February 23, 2020 – Sermon

Transfiguration Sunday February 23, 2020 Psalm 99, Exodus 24:12-18, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Matthew 17:1-9 Listen to him ******************************************************* Last week we were up on the mountain with Jesus and a large crowd of followers listening to his Sermon on the Mount. Today we’ve climbed another mountain with him – but this time there’s only three other disciples along. And instead of a lengthy teaching that takes all of three chapters of Matthew’s gospel – today’s teaching features only a pair of one-liners from God the Father and Jesus the Son – capped with the Son’s terse instruction – say nothing about what’s gone down… on high… The transfiguration of Jesus is all about disciples receiving a sneak preview of Jesus as the Son of God affirmed by God’s voice from the cloud… A reminder of the cloud and fiery pillar of God that led Israel through the wilderness…As Jesus is clothed in dazzling light bright as the sun – flanked by Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Moses, who fasted and prayed forty days and nights as he received the law on Mt Sinai, then shepherded Israel forty years in the wilderness – with Elijah, who rebuked some of Israel’s most depraved rulers – and like Moses, spent forty days and nights fasting and praying on the mountain… Today we’re imagining ourselves in this strangely dream-like encounter – which Jesus calls a vision as he walks with disciples back down the mountain. Yet the vision is so real – that Peter offers to build three dwelling places, one each for Moses, Elijah and Jesus. A nice hospitable thought, but – As he speaks a bright cloud appears – and Peter’s voice is silenced… as the voice from the cloud says “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased.” The voice we heard speak these same words at the baptism of Jesus, not many weeks ago, at the beginning of the season of Epiphany… Now speaks these same words again from the cloud as Epiphany fades… And God’s voice from on high now adds: Listen to him! And three terrified disciples fall to the ground in unison. But Jesus touches them, saying, “Get up, don’t be afraid…” and… There’s no one there now but Jesus… Who tells Peter, James and John – say nothing about what you’ve seen till the Son of Man has been raised from the dead. *** The other morning, I actually awoke from a dream… in which I was trying to explain the transfiguration of Jesus to someone… Then, just a few minutes later, as I sat sipping coffee and looking out the window at a very bright sunny sky… Here comes suddenly dancing particles of light, falling and swirling, and filling the air. And I’m thinking ‘this can’t be snow – it’s so bright and sunny.’ So I went outside to check my vision… and sure enough, it was snow – falling without any visible clouds in the sky… Except way far off… on a distant horizon… A few tiny light-colored clouds barely visible… As if God and nature were teasing me into believing… there’s no clear borders… between God’s vision… and God’s reality… Last week we were up on what I’m picturing as a much smaller mountain with a much...

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February 16, 2020 – Sermon

Epiphany 6 February 16 2020 Psalm 119:1-8, Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Matthew 5:17-26, 38-48 Choose ************************************************************ WC Fields, the notoriously cynical, heavy drinking actor of American cinema in days of antiquity, was once seen reading the bible. A surprised colleague asked him, “What are you doing reading the bible, WC?” He replied “I’m looking for loopholes.” Which is how I sometimes feel when I hear Jesus say “Be perfect.” I’ve read the Sermon on the Mount many times. I can summarize most of it from memory reasonably well. But anytime I commit to preaching from this best known sermon of Jesus, I still find myself often perplexed and even intimidated….As Jesus tells us, first – he’s come not to abolish the law or prophets, but to fulfill them – then – not a letter or even a dash of a letter in the law will pass away till it’s all been fulfilled… Then – gives us a long list of sayings, each of them starting with you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times – but I say to you…. And in each saying that follows Jesus ratchets up the difficulty-level above and beyond what people of old were told… Poking all kinds of holes in the image we have of Jesus as meeker and milder than those stern Old Testament prophets…. As now here’s gentle Jesus saying– ‘You have heard it said you shall not murder and anyone who murders will be liable to judgement – but I tell you anyone angry with a brother or sister will be liable to judgement… and anyone who says “you fool” to a brother or sister will be liable to the hell of fire’ – literally the fires of Gehenna, a place near Jerusalem where pagans of old sacrificed children in fire… We’re skipping today over three more Jesus sayings, each of which makes a similar point – it’s not the legal offense – nearly so much as breaking God’s law in our hearts – that can send us to the gates of lower purgatory… And now we get to “you’ve heard it said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth…” Israel’s basic law of retribution – which, we were taught in seminary, was liberal in comparison with neighboring nations – where the law was two eyes for an eye, several teeth in return for one eye damaged or tooth knocked out in a fight… But, Jesus says – “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek turn the other – if anyone wants to take your coat give the shirt off your back…” Humble yourself, and humiliate your opponents, by exposing their behavior to public view… Which probably works best when people have lots of compassion for the oppressed and hurting…but can sometimes shock even cynics into a change of heart… Then Jesus says “you’ve heard it said ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “Love your neighbor” – a main theme of the bible. “Hate your enemy” – not in the bible, but said as if it was by people who don’t heed the bible. But, Jesus again says – I say to you – love your enemies– pray for those who persecute you – so you may be children of...

