youth ages 12-18. This involves intentional listening and sharing their own understanding and experiences of faith out loud. This is something many of us rarely do. And in fact, it has felt more than a bit intimidating, even panic, for several of you who have considered it, and said, “No thank you pastor. This is not for me.” It all starts with a reflection for the both the young people and adults:
随着COVID 19的传播，在这个时间进入四旬斋节也许是合适的， 给了我们四十天的反思时间，当我们在耶稣受难日朝十字架走去时，我们和耶稣一起走在旷野，很惊慌。 在四旬斋期间，一些成年导师被要求与12至18岁的年轻人进行信仰交流。 这涉及到倾听并分享自己对信仰的理解和经验， 这是我们许多人很少去做的事情。 实际上，对于你们中几个曾考虑过的人来说，这感觉有点吓人，甚至有些恐慌，他们说：“不，谢谢牧师。 这不适合我。” 一切都始于年轻人和成年人的反思：
Mentors and youth are using a discussion guide that prompts them with some reflection, which they share with one another: Draw something to show your earliest memory of how you imagined God to be. (take a moment to picture your earliest image of God)
A young person in our congregation recently told me about a conversation with a classmate who attends another church here in North Delta…went something like this: Do you believe in all this God stuff? The fellow student said, without hesitation: 100%! The young person from Trinity said, “Hum….really? All of it?”
Perhaps you can relate to this young person as you wonder where is God as COVID 19 descends upon us?
Then both mentor and youth are asked to draw something to show how you imagine God to be now. Look at the two drawings. What do they represent? How are they different? How has your understanding of God changed over the years?
In Mark’s gospel today, Jesus tells a disturbing parable intended to help us imagine what God is like and who we are in relationship with God. It’s about a vineyard owner and tenants, who both violently lash out, creating destruction of human beings. This parable is not a comfort to us in an anxious time.
The parable turns on this question: What then will the owner of the vineyard do? With this question, we who are listening, can pause…and look at the injustice of the story…the tenants refuse to give what belongs to the owner. The owner sends slaves who are harassed, beaten and killed for being messengers of the owner, asking for what already belongs to the owner. And the owner comes, to destroy the tenants, giving the vineyard to others.
Can you see it? The injustice happening on many levels. The COVID-19 outbreak reveals injustices lurking beneath the surface in the United States. Think about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who are afraid to go to a doctor if they have COVID 19 symptoms, because they will be deported. Or those who don’t have medical insurance to cover the cost of a test…as congress is voting soon on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and Trump declares a State of Emergency so that money can be directed to those who lack paid sick leave, or need nutritional support for their kids when school is cancelled. Maybe some wrongs will be made right through this health crisis.
Where are you in the story…do you relate with the owner, the tenants, the slaves, the beloved son? Those who heard this parable in the first century would’ve understood the vineyard to be the Israelites…God’s beloved people, God’s pleasant planting. The prophet Isaiah speaks with God’s voice: I will tell you what I will do for my vineyard. The slaves are those prophets, over the centuries, sent to call people back to following God’s ways, who were often stoned to death for their message.
The Bible is dangerous. It has been used by human beings to subjugate women, to justify slavery, to condemn homosexuality. This parable of the tenants has been used by Christians against Jews, blaming Jews for the death of Jesus, calling them murderers. Martin Luther, the reformer of the church that sparked the protestant reformation, who taught us that we are saved by grace through faith, also blamed Jews for the death of Jesus. This parable and other passages in the New Testament, have been used to fuel prejudice, hatred, and discrimination against our Jewish brothers and sisters for centuries. How could this happen?
The parable has been used in anti-semitic, anti-Jewish discrimination because the tenants who kill the owner’s beloved son, are associated with all Jews. It is very important that we understand the tenants to be religious leaders in the first century and not associate the tenants with Jews down through the centuries. Martin Luther blamed Jews for the death of Jesus. In fact, it was Roman authorities and soldiers who killed Jesus… This is a very important distinction. In 1995 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada issued a formal apology to the Jewish community for Martin Luther’s prejudice against Jews that fueled the holocaust and still breeds discrimination today.
The religious leaders who heard Jesus telling this parable in the first century, realized he told this parable against them and their leadership, leading people astray, and they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. This parable is told during the last week of Jesus’ life. Jesus has just recently entered Jerusalem; things are heating up that will lead to his betrayal and arrest by Roman authorities, but not yet.
Still wanting to trap Jesus, some come and ask Jesus if it was lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not? Jesus asks them to bring him a denarius, a coin of Roman currency. “Whose head is this? Whose title?” “The emperor’s” they answer. Jesus says, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperors and to God the things that are God’s”
他们仍想诱捕耶稣，有人来问耶稣向皇帝缴税是否合法？ 耶稣要他们给他拿来一个硬币，罗马硬币。 “这是谁的头像？ 谁的头衔？” 他们回答“皇帝”。 耶稣说：“把皇帝的东西给皇帝，把上帝的东西给上帝”
What things are God’s? Well, first of all, you are not your own. You belong to God. Your life. The life of your loved ones. Your future. Your hopes and dreams. It is all God’s. If you, beloved of God, are filled with fear, worry and anxiety about what COVID-19 might do to you or to your loved ones, as we sing together, give your life to God. Our very lives are in God’s hands. In both life and death, we belong to God. As you consider going anywhere in your neighbourhood, remember our neighbours belong to God…are we going to transmit a virus as we interact with our neighbours…or are we going to create social distance out of love for our neighbour?
As I stood in line with hundreds of people, who were backed up to the dairy section of Superstore, I struck up a conversation with my neighbour, who had taken a picture of the bare shelves where toilet paper is usually on sale. We talked about the panic-stricken public. He had purchased a bunch of kale, like me. I asked what he was planning to do with it. He said, “my buddy wants me to make Tuscany Kale soup…it’s not panic kale soup.” Could be Jesus calls us to love our neighbour because it’s the best way to deal with our own worry, fear and panic. Loving our neighbour draws us outside of ourselves, gives us a new perspective, reminds us that we are all in this together and we are not alone. As the TLC council wrestled with how to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, they chose to love our neighbours, to suspend worshipping in person until we know the virus transmission will be steady rather than fast like the spread in Italy. The stranger whom I met at Superstore helped me experience God; when he said, “I’m gonna cook Tuscany Kale soup for my buddy.” These days, I find God in random conversations with strangers, who show me something about love. Jesus knows the way to experience God in these crazy times is to love our neighbours.
