Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Sermons and Reflections

A Simple Prayer – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 20 August 2017

06d97850cf74e9bf37d2483b31f45896Today’s Sermon – A Simple Prayer

LESSONS:

First Lesson             Isaiah 56:1-8

Psalm                        Psalm 67

Second Lesson        Romans 11:13-24

Gospel                      Matthew 15:21-28

COLLECT: Keep your Church in safety, O Lord; for without your grace the frailty of our nature cannot but make us fall; but in your mercy keep us from all things hurtful, and lead us in all things profitable for our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Resting in God – Reflection for 20 August 2017

IMG_3224Isaiah calls all people to the Sabbath. The faithful, the eunuch, and the foreigner are equally instructed to keep the Sabbath and not profane it. The eunuch who has no legacy except his work is told that his legacy will be not in what he accomplishes in the court but rather in the house of the Lord. His meaningful “work” is in delighting in the Sabbath. The foreigner who has no past or inheritance, through the Sabbath, finds her place among the people of God. It is the Sabbath that brings all peoples together in a house of prayer.

The Sabbath in ancient times as well as today is inherently countercultural. I have far more things that I “need” to do than I can fit into seven days, much less trying to get everything done in six! Making time for Sabbath reorders our “needs.” If I am honest, I need to rest in God far more than anything else on my To Do list. The Sabbath reminds us that it is God’s grace not our efforts that supply our needs. Wayne Muller goes so far as to say, ““If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness becomes our Sabbath—our pneumonia, our cancer, our heart attack, our accidents create Sabbath for us.”

The Sabbath prepares us and restores us. In Creation, the first task for mankind was to rest with God. Adam and Eve were created at the end of the sixth day and joined God in resting on the seventh (Genesis 1:26-2:3). Jesus challenges the Pharisees who tried to make keeping Sabbath a punitive exercise of all the things that were forbidden by asking “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” (Matthew 12:10)

How will you find time for Sabbath? What will you find in your Sabbath? Will you find strength, healing, rest, encouragement, peace, or even more?

Why Do You Doubt? – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 13 August 2017

f58e26f532d849228c91b904206913a1Today’s Sermon – Why Do You Doubt?

LESSONS:

First Lesson         Jonah 2:1-10

Psalm                    Psalm 29

Second Lesson    Romans 9:1-5

Gospel                  Matthew 14:22-33

COLLECT: Almighty God, give us the increase of faith, hope, and love; and, so that we may obtain what you have promised, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Focus! – Reflection for 13 August 2017

image5Do you remember, maybe you never did this, getting a magnifying glass and sitting in the sun and focusing the sunlight,unless the light is focused nothing happened, to a small spot on leaves or paper and burning a hole or starting a fire that spread really, really quick? I do, and I also remember some of the other things I did with that magnifying glass, ouch. Jonah loses focus when he allows his feelings of anger against Nineveh get in the way of God’s mission to rescue a people lost in themselves. This loss of focus is so bad that God had to get Jonah’s attention. Talk about a fish tale or stomach as the case may be! Even then Jonah whined and stuck out his lower lip in the midst of taking the message to the Ninevites.

He walks into town and says to the Ninevites, if you all don’t get focused on God, he is gonna clean your plow, immediately, no more warnings. Jonah leaves and goes gets a box seat for the upcoming devastation. The people stop and repent and become focused and Jonah grumps. You just can’t make some people happy no matter what you do.

Matthew speaks of Jesus walking on the water and Peter boldly claims that if you are the Son of God command be to walk out on the water to join you. Jesus invites and Peter quickly jumps ship and starts walking on the water. Then he has an Elijah moment and is distracted by everything going on around him and starts to sink. Jesus reaches out to save him and together they go back to the boat. Peter lost focus when he allowed the world to lie to him. The world was saying the waves were powerful. The wind was strong. Peter you can’t swim. Are you out of your mind doing this.

In the days of 15 minute entertainment, kaleidoscopic advertising, electronic encounters of simulation and stimulation, our focus tends to be under severe attack. We lose focus really easy. Through study of the Word of God, being in community with God’s people, and worship we can refocus our lives and life so that salvation, eternal life with the Father, becomes a reality. Only through Jesus and Jesus alone do we find hope in hopeless situations of life. Confess with your lips, speaking out loud, and believing in your heart that Jesus is Lord, The Son of God, is there any hope to be found in the midst of the chaos of life. Jesus calls you. Will you answer?

Transfigured – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 6 Aug 2017

IMG_3294Today’s Sermon – Transfigured

LESSONS:

First Lesson          Exodus 34:29-35

Psalm                     Psalm 99

Second Lesson     2 Peter 1:13-21

Gospel                   Luke 9:28-36

COLLECT: O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Grace to See – Reflection for 6 August 2017

20621081_10212615447876195_7506116351805683389_n
This morning, Bishop Orji ordained Marcus Tinajero, Barry Kowald, and Chizurum Madubuko Akpunonu as priests. It seems fitting to celebrate these ordinations on the same Sunday as we celebrate the Transfiguration.

