MAR 27, 2016, EASTER SUNDAY

EASTER SUNDAY 2016

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

Lections: Acts 10:34-43; Psalm 118:(1-2), 14-24; Luke 24:1-12

Death could not hold our Lord, and this morning, the church rejoices; we have baptized our brother Rod into new life; Mark and Pat, who were baptized by immersion years ago, have joined the church; flowers are blooming everywhere; psalms and hymns have been sung, and the Gospel has been proclaimed; and the Gospel today, because this is Easter morning, proclaims the Resurrection, which is the main event in the ancient “good news” that death has been put to death.

For Christians all over the world, Easter is a celebration of freedom restored, of deliverance from the shackles of death; for Christians are baptized into the body of Christ.  We are baptized into Christ’s death, and we are also baptized into his eternal life.   Our old life goes under the water, and we come out of the water with the Spirit within us, born again, “of water and the spirit.” The promise of this transformation – that we can now enter into the Kingdom of God – is so powerful that this day’s celebration spills out of the churches and into backyards, and parks, and the welcome play of egg hunting and basket hiding and the joy of family company and festive meals.  Easter is one of two annual events (the other being Christmas) when the world comes into the church, bringing with it the culture of the times, and the church overflows into the world, bringing with it the truth of all time.   Continue reading

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MAR 20, 2016, PASSION SUNDAY

PASSION SUNDAY 2016

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

JESUS ON THE WAY OF SORROWS

Lections: Luke 19:28-40; Psalm 118:14-29

Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 22:14-23:56

Today we begin the most decisive week of our salvation, the Great and Holy Week that enlarges our understanding of reality and of the things “wrought at this time by our Lord.”[i] Today we begin to experience the intensification of good and evil in the world. Today we express our willingness to take up the cross and follow Jesus on the Way of Sorrows, with great humility and patience, in the hope of his resurrection.

In the medieval church, “Passion Sunday” was the 5th Sunday of Lent and marked the beginning of a two-week Passiontide; this is why crosses are sometimes veiled – in purple -for the 5th and 6th Sundays of Lent.  Other churches veil the cross – in unbleached linen – for all of Lent.   Continue reading

MAR 13, 2016, FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT

THE PEOPLE WHOM YOU HAVE REDEEMED

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

Lections: Isa 43:16-21; Ps 126; Phil 3:7-13; John 12:1-8

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God has done a new thing, as he promised he would; he has brought the dead to life, and wherever two or three of us are gathered in prayer, we are God’s witnesses. We have heard God say, through the mouth of Isaiah, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” God announces the fulfillment of redemption history, and asks its most important question:  Do you not perceive it?  This question is addressed to the world, today, and this itself is miraculous.

Isaiah was a prophet in Judah 800 years before the birth of Christ; the name “Isaiah” means salvation.  His prophesized about two events:  the Babylonian return from exile, which was the shadow event, and the arrival of the Messiah, which was its fulfillment.  Two hundred years after he spoke, the people of Judah would be deported to Babylon, and almost a century would go by before they would return to their land, and begin their lives again, with the rebuilding of their temple. Their deliverance from Babylonian captivity recalls their deliverance from Egypt, almost 600 years earlier, and heralds the coming of the Messiah, almost 500 years later. These three historical events manifest the faithfulness of God towards his people, first to the nation of Israel, and then to his church, in history as it unfolds on our journey through this world.   Continue reading

MAR 6, 2016, FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT

THE RESPONSE OF JESUS TO EVIL IN THE WORLD

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

Lections:  Josh 5:9-12; Ps 32; 2 Cor 5:16-21; Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32.

 

The many parts of the Bible were composed over a period of at least 1,500 years, and their surpassing unity is a testimony to their divine authorship.  Today’s four lections are illustrative of this unity and their author’s abiding concern for lost humanity.

Josh 5:9-12 is a brief account of ritual preparation for Israel’s entrance into Canaan, near the city of Jericho; prior to taking possession of the land, which had been granted to Israel in the Abrahamic covenant, the “reproach of Egypt” is “rolled away”: first, by Joshua’s circumcision of males born during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness;  second, by a  Passover celebration, reminding the nation of its redemption out of slavery; and third, by eating unleavened cakes and parched grain from the produce of the land. The manna that God had been feeding the Israelites stopped on the following day, signifying the end of Israel’s journey and the fulfillment of God’s promise. Joshua serves to remind us that 1) the rites of circumcision and Passover are types for the baptism and communion sacraments of the New Covenant church, and 2) the miracle of the manna is analogous to the miracles Jesus performed when feeding the crowds with loaves and fish.   Continue reading

FEB 28, 2016, THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT

COVENANT AND BAPTISM

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

Lections: Isa 55:1-9; Ps 63:1-8; 1 Cor 10:1-13; Luke 13: 1-9.

 

The Third Sunday in Lent in the Orthodox church is celebrated with the Adoration of the Cross.  I would like to begin today by sharing with you a prayer from its Vespers service:

Rejoice, O life-bearing Cross, O bright paradise of the Church, O Tree of incorruption, thou who didst bring forth for us the enjoyment of glory everlasting, through whom the hosts of devils are driven out, the ranks of angels rejoice together, and the congregations of believers celebrate, O unconquerable weapon and impregnable foundation, the triumph of kings and the pride of Priests, grant us to apprehend the Passion of Christ and his Resurrection.

Let us pause for a moment to consider six features of this prayer:   Continue reading