Proper 14, Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Proper 21, Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 30, 2012 Sermon, Proper 21, Year B James 5:13-20, Mark 9:38-50
Proper 20, Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost September 23, 2012 Proper 20, Year B James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37
Proper 19, Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 16, 2012 Proper 19, Year B Mark 8:27-38
Proper 18, Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 9, 2012 Isaiah 35:4-7a; James 2:1-10, 14-17; Mark 7:24-37 Proper 18, Year B
Proper 17, Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 2, 2012 Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 5-9; James 1:17-27 Sermon, Proper 17, Year B
Proper 16, Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost August 26, 2012 Proper 16, Year B Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18, Psalm 34:15-22, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69
Proper 15, Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost August 19, 2012 Proper 15, Year B Proverbs 9:1-6, Psalm 34:9-14, Ephesians 5:15-20, John 6:51-58
Proper 14, Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost August 12, 2012 Sermon, Proper 14, Year B I Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34:1-8; Ephesians 4:25-5:2, John 6:35, 41-51
Proper 13, Tenth Sunday after Pentecost August 5, 2012 Proper 13, Year B Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15; Psalm 78:23-29; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:24-35
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 14, Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Sermon Date:August 12, 2012

Scripture: I Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34:1-8; Ephesians 4:25-5:2, John 6:35, 41-51

Liturgy Calendar: Sermon, Proper 14, Year B


Our scripture readings today open with the story of Elijah, one of God’s powerful prophets,  a prophet who has just raised a child from the dead, a prophet who has defeated  and then killed off the prophets of Baal—and in doing so has incurred the wrath of the queen of  Israel, whose name is Jezebel—and Jezebel plans to kill Elijah.

And even though Elijah is full of God’s power, Jezebel’s threats fill him with fear, and forgetting about his God-given power, Elijah runs for his life, because he is scared to death that Jezebel really will kill him.     

What do you fear?   

Joyce Meyer, who some of you may have seen on TV, says that she was abused in her childhood, so she became fearful of being hurt or taken advantage of, and  so she was very insecure.  She says that she spent many years trying to control everything and everyone in her life because she felt so powerless.   

And we, too, fear lack of security, and a lack of power. 

Fear of losing control and having no power can lead  to us to resort to the list of vices that we have heard spelled out for us today in the letter to the Ephesians—lying, anger, stealing, and evil talk.    

We lie because we fear what people may think of us.  Lying to someone makes us think that we are controlling what they think of us.   The easiest response in any conversation is to tell the other person what it is you think that person may want to hear, and often, what that other person will want to hear is not necessarily  the truth.   

In relationships, seemingly the easiest way to avoid conflict is simply to lie and to agree with the other person—ultimately, lying is a form of protection—and lying often helps us to think that we are staying in control of a situation or a relationship.   The problem is, though, that when we lie, we rob the other person of the freedom to respond to the situation as it really is—so lying belittles not only the liar, but also the person who hears and believes the lie.   

Anger is not a sin within itself.  What we do with our anger is the issue.  Feelings of anger can lead to improvements in ourselves and in the world.   Have you ever been mad at yourself for something you’ve done?   This anger at ourselves can be beneficial if we make some positive changes based on our mistakes. 

Those of us who are parents have certainly been angry with our children, but this anger can lead to gentle correction, and the attempt on our parts to improve the situations that make us angry.   

Sinful anger is a response that comes out of fear and the need to control what is going on around us.  If my anger is hot enough, then people around me will either do what I want because they don’t want to deal with my anger, or they will lie to me to avoid my anger, or they will run from my anger, just as Elijah ran away from the wrathful Jezebel.  So yes, I may feel that I’m in control, but my relationships have been limited by my need to control what is going on around me by reacting in anger. 

Stealing is also a response to the fear of losing control.  Stealing is seemingly a quick and easy way to get what we need, rather than to face the hard work that must be done to get what we need. 

And we can steal from ourselves and our families by spending all of our time working hard as a way of proving to ourselves that we are worthy—because we are scared that we might be less than perfect, or that we might fail. 

Stealing is a way to avoid going through a wilderness time, to avoid giving up control and to forget that God is truly on our side and will save us from our troubles.     

Evil talk also comes from fear and insecurity.   Saying mean things about someone else is often an attempt to make myself look better.   

The devil loves our insecurities, and will use our fear to lead us into lying, anger, stealing and evil talk as we seek control and security.   But these practices destroy our relationships with one another and limit our relationship with God—and ultimately, these practices lead to death.   

The writer of Ephesians tells us then, to put away lying and stealing and evil talk and controlling anger. 

We cannot put these things away by ourselves.   

And so God sends us help—just as God sent help to Elijah.   

Elijah, so full of fear, fled for his life from Jezebel, and then when he had travelled as far as he could go, he was overcome by depression and exhaustion.  He had run so far, only to find that he had reached a dead end. 

“It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”  And he lay down under the broom tree and went to sleep.   

Elijah had forgotten that God was on his side. 

And so God sent an angel to Elijah, who said to him, “Get up and eat.”  And there was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. 

The angel came and fed Elijah twice before he was strong enough to travel for forty days  to Mt Horeb, where he would find God in the sheer silence, and receive God’s direction.   

When fear has taken us as far as we can go, and we find ourselves at a dead end in some barren wilderness in our lives, ready to die, that is where God meets us too. 

God is on our side, in the midst of our fears and insecurities.   

And Jesus is here in our midst. 

When we spend our days in the presence of Jesus, we are already experiencing, even if imperfectly, the joys of eternal life with God.   

Just as God fed Elijah, God feeds us too, with this living bread that came down from heaven, and Jesus tells us that he himself is that living bread. 

When we reach our dead ends, and can run no further, God says to us,  just as the angel said to Elijah, “Get up and eat.”   

Jesus is in our midst– in words of scripture, in our love for one another,  in the bread and wine that we share,—and  when we  come together to share in this heavenly banquet, we find that God gives us  the strength  to go on and on, as Elijah did, until at last we come fully into the presence of God, that day when we cross into that heavenly country, when we see him face to face, when we look upon him and become fully radiant with the light of his love.   

We no longer have to run through our lives, full of fear, running on the devil’s food of bitterness, wrath, anger, wrangling, slander and malice. 

Instead, we are free to take our time to walk—to  savor our journeys through this lifetime as we travel toward eternity.  As we gather each week in God’s love to eat this living bread, we find that we are being given the strength to be kind to one another, to be tenderhearted, and to forgive one another, as God has forgiven each one of us.   

Imagine your journey through this lifetime, not running in fear, but walking, strong and full of God-given power,  walking with God, knowing that God is truly on your side, that God is in the process of delivering your from all your trouble. 

Imagine it! 

Walking in love with one another through the journey of this life, as Christ loved us, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.   

Amen. 
 

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