Category Archives: Sermons

Reflections given as sermons at a public service. The members of the community take it in turns to preach to the whole community.

The Journey to God in Three Persons

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31     Psalm 8      Romans 5:1-5     John 16:12-15

The Journey to God in Three Persons

Homily for Trinity Sunday, May 22, 2016 by Sherman Hesselgrave

Today is Trinity Sunday, our Feast of Title, and I am inviting you to join me for an abbreviated recap of the journey to God in Three Persons, with a couple excursions to hear how the Trinity has entered into the creative imaginations of a few literary and musical geniuses.

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יהוה אֶחָד

Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

These words from the book of Deuteronomy, as well as the first of the Ten Commandments (No other gods; No graven images; No taking God’s name in vain), assert the central importance of monotheism in Judaism. The scholarly consensus is that monotheism did not become firmly established in Israel until the reign of Josiah in the 7th century BCE—more than a thousand years after Abraham and Sarah may have lived, and 600 years after the Exodus, but pious Jews take these commandments to heart to the present day. Whenever observant Jews encounter the divine name for God given to Moses at the burning bush, the Hebrew letters of which we transliterate YHWH, they substitute the word Adonai, Hebrew for ‘Lord’. The meaning of the divine name, which we Christians pronounce aloud quite freely as Yahweh, can be translated either as I AM or I WILL BE. Richard Niebuhr, in his book, Radical Monotheism and Western Culture, brings together Moses’ revelatory moment with the burning bush and the story of Creation in Genesis: “Radical monotheism,” he writes, “dethrones all absolutes short of the principle of being itself. At the same time it reverences every relative existent. Its two great mottoes are: ‘I am the Lord they God; thou shalt have no other gods before me’ and ‘Whatever is, is good.”

Continue reading The Journey to God in Three Persons

Prisons we choose to live in – Homily May 8, 2016

A homily written and delivered by Michael Shapcott

To see music and readings that surrounded this homily:
HT bulletin Sun May 8, 2016 Easter 7 C

God knows – Canada has more than enough jails.
In 2013, the Correctional Commissioner for Canada reported to Parliament that the number of prisoners in federal and provincial jails was at an all-time high, even though crime rates have been steadily dropping for more than two decades.
He noted that indigenous people make up 25% of the prison population, even though they form only 4% of the overall population of Canada.

He noted that there had been a 75% increase in the number of visible minority prisoners in the past decade.
The International Centre for Prison Studies reported that, in 2015, Canada had 106 prisoners per 100,000 population.
That’s a big number, but pales in comparison with the United States – where they have an astonishing 698 inmates per 100,000 population.

Here in Toronto, the relatively new Toronto South Detention Centre is a huge facility – with a capacity of almost 2,000 inmates although it is still only partly filled. Some of the inmates are men serving sentences of less than two years, but many are in remand – that is, they in jail awaiting trial or some other proceeding. They have not been convicted, but they are in jail – sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks, sometimes longer. Continue reading Prisons we choose to live in – Homily May 8, 2016

The Gift of Progressive Revelation

Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sherman Hesselgrave
Acts 16:9-15    Ps 67      Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5     John 14:23-29

The Sunday morning Bible study spent several weeks over the last two months looking at the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. One of the features of those three chapters is a series of sayings of Jesus that follow the pattern: “You have heard that is was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not…’  But I say to you….” So, for example, “You have heard that it was said… ‘You shall not murder’;…. But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment;….” “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus is taking the familiar ten commandments and revealing a deeper spiritual understanding of them. And in so doing he is taking aim at the hypocrisy of those who prided themselves on their apparent religious virtue—they had never killed anybody or committed adultery—but in their hearts they had hated and lusted, and Jesus was not letting them off the hook.

Last Sunday, the story of Peter’s remarkable vision during his siesta at Joppa was one of the appointed readings: a vast canvas full of non-kosher animals appears to come down from heaven, accompanied by a voice instructing Peter to “kill and eat.” Peter’s response is to refuse this dietary violation. But the voice from heaven says, `What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This sequence happens three times before the canvas is taken back up to heaven, and when Peter awakes, he manages to connect the dots and concludes that God’s Spirit was telling him that henceforth, the message of Jesus was to be shared with both Jews and Gentiles alike, without distinction.

