Saturday, June 30, 2007

TRUE FREEDOM

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

Oh, to be free, really free, so that I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted!! Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Do you ever have such thoughts? I do!

Well, since we’ve come to that time of the year when it’s mandatory to celebrate freedom, maybe it’s appropriate to think about such things as freedom and liberty. You do know that the 4th of July Holiday is just a few days away? I know the 4th is about barbeque, fireworks, parades, and summer sales, but still . . . Maybe it would be a good thing to talk about freedom, especially at a time when some of our freedoms seem to be in danger.
Back in 1941 – I know some of you were alive back then -- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared in his State of the Union Address his unswerving support of four freedoms, freedoms that should be for everyone, everywhere.
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of Worship
  • Freedom from Want
  • Freedom from Fear
When he spoke these words the United States had not yet entered World War II, but war was raging in Europe and in Asia, and it wouldn’t be long before our nation entered the war. It was a time when freedom around the world was in jeopardy, and yet Roosevelt spoke with great optimism about the future.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called "new order" of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

The dictators of his day would, he believed, be turned back, and they were, at great cost, but unfortunately new ones took their places in many parts of the world. Most of those freedoms he spoke of so eloquently sixty-six years ago remain more a dream than a reality, even here in the United States.

It’s good to celebrate the freedoms we have as Americans and to be proud of our country. And yet, I always find it difficult to preach on the Sunday before the 4th, because it’s too easy to merge nationalism and faith. It’s too easy to think of ourselves as the New Israel and to believe that we’re so special in God’s eyes that we deserve special blessings. But the truth is: God is God of all the Nations and all the peoples and God loves us all equally. And as far as freedom goes, Paul understood quite well that true freedom had nothing to do with political freedom.

We are free in Christ and therefore, no matter the circumstances, we’re to stand firm in that freedom and never again submit to any “yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). It’s good to remember that Paul wrote this word of encouragement to people living under Imperial Roman rule, and so he has in mind a spiritual freedom that transcends all other forms of freedom. Of the four freedoms that President Roosevelt outlined, the one that is most related to what Paul has in mind, is the “freedom from fear. Don’t let others enslave you with their opinions and their rules and their regulations, because it will be fear that will enslave you to their views.
If we are to be truly free, then what does that mean? Paul makes several points worth hearing today on the eve of Independence Day!

1. Freedom to Serve

It may sound a bit contradictory, but Paul says you have been set free so that you might choose to serve. Paul understood the lure of self-indulgence; that urge to gratify our desires no matter the cost to others or ourselves. Consider for a moment, the buffet table; the ones you can find in Las Vegas. The choices are overwhelming, and you have to try everything. This makes it really hard to stop, because you want to get your money’s worth, even if you pay for it later by getting really sick. This isn’t the kind of freedom Paul has in mind. What he has in mind is freedom from legalism. In this context he tells the Galatians that it isn’t the circumcision of the flesh that saves you, but rather it’s a transformation of the heart.

Because you’re free in Christ from the bondage of legalism, choose to serve your neighbor. It’s your choice; you can do otherwise, but if you’re truly free, you will serve and love your neighbor as yourself. Now in this country of ours, if we follow this call to freedom, then our acts of service will have definite political consequences, because we will put others before ourselves.

2. The Fruit of Freedom

There’s a reason why we have laws – we seem to be inclined to indulge ourselves rather than serve our neighbors. Paul tells us what freedom gone to seed looks like, and it’s not pretty. Freedom gone bad produces such things as idolatry, anger, strife, jealousy, factionalism, carousing around, and things like that.
When freedom is rooted in the Spirit of God, we bear fruit, against which there is no law. The fruit of the Spirit’s movement in our lives is things like love, joy, peace patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Instead of focusing on not doing the first batch of items, Paul encourages us to focus on the things of God by letting the Spirit transform our lives.

3. Freedom and Responsibility

If we truly want to be free, then we’ll need to pay special attention to the ninth of these fruit of the Spirit. Freedom without self-control is anarchy and it will cause everyone, including ourselves, a lot of grief.

You might find it a bit ironic, but without freedom there can be no responsibility – If I’m not free how can I be responsible – and yet the more freedom I have, the more responsibility I have. As Paul says elsewhere: “All things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial” (1 Cor. 6:12). If self-indulgence is our goal, we won’t stop to consider how our choices affect others. When that happens our freedom – whether as individuals or as nations -- becomes destructive.

