Pentecost 20, Year C

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Congregational Meeting January 19, 2020 Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, Congregational Meeting Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42
First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A January 12, 2020 First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Matthew 3:13-17
Epiphany, Year A January 6, 2020 The Epiphany, Year A Matthew 2:1-12
Christmas 2, Year A January 5, 2020 Christmas II, Year A Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23; Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a; Psalm 84
Christmas Eve, Year A December 24, 2019 The Eve of the Nativity Luke 2:14
Advent 3, Year A December 15, 2019 Advent 3, Year A Isaiah 35:1-10
Advent 2, Year A – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors December 8, 2019 Advent 2, Year A Matthew 3:1-12
Advent 1, Year A December 1, 2019 First Sunday of Advent, Year A Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44
Last Pentecost, Year C November 24, 2019 Last Pentecost, Christ the King Luke 23:33-43
Pentecost 23, Year C November 17, 2019 Pentecost 23, Year C, Proper 28 Luke 21:5-19
Pentecost 22, Year C November 10, 2019 Pentecost 22, Proper 27, Year C Job 19:23-27a, Luke 20:38
All Saints, Year C November 3, 2019 All Saints’ Sunday, Year C 2019 Luke 6:20-31
Pentecost 20, Year C October 27, 2019 Pentecost 2, Proper 25, Year C 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Pentecost 19, Year C October 20, 2019 Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 24 Luke 18:1-8
Pentecost 18, Year C October 13, 2019 Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C Psalm 111, Luke 17:11-19


Pentecost 20, Year C

Sermon Date:October 27, 2019

Scripture: 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Liturgy Calendar: Pentecost 2, Proper 25, Year C

“St. Brendan the Navigator” – Julia Bridget Hayes (2016)

“I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come.” 

The person who wrote 2 Timothy imagines Paul at the end of his life, in chains in a Roman prison.

Paul describes his life being poured out as a libation. 

Here’s some information about the history of the Greek word for “libation” in scripture from The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament that will help us understand what Paul means when he says that he is being poured out as a libation. 

In Jerusalem during the time of Jesus, priests poured drink offerings on the altar in the temple.    At the Passover, the lambs were slain by the people and the blood was drained into bowls.  Then the blood was sprinkled by the priests at the base of the altar.  During the first seven days of the celebration of Tabernacles, water from the pool of Siloam was poured out on the altar.   

Paul says that he himself is being poured out as a libation, as an offering up of his life to God.  So when Paul is put to death, his own blood will be like an offering poured out at the foot of God’s altar. 

This idea of libation is in the hymn we sang at the beginning of this service today, written by an Anglican woman named Frances Ridley Havergal.  The hymn is a description of a Christian who wants her live to be an offering or a libation to God.  She wants to pour out her life in service to God. 

She wants to  consecrate her life to  God.  She wants her life to be one of praise.  She wants to get poured out in loving service, she offers her mind and her will to God.  She wants God to dwell in her life.   

We Christians get to be libations in this life, to be poured out by none other than God.  We get to live libatious lives!    I thought I’d made up that word—“libatious,” but guess what, “libatious” is already a word that may not yet be in the dictionary, but is in circulation, at least in the Google universe. 

For me, a libatious life is one of radical generosity, in which I give everything I’ve got to God so God can pour my life out for the good of the world, a life of celebration and joy that I can give and give and give, until I’ve given everything, until God has finished pouring me out. 

When we have baptisms at St Peter’s, a libation of water gets poured into this baptismal font.    

God sanctifies this libatious baptismal water by the power of the Holy Spirit.  And that water, pouring over us, cleans us up and brings us into new life so that we may continue forever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Savior.

This libatious baptismal water, is plentiful, saving, solemnly joyous water, the water through which God led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land of promise.  This is the water in which Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit, to lead us through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.  This is the water in which, in joyful obedience to Jesus, we bring into his fellowship all those who come to him in faith, so that they in turn can offer up their lives as libations to God for the good of the earth and all that is in it, by dedicating themselves to God and to God’s service.     

The prayer of self- dedication that we’ll pray a little later in this service is a prayer of offering ourselves to God—“God, so draw our hearts to  you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you” and then here’s the libation part, “and then pour us out,  we pray, as you will and always to your glory and the welfare of your people.” 

PauI would have been comfortable praying that prayer, since he knew that he was already being poured out as an offering.

And Paul knew that the people coming after him, those he had raised up, like Timothy, would offer up their lives to God and God would then pour them out.   God’s love and joy and the power of the Holy Spirit would continue to pour out through them on this earth, and would  pour out through those who followed them, right down to us.  God’s love and joy and the power of the Holy Spirit will pour out even through us when we let God pour us out as God poured Paul out. 

Now the time of Paul’s death has come. 

Paul  describes his quickly approaching death with the Greek verb for “departure.” This same verb is also  used for “loosing a ship from its moorings.”  (Gealy, Fred D., “The First and Second Epistles to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus.” The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 11). 

A ship loosed from its moorings, will, if all goes well, set sail and reach the safe harbor which is its destination.   

In Paul’s mind, endings open out into immensities, and so when Paul dies, he understands his death as setting sail into a new life, a new beginning.    

Thinking, as Paul does, about the beginnings that are inherent in the endings of our lives can help us face these endings positively. 

So often, we get trapped in the ending itself.  We get stuck in the inevitable sorrows and the sufferings that endings often bring.   If Paul had gotten stuck in his ending, he would have seen only the walls of his prison cell, which must have been dark and claustrophobic. 

But instead, in that confining space, he imagined setting sail, out onto “the wine dark sea,” (Homer’s words) into new adventures. 

Like Paul, Victor Frankl endured prison.  Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who survived not one, but four concentration camps in Nazi Germany during World War II.  Later, Frankl wrote the well known book, Man’s Search for Meaning, which describes his experiences in the camps.  Frankl  found that those who “could turn their gaze to what was waiting for them” beyond the horrors of the moment, the ones who could find meaning in their suffering and see beyond it, were the people who were most likely to stay alive through those awful times.  

Victor Frankl would have approved of Paul turning his gaze to what is waiting for him beyond his death.  For Paul gazes forward to  the day when he will reach safe harbor, the day that the Lord will return and give to Paul the crown of righteousness.

Soon this service will come to an end, and the time of our departure from this place will come. 

And our service out in the world will begin all over again in this new week.   

Take Paul’s inspiring words with you as a guide.  Take this prayer of St Brendan the Navigator with you too.    Brendan was an Irish monk who lived in sixth century, and who is the patron saint of sailors in Ireland, because he loosed his ship from its moorings and sailed out into the unknown to spread God’s word wherever the wind blew him over the sea. 

So let us pray. 

“God, help us to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown. 

Give us the faith to leave old ways and to break fresh ground with you.

Christ of the mysteries, we trust You to be stronger than each storm within us.

We will trust in the darkness and know that our times, even now, are in Your hand.

Tune our spirits to the music of heaven, and somehow, make our obedience count for you.”




Michel, Otto. “spendomai “ in The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol VII, pgs 528-535. 

Gealy, Fred D., “The First and Second Epistles to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus.” The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol 11

Frankl, Victor.  Man’s search for meaning