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Sermon and Prayer for Ordinary 11 - Proper 6 - Year C
II Samuel 11:26 - 12:15, Psalm 32; Galatians 2:11-21; Luke 7:36-50
"Applying The Word"
(Full Version)


READING:  II Samuel 11:26 - 12:15, Psalm 32; Galatians 2:11-21; Luke 7:36-50
SERMON :  "Applying The Word - Full Version"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
C-or11smu.y-c 618938

   The following is a an expanded version of the sermon
   outline "Applying The Word" which is found with a full
   liturgy at c-or11sm.php

   
SERMON:  "Applying The Word (Full Version)" 

     O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
     and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the
     meditations of our hearts.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants
     listen.  Amen.

For those who trust in God - those who are familiar with the law of Moses
and the gospel of Christ Jesus, it is a fairly easy thing to believe in the
general principals of our faith - and in particular to the moral law that
faith proposes to us.  It is easy to believe in the Word - and - most of
all - it is easy to apply that word to other people.

What is not so easy is to apply that word in its fullness to our own lives.

Judging others is an easy game to play.
But it is one that is fraught with peril.

CS Lewis, one of the great lay theologians of the past century wrote this
about our applying the word of God to the lives of other people:

     "Unfortunately, we enjoy thinking about other people's faults: 
     and in the proper sense of the word 'morbid,'  that is the most
     morbid pleasure in the world...  and while we are governed by
     this vice, there can be no Heaven for you, just as there can be
     no sweet smells for a man with a cold in the nose, and no music
     for a man who is deaf.  

     It's not a question of God "sending" us to hell.  In each of us
     there is something growing up which will of itself be Hell unless
     it is nipped in the bud."

All three of our readings today speak of this.

In the first reading we see King David, a man who had a passion for justice
and a great zeal for the Word of God, we see this David upon hearing the
story that the prophet Nathan spun for him ready and willing to condemn the
rich man who took a poor man's lamb   and yet apparently unable to see that
the story was about him.

David could apply the word of God to others 
- but could not recognize how that word spoke about him.

In the second reading we see Peter 
- who felt free to live like a Gentile when in their presence,
     - free to eat with them and to socialize with them in the freedom of
     the Gospel
back off from this freedom when faced with external pressure 
     and to instead live in the old way of exclusion and isolation 
          the old way of judging Gentiles as impure and in need of keeping
          the law of Moses.

It is thus that Paul is forced to say to him

     "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. 
     How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish
     customs?  We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' 
     know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by
     faith in Jesus Christ

Peter applied the word of the law of God to the lives of the Gentiles about
him but did not do so to himself - rather he lived in the freedom of the
Gospel.

And in the Gospel Reading we see Simon the Pharisee 
     - a man who had a zeal for God and a passion for the word of God 
open his home to welcome Jesus 
     - and yet at the same time close his heart to the woman who anointed
     the feet of Jesus at his table and ministered to his needs.

Simon named her as the sinner she most surely was, he judged her, 
- even as she did the works of love and of hospitality that the law and the
traditions of the elders suggested that he ought to perform.

We often judge others - we often apply the Word to them - but not to
ourselves.  

We become intolerant and unloving 
- we act, as Jesus puts it to Simon, as if we are forgiven little,
and so we love little.

I speak to all of us about this - 
but on this father's day we need to consider the meaning of this -
especially for men.

There is a movement called "Promise Keepers" that has swept over the nation
- especially the USA - but increasingly here in Canada as well - over the
last few years.  

The aim of the "Promise Keepers" movement is simple.

It is to get men to be Godly
- to honour and obey Christ
- to be good husbands and fathers,
- and to keep the promises they have made to God, their families, and their
church.

Men often try to set the agenda for their wives, their kids, their jobs.  
They try to fix things according to their own standards of what is right
and wrong, but they - as the Promise Keeper movement suggests - often fail
to fix themselves, they often fail to apply the word of God to their own
lives and to keep the promises they have made - the covenants they have
made - with Christ, and with their wives and families.

Our children   our wives - our husbands - our brothers and sisters - don't
need an analyse of what they are doing wrong or right, nor do they need
orders barked out and suggestions made and judgements passed.   

Rather what those who are in covenant relationship with us need is for us
to pray for ourselves and for them; and for us to apply the word of God -
the word of Christ - to our own lives first and foremost.

They need to see us set an example by our own faithfulness, they need to
see the word living in our lives.

And we need it too - each one of us - for in the end - we are not
answerable to God regarding the sins that other people commit, but for our
own sins.

Indeed, we need to apply the word to our own lives before we get into
trouble - before we sin.  

