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Sunday
Nov042018

Jesus and the Dispossessed

Jesus had a special affinity for the dispossessed. Perhaps it is because he was born dispossessed. If the Christmas stories in Matthew and Luke are accurate, especially Matthew, Mary gave birth to Jesus in very trying circumstances. “There was room no in the inn,” Luke tells us. Thus Mary birthed Jesus when she and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem in the only available space for the holy family, a stable. Because King Herod wanted no usurper to seize his throne from him, he ordered all the male babies born in and around Bethlehem to be killed. Therefore Joseph and Mary left everything they owned back in Nazareth and fled to Egypt as political refugees, says Matthew. Thus Jesus always had an affinity for refugees, because he was born one.

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Sunday
Oct282018

Jesus and the Disadvantaged

Presumably Jesus of Nazareth was a poor man. We cannot know that for certain, but we may properly deduce it from those among whom Jesus spent most of his time in his three-year ministry in the Galilee. Only one verse in one Gospel indicates what Jesus’ occupation was. Mark 6:3 has a crowd in Jesus’ home synagogue say this about Jesus: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” Whether carpenters were generally poor in the time of Jesus is debatable, but most Church traditions have always assumed Jesus was poor. Apparently Jesus’ neighbors in Nazareth thought he was much too uppity as a poor man to be talking to them about anything.

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Sunday
Oct142018

The Antidote to Fear

As rich in meaning as this whole passage about love is in the First Letter of John, it is his last observation about love upon which I want us to concentrate for the remainder of this sermon. “There is no fear in love,” John wrote, “but perfect love cast out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.”

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Sunday
Oct072018

The Two Sides of Human Nature

We human beings like to tell ourselves that we are cerebrally and ethically the loftiest species in the earthly created order. That is a highly debatable point, but it might be correct. Most ordinary people can accomplish things that even the brainiest of animals cannot do. Morally we can make good choices that even the kindest and most loving dogs or cats or horses could never even conceptualize. Nevertheless, we have all read how pets rescued their owners from burning houses or kept them from drowning, and so on and so on. However, almost always when heroic rescues are accomplished, it is human beings, not animals, who accomplish them.

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Sunday
Sep302018

Providence: The GREATEST Dogma

The word providence, or more specifically the doctrine of providence, is not referred to much these days. It was a very important concept to St. Augustine, the greatest of the Early Church fathers, and to St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of the medieval Church scholars. It became a much-discussed and written-about topic for Martin Luther and John Calvin. Since the Reformation, however, providence as a major Christian concept has slipped from the consciousness of most Christian scholars, clergy, or lay people.

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