St. James' Episcopal Church
Goshen, Indiana

Our 158th Year


Sunday, August 19, 2007

 

Sermon for August 19, 2007


Sermon for August 19, 2007
St. James’, Goshen IN
Arthur Hadley

Jesus said, ”I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!
I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!
Do you think I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.

Wow, what has happened here? Were is the Christmas acclamation Peace on earth good will towards men.

If you just take the first few lines about fire and baptism you could say this is about the power of the Holy Spirit expressed as fire. As in the Pentecostal fire that danced above the Apostles, and is seen today as the funny pointed hats bishops wear. And the Baptism of all Christians. That would be a nice sermon all optimistic and evangelical.

But totally missing the point. “Do you think I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you division.”

Religious fervor is divisive. The problems in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Sunni verses Shiite; car bombing killing hundreds. The problems in the Holy Land, Jews verses Palestinians; disputed land grabs, rocket launching, and economic blockades. The Roman Catholic / Protestant problems in Ireland seem to be quieted down for the moment. The Pope claiming that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church and only true religion. The problems we face in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion: three against two and two against three, father against son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings to us, let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that is set before him endured the cross. Each of the religious divisions set before us today are caused by people declaring that they alone know the will of God, and that they alone know the totality of God. Not only a I’m right and your wrong, but because I’m right and your wrong, I must destroy all that is wrong.

Jeremiah saw this with false prophets teaching dreams and deceits. “Am I a God at hand, says the Lord , and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I can not see him? Do I not fill heaven and earth? No one can fully describe God, God is infinite, humans are finite. We can only see a small fraction of the fullness of God. Imagine looking at a very large chandler hanging from the high beams of the church, you can see only a part from your angle, but I see a very different part from another angle. Each of us seeing from a different angle see a different part of the chandler. We see God differently at different times of our lives, but God is always bigger than we can comprehend. Theologians have tried to describe God writing long complicated tomes, but the Biblical answer to the question is easy. Moses talked with God at the Burning Bush and asked who is God. God’s answer was simple: I am. God Is. Any more would be human speculation and attempts to limit God. God Is. More is divisive, false and arrogant.

In our home has a tile of Bethlehem limestone; the tile has flecks of red in the stone. Geologist claim that the red fleck are traces of the red algae that makes the Red Sea turn red. Jesus was born in a limestone cave in Bethlehem surrounded by bits of the Red Sea algae. Our limestone tile has inscribed on it,

God is,
Bidden
Or not
Bidden
Present

God is, bidden or not bidden, present with the Moslems: Shiites, or Sunnis: Christians: Catholic, Orthodox or Protestants; Jews: orthodox, conservative and reformed; Anglicans: northern hemisphere liberals, and southern hemisphere conservative. There is only one God.

Thanks be to God.





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