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Sermon Archive 2017

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Live Into Hope

preachingthecrowdIsaiah 58: 1-12
Matthew 5: 13-16
Introduction to the reading
This passage from the prophet Isaiah is consistent with the concern for social justice that characterizes all the prophetic writings.  Isaiah warns the religiously observant in Israel not to fall into the trap of allowing the form and ritual of religion to substitute for the substance of it, that is the humble service to those in need, which is what God desires from a people who call themselves righteous.

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Blessed Are You

beatitudesMatthew 5: 1-12
Introduction to the reading
Our reading this morning is the beginning of what is known as the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus goes up on the mountain to teach the law, as Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to receive God’s Law, the Ten Commandments. 

The Beatitudes are some of the most beautiful, comforting and hopeful passages in holy Scripture – and yet some of the most challenging as well.  They clearly declare that circumstances people naturally see as unfortunate are nonetheless genuinely fortunate in the truest sense.  At the same time, the Beatitudes confirm the blessing of God’s presence with those who live in humility, mercy, righteousness and peacemaking.

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Staying the Course

fishersofmen4Matthew 4: 12-25
1 Corinthians 1: 10-18

Introduction to the reading
This week’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew seems to be a repeat of last week’s reading from the Gospel of John – the calling of the first disciples, Simon Peter and Andrew.

But each Gospel tells the story of Jesus in a slightly different way, with a different emphasis and toward a different audience.  John tends to focus more on the divinity, the holiness and the spiritual being of Jesus.  Last week, Peter and Andrew recognized the truth of John’s proclamation, “Behold the Lamb of God”.  They knew Jesus was the promised Messiah.

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Vision and Pathway

comeandseeJohn 1: 35-42
Introduction to the reading
Last week we read the passage from Chapter 3 of the Gospel of Matthew relating the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by his relative (his cousin?) John.  This baptism, I noted, serves to identify Jesus as the Son of God, to bless him and to commission him to proclaim God’s message of love, forgiveness, reconciliation and hope.  

John, the Baptizer, is a major character in today’s reading as well, from the Gospel of John.  Just prior, he has declared of Jesus:  “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! … I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.”  John also testifies to having seen the Holy Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and resting upon Jesus.  “And I myself have seen,” he says, “and testified that this Jesus is the Son of God.”

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voiceofgod1Matthew 3: 12-17
Isaiah 42: 1-9

Introduction to the reading
Time moves quickly.  Jesus, now grown, has not yet begun his ministry.  Two events happen first:  1) Jesus is baptized and 2) Jesus is tempted by the devil in the wilderness.  In the passage for today, Matthew recounts the first event, the baptism.  

Note:  to fulfill all righteousness – that is, to let things happen according to God’s plan and purposes for the world.  The appearance, then, of the dove descending from heaven demonstrates that Jesus’ essential and true identity is inextricably tied to the activity of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence in and for the world.

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After Christmas

threemagiMatthew 2: 1-12 and 13-23
Introduction to the reading

The Christmas pageant tableau is now complete; the three Wise Men have arrived at the stable in Bethlehem.  How that came about was our first reading for today, Matthew 2: 1-12.  In Church tradition, the visit of the Magi is called the Epiphany, the revelation of God incarnate to the Gentiles and thence to the whole world beyond Israel, and celebrated on January 6, twelve days after Christmas.  

The Magi were about as distant from Judaism as possible, both geographically and theologically, but they were the ones who recognized that the newborn Jesus was truly Immanuel, God with us.  Their arrival seems to be the fulfillment of the poetic prophecy of Isaiah...

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khenryRev. Kathryn Henry
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