REFORMATION

October 28, 2018
REFORMATION SUNDAY
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
 
501 and still counting.

This Sunday we mark an event in history as we recall the posting of those 95 more-or-less debatable notions regarding the core truth of the Christian faith.  Augustinian Brother Martin Luther wanted to talk about those notions and called for a public debate.  But . . . . . no one came.

Yet the ideas were picked up by the Internet of the day (the printing press with moveable type) and distributed widely. Very quickly, bloggers around Germany and across Europe were engaged in the debate from afar.  The new technology served to challenge and re-form church and society.  Do you believe that to be true?

The larger event of history we mark this Sunday is the continuing role of God’s Holy Spirit to form and re-form the community of faith around the truth of God’s love and grace in Jesus.  The challenge each generation faces is to blog about many notions of that truth. 

We face challenges re truth in our public life.  What is truth?  “The truth is not really the truth”, we have been told by a public official.  Truth – as presented by one perspective – is denied as truth by another perspective.  

OR is one perspective denied not by another perception but by ‘the truth’ itself?   Will we be formed by truth or by perceptions of truth?  Two + two = four.  Really truth?

The question is at least as old as the time of Jesus, as the Gospel story today reminds us. He tells his listeners the truth will re-form their lives and make them free.  Rather than appreciate the gift, they get defensive and deny they are less than free already.  In fact, they have never been less than absolutely free.  SO whatever Jesus has to say to them is fake news.

And yet, like us, Jesus’ hearers are descendants of Abraham.  We cannot  -- reasonably, truthfully – deny that we have ever been anything less than absolutely free.  Ah, excuse me, Mr. Defensive Denier:  what about those years in Egypt?  Ah, how quickly they forget -when it is to their advantage and convenience.

Untruth has a way of resisting truth, suppressing truth, denying truth.  Because it wants to enslave truth, not serve it.

Romans reminds us “all have sinned and fallen short”.  That truth seeks us out to confront us – and to forgive us. To re-form us as God’s new people, freed to be in service to that truth.

PRAYER OF THE DAY

Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

LESSONS AND PSALM
Jeremiah 31:31–34
            Psalm 46
            Romans 3:19–28
            John 8:31–36
 
 CHILDREN’ SERMON:      “Short”

SERMON:    “ The Untruth of Resisting Truth”

WORD OF THE WEEK – from John 8

Jesus said to those who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 33They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?"

FIRST LESSON from Jeremiah 31:31–34
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD.

            33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the LORD," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

SECOND LESSON from Romans 3:19–28
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20For "no human being will be justified in his sight" by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
            21But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
            27Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law
 
THE HOLY GOSPEL according to John 8:31–36
Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." 33They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?"
            34Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."

 

 

 

 

November 4, 2018 
ALL SAINTS DAY
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

All Saints is the church’s memorial day. Not to make all new things, but to make all things new – by God’s love, grace, and power.

We remember those who have gone before and now share new life in God’s nearer presence in the Church Triumphant.  As we share in the Lord’s Supper, we think of those who sit at that other end of the Lord’s vast Table, perhaps including those who have passed the faith on to us by word and deed, by the model of their faithful lives.

This year for the first time, my mother will be sitting at that other end of the Lord’s timeless Table of Grace. She is made new by God’s promise.  I trust she will be sitting with my Dad.  They both were models of good people and faithful lives. 

How often we as a family growing up sat together for a meal: rarely for breakfast, not often for lunch, but always for dinner.  When we were younger – and smaller – we ate dinners ‘at the bar’ that jutted out to divide the kitchen from the dining room.  When we got older – and larger – we pulled out a table and ate in the dining room.  I remember very few dinners where all four of us (two parents and two kids) were not present.  I was very lucky.

As our kids grew, we always ate dinner together.  Our girls even included friends at the dinner table.  One of those friends, who was less attracted to the lighter ‘leaning-toward-vegetarian’ fare found at our table, would often arrive for dinner with a raw steak in hand.  He would fry it up and then we would sit together to eat.

How large is the Table of God’s grace?

All Saints reminds us not only that God’s Table is larger today than we usually are comfortable thinking about, but that God’s Table extends through time.  A great cloud of witnesses shares at the lengthy and diverse table.  God’s promise to not to make all new things, but to make all things/people new.  Thanks be to God!

PRAYER OF THE DAY

Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

LESSONS AND PSALM
            Isaiah 25:6–9
                        Psalm 24
            Revelation 21:1–6a
            John 11:32–44
 
CHILDREN’S SERMON:  “New”
SERMON:  “A Toga Party without the Toga”
 
WORD OF THE WEEK – from Revelation 21

5And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new."

FIRST LESSON from Isaiah 25:6–9
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
            a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
            of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
7And he will destroy on this mountain
            the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
            the sheet that is spread over all nations;
            8he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces,
            and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
            for the LORD has spoken.
9It will be said on that day,
            Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
            This is the LORD for whom we have waited;

            let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

SECOND LESSON from Revelation 21:1–6
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
            "See, the home of God is among mortals.
            He will dwell with them;
            they will be his peoples,
            and God himself will be with them;
            4he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
            Death will be no more;
            mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
            for the first things have passed away."

5And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life."

