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The Readings

Old Testament

Jeremiah 1:4-10

The word of the Lord came to me saying,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Then I said, "Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy." But the Lord said to me,
"Do not say, 'I am only a boy';
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you,
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord."
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,
"Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant."

The Gospel
Luke 13:10-17

Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day." But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?" When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

The Sermon

Jeremiah is considered the second of the later prophets in the old testament. He is believed to have lived in the 7th century BCE. Jeremiah warned his people that because they had turned away from God and worshiped other gods, disaster would strike. And, it did.

What strikes me about this passage is those first few lines. God says to Jeremiah,"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you.” There is so much power in that statement. What does that mean? To me it says that we came from God and God knew us before we were even conceived in the womb. We are a part of the Eternal God.

God goes on in this passage to tell Jeremiah that he has a mission and to not shy away from it. We have a mission too. Our mission is to share the Word, the Good News, with everyone we know, in as many ways that we can. I believe the best way to express that mission is to weave it into all we do. It can be as simple as a kind word to someone you meet. It can mean opening a door for someone or stopping your car so that a pedestrian can cross the street. It can be giving of your time or treasure to a worthy cause. We all know the difference between right and wrong. We know when we are giving instead of taking. Tell me. What are some of the ways you express your Christian mission?

One of the key components of the Episcopal Church philosophy is the three legged stool. It is a simple but effective way for us to express what we believe. The analogy of the three legged stool goes like this. A three legged stool will not stand up if one of the legs is missing. The three legs in our stool are scripture, tradition, and reason. These three legs are the guiding principal of our faith. Scripture is the inspiration that guides our faith. Tradition binds us to our past and our future and reason is God's gift to us when we try to make sense of our world.

In today’s gospel reading Jesus makes it very clear that reason is important. He cures a woman on the sabbath. The leader of the Synagogue is upset because according to the rules no work was to be done on that day. Jesus' response was, “don't you untie your ox so that it may drink on that day?” It only makes sense to heal a person who has had a troubling infirmity for eighteen long years. It is a reasonable thing to do.

The Episcopal church is a good fit for me. It gives me structure with a human thoughtful touch.


Last Sunday's Sermon: Treasure in Heaven

The Gospel

Luke 12:32-40

Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

"Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

"But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."

The Sermon

Jesus said, “Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, and unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

How many of you have purses? How many of you have wallets? Now think about how many purses or wallets you have had in your lifetime. For me at least it seems that every few years I need a new wallet. It begins to look tattered and I decide to get a new one.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had a wallet or purse and every year we had it, it got better and better looking and even shinier and newer? That is what Jesus is telling us will happen. Of course Jesus in not talking about purses at all. He is using a metaphor. Purses are used to hold things that have value.

I could pick this reading apart and explain it to death but I really feel you understand his message and no more need be said. And yet, let me briefly expound on his message.

Jesus is giving us a value check. He is asking us what we treasure? Do we treasure things like cars, houses, money, and status. Or, do we value friendship, love, and giving?

Jesus also tells us to be watchful because we do not know when the Son of Man is coming. That does not mean we are to be generous to the poor because it will be a good deal for us when our time comes. Jesus statement, “for where the treasure is there your heart will be.” I firmly believe that when we do things like feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and clothing the naked, in other words showing outward signs of love for our neighbor, we undergo a change. Our hearts change.

Remember the story by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Ebeneezer Scrooge got it all mapped out for him, He saw how he had been. He saw how he was in the present and he got a glimpse of his future. Of course at the end of the story Ebeneezer is a changed man. He became generous, thoughtful, and sensitive to the hardships around him. He stopped worrying about the coins he had stored in his purse and the irony was that the more generosity he showed the richer he became. His wealth was now measured in the love he gave and the love he received.

A Christmas Carol is a classic piece of literature and it is a reminder to all of us that life's treasures are truly stored in the purse that is our heart.


Last Sunday's Sermon: The Rich Fool

The Readings

The Epistle

Colossians 3:1-11

If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things-- anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

The Gospel
Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, `What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, `I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, `Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."

The Sermon

Jesus never lets up on us. He keeps beating that drum about how we should conduct our lives. He also stresses that we do not know when our days on this earth will end. I find that I think about it more as I get older. I used to call my dad on his birthday and ask him how he was doing. He would often comment that he was still buying his toothpaste in the large tube. Apparently that was a Jack Benny joke he was fond of. Do most of you remember Jack Benny?

The epistle reading has the same theme as the Gospel reading. It is about possessions and what is really important in life. Paul writes, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”.

In the gospel reading from Luke Jesus tells the story of a man who put his energy into storing more and more crops so that in the future he could eat drink and be merry. But, his life is over that day. This parable begs the question, what had he done for his soul.

I meditate before I go to bed at night. Often, if it has been a long day, I will say to myself, “you are tired, really too tired to have a good meditation. Just put your nightclothes on and go to bed”. It is tempting and sometimes that is exactly what I do. However, more often than not, there is another voice that speaks inside my head and says, you need to take care of your soul. You need to do this one simple thing for yourself. It is then that I say to Sherry, I'm going to meditate for a little bit.

It never fails. When I meditate, I am glad I did.

I think what Jesus and Paul are saying is never stop nourishing your soul. Your soul is the part of you that is eternal. All of the other stuff in life is temporary. Our physical lives will be with us for a brief time and then they are finished. We do not know when we will take our last breath but fear of our own end should not be our motive for doing what is right.

I know that I am happier when I serve others. I am happier when I pray deeply. I never regret doing the right thing by my fellow man. There is joy in heaven when we do these things and God's grace falls upon us and fills us with spiritual light.