Sermons 2003-2004

"The God of the Second Chance -- and of many chances", Easter 3C, 25 April 2004
Home | Christmas Eve A, "Are we really ready?", Luke 2: 1-20, 24 December 2004 | "Finally! Well, almost...." Advent 4A , 19 December 2004, Matthew 1:18-25 | Faith and Doubts, Advent 3A, 12 December 2004, Matthew 11:2-11 | John the Baptist, Advent 2A, 5 December 2004, Matthew 3:1-12 | Left Behind? Advent 1A, 28 Nov 2004, Matthew 24:37-44 | Some King of kings! Proper 29C, 21 November 2004, Luke 23:35-43 | "Not one thrown down", Proper 28C, 14 November 2004, Luke 21:5-19 | All Saints and for all the saints, 2004C, 31 October 2004, Luke 6:20-36 | The Lambeth Commission Windsor Report, the Pharisee, and the tax collector, Proper 25C, 24 Oct 2004 | "Lord, teach us to pray." Proper 20C, 17 October 2004, Genesis 32:3-8, 22-30; Luke 18:1-8a | "It's all in the choosing", Proper 23C, 10 October 2004, Ruth 1:1-19a; Luke 17:11-19 | "Increase our faith", Proper 22C, Luke 17:5-10, 3 October 2004 | Proper 21C 2004, 26 September 2004, "R&R: Response and Relationships", Luke 16:19-31 | Proper 19C 2004, 12 September 2004, "Lost and Found", Luke 15:1-10 | Proper 18C 2004, 5 September 2004, "Preaching or Meddling", Luke 14:25-33 | Proper 16C 2004, 22 August 2004, "The Narrow Gate ", Luke 13:22-30 | Proper 15C, 15 August 2004 | Proper 14C, 8 August 2004 | Proper 13C, 1 August 2004 | Shrinemont: "Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses", Proper 15c, 15 August 2004 | "Lord, teach us how to pray," Proper 12C, 25 July 2004, Genesis 18:20-33; Luke 11:1-13 | The Summary of the Law and the Good Samaritan: "Go and do likewise" Luke 10:25-37, 11 July 2004 | Independence Day 2004. "The Creative Tension of the Church: Who is to be included?" | "Now! Now! Now!", Proper 8C, 27 June 2004, Luke 9:51-62 | "Star Throwers", Proper 7C, 20 June 2004, Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 9:18-24 | The more things change the more they remain the same, Pentecost 2C, 13 June 2004 | "O Holy Triune God, most Holy Trinity; here are we. Send us." Trinity C, 6 June 2004 | "Come, Holy Spirit", Pentecost C , 30 May 2004 | "That they all may be one", Easter 7C, 23 May 2004 | The Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Pneuma, Ruach, Easter 6C 2004 | Agapate Allelous: Love beyond each other, Easter 5C 2004, 9 May 2004 | The Good Shepherd and the five people you meet in heaven, Easter 4C 2004 | "The God of the Second Chance -- and of many chances", Easter 3C, 25 April 2004 | Baptizatus Sum: I am baptized, Easter 2C 2004 | It is NOT an Idle Tale: Easter Sunday, 18 April 2004 | Palm Sunday-Passion Sunday Roller Coaster: What We Want or What We Need? | Who are the Wicked Tenants, Lent 5C 2004 | The Prodigal Son -- and so much more | God, the Gardener, and the Fig Tree | "The Hen and the Fox", Lent 2C | The Comfortable Rut of Ordinary Temptation | "Getting from Uh-oh to Aha", Luke 9:28-36, Epiphany Last C, 22 February 2004 | Jesus, Jeremiah, and the Beatitudes: What to Make of it All | The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon: God working in the world | Jesus, the Archbishop, and Annual Council The Dark Abyss of Schism | The Nature of Revelation: Jesus' Sermon at Nazareth | The Miracle at the Wedding in Cana | The King of kings and the Lion King | "The Magnificat, Watching, and Waiting" | "Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always" | A Voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord." | "Standing in the Day of Battle: Isabel and the Gospel" | Dogma, Doctrine, and the Theological Enterprise | The Little Apocalypse | Jesus and theWidow's Mite | One Priest's Response to the Election of Gene Robinson | The Great Commandment: Jesus Meant What He said | Who is blind? | Eyes on Jesus and minds on mission! | Tradition or Traditionalism? | Credo: Be doers of the Word and not hearers only." | Who do YOU say that I am? | "It's about Power and Winning" | Contact Wicomico Parish Church

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Easter 3C 2004 John 21:1-14
Our lessons for today are clear examples of the love the Lord has for all of us, everywhere. It might be stretching the theological point a bit to say that the God who loves us is the God of the Second Chance. Where would we be if it were not so?

Legend has it in my family that we are direct descendants of the Indian Princess, Pocahontas among many descendants of that famous lady. One of my favorite snapshot photos is one of my two children and me at Jamestown, the three of us standing in front of the statue of Pocahontas.

