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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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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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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