of maple leaves and chickadees

There is something so strange about the turning of the leaves each Autumn. From the perspective of our culture and our lives, there is something almost shocking about the leaves turning from green to yellow and orange and red.

It happens every Autumn, of course. As the temperatures begin to drop during the day, and the temperatures begin to drop over night, the production of chlorophyll slows down in the leaves. As the production of chlorophyll slows, the deeper colours of the leaves are slowly unmasked, and some new colours are created. The hills of our city and the parks of our city and the streets of our city become a canvas alive with fire and light. For just a few short weeks our world takes on new and remarkable character – we observe a beauty we could hardly have imagined just a few short weeks ago.

But why would I say that this changing of the leaves is strange? And why would I say that the turning of the leaves to yellow and orange and red is almost shocking from the perspective of our culture? Continue reading

becoming poor (2/4)

I’d like to bring two thoughts together as we begin this morning. The first thought is this: That I don’t really understand poverty.

Of course, in an abstract kind of way I understand poverty.

I understand that it must be tremendously painful and disabling not to know how you will get your next meal.

I’ve heard my own parents tell stories of hunger in occupied Holland during WWII.

I’ve helped serve meals a few times down at the Old Brewery mission.

I’ve slept in the hut of a poor family in rural Mexico.

So in an abstract kind of way I understand poverty. Continue reading

becoming poor (in spirit) 1/4

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The question of poverty looms large in both the Old and the New Testament. The question of poverty confronts us in an especially powerful way in the life and teaching of Jesus. And so over the next few weeks we want to spend some time wrestling with the question of poverty – more specifically, we want to think about what it means to become poor.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. We will probably recognize these words as coming from the Sermon on the Mount. But this morning we should perhaps remember that both Matthew and Luke have versions of the Sermon on the Mount. And in the gospel of Matthew, the sermon begins with Jesus saying, as we’ve already read: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But in Luke’s gospel, Jesus says: “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” Continue reading