Yes, it’s a good thing to celebrate our freedoms as Americans, and it’s appropriate to defend those freedoms, but more importantly, it’s imperative that we remember that to be truly free is to serve our neighbors in love, and that goes way beyond being an American.


Preached by:
Rev. Dr. Robert D. Cornwall
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Lompoc, CA
5th Sunday after Pentecost
July 1, 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

JESUS HEALS

Luke 8:26-39

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the relationship between faith and healing. Some of these studies seem a bit silly, but others help us and the medical community recognize that we’re more than the sum of our physical body parts. They also suggest that people of faith tend to recover quicker than those without faith. Though we can't always define why this is true scientifically, people of faith know intuitively that their faith gives them hope and peace, even in difficult times.

This cautious embrace of faith and spirituality by the medical community is controversial, but it’s providing benefits to many. Of course, a degree of skepticism is healthy. We don’t want to fall prey to the quacks and frauds and other purveyors of false hopes. At the same time it’s appropriate to recognize that we are -- to use a medical term -- a psychosomatic whole. Because we seem to be more than simply a mass of carbon-based atoms magnetically linked together, there may be room for God to act in the healing process.

THE GERASENE DEMONIAC

Now Jesus understood this too, because as a quick tour of the gospels shows, Jesus devoted considerable time to healing. In fact, nearly 20 percent of the Gospel texts focus on some kind of physical or spiritual healing. There’s the man with an unclean spirit and Peter's mother-in-law, a leper and a man with a withered hand, there’s Jairus' daughter and the woman with the hemorrhages. Morton Kelsey says that "wherever Jesus went he was simply besieged by the people who wanted to be healed." Even his enemies didn't "contest the fact that Jesus healed; they only tried to cast doubts upon the agency through which he did it."1

This morning we hear the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Gerasene demoniac. For some reason Jesus headed across the Sea of Galilee into Gentile territory, and as soon as he got out of the boat he was accosted by this man who runs out of the cemetery naked and shouting incoherently at Jesus. Obviously this guy’s out of his mind! Tormented and seemingly beyond help, his neighbors tried to chain him up, but he broke loose and hid out in the cemetery – homeless, naked, and forgotten.

Running up to Jesus, he throws himself at the Master’s feet. But we quickly discover he’s of two minds, he wants help from Jesus, but part of him resists. He shouts at Jesus: "What do you want of me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?"
He wants help but he also resists. Jesus could have turned away from the man, but he doesn’t. Despite the resistance and the fact that this guy was probably a Gentile, Jesus reaches out with compassion. And that’s the way Jesus was and is: even when we push him away, he continues to pursue us, offering us the opportunity to drink from the healing waters of life. Our resistance to this offer can be strong, because our inner demons will often not let go of us. But in the end, Jesus quiets this man’s tormented soul and restores him to wholeness.

GOD'S HEALING PRESENCE

It’s clear from the Scriptures that God is the source of healing. But if this is true, we have some questions to face. People will ask – if God heals, then why doesn't God heal everybody? That is a good question, and not all the answers Christians give are helpful. Some say that God healed then but not now – but that doesn’t make much sense. Others say that God will heal you, if you have enough faith. But that sounds kind of cruel, and besides this guy doesn’t seem to have all that much faith and Jesus healed him. And, I’ve known people with plenty of faith but who were never healed physically.

My former youth minister died several years ago from stomach cancer. He was probably in his early 40s then, was married, had children, and pastored a church. He believed in healing and his church practiced it and prayed for it. They prayed intensely and continually that Steve would be healed. They claimed his healing and kept everyone away who didn't believe that God would heal him, including his own mother. If all it took was faith, then surely Steve would be alive today.

