Archive for the '2011 Sermons' Category

November 13, 2011 Sermon – 22nd Sunday of Pentecost

a sermon by
The Rev. Canon Charles LaFond
Proper 28, November 13, 2011
Holy Cross, Weare, NH

When I was a child, I had a collection of post cards from my grandmother. One day, a friend, staying at my house as our guest, ripped the corners off most of them to steal the stamps. When I saw what had happened, I confronted him and he said he did not think I would miss them. The relationship was permanently damaged. That experience was my first exposure to what I do now as my life’s work – encouraging this conversation we are having in the church around stewardship. I did not love my friend less, however, I was always aware that there was less joy in our friendship after that. When we hold back our pledge, it is not the love between us and our god which is sapped – rather it is some of the joy that is reduced. And the irony is that it is OUR joy which is withered by the self-worship of that particular flavor of greed.

This morning’s readings from the prophet Zephaniah, from Paul’s letter to the Philippians and from the Gospel are all pointing to right relationship. The entirety of the Holy scriptures of the Hebrews and the Christians can be summed up as a story about the difficult relationship between God and God’s created humans. And this set of readings is no different. Continue reading ‘November 13, 2011 Sermon – 22nd Sunday of Pentecost’

October 23, 2011 – 19th Sunday after Pentecost

HOLY CROSS CHURCH, WEARE, NH
The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; Psalm 1; I Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

To begin: a story. It took place on a July day in the summer of 1988, twenty-three years ago. In Connecticut where I was then the bishop, we had a summer camp, Camp Washington, which offered a full summer of programs for kids from grade school through high school. I was standing on the steps of the dining hall on a bright summer afternoon when he came up to me, threw his arms around me, gave me a hug and said, “You are my most favorite bishop!” I watched as his beaming smile was mirrored by the gentle care and affection with which he was surrounded by fellow campers and staff members. Danny was a young man who had Down’s Syndrome. His greeting reminded me of the day on which I had confirmed him, when he had stood in the midst of the congregation, proud with his daddy and his mother. He called out the best in those around him by his trust, his affection, and his smile. He was a gift to us. Continue reading ‘October 23, 2011 – 19th Sunday after Pentecost’

October 9, 2011 – 17th Sunday after Pentecost

by The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

Exodus 32:1-14; Psalm 23;  Philippians 4:1-9; Matthew 22:1-14

The telephone rang just as we were sitting down to dinner.  Often such calls come from someone trying to sell us something — new siding for our house, maybe, or cheaper car insurance — I seldom remember what it was five minutes later.  I sometimes get irritated when the seller is insistent, even though my better judgment says that the caller is probably low-paid and has taken the job because he — usually it’s a he — because he needed work  and is paid by the volume and success of his calls.  So I try not to be abrupt.

This time the call came from a pollster wanting my views on the economic situation and the upcoming election.  He was well-spoken and obviously well-trained, and I was hooked.   Continue reading ‘October 9, 2011 – 17th Sunday after Pentecost’

September 25, 2011 – 15th Sunday of Pentecost

by The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

Philippians 2:1-13; Psalm 25:1-9; Matthew 21:23-32

“By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”  Matthew 21:23

“Father Walmsley, when are you going to get your damn clergy out of my office?”  The speaker was a leader in the United States Senate, Everett Dirksen of Illinois, a man whose prominent place in the Congress and whose vote would make all the difference in the cause for which we were there.  He knew the answer to his question.  We would stop our lobbying and celebrate his change of heart when the Congress finally passed the civil rights bill of 1965, one which established voting rights for African American citizens in those southern states where they were disenfranchised.  Continue reading ‘September 25, 2011 – 15th Sunday of Pentecost’

September 18, 2011 – 14th Sunday of Pentecost

CELEBRATION OF HOLY CROSS DAY

by The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

I Corinthians 1:18-24, Psalm 98; John 3:13-17

“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

One of the most widely quoted texts from scripture is John 3:16.  Will someone quote it for me:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have everlasting life.

No wonder that it is such a popular summary of  Christian belief.  You have seen it everywhere: Continue reading ‘September 18, 2011 – 14th Sunday of Pentecost’

September 11, 2011 – 13th Sunday after Pentecost

by The Rev. Darrell Huddleston

Gen. 50:15-21; Ps. 103:1-13; Rom. 14:1-12; Mt. 18: 21-35

Two little boys had a brother who was a bully.  He was always beating on them.  One day coming home from Sunday School they were discussing the morning lesson which had been about forgiving seventy times seven.  They were earnestly striving to apply this to their older brother.  Finally, one suggested:  “We’ll keep a notebook, and write down every time we forgive him.”  “Yeh,” said the younger of the two, “and when it reaches 490 he had better watch out.”

