“The Gospel gives us pause” — a sermon by the Rev. Susan K. Smith

February 23rd, 2014
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7Th Sunday after Epiphany - 10 am Eucharist - Feb. 23, 2014

February 23rd, 2014

Presider - The Very Rev. Mike Kinman
Preacher - The Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith
Deacon - The Rev. Cathy Johnston

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“Come. See. Hold. Live.” - A sermon by the Very Rev. Mike Kinman, Feb. 16, 2014

February 16th, 2014

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. And I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

Are you nervous yet? Because Jesus brought his fastball this morning. 

If you call your brother or sister a fool, you’re going to hell.

If you look at a woman with lust, you’re committing adultery

If you get divorced or marry a divorced woman, you’re committing adultery.

And don’t even think about swearing an oath!

What happened? Wasn’t Jesus just saying “You are the light of the world!” Wasn’t he just telling us “Blessed are the meek?” What is going on here? And how can this be good news for us? 

How can this be good news for us when some of us are divorced? And some of us have married people who are divorced. 

How can this be good news for us when every single one of us has called someone an idiot -- many of us while driving here this morning ... and every single one of us has sworn “I promise” and probably pretty close to every single one of us – giving a hall pass to our youngest members – have looked on another person with lust?

Well, I’ll tell you how. This is good news because Jesus isn’t Santa Claus. He’s not making a list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. This morning, Jesus is giving us a framework for living in community. He’s showing us what it means to live as the beloved community of Christ. And it’s about four things:

Come together
See each other fully
Hold on to each other tightly
Live together with integrity

Let me say those again, ‘cause they’re important:

Come together
See each other fully
Hold onto each other tightly
Live together with integrity.

First, come together. Jesus says:

“When you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

That’s come together. Everything Jesus is saying in this Gospel reading is not about individual behavior but about how we live together as his Body. The Sermon on the Mount is preached in plural. And that means we are the Body of Christ first and individuals second. And it is all of our responsibility to make sure we are reconciled as a body. It is all of our responsibility to make sure we come together as one.

Did you catch what Jesus is doing here? He’s not saying “if you have a problem with someone” … he’s saying “if you know someone has a problem with you.” We need each to be so aware of the whole community that we know when someone has something against us, and then we don’t wait for them to come to us, we take it on ourselves to begin that process of making peace. 

Everything we do, we do together. Before we do anything else, we come together.

And when we come together, we see each other fully.

Jesus says “everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The sin of lust is not sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is not a sin. In fact, sexual attraction is really, really awesome! I don’t think many of us would be here without it! Sexual attraction and attractiveness is natural and wonderful -- but it is only a piece of who we are. The sin of lust is looking at someone solely for how they can gratify us. It is the sin of not seeing each other fully.

Now lust has been around for a long time. It was obviously a deal in Jesus’ time and really, way before that. We know it's at least as far back as David and Bathsheba, and I don't think he was breaking any new ground, either! But today, we have turned it into a foundation of our global economy. And I’m not just talking about the extreme examples – buying and selling women in prostitution and the multibillion dollar pornography industry. It’s so much bigger than that. Every time we turn on a TV or see a rack of magazines or log online we are being sold the lie that women are objects for sexual gratification. We are being told that it’s OK to see another human being as an object. To look at someone only in terms of what they can do for us. 

And that’s the sin. It’s the sin because in Christ, we see the full person. If we see someone who is beautiful and whom we’re attracted to, that’s fantastic, that’s wonderful! But we never stop there. We appreciate the beauty and enjoy the attraction but never forget that there is so much deeper beauty and so much deeper joy in seeing the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. We never forget that each person is the image of God and sacred, and so each person must be respected and cherished and never, ever used.

When we come together in Christ, we are not blind to our sexuality, we celebrate it as a gift. But we celebrate it as a gift of giving, not taking. Of loving, not using. We see the full person. And we let ourselves fully be seen.

And then we hold onto each other tightly.

The scriptures on divorce are some of the hardest for us to hear because pretty much all of us have experienced divorce either personally or in our families or friends. And both church and society have bad records with divorce – the church for condemning it too broadly and society for allowing it too freely.

