We may no
longer read headlines, but way too often we hear the phrase “Leading off in the
News”. Everyday KWY has the news on all
day, 24/7, NPR has news in the first 5 minutes of every hour.I would suspect that when a new and exciting
rabbi came to town, it would lead the news of the town crier.It would be the event that caused people to
lay down their work and make sure that they got to synagogue.
Karl Barth is
said to have said: "We
must hold the Bible in one
hand and the newspaper in the other."Actually, The Center for
Barth Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary has not been
able to pin
down exactly from whence that quote emanated.
However, it is widely known
that Barth made the
Bible/newspaper connection frequently throughout his
illustrious career. They have, however, substantiated the
following quotes… In an interview from 1966, for example, he
"The Pastor and the Faithful
should not deceive themselves into
thinking that they are a religious
society, which has to do with
certain themes; they live in the world. We
still need -
according to my old formulation - the Bible and the
that I am, over a period of time, I’ve come to love the Parables in Luke. These pointed short stories seem to capture
everyday life in the believing community in Palestine. Let’s do a bit of review
going back to chapter 15.
the Town Crier of the Villages that Jesus visited.
Chapter 15 of Luke, has three parables strung
back to back. In the first story to tax
collectors and sinners and the leaders of temple were all wondering about this
Jesus [ I guess that would include most of us. ] First he tells a story about a
man who has a lost sheep. Leaving 99
this shepherd leaves to find the lost one.
Finding it there is great joy, and an illusion to finding and saving
just one sinner. It raises an
interesting internal question, are we the lost who was saved or one of the 99
who awaited the return of the shepherd?
Either way there is joy.
knows that she has 10 coins, but in counting, she is one short. She cleans that house from top to bottom
before Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas, just to find the coin, and when
found again there is great rejoicing.
is the frustrated millennial. He knows
he’s not going to inherit the farm, so he asks for his portion of the estate,
gets it from his dad, lives on the border of the wild side and blow his inheritance. Suddenly living on the outside isn’t as
exciting as he thought. So swallowing his pride, working for his dad as an
employee is better than being left out in the cold. There is fatherly celebration upon his
return, a feast to celebrate the lost, now found. Yet this story has a hanging
edge, of a dutiful child for which there is no celebration but a sense of being
taken for granted. Can he had his status affirmed,,, and still love his
there is the episode of the continuing story of BUSTED. Caught not keeping track of the assets of the
household, the manager is sacked. Not yet thrown out on his ear, a way is found
to soften his landing, but cutting the debts of his boss’s debtors. He is considered shrewd for preparing a soft
landing when he is thrown out. This is
not a lesson taught at the Wharton School of Business. The lesson to be learned is one cannot serve
God and Money, we can only handle one Master.
follows with a series of warnings about the everyday living that people
do… People are known to justify public
actions… Pick a headline, attorney general asks for house arrest….Governor was
informed of tunnel closing…. Didn’t know the critical nature of a wall falling
in Downtown Philly… That still doesn’t
make it right in the sight of God… Scripture might call it detestable.
17. A couple of weeks ago, we found Jesus meeting
10 men outside a village. They couldn’t
go in… They had leprosy…Jesus did his thing… a prayer, a command that they go
see the priest in the temple.. While
walking they didn’t seem to notice that healing had begun to take place and by
the time the priests saw them, They were CLEAN.
ONE, ONE, a Samaritan noticed and went back to Jesus. Jesus always asks the hard questions…weren’t
there 10 you??? So Jesus, surprised that
only a foreigner returns to praise God, says to the Samaritan, go, Your
faith has made you whole.
18. Now last
week, the lesson featured a woman, a widow who sought justice from an
adversary. We are never informed about
the nature of the dispute, but it is apparent that the Judge ‘neither feared
God nor respected the people.’ [and that’s a quote from scripture.] The judge notes that he is has little choice
in in granting her judgement, or….. she will wear him out. Persistence sometimes is needed to get the
job done, even in the life a Child of God.
is today’s parable. Jesus notes that he
is telling this Story to and about … two people who were going to worship confident
that they were children of God [ I beg you not to turn your heads to see who is
sitting next to you, for my prayer is that we are not talking about anyone
sitting here today….] These two are
called the Pharisee and the tax collector. One is a strict keeper of religious
law and the other, a worker for the IRS of his time. [Given that starting point, as a seminary
professor I could be in serious trouble of being on the wrong side of the end
of this story…]
had a firm grip on his religious assets.
