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Thread: 4th Sunday in Lent

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    High Priestess of the Pot Stirrers ke7ejx's Avatar
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    4th Sunday in Lent

    I'm preaching at my church this Sunday. I thought I'd post my sermon. What do you think?

    Grace and peace to you. Or in the Greek- χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη. I say this because I hope you will remember the love and grace that God gives us through his son, Jesus Christ. We are well into the Lenten season-27 days, if you donít count Sundays and I hope your cravings havenít been too bad. The season of Lent is a wonderful time of year- we get to reflect on the fact that even our Lord faced temptations.

    It is also a time of deep repentance where we reflect on our own weaknesses, shortcomings, and temptations. We often give up favorite foods, drinks, activities, or leisure that we deeply enjoy, sometimes because itís a stumbling block, other times because we tend to take that thing for granted. As with Christ, we are fasting. We are also taking a personal inventory concerning our walks as followers of Christ. Are we acting as we should? Are we reaching out to who we should? Are we living out our faith as we should? These are serious yet appropriate questions to be asking any time of year but even more so this time of year. However, there is also a great risk, especially if we find ourselves wanting. It is then when we tend to be at our most vulnerable and Satan loves that, and he will wait for the perfect moment to strike. He will fill our heads with reminders of our sins and vices to remind us that we are unworthy. He pulls us into the darkness, so he can extinguish Godís light within us by inspiring us to feel depression, anger, and even in severe cases- self-loathing.

    It is during such an attack that God shows His most tender mercies. The word grace is often interpreted in a variety of ways, but I would like to boil it down two simple words- mercy and love. As Ephesians 2: 4-5 says: But God who is rich in mercy, out of great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

    If anyone knew what grace was, it was the man who wrote these beautiful words. They are the words of someone we once knew as Saul of Tarsus. The man who rounded up men, women, and children who believed in Christ and dragged them back to Jerusalem for a summary or kangaroo trial and immediate execution. This was the man who even at his darkest moment experienced the love and mercy of God.

    When he was on his way to Damascus, grace found him. He saw the Jesus of Nazareth who he until that moment had despised. Jesus asked him the simple question- ďSaul, Saul why do you persecute me?Ē before blinding him. But He didnít abandon Saul, He made sure that Saul could find his way to where he needed to go. As we know, this man would later become Paul and he eventually became a light to many while preaching of the grace that found him on the road to Damascus. In his first letter to Timothy, he wrote: ďI am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersóof whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life.Ē

    A blasphemer, a persecutor, a man of violence, the worst of all sinners. These are the words Paul used to describe Saul-his former self. If you think about it, this sort of thing goes straight to the modus operandi of Christ. He would reach out to those who society had determined were the worst of them.

    He reached out to Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector of great wealth and short stature. Who climbed up a tree, not only because he wouldnít be able to see Jesus from the back of the crowd, but because he felt unworthy. He wasnít an accepted member of society and his heart was full of all the reasons he wasnít worthy to be in the presence of the Messiah. However, Jesus looked up and saw him hiding in the branches and asked him to get out of that tree, so Jesus could go to Zacchaeusí house and dine with him. I donít know about you, but I can imagine the joy Zacchaeus felt at those words. I imagine him scrambling out of that tree as fast as possible, perhaps even falling out of the tree in his haste so he could accept the call of Christ. That moment of grace changed Zacchaeus and he lived a completely different life because of it.

    He reached out to a woman who had to draw her water in the heat of day because her village rejected her as an outcast. She lived a sinful life, she had been married and divorced many times and was even sleeping with a man who wasnít her husband. She was met with hate and condemnation wherever she went. Then when she was in the hot sun, drenched with sweat and trying to draw water, a man asked her for a drink of water. She in surprise asked him why he would ask her when a woman like she was shunned both for her race and for her lifestyle. But Jesus knew all of that, he even gently brought up her sexual immorality. He didnít condone her past actions, but he embraced her where she was and offered her something better.

    Grace is just that. Being met where we are and being loved. Jesus didnít reach out his hand to people when they were at their best. He loved them when they were at their worst. Grace doesnít come from works, as Paul wrote to the parish of Ephesus. It comes from the love of God who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. John 3:16 is a passage most Christians are familiar with, itís usually the first piece of scripture we memorize but its message has depth. God loves us so much, he sent his only son, who was without fault, to die for us. Jesus wasnít sent to condemn the world, but to save it when it is at its worst.