As world leaders gather to collaborate, stem the tide of destruction, share ideas on how to preserve life, the virus is impartial…all are susceptible…but the virus is the one thing that seems to be bringing us all together across the world. Could be God is at work through COVID-19?
Mark 10:32-52 TLC March 8 2020 马可福音 10：32 – 52 TLC 2020 年3 月8号
What is it you want me to do for you?
If you’ve ever proposed marriage to your beloved and then anxiously waited for their response, or if you’ve put an offer on a house and paced by the phone waiting for the realtor’s call, or if you’ve gotten a call that your son or daughter has been arrested and is awaiting a court date, or if you’ve called 911 for a loved one who’s collapsed and stood by while they went into emergency surgery…
Then you’ve probably pleaded with Jesus to give you just this one thing. As you wait, praying with all your cards on the table, you may have even bargained with God; trying to cut some kind of deal.
In Mark’s gospel this morning, James and John ask Jesus for something, not just anything, but “we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
So Jesus asks: What is it you want me to do for you?
It’s all about them getting some recognition, status…to sit next to Jesus, one at his right and the other at his left, basking in glory. James and John don’t get it. Following Jesus is not about getting glory. It’s about entering into suffering that yields new life…they didn’t hear what Jesus had just said: “I am heading for Jerusalem, where I will be handed over, condemned to death, mocked, spit upon, flogged and killed. After three days I will rise again.” Jesus is called to walk the road of suffering and death…a seeming failure as Messiah…after three days, he will be raised.
Could it be that we all want some recognition, to know that we are valuable, that we have something to offer another.
You don’t know what you are asking, Jesus says. Can you drink the cup that I will drink? “We are able!” James and John say, but they are clueless. Jesus doesn’t have the power to grant what they ask for. In a short while, two criminals will be hanging on Jesus’ right and left… “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant,” Jesus says.
This last week, at our Lenten soup supper, we reflected on Judaism…the story is adapted from a Jewish folktale.
A wealthy businessman decided to take a walk and eat his lunch at the same time. As he strolled near a large park, he purchased a hot dog and a soft drink. On two occasions, someone approached him and asked, “Can you help me? I’m hungry.” Each time the businessman looked straight ahead and kept walking.
Later, for dessert, he bought a chocolate éclair from a vendor. Just as he was about to take his first bite of the pastry, he had to jump out of the way to avoid a young boy on a skateboard. The éclair fell to the ground, landing in a puddle. The businessman picked it up and tried to clean it, but it was useless. The pastry was caked with mud.
As he was about to throw the éclair away, an idea struck him. He walked over to one of the beggars and handed him the dirty pastry. “Here, my good man, is something for your hunger.” He smiled to himself and walked back to his office.
That night, the businessman dreamed he was sitting in a large, crowded café with waitresses running back and forth, bringing customers delicious cakes and tortes. The waitresses all ignored the businessman, though he waved at them continually. Finally, he caught the eye of a young woman and asked for something to eat. She returned in a few minutes with a dirty piece of pastry.
The man was outraged. ‘You can’t treat me this way,’ he insisted. “I have the right to be served like anyone else. I expect to get good value for my money.”
这位男士很生气。 他坚持说：“你不能这样对待我。” “我有权得到像其他任何人一样的服务。 我希望物有所值。”
“You don’t seem to understand,” the waitress said kindly. “You can’t buy anything here. We don’t accept money. You have just arrived in heaven, and all you can order here is what you sent ahead while you were on earth. The only item we have listed in your name is this muddy éclair.”
Jesus not only asks James and John: What is it you want me to do for you? But when the blind man, Bartimaeus, calls out to him from the side of the road, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus calls him over and asks: What is it you want me to do for you? The blind man says, “My teacher, let me see again.” Without hesitation, Jesus says, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately the blind man regained his sight and followed Jesus on the way.
耶稣不仅问詹姆斯和约翰：你们要我为你们做什么？ 但是当盲人巴底买得从路边呼唤他时：“大卫的子孙耶稣，可怜可怜我吧！” 耶稣就叫他过来，问：你要我为你做什么？ 瞎子说：“夫子，我要能看见。” 耶稣毫不犹豫地说： 你的信仰救了你。” 盲人立刻看见了，并跟随耶稣。
This week while eating lunch with the quilters, Colleen Evans remembered something that happened to her when she was a young adult commuting from her home just up the road from the church to BCIT. She drove her grandmother’s 1973 Ford Pinto (Ford’s version of the Hibatchi bbq), which Colleen, her Dad, Jack, and his good friend, who was head mechanic at Happy Honda in Vancouver had literally re-assembled over several months each Saturday.
As they stripped down the engine, replaced the cam shaft, the head gasket and all the seals and belts, Colleen remembers standing underneath the hood, inside the engine block, fitting piece by piece together. It was a complete rust bucket and, even though it had been completely rebuilt, the timing was off and it would die while idling in traffic.
本周，科琳·埃文斯（Colleen Evans）在与棉被小组一起吃午餐时，想起了她年轻时从教堂附近的家中到BCIT上下班通勤时发生的事情。 她开着她祖母的1973年福特平托。 实际上科琳，她的父亲，跟他的好朋友杰克，杰克曾是温哥华快乐本田的首席机械师，在这几个月的每个星期六都对这辆车进行重新整修。他们拆下发动机，更换凸轮轴，汽缸盖垫片以及所有的密封件和皮带，科琳回忆起站在引擎盖下方的发动机罩内部，将它们逐块地装配在一起。 发动机缸体都已经生锈了，即使已经重新整修了，如果时机到了，它也会在空转时死掉。
On her commute Colleen carried a screwdriver so that when she was idling in bumper to bumper traffic, the engine sputtering like it was going to die, she could jump out and adjust the timing to keep the car running. One dark, rainy night as she drove home, the engine began to sputter at full throttle and Colleen began to panic as she rolled to a stop…shaking and terrified, she looked up to see that she’d parked in front of a BC Transit garage.
