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The Word Became Flesh ~ OMG!

The Rev. Robert P. Travis
Christmas 1 - Year A RCL
Episcopal Church of the Ascension
December 26, 2010 8 and 10:30am
Isaiah 61:10-62:3 and John 1:1-18

Sermon Text:
“And the word became flesh and lived among us.”

My daughters like to cuddle,
in case you don't know them,
they are 6 and 4 and ¾.
Annalise, is 4 and ¾ and she will tell you that.
She has liked cuddling ever since she was a baby.
I remember when my dad held her
in her early months of life.
As a newborn she laid her head down on his shoulder,
and he said, “Aw, she cuddles!”

She has a bed full of cuddle toys,
but Annalise has been known to say
that she needed a special cuddle toy
or else she could not go to sleep.
So it struck me as a pure expression of love,
this week, when Annalise told me this about God.

She said, “God is a great big cuddle toy
who all the children of the world can cuddle at once.
He cuddles with us every night,
even though we can't see him.”

She said that to me with the confidence
of a biblical truth.
She knows it to be tr…

God Is With Us

The Rev. Amy Morehous
Advent 4, Year A
Church of the Ascension
December 19, 2010


Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
show us the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.


Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking
I may be rushing things but deck the halls again now

For I've grown a little leaner, grown a little colder
Grown a little sadder, grown a little older
And I need a little angel sitting on my shoulder
Need a little Christmas now

For we need a little music, need a little laughter,
need a little singing ringing through the rafter
and we need a little snappy, happy ever after
We need a little Christmas now!

Most of us have probably heard this song - probably sung in a snappy, peppy tempo, with lots of accompanying strings and jingle bells, and a breathless chorus of voices. I have to confess that I’m normally a terrible Episcopalian. I love Christmas carols, and I sing them in my car usually from Thanksgiving, until Christmas. But I have to confe…
Advent 2, Year A December 5, 2010
Twists and Turns The Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess

I. Introduction: The season of Advent twists and turns. These twists and turns produce a certain tension in our spiritual lives. At one moment in time we are moved by the wonder and great mystery of Advent, while at other times we are beset by distractions, disruptions, and delays. Which is it going to be – the disturbances or the divine presence of God in the Incarnation? The lectionary designers seem to be communicating the same kind of tension in the readings selected for today. For example, Isaiah wrote: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, and a branch will grow out of his roots . . . The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” This is the warm, loving picture we see on many of our Christmas cards – scenes of stillness and peac…

The Uniqueness of our Advent Hope

The Rev. Robert P. Travis
1st Sunday of Advent Sermon – 8:00 and 10:30am
Church of the Ascension, Knoxville TN
RCL Advent 1 Year A 11/28/2010
Text: Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44

The welcome we look forward to
In the prophecy of Isaiah is fantastic!
People of all nations will stream
to the mountain of the Lord
like a river in the Smokey Mountains
Pouring over and around the rocks and other obstacles
Streaming into that holy city
Where all will be made new.

Some would find it scandalous,
That people of such diversity would all be welcomed,
Into the city of God.

And many who come shall say
“come let us go up to the mountain
of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths."
They’re not inviting us to go up there
So that we can be judged by human standards
Or where we will discover that we had it right all along
It is a place where we can learn to walk in his paths.
But wait!
I thought that was what we are supposed to …

I Want to See Jesus

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost October 31, 2010
I Want to See Jesus The Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess

I. Introduction: First of all, I want to share with you how wonderful it is to be home at Ascension. We have missed you and have looked forward to telling you the story of our trip to Madagascar. Installment one begins this morning.

Many of you grew up with Zacchaeus, just as I did. Week after week in Sunday School, we sang about this little man who climbed up into a tree in order to see Jesus and wound up hosting him for dinner. In the Middle East, there is great importance placed upon sharing a meal together; therefore Jesus’ decision to invite himself to Zacchaeus’ home to share a meal had a great deal of positive meaning. Even the initial step that Jesus took to recognize Zacchaeus prompted Zacchaeus to make sweeping changes in his lifestyle. These changes were radical, but they began with the intention as small as it might be,…

Hold On

The Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 24 Year C Luke Luke 18:1-8
The Rev. Brett P. Backus
(The following is transcribed from a sermon given without a script and is not an exact copy.)

"And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?"

So in seminary there was this joke or play on words that students would say in times of high stress, when it was exam time or time to turn in a lot of papers. Instead of saying "it's time to go to the seminary," they would say, "it's time to go to the cemetery." What a great way to view your theological education! And I think that they had this joke because seminary is an intense place and in a way this saying held a lot of truth for them. Ironically, and surprisingly, this joke or play on words ended up ringing much more true for me than I ever would have expected. This is because I can honestly say that I have never felt so lost, in such a dark place spiritually, or so far away from God…

The Other Nine - Where are They?

Eighteenth Sunday after the Pentecost Sermon – 8:00 & 10:30
Text: Jeremiah 29:1,4-7, Psalm 66:1-11, 2 Timothy 8:8-15, Luke 17:11-19
Fr. Robert P. Travis

Well it's 10/10/10 today
a fact of which many of you are aware.
What is the significance?
Well, not much, as far as I'm concerned,
though it is neat that this only happens every hundred years.
I read somewhere that many churches have noticed,
that this happening on a Sunday will not happen
for another 400 years,
so they took that as a sign to preach
on the Ten Commandments.

