Sermons (Page 34)

August 8, 2010: Keep at It

Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Initially Jesus’ words might bring some comfort – “Don’t have fear, little flock.” Not fear – you’re asleep if you don’t have fear. We have a rising national debt, unemployment, house foreclosures. Retirements and pensions circle the drain, not to mention terrorists, wars and oil spills. “Don’t fear. God’s good pleasure is to give us the kingdom.” Great – who turns down a free gift? But can we trust it even exists?

August 1, 2010: A Fearsome Generosity

Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Who let this guy in? Is he not following the lecture? Jesus has just warned followers: “Speak out for me and you could get hauled before rulers and authorities, not to give you an award.” Where is his follow-up statement coming from? He must have only heard, “Speak out.” He does, but it’s on a topic near to his heart and far from Jesus’ intention, “Tell my brother to cough up my portion of the family inheritance.” Jesus won’t step in. He’s not going to put the “fun” back into his dysfunctional family by taking sides.

July 4: Being Sent for Jesus’ Sake

Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

An old friend, retired, formerly Dean of Student Affairs at an Alabama university, waits to board his flight home. He notices three or four people loudly arguing at a couple. The ruckus ends. He looks up to see them head his way. They stop in front of him. One asks Rick, “Are you a Christian?” If you are ever asked that, answer, “Yes,” and maybe they’ll leave you alone. Rick answers, “Yes,” but they don’t leave him alone. They invite him to pray with them – and since he’s a Christian, how can he refuse? They circle around Rick and bow heads. The leader must think God is hard of hearing, for he prays loud enough for the couple and half the airport to overhear: “Strike down those vile heathen pagans over there who reject Jesus. Make them an example, so others will accept Jesus.” The prayers end. Rick’s asked to add a word, “Lord, forgive us from hardness of heart, so that we can love others as you love us. May your love through us awaken love in others for you. Amen.” Rick looks up and asks, “Have you ever thought of loving people and letting them know God loves them, instead of condemning them? “Nope” – and they walk away.

June 28: Do You Really Want to Follow Jesus?

Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

When did you become a Christian? How do you know you are one? Some people make a decision to join a church and be baptized. Does that make one a Christian? For others, someone decided for you, and had you baptized before you could decide for yourself. A few people have a dramatic experience, like Paul, when you get knocked off your feet and turned upside down. However you have come to believe you are a Christian, a common denominator is to realize God loves you fully as you are. But even knowing that won’t make someone a Christian – no more than standing in a garage makes you a car. Nor does joining a church make you a Christian, though I hope it helps. To be a Christian means you decide to follow Jesus.

June 20, 2010: Between Fear and Love

Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Farmers hold their breath as they peer over a cliff, praying that pigs do fly. They don’t. Their pigs go splash in the lake below. Jews double over laughing to hear this story. These Gentiles are not so amused. They’re scared, afraid of Jesus’ power, and they don’t know which side he’s on.

Jesus and the disciples land on the Gerasene shore, Gentile territory, where Jews who visit get told, “Your church is on the other side of the lake.” A man runs down the hill to intercept Jesus as he steps out of the boat – not just any man, a man who has no community, no friends. The poor fellow’s infested with demons. These people believe demons are real, Satan’s minions, sent to create as much chaos, disorder and evil as possible. The demoniac, his moniker, lives among the tombs in the town cemetery. Only the dead will hang out with him.

June 13, 2010: A Hardened Heart Condition

Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Third Sunday after Pentecost

Maybe Jesus is fashionably late. Or maybe he has second thoughts about dining with a Pharisee – no, scratch that. Jesus likes a party. He’ll socialize with anyone.

Jesus must have arrived too late for a proper welcome from his host. But maybe the host is getting cold feet. He doesn’t want to appear too gracious and chummy with someone like Jesus. If word gets out that Jesus is his dinner guest, Simon could have his Pharisee license revoked. It is pretty odd, though that Simon would invite Jesus, and Jesus would accept his dinner invitation.

June 6, 2010: A Meeting of Life and Death

Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Second Sunday after Pentecost

You’re at the corner of 12th and Main, about to step into the crosswalk when the most gosh-awful noise stops you. Down the street you notice, coming into town, just passing the “Welcome to Nain” sign, is a boisterous crowd of Bible thumping Jesus freaks laughing joyfully. From the other direction, on 12th Street is a bier-bearing funeral procession of wailing, dirge singing mourners carrying on like there’s no tomorrow, headed out of town.

Earlier at the coffee shop, you read the obituary. His only survivor is his mother. His father died some years ago. He’s an only child. That means his widowed mother will soon be out on the street – no male left to protect or preserve her life – no pension, no survivor benefits, and no income. She’s done.

May 30, 2010: Unity of Love

Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Trinity Sunday

Today I have a riddle for you. Ready? What is three in one and one in three? If you guess “Three in One” machine oil, you lose. If you guess new math or quantum physics, you lose. If you guess the Trinity, you win. That part was pretty easy, wasn’t it? Today is Trinity Sunday, and I’ll bet you could hardly wait to get here: “Oh boy, I get to hear a sermon about an ancient relic from a different world. How great can church get?”

May 23, 2010: Completing Easter, At Least for Now

Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Pentecost Sunday

What we are about to do in here, stays in here. Is everyone with me? If you’re into Holy Spirit stuff, raise your hand and wave it around. If, as a traditional Episcopalian, you believe waving hands in church is a bit excessive, quietly nod your heads. Those who are already asleep – please don’t bother them. Now, here’s what’s up. I have researched words that mean “spirit.” For instance, spire means spirit or breath. We say that Handel and Bach were inspired to compose music, or Van Gogh to paint. Something from outside fills hearts and imaginations: an inspiration. When someone dies, they do what – expire? They breathe out for the last time. Conspire, con meaning with, is to “breathe together.” What we’re about to do I learned from professor and preacher Barbara Brown Taylor. We’re going to intentionally breathe to get us thinking, “Holy Spirit.” On three, breathe in and hold until I say, “Release” Then breathe out. Ready? One, two, three – breathe and hold; “Release.” Don’t let this get out, especially to Homeland Security. You and I just created a conspiracy.

May 16, 2010: Gone, But Not Away

Sermon
The Rev. Dr. C. Steven Teague, Rector
Seventh Sunday after Easter

You may have skipped the celebration of the Ascension this past Thursday. A lot of people did. I can understand. The story asks us to suspend our disbelief. It says that Jesus literally lifts off, ascending into the clouds leaving his disciples, well-wishers and the whole world in his wake.

Ascension is pretty difficult to wrap our minds around. Other feasts are more tangible and earthly grounded. At Christmas we have a manger, angels, shepherds, and a baby. An empty tomb, bunnies, chocolate crosses and lilies help us think Easter. Did anyone send you an Ascension card this year? Did you send any Ascension cards? Did you decorate your house for Ascension? Neither the malls nor Hallmark seem aware of Ascension. Maybe releasing a helium balloon as we sing the Fifth Dimension’s Up, Up, and Away could catch on.