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David Ewart
Vancouver, BC CANADA
Husband, father of two grown sons, United Church of Canada minister
Interests: brain-mind research, physics, cosmology, process theology, evolution, leadership
Recent Activity
Holy Textures is a spot for my musings on the various Biblical texts that come our way through the Revised Common Lectionary. My goal is to provide timely, short, easy to use and faith-provoking background commentary for your sermon or bible study preparation. Please click on the heading of any post or "Continue reading" to see the full post. Year B - Season after Pentecost - 2015 Note that in Pentecost, the Sundays are numbered as "after" Pentecost Sunday. So the first Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, is Pentecost 1. Pentecost Sunday May 24, 2015 Acts 2:1-21 "We might all hear the same words - each in our own language - but we will not all hear and understand exactly the same meaning. The problem with life, and faith, and following Jesus is always: What does this mean?" Sermon: "All We Need Is Love." John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 "Whatever else we may want to say on this day of Pentecost about the Spirit, it is important to notice that Jesus always refers to the Spirit as the Spirit of truth. And in John truth is always the way, the life, the light, the joy, the friendship." Sermon: "." Trinity Sunday May 31, 2015 John 3:1-17 "Being born anew / from above is a huge transformation, since it means quite literally starting over with a new "family of origin.'"... (It) relocates our identity and resets possibilities for our character and life choices... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2015 at Holy Textures
Holy Textures is a spot for my musings on the various Biblical texts that come our way through the Revised Common Lectionary. My goal is to provide timely, short, easy to use and thought-provoking background commentary for your sermon or bible study preparation. Please click on the heading of any post or "Continue reading" to see the full post. Year B - Season of Easter - 2015 As usual with the Season of Easter, we get to spend time with the Gospel of John. I like to think of John as like a good day at the spa: Soaking in the swirling eddies and quiet back pools of his repetitive, non-sequitur, images and stories. John wants us to really GET the life that is Jesus. What could be more refreshing than that? Easter Vigil April 4, 2015 Mark 16:1-8 "It is women who witness the abject humiliation, degradation and torture of Jesus on the cross. It is women who hear him cry, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" It is women who witness his death. It is women who follow and witness where his body is placed. And so, fittingly, it is women who are the first witnesses of the empty tomb, and the first to receive the good news: He is risen!" Sermon: "To be added." Easter Day April 5, 2015 John 20:1-18, Alternate Reading A "As the Word descended from the Father and became flesh... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2015 at Holy Textures
Holy Textures is a spot for my musings on the various Biblical texts that come our way through the Revised Common Lectionary. My goal is to provide timely, short, easy to use and thought-provoking background commentary for your sermon or bible study preparation. Please click on the heading of any post or "Continue reading" to see the full post. Year B - Season of Lent and Holy Week - 2015 The 40 days of Lent actually do NOT include the Sundays. So the Sundays are referred to as being "in" Lent. For example, "Lent 2," means, "The second Sunday in Lent." This means the Sundays are always a mini-celebration of the resurrection - even in Lent. So, while we are preparing ourselves for the walk to Jerusalem and all that will happen during Holy Week, there is no need to pretend that we don't know about, and are not already celebrating, Jesus' resurrection. I've had the time to give a close reading of the Holy Week texts and background information. I come away even more amazed at the courage of Jesus to voluntarily face the torture and humiliation of Roman execution on a cross, in order to remain faithful to God's calling - God's purpose - for him: To proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. As usual with the Season of Lent, we get to spend time with the Gospel of John. I like to think of John... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2015 at Holy Textures
