Luke 12:40-53 (10 Pentecost 2019, Proper 15C)

Anyone who has done a home rennovation project knows that you have to do destruction before you can do construction.  Demo before renno. Sledgehammer before paint brush. Most projects begin with a lot of dust and destruction, leaving a big mess that often makes you wonder whether this was a good idea in the first place. So it is with the new creation in Christ. There must be death before resurrection.  We must decrease; Christ must increase, and that doesn’t suit old Adam one bit. He would prefer a superficial paint job, a coat of religious shellac over teardown and rebuild.

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Luke 12:22-34 (9 Pentecost 2019, Proper 14C)

Anxiety. We all have it to one degree or another. Sleepless nights, panic attacks in the middle of the day. Racing heartbeat. Inability to focus on any one thing for more than a few seconds. Anxiety is symptomatic of our culture. The leading over-the-counter medications are for sleep and stomach disorders. Anti-anxiety meds are among the leading prescription drugs. We are an anxious society, an anxious people living in a constant state of anxiety, and it’s eating us up from the inside.

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Luke 12:13-21 (8 Pentecost 2019, Proper 13C)

Havel havelim, says Qoheleth. Vanities piled on top of vanities. Emptiness. Nothing. Vapor. All is vanity. Wealth, fame, celebrity, power…all of it. Vanity. Nothing. Chasing after the wind.

You build a business and a fool takes it over and drives it into the ditch of bankruptcy. You amass a fortune and are buried next to a poor man, and your children and grandchildren squander every one of your hard-earned pennies. Vanitiy of vanities.

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Luke 10:25-37 (5 Pentecost 2019, Proper 10C)

A priest, a Levite, a Samaritan. Three men had an open window of opportunity to be neighbor to the man who fell among thieves on the road to Jericho. 

Which one is not like the other two? The priest and Levite are clergy, religious leaders, pillars of their community. The Samaritan is a nobody, an anonymous Joe on the road. A Samaritan, despised by Judaean and Galilean alike who considered Samaritans to be half-breeds and heretics. They wouldn’t greet him on the road or talk to him at the town well. He’s not like the other two. The genius of this parable is that it forces a religious Jew, a synagogue lawyer, an expert in the intricacies of Torah, to identify with this Samaritan. You can almost hear the resigned reluctance in the lawyer’s voice when he has to answer Jesus’ question – Who was neighbor to the man who fell among thieves?

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Luke 10:1-20 (4 Pentecost 2019, Proper 9C)

In Nomine Iesu

Today’s Gospel of the sending of the seventy speaks to the church and her mission.  It is a preliminary sending, the church’s “vicarage” so to speak, prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection before the big sending with the disciple-making mandate to baptize and teach the nations. This episode is told only in Luke, for whom Jesus’ mission to the Gentiles, the non-Israelites, was a very big deal. Jesus is more than the Messiah of Israel, He’s the Savior of the world, the promised seed of Abraham through whom “all nations” of the world would be blessed. His cross extends in all directions, to the ends of the earth, to all peoples everywhere, to those who have heard and those who have not heard, to everyone you meet and everyone you know.

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Galatians 5:16-26 (3 Pentecost 2019, Proper 8C)

In our Old Testament reading, we heard about a burned out and dejected prophet Elijah who seems to have lost his way in the face of threats from Queen Jezebel. In the Gospel, we hear about three potential disciples whom Jesus seems to brush off as He sets His face to Jerusalem and His Good Friday cross. We’re not prophets like Elijah. We’re not potential recruits for discipleship. We’re baptized believers in Christ. We have been given to follow Jesus. Our struggle is not with the Jezebel’s of this world, though it may seem to be that way at times. Rather, our struggle is deep within us, a spiritual struggle of Flesh and Spirit.

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Luke 8:26-39 (2 Pentecost 2019, Proper 7C)

Jesus arrived by boat in the region of the Gerasenes, opposite Galilee. It was country. The goyim, the uncircumcized. Outsiders to Israel. He came to seek and to save the lost, even the lost outside the house Israel. Waiting on the shore to meet Him was homeless and naked man possessed by a “legion” of demons, living among the dead in the catacombs. The local authorities had seized him and bound him in shackles and chains, but he always managed to escape and flee back to the wilderness.

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Holy Trinity 2019 (John 8:48-59)

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of Holy Spirit.

Today presents a bit of a challenge for me as a preacher. My challenge is that today is Holy Trinity Sunday, the Sunday that begins with the liturgical verse “Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity,” enough of a paradox to make your head explode. Three divine Persons, one divine Being. As Dorothy Sayers once wrote: The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, the whole thing incomprehensible, echoing somewhat sarcastically the ponderous Athanasian Creed we will attempt after I’m done preaching. Needless to say, Dorothy Sayers didn’t think much of the doctrine of the Trinity. She didn’t deny it, but she thought all this verbage was the invention of theologians with too much time on their hands, something that had little or nothing to do with the practical life of faith.

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