Sermon preached in Bishopton Parish Church, on 30th January 2011, Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Holy Communion Sunday
Whenever I have to take a long train journey on my own, I don’t know about you, but I always rejoice when I see a near-empty train. Then I know I can take a seat by the window, and sit on my own with a nice book or magazine. And I don’t know why this happens, but almost every time a new person walks in the train, they always seem to choose to sit either across from me, restricting my leg-room, or next to me restricting my arm-room. There are hundreds of other seats on the train, but this person decides to sit within inches of what I had decided was my ‘personal’ space. So what do you do? Do you point out that there are other seats available? Do you lie when they ask if the seats are taken? Do you get up and take another seat? No, you don’t; because you’re British, and you’re nice…
Sermon preached at Gorbals Parish Church on Sunday 13th June, third Sunday after Pentecost.
When I was growing up I loved to watch films about the life of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Two of my favourites were Fiddler on the Roof and Yentl. “Fiddler on the roof” was the more famous of the two, but when I read today’s passage I immediately thought about Yentl, starring Barbra Streisand and Mandy Patinkin. Yentl is a story of a rabbi’s daughter who was very unusual amongst other girls in the village. She wasn’t interested in cooking or sewing, and she wasn’t looking to get married like all the other girls. Yentl wanted to study the law of Moses, and the Talmud, which is a series of commentaries on the law.
But that was a problem in 1904, because women were not allowed to study the Talmud. The film begins in a Jewish market place, where a fish trader entices Yentl to buy a fish that is ‘so beautiful, it will cook itself’. Yentl needed all the help she could get, so she agrees to buy the fish, even if she’s not even looking at it. Her eyes are drawn to a book trader driving his cart through the market place yelling: “Picture books for women, sacred books for men! Picture books for women, sacred books for men!”
Quote from Brian D. McLaren, Everything Must Change (p.33)
“More and more reflective Christian leaders are beginning to realize that for the millions of young adults who dropped out of their churches in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the Christian religion appears to be a failed religion. […] it has specialized in dealing with ‘spiritual needs’ to the exclusion of physical and social needs. It has specialized in people’s destination in the afterlife but has failed to address significant social injustices in this life. It has focused on ‘me’ and ‘my soul’ and ‘my spiritual life’ and ‘my eternal destiny,’ but it has failed to address the dominant societal and global realities of their lifetime: systemic injustice, systemic poverty, systemic ecological crisis, systemic dysfunctions of many kinds.”