In many respects, nothing really changed on that mountain. Jesus was the Son of God on the way up and on the way down. His mission and calling didn’t change. Even shining with the glory of God, He was who He always was. Yet, in other ways things changed greatly. By grace, Peter, James, and John were able to see Jesus as He truly is, as the Father sees Him. Jesus was strengthened and encouraged for the journey to Jerusalem and the cross.

Today, nothing really changed about Marcus, Barry, and Chizurum. They were beloved children of God on the way in and on the way out. Their calling to ministry within the church and the world didn’t change. Even standing when they were introduced for the first time as priests, they were loved by God as they always were. Yet, they were also changed greatly. In a special way, we were able to see them as they truly are, as the Father sees them and calls them. They were strengthened and encouraged for their service.

As we celebrate the Eucharist together today, in some ways nothing will change. Each of you is a beloved child of God on the way in and on the way out. Your calling to ministry within the church and the world won’t change. However, I pray that you will see yourself as you truly are, as the Father sees you. I pray that you will be strengthened and encouraged as you are nourished by the spiritual food. I pray that as Peter, James and John saw the power of God at work in Jesus on the mountain and as we saw the power of God at work in Marcus, Barry, and Chizurum at All Saints today, you will also see the power of God at work in and through yourself and one another.

Discerning the Kingdom – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 30 JUL 2017

db85fa98aa431e1c58538237b636d32d--mustard-tree-mustard-seed-tattooToday’s Sermon – Discerning the Kingdom

LESSONS:

First Lesson            1 Kings3:3-14

Psalm                       Psalm 119:121-136

Second Lesson       Romans 8:26-34

Gospel                     Matthew 13:31-33, 44-50

COLLECT: Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Proof? – Reflection for 30 JUL 2017

Egg Washed and Proofing Rolls - 1020 (7-14-15)I was watching ‘Britain’s Great Baking Show’ and sat absolutely amazed at the trials the bakers had to complete successfully in order to continue on the show. All the faults and emotional temperaments showed up during the baking challenges. One person had a mistake with his baked Alaska and dumped the whole thing in the trash. Obviously, he did not do well in the remaining judging and was eliminated from the contest. They started with 8 bakers of various ages and I am at the point in the show where there are only four bakers left. Many times the bake looked good on the outside, but it was over proofed, underproofed, raw, squishy, messy, no eye appeal, no taste and the list goes on. Some of the bakers nail the task and the judges are happy, but someone is going to leave the show.

What does that have to do with “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” in Mathew’s Gospel? As I look at the examples it strikes me that for each of the good there is the potential of the bad. For example, yeast in baking is an active, alive substance. It will grow and produce carbon dioxide and cause the flour to rise. If the temperature is too hot it can blow out and leave you with a crater in the dough, if the temperature is too cool it may not rise, if you add too much flour you won’t get a light dough. It takes the correct amount of temperature and the correct amount of flour and time to get the desired end product. This resembles the sower parable in that it takes the correct conditions to grow to maturity.

The need for continued study of God’s Word so that it can infuse your life to give you stability and character. Yeast needs other yeast to be able to grow the dough and so it is with us. We only grow in Christ when we are in communion / community with other believers. Our understanding of what it means to be heirs of the Kingdom keeps us vigilant of our surroundings. We watch for those things that create the heat of anger, temptation, or anything else that can parade as good but is really sin in disguise. If we ignore community we risk getting cold and careless and the enemy can strike during this period of weakness.

Yeast or no yeast. Proofed or over/under proofed. Fully baked or half baked (that does not apply to the rector’s sermons) Jesus says to make a choice, fence sitting is not an option.

Walking with the Spirit – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 23 JUL 2017

406b0cf33c6e33ad992c3f0b3353210a

Today’s Sermon – Walking with the Spirit

LESSONS:

First Lesson              Isaiah 44:6-8

Psalm                         Psalm 86

Second Lesson         Romans 8:18-25

Gospel                       Matthew 13:24-43

COLLECT: O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Trampled Wheat – Reflection for 23 JUL 2017

wheatI was greatly saddened this week over the discussion centered on Eugene Peterson. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with his opinion, the absolute hatred and vitriol streaming from self-identified Christians has no place in discussions of the Kingdom of God.

Closer to home, I had a discussion with a fellow pastor in a different denomination on the challenge of “church hurt.” He remarked that the greatest meanness that he had ever seen between two people was within a church. Some of you may have experienced this and some of us know people who have been so hurt by the church that they may never experience the true joy of the Body of Christ gathered in worship.

While some people may rightly focus on the judgement that Jesus promises in his explanation of the parable of the wheat and the tares, perhaps we should also spend some time on His warning about our current actions. Jesus warns His servants not to pull up the weeds lest they damage the good wheat as well. I wonder how much good wheat lies trampled from our efforts to pull a few weeds.

We will do well to remember that as we gather there will be good and fruitful wheat. There may also be annoying weeds. Let us remember always that the field and the harvest belong to the Lord. Our purpose is not to pull weeds. Our purpose is to produce the fruit of the Kingdom.