February 26, 2017: Transfiguration Sunday

PREPARED FOR LENT

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

The focus of the Lenten season is renewal; specifically, we engage in the annual discipline of “walking in the way of the cross.”  We affirm the baptismal renunciation of evil and sin, by examining the interiority of our persons; and we share with the world the shine of the joy and light we put on our faces through daily “adherence to Christ.”

Lent is a season to feel the pain God suffered for our sakes, and to set aside the fear and anxiety that arise from the knowledge that we too are called to shoulder the weight of suffering.  This is the message of today’s Gospel [i]:   Continue reading

The Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany: SALT AND LIGHT

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

February 5, 2017

Lections: Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 112; 1 Corinthians 2:1-12; Matthew 5:13:20

 

Today we hear a clear message:  the Lord rescues us from death.

He hears our cry, and he brings hope to those in need.

He prospers us and defends us.

And in return, we respond to God:we rejoice, and we gladly praise and adore him.

We listen for his call in our heart, for he has made us in his image:

he who was salt and light has made us salt and light.

Indeed, we are blessed.

 

Let us then, in the word we hear today, trust God’s blessings,

by discovering how they are found in his promise;

for the promise of God is trustworthy,

and by his promise, we are saved from death.

We will be free.   Continue reading

The Third Sunday After the Epiphany: THE GATHERING OF DISCIPLES, Pt 2

I WILL MAKE YOU FISH FOR MEN: THE GATHERING OF DISCIPLES, Pt 2

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

January 22, 2017

Lections Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23

 

Today’s Gospel switches over from John’s account, which we heard last week, to Matthew’s earlier narrative of Jesus’ public ministry.  This shift gives us another perspective on “the gathering of disciples,” and fills out our understanding of Christian vocation.

Matthew identifies two of the first disciples, Andrew and Simon Peter, as fishermen, and records a slightly different version of the call of Jesus we heard last week.  In John, Jesus says, “Come, and you will see.” In Matthew, he says, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for men.” Matthew puts more emphasis on the active intention informing the call than does John, who isolates the splendor of a more contemplative devotion.  Matthew is focusing on the Kingdom of Heaven, which Jesus inaugurates, and the paths which will lead to the founding of a Messianic Community that takes its place amongst the kingdoms of the world. The arrival of the light  of this Kingdom – the Great Light of Galilee – brings hope and gladness to all those who live “in the land of the shadow of death.”   Continue reading

The Second Sunday After Epiphany: THE GATHERING OF DISCIPLES

THEIR EYES WERE OPENED: THE GATHERING OF DISCIPLES

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

January 15, 2017

Lections Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42

 

We want to be with Jesus.  Our hearts long to be in the presence of God, and our longing is no stranger to creation.

The Baptist, in today’s Gospel reading from John, identifies Jesus as the Messiah; that is, the Baptist recognizes the Anointed One, not from previous encounters, but from prophesy.  This doesn’t mean John hasn’t played, as a child, with Jesus; we gather from Mary’s visit to Elizabeth he has.  Rather, the Baptist is acknowledging the sacred role of Scripture and its treasury of Wisdom. All of Israel longed for the Messiah, but who he was and when he would appear was shrouded in the mystery of divine promise. On the banks of the Jordon, at his appearance, the Baptist points to Jesus as he is first revealed: in Scripture.  Only then does the Holy Spirit descend from the heavens and alight on the shoulder of Jesus, identifying him as “God with us,” so we can come to know God through experience.  The expectations of the Divine promise to Israel is fulfilled and the mystery of God’s Chosen One revealed.  We are brought “with the whole of creation” to the glory of God, “hidden through past ages and made known in Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Still, experience has limits.  As Tim Hughes sings in this morning praise song, “I’ll never know how much it cost/to see my sin upon that cross.” The cost of what God does for us is why we worship and bow down to him; the cost of what God does for us makes him “all together worthy, all together lovely, altogether wonderful” to us. The greatness of our Lord is the greatness of his love and mercy.   Continue reading

January 8, 2017
: THE PRESENCE OF GOD

An Epiphany Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

Lections Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17

 

Today we hear the familiar story of the Three Kings from the Orient who followed a star to Bethlehem, to be in the presence of God and make an offering of their gifts. Sometimes these travelers are called Wise Men, and their Wisdom explains the joy they experience.  When we follow their lead, where do we go to be in the presence of God? What offerings do we bring with us?  And do we share the joy the Wise Men felt, at seeing God?

I have been told that Christians endlessly repeat unpersuasive accounts of their faith; innovation is wanted, to engage the mind.  Keeping in mind our three questions, I will try to address this objection.   Continue reading

January 1, 2017: The Holy Name

An Eighth Day Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

January 1, 2017

Lections Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 8; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:15-21

 

“that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,

of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that

Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.”

-Philippians 2:10-11

 

 

We begin with a question: what lies in a name?  The Anglican and Methodist churches set aside the eighth day after Christmas to celebrate the Holy Name of Our Lord: Jesus, “the name given by the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.” Just as Christians are given a name when they are baptized, Jewish males were named on the day they were circumcised, for names were regarded as signs that pointed at a person’s significance in sacred history.   The name Jesus signified the fulfillment of the expectation of the Annunciation. The words for the Troparion, or Hymn for the Day, sung in the Orthodox Church, say: “Enthroned on high with the Eternal Father and Your Divine Spirit, / O Jesus, You willed to be born on earth of the unwedded handmaid, your Mother. / Therefore You were circumcised as an eight-day old Child. / Glory to Your most gracious counsel; / glory to Your dispensation; / glory to Your condescension, O only Lover of mankind.”  Several strands of the meaning given to the Holy Name of Jesus are mentioned in this hymn.   Continue reading

December 24, 2016: THE HOLY FAMILY

A Christmas Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

December 24, 2016

Lections Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 1:1-14

The extraordinary Nativity of the Christmas story is set by the church in the familiar experience of family life.   We easily picture Bethlehem, a small town along the road, where a young woman and an older man arrive on foot at dusk, planning to stay the night at an inn.  Instead, we go with them out to the barn and breathe in its smells, as the woman is made comfortable on a bedding of hay, and a midwife arrives to deliver her baby.  We hear the noisy animals being watered and fed and the chatter of the day laborers who took care of them and stop to admire the newborn child.  We feel the cold and want to hold the child in our arms.  Outside, the night’s darkness is brightened by countless stars in the sky.    Continue reading