Sunday, August 27, 2017

Who Do You Say That I Am? -- A Sermon for Pentecost 12A

Matthew 16:13-20

Maybe a pollster has called you wanting your opinion on a product, issue or politician. Politicians don’t want their approval numbers to dip under 50%. There’s a problem when your numbers dip below that mark. 

Jesus once took a different kind of poll. What he wanted to know was what people were saying about him. Who did they think he was? The disciples reported that based on what they were hearing, most people thought he was a prophet, like John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah. It’s interesting that Matthew chose these three prophets, because they all had run-ins with the authorities. John was executed, Elijah was chased out of the country, and Jeremiah was sent into exile. That put Jesus in dangerous company! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Come . . . Why Do You Doubt? -- Sermon for Pentecost 10A

Matthew 14:22-33

On a day after White Nationalists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a Confederate monument and declared their intent to take back American for white people; a day after violence broke out in that city leading to the death of one and the injuring of others, when a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters; in a week when it seemed as if we are on the brink of nuclear war with North Korea, we gather to worship the God who stands firmly against hate, racism, violence, and the destruction of life. We come here needing to say no to white nationalism and nuclear war. We also come to hear Matthew  invite us to use our spiritual imaginations so we can embrace the “impossible possibilities” of the Bible’s miracle stories, so that we can, as Brian McLaren suggests, “play a catalytic role in co-creating new possibilities for the world of tomorrow” [We Make the Road, p. 97]. It is in the midst of all of this that we attend to the story of Jesus walking on water and calming stormy seas. 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Everyone Ate Their Fill -- Sermon for Pentecost 9A

Matthew 14:13-21

When we gather at the Lord’s Table each week, we pause to remember the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples, and continues to share with us through the Spirit. Although this meal stands at the center of our faith tradition, the Gospels are filled with stories about Jesus sharing meals with others.  One of these stories involves a meal with more than five thousand guests, who dined on five loaves of bread and two fish, and still everyone ate their fill. 

The “Feeding of the 5000" is the only miracle story that appears in all four Gospels. It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of the miracle. Enquiring minds want to know how Jesus did it. Was it a magic trick? Was it a spontaneous potluck? Is it a myth? Despite our inquisitiveness, Matthew doesn’t give any details. Could that mean that the details are irrelevant? Miracle stories, like parables point beyond themselves to the kingdom of God. So, what Matthew wants us to hear is a message about the reign and realm of God. If this is true, then, what is this miracle story saying to us about the realm of God?