Sermon: Proper 17 RCL C – “Take a Seat”

A man arrives at the gates of heaven. St. Peter asks, “Religion?”

The man says, “Methodist.”

St. Peter looks down his list and says, “Go to Room 24, but be very quiet as you pass Room 8.”

Another man arrives at the gates of heaven. “Religion?”

“Lutheran.”

“Go to Room 18, but be very quiet as you pass Room 8.”

A third man arrives at the gates. “Religion?”

“Episcopalian.”

“Go to Room 11, but be very quiet as you pass Room 8.”

The man says, “I can understand there being different rooms for different denominations, but why must I be quiet when I pass Room 8?” Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 17 RCL C – “Take a Seat””

Sermon: Bartholomew

Fun facts: The name of the apostle and saint we celebrate today, Bartholomew, only appears in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, not in John. However, there is an apostle in John that does not appear in the other three: Nathanael. Some point to this as an inaccuracy in the Scriptures, but perhaps something else is going on.

The people who are much smarter than me have come up with the following possible answer. As it turns out, Bartholomew is a family name, a last name if you will. In Hebrew it would be translated Bar-Talmai or “Son of Talmai.” Nathaniel is a first name. Could it be that they are one and the same – Nathanael Bar-Talmai – Nathanael Bartholomew? The theologians state there is a strong case for this, particularly since Nathanael/Bartholomew is a friend of the Apostle Philip in all four Gospels. It is only theory, but it is a well supported one. Outside of being included in the list of the apostles and an incident in John’s Gospel with Philip, there is no other mention of him in the Gospels. What little information we do have comes from the legends that built up around him. Continue reading “Sermon: Bartholomew”

Sermon: Proper 16 RCL C – “Technicalities”

A lawyer purchased a box of 24 very expensive cigars, then insured them against, among other things, fire. Within a month he had smoked them all and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the insurance policy, filed a claim. He stated the cigars were lost ‘in a series of small fires.’ Obviously the insurance company refused to pay. The lawyer sued and won! The judge agreed that the lawsuit was frivolous, but stated nevertheless, the lawyer held a policy from the company, which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable ‘fire’ and was obligated to pay the claim. Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000 to the lawyer for the cigars lost in the ‘fires’.

However, the lawyer’s celebration was brief. Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 16 RCL C – “Technicalities””

Sermon: Saint Mary the Virgin

Heavenly birthdays. You may be aware, the date we celebrate a saint is not on their birthday, but instead on the day they died. That is considered the day they entered into heaven or their heavenly birthday. However, there are two that Holy Scripture tells us did not die. For ten years off of purgatory, can anyone name those two saints? Enoch and Elijah.

For Enoch, we read in Genesis, “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.  After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” And Paul tells us in his letter to the Hebrews, “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death.” Elijah we learn about in 2 Kings as he was carried away in a fiery chariot. The term used to describe these events is assumption or to be assumed, taken up. The difference between Jesus’ ascension and the assumption of Enoch and Elijah, is that whereas Jesus achieved heaven on his own power, Enoch and Elijah were carried up by God. Continue reading “Sermon: Saint Mary the Virgin”

Sermon: Proper 15 RCL C – “Truth and Humility”

Morris the loudmouth mechanic was removing the cylinder heads from the motor of a car when he spotted the famous heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey, who was standing off to the side, waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his Mercedes.

Morris shouted across the garage, “Hey DeBakey! Is dat you? Come on ova’ here a minute.”

The famous surgeon, a bit surprised, walked over to where Morris the mechanic was working on the car. Morris straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked argumentatively, “So Mr. Fancy Doctor, look at dis here work. I also open hearts, take valves out, grind ’em, put in new parts, and when I finish dis baby will purr like a kitten. So how come you get da big bucks, when you an’ me is doing basically da same work?” Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 15 RCL C – “Truth and Humility””

Sermon: Proper 12 RCL C – “Teach Us to Pray”

In Mt. Vernon, Texas, Drummond’s Bar began construction on expansion of their building to increase their business.  In response, one of the local churches started a campaign to block the bar from expanding with petitions and prayers.  Work progressed right up until the week before the grand reopening when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.  Afterwards, the church folks were rather smug in their outlook, bragging about “the power of prayer,” until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church “was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.”  In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise.  The judge read through the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendant’s reply and at the opening hearing he commented, Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 12 RCL C – “Teach Us to Pray””

Sermon: Mary Magdalene

I do enjoy reading. I’ve got my theology books that keep me company, but when it comes to relaxing, I’m all about the fiction. I particularly like how the authors develop and describe the characters.

J.K. Rowling described Harry Potter: “Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes. He wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose. The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning.” In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (not that I would ever read such a book!), Stieg Larson described Lisbeth Salander as “an information junkie with a delinquent child’s take on morals and ethics.” Continue reading “Sermon: Mary Magdalene”

Sermon: Proper 11 RCL C – “Stop Moving”

True story: In the early 1950’s an upholsterer from San Francisco was called into a doctor’s office to reupholster the chairs in the waiting room. As he discussed the chairs and options with the doctor, he said, “People don’t wear out chairs this way.” The problem: it was just the front edge of the chairs that were worn. Further back in the seat was just fine. Five years later, the same problem appeared.

It was in 1959 that Drs. Friedman and Rosenman began to put the pieces together. They had noticed an odd pattern shared by many of their patients, a pattern that centered on a “chronic sense of time urgency.” Patients showed irritability at being made to wait in line, had difficulty relaxing, and were anxious over delays. Obsessed with not wasting a moment, they spoke quickly, interrupted often, hurried those around them, and were forever rushing. Hence the waiting room chairs: the patients sat on the edge of their seats, nervously fidgeting at the arms of the chairs as they watched time tick by. Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 11 RCL C – “Stop Moving””