Kneeling before the altar, He says out loud—“I am not like other people:
extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers, or even like this tax
collector.” He has the audacity to even
point out his attributes: “I fast twice a week and I give a tenth of everything
I get.” Modesty does not seem to be a
part of his self-description.
scripture says that the tax collector “stood afar off and beat his breast”, I
can imagine him or her sitting about two thirds back next to the wall and
gazing out at the stained glass window and whispering almost under his
breath…God be merciful to me, sinner that I am.”
indicates that the tax collector went home justified. The Pharisee???? Not so much… Jesus gives an adage to be a primary part of
the lesson for the day. “ For everyone
who exalts himself will be humbled, but he or she who humbles themselves will
lessons are for us even today. These
lessons lift up for us the question of how and when and how often we read
scriptures. Do we take the bulletin home
and reread the lessons for this Sunday/this week?
It may not
be the easiest thing to place ourselves under our own investigation of who we
are and whose we are as children of God.
But I firmly believe that we reflect that relationship in each and every
step of our everyday life. That is both
the News of the Day and the Good News as well as the continual presence of God
in our lives, for remember This is our Father we are talking with and talking
To Leilani, To Joel, To Jordyn, To Devon, and to all we have inadvertently failed:
Fifty years ago I was a student at Wittenberg University, a Lutheran University. We used to joke about it being a "small Christian College, for exceedingly small Christians." It formed me in many ways to be a minister in the Lutheran Church. It taught me well about "Having Light and Passing it on to Others."
There were Professors and Administrators who encouraged me, nurtured me, and in retrospect - protected me as a student from 1962-67 as an undergraduate and from 1967-71 as a graduate student. In many instances- not all - my fellow students were my protectors. I learned to navigate during a time of racial turmoil and the last draft-able war.
In many ways we thought that we had Overcome and that Some Day was now, with a few hiccups along the way. We raised our children to be in a world where Civil Rights were a right granted by law. Voting was guaranteed, equal opportunity was on the horizon. Social mobility was a real possibility. Our children were raised without the same warnings of foreboding that were routine in my childhood.
It is without suitable critique of Society and status in America that we sent our son off to the same institution from which my wife and I had graduated. In the intervening 26 years we ASS-U-ME -D that all would be right for our second generation college student. Schools change, people change, buildings look the same. My son's fellow students were his antagonists. The administrators sought witnesses to mete out justice. Pastoral care oblivious, while custodial staff were able to diagnose the problem as I gathered my transferring student's belongings, when they recognized me from my time on campus.
As I move into observing the third generation of Jordyn and Devon who bear my name and to Leilani, whose post catalyzed this post, I ask for your forgiveness. In the 60's we thought we gained our rights by law. What we gained was limited to behavioral modification. We did not achieve Attitudinal Adjustment. If anything, the attitudes have hardened and achieved more demonstrable, visual expression. Civility has become a lost art form. Words more severe than those uttered by Emmett Till, which caused his death, have become part of the news and a political campaign, and no longer hidden away, or choked down, but loudly proclaimed.
To my child, my grandchildren, to all of their cohorts, please accept my deep apologies for not being honest about the "progress" we thought we had made. For you living with portions of generations, who have assumed, learned, or been taught that equality is not for all. But that is the Law. That we can hold up to our fellow citizens. With partners, we will continually have to work on attitudes that truncate equality.
In a historic step the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) issued a clear statement in support of the non-violent Palestinian struggle. The church’s national conference approved the resolution on 10 July 2016.
Rev. Thulani Ndlazi, Synod Secretary of UCCSA, speaking at the conference
The declaration names the danger of Christian Zionism and its literal reading of the Bible which confuses the Old Testament’s Israelites with Jewish Israelis. ‘We hear the Palestinian Christians’ appeal for help,’ they say, and we commit our support to the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign.
The statement is the first of its kind by a South African church.
Earlier South African Methodists also urged their circuits to “study the Palestinian Kairos Document that calls for divestment of Israel to end the occupation by Israeli in Palestine” (2013 Yearbook, 3.4:93-95). They also encourage those who undertake “Holy Land Pilgrimages” to have meaningful engagements with the Palestinian community. Yet the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) does not ask people to consider the requests of the Palestinian Kairos Document. UCCSA acknowledges their requests, it affirms the call for creative, non-violent resistance and it commits publically.
