Sermon

ADVENT SERMON: Where God Enters by Meister Eckhart

December 1, 2012

For while all things were in quiet silence and the night was in the midst of her course. (Wisdom of Solomon 18:14-15) Here in time we make holiday because the eternal birth which God the father bore and bears unceasingly in eternity is now born in time, in human nature.  Saint Augustine says this birth is always happening.  But if it does not happen in me, what does it profit me?  What matters is that it shall happen in me. We intend therefore to speak of this birth as taking place in us, as being consummated in the virtuous soul, for it is in the perfect soul that God speaks his word.  What I shall say is true only of the devout man, of him who has walked and is still walking in the way of God, not of the natural undisciplined man [...]

SERMON: The Prodigal Son by James Weldon Johnson

November 30, 2012

Young man— Young man— Your arm’s too short to box with God. But Jesus spake in a parable, and he said: A certain man had two sons Jesus didn’t give this man a name, But his name is God Almighty. And Jesus didn’t call these sons by name, But ev’ry young man, Ev’rywhere, Is one of these two sons. And the younger son said to his father, He said: Father, divide up the property, And give me my portion now. And the father with tears in his eyes said: Son, Don’t leave your father’s house. But the boy was stubborn in his head, And haughty in his heart, And he took his share of his father’s goods, And went into a far-off country. There comes a time, There comes a time When ev’ry young man looks out from his father’s house, [...]

SERMON: The Wheat and the Tares, by Reinhold Niebuhr

November 25, 2012

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which growth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and growth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth. For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For [...]

SERMON: The Hungering Dark, by Frederick Buechner

November 18, 2012

O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at thy presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make thy name known to thy adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at thy presence! There is no one that calls upon thy name, that bestirs himself to take hold of thee; for thou hast hid thy face from us, and has delivered us into the hand of our iniquities. — Isaiah 64:1-2, 7 And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see [...]

SERMON: Of Submission To The Divine Will by Isaac Barrow

November 11, 2012

Nevertheless let not my will, but thine be done. (Luke 22:42) The great controversy, managed with such earnestness and obstinacy between God and Man, is this, whose will shall take place, his or ours: Almighty God, by whose constant protection and great mercy we subsist, doth claim to himself the authority of regulating our practice, and disposing our fortunes; but we affect to be our own masters and carvers; not willingly admitting any law, not patiently brooking any condition, which doth not sort with our fancy and pleasure.  To make good his right, God binds all his forces, and applies all proper means both of sweetness and severity (persuading us by arguments, soliciting us by entreaties, alluring us by fair promises, scaring us by [...]

SERMON: Chaos Or Creation by Charles Gilchrist Adams

November 4, 2012

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  (Genesis 1:1-3) There are two ways of looking at the creation of people and things; two theological ways of understanding how the world came to be.  First, there is the Western philosophic tradition, which is defined under the Latin term creation ex nihilo, which means “creation out of nothing.”  The Greek and Latin theological fathers and scholars who, reflecting philosophically upon the creation, made a clear distinction between something and nothing, between being and nonbeing.  They said: God created the universe out of nothing.  [...]

SERMON: Christ In Our Life, by Albert Schweitzer

October 28, 2012

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.  Amen.  (Matthew 28:20) This promise is like the sunrise.  It is as though we were standing on a high mountain and saw the farthest peaks and valleys lighted by a ray of the morning sun.  I am with you unto the close of the age.  This was the last word the Risen One spoke to his disciples.  For some of us it might lose part of its beauty because we find it hard to believe that Jesus spoke in human terms to his disciples after his life on Earth had come to an end.  But, I believe, what really matters is the eternal truth enshrined in these words.  The outward form in which the Risen Lord addressed his [...]

SERMON: On Repentance and Prayer by John Chrysostom

October 21, 2012

Wherever shepherds see dense grass, they lead the sheep there; they do not lead them away prematurely, before the flocks have sheared close all of the grass.  We, too, imitate the sheep.  Presently this is the fourth day that we have put this flock to graze in the way of repentance.  Yet, not even today are we prepared to take it away from here.  For we realize that there is still abundant grazing coupled with much delight and benefit. The foliage of the trees, which become shelters for the herds at noontime, do not comfort them as much, do not grant them such desirable and delightful shade, do not lull them to sleep with as much enjoyment, as the reading of the holy Scriptures revives and refreshes the suffering souls and the souls [...]

