Sermons 2007
"Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32

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

Epiphany 4C 2007 Luke 4:21-32

Three brief notes from annual Council:
1. Our new Bishop Coadjutor is Shannon Johnston, rector of All Saints, Tupelo, Mississippi, elected overwhelmingly on the third ballot.
2. A resolution for local option for blessing same sex unions was withdrawn for further review and study. It did not pass or come to a vote otherwise.
3. The budget is 500,000 dollars short of needs. We need to send more to the diocese, which does so much with so little.

When we finished the Gospel for last Sunday, Jesus had just read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Jesus rolled up the scroll, sat down, waited, and then said: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke well of him and were amazed at his gracious words. But as Jesus speaks again as the mood changes. Jesus sees their uneasiness and suspicion. "Doubtless you will say, 'Doctor, cure yourself!….Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'" Jesus seems to be reading their minds and mood. "No prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown," he says. He then tells them stories they had heard often.

Two of Israel's prophets, Elijah and Elisha, had healed and blessed people who were different, outsiders -- a widow from Sidon and Naaman -- a Syrian general – and a leper. They had not healed any Israelites that day.

And suddenly, "all in the synagogue were filled with rage." They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, and tried to throw him off the cliff. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

What had happened? "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Was it because lowly Joseph's lowly son claimed to be the one anointed by the Spirit of God? Or was it the stories he told about God favoring Gentile outsiders, people who didn’t believe exactly the way that they did -- the widow in Sidon, the leper in Syria? Had God moved out of Israel --is that what Jesus was saying? It is not so odd to imagine that the people in Nazareth would take offense at him or be a bit miffed. But they were filled with rage. They wanted to kill him.

"Today this word has been fulfilled in your hearing." Another time and place: not a synagogue, but St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. In 1786 the membership of St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia included both blacks and whites. However, the white members met that year and decided that thereafter black members should sit only in the balcony. Two black Sunday worshippers, Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, whose enthusiasm for the Methodist Church had brought many blacks into the congregation, learned of the decision only when, on the following Sunday, ushers tapped them on the shoulder during the opening prayers, and demanded that they move to the balcony without waiting for the end of the prayer. They refused to go. Instead, they passed through the midst of them and led their people out. They walked out, followed by the other black members. "They were no more plagued with us in that church," said Richard Allen.

Lest we feel too smug and self-righteous, in 1962 the vestry of Wicomico Parish Church enacted a resolution to the same effect, not rescinded until 1994.

Absalom Jones conferred with William White, Episcopal Bishop of Philadelphia, who agreed to accept the group as an Episcopal parish. Jones would serve as lay reader, and, after a period of study, was ordained and served as rector. Allen eventually form d the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Jones was the first black American to receive formal ordination in any denomination. (1)

The great Lutheran preacher, Barbara Lundblad remembered her own hometown Gowie, Iowa and Zion Lutheran Church. It's a silly story, really, but memorable for a child. Every year the Sunday Scholl presented a Christmas pageant. And every year she was in the chorus. The angel chorus or the speech chorus or some other chorus. But Mary was played by a girl who hardly ever came to Sunday School. Lundblad’s mother tried to explain that it was the teacher's way of getting her involved or something. But it made no sense to Lundblad --she was the one who was always there.

A widow in Sidon. A leper in Syria. Two African American ministers in Philadelphia. The wrong girl chosen to be Mary in an Iowa town. Different from each other, but very different from “us” and the people in Nazareth--people like us. The people in Jesus' hometown heard what Jesus was saying. God has blessed and healed outsiders before and God is doing it again. And they were filled with rage.

"Today," said Jesus, "this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." This word changes things. This word proclaims good news to the poor and release to the captives. Those of us who are lifelong Christians would surely say that God's blessings are meant for everyone. But when this happens on God's terms and not ours, some become outraged

How will it be in Nazareth in this new year, 2007? The Episcopal Church this year marks the 31st anniversary of the ordination of women. And there were still some who cannot accept it. Still upset over the new Prayer Book, whose first draft was tested in 1967 forty years ago. Still upset over any little change.

So there has been a lot of resentment in our congregations, in the larger church. Although much less now that the latest schism has occurred. As there was a lot of fear and rage in Nazareth.

But it was a happy Council, a Council filled with joy. Free at Last! Free of the angry and rage filled to become the Church that God wants us to be! Free at last!


2. Adapted from Barbara K. Lundblad, The Fear in our Home Towns, 1995, SermonMall for Epiphany 4C.