Summary: My text today will come in part from the epistle of St Paul to the Anglicans. Yes, the epistle to the Anglicans. I’ll tell you the theme of the whole epistle. It is: "Believe the Gospel, dangit!".
Sermon: Believe the Gospel, dangit!
Text: Matt 6:24-34, Gal 6:11-18
Occasion: Trinity XV
Who: Mark Woolsey
When: Sunday, Sep 16, 2007
Where: Providence Reformed Episcopal Church
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
My text today will come in part from the epistle of St Paul to the Anglicans. Yes, the epistle to the Anglicans. As I say this, I worry about some of you today. Some of you, if you were a comic book hero, would have a big word-bubble above your head with a question mark in it. That’s understandable. You’re NOT the ones I’m worried about. It’s the ones with a happy face who seem to be saying, “That’s my favorite book in the Bible!” that I’m worried about. Of course, you won’t find this book in the index in your Bible. Nevertheless, I assure you it is in there. And you don’t need a Roman Catholic Bible with Apocrypha to find it, either. It’s right there in your protestant Bible. I will give you a hint as to how to find it. I’ll tell you the theme of the whole epistle. In fact, this theme is the title of my sermon today. It is: “Believe the Gospel, dangit!”. Before you get up and walk out, or put away this text if you’re reading it on the web, I want to assure you that I am being faithful to the text when I make this claim. I am not being flippant or casual when I say this. Furthermore, I have taught my children not to use 4-letter words and such, so I’m not endorsing a whole new language for Christians. I’m not even trying to be simply controversial – ok, well maybe a little bit – but I still maintain that this is the essence of St Paul’s Epistle to the Anglicans. Before we open our Bibles to this book, however, I would like to start with our Gospel passage today because it goes hand-in-glove with the Epistle.
II. Gospel Passage.
The Gospel reading from today’s Propers is the Gospel to the Jews, Matt 6:24 – 34:
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of their field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
This is a very familiar passage to many of us. Too familiar, I fear. I would like to try to help us see this with new ears and hear it with new eyes :) , if I may.
First of all, it is right smack dab in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. Most of us have read this so many times and heard so many sermons from this larger passage that we know certain parts of it by heart. It has some of the most famous passages in the whole New Testament: the Lord’s Prayer, “Judge not that you be not judged”, “commit[ing] adultery … in your heart”, the Beatitudes, “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”, “do to others what you would have them do to you”, etc. However, as the saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” I think our eyes glaze over when we hear these passages again, and we don’t even realize that we don’t understand what’s really being said. What was Jesus getting at in the Mount Sermon, and what should be our response?