March 26, 2016 Leave a comment
Read my sermon for March 27, 2016 here: Easter Day Yr C
Thoughts, sermons, & scribbles of a Lutheran pastor.
March 24, 2016 2 Comments
Many have asked the question: Why is this day in Holy Week called Maundy Thursday?
We are not one-hundred percent certain of its origins, however it has been around for some time. There are at least three possibilities.
First, many believe that it comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means “command.” On this day, according to John 13:34-35, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment to love one another.
Second, others believe that Maundy is derived from another Latin word mundo, which means “wash.” On this day, again according to John 13:1-17, Jesus washes his disciples feet as an act of humble service and commands his disciples to do likewise.
Third, the word Maundy is associated with the word maund, which means “basket.” Some Christians practiced—and may still do so—distributing baskets of food to the poor on Maundy Thursday. Minted coins called “maund money” were—are?—also given to the poor.
Of course, one of the other traditions associated with Maundy Thursday is the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the account of which all three synoptic gospels provide(Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-39), as well as does the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
Prayer of the Day/Collect for Maundy Thursday
Most Holy God of all creation: On this day your Son washed his disciples feet as an act of humble service, and instituted the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of what he accomplished on the cross, and to draw all people into union and communion through his holy presence. As we remember the events of that first Maundy Thursday and celebrate your holy presence among us, may our hearts be filled with gratitude, and in response to your boundless love for us, follow your example of humble service and unconditional love. In the name of Jesus our Messiah.
March 9, 2016 Leave a comment
Funeral Sermon for Allister Burke Ferguson based on Exod 20:12; Rom 5:1-11 & Jn 6:37-40, by Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson. Bethany Meadows Chapel, March 8, 2016, 1:30 P.M.
A son, brother, friend, and child of God, Allister Burke Ferguson is no longer with us in this life. Death came unexpectedly, like a thief, and robbed Burke of a long life. We can never take life for granted; each day is a gift from God. When death comes so suddenly, as was the case for Burke, we are left shocked and in deep sorrow. Burke’s parents and you other family members shall certainly miss him, and your lives will not be the same without him.
Although I didn’t know Burke real well, and only for a short time, the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of him is the fourth commandment: “Honour your father and your mother.” Burke respected and loved his parents dearly and he willingly and faithfully served them. Joyce you told me that he phoned you very often, and would end the conversations by telling you that he loved you. Allan you recall how he stayed with you while you were in the Edmonton hospital, and he visited you faithfully in Wetaskiwin hospital. He also ran many errands for both of you.
Allan and Joyce, you told me that Burke was a presentable person in the sense that he was concerned about people, conscious of them and their needs. One of the things he would do is take your dog Jumper around to other patients.
Burke, you said, was a person of faith in God, and was conscious of his relationship with the LORD, and he attended church on a regular basis. He also read the Bible and came to you Rev. Allan with his questions.
Even though Burke was diagnosed with OCD, an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and certainly had his struggles with that; yet he was able to go to the University of Brandon and graduate with a degree in computers. He worked for a time in that field, and later he had his own business writing computer programs.
I think Burke had to deal with a lot of suffering because of the OCD. He was conscious of his disabilities, and that caused him to withdraw more from other people. And that reminds me of our passage from Romans.
The apostle Paul also endured a lot of suffering in his life. Yet, speaking of the process whereby we are made right with God, Paul is very confident. He emphasizes it by saying: “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” In other words, it wasn’t that we had to be perfect in order for us to be worthy of God’s love and grace. No! Rather, it is the opposite. Even such a thing like an obsessive-compulsive disorder will not stop God from loving us and making us right with the LORD. No! Paul twice in this passage employs a phrase that emphasizes how confident he is of Christ’s saving work on the cross. The phrase consists of three words, “much more surely.” Paul still has much of the Jewish rabbi in him here, as he employs a method of comparing or contrasting called from the lesser to the greater. However the sense of what he says in this phrase “much more surely” is that thanks to Jesus the greater is so great that it leaves the lesser so far behind that it cannot really be compared or contrasted. “Much more surely…will we be saved through [Christ] from the wrath of God. …much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by [Christ’s] life.” In other words, thanks to the saving work of Jesus on the cross we are both justified and reconciled to God. To be justified means that God makes and declares us righteous. To be reconciled means that as sinners we are God’s enemies, yet now thanks to Jesus we have been made God’s friends. Our friendship with God is based on the perfect grace and perfect love of God freely given to us thanks to Jesus.
The third passage of scripture from John’s Gospel is also one of deep comfort in that it pictures all those faithful Christians who believe in Christ as their Saviour as safe and secure with him; and, on the last day, they will be raised from the dead. In John’s Gospel, to believe in Jesus is much more than accepting a set of doctrines. Rather, to believe in Jesus means to place all of our trust in him as the final and best authority on God, on us human beings, and on life. To believe in Jesus is to act upon our beliefs through deeds of lovingkindness—inspired by the power and creativity of Christ’s forgiveness. To believe in Jesus is to willingly obey him.
So, as we continue this service today we come to commune with our LORD and with one another—the saints on earth and in heaven, including Burke. As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together we are united with Jesus and with one another, thanks to his saving work on the cross and his grace and love poured out to each one of us. Reminding us that in this meal we have a foretaste of the eternal feast to come, when we shall all be gathered together with our risen Saviour. Amen.