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Last Sunday's Sermon: His Time Had Come

John 12:20-33

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-- `Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

The Sermon

There are several firsts in this gospel passage from John. For the first time it is recorded that some Greeks ask about Jesus. This could be an indication that Jesus and his message of salvation is a message not for just the Jews but also a message for gentiles. That is you and me. Salvation is for all of us.

This is also the first time that Jesus tells us his hour has come where he will sacrifice himself for us. He tells us that it has to happen this way. He has to die. I do not pretend to know why. Jesus uses the analogy of the seed dying, and producing much abundant fruit. We, brothers and sisters are that fruit. Jesus died for all of us regardless of our race or national origin. It doesn't matter whether we are male or female, black or white, republican or democrat (I guess that would be red or blue). He sacrificed for us all.

Jesus tells us this salvation comes with expectations. He says, “Those who love their life will lose it and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” So if I love my life its a bad thing. If I hate my life it's a good thing. That is a hard passage to swallow. Especially that word hate. After all isn't Jesus always about peace and love. Now, at least in this reading Jesus is talking about hate. Not just hate but hating my life. In Luke CH. 14 goes even further. He says we must hate our mother, father and brother and sister. And yet, did he not tell us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is confusing.

Well, here is the way I see it. The gospels were translated from the Greek language. The actual Greek word for hate in this passage is miseo. Although it can be translated to mean hate, it has other meanings as well. It can also be translated to mean leave behind, to let go or to love less than. Jesus is telling us to not be attached to the things of this world because they will all pass away. You must be able to let go.

Have any of you ever seen the television show Hoarders. I really don't know why I watch it but sometimes I do and every time I do I just cringe.  However, it does inspire me to get rid of some of my stuff. To fill some of you in on what the show is about, here is a brief description. Professional organizers and psychologists are invited into an individual's home usually by a close relative.

The people who live in these homes are hoarders. Often times they have so much stuff that they only have paths in their homes to get from one place to another. The people in this show save everything. Many even save food wrappers and they have an excuse for not letting go of anything and everything. Most of the people on the show are very intelligent and many hold down good jobs. But, they cannot let go.

These people are an extreme example of someone who is literally attached to everything. We all have attachments of one kind or another. It may be a particular vice such as eating too much candy or drinking too much soda. You can use your imagination.
Lent is the time of year when we examine ourselves and we think about letting go of whatever has gotten in the way of us developing a closer relationship with God. It could be the food we eat. It could be a favorite past-time. It could be a particular television show. I ask you to reflect on the things you are doing in your life this week and decide for yourself if you need to let something go so that you can have a closer relationship with God.


The Final Lent Stretch

This is the fifth week in Lent.  During the fourth week I had a terrible cold so not much posting got done.  Just a lot of coughing.  I'm a little better now.  What got me through my cold was Christian Brothers honey flavored brandy.  I was given a hip flask at my ordination and I never used it until last week.  Whenever I would start a coughing fit I would take a nip of brandy from the flask and the coughing would stop.  It was a miraculous treatment!

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday and instead of one of my stellar sermons we will read the passion.  I cannot remember the part I got.  Usually I am Judas but Frank generously relieved me of that part this year.  I look forward to the ceremony of the palms.  When I was a kid my brother and I would sword fight with the palms.  Now that my brother is gone I have no one to sword fight. It really is a wonderful ceremony and it brings home the passion of Holy Week.  If you can come we would love to have you.  Services are at 9:15 and we always have treats afterward.

Fr. Fred

Last Weeks Sermon

Old Testament

Exodus 20:1-17

Then God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work-- you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

The Gospel

John 2:13-22

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

The Sermon

First I would like to talk about last weeks visit by Bishop Scarfe. I was a little worried about his visit. I was afraid he would point out my inadequacies of which I am already fully aware. But, he didn't. He was gracious and I do believe he won over the two Albia congregants who had issues with him. For that I am grateful. 
I remember thinking as he was delivering his sermon. This is a really good sermon. At about that point he said, “I've not even started my sermon. Frankly I have tried to remember his sermon and all I can remember is that he was talking about Paul. 
I want to thank you all for coming last week. It made a big difference for the members of Grace church. Also, the food afterward was great.
I would like to talk about the stations of the cross which we do every Wednesday during lent. To me the words we read are beautifully written. Those words do not just recount Jesus final moments before his crucifixion, they bring out the emotional and physical pain that Jesus and his followers must have been going through. Many of the words themselves come from the book of Psalms and Isaiah as well as John.

The effect of these readings brings to me scene by scene the suffering of Jesus and those around him. It gives me a glimpse of what must have been felt by those who followed him to the cross. It often brings me to tears.

During our service on Sunday we revisit the last supper and I feel the power of the words, “do this in memory of me”. 
Let me go to today's readings. In Exodus we read the ten commandments. The first four talk about our relationship to God. The remainder talk about our relationship to each other. If you were going to condense these ten commandments into two they would be as I have often said, “Love your God and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

In Paul's letter to the Corinthians it sounds like he is trying to put out a fire in the Christian community in Corinth. Maybe it is just a stumbling block they were facing in making converts. He says, “Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom.” Paul counters by saying, “For Gods foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength." He is telling us that God is so far beyond our ability to understand that we cannot even come close. Have faith in Jesus teachings and his sacrifice and salvation is yours.

Jesus did a lot of talking, a lot of preaching. People do that today too but, Jesus was different. He walked the talk. He saw the wrong that was going on at the temple and he didn't just complain about it. He turned over the tables of those who had turned the temple into a market.

In his statement “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Jesus is cryptically telling the Jews that his death and resurrection is coming.

In Lent we prepare for the commemoration of that event.
Gods Peace,
Fr. Fred