This blog will include the sermons I have preached as a lay minister with the Anglican Parish of South Queens in the Diocese of NS and PEI in the Anglican Church of Canada. Because my preaching schedule varies, the frequency of postings will vary.
I hope that these sermons will enrich your spiritual life as much as they have enriched mine.
Saturday, 21 June 2014
Matthew 10:24-39 Follow Jesus, or Follow the World
elderly woman had just returned to her home from an evening of church services
when she was startled by an intruder. She caught the man in the act of robbing
her home of its valuables and yelled, “Stop! Acts 2:38 (Repent and be baptized,
in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven)”
burglar stopped in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained
what she had done.
the office cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar, “Why did you
just stand there? All the old lady did was yell a scripture to you.”
replied the burglar. “She said she had an axe and two 38’s!”
few years ago, a riot too place in the House of Representatives in the state of
Kansas. The elected representatives started their session with prayer, but one
day the prayer caused an uproar. The prayer went like this:
“Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and
seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those
who call evil good," but that's exactly what we've done. We have lost our
spiritual equilibrium and we have inverted our values.
We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and
called it moral
pluralism, and worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and
called it the
lottery, and neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice, and shot
abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our
children and called it building self-esteem, and abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition,
and polluted the airwaves with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of
expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our
forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be
some wicked way in us. Cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been
sent here by the people of Kansas and have been ordained by You to govern this
great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us
to the center of Your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son, the living
Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
passage from Matthew 10:24-39 is part of Jesus’ larger missionary discourse to
his disciples. In this section, he talks about committed discipleship in the
face of conflict. Jesus said that he came “not to bring peace, but a sword.” Jesus’
sword is the word of God. Jesus came to divide his people into two groups-those
who are saved by grace and those who reject him and are condemned to spend
eternity in hell.
people follow Jesus, they can expect to have conflicts, even with their own
families. Choosing loyalty to anyone other than Christ disqualifies a person
from being a disciple of Christ. Peace is the practice of refining everything
that is not part of God’s righteous realm. Once they are refined, righteousness
and justice will reign. Peace will realign our priorities and relationships.
It’s like a fruit grower who prunes dead branches from his fruit trees. The
surviving branches will bear even greater fruit.
Being Jesus’ disciple is not an invitation for
glory. It is an invitation for sacrifice and suffering in the presence of
powerful opposition. Jesus never promised us an easy life if we become his
disciples. In fact, being Jesus’ disciple is one of the hardest things we can
do. In the words of Loretta Lynn’s famous song:
I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There’s gotta be a little rain sometime
was famous for persecuting both the prophets and Jesus. If they were persecuted
for their faith, we will also face persecution.This is hard for us in the developed world to understand and accept
because until now we have not been ridiculed or put to death because of our
faith. Our Christian brothers and sisters in the developing world have not been
as fortunate. For example, listen to these recent headlines:
“Pastor Beaten in Iranian Prison and Taken to
“The ugly reality of present-day Iraq, where the
nation, and the Christian church, is now being destroyed and taken over by
extremist Sunni militants”
“Christian Refugees Flood Out of Iraqi City; Trapped
Residents Describe “Apocalyptic” Murder, Terror”
The situation is beginning to change for the worse
here in the developed world. Teachers are hesitant to say anything positive
about Christianity. The entertainment industry portrays Christianity in a
negative light. Stories about the church’s good works rarely make news, but the
misdeeds of the church are reported. We are getting closer to the day when
Christians here in the developed world will find out firsthand about the
dangers and hard choices Jesus is talking about.
This does not mean that we are to provoke
persecution or seek martyrdom. They will come naturally when we expose evil,
challenge power, demand change or undermine the status quo. Persecution will
come naturally when we do what Christ asks us to do. Telling the world that
they've given sin respectable names and are in need of a Savior doesn't go over
very well, as the story I told you at the beginning of my homily explains. That
means they are sinners!
Even though we are not to
seek persecution and suffering, we must still take up our cross. If we are
persecuted, we are to accept it because God will give us the strength we need
to cope. If we lose our lives for God’s plans, then our lives will have
We are not to fear the power of our opponents. They
can kill our physical bodies (which will die anyway), but they can’t kill our
souls. Only God can kill our souls. We must fear God. God will have eternity to
right the wrongs people inflict. Evildoers will be punished for all eternity.
Those of us who fear God do not have to fear anyone
else or anything else. In fact, we are told not to be afraid to be persecuted
for our faith. We must be afraid of what will happen when we do not obey Jesus’
instructions. For example, we must not be afraid to proclaim Jesus’ teachings.
We must preach the truth boldly and in love. We are free to preach the good
news because nothing is secret or hidden about the kingdom. We are free from
fear because of the goodness of God. It governs even the smallest or most
mundane matters of our lives. God cares about everything he created-even a tiny
sparrow. In this passage, a tiny sparrow has become a symbol of something of
little value. If God cares for something that has little value, he will care
much more for his children, especially if they are Jesus’ disciples.
Because God cares for us, he is loyal to us, and in
return he expects us to be loyal to him. If we are loyal to him, Jesus will
acknowledge us in heaven. If we are not loyal to him, Jesus will deny us in
heaven. It’s like asking Jesus to be our lawyer. If he takes our case, we will
win. If he does not take our case, we will lose. We acknowledge Jesus and God
by our deeds and our words. If we worship Jesus with our words but not our
deeds, our witness is compromised. For example, we can acknowledge Jesus with
words by regularly attending worship services, but if our behaviour the rest of
the week is sinful, we are being hypocritical. Our words and deeds have to be
consistent if our witness is to be effective.
The focus of our discipleship is on our relationship
to Jesus. To be worthy of Christ we are to put him first in all family
relations. To be worthy of Christ we are to take up our cross and identify with
him, to accept the scandal of identification with him. To be worthy of Christ
we are to choose him and his life instead of foolishly preserving our own way
of life. Finding the selfish satisfaction of life means losing life and missing
its larger fulfillment, but to lose our own interests for the sake of Christ is
to find life.
The anchor has long been a symbol in Christian art
for the hope we have in Jesus. When the storms of life come, including
persecution and suffering for Christ’s sake, we have hope. We can hold fast to
the faith that is in us. In the words from the hymn “Will Your Anchor Hold:”