Category Archives: Sermons

Reflections given as sermons or homilies at a public service. Members of our community take it in turns to preach to the whole community.

Sour Grapes

By James Harbeck

Sermon, Holy Trinity, October 1, 2017

Readings: Ezekiel 18:1–4, 25–32; Psalm 25:1–10; Philippians 2:1–13; Matthew 21: 23–32

I’m going to tell a little story today. I don’t know whether I’d call it a parable. It’s not quite a literal history. But it’s close enough.

There was, once, a place that was very nice. Lush. Great for growing grapes and things like that. There was a family living there, and they were pretty happy with it. We’ll call them the Ones. Nothing’s perfect, but, you know, the Ones had food, family, all the things that people do with their time when nothing and no one is forcing them to do something else. Life was good enough.

And then another family showed up from another place. We’ll call them the Twos. They liked where the Ones were living. They wanted to live there. They didn’t say, “Hey, do you mind if we fit in here somehow?” or “What can we give you in exchange for some of what you have so we can live here?” They said, “Hi. We’re the Twos. These are guns. Look what they can do: [BANG BANG BANG]. Get the idea? We want this land. Oh, you? You can get out and live somewhere else, or you can stay and work for us.” Some of the Ones left. Some were killed. Some decided to stay and work for the Twos, because at least they’d still be in this nice place getting the benefit of the land. Continue reading Sour Grapes

CSI Gesthemane

While I still smart with the memory of that ruler striking my left wrist many years ago, I know that this is mild compared to the abuse, rejection, death, disease and discrimination measured in a thousand brutal ways that many have experienced through misogyny, colonialism, slavery, homophobia and too many other wrongs.

The full text of Michael Shapcott’s homily from August 13 is below.

Homily13august2017

How Big is the Tent We Call Home?

How Big is the Tent We Call Home?
Notes for a Sermon by Suzanne Rumsey
Holy Trinity, August 20, 2017

From “Coming Home,” by Katharine O’Flynn. The year is about 1922; the place, southeastern British Columbia:

Fernie. Cranbrook. Yahk. His excitement grew. Here was a mountain that looked familiar. Could it be Goat? Yes. Yes. That was surely its peak. And here was the siding for the mine. Then the trainman came along the aisle shouting, ‘Creston! Creston is the next station stop. Creston next.” …The train puffed to a standstill, sending out clouds of white steam. The trainman set the nobbled brown stool on the platform, and reached up to give Charles a hand, but the boy was already running along the platform towards outstretched arms. “Gran! Gran!” he was shouting, “I’m home!” Continue reading How Big is the Tent We Call Home?

The Problem of Pain and Suffering (Easter 4 Homily)

Acts 2:42-47     Psalm 23     1 Peter2:19-25     John 10:1-10

The Problem of Pain and Suffering

Sherman Hesselgrave

This Sunday in the Easter season has long been nicknamed Good Shepherd Sunday, as you may have gathered from the gospel reading and the 23rd Psalm. There is a long tradition of portraying Jesus as the Good Shepherd; there are numerous depictions on the walls of the catacombs of a shepherd carrying a sheep on his shoulders. The Gospel of Matthew records that, “when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” [9:36] What caught my attention this time around, though, was the epistle reading, and its focus on pain and suffering. I was surprised at the number of memories it evoked. In my youth, when I worked as a music librarian, I had a Roman Catholic colleague, who was one of fifteen children. One of the things she heard regularly as a child, when one of them would whine or complain, was, “Offer it up. Our Lord hung on the cross for three hours.” Continue reading The Problem of Pain and Suffering (Easter 4 Homily)

Freedom to Love

+In the name of God our Maker, Jesus Living, and the Fulfilling Spirit, Amen.

