Trinity News and Sermons

09/28/14 Sermon Bullets

  • If one studies the Old Testament prophets one acknowledges what God requires of his children: that they are faithful in their worship of the One True God and only him, and that they treat each other and the sojourners in the land with respect, dignity and justice.
  • Each prophet, whether speaking to Judah or Israel (the two kingdoms) has a particular concern about the way the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are behaving: either they are worshiping other gods and thus not faithful, or they are treating the poor, widow, orphan and guests without justice and dignity.
  • The prophets, speaking on behalf of God – “Thus says the Lord . . .” –state that lip service and right worship is not enough. One of my favorites is Amos who says “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, . . . and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and sell the refuse of the wheat?” In other words, Let’s get this religious stuff out of the way so we can fill our bellies and pockets, and treat those lesser than us with indignity and injustice.
  • It is not enough to acknowledge that God is God and that we are his children. It is not enough to speak the right words if we don’t live the right life. How we treat each other is as important as how we relate to God.
  • 1st John 4:19-21 states: We love, because God first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates their sister or brother, that one is a liar; for those who do not love their sister or brother whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that those who love God should love the sister or brother also.”
  • As we look at the lesson from Philippians today – perhaps its most famous passage – we read that Paul is exhorting us to live with humility, being servants of each other. We are to “have this mind in yourselves that is in Christ Jesus . . . who emptied himself.”
  • Reading the gospel lesson parable of Jesus about the two sons, one sees that those who actually do the work asked of them are entering the kingdom of heaven before others. It does not say that the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day WON’T get into heaven, but that the sinners who humbly follow God’s way of life will get in first.
  • Again, lip service without life-service is empty in Jesus’ eyes.
  • There is an expression that came out a number of years ago that says: You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?
  • Let’s be honest. You and I are sinners. We do not always honor God as we should and we certainly don’t always treat our fellow travelers on this earth with dignity and respect and justice. This sickness we have – SIN – means that we are often more concerned about OURSELVES than anyone or anything else. Following up on last week’s gospel lesson of the Laborers in the Vineyard – we want to make sure we get our fair share first, and if anything is left over after that – well, we are more than happy to share it with others.
  • That includes what we get from God. Ezekiel today speaking for God states that the people complain: It’s not fair, God!
  • What shall we do with this situation? If we are sick almost to death with sin, if our lives are centered on ourselves, if humility is not a part of our DNA, if serving others even BEFORE self is foreign to our way of operating, if we can affirm our faith in the creeds we profess and pray the prayers of the church, but find it hard to LIVE the life of faith on the outside world – what shall we do?
  • Isaiah, in standing in the presence of God states: Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” We might say that we live unclean lives and live in the midst of those who do the same.
  • Our Jewish sisters and brothers have just celebrated their new year and are preparing for their special day of repentance of Yom Kippur. This is a day of contemplation about how each person has lived their life in the past year – with resolve to live more faithfully in the new year.
  • We can join them – each day, and certainly each Sunday, as we gather around the presence of the Living God – the Lord of Hosts, the Lamb that was slain.
  • As we come forward for Holy Communion, the Sacrament of Forgiveness and Reconciliation with God – we can humbly acknowledge that we are not always the people that God calls us to be.
  • As we have said this very day in our confession: Though you made us your people, we treat strangers with suspicion. Though you forgave our debts, we collect without mercy. Yet we are quick to pass judgment on others.
  • We can call out to God, humbly asking for forgiveness. We can resolve to let the Spirit of the Risen Christ dwell in our lives, helping us to not only SPEAK our faith, but LIVE our faith. We can be like the son in Jesus’ parable that actually DOES the work that is asked, rather than one who promises and then neglects the work.
  • We can treat each other with respect, dignity and justice. We can seek dignity and equality and justice for the sojourners in our land. We can be intentional in the way we treat those who, through various circumstances of life of whatever cause, find themselves less fortunate than us.
  • We can live as God intended us to live – as servants of each other and “the least of these.” We can have the mind of Christ, who emptied himself and took the form of a servant, becoming obedient unto the Father.
  • In humility, we can acknowledge that the ability to even live this life is not our own doing, but God’s. As St. Paul states: “for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”