in the beginning was the word

A sermon preached at the Memorial Service of Bill Buck.

John 1:1-5,14 &16; Isaiah 55; Psalm 36:5-10

You may have noticed that University Hill Congregation cherishes the Bible. The Bible is given honour of place whenever we worship. The big book is lifted high and carried into our midst where it takes its place at the heart of our life together. The Bible is the scripture – that is, the script – of our life. The church is the company of actors called to live this script - to perform these texts - in the world. It is the reason that we invite one another to be the lectors, the readers, when we gather. It isn’t just the minister’s job to read the scripture because it isn’t just the minister’s job to live the script. So, over the years, our congregation has regularly offered training sessions for lectors. For many years Bill Buck taught us how to read aloud so that others could experience the life and beauty, the humour and ache in the text. He taught us basic things like “Take your hands out of your pockets” and “Don’t show up unprepared – practice, practice, practice.” But Bill always placed the greatest emphasis on this: “Read the text with great care and respect. Love each word to life.” When he came as a guest to the preaching classes that I taught here at VST he said something similar. In speaking to budding preachers about how to deliver a sermon he would tell us the key to performing as an actor is to so fully embody the part you are playing when you go on stage. The key to performance is to interpret the script in such a way that you are not pretending at all but are, instead, telling the truth.


call for submissions - christian seasons calendar

Artists are invited to participate in the upcoming issue of "Salt of the Earth - The Christian Seasons Calendar for 2013/2014." This unique calendar which follows the seven distinctive seasons of the Christian year is distributed worldwide. View a sample of the current Christian Seasons Calendar here.

Interested artists are encouraged to offer artwork that interprets scripture readings and themes within the Christian Year. A list of the weekly scripture readings used in Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary can be found here. We have one page available for an image for each of the following seasons: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week and Easter. There will be two pages for the Season after Epiphany (which includes the arrival of the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus and the Transfiguration). There will be four pages available for art work in the Season after Pentecost. On these pages we look for images that portray Pentecost, All Saints and the Reign of Christ as well as images particular to stories included in the lectionary readings during this season of growth in discipleship.


ah ... after worship on a Sunday in June


a prophet, a famine & a death

Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (Paris, 14th century)
I Kings 17

This is how it happens. One day there is no prophet sent from God. The next day there is Elijah. His name means “Yah(weh) is my God.” There has been no warning. The text has been focussed keeping track of royalty and who is in power. In the verses that precede Elijah we have arrived at Ahab of whom the text says: "Aab son of Omir did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all who were before him" (I Kgs 16:30). Suddenly, unannounced and unexplained, Elijah steps into the story. Elijah is a prophet. And not just “a” prophet but “the prophet.” Still today an empty chair is readied for him at every Jewish Seder meal, at every Passover celebration. Elijah leaves this earthly plane in a blaze of glory, in a sweet chariot of fire that swings low and carries him home, bypassing the grave. Elijah enters the story by confronting the king. The king is responsible for the fertility of the soil, for the productivity of the people – in other words, for the gross domestic product. Elijah’s first message is news of an energy crisis. There will be no dew and no rain unless Elijah says so. Elijah, not the king, is the one connected to the source of life. Un-credentialed and unexpected, Elijah enters the scene with the surprising news that fertility and productivity, energy and growth are in the hands of God, not the king and not the powers that be. No wonder that king Ahab will say upon meeting Elijah after three years of drought: “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” (I Kgs. 18:17).