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The following charts compare selected data for the United Church of Canada compared with similar data for Canada’s population as a whole. The comparison shows how Canadians as a whole are participating in the United Church of Canada, and suggests possible changes in Canadian culture as a whole. Rates of participation by Canadians in the United Church of Canada as shown by Membership, Baptisms, Weddings, and Funerals have all shown steady decline since at least the mid-1960’s with the exception of a temporary increase from 1980-1990 as the Baby Boom Generation returned with their children. These trends have been noted for all churches (including evangelical ones) throughout North America. Secular volunteer agencies also report similar declines. The charts indicate that the religious rituals of weddings, baptisms, and funerals are in decline as an increasingly secular and “spiritual, but not religious” culture no longer looks to organized religion for these life-changing transitions. Clearly the United Church is not “of” Canada. Perhaps it is time for a change of name. As I have noted elsewhere, we may be united but we are definitely not uniform (United But Not Uniform). In fact, the differences between the 10% of the largest urban churches, the 50% of rural multi-point Pastoral Charges, and the 40% of remaining single-point Pastoral Charges is so great that I wonder if we shouldn’t call ourselves the Church of the Holy Trinity. Click here for an easy to print and email... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2015 at David Ewart
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A “trend” is an indication of the general direction of change. I use the Microsoft Excel TREND function. I do so because it does in fact give a good indication of the general direction of change, and because as a straight line it is easy to understand. Whatever the future holds, it will not unfold in a straight line, but a straight line is useful for clarifying the general direction we are headed. And it is important to understand what a trend is NOT. 1. A trend is NOT a single example. A trend looks at a history of events – the more the better – and summarizes the overall change. There will always be examples that contradict the overall trend. Because that is precisely what a summary is; it is roughly the average with examples that are better than the trend, and examples that are worse than the trend. And so, a trend is not proven false by examples that are “bucking the trend.” But because a trend is not a single example, it can also help answer one big question: Is it just us? Are we the only ones experiencing this problem? Ever since the 1990’s, every congregation I have been part of has worried about the decline of Sunday School enrollment. And we tried every new program that promised to fix this problem. They were all good programs and helped us make many helpful and necessary changes.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2015 at David Ewart
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OK, now that the shocking headline has captured your attention, let me explain why it is both true and not all the truth. Those of us who can remember the United Church before 1990, are very aware that the church which expanded its number of congregations as well as its Conference and General Council staff, programs and policies during the 50’s and into the 80’s is already mostly gone. The structures of the United Church have been significantly cut back, and yet are still too costly of volunteer time, energy, and money. The way we used to “do” church is on its death bed. That is the truth of the headline. But the rest of the truth about the United Church is that our particular hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and our calling to form communities of faith centred on that calling – are probably more needed now than ever. And so perhaps a more accurate headline might be: Our Governance is Dead. Long Live the Gospel! Or: The Buildings Have Burned to the Ground. The Community Has Taken Off! The charts that follow (click here for PDF file with charts) show the steady decades-long decline of the United Church. And that is the truth of the headline. But the rest of the truth is that actually the charts show how Canada has changed. Canadians just don’t go to church like they used to. And not just... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2015 at David Ewart
In Response to Her Open Letter to The Rev. Gary Paterson, Moderator of the United Church of Canada. If Ms. Vosper’s ideas weren’t so dangerous, it would be tempting to read her letter with quiet amazement at her naiveté and click on the next Internet prophet with celebrity to be sought and a book to be sold. Ah, the sweet bliss of continuing to believe in an 18th Century ideology that the path to world peace lies in a single solution: get rid of religion. Evidence that this ideology is false and dangerous can be seen in the bloody aftermath of its first proclamation in France’s Revolution: The Reign of Terror. Unfortunately this was only the beginning of non-religious ideological war, genocide and mass starvations. Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Amin. Mugabe, and too many others have caused far more death and destruction than the current terror that we mis-attribute solely to religion. Ms. Vosper also says that we should all stop believing in ideas about God that almost no one in the United Church actually believes anyway. So I’m puzzled as to how we can respond to her demand. Ms. Vosper seems to make the mistake of assuming that her ideas about God are identical with the actual reality of God. Therefore, if her ideas about God are juvenile and unbelievable, then God must be an infantile fantasy that we must learn to outgrow. But she overlooks... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2015 at David Ewart
