St. James' Episcopal Church
Our 158th Year
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Sermon for June 8th, 2008
Sermon for June 8, 2008
Proper 5 A
St. James’, Goshen IN
Well, we just heard the Gospel for the day, and Jesus was really being a very naughty Jewish young man. He was doing just about everything he could doto flaunt breaking the rules. He was walking in Jerusalem and saw Matthew sitting at his tax booth collecting taxes for the occupying Roman Empire. Tax collectors were collaborators with the enemy, traitor to the Jewish people, and the whole system was corrupt. Tax collectors collected all they could berate out of the people and then passed on to the Roman Empire some of the collections and kept the rest for themselves. Two for me, one for the empire, two for me, one for the empire, two for me, one for the soldiers that enforce my orders, one for the empire. Jesus said to Matthew, "Follow me," and he did.
Then Jesus took his disciples to have dinner with more Tax Collectors and other notorious sinners. The Pharisees, who prided themselves on keeping the Jewish rules were shocked. Why does Jesus eat with Tax Collectors and sinners? And Jesus said, "I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."
Then a leader of the Temple showed up in the dinner party of Tax Collectors and Sinners, and says to Jesus, "My daughter has just died, come lay your hands on her and she will live." Jesus gets up from the dinner party to go to the dead daughter. Good Jewish boys, young men, do not bother with girls. Girls have no status at all; daughters were major liabilities. Slaves could be sold; so they had value. Girls would have to have a costly dowry in order to marry. And good Jewish fellows would be considered "un clean" if they touched a dead body. Yuck.
Well, if the intent to touch the dead body of a girl wasn’t bad enough, a women who had a flow of blood, a hemorrhage, a menstrual flow, for the past twelve years came up and touched the fringe of Jesus’ clothing. Now he really was unclean. And Jesus announced that the woman was well.
And finally Jesus, who ate with tax collectors, and sinners, offended the Pharisees, and is ceremonially un clean, goes to the dead girl’s home to raise her from the dead.
Jesus reached out to traitor and sinner, he was willing to break the rules and reached out and cured the unclean woman, and the dead daughter. He announced that he had come to call the sinners. Through out the ministry of Jesus he continually reached out to the least, a girl child, the lost, the tax collectors and sinners, and the last, the woman with a flow of blood.
We as the risen body of Christ must not forget that Jesus came to call the sinner to follow him, he did not come to call the righteous - the self righteous Pharisees - the good churchy people. He came to call Sinners. He was announced at birth to the Shepherds. Born in a stable. He died between two thieves, executed as a horrid criminal. He lived and died among the least, the lost, and the last. He rose from the dead announcing forgiveness of sin and salvation.
Thanks be to God.
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