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.
Lent 1 (Year B)
9:8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,
for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you,
9:10 and with
every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and
every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.
establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by
the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the
9:12 God said,
"This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every
living creature that is with you, for all future generations:
9:13 I have set
my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the
9:14 When I
bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,
9:15 I will
remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of
all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all
9:16 When the
bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant
between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."
9:17 God said
to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between
me and all flesh that is on the earth."
This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.
25:1 To you, O
LORD, I lift up my soul.
25:2 O my God,
in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over
25:3 Do not let
those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly
25:4 Make me to
know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
25:5 Lead me in
your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait
all day long.
25:6 Be mindful
of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of
25:7 Do not
remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast
love remember me, for your goodness' sake, O LORD!
25:8 Good and
upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
25:9 He leads
the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
25:10 All the
paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his
covenant and his decrees.
Lent 1 (Year B)
1 Peter 3:18-22
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
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.
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.
Lent 1 (Year B)
1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John
in the Jordan.
1:10 And just
as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the
Spirit descending like a dove on him.
1:11 And a
voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well
1:12 And the
Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
1:13 He was in
the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts;
and the angels waited on him.
1:14 Now after
John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,
saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;
repent, and believe in the good news."
Reader: This is the Gospel of the Lord; Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Brother Benedict, Sermon 211
Lent 1 Year B March 12, 2000
In todayís first reading (Genesis 9:8-17) we learn where rainbows come from.
After the flood of Noah God again has compassion on all of creation. God
expresses this compassion by establishing a new covenant with Noah and all his
descendants and with every living creature, "...the birds, the domestic
animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark."
(Genesis 9:11) This brings into serious question the theory of human
superiority that claims the animal, bird, fish, plant kingdoms are nothing to
God and only humanity matters. Obviously this is not the case as clearly
expressed in this covenant. Specifically, God promises all of us that flood
waters shall never end this world. That is the specific expression of the real
matter, but there is a lot more meaning to this covenant.
What God again
is doing is expressing immeasurable love for all creation, not just humanity,
all of creation. Jesus says God knows each sparrow, (Mat 10:29 Are not two
sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart
from your Father.) and Jesus says the lilies of the field are more beautiful
than all of King Solomonís rich clothing. (Mat 6:28 And why do you worry about
clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil
nor spin, Mat 6:29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not
clothed like one of these.) The psalms are teaming with statements like the
rivers clap their hands at the presence of the Lord, mountains and hills bless
the Lord, fruit trees and cedars bless the Lord, sea creatures, birds of the
air, beasts wild and tame, and ultimately, let everything that has life and
breath praise the Lord. Listen to Psalm 148:
Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Psa 148:2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host! Psa 148:3
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Psa 148:4 Praise
him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Psa 148:5 Let them
praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created. Psa 148:6
He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be
passed. Psa 148:7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all
deeps, Psa 148:8 fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his
command! Psa 148:9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Psa 148:10
Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Psa 148:11 Kings
of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Psa 148:12
Young men and women alike, old and young together! Psa 148:13 Let them praise
the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth
and heaven. Psa 148:14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all
his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the LORD!
Scriptures demand that we move past the idea that our religion is only a mental
exercise we assemble to sit and stand to speak and sing about it. No, in fact
all creation is well aware of God, actively involved with God and what God is
planning to do. Remember, Paul says creation itself is groaning as it also
waits for our redemption. (Rom 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been
groaning in labor pains until now; Rom 8:23 and not only the creation, but we
ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait
for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.) At the Nativity of Christ A star
assisted in the announcement of Christís birth place, the earth quakes at
moment of His death. Last week we heard that Jesus was bathed in Light, and
this is another example of nature taking part in the proclamation of Godís
plan. We know Jesus was taken into Heaven on clouds. He turned water into wine!
