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Sermon – Sunday 3 August, 2014/Rev. Read Heydt

Matthew 14:13-21
Jesus had been teaching in Galilee. But when he heard that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been beheaded on order of King Herod, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But crowds from the towns heard of it, so they followed him on foot. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14)

We profess our belief in the Living God, yet often wonder … like the Israelites: “Can God set a table in the wilderness?” Jesus thought so. When his disciples came to him late in the day and asked him to send the gathered crowd into neighboring villages to get something to eat, he replied: They need not go away; you give them something to eat. (Matthew 14:16)

The disciples are dumbfounded. We have only five loaves here and two fish. Continue reading ‘Sermon – Sunday 3 August, 2014/Rev. Read Heydt’ »

Sermon – Sunday July 27, 2014/Rev. Richard C. Marsden

Matt. 13:31-33, 44-52
1 Kgs: 3:5-12

What is the kingdom of God? How do you know you are a part of it? How do you understand it?

Well, Jesus spends a lot of time telling us about the kingdom of God, as Matthew records it in his gospel. Continuing to build on his previous lessons, Jesus, in this week’s lesson, continues to teach the significance of the kingdom of God to those around him.

Putting today’s lessons into the larger context, let’s be reminded of some of what Jesus has already said concerning the kingdom of God.

Earlier Jesus expressed concern about his present generation (11:16-19) but his concern probably applies to any generation of believers—remember the teaching —we pipe and you don’t dance, we wail and you don’t mourn.

He warns that you are not paying attention to what God is doing. You can’t distinguish good from bad, joyful from sad. He warns his generation about being indifferent, blind to what God is doing not having wisdom.

Using john the Baptist and himself as the example he goes on to proves his point. John comes to them neither eating nor drinking and they call him possessed, Jesus comes eating and drinking and they call him a glutton and drunkard. So Jesus says they have no wisdom, no heart to discern truth.

Further on (11:25-30) he goes on to reveal his own relationship to the kingdom of God. Continue reading ‘Sermon – Sunday July 27, 2014/Rev. Richard C. Marsden’ »

Sermon – Sunday July 20, 2014/Rev. Ralph W. Strohm

Genesis 28:10-19a
Psalm 139:1-11, 22-23
Romans 8:12-25
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

This morning we welcome back Father Marsden from his vacation!
Despite a vacation mostly in the south, he does not appear to have any musket wounds from a Civil War battle!
It feels good to have him back. And it feels good to be back together worshipping, feeling good about this great and growing parish, comfortable in our spiritual home.
But we also know that we have another calling as Christians, a calling beyond being comfortable with our personal faith and our public worship in our chosen spiritual home.
On this sixth Sunday after Pentecost, we are now deep into this discipleship season, “boots on the ground” time, reminders of the demands of discipleship.
In this weekend’s readings, we’re with Jesus and the original disciples, the Apostle Paul, and Jacob, watching, listening, and learning about what it means to follow God’s will.
The assigned Bible readings all remind us that it is God’s will, not ours, that ultimately controls. Continue reading ‘Sermon – Sunday July 20, 2014/Rev. Ralph W. Strohm’ »

Sermon – Sunday July 13, 2014/Rev. Charleston D. Wilson

In the Name of the Living God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

I think it’s safe to say that if you are an Episcopalian who faithfully attends mass during the long Florida summer when, judging by our summer numbers, clearly most Episcopalians take the summer off, you in fact want to bear the good, vibrant fruit of the gospel in your lives. Your very presence here [this evening/this morning] testifies to the fact that you’d like to be a better disciple.

But even if you’re one of those who prefers going to mass only at Christmas and Easter, and so you’re here today against your will because your husband or wife made you, I have yet to meet a single Christian (or any modern, global citizen for that matter) that doesn’t deep down really want to produce some good fruit – even if they have no clue where to start.

I mean come on, be honest; who doesn’t want to be a better person? It’s all the rage, is it not? Continue reading ‘Sermon – Sunday July 13, 2014/Rev. Charleston D. Wilson’ »

Sermon – Sunday July 6, 2014/Rev. C. Read Heydt

Two thousand years ago a thirty-year-old rabbi went up a hill in northern Galilee to declare to his disciples a “higher righteousness” than the Law of Moses. You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. The overwhelming human response … in his time and ours … is predictable. “No chance!”

Two-hundred-thirty-eight years ago a 33-year-old delegate from Virginia to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia gathered with his peers to hear a public declaration, penned by his hand, assert that “all men are created equal”, and that government exists to secure the happiness of the people, and derives its just powers from the consent of the people. The overwhelming response from governments … in his time and ours … is also predictable. “No chance.”

