St. James' Episcopal Church
Goshen, Indiana

Our 158th Year

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Sermon for September 16, 2007

Sermon for September 16, 2007
St. James - Goshen, IN
Arthur Hadley

In the first lesson from Exodus, we heard God and Moses talking about the Children of Israel. God had sent Moses back to Egypt to lead the captive children of Israel out of slavery. They crossed the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army pursuing them. Go down Moses set my people free. The Red Sea parted for the children of Israel and then closed in sweeping away the Egyptian army. God provided for the Children of Israel with manna from heaven, quail, water from the rocks, clouds to shade them from the scorching sunlight by day and light by night. God gave Moses the ten Commandments to teach the children of Israel right from wrong. The Sinai Desert became a new garden of Eden where all needs were provided and the difference between right and was given.

Even with all that God had done for those enslaved children of Israel, they turned away from God, wanted to make a golden calf to represent a new god. Moses was in despair, and God was furious. God was ready to destroy the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. But Moses pleaded with God to repent from anger, and not destroy the family of God. Moses pleaded that God show mercy, not righteous judgmental wrath. And God repented; God was and is merciful.

Paul grew up a faithful Jew. He followed the commandments, and condemned the followers of Jesus because they were not faithful to the laws of self-righteousness. Paul was there when Stephen was stoned to death outside the walls of Jerusalem; Paul was sent by the Jewish court to persecute the Christians in Damascus. Paul was struck down blind on the road to Damascus, and his sight restored when baptized by a Christian. Paul repented because he had received God’s mercy. Paul became a missionary spreading the word of God’s mercy and forgiveness, admitting his own sinfulness and accepting other sinners and new Christians.

In the Gospel Jesus chose to seek out the sinners of society: tax collectors, traitors, women of the street. From the birth narrative of Jesus, the first to know were shepherd tending the flocks at night. Shepherds were considered so un trustworthy they could not be in town at night; they could not testify in courts. But they were chosen by God to be the first to know that a Savior was born in Bethlehem. And Jesus used a story about a shepherd who goes back to the wilderness to rescue a lost sheep. “And when he found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”

Women were in as low esteem as the poor shepherds. They also could not testify in court, nor own property. But Jesus tells the story of the women who lost a coin, and sweeps the house clean until she find the lost coin. Then she calls upon her neighbors to rejoice with her that the lost is found.

Jesus taught that the lost, the least and the last will be saved. And the last shall be first in the Kingdom of Heaven:

because God repented of his wrath and provided mercy for the Children of Israel even when they turn from God and worshiped a golden calf,

because God forgave Paul of his self - righteousness and made him an apostle to us Gentiles,

because Jesus died on the cross for the sin of the whole world.

Thanks Be to God.

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