Sermons 2009

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Home | Proper 17B, 30 August 2009, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | Proper 16B, 23 August 2009, John 6:56-69 | Pentecost 10 (Proper 14B) 9 August 2009, John 6:35, 41-51 | Pentecost 8B (Proper 12B), John 6:1-21, 26 July 2009 | Pentecost 7B (Proper 11B), 19 July 2009, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 | Pentecost 6B (Proper 10B), 12 July 2009, Mark 6:14-29 | Pentecost 5B (Proper 9B) 5 July 2009, Mark 6:1-13 | Pentecost 4B (Proper 8B), 28 June 2009 | Pentecost 3B (Proper 7B), 21 June 2009 | Pentecost 2B (Proper 6B), 14 June 2009 | About Pentecost, Pentecost B, 31 May 2009, | On the Trinity, Trinity B, 7 June 2009 | Jesus and Prayer, Easter 7B, 24 May 2009, John 17:6-19 | How can we love? Easter 6B, 17May 2009, John 15:9-17 | 2 Sermons: Vineyard and a Baptism, Easter 5B, 10 May 2009, John 15:1-8 | Who's in? Who's out? Easter 4B, 3 May 2009, John 10:11-18 | Sacramental Meals, Easter 3B, 16 April 2009, Luke 24:36b-48 | Resurrection, continued, Doubts, and a Baptism, Easter 2 B, 19 April 2009, John 20:19-31 | He is not here, Easter B, 12 April 2009, Mark 16:1-8 | The Seven Sayings from the Cross, Palm Sunday B 2009 | We wish to see Jesus, Lent 5B, 29 March 1009, John 12:22-33 | For God so loved the world, Lent 4B, 22 March 2009, John 3:14-21 | Out with the money changers! Lent 3B, 15 March 2009, John 2: 13-22 | On taking up the Cross, Lent 2B, 8 March 2009, Mark 8:31-38 | News or the real Good News?, Lent 1B, 1 March 2008, Mark 1: 9-15 | Listen to Him! Epiphany Last B Transfiguration, 22 February 2009, Mark 9:2-9 | What do you mean, demons? Epiphany 4B, 1 February 2009, Mark 1:21-28 | Immediately and discipleship, Epiphany 3B 2009, 25 January 2009, Mark 1:14-20 | Right in front of your eyes, Epiphany 2B, 18 January 2009, John 1:43-51 | In the beginning, water and the Spirit, Epiphany 1B, 11 January 2009, Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 1:4-11 | In God we trust, Christmas 2B, 4 January 2009, Jeremiah 31:7-14; Matthew 2:1-12




















Christmas 2B 2009                 Jeremiah 31:7-14; Matthew 2:1-12

As if the financial markets weren't already jittery enough, they were shaken even further by the Bernard Madoff scandal.  The ripple effects of his $50 billion Ponzi scheme are still being felt around the world.  Many of the former NASDAQ chairman's victims were charitable foundations (including prominent Jewish trusts, including that of Elie Wiesel).  Many have discovered that their endowments have been wiped out, forcing them to shut down. Madoff traded on his clients' trust in his integrity. "Trust" used to be a in the corporate names of many banks and other financial institutions.  But that comes from a time when many people were on a first-name basis with their banker --  rarely the case anymore in our world of global mergers and acquisitions and huge financial institutions.

The movie A Christmas Story is based on short stories by Jean Shepherd, many from his book, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, set in Depression-era America.   We are again in a significant economic downturn.  And the question arises, on the street and in scripture, "In what or whom do we put our trust?"

Just this week came a chain email reporting that some post offices in Texas had been forced to take down small posters saying “In God we trust”, cited as a violation of the law.  The email suggested that we write “In God we trust’ on every piece of mail we send.

            During the late lamented great Bull Market, trust was placed in an ever-growing economy, a bulging housing market, unlimited credit, and an ever-increasing Dow Jones average.  Banks, automobile manufacturers, and brokerage firms seemed solid as steel. With Fed chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke as our high priests, the prophets' whispered warnings  were barely heard above the din of the stock exchange.

            But in the end it was a house of cards.  Savvy investors and trusting benefactors alike have lost staggering sums.  Television images of jobless Wall Street workers carrying signs reading "MBA, willing to work" blend with the growing flood of ordinary folk facing bankruptcy, foreclosure, and homelessness. Financial security reveals itself to be, in the words of Ecclesiastes, "vanity of vanities!" 

In contrast to the emptiness of much of temporal human society, more people are turning to the sustaining presence of the Sweet Lord God who loves us, who created us, redeemed us, sustains us and continues to speak and work in the world despite the clamor and chaos of Wall Street.  In mid December, the New York Times, not noted for its friendliness toward religion in general and Christianity in particular, admitted in a headline,  "Bad Times Draw Bigger Crowds to Churches."  (1)

The scripture readings for the Second Sunday after Christmas speak of trust and joy, giving hope and a reminder of God's unfailing presence. In Matthew’s Gospel, when the wise men “saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.’’  Overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed with joy.   

And the prophet Jeremiah reporting  these words from the Lord's mouth:  "Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance and the young men and the old shall be merry.  I will turn their mourning into joy.  I will comfort them and give them gladness for sorrow.”

Overwhelmed with joy at the sight of the infant Christ child.  An appressed people given gladness for sorrow.

Compare this spiritual inheritance to the downturned bear market as we could compare a Gothic cathedral to a house of cards.  If we are wise we place our trust in God alone. Truly, all other credit is null and void. Our future is secured only in the heavenly places as we yearn for the Holy.  We rest safely only when we trust in the Lord who loves us.  In God we trust, now and always.

            AMEN

 

1.                   "Bad Times Draw Bigger Crowds to Churches," http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/nyregion/14churches.html

2.                   General approach adapted from SermonSuite for Christmas 2B 2009.