Tag Archives: providence

Thanksgiving Homily

Text: Luke 6:27-36, Psalm 34, Fifth Petition & Explanation

If I say prisoner’s dilemma or game theory, I hope you have some understanding of what I’m talking about. It is usually represented as a 2 x 2 grid. The Prisoner part is the standard cliché of cop shows. Two criminals in separate rooms. Each one issued demands. Tell us what happened. First one to open up gets the deal. The other guy gets the book. If the prisoners follow the code of omerta – they can’t be touched. But is your criminal buddy in the box next door going to talk? Do you risk a dime upstate to get away scot-free, or do you take the two-year stretch and talk? Prisoner’s dilemma is the negative framing. I always appreciated the more positive one. Think of the binary win/lose. There is a variable pot of money. If you both pick win, usually co-operation, you both get 7 units. If you both pick lose, usually hostility, you both get 2 units. But if one picks win and the other lose – the one who picks lose or hostility gets 9 units and the one who picks co-operation gets nothing. There is a clear world nobody wants to live in. Lose-lose only has 4 units. Its shelves are North Korea. There is also a clear world where we all want to live in. Win-win has 14 units. It’s the local Sam’s club of worlds. But those other two worlds are tempting. I could have 9 units. It is a much poorer world overall, but I’ve got it all.

As a kid and not so kid – I often found myself in lose-lose. Lose-lose can have a roguish charm. I can take this longer that you can. It’s the position captured in: Born to Run, Against the Wind, Rebel without a Cause, and more recently Breaking Bad. Walter White, a guy tired of choosing win and being paired with lose, sets it on permanent lose. “I’m in the empire business”. It’s all mine.

But even Bob Segar claiming he’s still running against the wind, finds himself searching for shelter. The Stones would end gimme shelter turning from rape, murder to love, It’s just a kiss away. The romance of lose-lose wears off with deadlines and commitments. Or with enough blood.
But the problem is not lose-lose, the problem is lose-win. How do you avoid a conflict with those who want a fight? Or maybe more troubling, how do you avoid making your own separate peace. I’ve got mine, go find someone else to get yours from.

Every real-politick expert and all the best research will tell you lose-lose is necessary sometimes to maintain win-win. When they put one of yours into the hospital, you put one of theirs into the ground. And that is true. It is not called real-politick for nothing.
But here comes Jesus saying essentially rip out your lose option and stick it permanently on win. Do good to those who hate you. The one who strikes you, give him the other cheek. Love you enemies. Completely unrealistic. Dangerously unreal.

And for us maybe it is. Although as a law – notice that the golden rule is embedded here. As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. As a law I think it tells us how far from righteousness we are. Just how impossible righteousness by the law is.

But if we hear this only as a law, I think we miss its purpose. “You will be sons of the most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” Yes, it is a call to live the Christian life. But it is more a statement of how God himself acts. In Christ, God has ripped out his lose button. He’s declared peace and put down the conflict. We are the ones who insist upon conflict. And the only way to avoid conflict is to accept personal loss. To not withhold your tunic, as they gamble for it at the base of the cross. To accept the beating and the lash. To forgive those nailing you to the tree. To be merciful, as the Father is merciful.
Yes, it’s a call to the cross. One that even the best of disciples often run from. But it is also a statement of shelter. God always welcomes the prodigal. He always invites the older son in to the feast, when he’s willing to put down his accounting.

We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them…but God gives them to us by grace.

Thanksgiving can be about thanks for many things. But the wellspring of it should be we have this kind of God. One who is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. One who redeems the life of his servants. One that none who seek shelter in him will be condemned. One who loves his enemies and does good. Lending and expecting nothing in return.