Marriage - and when I say marriage, I mean both  same- and different-sexed holy unions. Marriage is a sacrament that signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his church. It is a relationship of intimate, self-giving love that is always life-giving and is never life-taking. And when marriage stops being that. When for any number of reasons it becomes toxic … not just inconvenient or annoying or boring … but toxic, where it no longer is a relationship of life-giving love but has become damaging or even deadly, then divorce may absolutely be the right decision because if the sacrament is already dead then divorce is just calling the patient.

Jesus’ ethic of divorce was extreme because in his day a woman who was divorced was cast away with no means of support. And in Christian community we don’t do that. We don’t cast one another aside. In Christian community we come together, we see each other fully and we hold onto each other tightly.

Jesus’ teaching on divorce is not just about two persons’ marriage but about how we live together as a community. We are in it together for the long haul. Yes, if a relationship becomes toxic and death-producing, someone may need to leave. But we don’t turn tail at first sign of trouble … or because it’s gotten boring … or because we are having a fight … or because maybe someone better comes along. As Christian community we come together, we see each other fully and we hold onto each other tightly.

Finally, we live together with integrity. 

Jesus says: “Do not swear at all … Let your word be `Yes, Yes' or `No, No'; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”

If we live together with integrity, we never need to say “I promise” because our word is always good. Our word is always enough. When we say “I promise” it really calls into question all the other times we say something and don’t say “I promise.” As a community of truth-tellers. As people who come together, who see each other and allow each other to be seen fully and who hold onto each other tightly, we mean what we say and we say what we mean and with God’s help we walk our talk.

So we never have to guess what someone is really thinking or what ulterior motive might be driving them. As Christian community, what you see is what you get. As Christian community, we live together with integrity.

Come together.
See each other fully.
Hold onto each other tightly.
Live together with integrity.

Is there a better recipe for an extraordinary life? Could there possibly be a more wonderful and transformational way to live? Where we all deal with conflict lovingly and celebrate each other for who we are as images of God and stick together through thick and thin and know our word is as good or better than gold?

That is the beloved community of Christ. That is who we are. It is how we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. It is the powerful meekness that will inherit the earth. And it is not just good news, it is the best of news. 

Come together.
See each other fully
Hold on to each other tightly
Live together with integrity

Be the people of God. Amen.

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“Hello, My Name is Jesus” — A sermon for our Eucharistic Annual Meeting

January 20th, 2014
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Annual Meeting Eucharist

January 20th, 2014

The Eucharistic Annual Meeting of Christ Church Cathedral. 

Isaiah 49:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42
Psalm 40:1-12

Presider and Preacher -- The Very Rev. Mike Kinman
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“Good news of great joy for all y’all” - a Christmas sermon by Dean Mike Kinman

December 26th, 2013

Sermon only from Midnight Mass at Christ Church Cathedral

Preacher - The Very Rev. Mike Kinman

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Midnight Mass

December 26th, 2013

The Festival of the Holy Nativity

Presider -- The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith
Preacher - The Very Rev. Michael D. Kinman
The Cathedral Choir -- Canon Precentor William "Pat" Partridge
Harp - Sue Taylor

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Christmas Lessons and Carols

December 26th, 2013

A service of Lessons and Carols at Christ Church Cathedral

4 pm, Tuesday, December 24
Presider - The Very Rev. Michael D. Kinman
The Cathedral Choir -- Canon Precentor William "Pat" Partridge
Harp - Sue Taylor
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Basic Anglicanism Session IV - Connected globally, living locally - the mission of Christ Church Cathedral

November 11th, 2013

Here is the podcast for session IV of Basic Anglicanism. If you're more a visual type, the script can be downloaded here:


http://freepdfhosting.com/d474578264.pdf
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Basic Anglicanism Session III - The Anglican Way of Doing Theology

November 1st, 2013

The podcast before session III of Basic Anglicanism -- The Anglican Way of Doing Theology.


The script is downloadable at http://freepdfhosting.com/73fd77c39f.pdf
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