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

Advertisements

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

COMMUNING WITH STRANGERS

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

October 1, 2017

Lections: Gen 18:1-8; Hebrews 12:28 – 13:3; Luke 10: 25-34

 

Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen:  if you are a foreigner from one of these countries, you are banned from traveling in our country.  The ban takes aim at “a total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States. The President says this ban will protect the security and interests of the United States and its people, but will it? The cultural practices of the Ancient Near East suggest the answer is “no.”  The desert people who are the direct ancestors of today’s Muslims developed an elaborate ritual of hospitality to keep foreign travelers and the people of the nations they traveled through safe from harm.   Continue reading

AND THE MAN BECAME A LIVING SOUL:  THE STORY OF THE APOSTLE THOMAS

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

April 23, 2017

Lections Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16: 5-11; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you have not now seen him, you believe in him do and rejoice.” –1 Pet 1:8

 

Peter speaks the truth, doesn’t he!  You and I, like the original readers of his letter, “have not seen Jesus.” We “were not eyewitnesses of his life here on earth,” yet it’s fact, isn’t it, we “still love him!” We “believe in him and rejoice with joy!”[i]

Therefore, when Peter, quoting the prophet Joel, says at Pentecost, “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,”[ii] we can be confident that by praising Jesus, we obtain the promises of God and escape the wrath of the Day of Judgment.[iii] A new age has arrived,[iv] and God confirms the status of Jesus “by raising him from death and exalting him to his right hand.”[v] Continue reading

EASTER PEOPLE: Pascha, April 16, 2017

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

Gospel Reading: John 20: 1-10 (The Empty Tomb)

 

Christ is Risen! What an awesome and glorious gift is made for each of us to behold!  The Resurrection Day!  The day that marks our adoption as sons and daughters of the heavenly Father!  Today, Christ delivers all of creation from darkness into light:  with every breath we take, we give Glory to God.  We praise him for the perfect splendor and beauty of this day, for all the majesty and unending joy he has prepared for us!  We are made whole; we are made holy!  Behold, Christ is Risen!

The story of this morning begins with a woman.  Her name is Mary Magdalene, and she is beside herself.   She has devoted herself to the way of her teacher, Jesus, the only rabbi who includes women in his society.   Jesus is the man she has come to believe is the Messiah, the deliverer of her people from the oppressors of the world, and yesterday she stood with a small group of his followers and watched as this man Jesus died, hanging on a cross, another victim of this world of suffering and injustice.  Mary Magdalene is heart-broken.  A night has passed, a sleepless night, and she arrives before dawn at the tomb, Continue reading

Jerusalem Greets Its Deliverer:  The Man of Sorrows, Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

One way we can understand Palm Sunday is from a child’s point of view, so I want us all to think back to school days.  I know several of the folks in this congregation went to school in one room buildings that were heated with wood stoves.  Maybe you had electricity, and maybe there was a ceiling fan to circulate the heat.  Probably there was no indoor plumbing.  You walked to school, at least until high school, when if you lived too far away, you might have boarded in town for the school term.  There weren’t school buses, or cafeterias. Things were different then.  But there was one thing I am guessing we all share:  a memory of vocabulary lists and spelling tests.  Every week there was a new list of ten or so words we had to learn.  And the words we learned, or didn’t learn, have shaped us to this day.   Continue reading