Sermon: Wednesday in Holy Week

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As a kid growing up I was a Boy Scout. I don’t think I ever progressed much further than Second Class, but I really wasn’t in it to progress through the ranks. I was in for getting to do all the fun stuff: camping, canoeing down the rivers, jamborees, etc.

I recall one time we went somewhere – I think it was in Arkansas – where we had the opportunity to go on a guided spelunking trek through one of the caves. The guide was very much a comedian and clearly enjoyed his job. At one point he told us as we entered one of the larger caverns, not much bigger than this room, that if you placed your ear to the rock and listened closely you would hear music. Of course we all got quiet, placed our ears to the rock, and listened intently. After a minute with none of us hearing anything, he said, “Really? It’s called ‘hard rock’”. About half way through it came time to turn off all the lights so that we could experience absolute darkness. The darkness was perfect. Continue reading “Sermon: Wednesday in Holy Week”

Sermon: Joseph

In our study of the Gospels there are always certain characters, outside of Jesus, that grab our attention. There is of course Jesus’ mother, Mary, the disciples, John the Baptist, and even some of the antagonist – Pilate, Herod, the religious leaders. But is seems to me there is always one that fades into the background – Joseph, Jesus’ earthly “step-father.” Perhaps that is where he prefers to be, in the background, but as the head of the Holy Family, he should be looked to as one of the primary figures in the life of our Savior.

What do we know about him?  He was a carpenter, which was honest work and a good trade. He was older than Mary and likely very respected in the community. I don’t think he was wealthy, but given his work he was likely comfortable. It would seem that his life was probably rather uncomplicated, right up until the time that he discovers Mary is pregnant. Because they were not yet married, everyone – including Joseph – assumed that Mary had committed adultery; therefore, Joseph could have accused her and she would have been stoned to death, but instead he decides he will quietly walk away. Yet, the angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” So instead of walking away, Joseph did as the angel had instructed him. Continue reading “Sermon: Joseph”

Sermon: Gregory of Nyssa

Once the Devil was walking along with one of his cohorts. They saw a man ahead of them pick up something shiny. “What did he find?” asked the cohort. “A piece of the truth,” the Devil replied. “Doesn’t it bother you that he found a piece of the truth?” asked the cohort. “No,” said the Devil, “I will see to it that he makes an idol out of it.”

You have heard of the Council of Nicea. It took place in the year 325. It was there that the Nicene Creed was established. To us today, the discussion may sound a bit tedious, but in them, the participants were in fact looking for the truth. Continue reading “Sermon: Gregory of Nyssa”

Sermon: RCL A – Ash Wednesday

George Sweeting, former President of Moody Bible Institute and author tells the following story: “Several years ago our family visited Niagara Falls. It was spring, and ice was rushing down the river. As I viewed the large blocks of ice flowing toward the falls, I could see that there were carcasses of dead fish embedded in the ice. Gulls by the score were riding down the river feeding on the fish. As they came to the brink of the falls, their wings would go out, and they would escape from the falls. “I watched one gull which seemed to delay and wondered when it would leave. It was engrossed in the carcass of a fish, and when it finally came to the brink of the falls, out went its powerful wings. The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water, and I thought it would escape. But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice. The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss.” Continue reading “Sermon: RCL A – Ash Wednesday”

Sermon: Julia Chester Emery / United Thank Offering

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. In 1521, he was excommunicated from the church. What followed was a war between the protestants and the Roman Emperor who was in support of the Roman Catholic church. These wars claimed many lives, but peace was somewhat established in 1555 with the settlement known as the Peace of Augsburg, a part of which stated that the local German princes would have say over the religious preference of their individual realms, of which there were 224. This relative peace lasted for about 65 years until Ferdinand II was elected Holy Roman Emperor. Once elected, he tried to impose his Roman Catholic beliefs on everyone, which caused revolts in the German protestant north and was the spark that in 1618 ignited the 30 Years War in Europe. By the end, in 1648, the war had claimed some 8 million victims. Continue reading “Sermon: Julia Chester Emery / United Thank Offering”

Sermon: Christmas Feria – “Whatever is…”

Dr. Edward Miller was the Dean of the Medical Faculty at the medical school and CEO of the hospital of Johns Hopkins University, and he conducted a study on those who have had heart surgery in order to eliminate various heart conditions related to poor lifestyle choices.

His study stated that there are approximately 2,000,000 bypass and angioplasty surgeries per year in the United States at an approximate cost $120,000 each. Of those, only half of the patients will remain healthy for more than a year. Why? Because 8 out of 9 of them will not change their diet, exercise, etc. that got them into that condition in the first place. What is Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Continue reading “Sermon: Christmas Feria – “Whatever is…””

Sermon: Thomas

Tradition tells us that following the Ascension of Jesus, the twelve apostles drew straws to determine where they would go to proclaim the Gospel. The Apostle Thomas, who we celebrate today, drew India.

Scott Wesley Brown wrote the lyrics to a rather humorous song. He says things like, “I’ll see that the money is gathered / I’ll see that the money is sent / I’ll volunteer for the nursery / I’ll usher, I’ll deacon , I’ll go door to door / Just let me keep warming this seat,” and the chorus kicks in, “Please don’t send me to Africa.” Continue reading “Sermon: Thomas”

Sermon: Alfred the Great

I will preface this sermonette on Albert the Great by telling you I have two long quotes. Longer than I should read, but too good to omit. One describes Alfred and other is a prayer he wrote.

In 849, Alfred was the fourth son born to the West Saxons’ king. Being the fourth son, he was never expected to rise to the throne; however, during his father’s life and his own, there was an ongoing war with the Vikings, which led to the death of his father and brothers, eventually leading to Alfred ascending the throne. Off the battlefield – and even on for that matter – he was a very devout man and did much good for his people, but it was in 886 that he accomplished what no other king in England had ever done: he united England. Continue reading “Sermon: Alfred the Great”

Saint Luke

Around 67 A.D. when Nero was Emperor, Paul was imprisoned in Rome. A few years prior, Peter had been crucified in Rome and a year or so following, Paul would also be put to death, most likely by beheading. We can only imagine the trials that he must have endured during this time, and it was at this time that Paul wrote the letter to Timothy that we read.

He says to Timothy, “Do your best to come to me soon, for Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful in my ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus.” A few verses later he says, “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds… At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me… Erastus remained in Corinth; Trophimus I left ill in Miletus.  Do your best to come before winter.” Continue reading “Saint Luke”

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