A Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, July 31, 2022

By: Kilpy Singer, Associate Rector

 

There are a few topics which our culture considers “off limits”, like for dinner conversation with new friends or at family gatherings. Politics, religion, money. But it’s funny, isn’t it, that some of our least favorite conversation topics seem to be Jesus’s favorites. All throughout the Gospels, Jesus teaches and preaches and prays about those very things like politics and money that make us so uncomfortable. Like in our scripture today. With little obscurity, Jesus talks about greed, about money, about possessions. And while I can’t speak for you all, I found it a little uncomfortable. In part because it’s felt personal, and in part because it was challenging. Is Jesus really asking me to give up my inheritance, or my retirement account? Am I supposed to feel bad for having things? What is Jesus really saying to us here?

Looking at the passage, the younger brother asks Jesus to get involved with his family business. He wants his brother to divide the inheritance with him, and this actually seems pretty reasonable. Wanting to split the family money evenly is a decent way to handle things, but for some reason it sets Jesus off into parable mode. Well, if we look back at the context of the time, we can start to see why. At the time, it was customary for the eldest son to be responsible for the estate, and he did this with the family inheritance. Younger brothers were allowed to have portions of the estate, but the eldest always received more, because he was in charge of more, and supposed to keep things going for future generations to live off of. So, the more the younger brother takes, the less the older brother has to handle the needs of the land and the larger family. Based on that reality, the younger brother starts to look a little less reasonable and a little more greedy…since he’s concerned with his own welfare, over and above anyone else.

To warn the younger brother about the consequences of such a mindset, Jesus tells the story of the landowner whose fields produced abundant crops, so much that they required whole new storage facilities. Things were so good that he was taken care of not only for the present moment, but for the future, and what else was there to do but eat, drink, and be merry. Once again, that seems pretty reasonable. Work hard, play hard. You earned it. But Jesus doesn’t call this man a fool because he worked hard and had savings to show for it. No, Jesus calls him out because of how he thinks about and uses this money, this good fortune.

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A Sermon for the Third Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, June 26, 2022

By: Kilpy Singer, Associate Rector

 

James and John, two disciples of Jesus, are on the road with him, headed towards the place where he will eventually be crucified, resurrected, and ascended. They are making this long trek from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they need places to stay along the way. So Jesus asks James and John to go ahead to a Samaritan village, but the village doesn’t receive Jesus. They want nothing to do with this man or his friends. The disciples, what do they do but ask if they can burn the place down. “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” Well, that’s one option…I kind of imagine this devilish grin on their faces, reminiscent of their days of boyhood pyromania.

James and John, and that deeply human part of them, want to see judgement cast upon this Samaritan village. Jesus, the Son of God, is on a journey, and with each step forward he is another step closer towards his brutal death. He’s done nothing but teach good news and heal the people. And these people have the audacity to close their gates in his face. Well then, they’re gonna get what’s coming to them. Call down the heavenly fire!

If I’m being honest, it’s a little satisfying to give people what’s coming to them. If my two older brothers trip me, then I push them. Judgment, payback, feels good and even right. It keeps people in line, it shows us that our actions have consequences. It’s been a part of the way the world has worked as long as we can remember. Like the ancient concept of karma. What happens to you is a direct result of what you do to others. Or the biblical law from Exodus, an eye for an eye.

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A Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Sunday, January 16, 2022

By: Kilpy Singer, Director of Youth Ministries

 

Last week, we heard about the Jesus with whom God was well pleased, the Beloved Son of God …. This week, I present to you the Jesus who talks back to his mother and loves good wine. The irony is not lost on me that I stand here as the Director of Youth Ministries about to preach about a God who likes to party, but hear me out.

Our passage starts out with Jesus, his mother, and his disciples at a wedding in Cana, and the wine has run out. Jesus’ mother is concerned and thinks that he should be too. Although he blows it off first, it turns out that mother knows best, and Jesus was actually concerned with the wine situation. He asks some of the servants to fill jars with water and transforms the water into an abundance of the highest quality wine. 180 gallons of it to be exact.

Whew, what a miracle! The wine was out but now everyone’s got plenty. It’s worth noting, though, that the Gospel writer doesn’t actually call this miracle. Instead, he calls this moment the first of Jesus’ signs. In fact, the whole Gospel of John is filled with signs of Jesus as opposed to miracles. How are signs different from miracles? A miracle is some kind of extraordinary wonder only intended to awe and astound, but a sign is different because it actually points us to something.

Signs mark something. Think of a road sign that tells us what lies ahead up the road. Or the signs we find in nature that show us a change in weather is coming, like a dark storm cloud that rolls in and alerts us to the coming wind and rain. Whether symbolic, ceremonial, natural, or even supernatural, they can be tokens of an important event or markers of a change to come.

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