The Resistance Continues…

The election of Donald Trump, a fascist demagogue, to the most powerful office in the world, is just one more of those dark moments in history when Christians have to remind ourselves that the kingdom we seek is not of this world, and that we are called to an ongong subversive mission of proclaiming God’s rule over humankind. The destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70CE was a much worse calamity for people of faith, Jewish and Christ, but we got through by staying on task and working undercover to bring something better than the evil empire to birth. The Gospel reading for this coming Sunday addresses that ancient crisis, and still speaks to us 2000 years later.
You can listen to my recorded comments on the texts here….
Howard Pilgrim

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Connecting with God’s Life

The three readings for next Sunday, the 32nd in Ordinary Time for YearC, can be seen to be united by one theme: people of faith are united with the creative life of the eternal God. No matter what changes and challenges we face together as a faith community, God’s covenant faithfulness can be relied on to create a future. “Work, for I am with you” is God’s message to ancient Israel through the prophet Haggai, and it remains true for us a a church facing the 21st century.
You can listen to my commments on the texts here…
Howard Pilgrim

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Humility before God

Goodies and Baddies? We humans find it much too easy to dismiss those we disagree with as evil or stupid, which leaves us feeling that we ourselves are both good and wise. However, when we come before God in prayer and worship that attitude has to change, if we have any sense of spiritual reality. Suddenly we are the ones who need forgiveness and enlightenment. There are sound reasons why all our Anglican liturgies have a rite of confession and forgiveness early in the proceedings. This Sunday’s gospel reading is all about a “Good Guy” who got it all wrong in his approach to God, and a “Bad Guy” who got it right. A timely reminder for us all!
You can listen to my comments here….
Howard Pilgrim

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The Heart of the Covenant

The four texts set down as our readings for this Sunday, the 29th in Ordinary Time, work together to reinforce a single message: what a wonderful privilege it is that we are invited to experience an intimate spiritual relationship with the living God. The reality of that relationship is reinforced on a daily basis as we face life’s challenges in the light of the scriptures that have sustained and inspired God’s people throughout the ages.
You can hear my brief comments on the texts here….
Howard Pilgrim

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Missional texts for today…

The four RCL texts for this coming Sunday, the 28th in Ordinary Time in Year C, contain a wealth of insights into our life as God’s people on a mission, beginning with difficulties experienced by ancient Israel as they struggled with their national calling, moving on to Paul’s struggles in the Roman Empire, and then focussing on Jesus’ encounter with some of the most marginalized people in the land of Palestine.
You can find my comments on these texts in two videos here….

Howard Pilgrim

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Who is Boss?

One of my favorite memories of the second season of the Blackadder series is of those moments when Queenie would rather archly ask her courtiers, “Who is Queen?”, if they forgot to be their usual obsequious selves in her presence. Is this what Jesus is doing to his apostles in Sunday’s gospel reading from Luke 17? Have they forgotten what it means to be servants of God, becoming presumptuous in their expectations of what God should be doing for them? Something like that, apparently. My recorded comments on this text and the other readings for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time were the very first video I produced, way back in 2010. The production quality may be lacking, but at least it is short, and I still think worth listening to. It has set me up to preach on the topic once again, six years later!
You can listen to it yourself, right here….
Howard Pilgrim

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The Final Sanction

This Sunday’s gospel reading, Luke 16:19-31, is the great climax to this writer’s sustained argument against disparities of riches and wealth in the church, in Israel and in the world in general. Put simply, the Kingdom of God that Jesus announces involves a return to the vision of economic justice embodied in the Law of Moses. God’s people are always called to model his unchanging intention for the human race, that we should live as ane great family, sharing the earth’s resources justly and responding with compassion to human need, especially when it is close at hand.
In this famous story, a rich man and his family harden their hearts against a poor begger right on their doorstep, day after day… and suffer eternal consequences. Case closed. Direct all appeals to the court of Moses. Pharissees take note.
You can hear my comments on the text here….
Howard Pilgrim

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“You cannot serve God and wealth”

Jesus’ clear statement ending this Sunday’s gospel reading may seem confusing, given the story he has just told about the shonky dealings of a dishonest estate manager. If so, it is probably because we misunderstand the story in its ancient setting. The manager in this story is commended by his master, and implicitly by Jesus, for acting wisely. He puts relationships above capital accumulation, showing a clear understanding of his master’s values (and the whole point of being rich) and crafting a clever solution that was win-win for all involved. A worthy example of wise dealing, says Jesus, even for won followers who have a different set of values!
Confused? You can listen to my exposition of the passage here….
Howard Pilgrim

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A sign of God’s grace?

What sort of faith community are we, really? This is Luke’s probing question for us in next Sunday’s gospel reading. Do we actively seek out and welcome those around us who are being touched by the Spirit? Can outsiders look at us and see hopeful signs of a new human family in which diversity is celebrated, in which mistakes can be put right, in which a safety-first approach to community life is not dominant? Hmmmm….
You can listen to my comments here…

Howard Pilgrim

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You wannabe a disciple?

Jesus was quite popular at times. “Large crowds” followed him around Galilee, according to Luke. Jesus was not looking for popularity as such, but for a dedicated band of disciples committed to extending his mission into the wider world. To avoid wasting time trying to train uncommitted hangers-on, Jesus challenged all his followers to take a realistic assesment of what it might cost them to become agents of the Kingdom of God. Reading this Sunday’s gospel passage from Luke 14, you might well wonder how any of them stuck with him at all. Well actually, it was a miracle in itself, and still is. Only God can turn ordinary people into disciples, and most of us are reluctant responders to His call. How has the church survived so long???? It certainly won’t continue much longer unless miracles of disciple-making happen again, and again, and again.
You can listen to my comments here….
Howard Pilgrim

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