Sermon for May 8 and 9, 1999
Resurrection Week Six, Year A
The following are
the Scripture readings as scheduled in the "Revised Common
Lectionary," an ecumenical schedule of readings of Holy Scripture. Our
sermons are based on these readings.
Reader: This first reading is in the Book of Acts, Chapter 7, verses twenty-two
through thirty-one, and it may be found on page 137 in the Christian Testament
of your NRSV.
17:22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, "Athenians, I
see how extremely religious you are in every way. 17:23 For as I went through the
city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an
altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as
unknown, this I proclaim to you. 17:24 The God who made the world and
everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines
made by human hands, 17:25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed
anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.
17:26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he
allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where
they would live, 17:27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for
him and find him--though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 17:28 For
'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets
have said, 'For we too are his offspring.' 17:29 Since we are God's offspring,
we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an
image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 17:30 While God has
overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere
to repent, 17:31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world
judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has
given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.
Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;
you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet
you have brought us out to a spacious place.
I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,
those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice
of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.
I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.
Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast
love from me.
1 Peter 3:13-22
Reader: The second reading is in the Book of First Peter, Chapter 3, verses
thirteen through twenty-two. You will find it on page 234 of the Christian
Testament of your NRSV.
3:13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 3:14 But even
if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what
they fear, and do not be intimidated, 3:15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ
as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an
accounting for the hope that is in you; 3:16 yet do it with gentleness and
reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those
who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. 3:17 For it
is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God's will, than to
suffer for doing evil. 3:18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the
righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to
death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 3:19 in which also he went
and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 3:20 who in former times did
not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of
the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 3:21
And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you--not as a removal of dirt
from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ, 3:22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right
hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.
Reader: The Gospel reading is in the Book of John, Chapter 14; verses fifteen
to twenty-one. You will find it on page 109 in the Christian Testament of your
NRSV. We sing an anthem before and one after the Gospel. You will find them in
your notebook on page W-1. Please rise as you are able to Celebrate the Gospel
of Jesus Christ.
Reader: The Gospel according to John:
14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 14:16 And I will ask
the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.
14:17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it
neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and
he will be in you. 14:18 "I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to
you. 14:19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see
me; because I live, you also will live. 14:20 On that day you will know that I
am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 14:21 They who have my
commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be
loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."
Reader: This is the Gospel of the Lord; Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Brother Benedict, Sermon 173
1 Peter 3:13-22
This weekend we are recognizing Mothers among us and remembering those who are
not with us in person. Mother's and Father's days are difficult days for
preaching in the churches that are well attended by Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgendered, Questioning and supportive Straight people. First, many of us
are estranged from one or both of our parents. Second, many of us have had very
difficult relationships with one or both parents. Many of our families have in
fact disowned us.
Unfortunately, the Christian Church is largely responsible for the division in
many families over sexual orientation. For many people the pain has been so
great that they simply stay away from the church completely. Of course, this is
not what Jesus would want to happen.
Parenting is a gift from God. Parenting is only complete if it is a reflection
of God's relationship to us. We have to look to God to understand how to be a
parent for anyone. Parenting means loving another person with the unconditional
love of God for the benefit of the other person. One cannot give a love they do
not know themselves. It is essential that we personally know the depth and
eternity of the parental love of God.
It is interesting that "in Christ" we all have the opportunity to
represent the parental qualities of God to each other. God certainly knows that
many of us have not had successful relationships with our parents. God's
ability to be Love for us is greater than our human ability to love each other.
When we fail as humans to love each other, we do not cancel our opportunity to
experience love as the reality of God in our lives.
Many of us have opportunities to show the parental love of God for another. If
you stop and think this through for a moment, the reason we can recognize when
we are not being treated the way we should be by a parent is God has put into
our heats and minds God's own parental love. Our soul desires a certain warmth
of love from another person and the soul knows what it is expecting because our
souls were with God before our birth. So, there is this sort of comparison that
happens as we experience what someone may be calling "love" as they
give it to us. Natural scientists call this "instinct," but it is
really divine knowledge in the soul.
Look at the animal kingdom, our Natural Scientists say the animals have no
feeling, no conscience, or ability to reason, they are just functioning on
"instinct." No, I don't think so; it is too beautiful to watch mother
animals taking care of their young. It is my opinion that the animals are very
much in touch with the love of God and they know what they are doing. Further,
it is just the natural man's arrogance that says we are so superior to the rest
of creation that we are the only ones that reason.