What makes it even more historic is the fact that UCCSA was the only South African church who publicly supported the now historic South African Kairos call of 1985. In it South African theologians asked the world to help end apartheid. The world listened and it helped. In recent years the churches of the world have started to speak up about fundamentalist, Zionist readings of the Bible that support Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.
The statement by UCCSA on Palestine is a welcome prophetic step. It reads as follows:
We pledge our support to the Palestinian people as follows at this 8th South African Synod Conference of UCCSA in George, South Africa:
We recognize that the Palestinian struggle is not simply a conflict, but an asymmetric struggle between an oppressor and the oppressed. The oppression entails a decades’ long institutionalized discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied territories of Palestine and also against those within Israel and those in the diaspora who are not allowed by Israel to return.
We do not take an anti-Semitism position. However we are extremely concerned about fundamentalist and progressive Christian Zionism which conflate the Biblical Israel with the modern state of Israel. We call on all Christians to read the Bible responsibly so as to not trample on the human rights and the dignity of the Palestinians. We ask Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land to meet with and to listen to the Palestinians in Bethlehem, East Jerusalem and other cities in the occupied Palestinian territory.
We acknowledge with gratitude the support of our Palestinian sisters and brothers in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle.
With this resolution we join other churches in the world such as the Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ in the United States of America as well as the United Church of Canada. With them we stand in public solidarity with the Kairos Palestine’s appeal for help and the Palestinian civil society’s call for creative non-violent resistance.
We pledge our support to the international Boycott Divestments Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa is one church in five countries –Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The UCCSA was formed in 1967 but traces its origins back more than 200 years to the arrival of the first missionaries sent by the London Missionary Society to Southern Africa. Today over 500,000 members worship in over one thousand local churches across the five countries.
The Audio can be found at: https://soundcloud.com/tigerowl/pentecost-4-c-2016 [Air Conditioners are noisy.]
The Text Follows:
Luke 7:36-8:3 7:36 One
of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's
house and took his place at the table. 7:37 And a woman in the city, who was a
sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an
alabaster jar of ointment. 7:38 She stood behind him at his feet,
weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her
hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 7:39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him
saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have
known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him--that she is a sinner." 7:40 Jesus spoke up and said to him,
"Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher," he
replied, "Speak." 7:41 "A certain creditor had two debtors;
one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 7:42 When they could not pay, he canceled the
debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?" 7:43 Simon answered, "I suppose the one
for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You
have judged rightly." 7:44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to
Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water
for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her
hair. 7:45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I
came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 7:46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but
she has anointed my feet with ointment. 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which
were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to
whom little is forgiven, loves little." 7:48 Then he said to her, "Your sins are
forgiven." 7:49 But those who were at the table with him
began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 7:50 And he said to the woman, "Your
faith has saved you; go in peace." 8:1 Soon afterwards he went on through cities
and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The
twelve were with him, 8:2 as well as some women who had been cured
of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons
had gone out, 8:3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward
Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their
Forgive us, God, when we fail to walk with you; guide us back
to you, and fill us with your love and grace that we might better serve you.
“We are living in strange times. WASHINGTON — A Republican senator told conservatives Friday they should
pray for President Barack Obama and suggested a biblical passage that says,
"Let his days be few."
Georgia Sen. David Perdue told a gathering of religious
conservatives that "we need to be very specific about how we pray."
He suggested using Psalms 109:8, which reads: "Let his days be few, and
let another have his office."
As the audience at the Faith & Freedom Coalition's
"Road to Majority" conference laughed and applauded, Perdue said,
"In all seriousness, I believe that America is at a moment of
The next lines of the Psalm read: "Let his children
be fatherless and his wife a widow."
Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Senate Democratic
Leader Harry Reid, said Perdue's comments "left the impression he was
praying for the death of President Obama."”
days be few; may another take his placeof leadership. 9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. 10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven[a]from their
ruined homes. 11 May a creditorseize all he has; may strangers plunderthe fruits of
his labor. 12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pityon his
fatherless children. 13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted outfrom the next
was not the words of a Preacher, but the words of a Christian, I had to have a
serious debate – internally - about
forgiveness. This internal dialogue was
already going on as I kept reading the Gospel lesson for today. The bottom line of the lesson is one of
the story… Jesus was invited to supper at the home of a Pharisee. Jesus ate
with a lot of different people. He even ate with the “tax collectors and sinners,” but also the
Pharisees! It may be that by the time of Luke was beginning to record his story
of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, the believers may have begun to
look at the Pharisees as the “outcasts,” as the Pharisees had done to the “tax
collectors and sinners” during Jesus’ day.
As Jesus was in the home of this Pharisee, this woman entered and began
anointing Jesus with the ointment from the alabaster jar she brought with
her. She is not anointing his body prior
to burial as in the other accounts nor is her ointment described as being
costly. She stood behind him at his feet,weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry
them with her hair.
The Pharisee who had invited Jesus, was just
a little unsettled to have this uninvited woman paying so much attention to his
guest. Jesus’ host
thought to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who
and what kind of woman this is who is touching him--that she is a sinner." Little did he know that Jesus could read
minds. Jesus spoke up and said to him,
"Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher," he
replied, "Speak." Jesus went into story
telling mode, "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred
denarii, and the other fifty. When they
could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will
love him more?" Jesus’ host Simon
answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt."
And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly."
It is at
this point that Jesus moves into action and teaching. He turns toward the
woman, then he speaks to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your
house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her
tears and dried them with her hair. You
gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my
feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with
ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven;
hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves
Jesus may have stunned his host, knowing that he is a guest in the house of the
Pharisee. Jesus was very aware that the
other guests gathered were watching every move he made and listened to every
word he said. After the stunned silence
Jesus speaks directly to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven." "Your
faith has saved you; go in peace."
Can you imagine the murmuring that was going on among those other guests? The primary question around the table began was,
"Who is this who even forgives sins?"
just as clueless about the broad parameters of what it means to Forgive. In reading about the news reports, Senator
Purdue is reported to be laughing and smiling, as he alluded to the unscheduled
demise of the President of the United States.
I’m having a difficult time – understanding how it is in a gathering of
Christians, people can laughingly applaud the application of a Psalm of death on
the current President. Now I must admit,
the Senator did not read the following verses, but since 2009 the Psalm [even
on bumper stickers] has been around the conservative community. Forgiveness
comes with great difficulty, for the ministry of Jesus calls for all of us to
recognize the face of faith in everyone we meet. I started this sermon with this prayer, ‘Forgive us, God, when we fail to walk with you;
guide us back to you, and fill us with your love and grace that we might better
serve you.’ We are
called upon to see the God child in everyone we meet.
is a lesson we can all learn from one who left us this week. A signature phrase that we heard on Friday at
the Memorial service of Muhammad Ali, ‘Service to Others is the Rent you Pay
for your Room here on Earth.’
though there were a few folks who have never forgiven him for his stance on the
war in Vietnam, or his conversion to Islam, they are the ones who have lost the
meaning of forgiveness. Character and
Care are elements of a man who was capable of building bridges and friendships
across racial, religious and political challenges. He truly was one to break down walls of
difference. This citizen of the world
knew what it meant to be forgiven and more specifically what it means to
forgive. May we all strive to like Ali,
another one of the Greatest, and more importantly a child of the God – Allah and
Father of us all. AMEN.