These are a couple examples of what can be called progressive or continuing revelation. Today’s reading from Jesus’ farewell discourse in the Gospel of John mentions the Holy Spirit, whom the [Creator] will send in Jesus’ name, and who will teach the disciples everything, and remind them of all that Jesus had said to them. A couple chapters later, Jesus will tell them, “‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, it will guide you into all the truth;….” It is almost as if Jesus was imagining a day when, after the biblical canon was closed, that is, once the early church finally decided which books and letters would be in and which would not, there would be some of his followers who would insist that God’s revelation was complete. For those folks,   continuing revelation is a threat, because it means that the process of God’s self-disclosure modelled in the Bible did not end with the book of Revelation.

The monotheistic community whose oral traditions became the Hebrew Scriptures recorded an evolving understanding of God and what God expected of them. The experience of God at the time of the Exodus is far different than the experience of God following the Babylonian Exile. And the God whom Jesus wants his followers to know is different than the God described by the Pharisees and other religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

In English, the word ‘revelation’ comes from the Latin verb that means ‘to unveil or uncover’. We also use the word ‘apocalypse,’ from the Greek word meaning ‘to cause something to be fully known, reveal, disclose,’ although often ‘apocalypse’ becomes associated with end-times and final judgment. Richard Niebuhr, in his book, The Meaning of Revelation, wrote:

Revelation means for us that part of our inner history which illuminates the rest of it and which itself is intelligible. Sometimes when we read a difficult book, seeking to follow a complicated argument, we come across a luminous sentence from which we can go forward and backward and so attain some understanding of the whole. Revelation is like that.

We all have had Aha! moments when the scales fall from our eyes and we see clearly for the first time. Perhaps we have had a life experience that made us aware what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes. One of my former bishops recalibrated his theological position on gays and lesbians after his only child came out to him. Many generations of people who lived with dyslexia had to endure teachers who misjudged their intelligence because they did not understand the nature of the disability. Progressive revelation comes in many packages. In some ways it is like reading a detective novel. You collect clues as you work through the narrative, and eventually you reach a eureka moment.

As I mentioned earlier, not everyone is comfortable with the notion of continuing revelation when it comes to matters of faith. I have been drafting a letter to the Anglican Journal as an advocate for changing the Marriage Canon. I pose the question: “When does perpetuating a tradition or teaching of the church become a sin?” One historical example should suffice: In the Bible and for hundreds of years, slavery was accepted as part of the world’s economic reality. For about 40 years, William Wilberforce introduced private member’s bills in Parliament to abolish slavery. It wasn’t until he was on his deathbed that the British changed the law. What had once been both legal and acceptable in Christendom, was now illegal and immoral—a sin. Some day, the Anglican Church of Canada will reach the tipping point. Our sacred story tells us in the book of Genesis that, after God concluded that it was not good for Adam to be alone, God allowed Adam to decide who is a suitable companion for marriage. Wouldn’t it be something if the church did the same?

Progressive revelation also applies to our communal life. God calls to us from the future, not from our past, so discerning what we should be doing now to prepare for what is over the horizon will require us to look at the clues the Author of the universe has given us, and use the faith, intelligence and resources with which we have been blessed to create the future to which we are being called.

A long night of work…

Peter Haresnape’s Homily for Easter 3

After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in stony places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was now living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience

[— T. S. Eliot, “The Wasteland“]

After the busyness and disruption of Easter, we get back to work, the children go back to school, and Simon Peter gets together with his friends and goes fishing.

A long night of work, and nothing to show for it, but then, through the sudden provision of great abundance, they recognise the Lord in the mysterious, almost unrecognizable form waiting by the shore. Continue reading A long night of work…

“Water is the blood that flows through this wounded body”

A reflection on Water For Ecumenical Good Friday,
Church of the Holy Trinity, March 25 2016

Who lives the pain of Good Friday in our time? Communities of Pimicikamak /Cross Lake, Syria, South Sudan, Kashechewan…

Where do we hear the cries? Taste the thirst for justice? Refugees fleeing, women sexually assaulted, black lives ignored, Indigenous girls missing…

Where do we see the wounds? Melting permafrost, fracked earth, tailings ponds, tanker spills… Continue reading “Water is the blood that flows through this wounded body”

Notes for a Sermon at Holy Trinity February 14, 2016  by Suzanne Rumsey

 

Suzanne Rumsey

 

Suzanne Rumsey’s sermon

First Sunday in Lent/Valentine’s Day

 

From “Lullaby,” by the Dixie Chicks

How long do you wanna be loved?