[When Sherman said that we were cutting things down to make the service shorter, I thought that here was a chance for me to expand the homily—and I have a bit—especially here to make the connections clearer— though those of you who heard it, will recognize that I moved from the text more than just here and there—and what was also apparent (I am sure), was that I was cutting like mad as I was preaching—even when we had some competition from one or more of our visitors] Continue reading Freedom to Love

God of Many Surprises (Easter Homily)

Acts 10:34-43   Walter Brueggemann: “Easter us”    John 20:1-18

God of Many Surprises

Sherman Hesselgrave

A week ago, a friend who lives in Spain posted on his Facebook page a quotation from Edouard Loubet, the chef of the Domaine de Capelongue, a Michelin two-star restaurant in Provence. “A dinner is all about pleasure-sharing,” he said. “The food counts for only 20 percent, only 20 percent, no matter how extraordinary it is.” (NYT) Chef Loubet’s observation caught my attention for a couple reasons. First, I have to confess that when I have guests for dinner, I am disproportionately concerned about making sure the food is a success, so this was an instructive look in the mirror. Secondly, it also reminded me of a comment a parishioner made some years ago. They come to Holy Trinity, not because of the liturgy or music or the preaching, but because of the community they find here, and the individuals who make up this community. Continue reading God of Many Surprises (Easter Homily)

A sip of ancient water

March 19, 2017; Holy Trinity.
Exodus 17: 1-7; John 4: 5-42

I’m sharing this image today by Issac Murcdoch on the pulpit in gratitude and respect to all the water keepers who are currently on the front lines of the struggle to protect sacred water. I made a small
handout on the 2017 Water Walk with Josephine Mandarin if you would like to know more.

Water is primal.

If you think about it, this planet should really be called water, not earth, since more than 70% of the surface is water, not land. Water — there there can be no life without it. Our bodies are 60% water – we are made of it. It’s the building block of our cells, the body’s transport system, a shock-absorber, it helps to regulate our temperature. Just give your hands a squeeze together and remind yourself that we are full of water – hopefully this doesn’t cause a mass exodus to the bathroom. Here’s the cool part, or the scary part, depending on which way it goes, not only are we full of water, but we are full of the water that’s around us. So if you’ve lived your life in Toronto, your body is 60% full of Lake Ontario.

Every time I hear it, I also find it quite marvellous to remember that the overall amount of water on the planet has remained the same for the last billion years. So we are made of the water that dinosaurs sipped. We are connected to this lake that in its ancient form was home to giant beavers, that was known as Skanadario, or sparkling water to Haudenosaunee people.

Read the full homily in this PDF document

“A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste” Homily for Transfiguration Sunday

Exodus 24:12-18     Psalm 2 or 99      2 Peter 1:16-21     Matthew 17:1-9

“A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste”

Sherman Hesselgrave

The season of Epiphany always concludes with the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. This year we have Matthew’s version of the watershed mountain-top moment. It is a revelation, a connecting of dots: a continuity with Moses (whose own mountain-top experience we also heard this today) and the prophet Elijah—icons of the Law and the Prophets—Jesus is part of God’s continuing self-disclosure, and Jesus’ most intimate disciples are there to witness the unforgettable event. And, like a metaphysical bookend, we hear again the words from a cloud that we heard on the first Sunday after the Epiphany, when Jesus was baptized: “This is my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!” It is also a turning toward Jerusalem and the drama that will take place there.
Continue reading “A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste” Homily for Transfiguration Sunday

Deep Transformation (Homily for February 12, 2017)

Readings:   Deut. 30:15-20     Psalm 119:1-8      1 Cor. 3:1-9     Matthew 5:21-27

Sherman Hesselgrave

Canticle of Transformation

Transform us, O God, as we walk with your grace;
your Word since creation has shown us your face.
Entrust us with vision of your reign on earth;
from chaos and corruption bring us to new birth. Continue reading Deep Transformation (Homily for February 12, 2017)

Foolishness, Hopelessness, and Walking Humbly with God


Homily for 4th Sunday after the Epiphany

Sherman Hesselgrave

Readings: Micah 6:1-8     Psalm 15       1 Corinthians 1: 18-31     Matthew 5:1-12

All of our scripture readings today have something in common. Although each is speaking to a different context, they all have something to do with the new identity that comes with becoming a permanent resident in the commonwealth of God. Micah challenges the assumptions of a religion dominated by a focus on ritual sacrifice. Jesus turns the values of the world upside down. And Paul elaborates on the theme that down is the new up. Continue reading Foolishness, Hopelessness, and Walking Humbly with God