Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Be Ye Perfect..." Matthew 5-7

Trinity Church, (Beaver, PA)
Matthew 5-7
"Be Ye Perfect (or Complete, or Mature)..."

Every December 24th my family—on my mother’s side—comes together to celebrate the holidays.  Only we don’t actually celebrate Christmas.  Instead, being good Reformed/agnostic Jews, we celebrate each other’s company and catch up on happenings of the past year.  We eat potato latkes, listen to Hanukkah songs, and say “uh vey” quite a bit.  I always look forward to Christmas Eve, for it never fails to be my favorite day of the year.      

With that said, my family is a loud and opinionated bunch—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  They’ve got their opinions on sports, celebrities, and fashion, but they save their most passionate speech for issues of politics.  You see I’m from New Jersey, and in Jersey most people are pretty liberal.  Being fairly politically apathetic myself, I enjoy hearing my family rant about health care, the war, and especially Sarah Palin because—quite frankly—it’s entertaining.

My family is concerned about great things.  They hope to see the poor no longer go hungry, they hope to see peace reign supreme, and they hope to see bipartisan polarization extinguished.  And while all these are good things, something always bothered me about the way we talked about these things.  And I couldn’t put my finger on what it was until I read a book by the Catholic novelist Walker Percy called The Moviegoer.

I Don't Want to Forgive (Matthew 18:21-35)

Grace Anglican Church
Date: I forget
Matthew 18:21-35

(I preached the following sermon a few years ago at Grace Anglican Church in Slippery Rock, PA.  I'm a little embarrassed by it.  It's overly personal and I was trying too hard (and I hadn't taken homiletics--an art of preaching class--yet!).  Despite these shortcomings--and others--I still like it.  Hope you do too...)

Holy Spirit… Your words make sense, but they are hard words.  Birth in us the desire to forgive those who have hurt us the most.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

In my junior of college I was functionally engaged to a girl who I thought was “The ONE.”  How we got together was pretty epic.  I asked her out, she said maybe.  I pursued, she said no.  I gave up, her feelings changed, and we got together.  From there the relationship was much like an emotional free fall.  I was on top of the world, she was too, and I dropped the L-bomb for the first time in my life.  We were on a collision course for marriage by the end of the school year. 
The summer months consisted of daily telephone conversations that wreaked havoc on my cell phone bill, and bi-weekly treks from the Jersey Shore to downtown Pittsburgh.  I was smitten, she was too, and the relationship only intensified.        

Two weeks before the school year began; I had gone to visit her at her apartment.   I remember searching the internet looking for teaching jobs, when she drastically limited my options.  She said, “I’m applying to grad schools here, here, and here… you can only work in these areas.

She had given me what I wanted, a not so subtle indication that by the time we graduated we’d be married.  And so I decided not to waste time applying to jobs in other locations.

By this time I had “called off the search.”  This girl was it.