|Proper 12, Ninth Sunday after Pentecost||July 29, 2012||Proper 12, Ninth Sunday after Pentecost||Ephesians 3:14-21, John 6:1-21|
|Proper 11, Eighth Sunday After Pentecost||July 22, 2012||Proper 11, Year B||Psalm 23; Mark 6:30-34, 53-36|
|Proper 10, Seventh Sunday After Pentecost||July 15, 2012||Proper 10, Seventh Sunday After Pentecost||Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:1-13|
|Proper 9, Sixth Sunday After Pentecost||July 8, 2012||Sermon, Proper 9, Year B||2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13|
|Proper 8, Fifth Sunday After Pentecost||July 1, 2012||Sermon, Proper 8, Year B||Lamentations 3:21-33; Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Mark 5:21-43|
|Proper 7, Fourth Sunday in Pentecost||June 24, 2012||Sermon, Proper 7, Year B||Job 38:1-11, Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32; Mark 4:35-41|
|Proper 5, Second Sunday in Pentecost||June 10, 2012||Sermon, Proper 5, Year B (Second Sunday of Pentecost)||Psalm 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1|
|Trinity Sunday, Year B||June 3, 2012||Trinity Sunday, Year B||Isaiah 6:1-8; Ps 29; Romans 8:12-17;John 3:1-17|
|Day of Pentecost, Year B||May 27, 2012||Day of Pentecost, Year B||Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15|
|Sixth Sunday in Easter, Year B||May 13, 2012||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B||Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17|
|Fifth Sunday in Easter, Year B||May 6, 2012||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B||Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:24-30; I John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Easter, Year B||April 29, 2012||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B||Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18|
|Third Sunday in Easter, Year B||April 22, 2012||Second Sunday of Easter, Year B||Luke 24:36b-48|
|Second Sunday in Easter, Year B||April 15, 2012||Second Sunday of Easter, Year B||John 20:19-31|
|Easter, April 8, 2012||April 8, 2012||Sermon, Easter Sunday, Year B||Mark 16:1-8|
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.
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?