Sermons

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Easter May 7, 2017 Mass by The Reverend Peter R. Powell

John 10:1-10

I Am the Gate

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

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Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany January 29, 2016 Mass by The Reverend Peter R. Powell

Luke 4:21-32

Jesus as Elijah

We continue in the Gospel this morning the reading from last week. Jesus is in the synagogue in Nazareth, his home town, and last week he read from Isaiah 61, then this morning he tells them what the reading means. 

Today’s Gospel begins with the response to Jesus’s teaching.  It seems to me that in the response to Jesus’s preaching the congregation reacts that he sounds nice and isn’t it wonderful that Joseph’s little boy can sound so good.  Then they immediately turn on him and say we’ve heard you can do healing acts, let’s see some!  Jesus responds by talking about Elijah’s healing of gentiles and however or whatever he says, he so offends the Nazarenes that they threaten him to toss him off a cliff.

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Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, January 29, 2017 Mass By the Reverend Stephen Gerth

 

Year A: Micah 6:1–8; Psalm 37:1–6; 1 Corinthians 1:26–31*; Matthew 5:1–12

Today’s gospel lesson is familiar, well-known for a lot of reasons. It’s the beginning of Jesus’ longest and most famous sermon, the one we call the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a passage countless Christians have memorized since Matthew’s gospel first circulated. The opening words of this sermon captured the experience of Matthew’s community of faith in a time of great persecution and great suffering.

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Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany January 29, 2017 Mass by The Reverend Peter R. Powell

Matthew 5:1-12

The Beatitudes

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

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Sermon for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany, January 22, 2017 Mass By the Reverend Stephen Gerth

Year A: Amos 3:1–8; Psalm 139:1–9*; 1 Corinthians 1:10–17; Matthew 4:12–27*

Two Sundays ago we heard the story of Jesus being baptized. Last Sunday we did not hear the very next story in Matthew, the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. That lesson has long been reserved for the First Sunday in Lent—Matthew this year, Mark next year, and in the third year, Luke.[1] In the fourth gospel, the Baptist is known simply as John. Although he figures prominently at the beginning, he does not baptize the Word made flesh.

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Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, January 15, 2017 Solemn Evensong By the Reverend Stephen Gerth

The Genesis reading tonight is all of the seventh chapter of Genesis. But I want to begin by reading four verses from the sixth chapter that tell us why God did what he did. The translation is by Professor Robert Alter, who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley:

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Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, January 15, 2017 Mass By the Reverend Stephen Gerth

I think it was in a ninth or tenth grade English class that I learned about the power of an opening line. The example my teacher used was the famous first sentence in Herman Melville’s novel, Moby-Dick—“Call me Ishmael.”[1] Though I knew who Ishmael was; he was Abraham’s first son, but not the son of his wife, I didn’t know how the author was using his name. My teacher showed us how knowing the story of Ishmael of the Bible told us something about the Ishmael of the novel. Fortunately, we weren’t being asked to read Moby Dick—and I confess that I have never finished reading it. Our teacher was teaching us something about how to read—how to think.

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Sermon for the First Sunday after the Epiphany, January 8, 2017 Solemn Evensong By the Reverend Stephen Gerth

Year 1: Genesis 1:1–2:3; John 1:1–7, 19–20, 29-34; Romans 6:3–1

Today we began reading Genesis. The way the church calendar falls this year, we will be hearing Genesis at Evening Prayer until the last two Sundays before Ash Wednesday. On first Sunday in Lent we pick it up again. In the Fourth week of Lent we will be in Exodus. But today I want to mention only one thing about this first creation story.

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Sermon for the First Sunday after the Epiphany, January 8, 2017, by the Reverend Stephen Gerth

Augustine of Hippo thought Mark’s gospel was an abstract from Matthew,[1] though I’m sure many thoughtful readers over the centuries must have realized this made no sense. As Raymond Brown pointed out: why would Mark leave out things like Jesus’ birth and the Lord’s Prayer or decide to include Jesus saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”[2]

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Sermon for the Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost October 30, 2016 by The Reverend Peter R. Powell

Luke 19:1-10

Saving the Lost

We have before us an unusual story.  Zacchaeus is both a Chief Tax Collector and Rich and Jesus doesn’t condemn him for either.  Zacchaeus is curious about Jesus and wants to see him.  We learn that he is short so to see Jesus he climbs a sycamore tree.  This too is unusual.  We believe that adult male dignity was important in the Gospel era and Zacchaeus does an undignified act, he climbs a tree.

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Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost September 25, 2016 Mass by the Reverend Peter R. Powell

The Rich Man & Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31

One of the most difficult tasks in reading a familiar parable is to read what’s really there and not read into it what we have heard about it in the past.  In this task I have been greatly aided by the work of Amy-Jill Levine[1], a Jewish Feminist New Testament scholar who teaches at Vanderbilt.  I highly recommend her scholarship.  It is readable and makes sense.  She challenges us to understand the Jewish context in which Jesus, a Jew, told his stories.  She is particularly helpful in removing our unconscious antisemitism from our reading of the Gospels.  Everything I say today is influenced by her scholarship.

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Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost July 3, 2016 Mass by the Reverend Peter R. Powell

They saw Satan Fall…

Luke 10:1-20

In reading the text for the Gospel I’m arrested by the translation of the line in the last paragraph that runs “I watched Satan fall from heaven…” Every English version says, “I watched Satan…” with the object of the pronoun being Jesus

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Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost June 19, 2016 Mass by the Reverend Peter R. Powell

Taking Up Our Cross

Luke 9:18-24

It happened that as Jesus was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, “Who do the people say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.” And he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” But he charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.”

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Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter May 8, 2016 Mass by The Reverend Peter R. Powell

John 17:20-26

Why Pray

Jesus prayed for his disciples, and then he said. "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

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Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent - By the Reverend James Ross Smith

I like a happy ending. I always have. When reading books as a child, I didn’t like it when a favorite character died. I remember distinctly the first time that happened to me. I didn’t like it at all. I was surprised, outraged even. I wanted to change things around. I argued in my head with the long-dead author. I resisted tragedy.

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Sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent - By the Reverend James Ross Smith

Jesus’ first words in the gospel of mark, the oldest of the four gospels, are these: “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of god has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” [1:14]. These are prominent words, and, therefore, seem important. They sound like an announcement. And, in a way, they are. 

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