So what do we do with these texts? If God is the one who heals, then maybe we’ve misunderstood what healing truly is. Maybe, healing and curing aren’t the same thing. I believe that healing does take place – often in the context of the gifts offered by modern medicine, psychotherapy, and other therapies. But I also know that not everyone ends up cured. So, perhaps healing can take place even if no cure for what ails us is found.
And so, in my reading of Scripture, it seems appropriate to come before God and ask God’s blessing for people who are hurting. It’s also appropriate to anoint the sick, the injured, and the dying with oil, as a sign of God’s grace. We do this praying that the one we love will experience wholeness of body, mind, and spirit, and knowing that healing comes in different forms. It could be physical, but it might also be spiritual.
The Greek word for healing can be translated as salvation and wholeness, and so healing can include finding peace in the midst of our suffering, even as it might also involve freedom from suffering.
In the early church, when a person was sick, they called for the elders to come and anoint the sick with oil and pray for them. In part this was because oil was then believed to have medicinal value, but it was also done with a prayer for God’s presence in the healing process. It is also a reminder that faith and medicine are not two ships passing in the night, but they can work together in the pursuit of wholeness. And when taken together, we find hope, comfort, and strength.
And when we find that we’re whole again – whether or not we’re cured -- it’s appropriate to share the good news. That’s what Jesus told the Gerasene man to do. Go, tell you neighbors, let them know what’s happened to you. And the same is true for us – when God has touched our lives, we’re called to make that known to the world.
  1. Morton Kelsey, Healing and Christianity, (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1995), 45.
Preached by:
Rev. Dr. Robert Cornwall
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Lompoc, CA

4th Sunday after Pentecost

June 24, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!!!

From one father to my fellow father's. Have a great day and remember your calling -- love your wife and your children. Now I go to preach and then eat pie.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

TABLE GRACE

Luke 7:36-50

H.L. Mencken described a Puritan as a "person with a haunting fear that someone, somewhere is happy."1 Unfortunately that description of a Puritan defines much of Christianity. Churches are often places of discord, abuse, and fountains of hate. That reality stands in contrast to Jesus’s message of grace, love and forgiveness. It’s unfortunate that the church can fall too often into legalism. It’s also unfortunate that large numbers of people believe that the church of Jesus Christ is the last place to go if you’re looking for hope or happiness. The word on the street is that churches are places of ostracism, exclusion, and condemnation, where no one dares to laugh, lest they offend God and their neighbor. I don’t think that’s true here, but that’s the reputation we must deal with!

INVITATION TO DINNER

That reputation of legalism isn’t new. You see it in the attitudes of a religious leader named Simon. Simon had invited Jesus home for dinner, along with some friends. While they were eating a woman entered the room, and she wasn’t on the guest list. To make matters worse, she was well known in that town for being a sinner. Apparently she lived across the tracks and down the back alley. It’s possible that some people in that room knew her by more than reputation, but they would never admit to it. She was an outcast, persona non grata – that is she was a person without grace.

That may have been true, but she saw something in Jesus and she knelt at his feet and began weeping uncontrollably, so that her tears bathed his feet. Then, perhaps unconsciously, she unloosened her hair, something no woman did in polite company, and began to dry his feet with her hair. Finally she began to kiss his feet and anoint them with the costly perfume she had brought with her in an alabaster jar.

It’s not surprising that Simon was scandalized, not just by her behavior, but by Jesus' as well. How could Jesus let this sinner, this unclean person, touch him like that? It was unseemly, even obscene. Here, he was supposed to be a prophet of God. Surely no self-respecting prophet would let such an unclean woman touch him like this.

THE STORY

It’s then that Jesus began telling a story about a man who lent money to two different people. To one he gave five-hundred denarii, which was a lot of money, and to the other he gave fifty. Fifty is quite a bit, but nothing in comparison to the 500. Then when it came time to repay the debt, neither of these borrowers could repay it. Now, the lender could have tossed both of them into debtors prison, but instead, he forgave both loans.
Then Jesus asked Simon: "Which of them will love him more?" Who do you think loved the lender more? It was with reluctance that Simon admitted that it was the one who owed the most who loved the most.
Yes the woman was a sinner, but so was Simon. The only difference was that she apparently owed more than Simon and so having been forgiven much, she loved much. Her actions were those of a person who’d been released from her debt. Her sins might be too many to number and pious Simon’s were few, but she was forgiven and all she could do was show her gratitude as best she could.

