Nets, Not Hooks - Trinity V

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Nets, Not Hooks - Trinity V

Luke 5:1-11 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret,

2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.

3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."

5 And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets."

6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.

7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."

9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken,

10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."

11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

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Trinity IV - July 14, 2019 - On Judging Not

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Trinity IV - July 14, 2019 - On Judging Not

Luke 6:36-42 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. 37 "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." 39 He also told them a parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.

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Trinity II - "Skipping Church in the Summer"

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Trinity II - "Skipping Church in the Summer"

Luke 14:15-24 15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" 16 But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.' 19 And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.' 20 And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' 22 And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' 23 And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'"

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Commemorations of Silas and Scholastica/Installation of Deaconess Ellee Mietzner

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Commemorations of Silas and Scholastica/Installation of Deaconess Ellee Mietzner

Matthew 5

            Today’s saints are both identified by their relationship to another person. Silas, fellow worker of Paul and Peter. Scholastica, twin sister of Benedict of Nursia. Silas worked with the heavy hitters, the authors of the New Testament, who formed our faith with the words of Christ. Scholastica’s brother Benedict shaped the whole of western spirituality, and is essentially the reason why you say prayers before you eat. Whether you know it or not, Benedict is also the reason you think you should read your Bible and do your devotions on a daily basis. Peter and Paul write most of the letters of the New Testament, and follow the spreading Gospel during their lives, heroically dying as martyrs in Rome. Silas and Scholastica? Well, Silas is a minor figure in the Book of Acts who sort of disappears. Scholastica, we know next to nothing about her, and maybe she didn’t even really exist. She gets a paragraph in Gregory the Great’s biography of Benedict.

 

            This all goes to say that the church celebrates people who aren’t necessarily important. The church needs people that don’t seem important. The church appoints people who will be forgotten. Christ calls you, who the world will forget. My hunch is that no one here tonight is all that important. We might get big heads from time to time, but at the end of the year, the historians probably won’t be writing your biographies. One of the shocking things about growing up is finding out that you really aren’t all that special. School trains us to work for rewards. Grades. Degrees. Achievements. Points. And then, once you’re out, you really just kind of live, and do something relatively similar from day to day. The outliers are outliers for a reason… there aren’t many of them. You may be the next Benedict or Paul, but the odds are that you are more like Silas or Scholastica.

 

It’s my guess that you might even know this already. You’ve taken the hint. You’ve been stepped on. You’ve been cast out. You’ve been forgotten already. You’ve been embarrassed. You’ve been hurt. You’ve been not cared about. You think that no one will even notice.

 

Very early in the history of the church, shortly after Christ ascended into heaven, we thought it would be good to remember people that the world forgets. Christ Himself was left in a tomb, meant to be forgotten. The idea was that you would simply crucify this man, and He and His followers would just sort of go away. Ah, but this is not right! And it is not right for us to forget the forgotten. We remember. In addition to the preaching ministry, the church also established the offices for service of deacon and deaconess. They are not the same, and never really have been, but they helped the early pastors care for the least of these, those who mourn, those who are poor, and poor in spirit.

 

The church started selecting women to serve other women. A beautiful calling. Phoebe, the first called “deaconess” of course, is mentioned by St. Paul in Romans. We know little about her, other than that she is simply called a deaconess. And then we find them mentioned in the Fathers; Clement and Origen. The Roman investigator of Christianity, Pliny, reports that he tortured two deaconesses to find out information about the Faith.

 

Right off the bat, we find that the church is so much more than just a collection of passive laypeople who give money to the lazy priests on Sunday mornings. The deaconesses have no liturgical roles, but are given, consecrated to the work of serving the wellbeing of those who are often forgotten by the world, and even by the church! All of the sudden, the unnoticed ones are the ones whom the church exists for. The sick ones. The poor ones. The orphans and widows. You, who are lowly, who are heavy burdened, who are mourning, who are poor in spirit, who find little comfort in the world, yes, you are the ones to whom Christ has sent His word. Scholasticas and Silases. This is for you. Phoebes, once mentioned characters in the Scriptures, and all the rest who have been left out of the spotlight.

 

They thought they could get rid of us by getting rid of our Leader. Bury Him and they’ll go away. We’ll forget. And we might have, if it weren’t for the fact that Christ rose from the dead. That certainly isn’t something that’s going to be forgotten any time soon, and hasn’t been for a while, thanks to Phoebe, Silas, Scholastica and millions of other forgotten saints who have risen before us. Pastors who have preached. Teachers who have taught. Deaconesses who have served. Churches who have remembered together. We stand at the end of a long line of forgotten people who have remembered. We’re not done yet. We wait for the day that is surely coming, when the forgotten dead will be called to life, by their names, names with which they were baptized into the Great Name. You were baptized, and the Lord remembers your name. Silas! Scholastica! And then, you will hear. Your tears will be gone. Your feet will jump for joy. Lonely never again. Everything fulfilled. To God be the glory. Amen.

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Last Sunday of the Church Year/25Nov2018

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Last Sunday of the Church Year/25Nov2018

INI              

  This parable today was one of the more prominent designs in medieval sculpture. Go to France and you’ll see the doors of the great cathedrals with this story. Ten virgins. Five wise. Five foolish. Standing outside the door of the church, waiting. I think there is a reason why this was so widespread in church architecture and art. Everyone knows, everyone is wired to know, that there is something more than this, something that is coming. That these things in our world cannot really go on as they are for all that much longer. That there is something after death. And it is imminent, just around the corner.

                This is why everyone everywhere is angry and frustrated about everything today. We all know something has to be done before its too late, but no one knows what it is we have to do or what it is that is going to happen. This last election was the most important of our lifetimes, so we were told, the one we really had to get right… or else. There really is a sense that we are standing at the eleventh hour today, and we have been for a while now. Something big is going to happen, and it may happen at any time now.

                And so we fret and worry about this or that thing. We run around and try to make sure things are ready. We find that the harder we try though, the worse things get. This might sound crazy, but try, just for a second, to stop that. Relax. Take it easy. Everything is going to be alright. In fact, everything is going to be… good.

               The ancient fathers of the church preach that the oil stands for faith, and the funny thing about faith, is that it doesn’t look to itself, or speak of itself… it looks to something else… to Jesus. We don’t talk about faith much, because that sort of talk loses sight of what faith is seeing. Speaking of faith is like talking about the telescope more than the stars it is seeing… having a really nice scope, but never looking through it. If you’re worried about what you’re holding and whether it is enough or the right kind of lamp or oil, you’re not going to get it right. If you run off and try to make sure you’re all ready for the return of the Bridegroom, you’re not going to be ready for the return of the Bridegroom. If you think that your perfection and holiness depends upon your own preparations and whether you’ve got everything in order… then you are not prepared and are, in fact, out of order.

                So yes, Christ is surely coming. And this, everyone knows, to some extent. There’s a reason why every religion has some sort of apocalypse at the end… because it is real. The question is what you need to do to be ready for it. Take a nap. Hold your lamp close, and sleep for a bit. Everything is ready. The food is here. The tables are set. The music is about ready to start. Yes, everything is ready, all you need is to sleep, wait, and wake up when He calls. And no, I’m not suggesting you be lazy. I’m saying that you can rest well knowing that all has been accomplished, and everything is ready, for Christ the great Bridegroom of the beautiful bride, the Holy Church has set everything in order.

                If you worry about the lamp or the oil, you’ll miss the party. If you worry about others’ lamps, you’ll forget that the Lord is good. If you think that the coming of Christ, and the judgment of the living and the dead is threatening, then you miss the great merciful invitation! It is rather worrying that our world has decided to go with the worrying route though. They’ll spin their wheels and accomplish nothing. That’s okay. When they find out that they weren’t able to change anything, we’ll be right here, rejoicing. Celebrating the forgiveness of all sins in Christ Jesus’ and His Blood. The sad truth is that so many turn out to be foolish, for they do not know their Lord, and have not listened to His beautiful promises. Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! He is coming! Everything is ready! We hold forth the bright flame, Christ, the Light of the World that no darkness will overcome, the Spirit, sent burning upon you in Holy Baptism. Really, you have nothing to fear at all. He repeats this time after time… have no fear! He means what He says, and He is risen from the grave to tell you exactly this.

                For those who are worried about whether or not Christ will accept them, we point only to His death and resurrection. Murdered by the people He came to save, yet, He still rose from the dead, not to threaten or shame them, but to love them in the new day of the Resurrection, which is now your resurrection. Whatever comes our way, and whatever has already come your way… we rest in these gifts of Christ, knowing full well that whatever is around the corner is always and only for our good in the end, because in the end, everything will be good as Christ has made it so.

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