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.
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.
SERMON: “ The Untruth of Resisting Truth”
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'?"
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.
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!
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.
5And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new."
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
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."
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."
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?
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
SERMON: “The Call to Provoke One Another”
"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."
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.
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.