SERMON: Vegetarians In Babylon, by James Van Tholen

October 14, 2012

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time The king assigned them a daily portion of the royal rations of food and wine.  They were to be educated for three years, so that at the end of that time they could be stationed in the king’s court. . . .  But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the royal rations of food and wine; so he asked the palace master to allow him not to defile himself.  Now God allowed Daniel to receive favor and compassion from the palace master.  The palace master said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king; he has appointed your food and your drink.  If he should see you in poorer condition than the other young men of your own age, you would endanger my head with the king.”  Then Daniel [...]

SERMON: Except I Shall See In His Hands The Print Of The Nails And Thrust My Hand Into His Side, by C. K. Franklin

October 7, 2012

We call your attention to the book of St. John, the twentieth chapter, the twenty-fourth through the twenty-ninth verses.  “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord.  But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.  And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them.  Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.  Then said he to Thomas, Reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing.  [...]

LITTLE FLOWERS: Saint Francis Preaches To The Birds

October 4, 2012

Saint Francis, humble servant of God, a short time after his conversion, having gathered together many companions and received them into the Order, fell into great perplexity and doubt touching what it behooved him to do — whether to be wholly intent on prayer, or sometimes to preach.  And greatly he desired to know the will of God touching these things.  But since the holy humility wherewith he was filled suffered him not to lean overmuch on his own judgment, nor on his own prayers, he thought to seek the divine will through the prayers of others.  Wherefore he called Friar Masseo to him and spoke to him thus, “Go to Sister Clare and bid her from me that she and some of the most spiritual of her companions pray devoutly unto God, [...]

SERMON: The Powers of Nature (The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels), by John Henry Newman

September 30, 2012

Who maketh His Angels spirits, His ministers a flaming fire. (Psalm 104:4) On today’s Festival it well becomes us to direct our minds to the thought of those Blessed Servants of God, who have never tasted of sin; who are among us, though unseen, ever serving God joyfully on earth as well as in heaven; who minister, through their Maker’s condescending will, to the redeemed in Christ, the heirs of salvation. There have been ages of the world, in which men have thought too much of Angels, and paid them excessive honor; honored them so perversely as to forget the supreme worship due to Almighty God.  This is the sin of a dark age.  But the sin of what is called an educated age, such as our own, is just the reverse: to account slightly of [...]

SERMON: Upon Sleeping In Church, by Jonathan Swift

September 23, 2012

And there sat in a Window a certain young Man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep; and while Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with Sleep, and fell down from the third Loft, and was taken up dead. (Acts 20:9) I have chosen these Words with Design, if possible, to disturb some Part in this Audience of half an Hour’s Sleep, for the Convenience and Exercise whereof this Place, at this Season of the Day, is very much celebrated. There is indeed one mortal Disadvantage to which all preaching is subject; that those who, by the Wickedness of their Lives, stand in greatest Need, have usually the smallest Share; for, either they are absent upon the Account of Idleness, or Spleen, or Hatred to Religion, or in order to doze away the [...]

SERMON: Alone With God by George MacDonald

September 16, 2012

Preached In Westminster Chapel, London Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. (Psalm 4:4) Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?  Or who shall stand in His holy place?  He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sword deceitfully.   (Psalm 24: 3-4) It is a great sight to see a multitude of human faces around you; but the whole thing I would rather forget.  Even when I stand before an assembly to speak, I would much rather forget the gathering and meet the individuals gathered.  I prefer speaking to the single heart and soul of an individual; I have no ambition to move the masses. The true power of life lies in the one soul.  The whole [...]

SERMON: Loneliness And Solitude, by Paul Tillich

September 9, 2012

And when he had sent multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. (Matthew 14:23) “He was there, alone.”  So are we.  Man is alone because he is man!  In some way every creature is alone.  In majestic isolation every star travels through the darkness of endless space.  Each tree grows according to its own law, fulfilling its unique possibilities.  Animals live, fight and die for themselves alone, confined to the limitations of their bodies.  Certainly, they also appear as male and female, in families and in flocks.  Some of them are gregarious.  But all of them are alone!  Being alive means being in a body — a body separated from all other bodies.  And being [...]