So, I want to invite all of you to appeal to your very deep knowledge of divine
love. Examine the way God loves you in the very depths of yourselves. There you
will find the wisdom of parental love as God gives it to everyone individually.
It seems to me that God calls us to share God's parental love with each other.
God can reach out and heal that need that all of us have for the experience of
parental care by working through us.
Our society is starving for the parental love that is necessary for a healthy
society. Since we have done so poorly raising our young, our young people have
turned to the streets in search of someone to love. It is notable that all of
the sexual orientation reparative therapy methods focus on unfulfilled parental
Some "reparative therapists" say a person will be gay or lesbian if
the love of mother was absent, others say if the father was absent, some say if
the father was too dominant and abusive and others say if the mother was too
smothering or dominant. When these reparative methods begin the healing it is
often centered on learning to have fulfilling relationships with the gender
that represents the missing normal development in one's life. When some sense
of progress is made with the broken-ness in one's relationships it is often
said that the person has been "healed" and often healed to be
In our readings today we hear a very powerful Doctrine: "In him we live
and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) What does this Doctrine mean?
It is cross referenced to Romans 14:8; "For if we live, we live to the
Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we
are the Lord's." This means we are totally involved, totally consumed,
totally within the ever-abiding presence of Jesus. The reparative therapy that
anyone needs is waiting to spring forth in us like streams of living water.
Christ abiding in us wants to heal any type of emotional broken-ness we have
and Christ offers us emotional and spiritual wholeness. If Christ abides in us,
Christ will give us total emotional healing, total spiritual healing if we but
ask and have expectant faith. Christ may use the help of medical or
psychological care to bring about our healing, but complete wholeness is
available to anyone who wants it. Christ in us is there to redeem us. Christ is
in us to make our lives complete, even where there are missing pieces in our
Verse 30 of Acts 17 said; "…. Now God commands all people everywhere to
repent…" Why? God has made the way to total wholeness, total emotional
health, and total spiritual health and therefore God wants all of us to make
the journey to wholeness. God knows this is the right and good thing for us to
do, so God commands us to do so. That "command" is another way to say
God so strongly wants us to make the move to total healing.
Along with this command comes Peter's instruction to "in your hearts
sanctify Christ as Lord." (1Peter 3:15) The Lordship of Christ must be
individually applied to each life, to each heart for it to have eternal effect
in the life of each person. When Christ is Lord of our hearts and Lord of our
lives we have a direct experience of parental love. First, Jesus was determined
to help people to find the love of God. In the days of His living on earth in
the flesh, Jesus was frustrated to find people had reduced faith and salvation
to head knowledge, rituals, and law following. He taught people to know God as
personal love. This was very new for the people of Jesus' day.
To sustain this relationship after ascension into heaven, Jesus promises the
presence of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said; "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,
to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,
because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with
you, and he will be in you." (John 14:16-17) Jesus spoke this before the
Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit began the ministry of
"indwelling" the believer-priests of Christ. In this promise is a
tremendous expression of God's personal care for us. As the perfect parent, God
is assuring us that we never have to be alone and on our own. It is one thing
to consider being on your own in the neighborhood, or even on a trip from State
to State, but consider being on your own in the Universe! God does not allow us
to have that terrifying experience. Christ promises His presence in many ways,
not the least of which is as the Good Shepherd. In this Gospel we have the very
powerful promise of our sharing in the very oneness with the Trinity. Jesus
said; ".. You will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in
you. …. those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and
reveal myself to them." (John 14:20-21) I hope you are experiencing great
comfort from these verses.
God has love for us that surpasses any love that we can give each other.
However, when we are "in Christ" we have Christ loving from within
us. In this way, with the Holy Spirit as our Advocate, our Counselor, and with
God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit within us we can be the love of God in Christ
through the Holy Spirit to every person we know. The only true love we can
offer each other is the very presence of God within us.
Let us be grateful for those mothers who have been faithful and good mothers.
Let's ask God to return to them all the love and efforts they have given us in
the form of grace where they need it most in their lives. Also, it is a
wonderful gift to pray for those persons who have been mothers to us throughout
our lives. Finally, lets ask Christ to use the real presence of the divine
within us to be the agent of parental love for those who need this special kind
of love in their lives. Together as a congregation, let's diligently search to
develop our spirituality to the potential that God knows it achieve. Seeking
God as parental love we can offer this love to each other and bring more
wonderful healing to our world.
A special blessing on all of you who have been a mother to someone be he or she
your genetic children or someone you were representing the love of God to
. May Almighty God bless all of us, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit, Amen.