Is forever enough?  Is forever enough?

How long do you wanna be loved?

Is forever enough?

‘Cause I’m never ever giving you up.

 

When Alison asked me to preach on this first Sunday in Lent and this Valentine’s Day, I asked how she might like me to focus my reflections.  She wrote the following:

“My hope is that the preacher can talk about the temptations that we experience at HT. Stones into bread. Political power. And the one that I think we seldom identify: our temptation to suicidal behaviours. What are we doing to tempt our own fate? Do we think we have a lock on our survival? As humans, settler Canadians? Anglicans? HT? Do we need to consider our responsibility to use our lives? How does that sound?”

 

To which I replied:

“Wow, and I thought it was all about the love (kidding)!  Okay, I will give this some thought and do my best with the challenge you present.”

Continue reading Notes for a Sermon at Holy Trinity February 14, 2016  by Suzanne Rumsey

Reflections on 1 Corinthians chapter 13 – a homily by Michael Creal

Homily Jan 31,2016 — Michael Creal

Michael Creal

Today’s readings provide rich fare for reflection and commentary but following the principle that sometimes less is more, I’m not going to deal with either the Isaiah passage or the gospel passage, important as they are. Instead, I’m going to focus on Paul, and that chapter from first Corinthians. [Ch. 13]

Just to contrast some features of the contemporary world with what Paul sets out in that famous chapter, let me draw to your attention the movie, The Big Short. If you have seen it, you will probably agree that it is pretty chilling stuff. It’s about four stock traders (and, of
course, there were many like them)in the period of the 2008 crash who saw they could make a killing by selling to unsuspecting buyers bundles of mortgages that they knew would eventually be worthless). Continue reading Reflections on 1 Corinthians chapter 13 – a homily by Michael Creal

Feast – reflecting on community and intimacy

Our liturgy this morning was on the theme of feast. I am including the reflection I shared, in both text and video forms as well as the bulletin which has most of the service text. There are a few bits missing from the bulletin, but the most exciting bit was that the Fallen Angles played “Changes” by David Bowie as a Postlude and tribute. Thanks to everyone who sang and danced along. Continue reading Feast – reflecting on community and intimacy

Homily for The Baptism of Jesus

Readings: Isaiah 43:1-7     Psalm 29      Acts 8:14-17     Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Called By Name 

by Sherman Hesselgrave

What’s in a name? My mother’s father, Grandpa Larsen, was descended from a Dane names Lars. My grandfather Hesselgrave’s family hailed from a town in Northern England named Hazel Grove, so it is thought that our family name is a variant spelling of a place. Some people bear the names of ancestors’ occupations: the Bakers, Carpenters, Farmers, and Schneiders, for example.  My father told the story of an occasion when he was conducting a baptism in the African bush, and asked the parents the name of the child. They said, “Matata.” Now, thanks to The Lion King, many people know the Swahili phrase ‘hakuna matata,’ means ‘no problem or no trouble.’ So, my father asked the parents why they wanted to name their son Trouble, and they explained that they had had great difficulty in bearing children, and this baby had finally survived. He managed to persuade them to choose another name, and not saddle the child with the memory of their suffering. Continue reading Homily for The Baptism of Jesus

Pinch me, I must be dreaming…

Homily on November 8, 2015 by Katherine Assad

Yesterday on the bus I got a text message from Rob Shropshire, a member of the Holy Trinity refugee committee whom many of you know, telling me to listen to an interview on CBC with John MaCallum, our new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Rob said that the interview was so amazing he was literally pinching himself, so I listened to it right then and there.

The minister confirmed that the government will indeed be moving ahead with the resettlement of 25,000 refugees and that the interim federal health program for refugees that was cut a few years ago would be fully reinstated. And these 25000 to be resettled will be government-assisted refugees. These numbers do not include the number of refugees that will be privately sponsored by constituent groups like ours of groups of five. For me this point is huge. Continue reading Pinch me, I must be dreaming…