Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quotations for Worship and Reflection

Here are the quotations I had on the front cover of First Christian's worship bulletins for the last two Sundays:

On Sunday, August 3, I preached a sermon entitled "Take Off Your Blinders" based on Matthew 14:13-21. It may be obvious from the title, but the sermon was on the ways we have limited vision to see what God is doing in our lives and in our world. The quotation is from John O'Donohue's book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, a book I keep finding useful quotations and blessings in.

Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it any more. It is an interesting question to ask yourself at night: what did I really see this day? You could be surprised at what you did not see…The human eye is always selecting what it wants to see and also evading what it does not want to see. The crucial question then is, what criteria do we use to decide what we like to see and to avoid seeing what we do not want to see? Many limited and negative lives issue directly from this narrowness of vision.

This past Sunday, I preached a sermon entitled "The Politics of Fear" based on Matthew 14:22-33. The sermon was about how faith can help us to overcome fear, especially fear of people different from ourselves. This quotation comes from John Macmurray's book The Philosophy of Jesus. I have to confess not having read this one. The quotation was passed on to me. There is a very interesting web site on Macmurray that talks about his writings of philosophy and religion.

It is important, I believe, to recognize that for Jesus it is fear itself that must be cured, and not the occasions for fear. Perhaps all religion seeks to guarantee, to its devotees, that ‘there is nothing to be afraid of’. So often, however, this merely means that the sincere observance of one’s religious duties will guarantee that what we are afraid of will not happen to us. Jesus is not subject to such idealistic illusions. He warned his disciples of the persecution that awaited those who followed him. Their lot would be unusually hard. But this was nothing to be afraid of.

Grace and Peace,


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