St. James' Episcopal Church
Goshen, Indiana

Our 158th Year

Friday, July 6, 2007


Sermon For July 8, 2007

Sermon for July 8, 2007
St. James’, Goshen IN
Arthur Hadley

Yesterday was July 7, 2007, or 07, 07, 07. Some folks can read into the Bible mystical meanings of numbers that would portend some great meaning. 666 was somehow the sign of the devil, and 777 was sign of good of even God. In New York there was a fancy restaurant called the top of the 6’s, the street address being 666; some thought it was the restaurant of the devil and great evil would come to anyone going there. Well, been there and done that; fortunately the bill went to friends that could afford it. But no evil done.
Did you notice anything particularly wonderful that happened yesterday? Not only was it 777, but it was also the Sabbath, another 7.
Well, numbers do play an important role in the Bible. And when we read numbers they may be referring to another time when the number was used. Let’s look at the Gospel for today. What are the numbers. Oh Look 70; those 7s just keep showing up. Jesus chose 70 men to go out and represent him, his teachings, and his healing power. Where else were 70 men chosen to go out and represent, teach and heal? Yeah, Moses complained to God that the load of governing all the Children of Israel was too much for him to do by himself, and God said to Moses, Choose 70 elders of the people and some of you power will be given to them to help represent, teach and heal. So Jesus was acting just like Moses. Moses had received that ten commandments from God, and he had trouble getting to people to know, follow and obey the Law of God. Jesus simplified the Law to a simple: Love God and Love your Neighbor. Over the 1500 years from Moses to Jesus the law had increased from 10 commandments to hundreds of laws, and thousands of interpretations of the law. Jesus simplified the law: Love God and Love neighbor. But Jesus also needed help in spreading the good news that Life has become much easier.
Paul really worked at explaining the new understanding that Sin has been forgiven, Death has been overcome, We now live by Grace not by Law. Circumcision or un-circumcision makes no difference. The Law has been fulfilled and we now live by the Grace of God as children of God, Joint heirs with Jesus, the Christ, in resurrected life with God.
What is the other number? Jesus sent the seventy out two by two. So what? When were others gathered, and saved by the grace of God, and then sent out again two by two to repopulate a new creation? Yes, the Noah and the Ark story. In the flood story, the world was sin filled and God told Noah to build an Ark and fill the ark with pairs of all of the animals, and the great flood came and washed away the sins of the world. When the flood water went down the animals and Noah’s family went out to repopulate the world. One time when I was telling some children the Noah story, a little boy holding a plastic likeness of a tyrannosaurus Rex stopped me in mid sentence by saying’ Oh that explains why there are no more dinosaurs; they would not fit on the Ark. Hey, it works for me.
So back to the Gospel for today. Jesus is acting just like Moses sending out 70 elders of the people to represent, teach and heal. But there is more. Jesus in acting like Noah, sending them out after the sins have been washed away, two by to two to repopulate the forgiven, redeemed world where all persons are Children of God, joint heirs with Christ in Resurrected life with God.

Thanks Be to God.

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