As she stared into the dark, a shaft of light appeared as the garage door started to open and out walked four burly mechanics who came up to her window, asking if she needed anything. They rolled her Pinto into the garage and had it up on the hoist in minutes. One mechanic, wiping away her tears, asked if she wanted to call for a ride home. She called her Dad, who came and picked her up. They kept the car overnight, fixed it, and had her back on the road. Colleen doesn’t remember consciously praying, but she certainly was asking for something she could not do for herself. Her Dad wrote the mechanics a letter, thanking them for looking out for his daughter, stranded by the road. Looking back now, perhaps we can all see that God was at work through those mechanics, giving Colleen exactly what she needed…assurance she was not alone on some scary road, consumed with darkness on all sides.
Jesus can see the bigger picture in a way we never will. Jesus asks you this morning: What is it you want me to do for you? Jesus knows what we need more than we do. Jesus can see the consequences of a decision and actions across time, where we can only guess about how we might influence others or the world around us. Often what we want is not what we need, but Jesus can see both.
When we have exhausted our resources, have nothing left, are not sure what will happen next, God will raise us up.
Mark 10:17-31 March 1, 2020 TLC 马可福音 10：17 –31 2020 年3月1日
You Lack One Thing
As I stopped at Pharmasave this week, while standing in line for the cashier, a woman in front of me was asking about the lottery ticket she wanted…what is the jackpot right now? How much would $5 get me? With maybe a glimmer of hope, she threw some money towards the jackpot. If anyone of us were to win the lottery, what might happen to our lives?
当我本周在Pharmasave买东西，在排队等待交钱时，我前面的一个女人在询问她想要买的彩票……现在的奖金有多少？ 5美元能给我带来多少钱？ 她带着一线希望，用一些钱买了彩票。 如果我们中的某个人中了彩票，我们的生活会发生什么样的变化？
Imagine with me…Gregory Mathieu, 22-year-old who won Loto-Quebec’s biggest jackpot ever this week: $70 million. Picture him entering the sanctuary, he’s gone from bagging groceries to sharing $70 million with his family. He may or may not change the way he dresses, start to think he’s got it all, that he’s got the world by the tail, pulling in a six-digit annual income (well over $100,000) with no need to work. What will the next few years bring for him? His mother says, “We are grounded. We take care of each other….” Winning the lottery has a bad track record for the winners. They tend to focus on living large and struggle to keep what really matters in perspective.
想象一下……22岁的格雷戈里·马修（Gregory Mathieu），本周赢得了魁北克省最大的大奖：7000万加元。 想像一下他进入庇护所的场景，他不再需要打包杂货，而是与家人分享7000万美元。 他可能会，也可能不会改变自己的着装方式，他开始认为自己拥有了一切，已经掌握了整个世界，不需要工作就可以取得六位数的年收入（超过100,000美元）。 未来几年会给他带来什么？ 他的母亲说：“我们着陆了，我们彼此照顾……” 有记录表明中奖对于中奖者来说并不好。 他们倾向于过奢侈的生活，并很难保持关注真正重要的事情。
A young rich man sees Jesus walking by and runs up to him. Stops Jesus by falling on his knees before him: “Good teacher, what must I do to get eternal life? To be at peace when I die?” This young man is not satisfied…though he’s extremely wealthy, something is still missing. There’s still an emptiness in his life that he can’t shake. Something keeps him from trusting that in the end he will be at peace with himself, with God.
Jesus can see his struggle…but instead of answering his question, Jesus says, “Why do you call me good? No one is good, only God is good.” At this point, Jesus doesn’t identify himself as divine…he says…only God is good, implying, “I am not.”
耶稣可以看到他的挣扎……但是耶稣没有回答他的问题，而是说：“你为什么称我为好？ 没有人是好的，只有上帝是好的。” 在这一点上，耶稣不承认自己是神圣的……他说……只有上帝是好的，暗示“我不是。”
The rich young man is a sinner. He’s got a lot of stuff, but instead of trusting God and living generously, he’s become trapped by it. It owns him, his wealth holds him captive, keeps him from being truly alive.
Not only is the rich young man a sinner; I’m a sinner. Did you hear that? Your pastor, the one who you might think is able to follow all the commands of God because I stand up here and preach every week? Some people may think a pastor’s DNA is somehow superhuman? Nope, definitely not. I’m a sinner, standing in need of the same grace all of you are. At times, I lose my temper, killing another with my words and actions…when the guy driving the big truck won’t let me merge onto the Alex Fraser bridge lane, expletives fly off my tongue and I glare at him as I pass. Every day, in my thoughts, words and actions, I fail to trust God and love my neighbours.
不仅有钱的年轻人是罪人， 我也是个罪人。 你听到了吗？ 你的牧师，你可能认为她能够遵循上帝的所有命令，因为我每个星期都会站在这里传道？ 有些人可能认为牧师的DNA某种程度上是超人？ 不，绝对不是，我是一个罪人，跟你们所有人一样需要恩典。 有时，我会发脾气，用言语和行动伤害别人……当驾驶大卡车的人不让我并入上亚历克斯·弗雷泽（Alex Fraser）桥的匝道时，冒犯的话从我嘴里冒出，我经过他时等了他一眼。 每天，在我的思想，言语和行动上，我都不信任上帝，也不爱我的邻居。
Naming our sin…how we are broken, how we fail to trust God and love our neighbours. This is the way to find true freedom. Naming our sin is not meant to burden us with guilt, not something we need to hide from others. When we name our sin, it gives God a chance to set us free. Jesus says, “God is good. No one is good but God alone.” When we name our sin, we admit we cannot save ourselves. Only God can do that.
讲出我们的罪……我们如何破碎，我们如何不信任上帝，如何不爱我们的邻居。 这是找到真正自由的方式。 说出我们的罪并不意味着让我们有负罪感，不是我们需要向他人隐瞒什么。 当我们说出自己的罪时，就给了上帝一次让我们自由的机会。 耶稣说：“上帝是好的。 没有人是善良的，只有上帝一个。 当我们说出自己的罪过时，我们承认我们无法自救。 只有上帝才能做到。
Jesus reminds the rich young man of God’s commands: don’t murder, don’t betray your spouse, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother. We all fall short when we hear these commands…but the young man says he’s kept all of these since his youth. When we know we are sinners, cannot save ourselves, then we give Jesus a chance to look at us, as we are. No more games, no faking it until we make it.
