So glorify God in your body

A Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Philemon 1:1-21; Luke 14:25-33

What does it mean to be practical? Realistic? Use common sense in the Christian life? The example given us today is slavery. If you look it up, you find out that there are about 40 million slaves today. We tend to have a Hollywood view of slavery as something long gone. Hollywood doesn’t tell us that there are more slaves today, even accounting for the increase in population, than in the early centuries. (Hollywood also doesn’t tell us that more Christians have died for their faith in the past hundred years than in all the years before that.)

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“This rule: A cross-controlled view”

A sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Galatians 6:14-16

You may be surprised that we’re singing a Lenten hymn, “Come to Calvary’s High Mountain,” but it goes with Galatians 6:14-16: “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” Finally here at the end of Galatians there’s a rule, something to go by, something that tells us what to do.

Someone has said: “Theology bakes no bread. What’s the use of it? What’s important is how you live, what you do. We have to be practical. All of this other stuff doesn’t do anything. Just tell me what to do.” Here at the end of Galatians Paul says: “Peace and mercy upon those who live by this rule.”

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Christianity is a Maverick Religion

A sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Galatians 3:23-4:9

When you hear “Maverick,” what do you think of? Many will think of the wildly popular movie, “Top Gun: Maverick.” This movie was just released in May 2022, and it has already grossed globally over $1.3 billion. The lead character is Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a US Navy pilot, and he is a maverick, a person with a stubborn streak of independence. The story is loosely based on a real Navy pilot, Duke Cunningham and his accomplishments during the Vietnam War.

Older people among us may remember the TV show “Maverick,” from the early 1980’s, starring James Gardner, about a professional poker player in the Old West. This series was itself a revival of a similar Western from the 1950’s.

“Maverick” is a moniker used far beyond the movies. Ford Motor Company has a Maverick pick-up truck. There are Maverick thermometers, Maverick boats, Maverick flying cars. Maverick concerts. Maverick mountain bikes. Maverick chocolates.

When we read the letters of Paul, it becomes apparent that Paul was a maverick. He was considered an oddball by other apostles. What was the problem? He said: Not by the law. “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything” (Gal 6:15).

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“Who am I? I am Thine.”

A sermon for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Galatians 2:20

The ultimate question is: What is really, really, really real? What is truth? Of course, that says something about who you are and who I am, but it’s really the ultimate question: What’s really, really, really real?

There is no other Gospel. Paul is very harsh about that. He uses the strongest language: Even if an angel from heaven preaches another gospel, let him be damned.

He says in Galatians 2:5 and 2:14 that “the truth of the gospel” is what it’s about. Then in Gal 2:20 he points out exactly what that means for you and me.

When we ask: What is truth?, most of us think of Pilate and his question: “What is truth?” (John 18:38). And the paragraph ends. Who knows? As the poet Swinburne wrote: “Pilate asked: ‘What is truth?’ and did not stay for an answer.”

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Far be it from me to glory except in the cross

A Sermon for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Gal 1-2; 6:14-17

Paul writes in Galatians 1:6-9 that if anybody, even an angel from heaven, preaches any other gospel, let him be damned. “Any other gospel” means anything that is different from the truth of the gospel. Anyone who preaches anything different is excluded from God forever.

Other Christian leaders challenged Paul, saying: “Who do you think you are to say that? Where did you get that? Who are you, Paul? Where is your basis for saying ‘the truth of the gospel’ and ‘no other gospel?’”

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