The legendary life of Pocahontas illustrates several second chances. She was the daughter of Powhatan, a powerful chief of some 30 Indian tribes in the Virginia area. When Captain John Smith, the leader of the Jamestown colony, was captured in 1607 by these Indians, Chief Powhatan sentenced him to death in spite of Pocahontas' plea that he be spared. Before Powhatans warriors could beat Smith to death with their clubs, the 16-year-old Princess Pocahontas ran from her father's side, put her arms around Smith, and laid her head on top of his over some stones. She again begged her father to let Smith go free, and this time he relented.

Two years later Pocahontas learned of an Indian plan to destroy the Jamestown settlement and risked her life to warn Smith about the plot. After John Smith returned to England in 1613, an English sea captain captured and held Pocahontas as a hostage. While she was imprisoned, she met John Rolfe who rescued her, converted her to Christianity, and married her in 1616.

During a visit to England in 1617, Pocahontas caught smallpox, died, and was buried in Gravesend, England. She was only about 26 years old. She had one child, a daughter, from whom all the descendants of Pocahontas are derived.

Pocahontas intervened to obtain from her father Powhatan a second chance for Captain John Smith. Perhaps more important was her action in warning Jamestown of the Indian plan to attack, giving the settlers of the struggling village a chance to survive.

During her imprisonment, John Rolfe was instrumental in bringing her second chances, first through Christianity and then through marriage. The legend of Pocahontas lives on, not only in the hearts of Virginians but in all who believe in the marvelous, though mysterious providence of God, our God of the Second Chance. (1)

I think sometimes we are given so many second chances that we think of it as commonplace.

Hollywood has made millions with films about second chances and the redemption that comes from it. Take the perennial Christmas favorites. Its a tradition to watch A Christmas Carol in several versions of Ebenezer Scrooges second chance. Then theres Its a Wonderful Life, in which the God of the Second Chance sends an angel who needs a second chance to watch over a depressed husband and father who desperately needs a second chance.

And of course there is Tender mercies in which Robert Duvall plays a down and out alcoholic country singer and songwriter who gets a second chance through the love of a good Christian woman.

The recent film, Something's Gotta Give, is an energetic romantic comedy about two "smart and sassy characters" ably played by two of my favorite actors, Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Nicholson is Harry Sanborn, a wealthy 62 year-old bachelor who boasts about his playboy lifestyle of never having dated anyone over 30. Diane Keaton is Erica Barry, a divorced, 50-plus playwright who is trying to write a new play to sooth her heartbreak.

Harry comes to the Hamptons to spend the weekend with his latest "babe," Marin, an attractive 20-year-old who turns out to be Erica's daughter. Harry and Marin expect the family home to be vacant, but are surprised when they bump into Erica while raiding the refrigerator in their underwear. When Harry has a heart attack during the weekend and is rushed to a nearby hospital, he has to recuperate in the Barry home.

The entanglements and unavoidable proximity at first irritate Harry and Erica. But as barriers are let down and familiarity increases, a powerful attraction between the two middle-aged adults begins to develop. The initial hostility between the two soon turns into romance. To their surprise, both get another chance, a second chance, for love, but this time on a deeper and more meaningful level. And there is redemption.

Our Acts of the Apostles reading and our Gospel for today are replete with witness to the loving God of the Second Chance acting in the lives of people.

Saint Paul on the Damascus road what a story of the second chance. Raging and raving around the countryside, breathing threats and murder and persecuting Christians on every hand, Saul, as he was then called, was on his way to capture and arrest Christians in Damascus and carry them off to Jerusalem. Saul was a hard case. But the God of the Second Chance picks up his divine two by four and hits Paul on the side of the head in a great flash of lightning.

But where most of us would be seeing stars and be deaf and dumb unconscious after a blow like that, Saul sees Jesus instead. And Jesus speaks to him directly and sends him to Ananias, who teaches him about Christianity.

Ananias, too, has a second chance in the task the Lord gives him. His teaching of Paul set a foundation of study and reflection for the three years of Seminary that Paul spent in the desert after he left Damascus. At least that is what the Tradition suggests. Certainly in Pauls letters we see increasing growth in faith and practice in a matter of several years after this conversion experience which Paul himself called a revelation.

And remember Thomas the Doubter from last Sunday? He too was given another chance to believe the Lord had risen indeed.

In todays gospel the disciples out fishing are given a second chance by their Risen Lord. They had been out all night but had caught nothing. What a downer. Jesus was dead and they couldnt catch any fish for their living. And then it happens. Jesus is there. He calls to them from the shore, Put down your net on the other side of the boat. They do as they are told and catch so many fish they cant lift it into the boat.

The disciple whom Jesus loves recognizes who has spoken and Peter puts on his clothes and swims or wades ashore. And here the God of the Second Chance acts again. Peter needed a second chance. He had just recently denied that he knew anything about Jesus three times during that long horrible night of Jesus trial. And Peter needed another chance to redeem himself.

The Gospel continues on this way:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?"
He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."
And a second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep."
And he said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?"
And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. After this he said to him, "Follow me."

Three times Jesus asks Peter and three times Peter declares himself. And Peter is redeemed and told to rejoin the disciples, to be among those who followed the Risen Lord.

Our Lord is not the God of the Second Chance only -- but of every chance every chance we could need or want or desire. Its called grace and it abounds all around us, given even whether we ask or not.


1. Illustrations modified from LectionAid for 18 April. URL: