Sermons 2007

Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14

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 25C 2007 Luke 18:9-14

I have to say it was a lovely last Tuesday night where most of us were gathered for the Every Member Canvass Kickoff Dinner. I noticed two great similarities with one of the characters in this parable for today. Of course, I don’t mean the self righteous one who stood in a space where he could be seen praying by everyone who went up to the Temple that day. The one who declared for all to hear: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” Well, hmmm, like most people he wasn’t all bad. That part of giving a full tenth of his income was really good. And I’m sure as a result of the inspiring words from Andy and Vicky on Tuesday night that those of us who aren’t doing that will get with it.

But we are mostly like the tax collector, aren’t we? None of us like the tax collector but we recognize that both governments and churches need money to operate. But as I was thinking about all of us on Tuesday night I realized that those of us who haven’t moved to a church I won’t mention realize that we aren’t pure as the driven snow; that we haven’t been perfect enough to look down on any one – and never will be. That’s the first similarity between us and the tax collector who hid in a corner of the Temple Court beating his breast, begging for mercy.
The second similarity is the one in that great Gospel him that we sing every year, I think:

Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord,
Standin’ in the need of prayer,
Not the preacher, not the deacon, but it’s me, O Lord,
Standin’ in the need of prayer,
Not my father, not my mother, but it’s me, O Lord,
Standin’ in the need of prayer,
Not the stranger, not my neighbor, but it’s me, O Lord, Standin’ in the need of prayer,
It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O Lord,
Standin’ in the need of prayer. (1)

And just let me say a propos of that great Gospel hymn, that all those people mentioned therein, especially preachers, are standing in the need of prayer. And I appreciate more than I can say that most of you who read the prayers of the people, make sure I am listed as one standing in the need of prayer.

Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt. We are always, I think, in danger of that. There is an old story about the three men in the synagogue, the rabbi, the president of the congregation, and the janitor, who competed to see who was most in need of mercy and forgiveness. The rabbi and the president of the congregation concluded that they had won by saying, as they looked at the janitor beating his chest and asking for mercy for his great sinfulness – they said, ‘Look who thinks he is more sinful than we?! Jesus would also have told this parable for their enlightenment.

The famous actor Gregory Peck was once standing in line with a friend, waiting for a table in a crowded Los Angeles restaurant. They had been waiting for some time, the diners taking their time eating, and new tables not opening up. They weren't even close to the front of the line. Peck's friend grew impatient, and said to the actor, "Why don't you tell the maitre d' who you are?" "No," said Peck, "if you have to tell them who you are, then you aren't."

The Pharisee in our gospel reading apparently had never learned this. His prayer is an advertisement for himself. He's selling himself to God. And Jesus’ point is that he didn’t need. The God who loved him knew who the Pharisee was and that he was not a bad person. But the Pharisee would have been better off had someone been there to whisper in his ear that if he had to remind God who he was, then he wasn't. (2)

Last story: “A martial arts student was meeting with his master and teacher at a table, having tea. The student said to his master, "I've learned all you have to teach me about defending myself. I want to learn one thing more now. Please teach me about the ways of God."

“The master took the teakettle and starting pouring the student's cup full of tea. Soon the cup was full and began to spill over onto the saucer. But the master continued to pour the tea until it spilled over the saucer and then onto the floor.

“The student finally said, "Stop, stop, the tea is spilling over. The cup can't take any more." The master then looked at the student and said, "You are so full of yourself that there is no room in your life for God. It is not possible for you to learn the ways of God until you learn to empty yourself." (3)

Now please stand and sing LEVAS 177 before we say the Nicene Creed.

1. LEVAS # 177
2. Sermon Resources for October 28, Sermon #2 'The Good, the Bad, and the Justified', in eSermons email, 22 Oct 2007.
3. R. Curtis Fussell, “Learn To Empty Yourself” in Deadly Sins and Living Virtues, CSS Publishing Company, Inc., eSermons Illustrations for October 28, 2007.