Wine Before Breakfast

In her wonderful book, Radical Gratitude, Mary Jo Leddy says that we live in a culture of ingratitude in which we are held captive by a consumer induced longing that can never be fulfilled. Our lives become enslaved to dissatisfaction and incessant craving. We always need more. “Enough” just isn’t in our vocabulary.

Radical gratitude, Mary Jo argues, is what can liberate us from such a captivity.

Radical gratitude engenders a spirituality of gift in the face of self-made accomplishment.

Gratitude is born of an economy of enough in the face of the hyperactivity of “more.”

Gratitude is rooted in grace, while a spirituality of entitlement is decidedly a spirituality of self-salvation.

Gratitude abandons the sullen adolescence of our culture and embraces a humility and gregarious openness born of a mature spirituality.

So there is something ironic about Thanksgiving. Let there be no doubt that this is a consumer festival, an occasion for gluttony, where the word “enough” is only uttered much too late.

And yet … there is the possibility in the midst of this secular holiday to rekindle a Kingdom ethic. There is the possibility that we can enter into an intentional feast of thankfulness that will radically undermine such consumptive greed through radical gratitude.

Will gratitude dismantle  the political, military and economic imperial realities of our day?

Perhaps not. Or at least not immediately.

But without gratitude, without a sense of the profound gift-character of all of life, without a deep sense of grace and the thankfulness that such grace engenders, then all of our struggles for Christian authenticity won’t matter.

You see, the empire will have so captivated our hearts that all of our expressions of Christian faith will be little more than posturing.

Wine Before Breakfast
Tuesday @ 7.22am
Wycliffe College Chapel
Judith presiding.
Brian preaching.

Wine Before Breakfast

“You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets;
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

“Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

This is how our passage from the Sermon on the Mount begins and ends this week at Wine Before Breakfast. And we’re going to limit a Baptist preacher named Joe Abbey-Colborne to a maximum of twelve minutes to unpack this for us. Twelve minutes for a Baptist. I know, it is cruel and unusual punishment, but Joe is definitely up to the challenge.

Now I don’t want to scoop Joe here, but you gotta ask, why would Jesus have thought that the folks listening to him might have thought that he wanted to abolish the law and the prophets? I mean, when you get to thinking about what other people are thinking then things are likely going to get messy.

But Jesus is pretty sure of himself here. “I know what you are all thinking. You think that I’m offering something that is so out of line with biblical orthodoxy that I’m simply throwing the whole thing out the window!”
Read more Wine Before Breakfast

Wine Before Breakfast – A city set on a hill

Having lived during the eight years of a George W. Bush presidency I have come to have an almost allergic reaction to that deeply biblical phrase, “A city set on a hill.”

America is a city set on a hill!
That has been part of the religious rhetoric of America from its beginning, but I’m not sure that any president employed the phrase more often than Bush.

Of course, it wasn’t just the pretentiousness of it all that got under my skin.
Empires are always pretentious, and they always make exaggerated world historical claims for themselves.
That’s just the way empires are.

No, it was that this bit of pretension was also blasphemous.
Jesus said, “you are the light of the world,
a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
President Bush appropriated that language for America.
America is the light of the world,
America is a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden.

And all of this justified,
provided deep sacred legitimation
for Bush’s foreign policy,
based as it was in deceit.

I know, I know, maybe this weekly Wine Before Breakfast meditation is degenerating into a bit of a political rant.
And I know that it can be pretty cheap and easy for Canadians to poke fun of American rhetorical excess.

But what are we to do when we hear Jesus talking about a city set on a hill and the voice of George W. Bush insinuates itself into our consciousness?

Maybe we need to hear how audacious this language was coming from the mouth of Jesus in the first place.
Read more Wine Before Breakfast – A city set on a hill

Wine Before Breakfast

Title: Wine Before Breakfast
Location: Wycliffe College Chapel, 5 Hoskin Ave.