Here we have a woman whose sins were dramatic and a man’s whose sins were more subtle. And because they were subtle, he didn’t recognize them as sins. But he was nonetheless a sinner, only his sins were of the order of arrogance, self-righteousness, and inhospitality. Simon had indeed invited Jesus to dinner, but a proper host greets the guest with a kiss and anointing with oil, and the host makes sure that the guest’s feet are washed. But Simon didn’t do any of this for Jesus. The woman, on the other hand, had done what Simon refused to do.
You see, Simon’s problem was that like us, he had different categories of sin, and he believed that whatever sins he had committed, they were nothing compared to the sins of this woman. She was impure and a woman of ill repute. He simply felt, I’m okay, but you’re not. But Jesus answered him by saying: "those who are forgiven little, love little" (vs. 47).

THE TABLE OF GRACE

I’ve been in the church all my life, and I’ve seen the good and the bad in the church. I’ve seen families disown their children in the name of God and of course we’ve all heard about churches that split over the color of the carpet. I’ve heard Christians utter racial slurs and speak hatefully of others. And I’ve been part of the problem myself. I can only imagine that as we fight, God weeps. It appears that we have yet too truly understand the gospel of grace. Perhaps this is because we feel that we’ve been forgiven little, and so it’s okay to love little.
As we come to the Table of the Lord this morning, it is appropriate to confess to God that we are sinners in need of forgiveness and grace. It’s also important to remember that the table isn’t just for the saints, it’s also for the sinners. If it weren’t then none of us could come to it.

The good news is that the Table of the Lord is truly a place where sinners gather to receive a word of grace and comfort. Bread and Cup are signs of Jesus' body and blood, which beckon us forward so we can find peace, hope, and joy. This is a table of grace that’s open to anyone who recognizes the need for that grace. It doesn't matter what you’re wearing or how you look or even how much money you make. Recently presidential candidate John Edwards was asked about the biggest sin he’d committed. He answered, that there’d been too many to know which one was the biggest. Now that could be a cop out, or it could be a recognition that it won’t do any good trying to categorize our sins. The only good that can come is from recognizing that we have been forgiven. William Willimon writes:
For Jesus, forgiveness is not some doctrine to be believed; rather, it is a feast to be received, a party to which the outcasts are invited, a gift to be received with empty hands. So Jesus not only tells a parable at the table, he becomes a parable, a sign to us of what God is up to in the world. In Jesus, God is busy inviting the whole world to the table.2
The invitation has been given: Come to the table and enjoy the bounteous grace of God.
  1. From Philip Yancey, What's So Amazing about Grace? (Zondervan, 1997), 29.
  2. William Willimon, Pulpit Resource, 29 (April, May, June 2001): 53.



Preached by:
The Rev. Dr. Robert D. Cornwall
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Lompoc, CA
3rd Sunday after Pentecost
June 17,2007

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Another Last Supper?

1 Kings 17:8-16

I may have already told you the story of my time at the Pasadena YMCA. It wasn’t the most pleasant of times, and it was the one time in my life when I wasn’t always sure where my next meal would come from. I did lose weight on my "one-meal-a-day" diet, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Still there never was a point in my life where I thought I was really in danger of starving to death, and my experience was nothing compared to what so many in the world go through every day.

Back when I was a kid, moms and dads would prod us to eat our spinach or lima beans, or maybe the brussels sprouts, by telling us that starving children living in China or Africa who’d love to eat that wonderful vegetable sitting untouched on our plates and growing ever colder by the minute. Like most children, I would say: "Then let them have it!" I mean, if they wanted it, they could have it. I might feel sorry for them, but that wasn’t going to get me to eat the benighted vegetable.
The idea that we could be facing our last supper, after which death is likely, is simply beyond comprehension for most of us.
Daily Bread
Each Sunday we pray to God: "Give us this day our daily bread." It’s a nice prayer, really, but do we really take it all that seriously? I know where my bread comes from – the grocery store – and yet I pray that prayer faithfully.

When the Widow of Zarephath went to town to gather sticks so she could bake a bit of bread, she did so knowing that this would likely be her last trip. There simply wasn’t anything left beyond the morsel of flower and oil that would provide one last supper, and then she and her son would face a lingering death from starvation. It might take a few days, but that’s what would happen next. She really had no other option. She was a widow in an age before Social Security, and without family she didn’t have a safety net to depend on. Of course every day around the world, women and children and the elderly, die, simply because there’s nothing more to eat.
A Gift of Hospitality

Have you every walked past a person with a sign saying? "I’m hungry, please help me!" Like me you probably pass by and you’ve done it hundreds of times. You may feel guilty, but you don’t give anything to them. Now there are reasons why it’s often not a good idea to give money to panhandlers, but there are other ways to help.

