Sermons 2008

What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Advent 3B 2008                                          John 1:6-8, 19-28               

Who are you?  What do you have to say for yourself?  What do we, all of us, have to say about who we are?  What do we say about ourselves?  Over the years I’ve been in many small groups, especially in the church.  You know the kind of small group where the first thing that happens is that we all introduce ourselves. 

I particularly remember my first day n the Seminary when my small class of 35 people introduced themselves.  We  were all asked to say at least two things about ourselves which would tell others who we were besides our names. The really interesting thing is what we didn’t say.  Here’s what I mean, names changed to protect the guilty:

“I’m John, from Annandale, Virginia, and I just retired today with 31 years service in the United States Navy.                         

I’m Mary, from the Diocese if Southern Virginia, and I was assistant managing editor of the Norfolk Free Press.                   

I’m Bobby, from Mobile, Alabama, and former chairman of the county Republican Party and Republican National Committeeman.                                                                         

Some of us mentioned that we were parents.   But mostly we used the language of what we had done and thought we had been – the language of jobs, professions, careers, titles, and places.  And so on.

But none of us said,  “I’m John or Jane.  I’m a Christian, a  disciple of Jesus Christ and I seek to know him and make him known to others.”  And as I think back on it, some of us might have been embarrassed on that first day to say something like that.  We had not been through the refiner’s fire of the seminary yet – we did not then know who we were to become.  And now we are embarrassed that none of us said that day, “I am a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, and I seek to know him and make him known to others.”

Who do you say that you are?  What do you say about yourselves?

There are groups who come closer.  Take Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Al-Anon.  Part of the refiner’s fire in seminary was the required course in substance addiction and abuse.  One of its requirements was that we visit meetings of those groups.  Their meetings went like this:

I’m Wayne and I’m an alcoholic.                                             

I’m Jennifer and I’m a drug addict.                                         

I’m Heather and I’m an enabling co-dependent.          

Confession followed by the profession of faith that only through the grace bestowed by a Higher Power can they be – and remain – saved from the demons that beset and possess them.

Who do we say that we are?  What do we say about ourselves?  How do we identify ourselves?

Britain is famous for its double decker buses. There are a lot of them and sometimes it’s hard to see the identifying numbers.  One man was trying to make sure he was getting on the right one so he asked the little gray haired lady who took the tickets, “Are you Number 58?”

She answered briskly, “No, dearie, I’m Margaret.  The bus is Number 58.”

I have always been amused at how the Colonial Dames of the 17th Century look down on the Colonial Dames of the 18th Century.  And at the way the Daughters of the American Revolution look down upon the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  As far as my tribal ancestry, some of them met the ships at Jamestown, and the others had been chased out of most of Europe when they escaped to colonial Virginia. 

But the point is that many of our ancestors came to this country for freedom to worship as they believed and as missionaries native Americans and colonists alike.  These seekers of religious freedom and missionaries thought of themselves as Christians first, last, and always.  That’s how they answered the question of who they were and that’s what they said about themselves.

But now in the Northern Neck, how many times have we been introduced to someone and heard them say – when we asked something about them – did they say, “I am a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I am one who seeks to know Jesus Christ as Lord  and Savior and I am one who tries to make him known to others.”

And we – when they asked us, “Who are you?  What do you say about yourself?” -- what did we say?