Sermons 2007
"Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Proper 8C 2007 Luke 9:51-62

This Wednesday is the Fourth of July. We gathered here in this little church are thankful, I hope, that we live in this great nation. But there is a problem with the Fourth of July holiday. Unlike Christmas, Easter, and even Thanksgiving holidays, there seems little religious, little Christian, significance attached to the Fourth of July.

The day is viewed by most Americans as a purely secular national holiday, including Americans who call themselves Christians. Yet it wasn't always so. Sometimes during this particular holiday period it’s good to review the founding document: The Declaration of Independence. The great Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration itself, wrote this opening paragraph:

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator (note that phrase, by their Creator) with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

And in the concluding paragraph, Jefferson wrote, and the delegates all signed:

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Sometimes we forget how deeply steeped in biblical tradition, how profoundly influenced by the Bible and the tenets of their faith were these revolutionaries who gathered in Philadelphia 220 years ago. The language they signed in the Declaration of Independence contains holy language -- God talk -- if you listen to it.

Some years later in 1787 the attempt to write what we know as the Constitution of the United States was not going well in Philadelphia. Old Ben Franklin, not particularly known for his piety and devoutness, rose to speak. He said:

"The small progress we have made after four or five weeks is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it.

"In this situation, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice -- is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?"

How indeed, I say, how indeed. The men who founded this Republic and set it on its course of government were not only revolutionaries of political freedom; they had heard the gospel message, and weren't afraid to speak to it in a public forum.

Not long ago, a group of children was questioned at random on what they liked about the United States. Their answers were enlightening, humorous, and frightening. And they reveal a lot about the message they are getting from their parents and teachers:

Jackie, aged 9: "We've got more stuff and things in America than anywhere in the world. We have pizza as well and it won't grow any other place on earth except maybe Italy."

Elliott, age 9: "Everybody wants to live in America because we own the moon. The President bought the moon from God for a million dollars."

David, age 9: "America is great because it's bigger and has more shopping malls and supermarkets."

Sean, age 9: "America is great because they have the most plumbers in the world. That’s because we've got more tubs. I want to be a plumber like my uncle, because he's real rich."

And Jonathan, age 8: "Other countries aren't free like America. They won't let you go to church and if you do, they throw you in prison and whip you."

And there's Lew, age 6, who really sticks our noses in harsh reality: Asked what he liked about America, Lew replied, "What's America?" (1)

What kind of revolutionaries are we? Last week the Gospel confronted us with three questions about what kind of Christians we were. Today’s Gospel reminds us that to be a Christian means to be a disciple of Christ and that there is a cost in that discipleship for us. And this week, the Fourth of July reminds us that we are in this free land where the costs of becoming and remaining free where we can worship as and if we please or not worship if that's our pleasure – that the costs of that freedom have been paid by many over the centuries.

There are almost a billion people in the world who call themselves Christians, not just a small band of twelve disciples. The pews are filled to the brim in "mega churches." We have large complex church structures, giant cathedrals, many bishops, priests, and deacons, and an abundance of sisters. We have church bureaucracies, agencies, and charities; we even have church-run Web pages and computer networks. There are plenty of modern high-tech disciples out there with lots of megabytes. Sometimes it seems that all we have to do is point and click to worship or practice the Christian life.

Real discipleship is not that easy. The gospel reminds us that we are less secure in the world than foxes and birds. If we feel more secure than foxes and birds, perhaps we are spending too much time looking backward behind our plowing. Many of us may be retired, but we’re not retired from the Christian life – God isn’t through with us—and never will be. (2)


1. InterNet and other homiletical illustration sources
2. Adapted from Pentecost 4 Selected Sermon
by The Reverend Karen Ward,