He uses bread and wine to nourish us with His own body and blood. Water
cooperates with the Holy Spirit to bring the grace of baptism, oil rejoices to
celebrate healing, incense rises gracefully to symbolize our prayers, light
pierces darkness to remind us there is no darkness in God at all. (1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light
and in him there is no darkness at all.) "Let everything that lives and
that breathes give praise to the LORD." (Psalm 150)
Most of us
agree that rainbows are truly beautiful to behold. Everyone stops to see a
rainbow, and everyone has an innate feeling that rainbows are special. Science
tells us how just the right amount of moving moisture and mixed with sunlight
at just the right angle will produce a rainbow, but science believes it is all
chance. Oh no, it isnít chance at all. God shows rainbows to speak to us from
Heaven and say I love you. Science may be able to tell us of the right formula
of light and water to make this happen, but science has no way of explaining
the love of God that causes rainbows to appear and proclaim Godís message of
unconditional love and unbreakable covenants with us and with all of creation.
I suppose some
of you think I just went off the deep end, but I assure you I did not. This
covenant is one of many that God has made in attempt after attempt to tell
humanity that God operates completely from a position of love. Whatever God
does begins with love, continues in love and ends in love. God is love. (1John
which is made with all of creation through the faithfulness of Noah proclaims
Godís love of creation so loudly that it is almost defining. In this covenant
God is assuring all creation that manís sinfulness will not bring about the
destruction of Godís beautiful creation. This is really a covenant of mercy and
When God made
this covenant with Noah, God knew what we would be like in the year 2000. It is
remarkable to see how the world grew to over six billion people from the eight
persons who were on the ark with Noah. God knowing all things could look down
through time and see our individual and collective sins. God knew about Ray Of
Hope Church before Adam and Eve were created! God knew you would be sitting
here. God knows right now which ones of us will be faithful until Christ comes
again, and which ones of us will fall away. The marvelous factor of this
covenant is in spite of all God knows of us and those who will come after us
God has promised so much mercy and forgiveness that God will not destroy the
Earth even though the sinfulness of the people of this Earth would justify an
instant judgment and destruction for Godís name sake.
God loves us
even when we do not love ourselves. Many of us have been taught to not love
ourselves. In fact, we have been taught to strongly dislike ourselves. Into our
self dislike comes the eternal lover of all creation.
In 1978 Gilbert
Baker of SanFrancisco decided to fly a rainbow flag to represent Gay and
Lesbian freedom. (Source: Alyson Almanac, page 57) Anything I have ever read
about how he came up with the idea does not indicate it was for religious
reasons, and it is unlikely he had even a clue that there was no more
appropriate symbol in all creation than the rainbow. Now, twenty-two years
later the rainbow flag has come to express our desire for equal love for all
people regardless of gender, sexuality, race, creed, custom, ethnicity, social
status, or economic prowess. The rainbow flag is now being used to say we need
to celebrate diversity. Rainbow symbols appear on buttons, bumper stickers,
little flags, huge flags, streamers, posters, just about anything it can be
printed on, even bank checks.
In a very
beautiful way the rainbow has been a symbol of great hope and human dignity
when used to relieve the pain of the AIDS Pandemic. In 1994 people stretched a
one mile long sewn rainbow flag made of heavy flag nylon, and it was the width
of a two lane large city street. Pictures were taken from helicopters as it
flowed past the United Nations building. Every inch of the entire parameter of
the flag was filled with hands holding it up and moving it along the parade
route. What a tremendous spectacle it was. The one mile rainbow flag appeared
in all the national news magazines. Most media agencies had wonderful pictures
from the air and pictures of the people making if float through the streets of
When I saw the
one mile rainbow flag I was hit very hard in the heart by the Holy Spirit. What
I heard in my mind and heart was something just like this as I sit here and try
to remember it. I remember hearing the Holy Spirit saying: "There it is,
my rainbow. I remember today my covenant as I see rainbow flags everywhere
today. I see them in the hands of children, on the strollers of babies, in the
hands of young men and women, and in the hands of the elderly, and yes I am
remembering my covenant right now as I see you, and yes I am keeping my
covenant with all of you. All of you out here, I see you, I hear you, I am with
you. If you only knew how much I love you. Fly my rainbow with pride! Fly it
high, hang it from your house tops, fly it from your cars, cover books with it,
place it as a door mat to your home, and though you may not know it is I who am
with you, I am with you always. I know your pain, I know what the liars are
saying.... shhhhhh... quiet children, you have no need to defend yourselves to
me. I made you, I know more about you than you know about yourselves. Fly my
rainbow! You make it look so beautiful! So many beautiful rainbows flying in
the warm June sun. Fly! Fly! Fly high against my sky! Whenever I see your
rainbows I will remember you by name, and I will remember how much I love you.
