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We are a Counter-Cultural People

The Fourth Sunday after Epiphany January 30, 2011
We are a Counter-Cultural People The Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess

I. Introduction: One Sunday morning recently, I passed by one of our ushers on my way to vest. He had a collection of bulletins in hand, ready to meet you as you entered the church. I was pleased to see him, and asked, “How are you this morning?” He replied, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” He shared this with a broad smile. “Too blessed to be stressed.” Little did he know that today I would begin my sermon with his words. Today Jesus is also speaking about blessing in his widely known “Sermon on the Mount,” a part of which is “The Beatitudes.”

II. Christians are called to be counter-cultural: The Reverend John Stott, one of the most highly respected Anglican thinkers of the 20th century, made an extraordinary claim about the Sermon on the Mount. He wrote: “The Sermon on the Mount is the most clear delineation anywhere in the New Testament of the Ch…

Drop Your Nets

The Rev. Amy Hodges Morehous
Epiphany 3, Year A
January 23, 2011
Church of the Ascension




It was an ordinary day for the fishermen beside the sea of Galilee. They were doing the same thing they had done hundreds, probably thousands of times. They were working. Fishing then was hard work - not something done for leisure, not lazily casting a line into the water and contemplating it for an afternoon. Imagine casting your net over and over, and hoping you would find something, then dragging it in over the side of the boat, wriggling and uncooperative, and onto the shore. As we know from the other gospels, sometimes it was an unfruitful day - the fishermen would cast their nets all day long, and become weary with failure. But in today’s gospel from Matthew, it was an ordinary day, no different from many others. Just Peter, Andrew, James, John and their father Zebedee, all occupied with their work.

Then Jesus approaches them, and in the blink of eye, this day which had been so unremarkable sudd…

Testify

The Second Sunday After Epiphany
John 1:29-42
Testify
“And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
He was not doing anything in particular when the small band of men began to approach. He was just simply walking, on his way to somewhere, a destination that he would unfortunately never reach. And as the men got closer, he knew that there was definitely going to be trouble. After pushing, insulting, and provoking him, the young men began to ask him questions including whether or not he was a Christian, and after bravely saying yes, they grabbed him and held him captive as they hurriedly built a fire. Finally, when the fire was raging, they once again asked the young man whether or not he was a Christian, and there, gazing into the wild flames, he mustered only a whisper, yes. Then, after severely burning him, the small band of men left him for dead on the edge of a desert in the Sudan.
He never did meet death though. In fact, it was just a few weeks late…

Good Lord, Show me the Way!

The Rev. Robert P. Travis
Church of the Ascension, Knoxville TN
1st Sunday of Epiphany
January 9, 2011 - 8:00 and 10:30am
RCL Year A Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Acts 10:34-43, Matthew 3:13-17

Sermon Text:
Some of you may remember
that last year a few of us gathered to perform the song
“Down in the River to Pray”
for our Sunday Worship.

That was a powerful moment for me here,
because it united my calling to be here as a priest,
to my calling to be a father.
You see, the last time I had performed that song in church,
was for the baptism of my first child,
my daughter Evangeline loved that song as an infant,
and so Jackie and I and two of our friends
sang it in four parts for her baptism service.
In case you don't remember,
it goes...
“As I went down in the River to Pray,
studyin' about that good old way,
and who shall wear the robe and crown,
good Lord show me the way.”

I was talking to Mary Lee this week about this gospel passage,
and she started right into that song,
and I knew I had to mention it in…

The Journey

Feast of the Epiphany January 5, 2011
The Journey The Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess

I. Introduction: The journey of the Three Kings is a familiar part of the Christmas story. It is told only in Matthew, which was originally written to a largely Jewish Christian audience. It is thought that the story makes it very clear that Jesus was not only a Jewish Messiah, but had come to save the entire world. We are not told who they were, where they came from, or what became of them after they saw and worshipped Jesus. Their cameo appearance emphasizes the journey they took, their gifts, Herod’s attempt to obstruct them, and their singular commitment to find and worship Jesus. Their journey was spiritual as well as physical.

II. The journey is one of the motifs, or repeated themes, used in Scripture to describe how human beings encounter and respond to God. Abraham took a long faith-based journey, as did Jacob, Moses, and later Paul and his missionary compa…