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Showing posts from September, 2007

Sermon for September 16, 2007

The Unforgivable Sin
Matthew 12:22-37

Three ministers and their wives got into a car crash and died one day. They found themselves standing at the pearly gates together before St. Peter. St. Peter opened his big book, pointed to the first minister, and said, “You’re going to Hell.”

“What? Why?” cried the minister.

“Because you lusted after money. You never actually stole any money, but in your heart, you were constantly thinking about money. You had money on your mind so much that you even married a woman named Penny. So you’re going to Hell.” And in a puff of smoke, the first minister disappeared. St. Peter flipped a few pages in his book and pointed to the second minister. “You are also going to Hell,” he said sternly.

“Why?” said the anguished minister.

“Because of your love of alcohol. You never actually drank any alcohol, but you constantly yearned for it in your heart. You thought about it so much that you even married a woman named Brandy. So you’re going to Hell. “And in a puff of s…

Sermon for September 16, 2007

Reviver of the Dead
Matthew 12:9-14

This morning, I invite us to hear, with fresh ears, a story about Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew says, “Then Jesus went over to the synagogue, where he noticed a man with a withered hand.”

I went to High School with a girl who suffered from crippling rheumatoid arthritis. She rode a scooter from class to class because she could barely walk. Her body was frail and tortured. I always remember her hands. They were usually bandaged. However, on the rare occasion her gauze wrappings were off, we saw her swollen, blistered, and twisted hands. I’m embarrassed to say, we were not kind to this girl. She was ridiculed and mocked without mercy. She was different. She was an easy target. School must not have been a safe place for her. She was one of our schools outcasts, excluded by those of us who felt that she did not belong among us healthy and robust teenagers.

I imagine life was hard for the man with the withered hand in today’s gospel reading. In…

Sermon for September 9, 2007

“Therefore You Shall Choose Life”
Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Matthew 11:1-6

In a tiny house lived a mother and her two children — a girl and a boy. The mother loved her children and worked hard to support them. Their house was very small — barely big enough for the three of them — but it had a little yard. In that little yard, the family had a modest garden that provided some food. They had a couple of chickens that gave them eggs. And in that small yard they had a duck. The duck was precious. The duck would one day be dinner for the little family.

On one spring day, the boy was in the tiny backyard throwing rocks, as little boys like to do. His young hands were barely as big as the rocks he threw, and his aim was not as sure as his desire. For a while, he threw them at a mark on the fence, missing it nearly every time. Then a voice from somewhere inside him told him to throw a rock at the duck. He threw the rock, and for once his aim was true. He killed that duck.

The boy was horrified. In pa…

Sermon for August 19, 2007

The Messiah is Among You
Matthew 10:40-42

A famous monastery fell on hard times. Once its buildings filled with young monks and its huge chapel resounded with the singing of the choir. Now it was deserted. People no longer came there to be nourished by prayer. A handful of old monks shuffled through the cloisters with heavy hearts. On the edge of the monastery woods, an old rabbi had built a tiny hut. He would come there from time to time to fast and pray. No one ever spoke with him, but whenever he appeared the word would be passed from monk to monk: The rabbi walks in the woods. And, for as long as he was there, the monks would feel sustained by his prayerful presence. One day the abbot decided to visit the rabbi and open his heart to him. After the morning Eucharist, he set out through the woods. As he approached the hut, the abbot saw the rabbi standing in the doorway, his arms outstretched in welcome. It was as though he had been waiting there for some time. The two embraced like …