Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sermon: Pentecost 8C

Today’s gospel sounds like a good summer passage, doesn’t it? Jesus telling Martha not to work so hard, and encouraging Mary to sit at his feet, relaxing, taking in his teaching.

It’s like a spiritual day at the beach. 

In today’s over-scheduled, under-joyed lifestyle, it seems like a good message. Take a break. Don’t work so hard. Relax once in a while. Put your feet up. Take a vacation. 

But do we really need to come to church to hear this message? You can simply turn to the Lifestyle section of the newspaper, or browse the self-help aisle at Chapters. What’s next to come from Jesus, exercise and eat your veggies?

We don’t need God’s only Son, the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him,” As we heard in Colossians this morning, to tell us that we spend too much time at work and not enough time with the kids. We can just turn on Dr. Phil for this homespun wisdom.

So, there must be something else going on. Jesus doesn’t usually waste his time telling people what they already know. And Jesus certainly wasn’t interested in our affluence-induced stress-filledl lives.

Jesus was interested in making disciples, and this was...(whole thing here)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sermon Pentecost 7C

(NB: With help from Willimon's Pulpit Resource)

Sometimes people ask me, “Do you think Muslims will go to Hell?” It doesn’t have to be Muslims each time the question is asked. You can fill in the blank with any faith group that’s not Christian. Or even non-faith groups like professed atheists. 

At it’s heart is the question of judgment. Who will God judge? And maybe by extension, who can WE Christians judge.

I don’t think that question is very biblical. When God is in a judgmental mood, God’s most intense condemnation isn’t for Muslims or atheists, or anyone else those outside the faith. In the bible, God’s saves the most severe judgment for those who seem closest to God: Israel, the church. Especially church leaders.

Today’s gospel, popularly known as “The Good Samaritan” but really should be called “the bad pastor.” The pastor, who ought to be in the business of helping people, passes by the man in the ditch. There is judgment in the story. It’s subtle. But everyone know who Jesus is talking about.

Judgment begins with God’s own house, say the prophets. This happens when we get too high on ourselves, thinking that to be part of God’s people means to be - somehow - better than others.

For those paying attention you might have noticed...(Whole thing here)

Monday, July 05, 2010

Sermon: Pentecost 6C

“Go on your way,” Jesus tells his followers,  “See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road....”

Those 70 followers of Jesus may have listened to his instructions but very few have ever since. And those who do follow Jesus the way he instructs are either labelled “insane” or declared a “saint.” 

It’s as if we either feel in our membrane that these instructions are impossible, or we don’t really believe that these instructions are for us today. 

They are left in the first century when being a disciple of Jesus was new and exciting. But that excitement has long since settled into the dust of the centuries that have risen and fallen.

In fact, it was during those 20 centuries that Christians actively abandoned these instructions from Jesus. Ignored what Jesus told them to do because it wasn’t what THEY wanted to do. Christians forgot that we were - somehow - different.

Instead of being sent - going out TO people, Christians put down roots and called people to THEM. Instead of travelling light, depending on the power and grace of God to heal the sick and raise the dead, Christians grabbed political power and confusing it with God’s power, establishing personal and institutional empires. Instead of building a people, Christians built buildings - cathedrals - while people around them starved both for food and for God.

Creating empires of the self is a hard habit to break. And we have become unwitting heirs to their legacy. 

We read this passage and interpret it as if ...(whole thing here)