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February 16, 2020 – Cataumet

ANNOUNCEMENTS Bible Study continues on Thursdays, at 1pm in the Perry Room at the Bourne church. EVENTS EVERY WEEK Sunday 7:45 am Choir practice Sunday 9:00 am Worship Sunday 7:30 pm AA Meeting Monday 7:30 pm NA Meeting Tuesday 7:00 pm AA Meeting Thursday 7:00 pm NA Meeting Saturday 9:00 am Osteo Exercise

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February 16, 2020 – Bourne

THIS WEEK IN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH Sunday, February 16th: 11:00 PM Worship Service Monday, February 17th: 10:00 AM Craft Group (Perry) 6 :00 PM Finance Committee 7:00 PM Church Council Thursday, February 20th: 1:00 PM Bible Study Saturday, February 22nd: 10:30 AM Children’s Clothing Exchange Meeting Sunday, February 23rd: 11:00 PM Worship Service OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS CALLING ALL SUNDAY SCHOOL PARENT’S please stay after worship today if you would like to discuss exciting plans for Easter Sunday! CRAFT GROUP will meet tomorrow at 10am in the Perry Room. PRAYER GROUP meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month in the downstairs nursery at 10 am. SATURDAY FEBRUARY 22nd in Crain Hall at 10:30am we need help preparing the Spring/Summer clothes for our Children’s Exchange Program! Lunch will be served. DINNER WITH CHURCH FRIENDS is back! Please sign up in Crain...

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February 9 2020 – Sermon

Epiphany 5 February 9 2020 Psalm 133, Isaiah 58:6-9a, Matthew 5:13-16 1st Corinthians 1:18-31 Foolish and weak… ****************************************************** There’s a sign we see especially around Christmas time, that says: Wise men seek him still. Which is probably one of the main reasons I wasn’t seeking Jesus for a long time. I was young and foolish…the opposite of wise… And determined to stay forever young. Forever foolish. I could blame my parents for letting me grow up listening to their jazz records – Billie Holiday with that swinging band singing “….Maybe I’m a fool but it’s fun… people say you rule me with one – wave of your hand, darling it’s grand…” Billie made foolishness sound elegant and seductive… But don’t blame my poor sainted parents. Nobody ever had to lead me into temptation. I always knew how to get there by myself. As a teenager I had a favorite record of Ray Charles singing a blues called I’m a fool for you… My friends and I would be crying in our beer trying to sing along. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers were already oldies by the time I was in high school, but we knew their song – ooo-wah– ooo-wah – Why do fools fall in love? We considered it very cool to be a certain kind of fool… So perhaps theoretically I had at least a little cultural preparation for the gospel according to Paul the apostle – who quotes the prophet Isaiah of old, channeling for God, saying “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise…” The apostle continues in the prophetic groove saying – Where is the one who’s wise? (Where’s the learned scholar and debaters of this age?)… Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”… “For since in the wisdom of God the world didn’t know God through wisdom” (Paul says –) God decided to use the foolishness of the gospel – summarized in the cross – which, for those who trust in reason – is the most unreasonable thing anyone can think of. And for those who want to keep religion safe, strong and reasonable – the cross is the ultimate in foolishness and weakness. Greeks seek wisdom and Jews seek signs but God’s wisdom is revealed in the cross – foolishness to the one, a stumbling block to the other. (Greek here stands for secular wisdom. Greek being the dominant language and culture of the Roman Empire that ruled over the Mediterranean world. And Paul uses the word Jew here and elsewhere as shorthand for Paul’s home culture. Paul, remember, was a Jew who considered his Jewish faith and heritage a huge blessing. He understands the faith of his ancestors differently after he encountered Jesus and leaves his previous life as a persecutor of Christians. But Paul never stops teaching the Jewish bible as essential background for Christians and Christ the fulfillment of the First Testament. And by this slightly round about way, Paul takes us into what he wants to say about the cross as the wisdom of God – that’s wiser than all the wisdom of this world. Acknowledging – the cross is total foolishness for those who don’t believe the message God has delivered in Jesus Christ – who has come to transform the world and overturn...

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