Author Topic: 2 sermons  (Read 7912 times)


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2 sermons
« on: March 03, 2016, 11:47:46 PM »
The first was for the small congregation in Yeoval on the 21st of February and the second a week later for another small congregation in Molong. They referred to the lectionary readings for Lent 2C and 3C respectively.


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Re: 2 sermons
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2016, 11:50:07 PM »
Yeoval SERMON 1:
Luke introduces us to this Herod back in Luke 9:7-9. At that point, Jesus had sent out the twelve to practice their ministry. This had further spread Jesus' reputation - right up to the King's ears. …
Chapter 9 of Luke then continues with the feeding of 5,000 men plus women and children; the declaration by Peter that the disciples say he, Jesus, is the Messiah; Jesus saying they are now headed to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will undergo great suffering, be killed, and on the third day be raised; and the story of the Transfiguration, Luke 9:28-36; etc. The following chapters continue to heighten the tension between Jesus and the religious authorities.
David Ewart,
This morning we read
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”
Did you wonder as that was read ‘why the Pharisees? Weren’t they so often out to trap Jesus and bring his teaching undone?’
How come they do this?
Turns out that as far as the Pharisees are concerned anyone who is an enemy of my enemy is a friend. That is, the Pharisees are also opposed to Herod - though for different reasons and using different tactics. But in the world of "Who's side are you on?" the Pharisees regard Jesus as on their side as far as Herod goes.

32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work.”

From Kerrie’s sermon:
As the Holy Spirit led the inspired authors of the Bible to write, they were also led to fill the pages of the Bible with vibrant images drawn from the culture, natural history, and landscape around them.

Using such vivid imagery as looms, donkeys, water cisterns, grapes, sackcloth, and shepherds, makes what they say both more beautiful and more memorable.

These images stimulate our imagination, animate our interest, and make the abstract clearer.

In short, the biblical authors used the reality around them to enhance the rhetorical impact of what they wrote.

Unfortunately the full impact of this imagery can be lost on modern readers.
Just as the ancients knew nothing of iPhones and aeroplanes, modern readers are likely to know next to nothing about threshing sledges and desert locusts.

What is more, we are in the dark about the connotations that attend such cultural images.

What habits of the fox distinguished it from other predators? ...

The biblical authors knew the answers to such questions and presumed their readers did as well.

To the degree that we have lost touch with the culture, natural history, and landscape of Bible times and we will some of what God wishes to share with us in this word.

.. At times the connotation of a familiar image may solicit exactly the opposite response
from us than it did for the ancients..
( if you take time)…
to learn about ancient culture, you will learn why Jesus called Herod a fox.....

OK - So we’re taking the time.

We find: There were two Hebraic meanings for the word fox:

The first: the implication of “fox” as a crafty animal.

The second, and more important for our understanding of Jesus’ words: ‘A very common use of “fox” in Hebrew is that:  Lions and foxes can be contrasted with each other to represent the difference between great men and inferior men.

The great men are called “lions,” and the lesser men are called “foxes.” ‘

The word “fox” can also have moral connotations, as a saying demonstrates: “Be a tail to lions rather than a head to foxes.”

This saying could be paraphrased, “It is better to be someone of low rank among those who are morally and spiritually your superiors than someone of high rank among scoundrels.”

The phrase, “And infants will rule over them,” from the list of curses in Isaiah 3:1-7 to be visited upon Jerusalem and Judah, is interpreted by the Babylonian Talmud
as follows: “[Infants means] foxes, sons of foxes.”[7]

In this interpretation, “fox” not only assumes the nuance of moral depravity, but also, through the verb “rule,” is linked to kingly reign

 Thus, “foxes, sons of foxes” means “worthless, degenerate rulers who are the descendants of worthless, degenerate rulers.”

Jesus called Herod a fox.
Jesus’ response challenged any plans by Herod of killing him: “Tell Herod I’ve got work to do first.”

Jesus was not implying that Herod was sly, rather he was commenting on Herod’s ineptitude, or inability, to carry out his threat.

Jesus questioned Herod’s pedigree, moral stature and leadership, and put the tetrarch “in his place.”

This exactly fits the second rabbinic usage of “fox.”

When Jesus labelled Herod a fox, Jesus implied that Herod was not a lion.

Herod considered himself a lion, but Jesus pointed out that Herod was the opposite of a lion.

Watching Jesus from the transfiguration of we cannot help but admire the steadfast courage that He displays in moving forward to Jerusalem and the cross on behalf of the world God loves so much.

What strikes us, is the absolutely critical role that vulnerability plays in this kind of courage.

Anticipating the challenge and suffering and not looking away Jesus is making himself vulnerable for the sake of others. And that, I think, is important to note.

Because as a culture, we don’t often equate vulnerability with courage and strength. With care, love, and concern, perhaps yes, but not often with courage and strength.

At our worst, we see vulnerability as a sign of weakness, something to be avoided at all costs. Hence political candidates not only avoid any level of profound candour, let alone vulnerability, but increasingly seem to be rewarded by behaviour we would label blustering and bullying. I see the contrast so well exemplified by the ongoing stoush between Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

At our best, we recognize the need to be vulnerable to those we care about most deeply. But we don’t often see vulnerability as essential to living a courageous life.