Last month, the world’s biggest manager of financial assets, Blackrock, sent their annual letter to CEO’s of the most profitable companies around the world. The letter stressed the urgency of using their resources to reduce the world’s carbon footprint. Google, Apple and Amazon all announced goals to become carbon neutral, releasing zero emissions into the atmosphere with how they produce and transport goods. Microsoft CEO announced a new $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund “to accelerate the development of carbon reductions and renewable technologies.” And they laid out an aggressive goal of becoming carbon negative or climate positive by 2050. This means they want to remove more carbon than they emit. They intend to remove all carbon emitted directly or by electrical consumption since the company was founded in 1975. This would accelerate global production of technology that reduces, captures and removes carbon from earth’s atmosphere.
上个月，全球最大的金融资产管理公司黑石（Blackrock）的经理向全球最赚钱的公司的首席执行官发送了年度信函。 这封信强调了利用他们的资源来减少全球碳排放的紧迫性。 谷歌，苹果和亚马逊都宣布了实现碳中性的目标，使其生产和运输过程中向大气层达到零排放。 微软首席执行官宣布了一项新的10亿美元的气候创新基金，“以加快碳减排和可再生技术的发展。” 他们提出了一个雄心勃勃的目标，即到2050年实现碳负效应或气候正效应。这意味着他们希望消除的碳比其排放的更多。 该公司自1975年成立以来，一直致力于通过直接方式或间接电力消除碳排放。这将促进全球对减少，捕获和清除地球大气层中的碳技术的研发。
Money is not evil. Money, smartly invested for the sake of the planet, could help turn the tide on the climate crisis. The love of money is the root of evil. When Jesus looks at the rich young man, he can see that his heart is clinging to his possessions above all else. These companies with profits in the billions are choosing to invest their profit in reducing carbon emissions.
Each of us are entrusted with resources…how might we be called to use those resources for the common good? At the AGM last week, we talked about how we use the resources you share through Trinity Lutheran. As a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada we are independent financially; we don’t receive financial support from the larger church. In order to continue to live into God’s dream for our neighbourhood, we now partner with several new user groups in need of affordable space: Fraser Valley quilters, Young People’s Opera and UBC youth Gearing Up STEM camps. But we continue to rely on your generosity in addition to our new neighborhood partners to live into God’s dream. Thank you for the ways you continue to invest money entrusted to you so that we might discover what God is up to in our neighbourhood.
Contrary to what some of us were taught as children, we are not sinners in the hand of an angry God. Rather, Jesus looks at you and loves you. Jesus looks at the rich young man and loves him. “You lack one thing. Go, sell all that you own and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure beyond this life. Then come, follow me.” This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.
As we enter the forty days of Lent, we are walking toward the cross with Jesus. The cross says to you, me, our neighbours and the cosmos: I love you so much that I would rather die than keep track of all your sins on some divine ledger. The season of Lent, which began with Ash Wednesday and continues for the next 40 days, is a chance to admit we cannot save ourselves. Christ Jesus has already saved us on the cross.
当我们进入四旬期第四十天时，我们正与耶稣一起走向十字架。 十字架对你，我，我们的邻居和宇宙说：我是如此爱你，以至于我宁愿死也不想在某个神圣的账本上记录你的所有的罪。 四旬期始于灰烬星期三，并持续40天，这是一个机会，承认我们无法自救。 基督耶稣已经救了我们在十字架上。
God is good. We are loved. When you are loved, all things become possible.
Mark 8:27-9:8 Colossians 3:1-4 马可福音 8:27 – 9:8 歌罗西书 3: 1-4
Hidden with Christ in God/ The Story Behind the Story
There’s always a story behind the story…when we meet someone for the first time, we size them up unconsciously, we get an impression…based on what they are wearing or the sound of their voice, or the look on their face, the gaze of their eyes. We don’t know the story that lives behind our first impression unless we ask a few open and honest questions, creating a space where they are free to talk.
In Mark’s gospel this morning, Jesus opens up a space for his closest followers to talk…as they are walking through several villages, Jesus sparks a conversation by asking: Who do people say that I am? This is the safe distance question…not too personal, it’s indirect, not asking them to try and answer it for themselves. So they say, John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. The prophets are those who are able to imagine the world other than the way it is in front of them. They can see the story behind the story. They can see what God is up to behind the scenes, name it, and perhaps call it out of us. The prophets believe deeply that God is alive, a real agent who acts in the world, who causes endings and new beginnings. Prophets were dangerous because they name human systems that silence and degrade people on the margins, the earth and its creatures. Prophets were often killed, or silenced, for telling the story behind the story.
在今天早上的马可福音中，耶稣创造了一个可以与他最亲密的追随者交谈的空间，……当他们走过几个村庄时，耶稣通过询问来引发对话：人们说我是谁？ 这个问题有一定的安全距离……不是太个人化，而是间接的，不要求他们尝试自己回答。 因此，他们说，施洗约翰，以利亚或某位先知。 先知是那些能够以一种不同于在自己面前所呈现的方式来想象世界的人。 他们可以看到故事背后的故事。 他们可以看到上帝在幕后所做的事情，揭示它，甚至可以从我们内里把它呼召出来。 先知深信上帝是活着的，是在世界上所行之事的真正推动者，会导致结束和新的开始。 先知之所以危险，是因为他们揭露了人类的一套体系让处于边缘的人，地球及其生物静默并退化。 先知常常因为讲故事背后的故事而被杀或消声。
Listening to Prime Minister Trudeau address the Speaker of the House of Commons this week, I realized I don’t know the story behind the story of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief stand off in northern B.C. that’s been preventing Canada Rail transit. In the UN Declaration of Indigenous Human Rights, which you will all get a copy of today as part of our AGM meeting... over 20 nations voted in favor of the declaration in 2007. Canada debated for 10 years before voting in favor. B.C. was the first province to make the declaration into law in November 2019.
What we affirm has not yet been fully embedded in B.C. laws, but we are moving towards it.