What do the proclamations of these two men … separated by millenniums and continents … have in common? Continue reading ‘Sermon – Sunday July 6, 2014/Rev. C. Read Heydt’ »

Sermon – Sunday June 29, 2014/Rev. Charleston D. Wilson

In the Name of the Living God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

I have always wondered what makes certain people do some of the wild and crazy things I’ve seen them doing. And I’m not talking about seeing a loved one on the five o’clock news for doing something shocking or finding out your teenage daughter has posted a wild and racy picture on Facebook. I’m talking about the equally amazing (and certainly wild) things that disciples of Jesus Christ have done (and continue to do) for the sake of the gospel and building up the Church.

And we have before us this morning two wild and astonishing readings (one from Genesis and one from St. Matthew’s gospel) that describe in vivid (some of us may say horrifying) detail what risks followers of God are willing to take in order to be genuine disciples.

In the case of Abraham we see an unshakable faith; one that trusted in God amidst the most unimaginable set of circumstances and a willingness to sacrifice even his own son, Isaac, in order to obey God. In St Matthew’s gospel Jesus tells us about another amazing thing that disciples are called to do: to be welcoming and to be welcomed.

The Revised Standard Version, from which I read, uses the word, “receive,” instead of welcome, but in Greek the word is closer to the way we use the word, “welcome.” And that word for “welcome” (or “receive”) is mentioned six times within two sentences. Continue reading ‘Sermon – Sunday June 29, 2014/Rev. Charleston D. Wilson’ »

Sermon – Sunday June 22, 2014/Rev. Ralph Strohm

Good morning church! I’m Father Ralph Strohm, one of the retired priests ‘’In Residence” here at Redeemer. I quasi-retired to Florida a year and a half ago, after serving parishes in the dioceses of West Virginia, and in western New York, Buffalo and Rochester.

On this first full day and first Sunday of summer, first a little background on this Sunday in the church year.

The title of this Sunday is “The Second Sunday after Pentecost.” It comes after two high feast Sundays, Trinity Sunday and the Day of Pentecost.

On Trinity Sunday, last Sunday, we again reviewed the doctrine of the trinity, expressed in its traditional words of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but also suggesting the multi-dimensional nature of God.

Two Sundays ago was Pentecost. If you were in church on Pentecost you experienced a red tongue of fire hovering over your head and a violent wind right here in the nave and sanctuary of Redeemer! Remember? The coming of the Holy Spirit.

This Second Sunday after Pentecost is a transitional Sunday, moving us into a new church season numbered by consecutive Sundays “after Pentecost” and known by our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters as “Ordinary Time.”

I have always liked to call this part of the church year, about one half of the year, depending on whether Easter is earlier or later, the “boots on the ground” season.

The focus is on discipleship. We’re not in the Advent/Christmas/ Epiphany or the Lent/Holy Week/Easter celebratory cycles. Rather, this new season is all about striving to live as disciples of Jesus in ordinary, daily life.

We’re trying to walk in our own sandals next to Jesus as he teaches us on our journey.

As “boots on the ground” continues through the summer and fall, we will encounter Bible readings which sometimes affirm our understandings of Christian discipleship, but sometimes challenge us to new understandings. Continue reading ‘Sermon – Sunday June 22, 2014/Rev. Ralph Strohm’ »

Sermon – Trinity Sunday 15 June, 2014/Rev. Charleston D. Wilson

In the Name of the Living God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

For each of the last five years or so, I’ve somehow found myself preaching on this principal feast, the Solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity. And, without fail, I’ve done what most preachers are tempted to do on this most unenviable preachment of the Church Year. Using grand theological terms and lots of long quotes from our ancient formularies, I’ve fancied myself describing the indescribable and explaining the inexplicable adequately and effectively by simply conveying a super-abundance of information that, I suppose, was designed to cover everything we ever needed to know about the nature of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity but were afraid to ask.

And that approach, I confess to Almighty God and to you, has been absolutely and utterly disastrous.

In hindsight, it finally hit me this week what’s been wrong all along. Continue reading ‘Sermon – Trinity Sunday 15 June, 2014/Rev. Charleston D. Wilson’ »

Sermon – The Day of Pentecost – Sunday June 8, 2014/Rev. Richard C. Marsden

How many of you woke up on Friday and immediately gave thanks for the life-changing events that happened on that day? Probably a few of us!

When Gail and I were traveling in France some five years ago, we were surprised at how many of the people we met, of all ages, were acutely aware of the significance of that day, 6 June, in their history. Some talked about it like it had happened yesterday.

June 6 1944. These people remembered it because D-Day was the day that changed their lives. Europe had been living under the evil of Nazism for four years. They had lost their freedom, their identities, many lost their lives, under this brutal tyranny. Not enough could be said of the evil and oppression that Hitler and his Nazi ideals wrought on the lives it engulfed.

The D-Day invasion was an inconceivable concentration of power; the largest mobilization of men and material in the history of the world. And we will never see the like again. Continue reading ‘Sermon – The Day of Pentecost – Sunday June 8, 2014/Rev. Richard C. Marsden’ »