Most world religions have their version of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s a basic societal norm and a trust upon which we build our communities. Yet in a city where two-thirds of the population is either Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish, Calgary had to implement a face-covering bylaw for indoor public areas and public vehicles starting August 1. In July, Quebec was the first province to make masks mandatory. Similar bylaws have since been passed in Toronto, Edmonton and many other cities and regions. One would think that wearing a mask for the sake of others wouldn’t be a big problem in our city. And yet it is.
In the first week of April, I interviewed an Alberta emergency room physician, an emergency room nurse, a unit nurse and a primary care paramedic for an Easter-based sermon I was working on. Seeing news reports depicting these incredible souls work at the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic made me curious about what drove them. Who are these people that so willingly step toward the danger and choose to touch those no one else will touch?
There once was a world that had lost its way. Everyone was moving so fast that they forgot to look around. People didn’t notice each other. Some were blinded by consumerism. Others distracted by pleasure. Some idolized work and worried about the next thing. Others sought power, position and wealth. And everyone, it seemed, shared a common problem – all that should matter in life didn’t matter enough. People failed to notice the fragility of their existence.
In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah, there is a prophecy that directly connects God’s actions in the cosmos to God’s actions toward his people.
If you look at teachers closely, you can find God there, just in behind their actions – knowing what they know – humbly making a learning moment all about you, brilliantly serving up the truth, hospitably inviting you into a deeper understanding of the nature of life.
They say sport is a microcosm of life. As a preacher I think this maxim also applies to the spiritual life.
As a young teen I was deeply insecure. While everyone around me seemed to know what to do and who to be, I was lost and afraid. I had so many questions. I didn’t know if I belonged. I felt alone.
Then I heard a song on the radio, from a band called Supertramp, that gave voice to my existential cry, “Please tell me who I am!”
I am ashamed to admit this, but when I hear news stories about people forgiving others immediately after serious offenses, there’s a cynical part of me that judges them.
A few years ago I preached a Christmas Eve message with a newborn in my arms. I wanted to just stand there and let that tiny incarnate parable preach all by herself; eyes closed and asleep in my arms, softly breathing, a sudden shudder, then a whimper turning into a cry and her eyes slowly opening to reveal eternity.
What if we took the idea of God speaking through creation to our places of work and expected to hear him there? What if we saw every single image bearing human being as an icon or as an embodied parable that Jesus might be speaking through? What if we seriously engaged the Holy Spirit’s authoritative words throughout history, culture, sport, science, commerce, and art?