    What do we have to do to experience that life changing and life saving miracle? Verse 16 gives us the answer- everyone who believes in Christ. We donít have to be perfect, we donít have to have our lives figured out, we just have to believe in Christ and accept the sacrifice he made. We must reach out to him in our darkest hour, even as Satan fills our head and heart with all the reasons we are unworthy and believe in He who offers us love and mercy.

    During this Lenten season, some you might be where Saul, Zacchaeus, and the Samaritan woman were. You might be sitting in this room right now being reminded of what is lacking in you. If you are, I understand. I am often there myself. Last Lent, I was at my lowest and felt as disconnected from God as I could get. I felt that despair and self-loathing that many of us experience at some point in our repentance. My Damascus road ended with a simple and beautiful moment of grace. When I went to the Easter mass last spring, I felt filthy and unworthy because I was listening to the voice of the enemy. In my darkness, our Savior reached out to me through Fr. Bingham. As I made my way to the altar during Eucharist I mouthed to Fr. Bingham, asking if I should even take Eucharist. He gave me a look before pulling the host of its box and held it to where the edge was pressed against my forehead. He then gave me the blessing- "The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven for you" For you. He put a lot of emphasis on those two words. Then he placed the host in my hand and told me to eat it. It was a moment that took a few seconds, but I walked away from that Eucharist feeling loved, beautiful, and forgiven. It changed me forever.

    In a few minutes, it will be time for the Eucharist. Some of you might be on your Damascus road right now. Some of you might be struggling with depression, a vice that causes you stumble, sexual immorality, dishonesty, any sort of sin that Satan is taking pleasure in reminding you. You might have walked in here today wondering why you came when there is sin in your life. I ask you, I beg you, to remember the reason why we take the Eucharist. It is the body of Christ broken for you. It is the blood of Christ shed for you. It is the bread and wine of heaven for you. It is the celebration of the love and tender mercy that God feels and gives to you. If you believe in Christ, accept that sacrifice He made for you. Lent isnít just a time of fasting and repentance, it is a celebration of the love and mercy that is manifested in Christ Jesus. God loved us so much that He gave up His only begotten son and all we have to do to experience that love is to accept and to believe.
    I am Punkinhead.

    "I have missed you, Oh Grand High Priestess of the Order of the Stirring Pot"

    ~ Cow Poke aka CP aka Creacher aka ke7ejx's apprentice....

  2. Amen Sparko amen'd this post.
  3. #2
    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Very nice!

  4. Amen ke7ejx amen'd this post.
  5. #3
    High Priestess of the Pot Stirrers ke7ejx's Avatar
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    29101928_10155453556447399_8765756581569626112_o.jpg

    I did a thing and it went well! Congregation told Rector he better make me a regular. I had a lot of people approach me and tell me what my sermon meant to them. I'm definitely on Cloud 9 right now. Enclosing latest copy of sermon.


    Grace and peace to you. Or in the Greek- χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη. I say this because I hope you will remember the love and grace that God gives us through his son, Jesus Christ. We are well into the Lenten season-27 days, if you donít count Sundays and I hope your cravings havenít been too bad. The season of Lent is a wonderful time of year- we get to reflect on the fact that even our Lord faced temptations.

    It is also a time of deep repentance where we reflect on our own weaknesses, shortcomings, and temptations. We often give up favorite foods, drinks, activities, or leisure that we deeply enjoy, sometimes because itís a stumbling block, other times because we tend to take that thing for granted. As with Christ, we are fasting. We are also taking a personal inventory concerning our walks as followers of Christ. Are we acting as we should? Are we reaching out to who we should? Are we living out our faith as we should? These are serious yet appropriate questions to be asking any time of year but even more so this time of year. However, there is also a great risk, especially if we find ourselves wanting. It is then when we tend to be at our most vulnerable and Satan loves that, and he will wait for the perfect moment to strike. He will fill our heads with reminders of our sins and vices to remind us that we are unworthy. He pulls us into the darkness, so he can extinguish Godís light within us by inspiring us to feel depression, anger, and even in severe cases- self-loathing.

