|Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||August 25, 2013||Proper 16, Year C||Isaiah 58:9b-14;Psalm 103:1-8;Hebrews 12:18-29;Luke 13:10-17|
|Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||August 18, 2013||Proper 15, Year C||Hebrews 11:29-12:2|
|Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||August 11, 2013||Proper 14, Year C||Genesis 15:1-6, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Luke 12:32-40|
|Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||August 4, 2013||Proper 13, Year C||Colossians 3:1-17|
|Ninth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||July 21, 2013||Proper 11, Year C||Genesis 18:1-10a, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10:38-42|
|Tenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||July 21, 2013||Proper 12, Year C||Luke 11:1-13|
|Eighth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||July 14, 2013||Proper 10, Year C||Luke 10:25-37, Deuteronomy 30:9-14|
|Seventh Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||July 7, 2013||Proper 9, Year C||Isaiah 66:10-14, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20|
|Sixth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||June 30, 2013||Proper 8, Year C||Psalm 16, Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Luke 9:51-62|
|Warrington Tripp speaks on the Gideons||June 30, 2013||Proper 8, Year C||Isaiah 55:11, Kings 19:32-35|
|Fifth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||June 23, 2013||Fifth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C, Proper 7||Galatians 3:23-29|
|Fourth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||June 16, 2013||Proper 6, Year C||2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15; Psalm 32, Galatians 2:15-21, Luke 7:36-8:3|
|Third Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||June 9, 2013||Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 5, Year C||Psalm 30, I Kings 17:17-24, Galatians 1:11-24, Luke 7:11-17|
|➤Second Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||June 2, 2013||Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 4, Year C||I Kings 8:22-23, 41-43; Psalm 96:1-9; Luke 7:1-10|
|First Sunday After Pentecost, Year C – Trinity Sunday||May 26, 2013||Trinity Sunday, Year C||Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5, John 16:12-15|
Second Sunday After Pentecost, Year C
Sermon Date:June 2, 2013
Scripture: I Kings 8:22-23, 41-43; Psalm 96:1-9; Luke 7:1-10
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 4, Year C
How do we give glory to God in the ways we relate to the strangers in our midst?
In today’s Old Testament reading we heard about King Solomon, who you may recall, got the honor of building the temple in Jerusalem. The Ark of the Covenant, which held the stone tablets given by God to Moses on the mountain, finally had a home—in the Holy of Holies in this new temple.
In the passage we’ve just heard, Solomon is praying a prayer of dedication for this gorgeous, massively astounding building of glistening golden stone that can be seen from miles away.
And Solomon prays for the foreigners who are attracted to this stunning new building. He prays that God will hear and answer the prayers of the foreigners who come and pray toward this house, so that the peoples of the earth may know God’s name, so that they may glorify God and stand in awe of God.
I can’t help but think here of the fact that Paul, centuries later, has a favorite image of each one of us being temples. In I Corinthians 3:16-17, he asks the Corinthians this question. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s spirit dwells in you?” And then he says, “For God’s temple is holy and YOU are that temple.”
Can people see God’s spirit dwelling in us when they look at us? Do people want to pray toward God because of the way we live our lives? This question will be important to consider later in this sermon.
In today’s passage from Luke, Jesus heals the slave of the Roman centurion. Here is a Roman soldier, an enemy, and the Jewish elders intercede for him with Jesus. “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us” —
When you get right down to it, the Jewish elders are interceding for someone who would be considered an enemy, which is a rather shocking action—even though the centurion had built their synagogue they still could have regarded him with suspicion and mistrust because he was a Roman centurion.
So what do these stories have to say to us about how we relate to those who “aren’t us” in a way that gives God the glory?
You may have noticed that the gospel reading from Luke today starts out with this line—“After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum.” What sayings had he just finished?
If you look back at Chapter 6, you’ll find that Jesus has just given Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, only in Luke this collection of teaching is called the Sermon on the Plain.
And Jesus says to the great multitude of people who have come to him for healing (and I’m giving you a very abbreviated version here—be sure to go back and read Luke 6) “Love your enemies…do to others as you would have them do to you…be merciful, just as your Father is merciful, do not judge, do not condemn, forgive, give, and it will be given to you….”
And then right after he finishes the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus goes to Capernaum and puts his words into action and heals the slave of a Roman centurion.