After two weeks of disrupted rail transit, the barricades have awakened the entire country to recognizing how Indigenous law is upheld by the declaration…
Affirming that indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such,
Affirming also that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of hu- mankind,
Affirming further that all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust,
Reaffirming that indigenous peoples, in the exercise of their rights, should be free from discrimination of any kind,
Concerned that indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests,
Recognizing the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources,
In the UN Declaration, we agree to live here in Canada together, to make collective decisions. All sorts of laws need to be changed in order to weave this into the fabric of B.C.’s laws. Across Canada, many people support Indigenous fundamental rights. What is far more challenging for people, including governments, is making the changes necessary in how we make decisions. PM Trudeau was speaking in the house of commons about this decision- making process, urging the government to make room for these conversations, while still respecting the rule of law.
在《联合国宣言》中，我们同意共同生活在加拿大，共同作出决定。 为了将其纳入卑诗省法律的架构，需要修改各种法律。 在加拿大各地，许多人支持原住民的基本权利。 对于包括政府在内的民众而言，更具挑战性的是进行决策方式方面的必要更改。 特鲁多总理在下议院就这一决策过程发表讲话，敦促政府为这些对话保留空间，同时仍要尊重法治。
The hereditary chiefs are following Indigenous law, which says they need to protect the lands with which they have a sacred connection, a much larger (22,000 acres) territory than the band of chiefs are responsible for. The world has known since 2011 that at least 80% of all fossil fuels must stay in the ground to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius. This means 90%of U.S., Australian coal, and all Canadian tar sands must stay in the ground. California recently passed legislation banning state agencies from building oil and gas infrastructure. Other states are likely to follow. Could it be the hereditary chiefs are God’s prophets speaking to Canadian power structures? The UN Declaration gives indigenous communities “free, prior and informed consent” in matters that impact them…such as pipeline projects.
世袭酋长遵守原住民的法律，该法律说，他们需要保护与其神圣联系的土地，这比酋长集团所负责的领土要大得多（22,000英亩）。 自2011年以来，全世界都知道，至少80％的化石燃料必须留在地下，以使全球温度保持在2摄氏度以下。 这意味着90％的美国，澳大利亚煤炭和所有加拿大焦油砂必须留在地下。 加州最近通过了一项立法，禁止州政府机构建设石油和天然气基础设施。 其他州也可能随之而来。 难道世袭首领是神的先知在对加拿大的权力机构说话吗？ 《联合国宣言》在会影响原住民的事情上，…诸如输油管项目，赋予了他们“事先知情权和自由决定是否同意”的权利。
On Thursday morning, the RCMP agreed to move away from the barricaded area to a nearby town 22 km away. With the goal of keeping peace, decreasing tension, and making room for the conversation to happen between the hereditary chiefs and the Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett. The RCMP bent to the request of the hereditary chiefs, creating space for a real conversation that leads to compromise. But by Friday, PM Trudeau was calling for hereditary chiefs to remove the barricades, hoping to prevent a forceful interaction with the RCMP no doubt.
星期四上午，加拿大皇家骑警同意从路障区域移至22公里外的附近城镇。 为了维持和平，以缓和紧张气氛并为世袭首领与原住民关系部长卡洛琳·贝内特之间的对话留出空间，我们的目标是维护和平。 加拿大皇家骑警屈从于世袭酋长的要求，为真正的对话创造了空间，从而促成双方的让步妥协。 但是周五，特鲁多总理已要求世袭首领撤除路障，毫无疑问他希望阻止与皇家骑警的武力互动。
The story behind the story has led to this stand-off. After asking his followers to voice the story behind the story of his life, he doesn’t let the conversation drop. He goes on to ask: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter, the courageous one who speaks before he thinks, blurts out what he’s convinced the backstory is for Jesus: “You are the Messiah.” Jesus quickly shuts that down…perhaps Jesus was genuinely surprised and then alarmed by Peter’s insight. Has Peter figured out the story behind the story? Don’t tell anyone about me, Jesus says.
Then Jesus goes on to give them a glimpse. He will suffer, be rejected, killed and after three days rise again. He spoke openly. Peter takes Jesus aside and begins to tell him off. You’ve got it wrong Jesus…Messiah’s don’t suffer…they are conquering heroes…they rise up and defend their people, saving them from the occupying power of Rome. Fighting back is the way Messiah brings God’s beloved people to a place of freedom from oppression. But Jesus says, “Peter you’ve got it all wrong, you are fighting against me…you may know that Jesus is the Messiah, but he doesn’t get the story behind the story. You don’t know how God will work through me to save and heal the world.
然后耶稣继续给他们暗示。 他公开告诉他们，他将历经苦难，被拒绝，被杀，三天后将再次复活。 彼得把耶稣叫到一边，开始告诉他。 耶稣，你错了……弥赛亚没有受苦……他们是正在征战的英雄……他们鼓舞并捍卫自己的人民，使他们脱离罗马的统治。 反击是弥赛亚将上帝所爱的人带到一个不受压迫的地方的方式。 但是耶稣说：“彼得，你错了，你正在反对我，…你可能知道耶稣是弥赛亚，但他没有看到故事背后的故事。 你不知道神将如何通过我来拯救和医治世界。
Jesus invites the crowd gathered around, and says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves…… take up their cross…… and follow me.” Anyone who wants to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What is Jesus talking about? Denying yourself is the path to reconciliation with ourselves, with God, with creation, between indigenous communities and colonizers. Denying yourself starts with admitting you don’t know everything, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. Like the conversations with the hereditary chiefs, it starts with listening for the story behind the story. When we genuinely listen, we let go of ourselves in order to make room for another. The RCMP arrests and presence needed to stop in order for negotiations to start.
