The Counter of of Uncountable Nouns

The Counter of of Uncountable Nouns

Sermon on Psalm 86 and Matthew 10:29-31 for Pentecost +3, June 25, 2015

Psalm 86 

Matthew 10:29-31

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  And even the hairs of your head are all counted.  So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

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When I was overseas they asked me to teach some courses in English as a Second Language.  I got a book, and learned some things about English I never knew before.  For example, I learned that we treat countable nouns differently from uncountable nouns. 

Countable nouns are objects big enough or few enough to be able to count, like sheep or shepherds.   

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Jesus’ Father(s)

Jesus’ Father(s)

Sermon on Genesis 3:1-14 and Matthew 1:1-7; 18-25 for Father’s Day (Pentecost +2), June 18, 2017

Genesis 3:1-14, click here

Matthew 1:1-7; 18-25

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,  and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram,  and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,  and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,  and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.”  When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

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Jesus’ Father(s)

I am one of the blessed ones.  Father’s Day is a happy day for me.  I have a wonderful father who raised us well, and I am blessed to be a father of two of the best boys in the world – now men.  But I know it is not like that for everyone.

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Mystery and Meaning

Mystery and Meaning

Sermon on Genesis 1  for June 11, 2017, Trinity Sunday, A

from Genesis 1 

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image
  in the image of God he created them;
   male and female he created them.

I was just at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting where I was asked to give the invocation.  The speaker was Quint Studer.  Quint is the co-owner of the minor league baseball team the Pensacola Blue Wahoos as well as a businessman and philanthropist. 

He told a lot of stories about people, including himself, who had invested their profits back into their local communities for the sake of the common good, and how it had benefited them.  He said that business which were generous towards their local communities, according to research, were more profitable than those that were not.  He gave many examples of how good it is for a business to invest in training for their employees because it ends up being the best way to make the business flourish. 

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The Spirit’s Language(s)

The Spirit’s Language(s)

Sermon on Acts 2:1-21 for June 4, 2017, Pentecost A

The entire text is here: Acts 2:1-21

An Excerpt:

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

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There is a strange verse in the New Testament about the Spirit.  In 1John 4:1 it says:  

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

It is strange for several reasons.  First, you would think that if the Spirit is at work, communicating something, it would be so clear, so self-evidently from the Spirit that there could be no mistaking it.  But apparently that is not the case. 

Second, this verse is strange because it gives the power to the Christian community to somehow “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”  That means the community already has a sense of the kinds of things that are from God and which are not, and will be able to discern which is which. 

You would think that such discernment comes from the Spirit, but in this case the discernment comes to tell you if the Spirit is reliably from God.  It is completely assumed that the Christian community has spiritual instincts that help it know the difference between things that are of God and things that are not. 

Where did we get these instincts?   Well the answer is pretty clear: the Spirit has been following a distinctive trajectory from the beginning.  You can see the direction of movement.  So, any word or teaching claiming to be “of God” that is going in another direction is automatically suspect. 

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