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to John 11:32–44

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35Jesus began to weep. 36So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

            38Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days." 40Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

            41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me." 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

 

 

 

 

 

November 11, 2018
PENTECOST 25—LECTIONARY 32
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The church calendar moves us to the completion of the year.  The lessons at this time of year are usually filled with images of the fulfillment of time, accounting of lives, and judgment.  Sobering reminders.  Not what we need as the days here in the northern hemisphere get shorter, darker, and colder.

It was a welcomed day, however, 100 years ago today as the armistice was signed to end the First World War.  On the 11th day of the 11th month, at the 11th hour, 11th minute. That terrible war was known as “The war to end all wars”. That title may have revealed a desperate hope that was not realized going forward.  We will host a vesper service this Sunday evening at 7:00 pm to remember not only this anniversary but also those who died during the war.  Leadership for the service will be shared by The Cornell Catholic Community, the Episcopal Church at Cornell, and St. Luke.

All those 11’s correspond to the theme of these weeks in the church calendar: it’s later than you think.

There are precious few ticks until the hour of midnight sounds.  And then . . . . .

How many times have you faced a deadline?  Maybe you remember and work to get things done ahead of time.  Maybe you forget and have to rush to make the deadline.  Maybe it’s tax time, maybe it’s getting the application in, maybe it’s getting that grant proposal in.  In the old days, those pieces of mail had to be postmarked by a certain date.  Now we sit at our screens and push a button to send things off – and hope they go and that we get confirmation that they were received at the other end.

Something like going to the high school reunion or to the family reunion may bring us to an awareness: we have not been taking the care of ourselves that we should.  Too many nights of chips and ice cream, not enough days of jogging or lifting. 

Similar images crop up about our faith lives. It’s the 11th hour.  Are we ready for the big reunion?

PRAYER OF THE DAY

O God, you show forth your almighty power chiefly by reaching out to us in mercy. Grant us the fullness of your grace, strengthen our trust in your promises, and bring all the world to share in the treasures that come through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

LESSONS AND PSALM
            1 Kings 17:8–16
            Psalm 146
            Hebrews 9:24–28
            Mark 12:38–44
CHILDREN’S SERMON:  “Remove”
SERMON:  “Sacrifices Made”

 

WORD OF THE WEEK – from Mark 12

41[Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

FIRST LESSON from 1 Kings 17:8–16
Then the word of the LORD came to [Elijah,] saying, 9Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you. 10So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink." 11As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." 12But she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."
            13Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth."

            15She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.

SECOND LESSON from Hebrews 9:24–28
Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world.

            But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Mark 12:38–44
As [Jesus] taught, he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."

            41He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

 

 

 

 

November 18, 2018
PENTECOST 26—LECTIONARY 33
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
 

 This is the next-to-last Sunday of the church year.  The days dwindle down. . . . .

 For the campus folks, that means ultimately that finals are closing in.  But first, Thanksgiving break! For our IC friends, beginning November 17; for our Cornell, TC3 and  SUNY-Cortland friends, beginning November 21.  Hurray and have good breaks.

 As we get near the end . . . of the semester, what do you want or need from your friends?  How can they help you face and cope with the conclusion of classes and the beginning of finals?

Some people work well together and appreciate the nudging, coaxing, encouraging.  Other people work well by being left to design and implement their own schedule for studying, writing, researching, exam taking.

The advantage to the end of the semester is that we know it is coming and we know when the finals are scheduled.

In the journey with Jesus, his disciples and followers did not know when the end of his earthly life was going to occur.  He had been trying to teach them that he was going to die – and be raised.  But they had trouble understanding that, believing that, much less getting it on their calendars.  Imagine trying to prepare for a final that could be sprung upon you at any time.  Just be ready whenever!

The Book of Hebrews was written in the face of persecution.  As the end time approached, many became anxious. That is very understandable.

Today’s second lesson encourages people to trust God’s promise because God is faithful.  It also encourages the people to nudge one another – even in such stressful and anxious times – to love others and to do good deeds for others.  Even in such times, it’s still not all about me.

Continue in these increasingly anxious days and times to love one another and to do good deeds for others.

PRAYER OF THE DAY

Almighty God, your sovereign purpose brings salvation to birth. Give us faith to be steadfast amid the tumults of this world, trusting that your kingdom comes and your will is done through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

LESSONS AND PSALM
            Daniel 12:1–3
            Psalm 16
            Hebrews 10:11–14 [15–18] 19–25
            Mark 13:1–8

 

CHILDREN’S SERMON:  “Sanctuary”

SERMON:  “The Call to Provoke One Another”

WORD OF THE WEEK – from Hebrews 10
23Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
 
 FIRST LESSON from Daniel 12:1–3

"At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever."

SECOND LESSON from Hebrews 10:11–14 [15–18] 19–25
Every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, "he sat down at the right hand of God," 13and since then has been waiting "until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet." 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
[15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,
            16"This is the covenant that I will make with them
                        after those days, says the Lord:
            I will put my laws in their hearts,
                        and I will write them on their minds,"
17he also adds,
            "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more."
18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.]

19Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Mark 13:1–8
As [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!" 2Then Jesus asked him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down."

            3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished? 5Then Jesus began to say to them, "Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, 'I am he!' and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.