Tag Archives: forgiveness

Holy Cross Day

Day of Judgment

The Prophet Isaiah forecast a time when God would hold a court to judge humankind for sin. God was speaking to the nation of Israel, but Israel was a proxy for all the nations of the world:

Declare and present your case;
let them take counsel together!

Who told this long ago?
Who declared it of old?

Was it not I, the Lord?
There is no other god besides me,

a righteous God and a Saviour;
there is no one besides me.   (Isaiah 45:21)

We are asked by God to present our case to him. God is also saying that he is qualified to judge our case because he is creator and has established all life. There is no other god besides him. Furthermore, his very nature and character qualifies him. He will be fair because he is not only a righteous God, but he is also our Savior.

A righteous God must be fair, but he must also be just. He must declare the injustice caused by sin. Sin cannot be ignored or swept under the rug. How is God able to accomplish this most difficult task, that of being both compassionate and just?

Before his verdict of guilty and penalty of death, God provided a path of escape. He did so through his Son Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the cruel crucifixion of Jesus by his own choice and desire:

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,

so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.   (Philippians 2:5-11)

In today’s Gospel reading we see a link between the judgement of God and a route of escape:

Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.   (John 12:31-33)

On the cross the sins of the whole world were judged. Jesus bore our sins for us while hanging from a cross and receiving the Father’s judgement. The righteous One  became sin.  The judgement of sin was once and for all, for all who believe. The Apostle Paul’ wrote:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   (Romans 6:23)

Have we allowed God to judge our sins through his Son Jesus? If so, we must acknowledge it. We must turn towards Jesus. We must see him on the cross standing in for us.

God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah:

Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.

By myself I have sworn,
from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
a word that shall not return:

“To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear.”

Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,
are righteousness and strength;

all who were incensed against him
shall come to him and be ashamed.

In the Lord all the offspring of Israel
shall triumph and glory.   (Isaiah 45:22-25)

Do we want triumph and glory? The only judgement of God that is left is the judgement of fallen angels. That judgement is not meant for us. Do we ignore such a great gift of salvation established on a Holy Cross? If Jesus humbled himself, why can we not humble ourselves? In Hebrews we read:

Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will..   (Hebrews 2:1-4)

The cross was very cruel instrument of torture and death. How can it be holy? We say that it is holy only because it can make us holy. We have been washed in the blood of Jesus. Thanks be to God.

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Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 14

Track 1: The Living Communion

2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
Psalm 130
Ephesians 4:25-5:2
John 6:35, 41-51

Absalom was a son of King David. He had ambitions to become king in place of his father. He failed to realize that God appointed and anointed David the king of Israel.  His rebellion eventually led to his death.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.   (Galatians 2:20)

To fully live one must give up oneself. Absalom did not understand this. He could only take. He did not realize what God was prepared to give him in return for himself, as did his father David.

Jesus set the example for us. He gave us his all on the cross to purchase our salvation. But we must give him our all as well. When we do that we are invited to his banquet. He becomes our spiritual food:

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”   (John 6:53-58)

By this teaching we should understand how important the Holy Communion is to Christ living in us. Thus, it is not optional but vital to our Christian journey.

In the Book of Revelation we read:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.   (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus is not speaking to unbelievers here, but to the Church. He wants to sup with us. The Holy Communion of the Lord’s Supper has been given to us so that we may participate in the a foretaste of heavenly banquet.

Christ living in us should not be a mystery to the Christian. The Apostle Paul wrote:

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: the which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.   (Colossians 1:24-27)

David loved his son Absalom and wept over his death. God weeps over us when we do not understand his love and rebel against him. Let us not be Absalom’s. Absalom sought glory for himself, for God has a far greater glory which will be revealed to those who put their trust in his Son Jesus and partake of his banquet.

 

Track 2: Suggestions

1 Kings 19:4-8
Psalm 34:1-8
Ephesians 4:25-5:2
John 6:35, 41-51

Elijah was on a physical journey to Mount Horeb. The angle encouraged him to eat food or the journey would be too great for him. We are on a spiritual journey. We need spiritual food or we may not reach our destination. Jesus is that food:

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”   (John 6:35)

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Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 13

Track 1: You Are the Man

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
Psalm 51:1-13
Ephesians 4:1-16
John 6:24-35

We continue with King David’s dreadful deceit. God instructed the Prophet Nathan to go to David and tell him this parable:

“There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.”   (2 Samuel 12:1-4)

David was very harsh in his judgement of the rich man:

He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”   (2 Samuel 12:5-6)

It is easy for us to be critical of others. This was especially true for David in this case, for the rich man showed no pity. But we are not to be judgmental of others in any case. Jesus said:

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?   (Matthew 7:1-3)

When we judge others we often find that judgement coming back on us:

Nathan said to David, “You are the man!   (2 Samuel 12:7)

Perhaps we dwell on the sin of others to avoid looking ay out own sin. God wants us to recognize our sins and confess them.