And yet in this passage I think that Jesus demonstrates that vulnerability is essential to courage, stands at the core of the Christian life, and invites us to discover the peculiar strength of being open to the needs of those around us.

Adapted from ‘In the Meantime’ - David
In this passage, Jesus chooses the image of a hen gathering her brood of chicks to her for protection and safety to illustrate his love and concern for God’s people. Beyond the provocative feminine imagery that invites re-imagining some of our views of God it’s also an image of unparalleled vulnerability.

What hope does a hen have – what hope do the chickens have? And yet the chicken’s only hope is the hen.

Jesus’ choice of this image helps us realize that it is our vulnerability that spurs our courage and nourishes our strength simply because you can and will do things for those you love that you simply would not or could not do for yourself. And so Jesus continues on to Jerusalem not to prove himself fearless or a hero, not to make a sacrifice for sin to a judgemental God, not even to combat death and the devil. Rather, Jesus marches to Jerusalem and embraces the cross that awaits him there out of profound love for the people around him, like a mother’s fierce love that will stop at nothing to protect her children.

This brings me to the other pictures on the sheets this morning.

There are people, Uniting Church people, who are putting the church on the line while acting for the vulnerable – Now I am not sure how you feel about that – I really have trouble with how I feel too.

The gospel is not only about the cup of water given in the name of the Lord or binding up the wounds of the fallen; it is also about conquest over the powers of this world. There are battles to be won and in the end Christ will be seen to be the victor. Those who, like the editorial writers for some of our leading newspapers, would relegate the church to the role of the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff when a fence needs to be built at the top are taking the side of the enemies of the cross of Christ. Wherever there is injustice, proclamation of the Gospel will inevitably bring Christians into conflict with the powers that be.

I cannot preach – I’d go so far as to say I am not showing that profound candour so desperately lacking in political candidates, but I’d like to briefly explore some of the reasoning that some of those who I respect and count as friends will cite as they take part in civil disobedience or act in defiance of the Law in the name of the Uniting Church. Whether it is concern for the environment, refugees, political prisoners, war, slavery, wage justice, ethical trading and … it is a long list.

Firstly; WWJD – What would Jesus do?

Second; They say ‘If we don’t who will?’

Third; they see this as critically important both in the short term for those downtrodden, abused, degraded, abandoned and forgotten and in the long term for the future of all mankind.

Forth; For evil to exist it is only necessary for good people to do nothing.

Well it could be a long list as well.

Personally – I cannot do these things – I’m more the ‘everything in order and decorum’ we see as we unpack Paul’s letter to the Corinthians for instance – I inwardly groan when I see things which may make people think less of the Uniting Church – but at the same time I have a great respect for those who stand up to the foxes of the world.

What can we do in Yeoval –
Do we march in protest against amalgamation?
Do we head to parliament house in Sydney and occupy a politician’s office to stop the sell off of … whatever is on the auction block?
Could we quietly correct someone when they say loudly that refugees/immigrants should go back where they came from – telling them that perhaps where they came from isn’t there any more – it has been bombed out of existence? Could we remember that Jesus was a refugee too?

What if the Coal seam gas company wanted to mine in Yeoval? Who would stand up? WWJD?

The word Courage comes from the Latin cor – “heart” – and defines courage as living from the heart.

Christian courage, then, might be the kind of whole-hearted living that comes from believing that as God’s children we are sufficient for the task and that those around us are also God’s beloved children and therefore deserve our love, empathy, and respect.

Jesus invites us to be who we are called to be for the sake of those around us? 

What sort of community could be built on such a foundation?

And just a reminder; As we heard from Paul: (Philippians 3:21)- Jesus wields 
“the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.


Regular Funwriters may see that part of this was written by Kerrie (another sermon on the same readings for the same day - we are busy sometimes)
« Last Edit: March 04, 2016, 07:21:23 PM by Fat »


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Re: 2 sermons
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2016, 11:52:36 PM »
Molong SERMON 2:
You all know of the story of Job—perhaps the oldest book of the bible.
He is a prosperous and devout man and suddenly his family, his wealth, his health are all taken from him.
Poor Job is reduced to sitting on the rubbish tip scraping at his sores with a bit of broken pottery—outcast from society because of his unclean skin disease and once the top of society he is now lower than low.
His three friends decide to visit him and he is in such a bad state they tear their clothes and sit silently with him for seven days and seven nights.
Finally his friend Eliphas summons up some words and says/blurts “God doesn’t punish the innocent—You must have done something really bad”

It was a basic tenet of life—if you be good God will reward you—if you be bad God will punish you. God’s lecture to the ‘friends’ in Job’s story refutes this whole way of reasoning and yet some 1800 years later, in Jesus time, they still hadn’t ‘got’ the message. Almost 4000 years on and you still can hear this prosperity doctrine on your TV or shouted and spouted from pulpits—your health and wealth depends on your piety.

The alternate is also heard—if you do not prosper it means that you are not in step with God.