We are bound, thankfully,
to a lectionary, so the odd date having spiritual significance
is not present in our readings today.
Or is it. . .

More significant to me,
in preparing to preach to you all today
was the fact that we are thinking about Stewardship now,
in fact,
some people have already turned in pledge cards
for 2011, though we're not asking you to do that,
until November 7th,
when we will present our pledges on the altar.

That fact made me question the …

Suffering - October 3rd Sermon

Copies of Amy Morehouses' sermon from 10/3 are available from her on request. Email requests to deaconamy@knoxvilleascension.org .

Loving Unchosen Neighbors

The Rev. Robert P. Travis
Eighteenth Sunday after the Pentecost – 8:00 & 10:30
RCL Proper 21 Year C 9/26/2010

1.Text: Jeremiah 32:1-3a,6-15, Psalm 91:1-6,14-16, 1 Timothy 6:6-19, Luke 16:19-31

I was going through my old sermons
and I discovered that the very first
sermon I wrote in Seminary,
was on this same Gospel pericope
we heard today.
I read through that sermon and found some good parts
for today.
But a great deal of the text was disappointing
to me, because it showed me
how immature I was then,
and especially that I had a sort of chip
on my shoulder about wealthy people.
I was fresh out of my experience as a youth minister
at an Episcopal Church on the Northshore of Long Island,
commonly called the Gold Coast of Long Island.
Some of the wealthiest people in the world
live in that town.
You couldn't buy a house, not even a shack,
for less than $600,000.
Parents would commonly buy $80,000 Lexuses
for their children when they turned 16.
And yet, at the Episcopal Church where I worshipped
and serve…

Giving Ourselves to God

Proper 20 Year C Luke 16:1-13
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 19th, 2010
Written by Fr. Brett Backus
Delivered at 8am by Fr. Brett, at 10:30am by Fr. Rob

Giving Ourselves to God

“For the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.”

Today's message is about Christian living.
It is about our very real need as Christians
to struggle constantly
with the giving over of ourselves to Christ
in order to make room for God in our hearts.

You know, one of my favorite things
about taking people on mission trips
is being provided with the opportunity
to witness the people we have taken
grow before our very eyes.
Being able to provide people with life altering experiences and having the chance to see
how each individual responds to challenges and changes
as a result of the various challenges that come along
with mission work is both a blessing and a privilege.
One of my favorite challenges,
which presented itself on both the…

The Joy of Repentance

Given at 8am Service
Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 19C
September 12, 2010 (Rally Day)
Luke 15:1-10
Fr. Rob Travis

How many of you have ever lost a sheep?

I know I haven't, so it's kind of hard
for me to appreciate the joy
that a shepherd would have,
if he went in search of a lost sheep
and found it.

But the losing money thing,
and finding it,
that makes sense to me,
as long as I realize that a silver coin,
back then, was worth a lot more
than a simple quarter today.
The most common silver coin
was the denarius,
which was what was typically
paid for a day's wage.

So let's say you lost a $100 bill.
I would certainly spend a while
searching for that,
and be pretty thrilled if I found it.

Or let’s take a more recent example,
say you lost a whole lot of money
in the stock market
your retirement savings,

wouldn’t you go about
doing everything you could,
to try to get that money back?
You might even neglect some things
that need your attention
in order to get back what you lost.

That’s t…

The Cost of Discipleship

Proper 18 Year C Luke 14:25-33
The Cost of Discipleship
The Rev. Brett P. Backus

“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple
if you do not give up all your possessions.”

Today's message is about the cost of discipleship. It is about learning to let go of all we love
in order to truly grasp Christ.

So, I had a very hard time preparing today's sermon, a harder time than normal actually. I spent the majority of this week racking my brains as to how to begin this sermon, torturing my poor pregnant wife by using her as a sounding board for my ideas, staring at my computer until my brain went numb, and roaming the halls of the church desperately trying to trick someone else into thinking it was their Sunday to preach (it almost worked on Deacon Amy, by the way). Then, in desperation, and because I could no longer stand the site of my office, I somehow found my way up to our labyrinth sometime late Thursday afternoon. It was there, walking the labyrinth, that I unexpectedly re…

Who is More Distinguished?

Proper 17 Year C
Hebrews 13:1-8,15-16, Luke 14:1,7-14
Fr. Robert P. Travis
Sermon Text:
How many of you know the name Karl Barth?
You may have heard of him, or you may not have,
as he is one of the most famous theologians of the 20th
Century.
He was a pastor, preacher and teacher from
Switzerland, who also taught at
the most highly regarded German Universities.
He lectured in this country at Princeton,
and the University of Chicago.

The majority of Barth’s life
was spent teaching and writing,
with some public lecturing and preaching.
His major writings include the commentary on Romans,
[and] Church Dogmatics (a multi–volume systematic theology of nearly seventy–five hundred pages...”
(Douglas, J. D., Comfort, P. W., & Mitchell, D. (1997, c1992). Who's who in Christian history. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.)

But in the last decade before he retired,
he also spent time preaching in his local prison.
I guess you could say he wanted a captive audience.

I'm going to tell you a story about Bar…