We need to remember we are forgiven much... and love much.  

We need to develop a godly humility and faithfulness. 

We need to keep our promises - rather than to worry overmuch about how
other people keep theirs.

And more than that, we need to remember that not only are we called to NOT
judge others.  We are called to go beyond judgement and to allow God to
work in us and through us for others.

We are called to be ambassadors for Christ 
- ones who let God make his appeal through us, ones who are instruments of
his reconciling love,
- ones who reach out to sinners with compassion and who are not afraid to
eat at God's table with them.

You know a lot of what God had done throughout history hasn't seemed fair
to people, especially it hasn't seemed fair to those who struggle day by
day to keep the law of God. 

Think about it.

Why was Jacob not denounced by God for his conniving ways?  
Why was David not completely disowned by God for his disgraceful actions?  
Why was the adulteress not condemned by Jesus for her open disregard of the
moral laws?  
Why was Peter not disavowed by God after his blatant denial of Christ in
the courtyard? 
Why was Paul not banished by God forever because of his persecution of the
Christians early in his life?  
Why?  That is the question: Why?  

And the answer is because there is nothing in the world so tenacious and
resolute as the grace of God.  

The Gospel of John tells us:  "God did not send the Son into the world to
                              condemn the world, but in order that the
                              world might be saved through him." (John
                              3:17)

The Word that God applies to our lives is the word of forgiveness and of
love.   As we turn to God - we discover that God is turned towards us -
calling us to be loved and to love.   May we apply that word to the lives
of others - and live that word within our own lives.

May we be ones who realize that we too, 
     - like Jacob, like David, like the woman caught in adultery, like
     Peter - and like Paul,  and like the sinful woman who anointed Jesus'
     feet 
are forgiven much.

And may we be ones who apply that word to our lives and love much, 
even as we are much loved.

It is God's will for us that we do so, the will of God - and of his son
Jesus - who came and gave his life for us that though dead in our sins, we
might live with him - and in living with him, we might open our lives
completely to the gift of his Holy Spirit and so be given the power to love
one another - even as he loves us.

Thanks be to God - and to Christ Jesus our Lord 
- for his mercy and his grace,
day by day - and world without end.  Amen


* HYMN:  "Forgive Our Sins As We Forgive"                          - VU 364


PASTORAL PRAYER AND THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Let us pray - first in silence - to the Lord our God.... thanking God for
his love - and for the day that God has given us - and for the word that
God has allowed us to hear as his gathered people - the Church of Christ
Jesus....  ....Lord, hear our prayer....

O God, Father and Mother of us all, you do not wish any sinner to die, but
want all people to turn from their sins and live.  We pray for ourselves -
that you may forgive all our wrong-doings and help us turn our hearts
towards you.  By our own merits we deserve only punishment, but in your
mercy we pray that you will bestow upon us forgiveness and eternal life
through Christ Jesus your Son, even as you have promised.....  Lord, hear
our prayer...

Lord Jesus Christ, you do not wish any sinner to die, but want all people
to turn from their sins and live.  We pray for our sinful brothers and
sisters, forgiving all their wrong-doings, and asking that you help them
turn their hearts towards you.   By their own merits they, like us, deserve
only punishment, but in your mercy we pray that you will bestow upon them
that which we seek for ourselves from you....  Lord, hear our prayer....

Holy Spirit - you who guide us into the fullness of truth and who sustain
all who call upon God's name,  we pray for parents today - especially for
our fathers.  May those who have need - forgive their father's any sins
that they have committed against you and against their families.  We pray
that we may honour our fathers as you have commanded us to honour them, 
and we ask you to bless them - whether they are awake or asleep, and help
them to be the men that you created them to be....   Lord, hear our
prayer...

Caring God, for our brothers and sisters in all their diverse needs we also
pray this day. We pray with thankfulness for those petitions you have
already answered in our lives and in the lives of others  - and with hearts
of hope for those things yet to be, those things we hold before you now... 
Hear the intentions that are upon our hearts and those we hold before you
with the words of our lips.   (Bidding Prayer)...  Lord Hear Our Prayer.... 

Bless, O God, the work of this church, this congregation of your people -
that we might always do your will and be Christ's ambassadors, your
ambassadors in this world.   Watch over those who will lead in worship over
the next two weeks - those who serve in our sanctuary, those who serve in
the Bargain Basement and in the cutting of rags, those who visit their
neighbours with a word of love and hope, and those who come here for
encouragement and to receive and share the light of Christ.   Bless we
pray, St. Andrew's, even as we bless your most holy name - now and forever. 
 Amen



copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2004
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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