|Easter 5, Year B||April 22, 2018||The Fifth Sunday in Easter, Year B||John 15:1-8|
|Easter 2, Commemoration of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, 2018||April 8, 2018||Easter 2, Commemoration of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King||Luke 6:27-36, Ephesians 6:10-20|
|Sunrise service, 2018 – “The Road to Emmaus”||April 1, 2018||Easter||Luke 24:13-35|
|Easter Sunday||April 1, 2018||Easter, Year B||John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday||March 30, 2018||Good Friday, Year B||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, 2018||March 29, 2018||Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018||John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year B||March 25, 2018||Palm Sunday, Year B||Mark 15:1-39, [40-47]|
|Lent 5, Year B||March 18, 2018||The Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B||Psalm 51:1-13, John 12:20-33|
|Lent 4, Year B||March 11, 2018||The Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B||John 3:16|
|Lent 3, Year B||March 4, 2018||Third Sunday in Lent, Year B||Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22; Psalm 19|
|➤Lent 2, Year B||February 25, 2018||Second Sunday in Lent, Year B||Genesis17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:22-30, Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38|
|Lent 1, Year B||February 18, 2018||The First Sunday in Lent, Year B||Genesis 9:8-17, Ps 25:1-9, Mark 1:9-15|
|Ash Wednesday, Year B||February 14, 2018||Ash Wednesday, Year B||Isaiah 58:1-12;Psalm 103 or 103:8-14; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10;Matthew 6:1-6,16-21|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany||February 11, 2018||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 9:2-9|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 4, 2018||The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Isaiah 40:21-31; Mark 1:29-39|
Lent 2, Year B
Sermon Date:February 25, 2018
Scripture: Genesis17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:22-30, Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday in Lent, Year B
Abraham and God’s covenant… Abraham looking to the stars, whom God says his descendants will be as numerous as.
To praise to approve, admire and to commend, to offer grateful homage.
A litmus test of what’s important in our lives is to think about what and who we praise on a regular basis.
Maybe you praise a certain football team, or something you love to do. Maybe that special someone in your life is the recipient of your praise.
The act of praise has a way of making us appreciate even more deeply the thing or the person that we are praising–
So to praise God helps us strengthen our faith in God.
Paul wrote to the Romans that “Abraham grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.”
Think about how praise for God fits into your love for God.
Use this season of Lent to spend more time praising God throughout your day, especially if something or someone else has stolen your heart away from God, because
praising God helps us to deepen and enrich the keeping of the first commandment, to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
In today’s Old Testament reading, God meets up with Abram and right off the bat, reveals God’s identity. “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.”
And the first thing that Abram did in response to God was to fall on his face—an act of praise and thanksgiving for God and what God had just promised.
Paul writes to the Romans that Abraham “hoped against hope that he would become ‘the father of many nations’ so he did not weaken in his faith…no distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.”
Although God’s promises seemed ludicrous at face value, that two very old people would become parents to many nations, Abraham kept on hoping and giving glory to God, praising God for what had not happened yet, but what Abraham believed would happen. Hoping against hope….
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells the disciples that he will suffer greatly, be rejected, killed, and after three days rise again.
And Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes him.
Peter has completely missed the hopeful part of what Jesus had just said—that after three days Jesus will rise again. That phrase went right over Peter’s head.
Peter didn’t think to do what Abraham did—to hope against hope, even though hoping seemed to be useless given the fact that Jesus had just said that he would suffer and die. Where was the hope in that grim prediction? Peter just couldn’t hear the hopeful part—that Jesus would rise again.
Jesus then explains that his mission, and the mission of those who follow him, is to engage in the suffering of the world, to give our very lives in this engagement with suffering, because when we engage in the suffering of the world by following Jesus, we offer ourselves as ways for God to get into the suffering and to bring some healing to the suffering, and we are hoping against hope that new life will be the result.
The most audacious act of praise we can ever offer to God is to follow Jesus, to take up our crosses and go to the places where nothing seems possible, hoping against hope that God’s resurrecting work will be the outcome.
Your Vestry is offering up an audacious act of praise this year by taking up a cross and opening conversation within the group about the daunting problem of the growing violence in our society, writ large in the number of school shootings that keep taking place in this country. Where do you even start with a conversation like that without ending up arguing about it all—arguing about the reasons, and arguing about the solutions, getting nowhere, and anyway, what CAN we realistically do about this situation?
I like what Rebekah Simon Peter (yes, that is really her name!), a Methodist writer, has to say about this sort of conversation.
She points out that “when we think about controversial issues from a political perspective, we end up thinking in an either/or sort of way”, and there’s no space for what she calls “nuanced disagreement.”
“When churches speak from an ethical position, we are able to discern and articulate truths that go deeper than the artificial either/or choices created by our two-party system. Adopting an ethical perspective means we consider how core values of the Gospels and Jesus’ teaching impact public policy. Viewing current events through an ethical lens also empowers us to address how the gifts and potentials of human life impact our responsibility to the common good. Finally, because we believe in a hopeful future for all of God’s good Creation, an ethical perspective enables us to react not just to what is, but to powerfully envision what could be.”
Listen to that last sentence again.
“Because we believe in a hopeful future for all of God’s good Creation, an ethical perspective enables us to react not just to what is, but to powerfully envision what could be.”
That’s hoping against hope! We are praising God in a wonderful sort of way when we consider the good news of the gospel and then take up the cross of conversing about difficult and polarizing issues that affect the common good in the light of the gospel as we follow Jesus together as this community of faith.
Today’s Psalm, Psalm 22, is a lament. It begins with the words that Jesus said on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
But like other lament psalms, this one too, ends up with the psalmist hoping against hope, even when things get as bad as Jesus hanging on a cross.
And those words of hope begin with this line.
“Praise the Lord, you that fear (stand in awe of) him.”
And that praise isn’t just our own private praise, but it’s our work together in worship and service as this part of the body of Christ.
The psalmist says, “My praise is of him in the great assembly.”
Praise is at the heart of worship. When we praise God at the beginning of every worship service, and throughout our worship, we are not only acknowledging our relationship with God, but hopefully deepening that relationship as we worship—through the act of praise.
The Eucharist itself is an act of praise.
This line should sound familiar, the one I say right before we sing the Sanctus.
“Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who forever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name.”
And this line is in Eucharistic Prayer I in Rite I. “And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving…”
So today, may we offer to God our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving as we worship and when we leave this place by taking up our crosses, and following Jesus into the suffering places of this world, hoping against hope that, yes, resurrection really is right around the corner!
Praise the Lord!