Sermons 2015

 

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The following sermons were recorded in the services of Holy Eucharist at Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church in 2015 and are made available here for the use of parishioners, friends of the parish and the public.

They were delivered by The Reverend Dr. John A. Cerrato (right), Priest-in-Charge (October 2014 – present). Almost all begin with the last few bars of the sequence hymn, then proceed to the sermon itself.

Preaching in Saint Martin’s and in the Episcopal Church is based upon the readings of the Revised Common Lectionary, a weekly arrangement of scripture texts available online (click here for RCL online) and in print form.

The sermons included here are according to Year B  of the RCL, following the current scripture readings of this year’s Church Calendar (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, etc.). In Year B (through 2015 up to late November) the gospel readings were especially, but not always, drawn from the Gospel of Mark. To understand the overall framework of the sermons, it is suggested that the lectionary texts be read first, followed by the hearing of the sermon.

Preaching in the Episcopal tradition is often the preacher’s response to the reading of the Sunday gospel, to other texts of sacred scripture, and perhaps to a collect or to a theme in one of the liturgical prayers. The following recordings follow this approach.

Click on the start prompt at the left of the bars below to hear the sermon you choose.

New Year, New Grace: Advent and the Life of Jesus. November 29, 2015. Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1-9, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36. Narrative texts: the prophet Jeremiah predicts the coming messiah, Paul emphasizes community love until the arrival of the kingdom of God, Jesus predicts the trouble and hope preceding the end times. Themes: the church year, entered anew today, is a lesson in the life of Jesus. Advent as a season of preparation invites us to experience deeper realizations of grace. Invitation: show grace and mercy to yourself in this busy season, so God can share with you more of God’s own grace and mercy.

Wars and Rumors of Wars. November 15, 2015. Readings: Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13:1-8. Narrative texts: Daniel and Mark speak of the end times when trouble will plague the planet, while Hebrews speaks of the offering of Christ on the cross as sacrifice and priest. Themes: in a world vacillating between the extremes of selfishness and servility the cross currents of conflict cause fear and uncertainty. We seek centeredness and strength in the cross, to which we are to bind ourselves by scripture, prayer and the sacrament. Invitation: study scripture, pray daily and receive Holy Eucharist as ways to strengthen faith and courage.

Parish History 101: The Life of Martin of Tours, Our Patron. November 8, 2015. Readings: 1 Kings 17:8-16, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44. Narrative texts: in the story of the widow of Zarephath, she risks all to believe in the prophet Elijah; in Hebrews Christ is depicted as offering himself to God as a sacrifice, and in the gospel a widow gives all to the temple treasury winning the approval of Christ. In the conversion story of Martin, Martin shares his cloak with a poor homeless wanderer and thereafter is blessed with dreams leading him into a new life of faith. Theme: as in the life of Martin, the widow of Zarephath and the widow in the gospel who gives all out of her poverty, we are often called to act first with our hands so that our heart will follow. Taking a risk of faith in obeying the summons of God results in blessings: new paths of journey, provision for life and the gratitude of Christ himself. Invitation: follow the examples of Martin, the widow of Zarephath and the widow of the gospel, offering to God what God asks.

Fullness of Life: A Celebration of All Saints Sunday. November 1, 2015. Readings: Isaiah 25:6-9, Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-6, John 11:32-44. Narrative texts: the prophet Isaiah prophesies the doom of death, the Christian Apocalypse envisions the same with the arrival of a new creation, Jesus of Nazareth raises Lazarus of Bethany from the dead, showing himself to be the resurrection and the life. Theme: we are a resurrection people who pursue fullness of life, not only expecting a home in heaven but also seeking to live now in the presence of the future. The radiance of our destiny is to fill us with greater desire for fullness of life here and now. Invitation: embrace the God-given grace of fullness of life and envision the journey as unending.

A Spirituality of Self-Offering. October 25, 2015. Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-9, Psalm 126, Hebrews 7:23-28, Mark 10:46-52. Narrative texts: Jeremiah predicts the return of God’s people from exile as God offers to Israel God’s parenting care, the Hebrew writer describes Jesus Christ as high priest and sacrifice who offered himself to God and continues to intercede for us, Jesus of Nazareth offers his healing power to the blind beggar Bartimaeus, restoring his sight. Theme: we are called to represent a faith which is both challenging and loving, provocative and peaceful. We are called to engage constantly in self-offering before God and others. Surrender and obedience are also ways of describing our calling. Invitation: embrace self-offering as a central vocation in life and respond to God’s self-offering deeply and fully.

Sharing In and Sharing From. October 11, 2015. Readings: Amos 5:6-7, 10-15, Psalm 90:12-17, Hebrews 4:12-16, Mark 10:17-31. Narrative texts: the prophet Amos calls for growth in the discernment and attitude towards good and evil, the apostle to the Hebrews describes God’s interior discerning of our lives, and Jesus of Nazareth challenges a young person to growth beyond past achievements. Theme: our journey is all about growth. In this season we reflect on growing in grace: generosity, thankfulness, giving. Invitation: seek to share in the grace of God and share from the grace of God.