Holy Textures is a spot for my musings on the various Gospel texts that come our way through the Revised Common Lectionary. My goal is to provide timely, short, easy to use and thought-provoking background commentary for your sermon or bible study preparation. Please click on the heading of any post or "Continue reading" to see the full post. By entering your email and clicking "Subscribe," you can receive all new posts by email. You will only receive new posts, nothing else - no spam, nada, zip. Year B - Season of Epiphany - 2015 This year, there are 6 Sundays following Epiphany, January 6 and before Ash Wednesday, February 18. This will give us time to read through Chapter 1 of Mark - with one detour into John (for reasons that escape my imagination). I like a long Season of Epiphany because it gives a chance to catch one's breath after Advent-Christmas before plunging into getting ready for Lent. Epiphany of the Lord January 6 or May be used on the First Sunday of January Matthew 2:1-12. "That this comet is understood to be a sign of the birth of a "child who has been born King of the Jews" is particularly frightening to Herod since HE is King of the Jews and this unknown child is a threat to him and his heirs." Sermon: "Joy That Brings Change." Baptism of the Lord First Sunday After The Epiphany January... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2014 at Holy Textures
Holy Textures is a spot for my musings on the various Biblical texts that come our way through the Revised Common Lectionary. My goal is to provide timely, short, easy to use and thought-provoking background commentary for your sermon or bible study preparation. Please click on the heading of any post or "Continue reading" to see the full post. By entering your email and clicking "Subscribe," you can receive a reminder at the start of each new Season. You will only receive new posts, nothing else - no spam, nada, zip. Year B - Seasons of Advent & Christmas - 2014 Advent 1 November 30, 2014 Mark 13:24-37. "The lesson for Advent is still: Stay awake. Be alert. Live in expectation. Live now as you will when the Son of Man does return." Sermon: "A Cry of Absence." Advent 2 December 7, 2014 Mark 1:1-8. "Unlike us, John the Baptizer is a wild and woolly character. But like us, he lives to point people to one who is greater than himself. John is the first Christian in the sense that he is the first who gives witness to Jesus." Sermon: "A Cry of Peace." Advent 3 December 14, 2014 John 1:6-8, 19-28. "This Advent season is a time for us to wake up and see the light. It is time for us to do what is our work: to prepare the soil of our souls, so that the seed of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at Holy Textures
Dear Friends, Thank you for many the many warm appreciations. One person asked if Holy Textures will still be available on the web? The answer is: Yes. Please continue to visit www.holytextures.com and use the various links you will find there to find my commentary on the passage you are looking for. All the best, David Ewart. Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2014 at Holy Textures
Dear Holy Textures Email Subscribers, As you may have noticed, this summer I suspended providing weekly email from Holy Texures. Initially, I did this as a temporary "vacation." But while on vacation, wrestled with a sense that I should no longer provide this sort of update. Producing Holy Textures has been a great blessings for me. But as I was invited to pray on the text Exodus 3:1-6 at a retreat this weekend, the phrase that leapt out at me was "I must turn aside," Exodus 3:3 (NRSV). There are times in our lives when we must turn aside from the business that has brought us to this place in order to see what new wonder it is that God has prepared for us. And. I note. It is only when God sees that we have turned aside that God then speaks. (Exodus 3:4) I am so thankful for those known and unknown to me who have found - and continue to find - Holy Textures to be a valuable spark. And I trust that God will continue to provide many such sparks to our ministries. But as for me, I must turn aside. Sincerely, David Ewart. Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2014 at Holy Textures
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It is very problematic that the Lectionary separates Verses 13-20 from Verses 21-23, the first of three occasions of Jesus showing his disciples that he must go up to Jerusalem, suffer, be killed, and on the third day be raised. If we want the transformational bonding with Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God, we also can't avoid bonding with Jesus the Crucified One. Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at Holy Textures
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But this incident is a beautiful illustration of the teaching Jesus has just made. Outwardly, this woman has nothing about her that is "clean." But she has two things in her heart that make her right with God: her unwavering, nagging, persistent care for her daughter; and, her unwavering, nagging, persistent trust that Jesus can cure her daughter. And these two things cause Jesus to undergo a change of heart himself. Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2014 at Holy Textures
