Text, scripture and audio from weekly sermons.
Click "Read More..." to access the audio and listen to the sermon.
I Timothy is a book of problems.
The first verse says it's written by Paul, but many are skeptical. It doesn't fit into the timeline of his life we piece together from the rest of the New Testament. It doesn't appear in early manuscripts with the things we know he wrote. The context feels different from his early letters, the kingdom isn't on the verge of breaking in, and the church is wondering now about issues of family, of church leadership and organization, things you don't care about if you think Jesus is going to fly down from the clouds at any moment. Paul, or whoever our author is, speaks to Timothy, an experienced missionary, as if he is a newbie, wet behind the ears.1
The chorus from Handel's Messiah says:
"All we like sheep, all we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one of us to our own way. All we like sheep have gone astray, and the Lord hath laid upon him, hath laid upon him, hath laid upon him, the iniquity of us all."
The text quotes Isaiah 53:6, but in Matthew's version of the Lost Sheep, the one sheep does indeed go astray. However, in Luke, the sheep is "lost."
Week before last NPR had a fascinating series about how attitudes about charity are changing.1 The reporters started in a village in Kenya, spending time with folks who had received cattle through Heifer International. We have raised money for Heifer, a good and reputable organization, my parents give us gifts through them each Christmas, sheep or goats or honeybees for a family far away. Heifer's goal is to empower people, teaching them to take care of the animal they are given, use it for money for milk, improving the life of their family. And in this village, it seemed to be working.
Our summer-long series on the Apostles' Creed comes to a close this morning with the last lines of this beloved confession. When it came time to dole out who would be preaching what verses, I was a bit shaken by this closing line. It seemed to be the vaguest of them all, a bit of theological wordsmithing at the end of a clear, concise prayer. Whose life is everlasting? Ours? Christ's? Our communal life together? And what was everlasting? Was this about heaven? About eternity?
In a summer full of BAD news - crisis in Egypt, murder in Durham, aggressive and nonsensical partisanship in Raleigh and in Washington - one of my favorite stories of the summer happened in a strip mall in California. Around 10:30pm on July 31, the executive director of San Bernadino Sexual Assault Services received a call from the company that handles the office's security system. Motion had been detected, the police called. By the time everyone got there the deed had been done - burglars finding their way in through ceiling tiles, taking all of their computers, doing an additional $5000 or so in damage. To a small nonprofit, as you can imagine, it was devastating. "We thought," the director said, "we were never going to recover. Each computer and the information it contains is so important to the work we do."