First Thoughts From The Rev. Canon David Smith: 

Most weeks Fr. David sends out an e-mail with his first thoughts on the upcoming Sunday readings. These reflections are designed to encourage people to consider the readings before they come to worship which we hope will enrich Sunday worship. People are invited to respond to David with their own thoughts and sometimes interesting ideas and conversations occur that end up in the sermon. If you would like to receive these weekly e-mails e-mail David at dsmith@ontario.anglican.ca  . 

Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, September 7, 2014

Posted by Emily Sanderson on Wednesday, September 3, 2014
For the  St. Philip's people we will be celebrating with the children and looking very briefly at the Bible verses and stories we studied ( in a funway) last week with the children at St. Philip's Vacation Bible Camp.

We will remember that Jesus said "I am with you always to end of the age" which is a great verse to recall when you are feeling lonely or left out.  And to help us know that Jesus loves us even when we are left out we retold the story of the men with leprosy and how Jesus went to them and healed them even though everyone else left them out.

We will hear St. Paul tell us that "we are God's masterpiece created anew by Christ Jesus" which helps us recall that even when we are different from others, Jesus loves us. To help us appreciate this we retold the story of the Samaritan woman at the well.

We will hear the Golden Rule, " do unto others  as you would have them do to you" which we thought was hard to understand especially when we had to do this for people we did not like and so we learned that Jesus loves us even
when we do not understand. To help us appreciate this we looked at the story of Jesus washing His disciples feet. Peter did not understand why Jesus  did this and even more He asks us to have this servant heart towards others.

Finally we will hear what we normally refer to as one of the comfortable words" God so loved us that he sent His son to be a sacrifice for our sins" to remind us that even when we do wrong Jesus loves us. To help us appreciate this truth we retold the Easter story in a child friendly but never the less still meaningful way.

So you can see that we rehearsed Gods love for us in Christ with a lot of help from some weird animals that really do exist in this wonderful world.  In fact we started every day by saying Jesus' love is one of a kind. A great thing to think about and I hope we can capture this wonderful news during Sunday's service.

The regularly scheduled readings are:

   First Reading and Psalm -

  • Exodus 12:1-14
  • Psalm 149

    Second Reading


  • Romans 13:8-14
    Gospel
  • Matthew 18:15-20

Thanks to Feasting on the Word  Year A Volume 4 pgs 38-49

Our reading from Exodus is God's command around the Passover meal. Of course it is a critical part of the drama between Moses and Pharaoh and the oppressed people are finally going to be freed through the events of that first Passover. But when you read the story it becomes clear that its main concern is to ensure that a past event remains a present event for people in the future. Our text describes how  the Passover is to become worship (especially if you read on a bit further) and as such an opportunity for others to celebrate God's steadfast love. For us a Christians the Last
Supper in a similar way has become the Eucharist. As we try to do something special for our children this Sunday with a children's service we would be wise to note that it is expected that their children will ask probing questions about the meaning of the Passover. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our regular worship captured the children's imaginations and that  they asked us probing questions about why we eat and drink at the altar railing.

Our reading from Romans fits very well into the Bible Camp theme of love. In fact it seems to be a rewording or repeating of the Golden Rule which the children studied. The love Paul is speaking about is not about emotions but rather about our behaviour towards others. I think St. Paul puts it so well when he says owe no one anything but the debt of love. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was the only debt we found ourselves in.

Paul also
 highlights that that we are to live differently because of what time it is. It is a new age since Jesus' death and resurrection so we should wake up as the night is almost over and a new day is near. We live differently because Christ will return to complete the work  he inaugurated. Therefore we put away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. We put on the clothing of Christ.  We Anglicans are very familiar with these words because they form the basis of the Collect for Advent when we traditionally thought about the second coming of Christ. Perhaps what is more important for Paul here is not when Christ returns but how we are living in expectation of this day. A good sermon might contrast living in darkness with living in the light, or simply to think about what our wardrobe would be  like if we put
on Christ. My inclination is to flesh out and imagine owing nothing but the debt of love.

In our Gospel reading Jesus addresses the issue of what to do when  someone in the Church wrongs you. He is not  describing simply a difference of opinion but a scenario where someone has actually wronged another person.  Our first instinct is to see in this reading guidelines to protect the victim and of course it is appropriate for someone who has been wronged to be heard and for the truth to be expressed. Although the text is speaking of two individuals it  is a terrible thing when the church harms an individual and does not repent and seek restitution and reconciliation. A positive example is how the church has repented and is seeking reconciliation for the Residential School offences and crimes. It took too long but the church is trying to live into the principles of this text.

But upon a closer read it seems that there is also an emphasis upon protecting the Body of Christ. For instance if someone does listen and repents when spoken to the text speaks of how this one has been regained and even the troubling verse which seems to be an act of excommunication when one who does not repent is to be sent out like a Gentile or tax collector can be seen as still wanting to reach out  to and bring back the person.  This is because Jesus often spent time and energy in loving and reaching out to Gentiles and tax collectors. So my first take on this text is to see in it an expression of how important the Body of Christ is. It is such an important community that we are to take brave steps to bring about healing and reconciliation. Perhaps this is one of the ways we can put on the armour of light  which St. Paul speaks of in our Epistle reading.

Well these are my first  quick thoughts. Hope they are helpful to you and I would love to hear what you think.

Blessings

David