耶稣邀请众人围拢过来，说：“若有人要跟从我，让他们否定自己......背起十字架......来跟从我。”凡是想跟着我的人都必须让我领导。 你不在舵手的座位上；而我在。 不要逃避痛苦； 拥抱它。 跟我来，我会告诉你如何做。 自救根本没用，自我牺牲才是拯救自己的方式，也是我的方式， 是拯救真正的自己。 获得你想要的却失去了自己，一个真正的自己，会有什么好处呢？耶稣在说什么？ 否定自己是我们与上帝，与我们自己，与这个世界，与原住民社区，与殖民者和解的途径。 否定自己始于承认自己一无所知，也不知道会发生什么。 就像与世袭首领的谈话一样，它始于聆听故事背后的故事。 当我们真正倾听时，我们会放下自己，从而为他人腾出空间。 为了开始谈判，皇家骑警停止出面和逮捕。
Take up your cross. Leave behind what you’ve known and enter into the suffering of others. If we really listen to their pain, their protest, we will feel their pain. That becomes our cross. We take on someone else’s burdens… taking up the cross in about choose to enter into the suffering of others. Classmates at Semiahmoo High school are grieving the tragic death of Alexandra Zhai. Many are struggling with Liver’s Regret or Survivor’s Guilt asking …why didn’t I show Alex I cared, why wasn’t it enough to keep her alive, why didn’t I speak up when I needed to, if I spoke up would it have prevented her death. We continue to pray for her friend, Crystal, who was with Alexandra when she died. There are times when people can see no way out of the deep pain in which they are trapped. They refuse to share the story behind the story; in such cases we cannot prevent their death.
Jesus hikes up a mountain with Peter, James and John…a place where you can get a new perspective…in order for them to experience the story behind the story of his life. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their very eyes. His clothes shimmered, covered in stardust…the great prophets Moses and Elijah show up and enter into deep conversation with Jesus. Peter wants to stay there forever, build a place to remember it. And suddenly a brilliant cloud surrounds them, and they hear a Voice telling the story behind the story: “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.”
耶稣与彼得，詹姆士和约翰一起上山……在这里，你有了新的视角……，以便他们体会自己自己的生命故事背后的故事。 就在他们的面前，他的外貌由内而外发生改变。 他的衣服闪闪发光，布满星尘……伟大的先知摩西和以利亚出现了，与耶稣进行了深入的交谈。 彼得想永远留在那里，建立个纪念的地方。 突然，一团巨大的乌云环绕着他们，他们听到一个声音在讲故事背后的故事：“这是我的儿子，以我的爱为标志。 听他的。”
What is our story behind the story of our lives? Throughout our lives, Jesus invites us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow. In this process of dying, letting God be in the driver’s seat, entering into the suffering of others, we find life. Letting a part of us die, so another part can live. As Paul tells the followers of the way of the cross in the ancient Roman city of Colossae: “for you have died, your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.” The story behind the story for each of us is that our lives are hidden with Christ in God…as we deny ourselves, making room to listen to the other, including those whom we don’t like, struggle to understand, make false assumptions about…we enter into their pain, we carry their burdens and together we are following the way of Christ out into the world.
May all we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each others’ burdens and walks the way of the cross together. Listen to our hearts’ longing for reconciliation. Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we pray. Amen.
Mark 7 Feb 16, 2020 TLC
马可福音 7 2020年 2月16日 TLC
Kids’ Message: Jesus is frustrated, even angry in Mark’s gospel this morning…what might he be frustrated about? Religious leaders thought that doing certain things was the way to get close to God…like washing their hands before eating….but Jesus says it’s not what comes in through our mouth that pollutes us…it was comes out of our mouth that pollutes…our words can hurt others…when we want what belongs to someone else, when we put down others, when mean words come out of our mouth….When have you experienced the power of words hurting or healing someone…maybe yourself?
I bet you have a story to share…when we share our stories, healing happens…we realize we are not alone, that others understand us, that we have love to share. Here’s one of the stories I’ve heard from a young person: One summer while camping, I met a little person named June at the water spigot as I went to clean some dishes…. June is a wise one in a peculiar, a very special package. Soon to turn four, June had become much more verbal than when I first met her a couple years ago, but she had not grown very much. She wears braces on her legs and moves around on her pink scooter, standing about this tall. As I greeted her, June began to tell me that her family was getting packed up to go home. Then to my surprise she said, “I’m going to start preschool next week.” She was obviously very excited about it and so articulate (her words were so clear and confident); it took my breath away. On a roll, she continued, “My birthday is September 9. And I’m getting two new teeth…see!” showing me with her tongue where her teeth were coming in. I asked if they were sore. She said, “No.” Then her sister, brother and mother joined us, crowding around us and she asked her mom to pick her up, so that she could keep talking with me. June doesn’t talk with very many people. She mostly looks with her eyes. A lot of times, strangers would stare at June because she is very small for a four-year-old. She may get teased at school by other kids. What comes out of us can put down others or build them up with love. The stories that came out of June at the water spigot built me up just when I needed it. This week at school there may be kids who are being put down. Jesus might ask you to be the one to build them up. As you come forward to eat the bread and grape juice, Jesus comes to live in you and wants to speak words through your lips at school this week.
It is Only with God’s help, through the Spirit opening our eyes so that we notice people on the margins (use a piece of paper to talk about people who live on the edges of our neighborhoods: who are the people who live on the edges, forgotten, …not enough money for healthy lunch at school each day, excluded from groups on the playground because they are new kids at school, perhaps don’t speak English fluently or are challenged in how they move their bodies or takes them longer to understand what the teacher is teaching.) and serve them, we become the hands and feet of Jesus (refer to worship bulletin). True religion is about loving people on the margins, noticing, helping, lifting them up…
When you come forward to receive the bread and the grape juice, you meet Jesus who loves and forgives you…come by the font and dip your fingers in it…make the sign of the cross on your forehead and say, “Jesus loves me no matter what I said or did. Nothing could keep me from his love.”
These days we are surrounded with hand sanitizing stations…either they are newly installed or I’ve just been noticing them more…at the entrance to the grocery story, recreation center, in restaurants…in the last few years we’ve installed them all over the church…in the kitchen, bathroom, community hall. During the flu season we are all trying to keep our hands clean, to prevent the spread of infection. In Mark’s gospel this morning the Pharisees, those who are concerned about keeping the tradition of the elders, call out the disciples of Jesus for their grubby hands. Why do they neglect to wash the world off before coming to dinner as their elders taught them?