    It is during such an attack that God shows His most tender mercies. The word grace is often interpreted in a variety of ways, but I would like to boil it down two simple words- mercy and love. As our Epistle reading Ephesians 2: 4-5 says: But God who is rich in mercy, out of great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

    If anyone knew what grace was, it was the man who wrote these beautiful words. They are the words of someone we once knew as Saul of Tarsus. The man who rounded up men, women, and children who believed in Christ and dragged them back to Jerusalem for a summary or kangaroo trial and immediate execution. This was the man who even at his darkest moment experienced the love and mercy of God. When he was on his way to Damascus, grace found him. He saw the Jesus of Nazareth who he until that moment had despised. Jesus asked him the simple question- ďSaul, Saul why do you persecute me?Ē before blinding him. But He didnít abandon Saul, He made sure that Saul could find his way to where he needed to go. As we know, this man would later become Paul and he eventually became a light to many while preaching of the grace that found him on the road to Damascus. In his first letter to Timothy, he wrote: ďI am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

    A blasphemer, a persecutor, a man of violence, the worst of all sinners. These are the words Paul used to describe Saul-his former self. If you think about it, this sort of thing goes straight to the modus operandi of Christ. He would reach out to those who society had determined were the worst of them.
    He reached out to Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector of great wealth and short stature. Who climbed up a tree, not only because he wouldnít be able to see Jesus from the back of the crowd, but because he felt unworthy. He wasnít an accepted member of society and his heart was full of all the reasons he wasnít worthy to be in the presence of the Messiah. However, Jesus looked up and saw him hiding in the branches and asked him to get out of that tree, so Jesus could go to Zacchaeusí house and dine with him. That moment of grace changed Zacchaeus and he lived a completely different life because of it.
    He reached out to a woman who had to draw her water in the heat of day because her village rejected her as an outcast. She lived a sinful life, she was even living with a man who wasnít her husband. But Jesus knew all of that, he even gently brought up her sexual immorality and didnít condemn. He didnít condone her past actions, but he embraced her where she was and offered her something better.

    Grace is just that. Being met where we are and being loved. Jesus didnít reach out his hand to people when they were at their best. He loved them when they were at their worst. Grace doesnít come from works, as Paul wrote to the parish of Ephesus. It comes from the love of God who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. John 3:16 from our Gospel reading is a passage most Christians are familiar with, itís usually the first piece of scripture we memorize but its message has depth. God loves us so much, he sent his only son, who was without fault, to die for us. Jesus wasnít sent to condemn the world, but to save it when it is at its worst.

    During this Lenten season, some you might be where Saul, Zacchaeus, and the Samaritan woman were. You might be sitting in this room right now being reminded of what is lacking in you. I am often there myself. Last Lent, I was at my lowest and felt as disconnected from God as I could get. I felt that despair and self-loathing that many of us experience at some point in our lives. My Damascus road ended with a simple and beautiful moment of grace. When I went to the Easter mass last spring, I felt filthy and unworthy because I was listening to the voice of the enemy. In my darkness, our Savior reached out to me through Fr. Bingham. As I made my way to the altar during Eucharist I mouthed to Fr. Bingham, asking if I should even take Eucharist. He gave me a look before pulling the wafer out of its box. He then gave it me and gave me the blessing- "The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven for you" For you. He put a lot of emphasis on those two words. Then he placed the wafer in my hand and told me to eat it. It was a moment that took a few seconds, but I walked away from that Eucharist feeling loved, beautiful, and forgiven. It changed me forever.

    In a few minutes, it will be time for the Eucharist. Some of you might be on your Damascus road right now. Some of you might be struggling with something dark in your life. You might have walked in here today wondering why you came when there is despair in your life. I ask you, I beg you, to remember the reason why we take the Eucharist. It is the body of Christ broken for you. It is the blood of Christ shed for you. It is the bread and wine of heaven for you. It is the celebration of the love and tender mercy that God feels and gives to you. Lent isnít just a time of fasting and repentance, it is a celebration of the love and mercy that is manifested in Christ Jesus. God loved us so much that He gave up His only begotten son and that through Him we experience love and grace.
    I am Punkinhead.

    "I have missed you, Oh Grand High Priestess of the Order of the Stirring Pot"

    ~ Cow Poke aka CP aka Creacher aka ke7ejx's apprentice....

  6. Amen Celebrian, rogue06, One Bad Pig amen'd this post.
  7. #4
    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Congrats. I knew you could do it!

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