And the best way to show that thanks? Turn away from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it. Sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us. Be conformed to the likeness of our God. Amen.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Deuteronomy 8:1-20 and Matthew 10:24-42

Deuteronomy 8:1-20
Matthew 10:24-42
A thought on manna/what is this and the bread of the eucharist or the body of Christ
The dangers of wealth
The risk/reward of the Kingdom

Daily Lectionary Podcast – 2 Kings 9:1-13 10:18-29 and Philippians 2:12-30

2 Kings 9:1-13 10:18-29
Philippians 2:12-30
The OT is great/God has use of all kinds/The Word of the Lord is fulfilled
God’s provisions is always enough for us to “work out or salvation”

Daily Lectionary Podcast – 1 Kings 18:20-19:21

1 Kings 18:20-19:21
Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
Self-Pity, How God solves problems, God in the small things

The Children’s Bread

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Biblical Text: Matthew 15:1-28
Full Sermon Draft

Matthew continues his pairing of an explicit teaching with an indirect teaching. The actual lectionary only read Matthew 15:21-28 which is the indirect teaching – a living example of the direct words Jesus says to the Pharisees. The question is two-fold: what makes a person unclean which is the negative way or saying what makes a person one of the Children? First Jesus points at the 10 commandments or the moral law. Trespass of the moral law, coming out of the heart, is what defiles a person. With the Canaanite woman we have everything on the outside that would defile, but her heart is right, even with the hard teaching that salvation comes from the God who ordered her people’s destruction. Out of her heart comes confession and faith. This is what makes children. The bread that falls to the dogs would be enough, as the Canaanite woman believes, but God doesn’t leave us under the table, he invites us to sit.

The Abundance of Broken Pieces

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Biblical Text: Matthew 14:13-21
Full Sermon Draft

The setup to the feeding of the 5000 in Matthew is the core of Jesus’ revelation of God. Even when rejected and doomed, Jesus has compassion on his persecutors and heals their sick. The parabolic miracle demonstrates for us a couple of things. It clearly demonstrates the continued providence of God, but the bread is not just bread. The abundance of pieces are not just broken leftovers. God wants to give us more than just bread. He wants to give us himself. This sermon looks at how He does this.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Exodus 38:21-39:8, 22-23, 27-31 and Luke 8:1-21

Exodus 38:21-39:8, 22-23, 27-31
Luke 8:1-21
The temptation with numbers/What is needed is always present, The importance of Women to the Jesus enterprise, The Word and the Soils and pastoral concerns

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Exodus 31:1-18 and Luke 6:1-19

Exodus 31:1-18
Luke 6:1-19
Providence of God, distribution of talents, The Sabbath, Jesus picking fights, Divinity Claims

Fighting Besides Angels and Archangels

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Biblical Text: Daniel 10:10-14, 12:1-3 Revelation 12:7-12, Luke 20:17-20 (Appointed texts for St. Michael and All Angels
Full Sermon Draft

The texts are apocalyptic. The day is a rarely celebrated Festival of the church. The last time it might have crossed out consciousness is 2002 – the last time September 29th was on a Sunday. What do these things have to say to us?

I’ve got three points:
1) “Worlds” rise and fall, are born and die. We can mark the time, and toward the dying phase that is what we do because we are avoiding the all too apparent appointed time. The apocalyptic is give to God’s people to capture that sense of a world ending and at the same time remind us that the new creation is just as much God’s as the old. The apocalyptic is solely meant to comfort God’s people. He’s got it all in his hands.

2) The instanced of dying and rising, from our personal experiences all the way to the death of civilizations (and the feelings of exile), are portents of the final rising. On that final day all will rise one last time. A people confident of such can celebrate in the midst of death, and can fast or just mark time when the world is decadently feasting.

3) Sometimes seduced by the utilitarian and material world that has flattened everything we forget where our real strength comes from. We can pound our heads against material walls when the true war is spiritual. Our only true spiritual weapon is prayer. The angels of God, as they tell Daniel, are dispatched by the word through prayer.

And Just Who is ‘Father’?

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Biblical Text: Luke 11:1-13
Full Draft of SermonThe

The Lord’s Prayer in Luke has a different context and a different emphasis than it does in Mathew. Even though our liturgical prayer comes from Mathew, the context of the liturgy before Communion, is more like Luke. The focus of the prayer itself is the petition “give us each day our daily bread”. But the context of the prayer focuses on revealing just who it is we are praying to – Father.

This sermon is a little shorter than normal. The introduction addresses the reason. The events of the week highlight the first part on our daily bread and just how much “I need thee every hour”. The second portion is pure Gospel. Unlike us who are evil, the Father is holy. And that is what Jesus came to reveal – just who we are praying to.