Archive for the ‘25th Sunday’ Category

All Are Welcome 9-20-2020

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Listen – One and All. Salvation is a gift. There are no first or
second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. We are all God’s children
and God loves us all the same. And isn’t that the way it ought to be?
There are enough ways of measuring status in this world without having
first and second-class citizens in the world to come.
Every society, from the poorest to the richest, has some way of
measuring status. Back in the days when the stagecoach was the
primary means of transportation in the American West, one sign of
status was the class of stagecoach ticket you bought.
It was common for a stagecoach to breakdown, or to get stuck on a
rocky or muddy path. Passengers with a third-class ticket were required
to get the stagecoach going again. They removed the rocks or tree limbs
that blocked the path, they cleared the mud from around the wagon
wheels, they unloaded the heavier items from the stagecoach. If the
stagecoach load was too heavy for the horses to pull up the hill, second-
class passengers had to disembark and walk up the hill. First-class passengers were not expected to do any work. No matter how messy the
situation was, no matter how stuck the stagecoach was, a passenger with
a first class ticket was under no obligation to help on the journey. He or
she simply benefited from the work of others.
Friend, forget such distinctions in the Kingdom. God plays no
favorites. And that’s good. It would be my luck to go into the Kingdom
right behind Mother Teresa or Billy Graham. But, here’s the good news,
it won’t matter at all. My robe will be just as white as Mother Teresa’s,
because it has been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. And my crown
will be radiant – though it may slip off a little to the side. Whether
we’ve served seventy years or seven minutes in the fellowship of Christ,
the reward is the same – the presence, and power of perfect love. We
shall see Christ face to face.
There’s an old story told about a little church west of Winchester,
Virginia. One Sunday morning their minister was rather preoccupied.
His sermon did not make as much sense as it usually did. As the
congregation listened, they became concerned about him. At the close of the service, before he pronounced the benediction, he said, “You know that my wife and I have a daughter that we haven’t
seen in awhile: She was leading another kind of lifestyle, one that we
didn’t exactly approve of. She left  home and we hadn’t seen her….
“Until we found her the other day. She was in apartment with no
heat, no warm water, and no electricity. We also found her with our
grandson, three months old. We asked her if she wanted to come home,
and she said that, yes, she would.
“Many of you in our congregation will not approve of someone
like that living in your parsonage. But she’s our daughter and we love
her.
“There are two doors to our church. I feel that some of you won’t
be able to shake my hand this morning. And that’s okay. I’ll
understand.” And with that, he went to the back of the church,
pronounced the benediction, and waited.
You know how it is on Sunday. For one reason or another, people
are always slipping out the other door so that they can get away quickly.
But, that Sunday morning, every member of that church went out the front door to shake the minister’s hand. And it went further than a handshake. The people opened their
loving arms wide, and accepted the young mother and child in their
congregation. Clothes seemed to materialize out of nowhere. A job was
found so that the young lady could make her own way. Babysitters just
seemed to appear out of the congregation so she could go to work. In
short, this congregation began to take the Lord Jesus Christ’s message of
forgiveness seriously.
There were those in the community who began to talk. “Did you
hear about the minister’s daughter who is going to church now? And
they are letting her in! Sinners worship in that church!”
Yes, sinners did worship in that church. In fact there were people
who were members of that church who had not been seen in years, but
now began to attend services. They had not felt good enough to attend
before. But now they realized that not being good enough was exactly
the reason they ought to attend. And attend they did. A church and
community were changed forever when a lost daughter and her child came home.
I close with this. I wonder how the people in this community think about this church? Do they see this as a place of grace? Or do they see
us as a people who play the same kind of meaningless games that the
world outside plays. I hope they see this place as more than that
cathedral on Church Street in Monterey. I hope they see us as a place
that welcomes sinners in the same way that Christ welcomes sinners. I
hope they know that regardless of where their feet may have traveled
through the years –even if — no, especially if they have wandered, there
is a home for them here. Hear this one more time and pass it on – to at
least one more person today – this week. It makes no difference if you
came to Christ seventy years ago, or if you come to Christ today. He
loves you just the same. Do you know anyone who needs to come
home? To this home? Let them know they are welcome here!

We are only Passing Through 9-18-2016

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

After many years and several thousand miles, Dad traded in the family station wagon for his dream car – a sleek, silver sedan.
He immediately laid down strict rules for the car. He would carefully monitor its use. No more joyriding to the beach or leisurely drives to the mountains. Trips to the corner market could be made on bicycle or on foot.
There would be absolutely no eating anything in the new car. Trips for ice cream and fall “tailgate” parties were history.
And this car was not going to be used like a truck as the old wagon was: there would have to be another way to haul new trees and flowers for the yard, shuttle the kids to their activities, move the older ones into their dorms in September.
And the child who accidentally spilled her coke on the bumper will never ever do that again!
Every weekend now Dad spends hours washing, waxing, and detailing his pride and joy. He faithfully sees to the oil and maintenance. He never takes the car out of the garage in the rain or snow, terrified that salt should start to eat the paint or that mud should destroy the interior.
Yes, Dad finally owns his dream car. But the other family members miss the old wagon and the happy times it made possible – and they begin to wonder: Does the dream car own Dad?
In our gospel today Jesus warns all of us, his followers, about the dangers of money and possessions. Notice he does not say that money and possessions are bad, they can be very good things if used properly.
The serious warning has to do with this: We can become so obsessed with the pursuit of wealth and the manipulation of power that we seem to give up a piece of our humanity in the process.
As computer printouts and balance sheets become the center of our existence, we unconsciously push the people and relationships dearest to us into the margins of our lives.
Our scripture reminds us that one has to be concerned about money, our possessions. But a thin line divides concern and being controlled. You have heard that old saying, “Money is the root of all evil,” and everyone thinks it comes from the bible. It does not! 1Tm 6:10 is one of the most misquoted passages in the whole bible. It doesn’t read, “Money is the root of all evil,” it reads, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
I would like to give you a little bit of homework for the week. I would like you to think/pray about/discuss these three questions:
1. How much does the love of money play a part in our life?
2. How can we use our money, talents and time to help God’s work?
3. Name some valuables in our life that money can not buy?
I close with this: In the last century, a tourist form America paid a visit to a renowned Polish rabbi, Hofetz Chaim. He was astonished to see that the rabbi’s house was only a simple room filled with books, plus a table and a bench. “Rabbi,” asked the tourist, “where is your furniture?” “Where is yours?” replied the rabbi. “Mine?” asked the puzzled American, “but I am only a visitor here. I’m only passing through.” The rabbi said, “So am I. So am I.”
Do our possessions own us, does the dream car own Dad? I hope not. Remember, we are all only passing through!