|Last Sunday after the Epiphany||February 26, 2017||Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 17:1-9|
|Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany||February 19, 2017||Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Leviticus 19:1-2, I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48|
|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 12, 2017||Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 5, 2017||Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany – Reflections on Annual Convention, Susan Tilt||January 29, 2017||4th Sunday after the Epiphany||Matthew 5:1-12|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany||January 22, 2017||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Psalm 27:1, 5-13, Matthew 4:12-23|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany||January 15, 2017||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, John 1:29-42|
|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Baptism of Jesus||January 8, 2017||The Baptism of our Lord, Year A||The Book of Common Prayer|
|Epiphany||January 6, 2017||Epiphany 2017||Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas Day, Year A||December 25, 2016||Christmas Day, 2016||Isaiah 52:7-10, Hebrews 1:1-4, Psalm 98, John 1:1-14|
|The Eve of the Nativity||December 24, 2016||Christmas Eve||Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2: 1-20|
|Third Sunday in Advent, Year A||December 11, 2016||Third Sunday of Advent, Year A||Psalm 146:4-9, Matthew 11:2-11|
|Second Sunday in Advent, Year A||December 4, 2016||Second Sunday of Advent, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
|First Sunday in Advent, Year A||November 27, 2016||First Sunday of Advent, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Ps 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Christ the King Sunday, Year C||November 20, 2016||Christ the King Sunday, Year C||Jeremiah 23:1-6. Ps 46, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:33-43|
Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C
Sermon Date:October 30, 2016
Scripture: Isaiah 1:10-18, Psalm 32, Luke 19:1-10
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 26, Year C
“Zacchaeus – Joel Whitehead
Eugene Peterson, a Presbyterian minister whose life’s work was translating the entire Bible into a paraphrase using modern day language, translated today’s psalm, Psalm 32 in the following way.
1 Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be – you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean.
2 Count yourself lucky – God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from God.
3 When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans.
4 The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up.
5 Then I let it all out; I said, "I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God." Suddenly the pressure was gone – my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.
6 These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray; when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts we’ll be on high ground, untouched.
7 God’s my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.
8 Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight:
9 "Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track."
10 God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around.
11 Celebrate God. Sing together – everyone! All you honest hearts, raise the roof!
Can you ever think of a time you did something wrong and kept it to yourself?
I did something really wrong.
I never told anyone, no one in the whole world. In fact, I spent a lot of time justifying to myself and to God what I had done, why I had done it, why what happened was everyone’s fault but mine, but deep down inside I knew I was guilty. I knew this for years, but just kept ignoring the fact that I felt guilty, stuffing it away.
Time passed, I went to seminary, and the day of ordination was quickly approaching.
And I decided that before I was ordained I should go to confession, which in The Episcopal Church is called the Rite of Reconciliation.
And I went through the whole confession, and finished, but I could still feel that guilt over what I had done and still had never spoken about to anyone.
But I knew that going through with the ordination without confessing this one last thing would be a terrible affront to God. In fact, I could feel that very pressure that the psalmist talks about.
And so I said, “No, wait a minute, there’s one more thing.”
And after a pause, I managed to put words around that sin and to confess what I had done.
At that point, after I got the words out, God’s grace just poured over me, as the psalmist said, “the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared”—and I was happy!
Yes! A fresh start, a clean slate. And best of all, I knew that God held nothing against me and loved me in spite of what I had done and how long I had refused to take responsibility for it—and appreciated the fact that I had finally confessed that sin and let it go.
Verse 7 in the paraphrase describes how I’ve felt, for the most part, ever since that confession.
“God’s my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.”
The lectionary doesn’t give us the last part of today’s psalm, but I’ve chosen to include it in this sermon because it’s such good advice.
“Let me give you some good advice; I’m looking you in the eye and giving it to you straight:
‘Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.’
God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around.”
The New International Version says something like “Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the person who trusts in God.”
God’s unfailing love is always around us. God is love. God is merciful and compassionate.
Today’s New Testament lesson from the gospel according to Luke is about a little man who was a big sinner, the rich chief tax collector in Jericho, Zacchaeus.
Everyone in the crowd despised him, because he had not only collected the taxes they owed, but also took even more from them to increase his own wealth.
But this sinner was trying to see who Jesus was—he was looking for Jesus, and wanted to see him so badly that he climbed a tree so he could see over the crowd.
And when Jesus passed by, he looked up and saw Zacchaeus up in the tree looking down at him, and Jesus told Zacchaeus to hurry and come down because Jesus was coming to stay at his house that day—at a sinner’s house! Imagine that!
Zacchaeus must have felt God’s unfailing, merciful and compassionate love wash over him because Luke says that Zacchaeus hurried down from that tree, and rejoicing, he welcomed Jesus.
And because he felt God’s grace and mercy, Zacchaeus said that he would make amends to the people he had defrauded, paying them back four times as much as he had taken from each one.
And he also planned to give half his money to the poor.
This is what we Episcopalians would call “amendment of life,” going back and correcting what we can out of gratitude for God’s mercy and compassion for us.
So here’s this week’s challenge.
Be honest with yourself and God. “Argue it out with God,” as Isaiah says, and confess your sins to God.
Make amends by ceasing to do evil, and ceasing to do evil is an act of the will.
Learn to do good. Learning to do good is a process, and like everything else, doing good takes practice.
Seek justice, and rescue the oppressed. Care for those who have no one to care for them.
“Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart.”
Remember, “the righteous and upright in heart are not the people who are sinless, but the people who are forgiven,” as J. Clinton McCann points out in the commentary on this psalm in The New Interpreter’s Bible.
So rejoice! We are forgiven! Wear those garlands of hosannas around your necks, and with the psalmist,
“Celebrate God. Sing together – everyone! All you honest hearts, raise the roof!”