Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Christ – Raising of Lazarus

The vignette from the Life of Christ icon about Lazarus picks up on the event of his being raised from the dead, foreshadowing what is just about to come for Jesus a week from this event. The story in John’s Gospel pops up in the lectionary during Lent (Year C – Week 5) and on the Feast of All Saints (Year B). I chose an abridged form of the latter readings (Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-6, & John 11:38-44) as they captured the promise of the physical resurrection we anticipate, even as we are spiritually risen with Christ by faith now. I hope you find these readings an encouragement to a deeper life of trust in our Lord!

raising of lazarus

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Christ – Raising of Lazarus

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Christ – The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Please forgive the lateness of this post – I was out of town the early part of this week right after service. As the story of Christ’s Transfiguration comes to the fore in our Summer meanderings through the Life of Christ icon, I thought it advantageous to reflect on the Scriptures (Psalm 99, 2 Peter 1:16-21, & Mark 9:1-8) surrounding this event in a lectio divina-inspired way. In so doing, my prayers is that you might imagine yourself present in this amazing moment of salvation history, and come through it with a deeper commitment to follow Jesus wholeheartedly.

transfiguration

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Christ – The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Christ – Jesus the Healer

As we see the various people Jesus heals in the icon vignette for today, and as we consider our readings (Psalm 103:1-5, Acts 10:34-43, and Luke 3:15-17, 21-22), we are reminded of how healing is part of God’s plan for his people, as a foretaste of eternity, how Jesus heals the whole person, plus how we are instrumental in God’s plan to bring healing to others as Christ’s kingdom advances.

healing the sick

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Christ – Jesus the Healer

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Christ – Blessing of the Children

The vignette of Jesus blessing the children reminds us of those Scriptures (Psalm 147, Deuteronomy, St Luke) that emphasize the importance children have in God’s plan of salvation, as well as how their guileless trust is a model for how we should approach God in faith.

blessing the children

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Christ – Blessing of the Children

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Jesus – Wedding at Cana

As we progress through the Life of Christ icon, we come across the readings from the Second Sunday in Epiphany, Year C, to guide our ruminations. Psalm 36:5-10, Isaiah 62:1-5, and John 2:1-11, each help us appreciate the love of God and how the covenant of marriage models Christ’s love for his Church and how honoring marriage inspires us to pursue a deeper connection with the Triune God whose love for us is unfathomable.

wedding at cana

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Jesus – Wedding at Cana

Ruminations – July 4th and Heavenly Citizenship

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

I never realized how American I was until I riding the Tube in London marveling how quiet it was…even during the evening rush hour. We take cultural givens for granted. Apple pie at a restaurant. Fireworks on the Fourth. Freedom of speech, no matter how intelligent, belligerent, germane, or inane.

I am glad to be an American. The accident of birth that allowed me such a privilege is something for which I’m grateful.

But I am far more glad that Jesus found me. Some might scorn that’s as much an accident of birth as my earthly citizenship. But cultural Christianity in the ghostly form of 1950s civil religion was not how I came into contact with the overwhelming love of the Living God. Besides, human nature being what it is, any soul that says yes to Christ’s call cannot be taken as a given.

Which is why I find the bleeding of star-spangled patriotism into American Christianity so dangerous. It confuses where our salvation comes from.

In St Paul’s day, Roman citizens enjoyed a certain amount of privilege – not unlike being an American citizen. But those privileges masquerade as divine rescue. We start to think our liberty as believers comes from the Bill of Rights, not the Bible. We buy into the American dream of the consumeristic juggernaut instead of the joy of the Lord. We expect our protection to come from our men and women in uniform instead of taking refuge under the shadow of God’s wings.

But freedom, security, contentment…these can only be found when our consciences are washed clean of guilt and our motivations derive from a new heart from Jesus. Our citizenship is in heaven. On this planet earth we are merely foreigners. Sometimes welcome, usually unwelcome. And until Christ returns to bring heaven to earth, our celestial passports are the only privilege worth counting on.

The moment we prefer the good things of Rome, America, or any other earthly state over grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are in danger of idolatry. Right now God and Country language merely smacks of syncretism. At what point will it transfer over to worship of country directly, not even a red, white, and blue crucifix to give Jesus a perfunctory nod?

I thank God I am American. But more than that, I thank God he has adopted me into his family by grace through faith. So should my country ever disappear as so many other earthly kingdoms litter the annals of history, my name is on the role where neither war, nor disaster, nor natural decay can destroy. I am marked as Christ’s own forever!

 

 

 

Ruminations – July 4th and Heavenly Citizenship

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Jesus – Baptism of Our Lord

Continuing through our Lord’s life depicted in the Life of Christ icon, we arrive at his baptism in the Jordan by the John the Baptist. The Psalmist, Prophet Isaiah, and St Luke each reinforce this remarkable moment in Jesus’ life in their own way. And Christ’s very own faithfulness on our behalf opens the way for all baptized persons to take hold resurrection life and our Father’s love by faith.

baptism of christ

Fr. Lenny’s Sermon – Life of Jesus – Baptism of Our Lord