Homecoming and Harvest: Stewardship 2015. October 4, 2015. Readings: Genesis 2:18-24, Psalm 8, Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16. Narrative texts: Genesis and Mark speak of the image of God reflected in faithful partnership between couples; Hebrews speaks of the supremacy of the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, the image of God for us. Theme: the journey home to God is reflected in this season of harvest and homecoming, in the celebration of God’s grace and generosity. We share in God’s abundance and we share from God’s abundance. Invitation: share Christ with others, share your time and talents, share the wealth, and share in the Eucharistic Feast.

Doing Well and Doing Good. September 27, 2015. Readings: Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22, Psalm 124, James 5:13-20, Mark 9:38-50. Narrative texts: Esther delivers her people from destruction, James counsels prayer for healing and restoration, Jesus of Nazareth bids his disciples welcome the good others seek to do for the kingdom of God. Theme: the sin of dismissiveness, by which we devalue the doing of good by those different from us, is not to be found among the followers of Christ. We are to lead in doing good in the world at all times and in all places. Invitation: Let us do good, for heaven’s sake.

Did Not See that Coming: the God of the Unexpected. September 13, 2015. Readings: Proverbs 1:20-33, Psalm 19, James 3:1-12, Mark 8:27-38. Narrative texts: the Woman Wisdom shows anger at the folly of humanity, James warns against the cavalier and destructive use of human speech, Jesus of Nazareth is angered with Peter who speaks against God’s plan of redemption. Theme: the God we serve is full of surprises, revealing the bigger picture and the longer view to us in moments of self-disclosure. God often seems hidden, then suddenly sends us unexpected news, both good and challenging. Invitation: embrace the freedom of God, whose ways are often unforeseen to those of us who walk by faith.

From the Folly of Pride to the Spirit of Mercy. September 6, 2015. Readings: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23, Psalm 125, James 2:1-10, 14-17, Mark 7:24-37. Narrative texts: the sage of Proverbs tells how God’s justice works between the oppressive rich and the oppressed poor, James calls Christian communities to account for favoritism, dishonor and hypocrisy, and Jesus of Nazareth responds to the persistence of a Gentile woman and a deaf man who seek healing from him. Theme: the folly of pride produces a legacy that follows us down the years, yielding loss and grief. Our faith is to be placed in God’s mercy and undeserved favor to us, not in our own strength. Invitation: seek to face the future trusting in God’s mercy.

Grace upon Grace: The Baptism of Evelyn Grace. August 30, 2015. Readings: Song of Solomon 2:8-13, Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10, James 1:17-27, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23. Narrative texts: the Song of Songs celebrates the longing of love, James calls Christians to the maturity of walking the walk rather than merely talking the talk, and Jesus of Nazareth directs us to interiority as the source of good and evil. Theme: God calls us to grow in faith, hope and love. Patience is often required to believe in our own growth. Invitation: trust that God is calling us to grow and causing us to grow in all the many experiences of life.

Dautel Farewell: Thanksgiving and Goodbye to a Beloved Care Giver. August 23, 2015. Readings: I Kings 8:22-30,41-43, Psalm 84:1-6, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69. Narrative texts: King Solomon builds and dedicates the great temple of God where the ministry of priests is central, the Psalmist expresses love and delight for the house of the Lord, Paul speaks of the spiritual warfare involved in ministry, and Jesus of Nazareth speaks of the eucharistic experience of those who believe in him. Theme: the reality of the priesthood and of those who share in that ministry includes self-care, reflection on our own needs and living into times of restoration. Christ himself made retreats, took inventory and cared for his own spiritual life so that he could serve others better. Invitation: we join in saying thank you and farewell to Terry Dautel for his many years of service and rejoice with him at his decision to retire and move into the future God has for him.

Thanks Be To God: Holy Eucharist, the Gift of Thankfulness. August 16, 2015. Readings: II Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14, Psalm 111, Ephesians 5:15-20, John 6:51-58. Narrative texts: King Solomon becomes known as a prolific worshipper at altar, the Psalmist expresses wholehearted thanksgiving, Paul counsels thankfulness to God at all times and for everything, Jesus of Nazareth declares himself living, heavenly bread for his followers. Theme: the giving of thanks to God is at the heart of the Holy Eucharist, a celebration of the grace and gifts of God in Christ. Invitation: cultivate an attitude of gratitude that fully reflects the divine grace given to us in worship and in life.

I am the Bread of Life. August 9, 2015. Readings: II Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33, Psalm 130, Ephesians 4:25-5:2, John 6:35, 41-51. Narrative texts: King David mourns the loss of his son Absalom, Paul counsels Christians to live in the proper decorum of love, and Jesus of Nazareth declares to his generation “I am the bread of life.” Theme: in our ongoing struggle between aspiring to the ideal and the need to embrace the real, Christ calls us to see him as the meeter of our ultimate needs and desires. Invitation: risk believing that Christ is the provider of our true and lasting needs.