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Walking on the sea is not an idle, capricious, magic trick. After spending time alone in prayer, Jesus has stepped out onto the back of a chaotic and dangerous spirit to go and be with his friends. Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at Holy Textures
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This lesson invites us to remember our own wildernesses, our own places of chaos, when our own insufficiencies may have been blessed, broken, and given away. And yet it was precisely in risking that impossible insufficiency that there was enough. Indeed, more than enough. Year A Pentecost 8 August 3, 2014 Sunday Between July 31 and August 6 Inclusive Proper 13, Ordinary Time 18 Click here to read the complete Holy Textures background commentary on Matthew 14:13-21. Click here, Matthew 14:13-21, for an easy to print or email Adobe PDF version. Sermon by the Rev. Dr. George Hermanson, "." The real miracle today would be for the feeble scraps of our sermons on the text to truly feed and satisfy the hungry who have gathered. As I have said before, the key thing with any "miracle" story is to NOT get distracted by the special effects. The text does not explain how these things happen; nor should the sermon. But the text does explain why these things happen and invites us to be open to mystery and wonder, the strange and the impossible possible. I would suggest taking a day or two just to feel one's way into the full meaning of Verse 13: When Jesus heard the news about John ... "The news about John" is that he has been beheaded; killed as the result of jealousy and a foolish promise. And who is John to Jesus? Scholars suggest... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2014 at Holy Textures
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Even those who are accustomed to finding and trading fine things might still encounter a life-changing experience. Even those involved in the church all their lives might still be transformed in ways beyond their imagining. Year A Pentecost 7 July 27, 2014 Sunday Between July 24 and July 30 Inclusive Proper 12, Ordinary Time 17 Click here to read the complete Holy Textures background commentary on Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. Click here, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52, for an easy to print or email Adobe PDF version. Sermon by the Rev. Dr. George Hermanson, "Mustard Seed." The text gives us 5 ways to imagine the Kingdom of Heaven (more specifically: God's will being done on earth as it is in Heaven): like a mustard seed; like yeast (leaven) in flour; like treasure hidden in a field; like a priceless pearl; like a net that catches all kinds of fish. That is probably 4 images too many for one sermon. A key to interpreting Jesus' teachings about the Kingdom of Heaven is that there is almost always a reversal from our current social practices and customs: The last shall be first, and the first shall be last. Anyone who seeks to save their life must lose it. are two good examples. So how is a mustard seed like the Kingdom of Heaven? Well for one thing it is small instead of mighty; and it is mostly considered a weed instead of a desirable crop.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2014 at Holy Textures
Hi Everyone, I will be away on vacation for the next 4 weeks, so will not be posting an update each week. Instead, below are links that you can use for each of the next month. Blessings to you all and your ministries. David Ewart, www.holytextures.com . . . Pentecost 2 June 22, 2014 Matthew 10:24-39 "We all know how to lose our life so that it is lost. The trick is to figure out how to lose one's life so that it will be found. And the key to that mystery is to lose our life for Jesus' sake. For Jesus' purpose, aim, or end." Sermon: "To be added." Pentecost 3 June 29, 2014 Matthew 10:40-42 "Welcoming "in the name of" means welcoming in the honour of; in the reputation of. It means welcoming in a way that is true to the integrity and character and goals of the one being welcomed. In a way that is truly worthy of the one being welcomed." Sermon: "Welcome." Pentecost 4 July 6, 2014 Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 "A good way to open today's worship service might be to ask: Are there any here today who have never been weary? Never had to carry a heavy heart burden? Okay, you're free to go." Sermon: "Wisdom." Pentecost 5 July 13, 2014 Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 "You and I might not waste our efforts on the down trodden, the thorny, and the hardened, but God does."... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2014 at Holy Textures