When you are home with me you will see all the pain and injustices will be
over. Let me into your lives oh my people. I can comfort you so much and help
you understand why so many do not understand my ways. You understand them. You
are right, all people are beautiful in my sight. Fly my rainbow with pride
today and every day. I want you to fly it. I will help you love it and if
perchance you donít find out why you love it so in this life, I will personally
show you when you are home with me that I was with you all the way. I love
almost the exact words as I am finding it very easy to relive that moment.
Tears were flooding my face as people of all ages walked by holding the giant
flag, people in military uniforms, clergy clothing, professional uniforms, all
kinds of people holding Godís rainbow and causing it to fly. Lots of people
were crying for many reasons. I was overwhelmed with the presence of the Holy
Spirit at the 25th Anniversary Stonewall parade.
There is a very
large rainbow flag that is hanging on the wall at the Pride Community Center in
Syracuse, NY where the Syracuse Extension of Ray Of Hope Church worships. It is
the largest symbol in the room. It is impossible to be in the room without
seeing it. We have come to really appreciate it as our most prominent symbol in
our worship space. Should God ever will us to have a permanent building of our
own it is clear to me that the rainbow flag must be the most large and looming
art piece in the worship space.
The miracle in
all this for me, is millions of gay,l esbian, bisexual, and transgender people
truly believe the lies that condemn them from the so-called church, and are
convinced God hates them and God will be condemning them to Hell, and yet God
found a way right into their hearts. God had to find a way to counter the lies
and shout NO that isnít true. God found it! God put into the heart of an
unsuspecting young man to make Godís rainbow the symbol of the hope for liberty
and justice for all. When God recreates the Earth and all the sting and curse
of sin is lifted we will finally have that world that is one nation, under God
with liberty and justice for all. God will make His home on Earth in that hour.
When we see God face to face, we will finally understand why the rainbow is the
perfect symbol of His truth that He is with us always. You see, Godís throne is
completely encircled by an unbroken rainbow for all eternity. WOW! There is no
way one man naturally chose the symbol that is Godís very own signature and
seal for His throne! God did it as a way to reach out and love us. So when you
see a rainbow sticker, flag, button, etc., stop and envision the throne of God
as it is completely encircled with the rainbow this very second as we speak.
Tell me this was an accident. No, I should say, try to tell me this was an
accident! God is so good to us. We are loved with an everlasting love, one that
is eternal and beautifully expressed in the circular, eternal rainbow with God
in the center.
Gospel replays the voice of God at the baptism of Jesus; "This is my
beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him." (Mark 1:11) Yes
people, listen to Him, really listen and believe. The second reading reminds us
again: "For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for
the unrighteous in order to bring you to God." (1 Peter 3:18). Where is
the proof for all these accusations for a wrathful and vengeful mean god????
Not in this Bible, not in this covenant, not in this Gospel of Jesus.
What should our
response be? Do we really need to tell each other to love God with our whole
heart, our whole mind, our whole soul and our neighbor as ourselves? God loves
you, so go ahead and start loving yourself, and affirming yourself and who God
made you to be. Come home to the circle that knows no end, the rainbow that
leads to the heart of God. May God bless you richly as we begin the first full
week of Lent, 2000.
May almighty God bless you, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Spirit. Amen.
TOTUS TUUS! Totally Yours, Lord Jesus Christ.
May Almighty God bless all of us, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit, Amen.