Audio can be found at : https://soundcloud.com/tigerowl/pentecost-3-c
Sunday June 5 - Third Sunday after Pentecost Readings
Complementary Series 1 Kings 17:17-24 Psalm 30 (2) Galatians 1:11-24 Luke
7:11-17 Semi-continuous Series 1 Kings 17:8-16 [17-24] Psalm 146 (8) Galatians
1:11-24 Luke 7:11-17 Prayer of the Day Compassionate God, you have assured the
human family of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Deliver us from the death of
sin, and raise us to new life in your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Gospel Acclamation Alleluia. A great prophet has ris- | en among us!* God has
looked favora- | bly on us! Alleluia. (Luke 7:16)
1 Kings 17:17-24 17:17 After this the son of the woman, the
mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no
breath left in him. 17:18 She then said to Elijah, "What have
you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to
remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!" 17:19 But he said to her, "Give me your
son." He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber
where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. 17:20 He cried out to the LORD, "O LORD
my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying,
by killing her son?" 17:21 Then he stretched himself upon the child
three times, and cried out to the LORD, "O LORD my God, let this child's
life come into him again." 17:22 The LORD listened to the voice of
Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 17:23 Elijah took the child, brought him down
from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah
said, "See, your son is alive." 17:24 So the woman said to Elijah, "Now I
know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is
Psalm 30 30:1 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have
drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me. 30:2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me. 30:3 O LORD, you brought up my soul from
Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit. 30:4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his
faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. 30:5 For his anger is but for a moment; his
favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with
the morning. 30:6 As for me, I said in my prosperity,
"I shall never be moved." 30:7 By your favor, O LORD, you had
established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed. 30:8 To you, O LORD, I cried, and to the LORD
I made supplication: 30:9 "What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your
faithfulness? 30:10 Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O
LORD, be my helper!" 30:11 You have turned my mourning into
dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
30:12 so that my soul may praise you and not
be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
Galatians 1:11-24 1:11 For I want you to know, brothers and
sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 1:12 for I did not receive it from a human
source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus
Christ. 1:13 You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier
life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying
to destroy it. 1:14 I advanced in Judaism beyond many among
my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my
ancestors. 1:15 But when God, who had set me apart before
I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased 1:16 to reveal his Son to me, so that I might
proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, 1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who
were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and
afterwards I returned to Damascus. 1:18 Then after three years I did go up to
Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; 1:19 but I did not see any other apostle
except James the Lord's brother. 1:20 In what I am writing to you, before God,
I do not lie! 1:21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and
Cilicia, 1:22 and I was still unknown by sight to the
churches of Judea that are in Christ; 1:23 they only heard it said, "The one
who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to
destroy." 1:24 And they glorified God because of me.
Luke 7:11-17 7:11 Soon afterwards he went to a town called
Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 7:12 As he approached the gate of the town, a
man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she
was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 7:13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion
for her and said to her, "Do not weep." 7:14 Then he came forward and touched the
bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you,
rise!" 7:15 The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother. 7:16 Fear seized all of them; and they
glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and
"God has looked favorably on his people!" 7:17 This word about him spread throughout
Judea and all the surrounding country.
really early this year. That’s the
discovery I found in trying to figure out why I had never preached on the
lessons from last Sunday or this Sunday.
Easter and Lent are determined by Passover which is in the Hebrew
calendar. There are 3 to seven Sundays
between the Baptism of Jesus and Ash Wednesday, depending upon the date of
Easter. This year was only 4 Sundays,
thus they need more lessons from Pentecost to the beginning of the next
advent. In spite of my own feelings of
inadequacy, the lessons for last week and this week are in many ways important
enough not to be left out of the scriptures we can read and study and learn
from. The disciples have gone from being
fishermen on a boat to being walking travelers following Jesus, literally from
Town to Town.
Again we are
like the disciples are walking with Jesus.
When the seminary moved from downtown Philadelphia in 1889, the students
and the faculty walked down Germantown Avenue to worship here at St.
Michaels. Let me take a pause here, How
many of you watched the recent version of Roots that was on television this
past week? In the four episodes, there
was an emphasis on travel. That travel
was by boat, by horse, by cart and of course by foot. As a people walking seems to be that one way
of travel that keeps us in touch with our neighbors and our strangers. In the context of Roots foot travel without
passes to authorize travel was dangerous.
Yet in this
neighborhood it is not impossible to put in quite a few steps to get what needs
to be done on a weekly basis. We don’t
walk to downtown Philadelphia, but we do walk to the ACME. Often in the last twenty five years I walked
to work at the seminary. If the library
wasn’t closed for repairs, then there isn’t much we absolutely need that isn’t
available by walking. There have been a
few times when I’ve even walked to the top of Chestnut Hill just for fun. When in better health, your pastor was
present on the street. She probably
knows more people on the avenue that most of us gathered here put together.
In one sense
Jesus has modeled that type of ministry.
He was present to people. He
walked the same walks that they were familiar with. His disciples used that time of walking as a
time for conversation and learning.
Jesus seemed to be constantly teaching.