这些天，我们随处可见手消毒液...有的是新安装的，我刚注意到更多...在杂货店，娱乐中心，餐馆的入口……在过去的几年中，我们在教堂也都安装了...在厨房，卫生间，社区礼堂中都装了。 在流感季节，我们都在努力保持双手清洁，以防止感染扩散。 在今天早晨的马可福音中，法利赛人，那些关心保持前辈传统的人，把耶稣的门徒们叫出来， 因为他们的手很脏。 他们为什么忽视长辈的教导，没有洗净身上的灰尘，再来吃饭？
Reminds me of those who may walk into this sanctuary with a baseball cap on, and someone says, “take that cap off…it’s disrespectful.” Well, it depends…if the person wearing the cap is covering their head because all their hair fell off in chemotherapy treatments, then we may change what we say to them…out of respect for their life-threatening illness and the suffering it has caused, knowing they don’t want their head exposed.
The Pharisees sound judgy, don’t they? Jesus comes back by quoting the prophet Isaiah…is Jesus throwing the Bible at them like a weapon? No…Jesus is saying they regularly confuse interpretation of the law with the law itself. You have rejected God’s command in favor of a human tradition.
If we learn one thing from our Jewish brothers and sisters, whose faith forms the foundation of Christianity, we learn this: interpretation of God’s law is essential and on-going. Laws don’t interpret themselves. They never have. Jewish spiritual practice involves chewing on a text in community—turning it around like a multi-faceted diamond to discover new viewpoints. Sabbath worship for our Jewish brothers and sister today involves digging into the scriptures, the Torah: (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy…first five books of our Christian Bible) considering interpretations from centuries of rabbis in the Mishnah and together finding new ways of understanding God’s teachings for today.
So, Jesus is doing what rabbis do…inviting them to consider what the law means for today: Jesus throws out the example of one of God’s laws given to Moses. Honor your father and mother. What does this mean? It’s not obvious what honoring might involve. Kissing the ground your parents walk on? Not rolling your eyes at them, even when they are being annoying? Letting them influence all your life-altering decisions? Living with them your whole life? Caring for them as they age. Who is included in the category father and mother?
Here at Trinity, many of you are fathers and mothers to the young people from infants to young adults…as you take care of them in the nursery, check in each week and ask them about their lives, share stories from your own life, inviting them into your heart.
Jesus then reminds them of a law from Leviticus…whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die…glad we no longer enforce THAT command, right? Death penalty is an extreme consequence for yelling rude things at your parents! And Jesus goes on to disagree with Pharisees allowing any help you would’ve given to your parents, instead you give it as Corban, an offering to God. So, being ultra-religious with Corban, a way to neglect our closest human relationships, is a misuse of the law, Jesus says.
Mark’s Jesus says, “Whatever you think you are doing to be religious, to get close to God, you’ve got it wrong” …handwashing, odd practice of Corban, and many other things. Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners and was criticized for it because it would make him ritually unclean…like he could get infected by their sinfulness. Jesus didn’t think sinners were contagious, because Jesus knows our heart problem is genetic. We are all full of potential for evil. It is what bubbles up from within us that pollutes us, that creates a sin-sick soul.
We have no wiggle room this morning. We all squirm as Jesus names what we struggle with. When the religious leaders challenge why Jesus doesn’t require the spiritual practice of hand washing, Jesus says “there is nothing outside a person that by going in makes our souls sick, but what comes out of us is what pollutes.”
Jesus goes on to talk about what is clean to eat, “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot pollute, since it enters not the heart, but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” A Jewish Rabbi was interviewed a couple years ago. He shared a prayer he offers every time what comes out of his body goes to the sewer…giving thanks that his life is sustained by the source of life. It’s a spiritual practice for him, reminding him that he’s made in the image of God, that he belongs to God. Perhaps Jesus knew this prayer, as he declared all foods to be ritually clean for eating.
The evil intentions Jesus lists, coming out of our hearts, catch each one of us; off the top of your head you may not even know what all these words refer to. I had to google a few of them. But as I reflected, it seems they are all about misplaced desires.
Have you ever wanted what is not yours to have? Wanting what is not ours to have, to hold, to indulge in can pollute ourselves and our interactions with others. A misplaced desire for physical intimacy, a desire for more and more money or power, a desire for someone else’s spouse, house, car or anything else that belongs to them, a desire to pull down someone else’s reputation….all that Jesus speaks of is about following our misplaced desires. Following those desires infects not only our hearts, but all our relationships as well.
When an outbreak erupts from within us: deceiving others, thinking the worst of others, thinking too highly of ourselves, or envying others…we become sick…but we don’t catch this from others. Our heart problem is in our DNA; it’s not contagious. When our souls become sick, Jesus doesn’t leave us alone to wallow in our mess. Jesus doesn’t put us in quarantine, holding cells, or decontamination chambers. Jesus eats with sinners, touches lepers, holds the hand of those who’ve died, lets those suffering touch him.
Those of us who are suffering with a sin sick soul today, Jesus comes to heal, to bind up your wounds. Nothing can keep Jesus away from you.
Mark 6:1-29 Death of John the Baptist TLC Feb 9 2020
马可福音 6：1-29 施洗约翰的死 TLC 2020 年2 月9号
The truth will be made known. What is in the dark will reach the light.
Context: We often sanitize or whitewash the Bible when we hear passages like the one we are about to hear, because it’s full of blood, violence and death. But we can’t have peace and love until we’ve faced the violence and injustice in the world and within ourselves. In Mark’s gospel this morning, King Herod had heard about Jesus teaching in the villages among the people and sending out his closest followers in pairs, two by two. They were calling people repent: to face the violence and injustice within and around them, turn around to a new way of seeing, hearing and living. People who heard this message were being healed, set free, made whole…Herod wondered who was this Jesus and what was he up to?
Every week, as Jenn prepares the powerpoint for worship, we select a hold slide for my message that depicts the gospel. What image would you choose as a hold slide for day? A bloody head on a platter? (cut to “Consider the entertainment Herod arranges for his birthday party….) I would’ve passed out if I’d been a guest at Herod’s banquet. I’ve never liked movies with a lot of bloodshed. This is not the kind of story you design a Sunday school lesson around…or is it?
Jesus lived in a Roman colony ruled with an iron fist, where King Herod wielded the power to kill and spare lives on a whim. We know about the kind of rulers who have the power to serve someone’s head on a platter because it still happens today. Is it possible, in the midst of such violence that continues today, that God’s good and gracious will is still coming into our world?
