The Present through the Promise

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

December 3, 2017  1 Advent Year B

Lections: Isaiah 64:1-9, Mark 13:24-37

63

We begin our celebration of the new Church year with a verse from Isaiah, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (64:8). Isaiah is telling us God shapes each person, much like a potter shapes clay; clay is a symbol for what comes out of the earth. We can dig clay in the fields behind the parsonage, and this marks the distinction between God and persons:  God creates the material world, and we are creatures made from the stuff of that creation, stuff like clay. The potter God, however, is not fashioned by clay. The one God, creator of everything that is, doesn’t even exist in the sense that the person, a creature, does.   Continue reading

Ancient Kings and Jewish Eschatology: The Shepherd/King in Our Midst

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

November 26, 2017 Christ the King Year A

Lections:  Ezekiel 34: 11-24; Matthew 25: 31-46

christ_with_sheep_1024x1024_000f40e8-e672-4000-8125-a77694d48331_1024x1024

Thanksgiving morning, out on a walk with my in-laws, I was asked about my sermon for today; what was it about?   Ancient kings, I answered.  One person commented, “Surely, we are better off without monarchs governing us,” and I would not disagree. We need look no further than to recent events in Saudi Arabia to cringe from advocacy of any form of kingship and applaud George Washington’s insistence that he not be crowned another King George.   Why then, we might ask, is the last Sunday of the Church year celebrated as Christ the King Sunday?   Continue reading

Love and Gratitude

A Thanksgiving Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

November 19, 2017

Lections: 1 Samuel 7:7-13; Luke 17:11-19

sch-avercamp.h18-800

This morning, as we give thanks to the Lord our God, we also look forward to the holiday of Thanksgiving which we will celebrate later in the week.  It is right, as we say in our Great Thanksgiving, always and everywhere to give God our thanks and praise.  Truly, we are blessed in many ways.

Of course, when we pause to recount our blessings, we aren’t necessarily having an easy time of it. We all experience difficulties and hardships, and being grateful doesn’t mean we should overlook the conditions and circumstances of our lives. Conditions and circumstances change, and we are more thankful for some changes than others.  As people of faith, however, we recognize a goodness that abides unchanging.  And it is from the depth of this abiding goodness, which we experience as love, that gratitude arises.   Continue reading

WISDOM AND THE TEN YOUNG BRIDESMAIDS

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

November 12, 2017

Lections:  Wisdom 6:12-20; Matthew 25:1-13

 

A friend stopped by last week.  He hadn’t been doing well, and he had gone to India for a few weeks to pull himself together.  He enjoyed a wonderful time, and experienced all sorts of feelings he had thought were gone for good.  Then he came home.  And guess what?  His re-entry was predictably difficult.  Most notably, the news: He wonders, how to tune it out?  Is it even possible?

This might be a good time for us to ask ourselves the same question.  Today’s parable has a pedestrian stress: the wedding details were familiar in their context.  In the mix of shifting identities that the language of parables makes possible, we can read ourselves into the role of bridesmaids, for we are responsible for preparing the bride – that is, the church –  to meet the bridegroom, Jesus the Christ.  This is a responsibility that we begin to assume at an early age – and grow more fully into as we move through all our days.  The Wisdom of Salomon, found in the Septuagint, is intended as a guide for “those in authority” but has many practical applications for growing “on the Way” in the conditions and circumstances of everyday life.   Continue reading

PAYING TAXES TO CAESAR: JESUS SKATES ON A RIDDLE

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

October 22, 2017

Matthew 22: 15-22

 

Jesus’ telling of the Parable of the Wedding Feast, which we heard last week, is immediately followed in Matthew’s Gospel by an account of Jesus’ response to the Herodians, who purport to challenge him with the dilemma of paying taxes to Caesar.  A natural question for us might be, what is the relationship of the Wedding Feast and the payment of Roman taxes?   Continue reading

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

October 15, 2017

Matthew 22:1-14

 

Two weeks ago, we heard two stories of hospitality: The Visit of the Three Angels to Abraham, and the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Then last week we heard Isaiah’s Parable of the Vineyard and its retelling by Jesus.  We said, A common theme running through all four stories is the importance of pleasing God with our actions.  Specifically, we have seen that God is pleased by actions that are deliberately constructed to eliminate hostility, violence, and injustice from our interaction with others.  Furthermore, we have speculated that the root of the behaviors which bring destruction upon ourselves and likewise the planet lies in our confusion of stewardship with ownership; we stake out claims to property which is not ours to own. Humanity is meant to hold each other and the planet’s land in trust for the One from whom we have our being.  Continue reading

Image

The Stranger God:  Las Vegas and a Garden

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

October 8, 2017

Matthew 21: 33-46

Last Sunday we explored the concept of hospitality, its benefits to the people who practice it, and its image in the sacramental life of the church.  In the story of the Good Samaritan, the wounded Jew was healed by a stranger’s hospitality.  In the story of Abraham and the three angels, the wounded patriarch was healed by the strangers who accepted his hospitality. We recognize from both stories the connection between healing and avoiding the hostility that is easily triggered when we face the unknown.  The ordinary circumstances and conditions of life are often traumatic, and healing enables us to turn our attention away from our own problems and assist others in need.  It makes good sense for us to be guided in our spiritual practice, not so much by the desire to see God, as by the desire to have God want to see us. Simply put, we should aim to please God by what we say and do. Continue reading