Sermon: Having Small Faith in a Great God

Text: Luke 17:1-10; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Proper 22, Year C

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The Problem of Injustice

We have a saying, “justice is blind.” This expression means that justice is impartial and objective. You might be reminded of the statues of Lady Justice, wearing a blindfold so as not to treat friends differently from strangers, or rich people better than the poor ones. English essayist and poet Joseph Addison wrote, “Justice discards party, friendship, and kindred, and is therefore represented as blind.” It is true that justice is blind, but it is not deaf or mute. Justice hears the cries of the helpless, the victims, the oppressed and marginalised. 

But when we talk about justice and how supposedly impartial and objective it is supposed to be, we come face to face with the harsh reality of this world. We live in a world which cries out with Habakkuk, “How long, Lord, will you be deaf to my plea?” When we encounter wrongdoing, violence, strife, and discord erupting, justice being perverted or even denied to many, the poor and marginalised ignored and forgotten, we can ask along with the prophet, why God does not come to the rescue and why he lets us look upon such wickedness. Continue reading “Sermon: Having Small Faith in a Great God”

Sermon: The Victory Has Been Won

Text: Luke 10:17-20; (ref. Rev. 12:7-12)
Gospel Lesson for the Feast of St. Michael and all Angels

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Introduction

On Tuesday, June 6, 1944, Allied forces launched the largest seaborne invasion of history. British, American and Canadian forces stormed ashore at Normandy, on the coast of France. The Nazis kept the Allied army contained for two months. When the breakout occurred in August, there was no holding the Allies back. From that point, Nazi Germany had only nine months more to live. Even though D-Day meant that the decisive battle had already been won, the war continued for those nine months until Victory Day when the weapons were still at last. But the D-Day victory meant that Nazi Germany’s defeat was just a matter of time. Continue reading “Sermon: The Victory Has Been Won”

Sermon: Jesus Calls Sinners

Text: Matthew 9:9-13
Gospel Reading for St. Matthew’s Day

Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:2)

At first blush the calling of Matthew might feel kind of sudden, don’t you think? The short story begs the question: Why Matthew? Why did Jesus approach and call this man seemingly out of the blue? Well, this calling isn’t quite as random as we might think at first. Think for a moment what life would have been like for Matthew, day after day and year after year. Matthew would sit in his hot little booth, likely set up on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, waiting for travellers to pay the toll as they passed from one province to another. It is not like Matthew hadn’t heard anything about Jesus. Matthew certainly would know more than most people about what was going on in town. Everyone in the nearby cities had at least heard about Jesus. But Matthew just sits at his booth. Apparently he’s uninterested in this Jesus fellow. But one afternoon this Jesus, who is mobbed by a crowd that is showing lots of interest in him, walks up to a random, uninterested fellow sitting at a toll-booth, and says, “Hey you! Follow me.” And this tax collectors leaves his booth and follows Jesus.  Continue reading “Sermon: Jesus Calls Sinners”

Sermon: We proclaim a crucified messiah

Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Epistle Reading for Holy Cross Day

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Co 1:3)

A piece of graffiti from the early third century was discovered in Rome which depicts a man standing before a crucified figure with the body of a man but the head of a donkey. The inscription reads ‘Alexamenos worships his god’. This piece of graffiti is from a pagan Roman who felt he needed to mock a christian in the act of worship, and to mock Christ himself. And little has changed since A.D. 200. One commentator for the National Post wrote, “To be a serious Christian in modern Western culture is to be the favoured easy target of every progressive thinker and every half-witted comedian. It is to have your sensibilities and your deepest beliefs on perpetual call for taunts, mockery and desecration. At a time when all progressives preach full volume for inclusivity and sensitivity, for the utmost care in speech when speaking of others with differing views or hues, Christians, as Christians, are under a constant hail of abuse and disregard. There is nothing too low or too vulgar.” And he’s right. Its common for News outlets, Hollywood, and virtually all types of media to characterise Christians as superstitious buffoons to be mocked, or narrow-minded bigots to be denounced. And the Apostle Paul reminds us that this is the way it has always been. Continue reading “Sermon: We proclaim a crucified messiah”

Sermon: Listen to The Lord and Live!

Text: Deut. 30:11-20 LXX
Old Testament for Proper 18, Series C.

Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philemon v. 3)

The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one ever really listened to what he said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvellous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It wasn’t until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Startled by the comment, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.” 

The Consequences of not Listening

Like FDR, Moses was worried that the people of Israel were not really listening to him. Continue reading “Sermon: Listen to The Lord and Live!”

September 2019 Newsletter

Where do you go to get your news? A Russian news outlet decided to run an experiment. They only reported good news to their readers for an entire day. The results of the experiment were severely disappointing.  The site brought positive news stories to the front of its pages and found any and all silver linings in negative stories (“No disruption on the roads despite snow,” for example). The result was a buffet of sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows—that absolutely no one wanted to read. The news site lost two-thirds of its normal readership that day, according to one of the editors. Good news doesn’t sell. Instead, what sells is controversy, scandal, crime, murder, and war. It is particularly striking then that Christianity’s big idea is about good news. 

St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16). The translated here as “Gospel” can also be translated “good news”. This word comes from the greek translation of the Old Testament. There, it concerned God’s promise to defeat of Israel’s national enemies and the return them from their exile to the promised land. In the Roman world of the first century, “gospel” or “good news” referred to the announcement of the new age of peace and salvation ushered in by a new emperor’s birth, accession to the throne, or victory in battle.

In a world obsessed with bad news, Christianity brings “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10). The Christian idea of the “gospel” or “good news” incorporates both the Old Testament and Roman ideas, and applies them to Christ. We proclaim the good news of the birth of a new king, the King of Kings. Jesus, the anointed Messiah and King of Israel will bring an era of peace and salvation. He offers peace with God. We are exiled out of paradise and the presence of God, and are now captive to sin, death, and decay. Christ our King has been victorious in battle upon the Cross of Calvary. He has defeated our enemies of Satan, Sin, and Death by his death on the Cross. He has ascended into heaven and sites enthroned as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

This is good news, and with all news, it is information. You do not “do the news”. News is not something which you do. It is a report about what others have done. In this case, it is a report of what Christ has done for us, and how he now offers us peace and pardon with God, and everlasting life in new heavens and new earth, where death, pain, and crying will be no more. (Rev. 21:2-4). It is that good news which calls us to trust in the King who has liberated us and offered us such blessings. That is the good news which is proclaimed here at St. Peter’s, and which keeps us in the truth faith, to life everlasting. May the peace of the good news of Jesus Christ give you hope this fall!

Your Pastor,
Rev. Matthew Fenn

Sermon: Down is the New Up

Text: Luke 14:7-14
Gospel for Proper 17, Series C

Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 1:7)

It’s a dinner party! One guest arrives early, looks over the seating arrangements, chooses a place at the head table, and ceremoniously seats himself. He loves it! All eyes are upon him at the front of the table. The sound of hushed voices fills the room. The attention makes him feel so good about himself. He imagines what admiring, respectful thoughts the others must be thinking about him. What a meal this is going to be! Everything is going to taste so good!

Is it his imagination? All of the guests are still starting at him. This is even better than he had hoped. Then he feels a presence hovering nearby. He look up. The host asks him to move so a more distinguished person can have this seat. Instantly, he feels hot. He cheeks are flushed with embarrassment. He gets up, head bowed, and quickly slinks to an obscure seat at the back of the room. Everyone’s eyes are still on him. There is no where he can hide. By seeking his own self-exultation, by trying to be recognised by others, he has demonstrated how little he really is. Continue reading “Sermon: Down is the New Up”