Lewis, Cockburn and a Jesus Way of Seeing

Do you remember Uncle Andrew in C.S. Lewis ‘s The Magician’s Nephew? While Aslan is singing Narnia into being and talking animals are springing to life, the children can see and hear what’s going on and rejoice in it. Uncle Andrew, however, only sees ferocious animals (Aslan being the worst of the lot as far as he is concerned) and hears the most bestial and frightening of sounds.

Lewis explains in his narration that “what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.”

In his song, “Child of the Wind,” Bruce Cockburn gets at the same thing:

Little round planet
In a big universe
Sometimes it looks blessed
Sometimes it looks cursed
Depends on what you look at obviously
But even more it depends on the way that you see

What you see depends on where you are standing and what you look at.  In the Sermon on the Mount we have already seen that, for Jesus, standing with the poor, with those who mourn, with the meek and those who hunger and thirst for justice is the only standpoint from which you will see the Kingdom of God. Standing anywhere else will render you blind.

And now as we continue our meditation on the Beatitudes we learn that what you see depends also on “what sort of person you are,” “on the way that you see.” Read more Wine Before Breakfast

Wine Before Breakfast is for Hungry People

Wine Before Breakfast is for hungry people.

If you are full,
if you are satisfied with yourself,
if the world is as it should be,
if you’ve got it all together,
then why get up early to go to church?
On a Tuesday of all things!
At 7.22!

No, you’ve  got to be hungry to come to WBB.
You’ve got to have that gnawing hunger in your soul,
in your heart.

And you’ve got to be thirsty.
You need to have a sense of parched lips,
in a parched land.

Read more Wine Before Breakfast is for Hungry People

Wine Before Breakfast Returns

Dear friends:

When a first century Jewish prophet climbs up the side of a mountain and delivers a long discourse about the nature of faithful life in the Kingdom of God, you know that this is serious stuff.

It isn’t just the length of the discourse that tips you off that something significant is going on.

Some folks can be long-winded. Read more Wine Before Breakfast Returns

Wine Before Breakfast Tuesday, March 2, 2010

On Good Questions and Being Close to the Kingdom

He wasn’t in a good mood.

Maybe it was the tensions of the week.
            Passover in Jerusalem,
            and the stakes are high.

Maybe it was that he knew where this Passover was going.
Maybe it was because he knew that the stakes were higher than anyone had imagined.

Whatever was the reason, he didn’t seem to be in the mood to answer too many questions.

“By what authority do you do these things?”
            I’m not going to tell you.

“What about taxes paid to the empire?”
            Take a look at a coin.

“So this woman has seven husbands one after another,
which one is she married to in the resurrection?”
            You guys really are clueless, aren’t you!

But then he gets a question that he answers.
            Was it because it was such a good question.
            A question that got to the heart of things?
            Or might it have been something about the questioner?
            Did Jesus see something in this scribe that was missing in the others?

“What is the greatest commandment?”
            Now that is a good question.

Jesus answers the question,
            the scribe runs with the answer
            down paths that demonstrate that he “gets it,”
            and Jesus says that this man is
            “not far from the Kingdom.”

Not far from the Kingdom.
            That’s a good place to be.
May it be the case that we are not far from the Kingdom.
May it be that we ask questions worthy of the Kingdom.
May it be that we ask questions worthy of the one on the way to the cross.

You got any questions like that?
Then come to Wine Before Breakfast tomorrow morning.
Joe Abbey-Colborne will be preaching, and he’s got loads of such questions.
The Bandhood will bear our questions and our longings in song.
Judith Alltree will be serving up answers that you can eat.

7.22am in Wycliffe Chapel

And I’ll tell you what.
            If you’ve got bad questions, then bring them too.
            Sometimes a non-answer is the most profound way to get an answer.
Questioners new and old, all welcome!


Walking the Streets of Jerusalem for Lent

Whose story?
That’s kind of been the question for Paul.

Whose story will set the direction of our lives?
Whose story is redemptive?
Which story will be the basis of home?
Which story will be the foundation of justice?

The story of Caesar or Jesus?