This action on the part of Jesus tells us how Jesus wants us to treat the enemy, the stranger, someone who isn’t us, with graciousness and generosity. Jesus heals the centurion’s slave.
And Luke tells us a little further on that the people end up glorifying God as a result of this healing and then Jesus’ raising of the only son of the widow of Nain.
Here’s a current day example of the “stranger” in our midst. When we go to the jail for Bible study, our assumption is that each person in the room is Christian.
Often, we get questions about what Christians believe. And so we answer those questions. We are clear about what we believe about God and Jesus and why. We offer our answers with respect for the one who asked, without judgment or condemnation.
Well, it turns out that one night, after our group of about fifteen prisoners had left, the guard said to me, “Did you know that you had five men who are Muslims in your Bible study tonight? Did they cause you any trouble?”
She went on to say that these men often stirred up trouble in Bible studies and tried to trip up the leaders, and created a lot of tension in the room. She had been keeping an eye on them while they had been with us, she said.
I shared with her that each of the prisoners in Bible study that night had been respectful, had asked questions politely, had listened to us and to one another, and had contributed to the discussion in positive ways. In our time together that night, we had given God the glory because we welcomed each man into the group with a spirit of hospitality and welcome, and they had responded in kind.
If King Solomon had been in Bible study that night, he would have raised his hands in prayer and prayed to God, “Mighty God, do according to all the foreigner calls to you, so that the peoples of the earth may know your name and stand in awe of you.”
And Jesus, if he had been in Bible study that night, would have had compassion for these men, regardless of what faith they were—he would have related to them as fellow human beings in a way that would cause them to glorify God, because they would feel God’s love for them.
We all know that one of the Boston Marathon bombers is buried in Caroline County, and the backlash from that burial made the front page of the Free Lance-Star. Bambi Willis, the priest at St Asaph’s, tells me that people on the Board of Supervisors have received hate mail as a result of this burial. Concerned clergy and law enforcement officials and the Board of Supervisors are holding meetings to consider how best to deal with the issues of division and hatred among various groups in this county that have once again been raised because of this particular event. For instance, we all know that Caroline County has had a long history of division between white people and black people—so these meetings, and I will be going to them, will have to do with broader issues than “the Muslim” issue.
But since I’ve mentioned Muslims, I want to talk about how we as Christians are to relate to Muslims in light of today’s scripture passages. This is a question we all have. How do we as Christians relate to a group of people of a different faith that we’ve come to think of as the enemy?
An email entitled “What is an Infidel!????????” has been circulating on the internet and it showed up in my inbox this week.
Now the jist of the email was that anyone who is not a believer in the Islamic faith is an infidel, and that “most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared jihad (Holy War) against the infidels of the world” –and that by killing infidels, Muslims are assured of a place in heaven. The email message ended this way. “I think everyone in the United States should be required to read this. This is your chance to make a difference. For Christ’s sake, send this on!
This email is an example of the effective propaganda that is being circulated that makes us fear and be suspicious of a whole group of people because they are of a different faith and because some people from this group have carried out terrorist actions against us—just as countless Roman centurions no doubt carried out acts of violence against the Jews in Palestine.
The writer of the email, whoever that was (these things are never signed) wants you to agree with what has been written, and to take it as your own belief. This sort of propaganda works like a virus. It infects the reader with fear and with suspicion, and ultimately with hate.
And worst of all in my book, this email takes our Lord’s name in vain.
“For Christ’s sake, send this on!” Really? Using the name of our Lord and Savior to pass on fear, distrust and suspicion of a whole group of people is blasphemy in my book. Would Jesus send on a message like this on to anyone?
In your bulletin today you’ll find some information about propaganda. You can take this information and use it to help you determine whether or not something you receive through the internet, or in the mail, or in a conversation is propaganda. And then you can make an informed decision about that material and the action you want to take.
Or you can do something even simpler. You can ask yourself when you meet a stranger, or have a conversation about someone who isn’t “us” or receive an email that promotes fear and distrust of Muslims or anyone else—you can ask yourself these questions.
Do I really believe that I am God’s temple and that God’s spirit is dwelling in me, and if I believe that, how will I respond to the other?
Is what I am doing, or about to do, going to be something that brings glory to God or not? How would Jesus respond?
May we have the grace and the courage to follow the example of our Lord and Savior.