Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sermon for Pentecost 2 - May 29, 2016 @ St. Michael's Lutheran Church, Mt, Airy, Philadelphia, PA

Audio can be found at- Beware the air conditioners are loud.

Luke 7:1-10
7:1 After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum.
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 faith."
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. Amen.

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least to try and remember where I preached, to whom I preached this message, and then there is the difficult part – How out of date is the message???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.
The four woes that follow in Luke 6:24–26[4]
Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
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 tracks, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."
What is 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.
When 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.
Why? 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 followers.
How is 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 measure.  AMEN.

Thanks to Lucy Lind Hogan

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Accountability in Journalistic Media seems to have been diminished. Affirmation of this statement is reflected in a recent broadcast of "On the Media" from WNYC - . If you don't have 49 minutes to listen to the entire program, you might want to focus on the segments in the latter half of the broadcast (21:50) that focus on Public Media of the New York times, (45:20) the coverage of Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump, (30:30) and the failed candidacy of former Congressman & losing NYC mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner. The overall message is a call for Journalistic integrity.