The Way of Wisdom

November 12, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 27, Year A
Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13

Listen here:

 

NOTE: I realize that many of you as subscribers to this site have become accustomed to a text version of my sermons, yet when I preach without a manuscript, that isn’t created. I invite you to listen to the audio offering instead. I’m working to improve the quality of the recording, so until then, you may have to lean in and listen more deeply. Thanks for sticking with me on this journey!

Gospel Text:

Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Mt 25:1-13)

 

Source of Op Ed: Nicholas Kristof, “How to Reduce Shootings,” The New York Times, November 2, 2017. Website: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/06/opinion/how-to-reduce-shootings.html Accessed November 10, 2017.

From Anguish to Alleluia!

August 17, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 15 – RCL Year A
Genesis 45:1-15; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Mt 15:21-28)

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been overwhelmed by the onslaught of tragic stories in the news. For the last several months there has been an increase of unrest, or at least that’s the way it feels. At first this seemed to be concentrated in the usual areas far away – the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Ukraine to name a few.

We’ve been hearing more and more about about the escalating attacks and death-counts in Gaza. Then, on July 17th we were stunned to learn that a commercial jetliner had been shot down over Ukraine, killing almost three hundred innocent victims. And all the while the Ebola virus has been spreading deeper and deeper across West Africa.

Immigration protesters on both sides of the debate staged rallies at a California Border Patrol station last week, in response to the child migrant crisis. Photo: Sandy Huffaker /Getty

And lest we think all the hardships are in far-off lands, we have our own issues to deal with. There are constant reminders of the young children seeking refuge in the U.S., fleeing their homeland due to violence and danger. This crisis has been met with mixed feelings and angry voices on both sides of the issue. Add to that the random shootings in offices and shopping malls, not to mention the endless bickering of a divided Congress, where finger-pointing rules the day. Read the rest of this entry »

Got Wheat?

July 20, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 11 – RCL Year A
Genesis 28:10-19a; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

In today’s gospel we have another parable from Jesus to the crowds, and as Matthew seems kind enough to do, we also have an explanation of the symbols in the parable, shared only with the disciples… and us, it seems.

Like the sower and the seeds parable we heard last Sunday, Jesus continues to use farming imagery familiar to his audience. But in this parable the seeds no longer represent the spreading of God’s word. Instead we have two kinds of seeds. The seeds of wheat are the good seeds sown by the Master. The other seeds are weeds, sown at night by the enemy. We are told that the good seeds represent the children of the kingdom, while the weeds represent the children of the evil one, sown by the devil.

Now, some might look at this text and conclude that one’s goodness or evilness is predetermined – that when we come into this world, we are either cast as a seed of wheat or as a weed, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I don’t believe that this is how things work. And, for the purpose of Matthew’s gospel, this parable is more likely about Jesus’ hope to expand God’s kingdom in the world.

Through this parable, Jesus is beckoning the crowd to be WHEAT… that is, to hear his message about God and live into God’s call to love others. The alternative is to fall under the influence of those who act contrary to God’s message of love; those who focus on, or get distracted by, worldly things.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Sermon on Matthew 25:14-30, given while serving as seminarian

A few weeks ago, as part of my Sociology of Religion class, I attended a Sabbath worship service at a local Conservative Jewish synagogue. Now, I don’t know how many of you have attended a Jewish Shabbat service, but if you find yourself looking at your watch when our service approaches the one hour mark, their 3-hour liturgy would be a real test of endurance for you. It certainly was for me!

This particular Saturday included a Bar Mitzvah. For those of you not familiar with Judaism – the term Bar Mitzvah means “Son of the Commandment.” It’s the time when a Jewish boy, having reached the age of thirteenth, is now counted among the “adults” of the Jewish tradition. [When a girl goes through this it’s called a Bat Mitzvah.] Part of this Rite of Passage includes having the youngster lead a portion of the service, including reading from the Torah, which is written in Hebrew and contains no vowels or punctuation, making it very difficult to read. They also share a short story that they’ve prepared about the Torah reading, similar to our homily. So it’s quite a bit of work.

Now that particular morning, as I was walking through a virtually empty foyer just minutes before the service was to begin, I noticed a family coming through the door. I had a sense that this was the family of the Bar Mitzvah candidate. The young boy seemed happy and self-assured – and as he walked by me I asked, “Is this your day?” He confidently replied, “This is my day.” There was no arrogance in his reply, instead, it was a kind of “claiming” that was amazing and exciting to see. His name is Jacob. Read the rest of this entry »

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