Redemption on the 58

A short story about a bus ride, momentum and mercy.

It had been another frustrating day in the lab, and I just wanted to get home. To grab a beer, drop onto the couch and watch another few episodes of Vikings of Valhalla on Netflix. A perfect segue to the weekend.

“How many times can an experiment fail, anyway,” I thought to myself as I threw on my coat and loaded my laptop into my backpack. In the world of crystallography, you could run out of liquid nitrogen in the middle of an experiment, or a machine could fail, or your measurements could be off. This week it had been a simple failure of crystallization, one in a series of frustrations in my PhD progress.

I walked down Peel Street to the metro, and took the green line west, getting off at De L’Église. Instead of the stairs, I took the escalator up towards daylight, and wandered over to the 58 on Wellington. Settling into my seat on the bus, I noticed a guy walking joltingly toward the back, half falling as he held onto the shiny yellow posts of the bus. He was clearly drunk or stoned. I groaned inwardly as he sat down beside me and turned mumblingly in my direction.

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forgiveness (and repentance?)

Forgiveness is always a challenging topic to talk about or preach about. At one level forgiveness is a challenging topic because when we talk about forgiveness we are talking about our very personal and sometimes painful experiences.

Beyond the personal nature of the topic, forgiveness is also challenging subject because in our culture there is disagreement about forgiveness. There is disagreement about what should be involved in the process of forgiveness – there is disagreement about the goal or purpose of forgiveness – there is disagreement about when we should forgive. The idea of forgiveness is a contested idea.

Beyond the personal nature of the subject, and beyond the fact that there is disagreement about what forgiveness should look like – beyond all of that there is also the fact that forgiveness always draws us into a particular story – and our stories are always complicated. Our stories always involve unique personalities and a unique set of actions and unique set of words spoken, and a unique context of relationships. Our stories can always be looked at from different perspectives. And this richness and complexity means there is no simple way to describe forgiveness. In one situation forgiveness might unfold in this way. In another situation, forgiveness might unfold in that way.

So the only thing we can do in exploring forgiveness is to try and describe one little piece of the puzzle at a time. That’s what we are doing for just a few weeks these Sunday mornings. We’re kind of circling around the subject of forgiveness, looking at it from a different perspective each time. Continue reading

david and bathsheba…

Well, we come this morning to another of the well-known stories of David – it is the story of David and Bathsheba. The story of David and Bathsheba is one of those stories that has all the compelling elements that makes it stick in our mind. There is a beautiful woman bathing, and a king watching her; there is a sexual liaison; there is a pregnancy, and then a murder of the woman’s husband. Finally, there is that remarkable scene of confrontation between the prophet Nathan and David – in which David unwittingly judges and condemns himself.

We made it clear last week that David is far from perfect. The narratives of First and Second Samuel certainly present David as a remarkable figure, in the best sense of the word. In important ways, David has embodied the strength, the grace, and the hospitality of God. In some profound sense, as one filled by the Spirit of God, David is a man after God’s own heart. Yet in the unfolding of the narrative, we find another David emerging – one who will stoop so low – one who falls so far. Here is a David who can engage in activities that are nothing less than morally outrageous. Continue reading

A new vision

My sermon from yesterday, on Mark 1:14-20.


How do we get our heads around a passage like the one we read this morning from the gospel of Mark? How do we enter into the narrative in a fresh way?

We’ve heard it so many times. When we read those words, the same old picture is in our heads that has always been there. Jesus appears on the scene, and says the usual things: (Read in a monotone) “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” And then he walks along the sea, and there are Simon and Andrew fishing – he tells them, come follow me, I’ll make you fish for people. And they turn and follow. Jesus continues a little further along and he sees James and John fixing their nets – and he calls them too. They leave their father in the boat and they follow Jesus.

And that’s it. Here endeth the lesson. Amen. The preacher can sit down. We’ve heard it before – what more is there to say?

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