By the Reverend Canon Doris Westfall
“Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Mark 9:7
Clouds, mountains, and God. They go together like coffee and cream, peanut butter and jelly, bread and wine. In other words, where you find one you will often find the other. In today’s readings we have what are known as theophanies, visible encounters with God.
After a reading of the Gospel by the Reverend Nancy Emmel, the Reverend Rebecca Ragland preaches on the question "Who belongs in the household of faith?"
by the Reverend Kevin McGrane
Deacon Kevin delivered this sermon on November 8, 2020.
As many of you may know, there was a political election last Tuesday. If you didn’t know that, well, it’s too late to vote.
I have been following the news regarding the election results, as well as the thoughts and opinions of many of my family and friends on social media, and I see a couple of overarching themes among them.
Most people are disappointed in the results, whether their chosen candidates or propositions won or lost. You would think that, if someone’s candidate or proposition won, they’d be happy...but lots of folks aren’t. They seem to be just as disappointed as the person whose candidate or prop lost the election.
It seems like they can’t be happy about the results because they did not get something else that they were hoping for, perhaps even more than winning. And that is the satisfaction of repudiation.
by The Reverend Dr. Warren Crews
For the last three Sundays we have been listening to parables from the 25th chapter of Matthew, dealing with the theme of judgment. Three weeks ago, we had the Parable of the Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins, who responded differently when the bridegroom finally arrived. Last week it was the Parable of the Talents. Three slaves of a very rich man are left with great sums of their master’s money. They were judged on how they handled his money, which differed greatly. In today’s gospel, which you just heard, is the famous Parable of the Great Judgment, better known as the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. On Judgment Day the judge, who is Christ returned, will separate all the people of all the nations into two groups, just as a shepherd separates his flock into sheep and goats. The criteria for the separation are a set of actions: feeding the hungry, giving the thirsty a drink, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting those in prison. Those who did those things are rewarded with eternal life, and those who didn’t are condemned to the fires of Hell.
By the Reverend Kevin McGrane
Editor's note: Deacon Kevin gave this sermon on September 13; we're just now getting it published. We're grateful for your patience!
Today’s gospel lesson is about Jesus’ concepts of forgiveness which is a very generous understanding of forgiveness.
The parable we hear today is meant to open up our understanding of the question, “How many times should I forgive someone?” And the answer from Jesus is, “You forgive them a lot.”
By the Reverend Dr. Warren Crews
One of my favorite op-ed columnists is Tom Friedman of the New York Times. He usually writes very serious articles about political topics. However, I remember a number of years ago, when he wrote about a serious topic—carbon emission offsets—in a very humorous fashion. Now, carbon emission offsets are mostly an effort to enable companies to make up for their own excessive carbon emissions by funding green projects elsewhere. Friedman and some dinner companions had thought of a great idea to promote even more green projects: offsets for the Ten Commandments!
By the Reverend Kevin McGrane, Sr.
If today’s Gospel passage had a title, it could be, “I’m not the Messiah you were expecting.”
Let me explain that.
The passage we read a bit ago starts with the words “From that time on…”, telling us that, with this incident, the ministry of Jesus and his apostles changes. It changes because this is the first time in Matthew that Jesus predicts his death and resurrection.
Peter and his fellow apostles are shocked. At this time, they don’t know a thing about this. Peter says, “God forbid!”, and Jesus immediately turns on him and chastises Peter, calling him “Satan” for saying such a thing. Jesus’s death and resurrection is the very reason why he is here. Peter is challenging the very reason-of-being for Jesus’ incarnation.
By the Reverend Sally S. Weaver
In the Gospel reading we just heard it says that Jesus and the disciples are near Caesarea Philippi.
So above is a map that shows all of Israel. You can see where Jerusalem is, that’s where Jesus dies and rises from the dead. Jesus is from north of there, from a region called Galilee. Here’s a larger map of that region, which shows you Nazareth where Jesus grew up and the Sea of Galilee. In this story Jesus and the disciples are 25 miles north in the town of Caesarea Philippi. Today the town is called Banias.
By the Reverend Dr. Warren Crews
In contemporary thinking about preaching, the focus today is on how biblical stories provide us with metaphors that have the power to open up spiritual meaning that can then draw us in and shape our thinking and acting. A key metaphor in a biblical story can bridge the gap between then and now, and let it frame the sermon. In today’s gospel lesson, the metaphor that keeps jumping out at me comes from this passage is, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” I want to explore with you the metaphor of crumbs. That sentence is a key turning point in today’s gospel story. Before that, Jesus and his disciples seem to be spurning the woman who wants Jesus to rid her daughter of the demon that is tormenting her. The disciples are rejecting her because she is not a Jew, she is a Gentile. Even Jesus says that their mission is only to feed the children of Israel, not to throw the food of salvation to the dogs—in other words, to Gentiles, like this woman and her daughter. Now—was Jesus really saying that God’s grace is restricted only to Jews? Or was Jesus just grumpy because she was interrupting his vacation up in beautiful Lebanon? What is going on here?
Various members of the St. John's congregation contribute to this blog. For editorial suggestions, contact Jeff McIntire-Strasburg at email@example.com
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