They worshiped him, but some doubted. Matthew 28:17 To celebrate our 89th Anniversary in the midst of the current process of reforming our collective identity, let's change our founding text from John 17:21 to Matthew 28:17. Seriously. This verse from Matthew is not some incidental, by-the-way, side comment about riff-raff. This verse describes the initial response of the core disciples when they first encounter Jesus now resurrected. Ought we not lift this up as a paradigm of how communities of faith today might respond to the Good News of resurrection? Worship AND Doubt Worship with joy, awe, gratitude, and compassion. Worship with unhesitant, nothing held back, loyalty. Worship with our whole self: body, soul and mind. Worship grounded in clarity, perspective, intent and purpose. Worship oriented by a trustworthy moral compass. Worship grounded in right relationships. AND doubt with curiosity and openness. Doubt with confidence that expects and enjoys uncertainty and ambiguity. Doubt that wonders. Doubt that challenges unexamined opinion and self-righteousness. Doubt that drags us toward truth and confession. Doubt that knows we do not yet fully embody all that God dreams for us to become. Doubt that has the courage to leave the beloved familiar for the desired undetermined future. Let's Be Like Them Seriously. Isn't it time to ground ourselves in a new text? So why not ground ourselves in the first responses of the first disciples? Let's be like them. I know I'd like to belong... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2014 at David Ewart
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These 5 short verses touch on several crucial themes: 1) The authority of Jesus. 2) The purposes of the church: go, make disciples, baptize, teach, obey, remember. 3) The presence of Jesus-now-resurrected. A congregation that is centred on these will not go far wrong. And might even get a fair bit right. Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2014 at Holy Textures
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In John, "thirst" has the double meaning of literal thirst for real water and physical life; and "spiritual" thirst for a real relationship with God and eternal life. Thus, those who come to Jesus and trust him will have floods of life flowing out of them. Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2014 at Holy Textures
Holy Textures is a spot for my musings on the various Biblical texts that come our way through the Revised Common Lectionary. My goal is to provide timely, short, easy to use and faith-provoking background commentary for your sermon or bible study preparation. Please click on the heading of any post or "Continue reading" to see the full post. Year A - Season after Pentecost - 2014 Note that in Pentecost, the Sundays are numbered as "after" Pentecost Sunday. So the first Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, is Pentecost 1. This year, Easter was almost as late as it can possibly be. And so Pentecost and Trinity Sundays come just as we in the Northern Hemisphere enter the summer season. And having left off reading through Matthew 3 months ago, we pick up at the end of Chapter 10. What has happened since we last were listening to Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount back in Chapter 7? Quite a bit actually. Jesus has been demonstrating that he can walk the talk, and he has been teaching about the costs of following in his footsteps: Jesus cleanses a leper (8:1-4) Jesus heals a Centurian's servant (8:5-13) Jesus heals many at Peter's house (8:14-17) Jesus teaches the Son of Man has no where to lay his head (8:18-22) Jesus stills a storm (8:23-27) Jesus heals two Gadarene men possessed by demons (8:28--9:1) Jesus heals a paralytic (9:2-8) Jesus calls Matthew,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2014 at Holy Textures
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To be a spirit-filled community of peace requires that we learn and practice and experience the reality and art of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2014 at Holy Textures
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We might all hear the same words - each in our own language - but we will not all hear and understand exactly the same meaning. The problem with life, and faith, and following Jesus is always: What does this mean? Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2014 at Holy Textures
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The blessing Jesus prays for is: That we may be one as Jesus and God are one. That is, the quality of companionship between Jesus and God is the measure of our companionship with each other. Shortening the quotation to: That all may be one; misquotes the verse as it omits the defining quality of the oneness to which we are called. Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2014 at Holy Textures
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The underlying Greek word which is translated into English as "truth" is alethea. In Greek, an initial letter "a" is like our English "un."Lethe is the river in Greek mythology that the dead drank from in Hades in order to forget their past. And so "a-lethea" - truth - has the sense of: waking up; remembering; overcoming oblivion and stupor; being alive and vital; not being deceived by false ideas or desires or scams; SEEING what is as it actually is. Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2014 at Holy Textures