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Last Sunday's Readings and Sermon

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The Readings

Old Testament


1 Kings 18:20-21, (22-29), 30-39


Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, "How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." The people did not answer him a word. [Then Elijah said to the people, "I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets number four hundred fifty. Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God." All the people answered, "Well spoken!" Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it." So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response.]

Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come closer to me"; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, "Israel shall be your name"; with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, "Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood." Then he said, "Do it a second time"; and they did it a second time. Again he said, "Do it a third time"; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back." Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God."

The Epistle

Galatians 1:1-12


Paul an apostle-- sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-- and all the members of God's family who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!

Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel

Luke 7:1-10


After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us." And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, `Go,' and he goes, and to another, `Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, `Do this,' and the slave does it." When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

The Sermon


Faith, Trust, and Commitment

"The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved but the pig is committed.

In the last presidential cycle I would get email from one of the presidential campaigns and often it would start with the catchphrase, “Fred, are you in?” I agreed to be involved and make a donation of time and money to the campaign. I was committed, but to a point.

These readings today remind me of the same thing. In the reading from Kings, Elijah says to the people,  "How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." Baal was a very tempting god. He had been around for a long time and he was to be feared and sacrificed to. The Lord of Elijah was relatively new and the people were hedging their bets. People still do that. They hedge their bets. They aren't ready to go all in, to fully commit. Elijah gave them some pretty convincing evidence of the Lord's power.

In Paul's letter to the Galatians he warns the church in Galatia that they are following false gospels. We do not know today what those false doctrines were. It is believed that they were writings that would later be considered heretical or at least non-canonical. Some of these documents were destroyed and others lost. Paul is very concerned that these followers of Christ will be led astray by these writings.

In today’s gospel reading Jesus talks about the true faith of the centurion. He says, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." The centurion believed in Jesus power and his servant was healed as a result.

My question to you is, how strong is your faith. Are you committed or are you just going to contribute. I was talking to a friend the other day and he said that although the family was Episcopalian, the father insisted that they not eat meat on Friday's. His son asked him one day why this was so. The dad replied, who knows, maybe the Catholics are right.

Let me ask my question again. Are you committed to Christianity? If you are how do you show it? Maybe you could give an example of people who have gone all in and made an ultimate commitment.

It is Memorial Day. It is also a day that is all about commitment. On this day we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and its people. They died in battle. War should never be the first choice in settling conflict. It should be last. Unfortunately, there are times when war becomes the only choice and when that happens brave women and men put their lives at risk for the values we hold so dear.

I would like to close my sermon with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer on page 839.

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen,
Fr. Fred


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