July 2, 2017

Pentecost 4   July 2, 2017  (Psalm 24), Exodus 6:2-9, Romans 6:2-9, Matthew 10:40-42 *********************************************************** The good news is – you’re all going to heaven. Assuming, that is – you’ve ever given even a cup of cold water to a disciples of Jesus. And the good news gets even better. You’re already there – already in heaven, in one sense. Because as Saint Catherine of Sienna has said “All the way to heaven is heaven, because Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life…’” Now the sermon could be already over – since I’ve given away the conclusion. (Some of you say “alleluia!”) So I better talk fast to remind you of the bad news – which is that the good news tends to often be overlooked…. and quickly forgotten… The good news of Jesus Christ has a way of staying hidden from sight…Till we’re living the good news, all the time… So the conclusion really isn’t the conclusion… Till we get to the full conclusion… And we’re not quite all the way there yet. Consider: Moses gets the word straight from God – go, tell the Israelites, ‘I am the LORD who will free you from slavery to the Egyptians – and you shall know that I am the LORD your God – who has freed you – (who has freed you –) from slavery…’ And Moses is trying to explain to Israel this is already a done-deal. Hey, the Creator of the universe has promised it… But the Israelites won’t listen. Won’t even give Moses a hearing. Because they’re too broken in spirit by bitter slavery…. to be able to hear the good news… that they are already free… Which is pretty much the story of the human condition… Christ has died for all. Our sins are forgiven. We have been given the free gift of life eternal. Just as St Paul tells the church in Rome – ‘you have already been set free from sin – you have already been given the gift of eternal life.’ But Paul knows – better than most of us – all the many reasons why the ultimate conclusion can’t be heard by most of us humans… straight-no-chaser. Telling the good news too quickly – that we’re already freed and forgiven – already living eternal life – tends to lead to hearing the good news badly. Either going the libertine route – like – “hallelujah! I’m saved. I can do whatever I want now and still be saved… So to hey with the diet and good behavior, I’m living it up till Jesus comes back..” – or going legalistic – holier-than-everyone-else… We believe. We’re saved. Saved by grace and faith in Christ. And since all the rest of the world doesn’t get it – God has left us in charge of explaining everything to everyone. Our human capacity for misunderstanding grace is probably why it takes the apostle Paul six chapters to work up to telling us the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ – and another ten chapters after this to unpack what it means… to be alive and living in Christ… and… (I confess…) I’m as guilty as the next person of cherry-picking my way through scripture… Looking for the best parts…...

read more

July 6, 2014 – All fall down

Romans 1:18-21, 2:1-4 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened…. You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 5:12-19 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned– To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Genesis 3:1-24 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“...

read more