God responded to David’s confession. Nathan said:

Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”  Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.”   (2 Samuel 12:11-13)

There are often consequences for sin, even when we confess it and have received God’s forgiveness.

Sin has ti do with an attitude of the heart. When he gained this understanding David wrote Psalm 51:

Have mercy o, O God, according to your loving-kindness;
in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

Wash me through and through from my wickedness
and cleanse me from my sinFor I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.

Against you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.

 so you are justified when you speak
and upright in your judgment.

Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,
a sinner from my mother’s womb.

For behold, you look for truth deep within me,
and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;
wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

Make me hear of joy and gladness,
that the body you have broken may rejoice.

1Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence
and take not your holy Spirit from me.

Give me the joy of your saving help again
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.   (Psalm 51:1-13)

What can we learn from this tragedy and David’s confession? We may not have committed such vile crimes, at least not in in the physical. But we must look deep within our hearts:

For behold, you look for truth deep within me,
and will make me understand wisdom secretly.   (Psalm 51:7)

Perhaps we should be proactive in our confessions before God. The psalmist wrote:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.   (Psalm 139:23-24)

If we have an unforgiving and judgmental heart, we have lost the foundation of our faith. God’s kingdom is based on love and forgiveness. Without his love as our foundation we are severely handicapped in coping with our daily lives. The Apostle Paul wrote:

We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.   (Ephesians 4:14-16)

Jesus Christ is our head. He is our example. From the cross he forgave everyone. Are we able to follow his example? Yes, with his help, as long as we are able to look at our own sin. Our salvation is far greater than any false sense of self righteousness. We are righteous only by our faith, The blood of Jesus which washes away all of our sin, provided that we confess it.

Track 2: Suggestions

Exodus 16:2-4,9-15
Psalm 78:23-29
Ephesians 4:1-16
John 6:24-35

In today’s readings we have two miraculous feedings, one in the Old Testament and one in the Gospel:

The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’“   (Exodus 1611-12)

In the Gospel, Jesus is teaching about the miracle of Holy Communion:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”   (John 6:36)

Both feedings are from God. The manna given in the wilderness was vital to the health of the children of Israel. The body and blood of Jesus is vital to our spiritual health. The children of Israel had no choice. We have a choice. Our churches have a choice. Jesus said:

“Very truly, I tell youunless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.   (John 6:53)

 

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Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 8

Track 1: Reaching out in  Faith

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
Psalm 130
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Mark 5:21-43

In today’s Gospel reading a leader of a synagogue named Jairus had asked Jesus to come and pray for his daughter who was at the p0int of death. Along the way something remarkable happened:

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”   (Mark 5:24-34)

What is so remarkable about this woman? She had been ill for a lengthy time and nothing seemed to help. No doubt her faith had been tested. She may have lost hope in a conventional cure. She was desperate, but she had not given up on God. The psalmist wrote:

Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice;
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss,
O Lord, who could stand?

For there is forgiveness with you;
therefore you shall be feared.

I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him;
in his word is my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord,
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, wait for the Lord,
for with the Lord there is mercy;

With him there is plenteous redemption,
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.   (Psalm 130:1-7)

She believed that God could and would heal her. She could have easily blamed God for all of her troubles, but she did not, The enemy loves to tempt us in this way. “Why doesn’t God help me?”

There is another temptation that Satin uses. He tells us that we are not worthy. This woman must have believed in God’s mercy and redemption. She believed in the goodness of God. She believed that healing was her God-given birthright.and she was not going to let anything get in her way of seeking his help..

Did this woman know that Jesus was God? We do not know. But apparently she knew there was something in Jesus that would bring her back to health. She said: “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” She must have believed that there was a life-giving power in Jesus.

Sometimes it takes despair to grasp both our need and desire for God.  Many of us have been touched by God. But have we reached out in faith to touch hm?

Today, are we ready to touch the hem of his garment? God has more for us. He has healing for us.

O Israel, wait for the Lord,
for with the Lord there is mercy;

With him there is plenteous redemption,
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.   (Psalm 130:6-7)

 

Track 2; Suggestions

Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24
Lamentations 3:21-33
or Psalm 30
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Mark 5:21-43

The readings seem to focus on death and the resurrection. From the Wisdom of Solomon we learn that God did not make death. He created us for incorruption.

“but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.”

Our lives have to do with whom we identify. This has to do with the age old struggle. Part of that struggle if often the question of whether or not we see God as good. Do we see him as good? How about absolutely good?

What caused the devil to envy? What causes us to follow him? There are two worlds. One has death and the other has life, eternal life. Which one will we choose. For this world the resurrection of Jesus is required.

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