There is a man born blind (you can read about this in John Chapter 9) and the disciples ask ‘Who sinned that this might happen?’
Jesus reply -’No-one sinned’

And yet we have probably even heard these words escape from our own lips during some time of trauma. “What did I do to deserve this?”

We love to cast God (or Karma or whatever) in the smiting role—looking down and punishing our misdemeanours… or even hoping that the transgressions of others will be generously rewarded.

Putting self inflicted consequences aside—I would say that we all know of cases where innocent people cop terrible things.

A child is born disabled, an earthquake or a Tsunami or a fire takes thousands of lives.
Who sinned that this might happen?’
Jesus reply -’No-one sinned’

So while Jesus is teaching, some people come to him and tell him of Pilate’s actions in sending soldiers, invading the temple and killing worshippers such that their blood is mixed with the blood of the sacrifices on the temple floor.

Now remember that the religious establishment is looking to trap Jesus in his words and there could be political ramifications—the temple in question was not ‘the’ temple in Jerusalem—perhaps these Galileans were part of some sub group—perhaps subversive—perhaps they’d deserved what they got.

Jesus turned the question into a teaching opportunity. He asked them,
“Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.”

Jesus now grabs another recent event—one which doesn’t seem to be recorded elsewhere but well known to his audience.
4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Both times he emphasises the fact that they were no different / no worse than any other folk. Then he seems to contradict his words—and this is ammunition for every fire and brimstone preacher who ever was—both times he adds—this is verses 3 and 5—”No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Perhaps it would be good to look at this word repent—it is a Latin word we use in place of the Greek. The Greek Luke uses here is: μετανοέω
Phonetic Spelling: (met-an-o-eh'-o)

You would be already familiar with a Greek word with the prefix "meta".  
That word is "metamorphosis". 

"Meta" means "change", and "morphosis" means "form or structure". 

3340 metanoéō (from 3326 /metá, "changed after being with" and 3539 /noiéō, "think") – properly, "think differently after," "after a change of mind"; to repent (literally, "think differently afterwards").

Repenting, not the Latin word which seems to have been reused slightly differently to it’s original meaning, but for us, should mean a change of heart regarding sin—not so much turning away from sin but agreeing with God about the nature of it. Strong’s Greek says Luke uses μετανοέω in saying “change one's mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins: ”

In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38).

Repent from what? 

Well you see—it isn’t ‘from’ - it is ‘to’.

Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Saviour.

It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. It’s an attitude in which we accept salvation.

So here speaking to the crowd Jesus is following on from the previous chapter when he told them the parable of the rich fool:
“The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

He is saying then and here that “Unless you re-think what you are about—you will perish” without having done anything, without a thought about God.

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; …

I’m pretty sure if you are looking for the God figure in this parable it won’t be the landowner—I see it is God the original gardener. Looking for ways to get the best for and from every person—not writing off, but slow to anger and quick to give another chance.

It seems so easy to lose this message of God’s love in a world of knee-jerk reaction, hard nosed political high handedness at the top and self seeking, fulfilment deserving me me me advertising 20 minutes of each hour in our living rooms.

It seems too easy to forget the church’s mission to ‘feed my sheep’ when ‘protect the Church’ screams so loudly.

I look at the words of our Psalm and Isaiah speaking of God’s love and providence, Gods ever present help and protection—and the acceptance of those who turn to God.

How is it that we still hunger after that which does not satisfy?

And I cannot help but wonder if Paul really has it right as he writes to the Corinthian Church? He is speaking of the Israelites in the wilderness:
“God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down…6 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did.”

Sexual immorality “and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day”
“9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10 And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. ”

Sounds like a smiting God right there.

Sometimes I see stuff sincerely done in the name of Christ and wonder if he/she/they are reading the same gospel as I do—Paul seems a bit like that here.

And yet, as we read we see the Gardener, caring and looking for ways to bring out our best. Verse 13
“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”

I see the words but I will admit I haven’t got understanding them all together.

But I think I do understand the words from Isaiah though.
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;7 let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

Seems to grab those loose ends and give them direction—that God loves us and will abundantly pardon our muddled thinking.

Jesus said he came that we might have life in all it’s abundance—abundant pardon and abundant life—that might just be what really does satisfy.

Not just worth a thought but worth a re-think.



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Re: 2 sermons
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2016, 09:00:13 AM »
This was another good sermon, Don, and a good biblical definition of Fox in regard to Herod.

I agree as for as refugees are concerned, but with Isis and other radical organizations, it's hard to follow Jesus' teachings to the letter.



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Re: 2 sermons
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2016, 09:26:48 AM »
The second sermon was also good.



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Re: 2 sermons
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2016, 09:21:44 PM »
I agree about the refugee - in these days there is a need to check. I heard on radio one day a person saying 'if a person knocks on my door and asks for help I will do my utmost to help them but if they climb over my back fence then I would be questioning their motives.'

I realise many do not have a choice and have to leave everything and flee for their lives but at the same time there are others who do not. Difficult decisions in every way.

WWJD - I think he would be far more open than us.