Herod had heard about Jesus, but people were all wondering who is Jesus? Where did he come from? (pause) Why was he here? (pause) As they wondered, some thought he was a prophet, Elijah raised from the dead but when Herod heard it, he knew: “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” The more Herod thinks about who Jesus is, the more guilty he feels about beheading John the Baptist…the voice that cried out in the wilderness to prepare the way for Jesus. Herod is convinced John has come back to haunt him. Herod can’t seem to shake the guilt and regret over what he’s done or failed to do. Guilt has taken up residence like his shadow…following him wherever he goes. We know what this is like. To be tormented by guilt and regret… wishing you would’ve held your tongue or could take back what you’ve done, but it’s out there making a mess of your life. You try to walk away, but every time you walk outside into the sunshine it pops out just as close as your shadow.
Herod had arrested John, because his wife, Herodias, insisted. Herod could not stand up to his wife. She had a death wish for John because he told everyone her marriage with Herod was against the law. Herod’s wife was his brother Philip’s wife. So Herod arrested John, in order to protect him.
Herod liked to listen to John; he was confused, yet strangely drawn, to his words. Herod wanted to protect John from his wife’s death wish. But after drinking too much, entranced by his niece/step-daughter Salome’s dancing, Herod’s senses were dulled, his judgment was impaired, and he found himself offering Salome whatever she wanted…even half of his kingdom. This Herod solemnly swore. Salome runs to her mother to give her the news.
Herodias jumps at the opportunity to fulfill her death wish, to take revenge, and asks for John’s head. Though he’s grieved, Herod goes against his better judgment, hoping to save face with his dinner guests. And he regrets it big time. What’s done is done.
Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived in 60 CE, when Mark’s gospel was written, recorded historical events of his day in what is called Antiquities of the Jews. Josephus reports that John was executed by Herod for fear he might inspire political unrest and rebellion in Roman territory. Josephus doesn’t mention John’s beheading but he stresses the injustice. John was right with God. Herod was not.
约瑟夫斯（Josephus）是一位犹太历史学家，他生活在公元60年，这也是在马可福音成书的时期。他在所谓的犹太古籍中记录了当时的这一历史事件。 约瑟夫斯（Josephus）报道说，约翰被希律王处死，因为他担心这会激起罗马领土的政治动乱和叛乱。 约瑟夫斯没有提到约翰的斩首，但他强调了事件的不公正性。 约翰与上帝同在， 但希律没有。
Herod used his political power to try and silence John’s voice, but even death couldn’t do that. We are still hearing John’s voice today as we live into this violent story. Herod couldn’t silence John’s voice.
There’s a risk when we give voice to what needs to change, to speak up about what is not right. But the Spirit of the living God is at work so that our voice won’t be silenced.
As the coronavirus spreads, Jeremy Li, Chinese NBA star, posted in Instagram that he is saddened by racist comments made in connection with the coronavirus, as he returned to California with the basketball season postponed due to the outbreak. In the wake of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash, Jeremy has lost a Ducks teammate to the virus and says we cannot take life for granted and instead of discriminating against those who look like carriers of the virus, “we need to lift up the heroes on the front lines of the virus outbreak working around the clock to prevent it’s spread and treat those suffering.” Wong-Tam, leader of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto said back in 2003 during the SARS outbreak, “people of Chinese backgrounds were shunned at schools, harassed in the streets, taunted on public transit, and many more felt ostracized and isolated from the rest of the city.” Such actions are evidence of discrimination driven by fear and misinformation. Despite the low risk of transmission of the coronavirus in Canada, news of the virus has led to a rise in racist accusations. If someone appears to be Chinese, the assumption is that they are virus carriers. With social media spreading the virus of discrimination, we as followers of Christ are called to think critically about all the messages fighting for our attention. And to speak up rather than be silenced when we witness discrimination happening around us.
随着冠状病毒的传播，中国NBA球星林书豪（Jeremy Lin）在Instagram上发帖称，他对与冠状病毒有关的种族主义言论感到难过，因为冠状病毒的爆发，他返回加利福尼亚篮球赛季的计划被推迟。在科比布莱恩特的直升机坠毁之后，因为冠状病毒， 杰里米失去了一个北京烤鸭队的队友。他说我们不能想当然地对待生命，我们不要歧视那些看起来像病毒携带者的人，取而代之的是“我们需要鼓舞那些奋战在抗击病毒的英雄们，他们24小时不间断地工作，防止病毒传播，治疗那些受苦受难的人。”2003年非典爆发时，多伦多华裔加拿大全国委员会（Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto）的领导人黄谭（Wong Tam）说，“在学校里，人们都躲着有中国背景的人，他们在街上受到骚扰，在公共交通上受到嘲弄，更多的人感到被排斥，与城市其他地方隔绝。“这些行为是因恐惧和错误信息所导致的歧视的证据。尽管冠状病毒在加拿大传播的风险很低，但有关该病毒的消息却导致种族主义的增加。如果有人看起来是中国人，那么人们就会认为他们是病毒携带者。社会媒体传播着歧视的病毒，我们作为基督的信徒被要求要有批判性地思维，去看待那些争相引起我们注意的所有信息。当我们目睹我们周围发生的歧视时，我们要大声说出来而不是保持沉默。
In speaking up, we take some risk. When John the Baptist took the risk of calling people to repent, Herod and those in authority tried to silence him, but they failed. His message and story are still alive today. Jesus took the risk of teaching a new way of relating with the God of the Cosmos, and authorities tried to silence him. Opposed by religious and political leaders, Jesus was a threat to the first century Roman status quo. But even the grave couldn’t silence his voice. The voice of Jesus is heard through Jeremy Li and Wong-Tam as they speak up about the virus of discrimination infecting us in Canada and the United States.
The truth will be made known. What is in the dark will reach the light.
Last Sunday, Peter Xiao told us that because his wife and daughter had just returned from a trip to China, he would not be attending worship here for the next two weeks. He has decided to quarantine himself for 14 days rather than risk spreading the coronavirus to the TLC community. Out of love for you all, Peter is making sure he is not carrying the virus. Delta school district is telling parents the risk of getting sick from the virus is very low here; what Peter is doing is the best course of action.
One way we can stand with our brothers and sisters in China, who are at much higher risk of contracting the virus, is to help Vivian Jost. Vivian’s family has postponed a trip to China for a family wedding,