From the first 10 verses of the seventh Chapter of Luke to the next
seven verses, Jesus and the twelve are on a hike from Capernaum to Nain. For them no distances seem to be too
far. Not unlike the travel of Chicken
George from North Carolina to Charleston, South Carolina to both win and lose a
cock fight and his freedom, which he thought he had won. In the last Episode his son walks from North
Carolina to Tennessee to find his father who had been fighting for the North in
the Civil War.
I wonder if
we would be willing to walk from Capernaum to Nain? It’s about as far as from St. Michaels to
Graterford Prison. Would we be ready to
not just walk alone, but to walk with a big crowd? We wouldn’t be just walking and enjoying the
scenery, we would be talking with one another about what calls us to walk and
share the lessons we have learned while with Jesus. I would suppose that is one reason we never
see a Jehovah’s Witness walking alone.
The disciples were walking and talking to others about what they knew
about Jesus’s teaching and what they were continuously learning as they
It is in
this context that Jesus approached the gate of
the town of Nain. A man who had died was
being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow; and with
her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for
her and said to her, "Do not weep."
Coming forward Jesus touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. Then
Jesus said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" We should not be surprised that the dead man
sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. We should also not be surprised that fear
seized all of them. I’m not sure about
you, but even with age and experience, I’m not sure that the first thing I
would do would be to glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has
looked favorably on his people!" My
first response would more likely be, “What did Jesus just do?”
Given the outside the box
activity of Jesus, it was inevitable that the word about him spread throughout
Judea and all the surrounding country.
It is important to remember, that neither the widow nor anyone in the
funeral procession asked for Jesus’ help. Jesus saw the need and acted. (Remember
last week in the first part of this seventh chapter, the Roman centurion first
sent a delegation of Jewish elders to ask for Jesus’ help – and they reported
how worthy the centurion is to receive his help, having built their
synagogue. Yet later he sent friends who
report that the centurion is unworthy to have Jesus come to his house. This
probably indicates the centurion’s knowledge that it brought defilement for a
Jew to enter a Gentile’s house. He was not worthy to have Jesus defile himself,
even though Jesus seems ready and willing to do so.
This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding
country. Do we do the same? How much and how often do we speak about
what’s happening right here at St. Michael’s?
How often do we offer to meet here on Saturday and Sunday? How often do we offer to walk with others, as
they struggle for answers, to all of life’s questions?
Each of us is a God walker.
Each of us is God talker. Each of
us knows exactly what the people of Nain were experiencing when they said
"God has looked favorably on his people!" We may not have all we want, or for that
matter all that we need, but that should not stop us from sharing with everyone
we meet what God has done for each and every one of us. As the word about Jesus spread throughout
Judea and all the surrounding country, it can also continue to spread on the
Germantown Pike. With our walking and
sharing, with our talking and learning, we have a lot of ground to cover from
here to Chestnut Hill, and on a good day to Plymouth Meeting and on a Great Day
we may make it as far as Graterford.
My thanks to Brian Stoffregen, Lucy Lynn Hogan and a host
Audio can be found at- https://soundcloud.com/tigerowl/pentecost2c-st-michaels-5-29-2016 Beware the air conditioners are loud.
7:1 After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he
7:2 A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and
close to death.
7:3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to
come and heal his slave.
7:4 When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, "He
is worthy of having you do this for him,
7:5 for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us."
7:6 And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the
centurion sent friends to say to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for
I am not worthy to have you come under my roof;
7:7 therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and
let my servant be healed.
7:8 For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say
to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my
slave, 'Do this,' and the slave does it."
7:9 When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that
followed him, he said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such
7:10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave
in good health.
·Luke 7:1-10God, we walk as though we have
no hope in you. Your word declares that nothing can separate us from your love
which is in Christ Jesus. Melt us, mold us, fill us, use us in your ministry as
we journey on our toilsome way here on earth, for you are our faithful God.
When a Pastor is asked to supply for someone,
I usually check to see ‘when was the last time I preached on the lessons for
the Sunday’. I’ve got enough years on
the soles of my feet to at least to try and remember where I preached, to whom
I preached this message, and then there is the difficult part – How out of date
is the message??? Since the pastors
study group had already met in this area, going to their usual Tuesday meeting
was already out of the question. There
is one more option, I have an online service I have been a part of since I
first got a computer in in 1984. Gospel
Notes for Sunday has been written by Brian Stoffregen for over 15 years and
these are his words about the study for the scripture - Luke
7:1-10 which is assigned for this Sunday is used even less. Then there was the
phrase that we shared, I have no sermons archived on today’s text.
