Category Archives: Reflections

The Feast of the Holy Innocents and the Tyrannical Despiser of Humanity

There is something distinctly un-sentimental about the historical form that the Christian liturgical calendar has come to exhibit during the season of Christmas.  The Feast of the Nativity is immediately followed the next day by the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.  Today (December 28) is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the date on the calendar set aside for commemorating the children massacred following the birth of Jesus as depicted in the Gospel of Matthew (2:16-18).  In this way, the Christian liturgical calendar is simply following the brutal realism of Scripture.  The coming of the Prince of Peace sets on edge the petty tyrants of our world like Herod. Continue reading The Feast of the Holy Innocents and the Tyrannical Despiser of Humanity

When a Hallmark Christmas Isn’t Good Enough

A Guest Post by Paul Johansen

This is the seventeenth in a series of posts engaging with the sermons in Leaps of Faith: Sermons from the Edge.  This post is a reflection upon a Christmas Eve sermon entitled “When a Hallmark Christmas Isn’t Good Enough” (pp. 78-84). The Scriptural text for the sermon was Luke 2:1-20. Continue reading When a Hallmark Christmas Isn’t Good Enough

Remembrance Day in the Church

In 1932, Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached in Berlin on Volkstrauertag—the German equivalent to Remembrance Day in Canada.  Interestingly, one of his main emphases throughout the sermon is that the way Memorial Day is observed in the church should differ from the way that is observed in other contexts.  I made a similar point in a 2013 article entitled, “Remembering Rightly: The Pastoral Dilemma of Remembrance Day,” although I can’t recall if I had read Bonhoeffer’s 1932 sermon at the time I wrote it. Continue reading Remembrance Day in the Church

95 at 500

The following is an extract from a sermon I preached this past Sunday at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Scarborough.  The service made use of some of the liturgical resources prepared conjointly by  the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the Christian Reformed Church to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  It is not a scholarly treatment, nor does it exhaustively treat the complex and often ambiguous legacy of the Reformation.  Rather, it simply attempts to acquaint people with the person of Martin Luther and some of the early developments associated with the beginning of the Reformation in Germany. Continue reading 95 at 500

Robert Jenson: Servant of the Church, Evangelical and Catholic

September 5 marked the passing of the Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson.  Widely regarded as the leading American theologian of his generation, and perhaps, as some maintain, the greatest American theologian since Jonathan Edwards, Jenson was  a leading influence in advocating for a theological renewal of the church that was, at one and the same time, profoundly evangelical and catholic. Continue reading Robert Jenson: Servant of the Church, Evangelical and Catholic

Newbigin on the Challenge of Preaching Christ Today

In the 18th Joseph Smith Memorial Lecture delivered at Overdale College in Birmingham, England in 1979, published as a pamphlet under the title “Preaching Christ Today”, Lesslie Newbigin suggested that the crucial issue facing preachers today is discerning the proper relationship between Law and Gospel.  (Interestingly, this was also a pressing concern for Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his seminarians in the mid-30s.) Continue reading Newbigin on the Challenge of Preaching Christ Today