Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Proper 8

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Second Sunday in Advent December 4, 2011 Second Sunday in Advent, Year B Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8
First Sunday in Advent November 27, 2011 First Sunday in Advent, Year B Genesis 28:10-17; Isaiah 64:1-9; Mark 13:24-37
Last Sunday After Pentecost November 20, 2011 Christ the King Sunday, Year A Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Matthew 25:31-46
22st Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 28 November 13, 2011 Sermon, Proper 28 Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
21st Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 27 November 6, 2011 Sermon, Proper 27, Year A, All Saints’ Sunday Matthew 25:1-13; Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-20
20th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 26 October 30, 2011 Proper 26, Year A Micah 3:5-12; Psalm 43; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:1-12
19th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 25 October 23, 2011 Proper 25, Year A Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46
18th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 24 October 16, 2011 Proper 24, Year A Matthew 22:15-22, Psalm 96
17th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 23 October 9, 2011 Proper 23, Year A Isaiah 25:1-12; Matthew 22:1-14
15th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 21 September 25, 2011 Proper 21, Year A Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Psalm 25:1-8; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32
13th Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 19 September 11, 2011 Sermon, Proper 19, Year A Matthew 18:21-35; Romans 14:1-12
12th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Proper 18 September 4, 2011 Sermon, Proper 18, Year A Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20
10th Sunday After Pentecost – “But who do you say that I am?” August 21, 2011 Proper 16, Year A Isaiah 51:1-6; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20
9th Sunday after Pentecost Year A – Canaanite Woman August 14, 2011 Sermon, Proper 15, Year A Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28
8th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A – Peter Gets Out of the Boat August 7, 2011 Proper 14, Year A Matthew 14:22-33

 

Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Proper 8

Sermon Date:June 26, 2011

Scripture: Romans 6:12-23; Psalm 89: 1-4, 15-18

Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday after Pentecost


The world is shifting around us, and our culture is full of moral ambiguity.

Our world is in turmoil and our own lives are frequently in an uproar. 

In our culture, the mention of sin is out of fashion—but we all know that sin is still a fact.  

And with sin comes chaos. 

If you’ve ever visited Boston, you’ve probably heard of Whitey Bulger, who until just this week when he was apprehended, was number one on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.    

Bulger was a mob boss wanted for nineteen brutal murders,  and these murders are only part of  his sinful behavior, which also included destroying whole neighborhoods by bringing in narcotics,  by corrupting law enforcement and FBI officials, not to mention the horrendous crimes committed by his henchmen.   When he went into hiding in 1995, Bulger left whole sections of Boston in a state of turmoil thanks to the chaos and evil in the underworld that he had ruled with an iron fist. 

All of us would probably agree that this man’s life qualifies as sinful, that he was truly a slave to sin.  Bolger committed himself to a life of crime and mayhem.  He chose a life of service to the Mob. 

Paul points out in this passage from Romans that because we are human beings, we are always going to be slaves to something.

The good news is that God has given us the freedom to choose who or what we will serve. 

Are we going to be slaves to sin, or to God? 

Bob Dylan says that “You Gotta Serve Somebody.”

In his  song “You Gotta serve somebody” he lists all sorts of people—the first verse will give you an idea

"You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

"And then comes the refrain that follows each verse

"But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody."

Paul is specific about the results of the choices we make.  The passage we just heard from Romans ends with the following statement. 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”

Serving the devil leads to turmoil and death, but serving the Lord leads to life—eternal life.   

And if we choose to serve God, we can live in hope even in the midst of turmoil and chaos. 

When we choose to serve God, we realize that the eternal life that we look toward begins right now, even in the imperfections and the sufferings and turmoil of this life.

We look forward with eager longing—that is, we hope– for the unfolding of God’s plan.  We have the hope that Paul notes in Chapter 8 of Romans—

We hope even in the most hopeless of times.   

The decade of the 1860’s must have seemed like one of the most hopeless and chaotic decades of this country’s history. 

In just 10 short years, brothers fought against one another and families split apart in the bloody Civil War that ripped the country in two.  Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  Slavery was outlawed and the Ku Klux Klan formed.  Andrew Johnson was impeached.  The country what must have seemed to be endless turmoil. 

And yet, in 1868, the editors of the New York Observer published the following song in their paper, attributed only to Pauline T. 

A voice of hope.

How Can I keep from Singing Pauline T

No one knows who Pauline T. was, or what her life was like, but she, like the apostle Paul, looked with eager longing toward  the new creation that God promises to those of us who choose to serve him throughout all of eternity. 

This song is the song of a hopeful person.  

"My life goes on in endless song:

Above earth’s lamentation,

I catch the sweet, tho’ far-off hymn That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife

I hear the music ringing;

It finds an echo in my soul– How can I keep from singing?

 

"What tho’ my joys and comfort die?

The Lord my Saviour liveth;

What tho’ the darkness gather round?

Songs in the night he giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,

While to that refuge clinging;

Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,

How can I keep from singing?

 

"I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;

I see the blue above it;

And day by day this pathway smooths,

Since first I learned to love it.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

A fountain ever springing;

All things are mine since I am his–

How can I keep from singing?"
 

Like Pauline’s song, Psalm 89 is a psalm of hope.

The psalm was written during a chaotic time full of turmoil in Israel’s history

The covenant that God had made with David seemed to have been broken because war had torn the country apart, and many of the Jews had been carried off into exile in Babylon.

And yet the Psalmist lived in hope.

He tells us of his hope in verse two of the psalm as he prays to God.

“For I am persuaded that your love is established forever; you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.”

God’s love is forever—and that love is stronger than our personal trials and tribulations, more powerful than the turmoil of the world shifting around us, greater than the sins in which we find ourselves trapped,

And if we have chosen to serve God, we experience hope in spite of our own sin and in spite of the evil that surrounds us,

And like the Israelites, we who are persuaded that God’s love is established forever, even as we’re carried into exile, we find hope welling up within us like a mighty river.

As the Psalmist says, Happy are the people who know the festal shout! Because they walk, O Lord, in the light of your presence.

As the psalmist says, we know that truly, God is our ruler. We have chosen to serve him,

We rejoice daily in God’s name, we are jubilant in God’s righteousness.

And when we choose to serve God, and to live in hope,

How can we keep from singing?

Amen

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