Things Eternal. July 26, 2015. Readings: II Samuel 11:1-15, Psalm 14, Ephesians 3:14-21, John 6:1-21. Narrative texts: David sins with Bathsheba and murders Uriah her husband, Paul prays for the faithful to comprehend the dimensions of God’s love, Jesus of Nazareth feeds a great crowd that would have made him king except that he withdraws, later to walk on water. Theme: We are constantly in need of turning back to the eternal. Fixing our sights on the things that last restores us when we fall, heals and guides. Invitation: pursue a fuller vision of the eternal and its abiding beauty.

Beyond Walls. July 19, 2015. Readings: II Samuel 7:1-14, Psalm 89:20-37, Ephesians 2:11-22, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. Narrative texts: the story of King David’s desire to build a temple but God stops him from building its walls, in a letter to Gentiles Paul speaks of God’s breaking down the dividing wall of the past and building anew for the future, and Jesus, when he sets limits on his own ministry and the ministries of his disciples, immediately lifts those limits when he sees the need and confusion of the world around him. Theme: We are a wall building people who create barriers within and without. Our holiest moments are those when walls become places of prayer and we consider their role in our lives. Invitation: discern which walls are good and helpful and which need to come down, allowing us more openness with others, ourselves and our God.

Opening Gifts. How to Find our Way through the Dancing and the Darkness. July 12, 2015 (8 a.m. service). Readings: II Samuel 6:1-5, 12-19, Psalm 24, Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:14-29. Narrative texts: the story of David dancing before the Lord as the ark is brought home, Paul’s prayer and presentment of God’s vast purposes, and the passion of John the prophet who dies as a witness for the truth in a twisted tale of court intrigue. Theme: we live between several worlds, between dimensions of joy and bitterness, dancing and darkness, truth telling and cruel deception. The question is: how do we find our way, where do we look for guidance? Invitation: look within to the graces and gifts God has given us, especially those we have buried and ignored for far too long, to find ways to let our lights shine.

Grace to Love. July 5, 2015. Readings: II Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10, Psalm 48, II Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13. Narrative texts: the story of David’s accession to the throne, of Paul’s heavenly vision, and of the Galilean rejection of Jesus each point to the temptation to pride. Theme: the pernicious poison of pride is often a silent invader of our lives, eroding our ability to love fully and freely. God brings experiences of humility to free us from pride and free us for love, for the love of God and others. Invitation:  when God grants us the grace of humility and gratitude, use that newfound strength and freedom for love.

Grace isn’t Everything, it’s the Only Thing. June 28, 2015. Readings: II Samuel 1:1,17-27, Psalm 130, II Corinthians 8:7-15, Mark 5:21-43. Narrative text: In the gospel, three individuals encounter Jesus of Nazareth: Jairus, a religious leader, a woman suffering from internal bleeding for twelve years, and a twelve-year-old girl who has died from lingering sickness. Theme: three experiences of grace are vivified in the three individuals who encounter the Christ: the seeker who seeks for herself (the woman), the seeker who seeks on behalf of others (Jairus), and the one who has no strength to seek but who is saved by the intercessions of others and the gracious healing power of Christ (the daughter). Invitation: to find our selves in each of these individuals, as God gives us grace to seek for ourselves, to seek for others, and to be found.

Chaos and Christianity: Facing the Storms of Life in Faith and Fear. June 21, 2015. Readings: Job 38:1-11, Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32, II Corinthians 6:1-13, Mark 4:35-41. Narrative text: In the gospel, Jesus of Nazareth calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee, delivering his disciples from peril and revealing himself as the Lord of nature. He asks them the poignant question: “Why are you afraid?” Theme: Chaos and crisis emerge in the world without warning and fear comes in many forms, some of which can be destructive forces in our lives. Anxiety, stress and alarmism often keep us from fullness of life. Invitation: do not nurture fear but faith.

Newness of Life: Learning to Let Go of the Bad and the Good. June 14, 2015. Readings: Ezekiel 17:22-24, Psalm 92:1-4, 11-14, II Corinthians 5:6-17, Mark 4:26-34. Narrative texts: the prophet Ezekiel, the apostle Paul and Jesus the parable weaver all speak of newness of life, using images of rebirth: seeds taking root and bringing forth a new creation. Theme: we cling to memories of the past, both good and bad: glory days, as well as dark times. Freedom from these allows for new growth and an unfettered future. Invitation: learn to let go of whatever hinders the new creation.

Everything Matters: Thanks Be to God for Our Servant-Leaders. June 07, 2015. Readings: I Samuel 8:4-20, 11:14-15, Psalm 138, II Corinthians 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35. Narrative texts: Samuel bears witness to the people of God turning away from the eternal to the temporal, Paul speaks of an “eternal weight of glory” that God’s people will receive for what we do here, and Jesus looks beyond the earthly family to the heavenly. Theme: The efforts we put into our worship and service matter to us because we believe they matter to God. Invitation: Celebrate and give thanks for those among us who lead us in serving God.