So my challenge is to keep it real with a
congregation of people I have joined on occasion, in a church I walk or drive
by almost daily and one to which I can walk to worship. And your pastor would be disappointed in me
if I didn’t keep it real. So let us take
a look at the text like we were reporters looking a life in this community at
Capernaum and how it relates to 6500 Germantown Avenue.
Who are we looking at? First a little background – in this Sixth
chapter of Luke, we learn that Jesus is busy
Lord of the Sabbaoth-gleaning fields
and eating on the Sabbath –SOM Lord of Sabbaoth
Healing a Withered Hand-Healing on
Sabbaoth – Thought of punishment for Doing good
Choosing 12 Disciples-
Sermon on the Plain where he Teaches/Preaches about the
Beatitudes Blessed be ye poor:
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.
Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall
separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name
as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how
their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Do Not Judge Others-Do not judge
and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned;
forgive and you will be forgiven.
After teaching in Chapter 6 we experience the
reality of life of walking along side Jesus.
There is no down time, there seems to be a constant call for the
attention of Jesus. He finds that there
is a slave, a highly regarded slave who is ill and near death. He is not able to come on his own to request
healing, but the request comes from his owner a Roman Centurion, who make the
request of Jewish elders to approach Jesus to heal his servant. The request comes with a community blessing
that the centurion is one of the good guys, he loves the Jewish nation, and he
was instrumental in building the synagogue. With Jesus agreeing to travel with
the Jewish elders, the trip to the suffering slave is interrupted by messengers from the centurion, who self declares that he
is not worthy to have Jesus come to his home, nor does he presume that he is
should come to Jesus. As a military
officer he knows the responsibility that comes with giving, following, and
obeying orders. Jesus is stopped in his
tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."
the measure of faith in this community? You
have been around for a long time. As I continue to do research on African
American Lutherans, there is record that the dedication of St. Michael’s
building on October 1, 1752, a Black man, Christian Gotthilf, was baptized here
at St. Michael’s. An early name for this
section of the city of which St. Michael’s was a land mark was Beggarstown. As a congregation St. Michaels was
participant in the stabilization of this neighborhood through the 50’s, 60’s,
70’s and through the last nearly half century. In many ways, should Jesus walk
in the door now, called to be present with us, he might ask us what is it about
our faith that we did not trust that he was already present. What has been missed in the ministry offered
here? Depending upon the moment, it has
found food for the needy, education and care for children, music for the soul
and for those eager to learn, a community center where no question in unheard
and sincerely prayed for.
has this taken place-throughout the life of the congregation? Though I was only a member for a short period
of time, living across the street and being supervisor for students you hosted,
for 27 years, St. Michael’s has been my when desperate to get to worship
quickly. You have had an open door for
vagabonds like me and for those who have just been in the right place to make
the choice to hear the words or receive the actions of a Jesus community that
gathers here faithfully.
Where? Right here.
There is relatively few who do not know the church on the Great Road
from downtown Philadelphia to Plymouth at the 8 mile marker. The bulk of this
property was purchased in 1737, even though the first pastor who died in 1728
was buried in the graveyard. So wherever
the first gathering place was, it couldn’t have been far away. We don’t have to go far to find the places
where God has been present, and where God is still present.
Because. Yeah I know I sound like my
mother, and maybe yours. But Because is
a way to respond to the fact that each of us in our way have experienced the
love of God, the love of God’s community, the presence of the Holy Spirit in
the critical moments of our lives. It’s a part of the vows we take at Baptism,
it’s a part of the promises we take when we promise to educate our youth at
their baptism. It’s a part of the
implied wardrobe that we wear when we say we are Christians and Christ
it measured-By dedicating our lives and spirits and souls to being the face of
Jesus to all we meet. We are not all
that different from the soldiers we remember this weekend, as some of them gave
their all to be the protective face of Jesus.
How is it measured? By telling a
former student and neighbor, that I’m just across the street if you need
anything. How is it measured? By opening your doors to the neighborhood on
a regular basis, and by a pastor who seems to thrive, just like this
congregation, on the ability to welcome the stranger, that is what gives love a