Sermons on “Luke”
Saying Good bye and Thank you
You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
Jesus tells us again and again, and particularly in today’s Gospel, that his is the way of life, and embrace it we must if we are to be followers of Christ. There is no time to delay; there is no time for hesitation, no time for despair, no time looking back to our past mistakes and failure of nerve. It is time to go all the way in this life of discipleship and to know its costs – which thankfully for us, do not usually mean our lives as in the case of martyrdom. This call does mean making Jesus our top priority. It does mean asking ourselves every day: “What would Jesus have me do?” When we do this, and embrace Jesus’ life as our own, those fruits of the Spirit that Paul enumerates in today’s Epistle just seem to kick into place. We have more than enough to join this ministry of joy and love. And we always have one another.
A Forward Day by Day quotation of a few years ago still hits me like a 2 x 4 with its compelling wisdom. It reads, “A sign of God’s will is that we will be led where we did not plan to go. When I look back on those events,” the article continues, “I see God’s hand in them. When I was able to put my trust in God, I was led where I did not plan to go but where I definitely needed to be. Thanks be to God!” How true this has been for me!
I never expected to serve at Emanuel; I had other plans. God took care of that, and what a blessing you have been in my life – and in Steve’s.
You have asked what you can do for me – so here goes – Come to church – EVERY SUNDAY. We need to worship and pray together and practice doing that. We are always in rehearsal. I totally understand about other commitments. Make church the top priority along with your family and friends. I have attempted to do this my entire life – not just the over half of it I have been a priest.
We come to church to practice being Christians – to pray, serve and love one another. Thank you for the fabulous nine years that I have practiced being a Christian, a follower of Jesus, with you! How I will miss all of you. I love you Emmanuel, Newport. You are forever in my heart.
It’s the small words that count most: in today’s Epistle, Paul tells the Jerusalem Christians that their welcome does not go far enough. The Gentiles do not have to subscribe to all the Jewish regulations, he insists. What these Gentiles have to do is be baptized and proclaim Jesus as Lord.
Sometimes Paul gets carried away. In this case, he presses his point by telling his Jewish colleagues that all the old categories they had followed all their lives are too confining. What follows is absolutely radical. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ.” They note his emphasis on all.
One preaching professor reads this Galatians passage and observes that the hardest words to learn in any language are never the long words but the short words. The Galatians have no trouble pronouncing the long, ponderous words: circumcision, for one. But they stumbled over three short words: faith, grace, baptism, and especially, “all.”
“All” is very hard for the people in Galatia to follow. All is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus – all are welcome at the table, all are forgiven, all can be cured. It is about taking that first step, as the man possessed with the demon in today’s Gospel knew so very well, taking the step towards health and wholeness. All are welcome at the Lord’s table at Emmanuel Church.
Today’s Gospel contains a parable, a story with a meaning behind it, and we find it only in Luke’s Gospel. Most often known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son,” it follows on two other parables, those of the lost sheep and the lost coin. They follow a short introduction where it is pointed out that Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them (which pleases the tax collectors and sinners but which annoys and insults the Pharisees and the scribes).
The parables are meant to be about how God rejoices when what is lost is found. The progression is from the sheep to the coin to the son. And all Jesus’ listeners could relate to the joy described when each is “found.” Who can’t relate to being lost and then found? We can all recall the fear of being lost and the unbounded joy in being found — or finding something or someone who was lost.
Where do you find yourself in the story? It is a complex and beautiful one. As a parable it does not give us only one moral except that God’s love is always unconditional and God’s mercy knows no limits.
The story of Moses and the burning bush in the Hebrew Scriptures is the most detailed account of a divine call in Scripture, and one known by people all around the world, portrayed so powerfully in movies like “The 10 Commandments” but also in the Disney film, “Prince of Egypt.”
In the dramatic story of the burning bush – it needs no special affects but gets plenty of them in both films – we see the four-fold pattern of commission, objection, reassurance and sign, as Moses is called to be God’s agent in the liberation of Israel.
Both passages from the New Testament today offer stern wake up calls as well, important to the communities to which they were addressed. In his first letter to the people of Corinth, Paul issues a warning: just because the community in Corinth has experienced God’s grace, just because its members have been chosen to become the body of Christ, does not make them immune to God’s displeasure. No one is, so to speak, “above the law.”
Today’s Gospel recounts the story of a number of people from Galilee being brutally slaughtered by Pontius Pilate’s soldiers while they were presenting their sacrifices. In this horrific act, the blood of the victims was mingled with that of the sacrificial animals. Jesus responds by asking if they thought these Galileans were “worse sinners than all other Galileans” because they suffered in this way.
In both cases, the disasters occurred suddenly and without warning, and the victims had no chance to repent. What is the message here? Life is precarious; repentance cannot be delayed, or as one writer puts it, “Mercy has an expiration date. Don’t put off repentance?.”
As Moses, Paul and Jesus knew, encountering God takes time, wonder, openness, prayer, contemplation, but first and foremost, simply our ready selves. As human beings, made in the image of God, we are programmed to be generous with our time and with one another, ready to see the goodness in one other, quick to forgive, as God is slow to anger and of great kindness. How do you encounter God?
The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom then, shall I fear?View Sermon
As we end this month begun with our reading of Martin Luther King Jr., we can give thanks for the witness of Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass and thousands of others who in word and deed embodied Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” May we have the courage to do the same.View Sermon
Today’s Gospel story is a continuation of last week’s where Jesus opens the book of the prophet Isaiah and finds the place where it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. …” Jesus then closes the book and gives it back to the attendant, and sits down. As everyone is watching him and he says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
With Isaiah’s words still echoing in the synagogue, Jesus turns his listeners’ expectations upside down. By saying these words from Isaiah and giving examples of the widow of Zarephath and the leper Naaman Jesus scandalizes his hearers by stating that the only successes the prophets Elijah and Elisha had at healing were with pagan foreigners. Jeremiah the young prophet and Paul the apostle also speak from a prophetic position that is not welcome, at least not at first.
This is the full service we held on Sunday, January 27, 2019 in the church office as the heat was inoperative in the rest of the church. National Grid was able to restore our heat Sunday afternoon.View Sermon