As the widow gathered her sticks, Elijah wandered into town. Zarephath was a village near Sidon, and its people didn’t worship Yahweh. But, for some reason Elijah heard God saying: "Go to Zarephath and stay there." He went up to the woman and asked for some water, and then he asked her for a meal. That wouldn’t be easy, since she didn’t have enough to eat herself, but Elijah told her not to worry, God would provide. What would you do if someone said that to you?

Now there’s a back story to this, because there’s another woman from Sidon in Elijah’s life. Her name is Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, the king of Israel. Jezebel and Elijah don’t like each other and she tries to make his life miserable, even to the point of death. The problem started when Elijah told the people that this drought they were experiencing was a sign of God’s displeasure at Jezebel’s introduction of Ba’al worship to Israel.
So we have two women, in our story, but only one shows hospitality to Elijah. And she, unlike Jezebel, is virtuous, even though she’s poor. For some reason, even though she doesn’t worship Elijah’s God, she believes him and she invites him home and gives him a meal, even if it might be their last supper. The widow understands hospitality, and in this story she’s rewarded – not with a new refrigerator full of succulent delights, but with a jar of flour and a jar of oil that never seem to run dry.
Sharing the Blessings

Hospitality is a virtue of this congregation. You’re always generous in your giving, and food is always being brought her to give to others. You make lunches every month for homeless families, and every holiday you bring in boxes of food and gifts for those who are in need. So I feel like I’m preaching to the choir, but there’s more to be done. Despite your generosity there are 25 million Americans, more than 36% of whom are under the age of eighteen, who require the assistance of the nation’s food banks. When we think of hunger, we think of Africa or Asia, but hunger is here in America as well. And hunger is especially devastating to a young child.

So, what does this story have to say to us? We might think, how rude of Elijah to barge in and ask the widow to share her last meal with him. You might even think Elijah was a bit of a chauvinist for asking her to get him a cup of water. We could celebrate an apparent miracle.

Or we could hear this as a call to being part of God’s miracle. This widow acted on faith and provided a meal for someone who wasn’t part of her family, her community, her nation, or even of her religion. She was and is an exemplar of hospitality. One way we can follow her example is to take up the cause of hunger and poverty in our nation and in the world at large. Sojourners, a Christian social justice organization, is calling on the world to cut poverty in half by 2050. It’s doable, but it will take courage on the part of our political leaders to get this accomplished.

At least one presidential candidate is talking a lot about poverty and he’s suggested a number of solutions. Others are also talking about it, but they need our support. They need to hear from us. That’s why Jim Wallis of Sojourners has launched a campaign to "Vote Out Poverty." If you go to their website or write a letter you can send a message to all the candidates, of both parties, tell them you want them to make poverty a priority. I did it the other day, and I’ve gotten responses back from several of the candidates.
Martin Luther King said:

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

Each of us has the opportunity to hold our nation accountable for the most vulnerable of our people. And the widow of Zarephath, by her example, calls us to be part of the solution, through our gifts to the Food Bank and by calling on our leaders to attend to the needs of the poor among us.

Preached by:
The Rev. Dr. Robert Cornwall
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Lompoc, CA
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
June 10, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

PEACE WITH GOD

Romans 5:1-5

What is peace? Is it a nice, quiet spot in a grassy meadow to take a nap? That’s called "peace and quiet?" It’s fleeting, but it’s welcome.

There’s something called peace of mind, which happens when we have a clear conscience.

Peace can be the absence of war, but that kind of peace is rare. Just as one war ends, it seems like another one starts. I doubt anyone in the room remembers the slogans, but World War I was supposed to be the war that ended all wars. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before an even bigger war began.

I’m for peace, in all its forms, but there’s a kind of peace that’s not determined by our circumstances, and that’s peace with God. It’s a peace that surpasses understanding.
Peace with God
Peace with God is a gift that’s received by faith in the one who makes us right with God. This is what justification means. And it’s Jesus who is the one who extends God’s grace to us so that we can experience peace with God. This grace is needed because too often we put barriers up to keep God at bay.