The ancient rabbis said three pardons were adequate.  Peter went them four better and said seven.  His response was most likely said as repudiation of the 7-fold curse in Genesis.  So Peter’s answer seems quite generous especially when we find no mention in the text of any repentance by the offender.  But, neither the rabbis nor Peter had their math correct, and neither did the two little boys, because when we are counting then we really haven’t understood what Jesus meant. Continue reading ‘September 11, 2011 – 13th Sunday after Pentecost’

September 4, 2011 – Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

by The Rev. Darrell Huddleston

Ex. 12:1-14; Ps. 149; Rm. 13:8-14; Mt. 18:15-20

In the Protestant churches of Colonial America the worship services used to last for three hours, with the sermon taking an hour or so of that time.  The rest of the time was for prayer, scripture, psalms and censuring wayward members.  If you had been identified as being guilty of some sin, you were brought before the congregation and asked to repent.  You repented or faced public censure, perhaps exclusion from the church for a time, and possibly excommunication.

Such a practice is practically unheard of today in churches in this country.  I say practically because in the hills and hollers of Appalachia the custom of  ‘churching’ someone still exists in some conservative congregations.  The term means you are thrown out of the church because of your unrepentant sinful ways. The Amish still shun those who won’t repent after they have been confronted.  They are shunned not only by their church but also by their own family.  Continue reading ‘September 4, 2011 – Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost’

August 21, 2011 – 10th Sunday After Pentecost

by The Rev. Darrell Huddleston

Exodus 1:8-2:10; Ps. 124; Rom. 12:1-8; Mt. 16:13-20

The conversation between Peter and Jesus has been the source of division in the Christian community.  It all centers on what Jesus meant by the phrase “you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.” Going back to the early days of the church there have been four interpretations of this conversation, represented by four early church fathers, all of whom lived in the first two or three centuries after Christ.

Origen (185-254) Peter is only a ‘type’ of every true Christian.

Tertullian (170-220) Peter is the rock.

Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428), Peter’s ‘confession’ is the rock.

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Christ is the rock.

Some of the early church fathers and The Church in Rome chose to follow Tertullian’s view that Peter was the Rock, then expanded it to mean he was the first Pope and that all bishops of Rome (Popes) are the inheritors of that position. Continue reading ‘August 21, 2011 – 10th Sunday After Pentecost’

August 14, 2011 – 9th Sunday after Pentecost

by The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Psalm 67; Matthew 15:21-28

“Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” –Matthew 15:28

One of the memorable people of my growing up years was my Aunt Amanda.  Born in England about the year 1880, she came as a young person to this country to work in the textile mills of Massachusetts.  I used to visit her often as a little boy when I went with my parents to stay with family members in New Bedford before and during World War II.  I will never forget a conversation we had one day walking home from an early Sunday morning communion service at St. Martin’s Church there.  It was sometime in the Spring of 1940.  Hitler’s success in defeating the Allies led to a siege of England, and the Luftwaffe, the Nazis air force, was devastating English cities.  Amanda’s roots were at Coventry, the center of which was totally destroyed by the bombing, and she had lost family members in the blitz.  Continue reading ‘August 14, 2011 – 9th Sunday after Pentecost’

August 7, 2011 – 8th Sunday after Pentecost

by The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

I Kings 19:9-18; Psalm 29; Matthew 14:22-33

“Don’t worry.  It’s me.  Don’t be afraid.” –Matthew 14:30

One morning in August a few years ago, I stood looking out our front door when all at once there came a great roar — it reminded me of the engine of a Boeing 747 — and I watched a violent wind twist the trunk of a towering willow tree at the corner of the yard, perhaps a foot in diameter, and snap it off as if it were no bigger than a matchstick.  And another time, a similar storm overrode all the surge protectors in our house, blew out the modem on Roberta’s computer and the sensors which control our garage door openers.  These were convincing reminders that we are children of Mother Nature, though they amounted to minor and local interruptions of our routine, were soon repaired as one of the prices we learn to live within a complex world.  Continue reading ‘August 7, 2011 – 8th Sunday after Pentecost’