St. James' Episcopal Church
Our 158th Year
Friday, August 31, 2007
Sermon for September 2nd, 2007
Sermon for September 2, 2007
St. James’, Goshen IN
Goodness, it is Labor Day Weekend, schools have started, and there is a crispness in the air. Where did the summer go? Summer time seems to be Sabbath time to many of us, a time to kick back, have a vacation, read a light novel; a time to regroup and Re-create.
One time on a Sabbath, Jesus went to the home of a Pharisee, a ruler in the religious community -- a Senior warden. Jesus watched what the other guests at the party were doing; he observed that some people wanted to be seated at the head table with the host. We have all been to parties like that; the big wedding reception is the best example. Big splashy party, assigned seating - or open seating. As a priest, I have gone to more than my share of wedding receptions, and have done lots of people watching. It is fun for me to see people react to being assigned to table 49 when they thought they should be at least at table 3. I’ve watched people pickup their place cards and move them to a “better” table; “Oh there must be some mistake.” Sometimes as the priest at the wedding I am seated near or even at the head table. My solution for the past many years with 25 or 30 wedding per year is to just skip rehearsal dinners and wedding receptions. But observing the arrogance and pridefulness of people wanting to show off their greater standing is pretty funny.
The first lesson from Ecclesiastics starts with the line: Arrogance is hateful to the Lord and to man, and injustice is outrageous to both. Compared to God of what do we have to be arrogant? We are made from the dust; we return to the dust. We live for a short time and have almost no power compared to God. The prophet Micah 6:8 may have said this even better than Ecclesiastics: Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with your God.
We are not called to be prideful or arrogant. We are called to love each other, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Earlier this summer we read about Abraham and Sarah wanting to fulfill the promise from God that their descendents would out number the stars of heaven and the grains of sand in the sea. They were in the wilderness tending their flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, when three strangers came. The three strangers were entertained with food and drink, and the strangers were messengers, angels, from God bringing news that Sarah would have a son the next spring. We show hospitality to strangers by visiting the sick, the poor, the imprisoned. Some are imprisoned in jails, but more are imprisoned by addictions, mental illness and bodily infirmities.
Love each other. Let brotherly love continue. Love your neighbor as yourself. Let God be the judge of lives; we ask in the Lord’s prayer to forgive us as we forgive others. I want to be forgiven; therefore I forgive. I have been forgiven; therefore I forgive. I do not judge, God is the judge.
Our Jewish and Christian ethic is fairly simple:
“Arrogance is hateful before the Lord and men; injustice is outrageous to both.”
“Do Justice with Mercy and walk humbly with our God.”
“Let brotherly love continue…show hospitality to strangers”
“ Forgive us as we forgive others.”
Thanks be to God.
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