Six months of Romans to sort that out.
Six months of walking with Paul.
Six months of Paul working through the meaning of the story of Jesus
            in the face of the story of Rome,
            and in the context of the story of Israel.

And now it is Lent.
Now we enter unto a path to the cross.
Now we walk with Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem,
            the city of peace that was so filled with violence.

One week in Jerusalem.
A week of intensified conflict.
A week of impassioned expectation and dashed hopes.
A passion week.

Here the story comes to its climax.
This is what it’s all about.
Without this week, Paul would have had nothing to talk about.

So for Lent, WBB follows Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem.

We move from Paul’s Romans to Mark’s gospel.
And we walk with Jesus to the cross.

This week our beloved Sacristan, Chris Dow puts down the towel
and takes up the mantle of preacher.
David Neelands will serve up the bread and wine,
the Bandhood of all Believers will lead our worship
and Alex Karney leads the prayers.

Lent is important, friends.
It is an important time for prayer and meditation,
            for quiet reflection on Scripture,
            for self-examination and confession.
Let’s keep a Holy Lent together.


Wine Before Breakfast
Tuesday Morning, February 23, 2010
7.22 @ Wycliffe Chapel

GCF: Let us pray

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” -Acts 2:42

As a GCF community, we frequently break bread together-literally. (Thanks to all the faithful bread-bringers for making this possible!) I’d say every week we spend time in fellowship together, connecting with and learning about each other. We periodically devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching (and to the other parts of Scripture) when we have Bible studies or discussions.

This week, as we approach Lent, we will be spending time in prayer together.

For ourselves.

For our communities.

For God’s world.

We don’t often have the opportunity to share our joys, our needs, our grief with each other and to pray for each other. We don’t often have the opportunity to join together to lament the brokenness of this world and to praise God for glimpses of hope in it.

Yet it is very important for us to do so. Read more GCF: Let us pray

Whole Bodies, Transformed Minds: Martin Luther King Jr., Romans 12 @ WBB

If there was to be one text that could be said to be at the heart of Wine Before Breakfast, Graduate Christian Fellowship and pretty much everything that we do in campus ministry at the University of Toronto, it would likely be Romans 12.1-2:

“I appeal to you, therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Monday, January 18 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States. Dr. King once said that Christians are too often like thermometers, registering and reflecting the temperature all around them, when in fact we are called to thermostats, influencing and changing the spiritual, moral, and cultural atmosphere of the society in which we live.

Kind of sounds like the distinction between being “conformed to this world” or being “transformed by the renewal of our minds.”

And in our ministry we are unabashedly all about transformation. Heck one of our folks once wrote a book about such transformation. But we also stand with Paul (and King) by insisting that transformed “minds” without bodies presented as living sacrifices is a pious intellectualism that doesn’t really amount to very much. No, the whole point of a transformed mind is that we might be discerning people, perceiving in the midst of our day to day personal and professional lives what embodied discipleship looks like.

There is no mind/body dualism for Paul. And there is no possibility of separating worship from this whole matter of transformed minds and sacrificial bodies either. Whole-bodied, mind-transformed, non-conformist living is precisely what worship is all about. Indeed, this way of living is worship!

So this week we come to Romans 12 at Wine Before Breakfast. This week we come to the heart of our ministry, and to the radical implications of the story that Paul has been telling and retelling in the previous 11 chapters of this letter.

Scott Flemming has the joyful task of preaching out of Romans 12. No pressure, Scott!

Andrew Asbil will be serving the bread, the band has some U2 and some more Marley on tap, and the food will be good as usual. Just the kind of thing that embodied discipleship needs.

One last thing, friends. In Romans 12 Paul identifies hospitality to be one of the defining characteristics of the body of Christ. Let’s extend that hospitality to other folks who need to be fed deeply on a Tuesday morning. Bring your friends. In fact, if you are going to heed Paul well, then you should bring your enemies too.


Wine Before Breakfast
Wycliffe Chapel @ 7.22am