Sermons 2003-2004

"Now! Now! Now!", Proper 8C, 27 June 2004, Luke 9:51-62
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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Proper 8C 2004 Luke 9:51-62

There are two major messages our Lord gives his disciples in the Gospel lesson from Luke. The first one is about tolerance.

Immediately prior to todays gospel reading Jesus and his disciples were on the road and the disciple John came running up to Jesus and said, Master, we saw a man casting out demons in our name and we stopped him because he isnt one of us.

Jesus stopped and looked John straight in the eye for a moment, looking at him and through him in silence. When Jon began to squirm under the Lords steady penetrating gaze, Jesus said to him, Dont try to stop him, for he who is not against us is for us.

And at the beginning of todays reading, James and John, known as the Sons of Thunder demonstrate how well they deserve that nickname. When Jesus and his disciples sought food and lodging in a Samaritan village they werent received because they were making their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover.

And the Sons of thunder wanted to destroy the village and all that was within it by calling fire down from heaven. But Jesus was having no part of it. He stopped them cold, rebuked them, and peacefully went on to another village, presumably Jewish, where they ate supper and spent the night.

For the Samaritans and Jews of Jesus day that which divided them was an important point to them, even if it might seem a little strange to us. But it isnt, so strange, really, if you consider some of the divisions developing in the Church today. The main differences between Jew and Samaritan and remember, both fall within the borad definition of Judaism were two things.

First the Samaritans considered that one could only truly worship God on Mount Gerizim (sometimes called Mount Ebal) and nowhere else. But the rest of the Jews considered that the Temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem was the true place to worship God after all, God dwelt there in the Holy of Holies.
The second thing was that the Samaritan holy scriptures consisted only of the Pentateuch the first five books of the Hebrew Bible Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Being a very conservative sect of Judaism, they distrusted the books of the prophets and other books of the Hebrew bible as smacking of innovation and modernism. So, of course they would particularly think of Jesus as a radical innovator with his talk of the Good News. And he certainly was and still is.

. Dealing with the past and with change has always been a difficult thing for religious people. The story is told of a devout Christian who was faithful in his daily devotions. He read portions of scripture and a devotional book, meditated silently for a while, and then prayed. As time went by, his prayers became longer and more intense. He came to cherish this quiet time with God.

His cat liked this devotional time, too! She snuggled against her owner and purred loudly. This interrupted the man so he put a collar around the cats neck and tied her to the bedpost whenever he wanted to be left undisturbed.

The mans daughter noticed how much his devotional time meant to him, and she adopted the same practice. She dutifully tied her cat to the bedpost and proceeded to read and pray. Her prayer time was shorter, however.

The day came when her son grew up. He wanted to keep some of the family traditions, but the pace of life had rapidly speeded up for his generation. He felt that he had no time for lengthy and elaborate devotions, so he eliminated the time for meditation, Bible reading, and prayer. But so that he could carry on the familys religious tradition, while he was dressing each morning, he just tied his cat to the bedpost! (1)

Jesus lived his whole life in terms of the Summary of the Law and the Great Commandment. He loved all his neighbors, including those who tried to imitate him and those who loved God even as narrowly as the Samaritans did. The Samaritans and even Jesus own disciples were trapped in the rigidities of the past even as the future was sweeping over them with the Good News. And the bearer of the Good News, our Lord himself, was reaching out to the Samaritans as a friend.

To paraphrase the great 18th Century Church of England priest John Wesley: I have no more right to object to someone holding a different opinion from mine than I have to differ with someone who wears a wig and I have my own hair, but if he takes his wig off and shakes the powder in my face, I shall consider it my duty to get quick of him as soon as possible.The thing which I resolved to use every possible method of preventing was a narrowness of spirit, a party zealthat narrow bigotry which makes many so unready to believe that there is any work of God but among themselves.We think and let think. (2)

And during the American Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln was criticized for being courteous to his enemies, both in politics and in the Confederacy, and was told that it was his duty to defeat and destroy them, he replied, Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? (3)

The second thing that Jesus teaches by example in the Good News for today is mission. Specifically the urgency of the mission task.

Too slow!" ...A day late and a dollar short! "Always a foot behind and a minute late!" Does that describe anyone you know? -- late for work, late for church, late for appointments.

The story is told of a certain funeral director who had just buried the husband of a very wealthy old friend who had died after a long illness.

After the graveside service, the now very wealthy widow was the only mourner to get into the big funeral limousine. She had no children, and no other relatives.

During the drive home, the funeral director spoke in earnest tones to the widow. "Mary," he said, "I want to tell you something, but please don't be offended. I've been secretly in love with you all these years. That's why I never married. Because John was my friend, I never said anything about it. But now he's gone. All my life I've been a procrastinator. All my life I've been too slow about everything. But this time, I'm not going to wait. So, Mary, if you should ever think of marrying again, just remember, I asked you first."

Mary looked at him, smiled sweetly, and answered, "Tom, I appreciate that very much, but John's doctor has already asked me." (4)

We Episcopalians can sometimes be a little slow in picking up the mission task. Sometimes we are a little like the people who said that they wanted to follow Jesus but first wanted to do something else.

I can really relate to this because I am so typical of this. It is the reason I came to the priesthood at age 53 instead of age 33 when I first began to discuss with bishops about the possibility. Oh, Lord, let me first finish my Army career and retire on a nicer pension so that I can afford to follow you.

Last summer and this weekend we have had short term mission teams come to the Northern Neck from Region 11. They are here at the 8 oclock service to worship with us. This most recent set of eleven missioners ranged in age from mid preteens to grandparent. They spent two days washing, scraping, and then painting a concrete block house just beyond Callao. The lady who lives in that house is an amputee and very poor. This is the sort of thing, the kind of mission, that Jesus meant for us to seize and do.

When project 2-11 was nothing more than an idea in the minds of the Deans of Regions 2 and 11, we hoped it would succeed. And thanks to the energy shown by Eleanor Fukushima, the President of the Region 11 Council, this short term mission effort is continuing and improving the lot of Gods people in the two counties who live in Third World conditions.

If you talk to those who come to us from Region 11, I think you will find that they feel they gained more from the experience than they expected.

A last story about seizing the moment and the mission. It is from one of my favorite little bokks, Tales of a Magic Monastery by Theophane the monk. The title of the story is simply one word: Now! and was written in a section that asked When?

I had just one desire to give myself completely to God. So I headed for the monastery. An old monk asked me, What is it you want?
I said, I just want to give myself to God.
I expected him to be gentle, fatherly, but he shouted at me, NOW! I was stunned. He shouted again, NOW! Then he reached for a club and came after me. I turned and ran. He kept coming after me, brtandishing his club and shouting, NOW! NOW!
That was years ago. He still follows me wherever I go. Always that stick, always that NOW! (5)

What is our answer to Jesus question, When? Is it after something else or is it NOW!


1. Quoted in The Forward Look, Dynamic Preaching, June 404dp
2. As quoted in William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, revised edition, Westminster Press, 1975, p. 130.
3. Ibid.
4. Told in From this Moment On, Sunday Sermon for 27 June 2004.
5. Theophane the Monk, Tales of a Magic Monastery, Crossroad Publishing Co., 1981, p.49.