“Get up and do not be afraid”

“Get up and do not be afraid”

Sermon on Exodus 24:12-18 and Matthew 17:1-9 for Transfiguration Sunday, Year A, Feb. 26, 2017

Exodus 24:12-18

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.”

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Matthew 17:1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-11-18-24-amIn nearby Foley they are making great progress on the Owa amusement park.  According to their promotional materials there is going to be a big roller-coaster with a 360 degree loop.  I love roller coasters.  So do most people.  Why?  Because there is something fun about being scared.  You get an adrenaline rush.  Actually , they say that the adrenaline starts even when you are waiting in line, anticipating the ride.

We like feeling afraid and facing our fears in a roller-coaster because although it is scary, we believe it will be safe.  Serious injuries are possible, but quite rare.

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A Perfectly Executed Life

A Perfectly Executed Life

Sermon on Matthew 5:38-48 for Epiphany +7 A, February 19, 2017

Matthew 5:38-48
[Jesus said:]  “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-4-23-20-pmOnce, when I was young, I was riding a horse at camp. There was a garden hose laying across the area I was riding through. The horse balked at the hose in obvious fear. I wondered if it might rear up or buck me off.

The horse was acting out of what they call a fixed action pattern response – the hose resembled a snake. Horses evolved to fear snakes. It is a survival mechanism. It is an automatic, instinctive response.

And so is the instant urge to strike back, when someone slaps us on the cheek.

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Living A Christian “Namaste”

Living A Christian “Namaste”

Sermon on Matthew 5:21-37 for Epiphany +6 A, February 12, 2017

Matthew 5:21-37

[Jesus said:] “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-4-06-44-pmone.”

On Sunday evenings here there is a yoga class.  It is not a flow yoga workout, but a stretching, meditative yoga.  At the end, we are invited to return to a seated position, place our hands together and bring them to our chests in prayer position.  The final word the leader says to us us “Namaste” which we all return, “Namaste.”

Namaste is the common greeting in India and Nepal.  It comes from ancient Sanskrit.  It means “I bow to the divine in you.”  Literally it means that I recognize in you, not just the person I see on the outside, but that you are much more.

On the outside, I see you as a man or a woman.  I see your race.  I see how you dress, I can guess your age and your social status.  But you are more than that.  You are a precious, unique person, never before, never again to be made exactly as you are.  In Jewish and Christian terms, you are “made in the image and likeness of God.”
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We Are, Indeed!

We Are, Indeed!

Sermon on Matthew 5:13-16 for Epiphany +5A, February 5, 2017

Matthew 5:13-16
[Jesus said:] “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-8-32-01-amCormac McCarthy wrote a novel called The Road.  It is a dystopia; we are never told what happened, but the world is nearly totally destroyed.  A surviving man and his son have to make their way down the road headed south, knowing they will not survive another winter.

Nothing grows, most people are long gone.  Survivors compete with each other for the final scavegings of a lost civilization.  Some become bands of predators, literally feeding on anything they can find.  The man and his son are almost killed by some of them.

They eventually make it to the southern coast, but then the father’s health breaks, and he knows he is dying.  What will his son become, as he tries to survive?  Will he loose his humanity, as some have, or will he maintain a moral compass in spite of everything?  His last exchange with his son is this:

The Father: “You have to carry the fire.”

His son:  I don’t know how to.”

Yes, you do.”

Is the fire real? The fire?”

Yes it is.”

Where is it? I don’t know where it is.”

Yes you do. It’s inside you. It always was there. I can see it.”

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