St. James' Episcopal Church
Our 158th Year
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Sermon for October 26th, 2008
Sermon for Sunday October 26, 2008
St. James’ Goshen IN
St. Paul traveled from Jerusalem to cities in what is now Egypt, Turkey, Greece and even to Rome. Wherever he was, he sent letters back to the cities where he had been. Some of the letters were thank you letters, some were admonitions, some were requests for assistance. Some of these letter were saved and passed on from congregation to congregation, from generation to generation. So often in Paul’s letters he give thanks for the kindness shown to him and his traveling companions.
I make no comparison of teaching or writing as Paul, but I do want and need to give thanks to you as a faithful congregation letting me share summers with you for the past three years. Like Paul, I give thanks to God in my prayers for you and your works of faith, labors of love and your steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. You have received the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. I will leave you, and my prayers for you will continue. You will have a different pastor, Sunday celebrant, but we all share the same one faith, one baptism, and one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment. And he answered the great summary of the Law:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first commandment and the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
This summary of the Law is the essence of the teachings of Jesus. Love of God and neighbor. In our society materialism has become the new religion: love of money, forget God, and forget neighbors. My Money is all that counted. We are seeing the collapse of the credit/ debt economy and the diminishing stock market values, housing market, job market, commodity market. A new reality: you cannot borrow your way into prosperity; you cannot endlessly spend what you have not earned. We are going to experience some tough times; Paul called that The Wrath to come. It may be a long cold winter. People may well not have enough money to heat their homes, buy food and medicines.
We are a people who Love God with all our heart, soul and mind. And we love our neighbors as ourselves. Money and materialism is not our God. Money will pass away - a lot of it already has passed away. God does not pass away. Bidden or not bidden God is present.
Jesus taught and demonstrated that Neighbor was not only family, friends and the people that live next door. The Samaritan, long standing enemies, were neighbors; the outcasts, even the lepers were neighbors. All of God’s creation are neighbors.
In the tough times to come this winter, you will have to make some tough decisions. Are you going to spend money heating this very big building? Churches were not heated for the first two millennium, but now we expect to heat and cool this holy space. The endowment fund is not as large as you are used to. The money is gone. God is not gone; the money is gone.
People, neighbors are going to be cold and hungry this winter. Love God and Love your neighbor. What are you going to do? Not heat the church and parish hall. Use the saved money to assist the poor. Heat the building for your own comfort. Heat the building for your own comfort and open a food kitchen and place to be safe and warm for the cold and hungry neighbors? I leave you with those unanswered questions.
I give thanks to God in my prayers for you and your works of faith, labors of love and your steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. You have received the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God.
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