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God's Love

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I have thought long and hard about writing this. The last political cycle was difficult for many of us in the United States. People took sides and unfortunately some of those people resorted to their baser natures. Crude speech and name calling reached new lows and I would like to think we are better than that.

Jesus told us there were two main commandments, love your God and love your neighbor. That is it. So, how do you show your love? It can be a simple smile and a pleasant greeting when meeting someone. It might be opening a door for a stranger. It might also be a gentle reminder to take the high road rather than the low road during a discussion. There are so many ways to show your love. With love comes respect. The two go hand in hand and maybe we need reminded of that.

There are times when all of us feel unloved. Jesus told us we are all loved by God. God loves people of all races, genders, sexual orientations and religions. I read the other day that there may be 41,000 denominations of Christianity, seventy three sects of Islam and five main divisions of Buddhism. God loves and cares for us all.

There is no special and better heaven for Episcopalians or Mormons or Buddhists or Baptists. We are all children of God and God loves each of us. That is God's gift.

God bless you,
Fr. Fred







Peace and Love
Fr. Fred  

Gathering and Sending Out




The Gospel

Matthew 9:35-10:8(9-23)


Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. [Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”]


The Sermon


Jesus sent his followers out to spread his message of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was a realist. He knew there were those who would reject this message and possibly harm them. He told them to be brave and vigilant. Jesus knew that his followers would have been comfortable staying with him. Today is not that different.

Sherry and I attended the Episcopal State Convention a few years ago and at the convention there was a guest speaker who said some things in his keynote address that stuck with me and I believe what he said fits nicely with today's gospel reading.

He said Christians are very good at gathering but not very good at sending. Gathering at church and celebrating the Eucharist is important. It satisfies many of our spiritual and social needs. We sing hymns of praise. We listen to God's word. We share the peace and we take part in communion. For many of us the service is a time of deep reflection and joy. I haven't even mentioned the delicious treats and great conversations we have after the service.

This convention speaker reminded us that sending out is just as important as gathering in. He talked about a church in Oklahoma that claimed it was doing plenty of outreach in their community. Every year they would write a check to help the people who lived on the poor side of town. He said that finally they came to the realization that unless the parishioners really left there comfortable surroundings and spent time working alongside the less fortunate in there community their Christian obligation was not being fulfilled.

There is comfort in our the Sunday service but it is just one part of practicing our Christianity. Just as Jesus sent out his followers to heal and spread his message, he sends us out as well. I am not proposing that all of you go out two by two and start knocking on doors. What I am suggesting is that you spend some time this week thinking about how you practice your Christian faith. Reflect also on your gifts. What has God given you and how can those gifts be best used in your life as a Christian.

The bedrock of our faith is Love. How do you show your love for the people whose lives you touch.

Amen







The Trinity and Creation: Last Sunday's Sermon







The Readings


Old Testament
Genesis 1:1-2:4a


In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.


And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.


And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.


And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.


And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.


And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.


Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”


So God created humankind in his image.  In the image of God he created them;  male and female he created them.


God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.


Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

The Gospel
Matthew 28:16-20


The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”



The Sermon


Creation and the Trinity



The reading from Genesis today gives us the story of creation or at least one of the stories of creation. It is a beautiful story. The creation story fit within what were the common beliefs of the time. Is the creation story scientifically accurate? No. We know there is no dome over the earth and the sun and other stars are not a part of this dome. We also know that the earth is not flat as the ancients believed it was.



Then as now, we humans are curious people and we like to understand the world around us so we take the information we have and use it to explain what we do not understand. I am sure that one hundred years from now science will look at humanity today and see us as fairly primitive in our understanding. Things like gravity and dark matter are still a puzzle to us.



Even though this story of creation is inaccurate the message is still there. God created the universe in all its complexity and we are a part of it. One day, some of the universe's mysteries will be successfully unlocked but there will be some we may never understand.



Another mystery for us in the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Trinity is part of the bedrock of our belief. When we recite the Nicene Creed we are talking about the Trinity. The Creed starts out saying “We believe in one God, the Father, the maker of heaven and earth. The second section says, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God. It goes into greater detail saying he was ;'begotten not made, of one substance with the Father.” This section also goes into some detail by recounting Christ's virgin birth, his death resurrection, and ascension. It also promises his return. The third section of the Creed addresses the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son and has spoken through the prophets.



Finally, the last part talks about our belief in the church, baptism, resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.



When this was all being put together in the mid to late 300's there was a lot of serious discussion (and by that I mean yelling and actual cursing) about the details of the trinitarian theology. A lot of it centered around the figure of Jesus Christ. There were those (Arians) who believed that because Jesus was the son of the Father, he therefore must have had a beginning. This gathering, known as the Council of Nicaea, became so contentious that some people were excommunicated and sent into exile.



Theology can be very messy which is why we have literally thousands of different Christian denominations. We sometimes forget that all of us worship the same God. I am pretty sure that Jesus is just shaking his head at how convoluted Christianity has become.



When you look at Jesus, his example and his teaching, it is all fairly simple. Love your God. Love your neighbor. If we truly follow those two precepts, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be pleased with us.



Amen










These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.