Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-10 to start.
In 1885, Sarah Winchester moved to San Francisco, California. She had been widowed a few years previous, and her husband had left her a considerable fortune, including a number of shares in his company, the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, best known for making Winchester rifles. This allowed her to buy a nice piece of property, a 45 acre ranch, in nearby San Jose. The ranch had an eight-room, two story farmhouse. Having plenty of budget and an interest in architecture, she decided to renovate. And renovate she did. But her plans kept changing. She hired architects and fired them, she took advice from various carpenters, and eventually took over the project lead herself. The house existed for years in a state of flux, constantly under construction. It grew and grew, and alternated between different styles of architecture, from Victorian to Gothic and Romanesque. After the 1906 earthquake a considerable part of the house was destroyed, including a 7 story tall tower. Some of it was rebuilt, some was not, and construction continued until her death in 1922.
Continue reading Work in Progress
Read Proverbs 22:1-2 to start.
1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. 2 The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
I know most of the people here this morning, some of you better than others. Some of you I know quite well, some of you barely at all. And likewise, you might know me well, or maybe not so well. But if you were paying attention at all during the announcements, then there is at least one thing that you know about me, and that is my name.
Continue reading What’s In A Name?
Read Ezekiel 33:1-9 to start.
We all know what today is, which is Father’s Day. Do you know what tomorrow is, though? Anyone have a guess? It’s the last day of spring. Which means Tuesday is the first day of summer. Now, we’ve already had some days that feel like full on summer, because the start and end of the season on the calendar is based on the position of sun in the sky, and the weather may not exactly reflect that. In any case, summer is basically here. And summer, in my mind, includes going to the beach. I’m not a big beach person myself, but if I don’t get to the beach at least a time or three in the summer then it wasn’t really summer so far as I’m concerned.
Continue reading Sink or Swim
Read Acts 8:26-38 to start.
When I was in school, back in 1980s and 90s, we had semesters and school years. One thing that took place at the end of every semester, at in particular at the end of the year, apart from the finishing of exams and deadlines for papers, there were report cards.
I assume that in public school they still do this same sort of thing, although it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s not all digital now, rather than the folded cardstock we used to have to take home and sign. I did well in school, it was never much of a concern for me when report cards came out. But there were other students who did not do as well. Some of them may have been very good in certain subjects, but did poorly in others. And some just didn’t do so well in school at all. If your report card came back with too many low numbers or poor letter grades, then you might end up failing the school year and have to repeat the grade. Not something that anyone would look forward to, not the teacher, not the student, and not the parents.
Continue reading What Holds You Back?
Read Psalm 94:1-15 and Matthew 24:3-8 to start.
Sometimes when I’m preparing to preach a sermon, I know exactly the passage I want to speak from and the particular story I will start with. That’s great when it happens, and while it’s still plenty of work and a number of hours to prepare a sermon, it feels like things flow well and it’s fairly straightforward. It can be easy to look at these occasions and say that the Holy Spirit lead me to speak on this topic and in this way. And that may well be the case, at times the Holy Spirit certainly leads down clear and straight paths that go easily. But not always.
Continue reading How Long?
Read Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 4:12-16 to start.
This morning I’d like to start with a story from long, long ago. Well, it maybe only feels like long ago, it’s from when I was in elementary school, grade five or six I believe, so something like 35 years ago. In school we were working on some sort of group project, I think we were making a poster or a sign or something like that. There were several opinions as to what was the best way to proceed, and I was quite confident that my approach was going to be the best. But one of the other children had her own opinion, which was so far as twelve year old me was concerned, entirely wrong. She said “I think we should…” and while I don’t recall the details of what she said exactly, I knew it was clearly not a very good idea, and so I snapped back “I don’t care what you think.”
Continue reading Be Not Despised
Read Luke 12: 16-21 to start.
Last week at work I had a deadline to meet. It was on a very specific timeline, for a large project that we were working on, and it had to be in by a specific hour on Wednesday. There was no wiggle room, no extension, if everything was not completed by that time, then the project would not go ahead. Any work done to that point would not matter, and be of no value. If we missed the deadline, then the project, or at least our part in it, would be over.
Continue reading Deadlines, Known and Otherwise
Read Matthew 2: 1-15 to start
Let’s talk for a minute about the news. And I’m talking about real news, not the fake news which has become so often discussed in recent years, and ranges from satire, to intentional slander, to any news that someone in authority doesn’t like, regardless of how real it might be. In the reporting of actual news, a journalist will almost always attempt to answer five basic questions. You’ve no doubt heard these before, they all happen to start with the letter W – Who, What, When, Where, and Why, and generally in that order.
Continue reading Five Questions
Ready Romans 3:10-19 to start.
Not long ago I saw a coffee mug that caught my attention. Well, to be clear it wasn’t the actual mug, but rather a Facebook advertisement selling this particular mug. The mug featured a picture of Santa Claus, specifically a close up on his face. He looks rather unimpressed, and the caption across the top of the picture, in all caps for emphasis, reads YOU’RE ALL NAUGHTY. Then at the bottom there is a reference to Romans chapter 3, verses 10 through 12. And if you look again at the verses we read to start, it’s absolutely clear that scripture teaches that all have indeed sinned, and that none are righteous. We are, in fact, all on the naughty list. Every single person on this planet is on the naughty list.
Continue reading All Have Sinned
Read Proverbs 30:24-28 to start.
Who here has had a splinter? Not looking for a show of hands or anything, but I’m willing to bet that most of you have at one time or another. If you haven’t, then you must have thicker skin than I do, or you never come into contact with wood. The other week I had a splinter on the side of my finger, and I managed to get it out with tweezers. I recall one time earlier this year, I had a splinter for a couple of days that I could not get rid of, and when I was in the hospital visiting my father, I convinced one of the ICU nurses, well, I just asked her nicely, to remove it, and it took her a bit of effort to get rid of the thing. Splinters are unpleasant. But they are a normal thing that we experience from time to time.
Splinters are also very, very, small. If you’ve ever removed one and taken a look at it afterwards, it was likely only a few millimetres long, and not even one millimetre wide. A tiny and insignificant thing by any measure, other than the amount of discomfort it can cause.
Continue reading Four Small Things