When it comes to experiencing peace with God, how we understand God will determine how we receive this peace. There are, after all, many definitions of God. There’s the angry God who takes pleasure in making life difficult. There’s the demanding God whom we never can seem to please. There’s the distant God, who just doesn’t seem to care. Then there’s the omnipotent God we sang about in the opening hymn – the all-powerful one. I think that’s the God most of us believe in. But maybe there’s another way of looking at our Creator that makes more sense of life and how we live it.

The God we meet in Scripture is present, passionate, committed, caring, and loving. It’s this God who made a covenant with Abraham and Moses and Jesus. It’s this God who walks with us when we experience pain and suffering, for this is the God we meet in Jesus. Theologian Jurgen Moltmann calls this God we meet in Scripture, the "Crucified God," because we meet this God on the cross and ironically it’s in the shadow of the cross that we find peace.
Peace with God and Human Suffering
To be at peace with God doesn’t mean that life will be easy or that it will be free of suffering. Paul says that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character instills within us a sense of hope. Suffering is, as we all know, part of life. But the good news is that suffering doesn’t have the last word. And we have the promise that we don’t endure it alone, for Jesus has already shared in our suffering and experiences that suffering with us.

It’s common to think of suffering as an expression of divine judgment for sin – or maybe it’s just karma – and yet too often we see the guilty go free and the innocent suffer. War is that way – it’s the innocent who generally suffer more than the ones who are guilty of the violence. Consider for a moment the millions of Jews who died in the death camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. What did they do to deserve their fate? Such events in history pose a difficult question for those of us who believe in a compassionate and caring God. Why, the critics ask, if God is omnipotent, did this happen? Where is God in all of this? And my only answer is this, God is present with us in our suffering, strengthening us so that we might endure and gain character, which leads to hope.
PEACE, HOPE, LOVE AND SUFFERING
Although I will take a nice quiet day, I know that peace must be found in the midst of conflict and suffering. I think that the reason Paul says that endurance builds character is that it’s in the midst of such experiences that we are open to listening for God’s voice. Too often when things are going well, we neglect to listen for God’s voice. Biblical scholar Beverly Gaventa writes that Paul’s view of hope is very different from

"the flabby and trivial hopes for pleasant weather or a hearty supper. `Hope' for Paul is not the equivalent of desire or wish. To the contrary, hope refers to confidence, trust, conviction. The `hope of sharing the glory of God' is Christian certainty that God's glory will be shared with all."1

Hebrews says that we have a high priest who has been tested in every way like us, and yet does not sin (Hebrews 4:14-15), and sin is according to Bruce Sanguin is "making sacred that which is not worthy of hallowing." In other words, it’s idolatry.2

Because we’re prone to idolatry and often make things that are of less consequence an idol – be it baseball, music, food, drink, or power – we need grace. We need an invitation to have our slate wiped clean so we can start over. This means that in Christ our past doesn’t determine our future. This gift comes to us from the God who is compassionate and caring, a God who isn’t worried about image or getting revenge, a God who doesn’t need a blood sacrifice to settle accounts. And Jesus offers us that invitation, because he has shared our lives and therefore he sanctifies and makes holy the lives we live.

Today, according to the church calendar, is Trinity Sunday. This is a day to remember that the God we worship comes to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity bears witness to the holy and righteous God who is present with us in Jesus, so that this holy God might share life as we live it, and then empower us by the Holy Spirit so that we might live fully before God as compassionate and loving people. When we do this, then peace will be at hand – not peace as the world defines it, but peace as God defines it.
As we sing John Newton's testimony to God's transforming grace, may that grace wash over us. And as it does, may we all experience God’s healing presence, a presence that changed a man like Newton from slave trader to abolitionist. Peace with God involves being righteous before God, and as, Kathleen Norris writes, that Bible consistently defines righteousness "as a willingness to care for the most vulnerable people in a culture, characterized in ancient Israel as orphans, widows, resident aliens, and the poor."3 If we’re at peace with God, then we will be living lives full of compassion and grace.
  1. Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching, C, (WJK, 1993), 357.
  2. Bruce Sanguin, Darwin, Divinity, and the Dance of the Cosmos, (Copperhouse Books, 2007), 156.
  3. Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace, (NY:Riverhead Books, 1998), 96.

Preached by:

Rev. Dr. Robert Cornwall

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Lompoc, CA

Trinity Sunday

June 3, 2007