Sermon for the 12th Sunday after the Feast of Pentecost - Matthew 16:13-20
Jesus wants to know, but he is prepared for you not to know. He asks the question. He wants to hear the response, and he knows that the answer will come, but not from you. It may come out of your mouth. Those words – You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God, but it will not come from you. Instead it actually is something that invades you. Takes you over. Smashes down the walls of your heart to cause you to explode with faith, proclaiming this truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why we equate the work of the gospel to freedom, to binding (putting in chains) and loosing (liberation). A Gospel of conquer in which the gates of death are dead, because the work of God is life. The forgiveness of sin being that vanquishing act, where I discover my need for mercy. To have my idolatry, my slander, my heart of stone, killed and reborn. That is the decision that he has made now. He says to you, in Christ, you are loosed by the keys of Heaven through the blood of Jesus from all your denial, doubt and fear. And you are bound by the promises of God never to leave you.
We live in a world of words. A world that seems to think words, saying things, especially quickly, are more important than life itself. Words that we must use to support or condemn. Words which we must use to draw our line in the sand. Words becoming the description of someone instead of actually knowing someone, seeing them for who they are, and acknowledging that we know no one better than we know ourselves.
A sermon for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost - Matthew 15:1-28
You are not going to be very happy with Jesus this morning, but hear him out. You hear the words read and you might see a racist Jesus. Calling a poor woman in need of a miracle a dog. He also takes the time to say that our tradition, the things we hold dear and important in the eyes of the god we have constructed are destined for the sewer. But he also takes the time to tell us that we are really good at judging unwashed hands and ethnic origins, but really suck at knowing how to give out mercy.
This past week, in Charlottesville, Virginia, the extreme sinfulness of humanity was put on display for a moment. The dirty laundry was aired, but like my brother in high school, instead of realizing the laundry needs washing, we just give it the smell test and try to find something that doesn’t smell as bad to replace the worst parts of us. It’s a guy thing, take a shirt out of the laundry hamper and smell it deeply, and as long as you remain conscious, it’s wearable.
We are a nation in denial. A nation walking amongst the world created for us by the media, by the news, by Twitter and Facebook. We are a nation so delusional that we see certain actions and feel they are the same everywhere. We are told what we are to believe about someone, as though we are back in high school hearing the latest gossip and take it to be gospel, never imagining that adulating involves actually confronting someone and finding out exactly what is going on.
With the outpouring of emotion and anger over the vile "rally" in Charlottesville this past week, one is expected to just assume that all white people are racist, Trump is the second coming of Hitler, and the best way to fight is to resist violently if necessary. All of this is absurd. Not all people of deficient skin pigment are Nazis, Trump is hardly Hitler, and if violent resistance is the preferred answer to the problems you see, have you not ever been taught not to hit back? Have you not seen the escalation of violence of the drug war, gang violence, bullying?
Sermon on the "Feeding of the 5000" - Matthew 14:13-21
Jesus is a compassionate healer. A healer that doesn’t wait for insurance or diagnosis before he will be present. He does not stop doing what he does because he has done enough. He comes to you as the large crowd you are and has compassion, showing mercy, lovingkindness, grace and peace to the distressed, the angry, the vengeful, the tired, the hated. He even continues to do so, after the healing.