Sermon 9 Pentecost Yr A

Read my sermon for August 6, 2017 here: 9 Pentecost Yr A

Brief Book Review: Islam What Non-Muslims Should Know

Islam: What Non-Muslims Should Know

Author: John Kaltner

Publisher: Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, Augsburg Fortress

136 pages, ISBN: 0-8006-3583-3, Paperback

Reviewed by Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson

 

At the time of writing this little volume, John Kaltner was Associate Professor of Religion at Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee. The author provides a cordial, brief overview of Islam.

As the fastest-growing religion in the world, Professor Kaltner appeals to his readers to become more knowledgeable of Islam; to go beyond the often mis-information and stereotypes presented by the Western mass media; to realize that Islam is a diverse and complex faith, just as is Christianity and Judaism.

The volume contains a Preface, six chapters, and concludes with suggested Resources for further reading and study. The chapter titles give readers a sense of the book’s movement: 1. Islam Is a Diverse and Complex Faith, 2. Islam Is a Religion of Orthopraxy, 3. Muslims Respect Judaism and Christianity, 4. There Is No Institutional Hierarchy in Islam, 5. There Is No Clear Separation between Religion and Politics in Islam, 6. Jihad Does Not Mean “Holy War.” At the end of each chapter Professor Kaltner includes Questions for Discussion, which would make this volume an accessible source for study groups or introductory courses.

Readers will learn, among other things: some of the history of Muhammad, the difference between Sunni and Shi’i Muslims, the five pillars of faith, additional popular practices of faith, the different attitudes among Muslims concerning non-Muslims, terms such as ka‘ba and hijra, ijtihad and ijma, hadith and ummah, and that the three largest Muslim populated countries are not Arab nations, they are Indonesia, India and Pakistan.

The sections on Western influence and Islam, Reformism, social activism and the distinctions between greater jihad and lesser jihad are helpful for non-Muslims.

The suggested Resources include brief annotations for further reading and study.

 

 

Sermon 8 Pentecost Yr A

Read my sermon for July 30, 2017 here: 8 Pentecost Yr A

Our 2017 Norway holiday

Recently my wife and I went on a wonderful holiday to Norway. At one time in the past Norway was among the poorest countries of Europe; now it is the richest. There are countless places to visit and things to do in this most beautiful country. One of the things we enjoyed doing was to visit some of the churches. With the exception of the Anglican church and the last two photos below, these are Lutheran churches. The Lutheran Church of Norway is the largest denomination. Here are some photos.

Our first port of call was Eidfjord. We visited two churches there, the old one dating back to the twelfth century, with stone walls five feet thick!

The new Eidfjord church.

The new Eidfjord church chancel had some impressive artwork, depicting biblical themes.

Our next port of call was Ålesund. The church here was locked unfortunately, and it was pouring rain when I took this photo.

Our next stop was the UNESCO world heritage site, Geiranger Fjord. We attended the worship service (all in Norwegian) in this octagonal church on Norway’s constitution day, May 17, 2017.

Members of the 17th of May parade dressed in traditional Norwegian costumes.

Our next port of call was Bergen, where we visited three churches.

The Church of the Cross.

St Mary’s Anglican Church.

Bergen Cathedral exterior.

Bergen Cathedral chancel, with altar, elevated pulpit, and pipe organ.

Bergen Cathedral windows.

Kyrke in the village of Flam.

Then we sailed on to the beautiful city of Stavanger, where we visited Norway’s oldest cathedral, dating back to 1125.

Stavanger Cathedral pulpit.

Stavanger Cathedral stained-glass windows.

Stavanger Cathedral pipe organ.

After that, we stopped at Kristiansand and visited the cathedral there.

Mjondalen Church side view.

Mjondalen Church.

Our final port of call was Oslo. This is the Roman Catholic cathedral, Trinity Church.

Oslo Trinity Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer of the Day/Collect for 4th Sunday of Easter Year A-Good Shepherd Sunday

Shepherding God: You lead us, provide for our daily needs, and promise to give us abundant life. May we listen to your voice and faithfully follow you, so that all people shall live the abundant life of justice, peace, mercy and love; through Jesus our Good Shepherd, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

A Brief Graveside Sermon for Bryan Braim

A Brief Graveside Sermon for Bryan Ross Braim, based on Job 19:25-27; Rom 14:7-8 & Jn 11:25-26; by Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson; April 29, 2017, eleven o’clock.

A husband, dad, granddad, friend, neighbour, and member of God’s family, Bryan Ross Braim, has left this life and is no longer with us. You will miss him for sure, as will all of us at Bethany Meadows. In times like this, we turn to the Word of the LORD for comfort and strength, healing and hope.

Our first reading from the Book of Job is quite appropriate for this season of Easter, reminding us that, even though Job faced many sufferings and losses, including his family members, property, and ill-health, he still refused to lose hope in God. In these verses, he looks forward to God the Redeemer who is the God of life, and after death, the resurrection of the body. As a person of faith, we trust that Bryan, like Job, looked forward to a hopeful future, when God would heal him of his ill-health, and raise him to life eternal.

As we remember Bryan and his life, we are also encouraged by the words of the apostle Paul in our passage from Romans. Bryan, as the apostle Paul says, did not live to himself, nor did he die to himself. Rather, he lived and died to the Lord Jesus. He did this; I’m told, by thinking of others putting them first before himself, with a kind heart and a life for serving the needs of others.

I appreciated Bryan’s very supportive attitude toward me and my work as the chaplain at Bethany Meadows. Bryan, when he was able to, enjoyed attending all of the pastoral care activities and events at Bethany Meadows. He would often tell me that he appreciated the sermons, and thanked me for the Bible studies. On one occasion I recall he was so enthusiastic about the Bible Study that he even tried to recruit staff members to attend. As the caring, kind-hearted person that he was, sometimes he would express concern that I might be working too hard. Bryan’s expression of concern for me was a moving example of his compassion for others. I’m told that he was also supportive and kind-hearted to all of his pastors where he attended church.

As a person of faith then, it is with hope and confidence that we entrust Bryan to Jesus, who speaks those words of comfort and hope in our passage from the Gospel of John: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

My prayer for each one of you is that you will take these words of Jesus to heart, believe them, trust them, and move into the future with comfort and strength, healing and hope. As the resurrection and the life, Christ has conquered the powers of sin, death and evil. As his followers, we too, including Bryan, shall share in his Easter victory, and one day a resurrection like his, and life with a capital L-life eternal. Amen.

 

 

Sermon Easter Day Year A

Read my sermon for April 16, 2017 here: Easter Day Yr A