|Sermon, First Sunday in Lent, Year B||February 26, 2012||First Sunday in Lent, Year B||Genesis 9:8-17, I Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1: 9-15|
|Ash Wednesday Service, Feb 22, 2012||February 22, 2012||Ash Wednesday||Joel 2:1-2, 12-17|
|Last Sunday After Epiphany, Year B||February 19, 2012||Last Sunday after Epiphany||2 Kings 2:1-12, Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||February 12, 2012||Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1: 40-45|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||February 5, 2012||Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B||Isaiah 40:21-31, Mark 1:29-39|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 29, 2012||Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||I Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 22, 2012||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 1:14-20|
|Second Sunday After The Epiphany, Year B||January 15, 2012||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139: 1-5, 12-17; John 1:43-51|
|First Sunday After The Epiphany, Year B||January 8, 2012||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 1:4-11|
|Sermon on Joy, Epiphany, 2012||January 6, 2012||Epiphany||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2011||December 25, 2011||Christmas Day, 2012||Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20|
|Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2011||December 24, 2011||The Eve of the Nativity of our Lord||Luke 2:1-20|
|Third Sunday in Advent||December 11, 2011||Third Sunday of Advent, Year B||Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Canticle 15; John 1:6-8, 19-28|
|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|
22st Sunday After Pentecost, Year A, Proper 28
Sermon Date:November 13, 2011
Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Liturgy Calendar: Sermon, Proper 28
After a long day at the hospital delivering babies, Dr Clifford Huxtable walks through the door of his comfortable brownstone in Upper Manhattan to find his beautiful and very irritated wife, Clare, waiting for him with the following question.
“Why do we have four children?”
After a pause, her husband answers carefully,
“Because we didn’t want five?”
And then he asks—“So who’s in trouble?”
“Here!” Clare says.
“Take a look at this report card! FOUR D’s on Theo’s report card! We have given him every advantage in this world, and he comes home with FOUR D’s!” “He’s in his room. I want you to go up there and kill him for me!”
So Dr. Huxtable heads upstairs to Theo’s room.
Theo is propped up on his bed, listening to music when his father enters the room and stares around at the piles of clothes all over the floor.
“Hard to get good help these days, isn’t it?” he says to Theo. He gingerly steps over the piles of clothes, sits beside Theo on the edge of the bed and says,
“Son, how do you plan to get into college with these grades?”
And Theo says to his father, “Dad, I’m not planning to go to college,” and seeing the look of shock on his father’s face, he goes on to say, “But don’t worry, I plan to graduate from high school.”
“You see, Dad, I just want to be regular people. You don’t need good grades to be regular people.”
Spotting an open game of Monopoly on the nearby dresser, Dr Huxtable engages Theodore in a quick lesson in how fast money disappears for the most basic necessities of life, and then he runs out of the room to deal with another crisis brewing among Theodore’s three sisters.
Eventually, Dr. Huxtable and Theo finish their conversation when Theo calls his dad back into his room.
“Dad,” Theo says, “I thought about what you said. “Now you are a doctor and Mom is a lawyer. But I was born to be a regular person and to lead a regular life.”
“If you weren’t a doctor, I wouldn’t love you any less, because you’re my dad. “
And here comes the zinger.
“So Dad, accept me like I am and love me like I am anyway, because I’m your son.”
And because this is a TV sit-com, the audience soundtrack breaks into applause here, and as one of the audience, I’m thinking—yeah, that makes sense.
Love me like I am, I’m your son.
Long pause, while the camera pans in on the face of the good doctor as he considers this statement of his son’s.
Suddenly, Dr Huxtable stands up and shouts,
“Theo, that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! No wonder you get D’s on things! You are afraid to try! You are afraid that your brain is going to explode and ooze out of your ear! Now I expect you to try your best and pull up these grades. I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it!”
Theo, his head hanging, looks down at the floor.
And his dad says, “Come here, son.”
Dr. Huxtable puts his hands on his son’s shoulders and says
“I just want you to do your best. I love you, and maybe, just maybe, your mother loves you too.”
A second chance, a happy ending.
But the parables that we have heard Jesus tell for the past few weeks don’t really have happy endings for the people who have those proverbial D’s on their report cards when Judgment Day unexpectedly arrives. The regular people in these stories don’t get second chances.
The man at the wedding banquet without a wedding garment—bound hand and foot and thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth…
The foolish bridesmaids, who failed to bring extra oil, just in case, and they arrive late at the wedding banquet— not only do they find the door to the banquet hall shut, but the bridegroom leaves them standing there in eternal darkness. “Truly, I tell you, I do not know you…”
The slave we heard about just now who hid his talent in the ground to keep it safe until the return of his master—he’s thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth……..
And next week, those who did not take care of the least of these—they will go away into eternal punishment…..
Jesus would have been fired if he had been writing stories for TV sitcoms. These stories don’t have feel good endings.
But they are true to life as we know it.
Take the story of Coach Joe Paterno, JoPa, as he has been known at Penn State for almost half a century—anything but a regular person, a man with a spotless reputation, who set a very high bar for ethical behavior in college football coaching.
For the one D that Joe Paterno got on the proverbial report card in his long and stellar career, the Penn State Board of Trustees cast Coach Paterno into the outer darkness this past week when they fired him for having failed to deal more directly with a case of child molestation by a member of his coaching staff.
In the opinion of one commentator I heard, the first sentence of Joe’s obituary will likelybegin with a description of this one failing grade that destroyed his career.
Justice, unfair as it seems in some ways, has been done.
Every Sunday, when we Christians gather together, we say the following words when we affirm our faith in the words of the Nicene Creed.
“He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” Justice will be done.
And so for a fleeting moment each week we are reminded—God WILL judge us, and if we believe this statement to be true, our hearts will beat just a little bit faster—because we really are all just regular people.
Our lives are not TV sitcoms with happy endings. Maybe on the Day of Judgment, our eternal fate will be more like that of Joe Paterno’s earthly fate—justice done, a whole life of good work ruined because in the end we weren’t perfect.
Will we be fired from eternal life and cast into the outer darkness for just one glaring failure on an otherwise perfect report card, or even for just a regular report card?
Jesus told these thought provoking parables to the disciples before the end of his own story—before Jesus was betrayed, before he found himself hanging on a cross, before he cried out — “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”– unsure of what the end of his own story would be.
Looking back through time, we have the gift of knowing the end of the story–
Jesus, who felt forsaken and abandoned on the cross, was raised into eternal life by God.
And the end of the story for Jesus determines the hope we can have at the end of our stories as well.
Paul puts it this way in the first letter to the Thessalonians.
“For God has destined us not for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, living or dead, we may live with him.”
Through Jesus we get another chance, and in the hop of obtaining salvation, we are freed to live without fear, to serve God in perfect freedom.
And now we get to the second half of that sentence we say in the creed—“and his kingdom will have no end.”
To serve God with perfect freedom is to enter into God’s kingdom here and now!
As Paul tells the Thessalonians,
“Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” Encouraging one another, building one another up: activities of people already living in hope, living in the kingdom of God!
Because we have entered already into the kingdom of God, we are free to share the oil, that love of Jesus in our hearts, so that everyone can see God’s love shining through us. Through Jesus, we are free to use our talents to spread God’s love in the world. Through Jesus, we are free to care for the least of these, to feed the hungry, to take responsibility for ourselves, and to do our best, knowing that our best will be less than perfect.
Through Jesus and his love for us, we can be sure that God really does love us, even though we are regular people,
And that we can hope for another chance, even on the Day of Judgment when we bring home our less than perfect report cards.