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Showing posts from September, 2013

Sermon on Revelation 12:7-12, for the Feast of St. Michael and all angels, "Angels: Ministering Servants"

Sermon Outline: 1.C.S. Lewis: two equal and opposite errors that can occur with regard to demons (fallen angels)--  1) disbelieving in their existence or 2) to believe, but have an unhealthy fascination. They are happy with either error--the first allows them to do their work unnoticed--the second because our focus lands on them, instead of God. Lewis referred to demons, but I think we could easily borrow his point to talk about the good angels as well. Same two easy errors: 1) disbelieve or 2) excessive fascination. On the one hand we would be ignorant of their protection or duty. But especially with the 2nd, how do we teach about them, but not lose focus of God, who is of greatest importance? Angels too are conscious of this problem--infrequent appearances in Bible--have the effect of frightening humans because of their brilliant shining appearance--quick to add in many cases “do not fear!” or “Don’t be afraid!” When humans fall down to worship them, like John did in awe, in the book…

Sermon on Luke 16:1-15, for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, "Loss or Gain?"

Sermon Outline: ·One of Jesus’ most puzzling parables. Dishonest manager fired, makes some last minute shady deals, then is commended? Use unrighteous wealth to make friends? ·Uncover the meaning: what was the dishonest manager’s ploy, and why did it work? What was it that the master commended? What does Jesus want us to learn from this parable? ·Characters: rich man & his dishonest manager, community where he hopes to get a job after being fired, and the people who owed the master. ·Fired for dishonesty and causing loss to the master’s possessions. Told to hand in the financial records. His dilemma: how do I get a job after being fired for dishonesty? Can’t dig, won’t beg. His clever plan: still had the books, people don’t know he’s fired yet; generously reduce all their debts; do it in their handwriting. Pad his “landing” after being thrown out of the master’s house. ·Now this was a gamble—master had every right to reverse these bogus cancellations. The gamble banked everything on…

Sermon on 1 Timothy 1:12-17, for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, "Magnify the Grace of God"

Sermon Outline: ·Paul’s mini-story—blasphemer (evil and foolish words against God), persecutor (tried to destroy the church), and insolent opponent (did great damage to the church through words and violence—opposed the Gospel, arrested, gave approval of martyrdom), acted ignorantly in unbelief. Why the story? Why him? That God might make an example of him for those who were to believe (for us!). ·What kind of example? What does it usually mean? To strike fear? Create doubt or dread?  No! To create hope—not lose hope! To give comfort and joy to the troubled conscience. See Jesus love on display. You are counted in. Example that shows the greatest sinner was not outside of God’s merciful reach. Example that “Magnifies the Grace of God.” ·Define “magnify” in context of this theme—not a “magnifying glass”—as though God’s grace and mercy were too small to see, or needed enlarging. Not that we add anything to God’s grace and glory. But to proclaim it’s greatness. To remove any blinders to it…

Sermon on Philemon 1-21, for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost, "Charge it to me!"

Sermon Outline: ·Context of the letter, Paul’s relation to Philemon, Philemon’s reputation, implied backstory about Onesimus. Context of slavery—not directly addressed, because not the main point, but a valuable separate discussion. ·Paul’s circumstances, how he meets Onesimus. Rises above his circumstances/confinement; in another letter, Philippians, says it even advanced the Gospel. Onesimus’s personal transformation. Dramatic; “useless” to “useful”; “my very heart.” Runaway, loss, damage to his master’s property/finances; reckless? Redeemed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Willing to admit the wrong he had done, and return to his duty to his master. Turned back from the opportunity to run away—Paul aided him in making right what he had done wrong—beyond his own ability to do so. Paul’s affection for Onesimus—saw him now in a totally different light, and desired that Philemon view him no longer as the useless runaway who had caused him harm, nor even as just a slave, but as a beloved br…

Sermon on Luke 14:7-14, for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, "Only One can be First"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. In the Gospel reading, Luke 14, especially verses 7-14, Jesus teaches about some ordinary situations from life: things like social etiquette, seeking honor, or who we associate with. The same theme is in the Old Testament reading. It’s better to be invited up to a place of honor, than to seek it for yourself, and then be ashamed when it’s taken away from you. In the reading from Proverbs, this situation was in the king’s court. In Jesus’ parable, it’s a banquet. Where do we attempt to “establish a pecking order”? Where do we get wrapped up in “social positioning”, letting other people know who we are and who we associate with? At our meals? Our parties? Our workplaces? Even in our churches? In school? Or in the entirely new environment of online social networks? What if we did an experiment, and asked all of you, to line up in order of importance, from the front of the church to the back? That’s right, the most i…