Tag Archives: humility

All Is Not as It Seems!

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Bible Readings for Sunday January 29, 2017

“All is not as it seems!” That would seem to be the underlying message in each of today’s readings from Holy Scripture.

micah_prophetThe prophet Micah narrates a divine lawsuit that God himself is pursuing against the nation of Israel, with the hills and mountains serving as members of the jury. The people of Israel have turned from their God. Oh, yes, they worship the Lord in his Temple. They are willing to sacrifice thousands of rams, rivers of oil. Some are even willing to sacrifice their children. But what they are not willing to do is do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with their God. The people think that their outward piety is enough to gain God’s favor. But they are quite wrong. All is not as it seems!

probably_valentin_de_boulogne_-_saint_paul_writing_his_epistles_-_google_art_projectSt. Paul speaks of the foolishness of the message of the Cross to those who insist on their own self-destruction. Paul knows just how hard it is for people to see the truth behind the scandal of the Cross. The Jews want miracles before they will believe. The Greeks demand philosophical argument and mathematical proof. What they get is the Cross. What they get is a Son of God who is shamefully and painfully executed as a troublemaker. To those in power, the God of the Christians is weak and pitiful. He cannot save even his own Son. They are blind to the fact that the death of God’s Son offers the whole world salvation. All is not as it seems!

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Be United in the Mind of Christ

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Bible Readings

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Over the years, you have probably noticed that I tend to preach primarily from the Gospel reading. But not today! Something in St. Paul’s epistle drew me to it; it seemed to speak to the situation in America today. So you won’t get yet another sermon about evangelism and fishing for people. Instead, you will get a homily on what it might mean to share the mind of Christ.

st_paul1St. Paul is writing to a small church that he started in the city of Corinth. He has been informed that the church is splintering into factions. As their spiritual father, he is determined to put the kibosh on that. After a few introductory remarks, he gets to the point: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”

Although elsewhere Paul refers to himself as the Corinthians’ spiritual father, here he calls them “brothers and sisters.” Here, he emphasizes that they are all of equal stature in Christ, and most importantly, that they are all one family. Paul explicitly calls on the name of Jesus to emphasize the solemnity of his exhortation, which is to be united in the same mind. Now, in today’s reading, it isn’t obvious what Paul means by sharing the same mind. But in his letter to the Philippians, he makes it crystal clear:

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:1–8)

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Pride goes before destruction…

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Bible Readings

There is a common thread tying together the first reading from the book of Sirach and the Gospel reading from Luke, and that commonality is human pride, one of the so-called seven deadly sins.

Sirach, a book of the Apocrypha, was  written by a wisdom teacher, someone we would probably call a “life coach.” His purpose was to teach young men how to get along in life without forsaking God. He teaches that human pride is a sinful forsaking of God our Maker and results in ruin.

Jesus, speaking at a dinner party, comments on the guests’ scramble for the best seats at the dinner table by telling a parable. The moral of that parable is “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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Pride is clearly considered problematic. For English-speakers, the very word is problematic. Pride can mean “a reasonable or justifiable self-respect.” When we see parents displaying bumper stickers about their kids’ being on the honor roll, it doesn’t seem particularly sinful. When San Francisco hosts a Pride Day Parade, it is not meant to promote a deadly sin (though some might disagree with me there!). The kind of pride that is condemned as sinful is the state of mind in which a person lives as if they are the very center of Creation, that their accomplishments are unique, and that everything in this world matters only in so far as it affects them. Such a person forgets that everyone, and I mean everyone, is a beloved creature of God, and that every gift and every accomplishment ultimately derives from the Creator. But there is another way of looking at pride. One writer on patristic spirituality says, “[Pride’s] essential quality is not found in having too high an opinion of oneself so much as too low an opinion of everyone else” (Roberta Bondi, To Love as God Loves). I kind of like that!

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