SERMON: Homily 7 — On the Creation of Crawling Creatures, by Basil the Great

September 2, 2012

Let the waters bring forth crawling creatures. (Genesis 1:20) Then God said, “Let the waters bring forth crawling creatures” of different kinds “that have life, and winged creatures” of different kinds “that fly below the firmament of the heavens.”  (Genesis 1:20)  After the creation of the lights, then the waters were filled with living creatures, so that this portion of the world also was adorned.  The earth had received its ornamentation from its own plants; the heavens had received the flowers of stars and had been adorned with two great lights as if with the radiance of twin eyes.  It remained for the waters, too, to be given their proper ornament.  The command came.  Immediately rivers were productive and marshy [...]

SERMON: John the Baptist (singing sermon)

August 29, 2012

Sung by Rev. Moses Mason, on Anthology of American Folk: A Folkways Anthology Written by Johnny Parth (On YouTube there is a performance under “Rev. Moses Mason — John the Baptist & lyrics”; and another by Neko Case, called John Saw that Number.) (Lyrics differ.) John done saw that number,  Way in the middle of the air. John done saw that number, Way in the middle of the air. Inculcating John The Baptist, Preaching in the wilderness All the children came from east Came from the east, For the kingdom of heaven It ain’t for this is he That was spoken of by the prophecy, yeah. The voice of one Crying in the wilderness so badly. Stayed away all day Lord, It made him sadly stayed insane. John had a raiment of camel hide and [...]

SERMON: The Creed in Slow Motion—I Believe In The Holy Ghost (1) by Ronald Knox

August 26, 2012

(Given during the Second World War to a group of evacuees from a girls’ convent school.) I’ve always been rather fond of the story, which I should think is almost certainly untrue, of a small boy in the East End of London who came to confession, and reduced his confession to the shortest possible limits by saying, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned; thrown mud at the buses and don’t believe in the Holy Ghost.”  I don’t know what your experience may have been, but personally I have never been assailed by any temptation to throw mud at buses, and therefore I can’t say what excuses the penitent may have had for this inconsiderate treatment of public property.  But I think obviously a fool not to believe in the Holy [...]

SERMON: Surprised by Death, by James Van Tholen

August 16, 2012

(James Van Tholen, pastor of the Christian Reformed Church in Rochester, New York, was stricken in 1998, at the age of 33, with a virulent and incurable form of cancer.  By October 1999, after bouts of chemotherapy, he was able to return to the pulpit.  This is the sermon that he preached upon his return.) While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners God died for us.  (Romans 5:6, 8) This is a strange day — for all of us.  Most of you know that today marks my return to this pulpit after seven months of dealing with an aggressive and deadly form of cancer.  Now, with the cancer vacationing for a little while, I am back.  And of [...]

SERMON: Tolerance Of Religious Error, by John Henry Newman

July 14, 2012

This sermon was given on the Feast of Saint Barnabas, the Apostle. He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith. —Acts 11:24 When Christ came to form a people unto Himself to show forth His praise, He took of every kind.  Highways and hedges, the streets and lanes of the city, furnished guests for His supper, as well as the wilderness of Judea, or the courts of the Temple.  His first followers are a sort of type of the general Church, in which many and various minds are as one.  And this is one use, if we duly improve it, of our Festivals; which set before us specimens of the Divine Life under the same diversity of outward circumstances, advantages, and dispositions, which we discern around us.  The especial grace [...]

SERMON: Homily On The Beginning Of The Holy Season Of Lent (On fasting) by John Chrysostom

March 19, 2012

I am pleased and delighted to see the church of God adorned today with the throng of her own children, and to see you all coming together with great joy.  I mean, whenever I look upon your beaming faces, I take it as an infallible sign of the satisfaction you feel at heart. — As the wise man said, “The face betrays the joy of the heart.”  So naturally I myself arose this morning with more than the usual enthusiasm since I was to share with you this spiritual happiness and I wanted to become a herald for you of the approach of Lent — the medicine, I might say, for your souls.  Like a loving father, you see, the Lord of us all, in his desire that we be cleansed of the sins we have committed with the passing of time, desired a [...]