Jesus' Most Shocking Sermon
Today's Gospel reading from the lectionary for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany comes from Jesus's famous sermon known as the Sermon on the Mount, in which he recites the Beatitudes. And if you looked in the bulletin you saw that I titled my homily, today, the BE-attitudes, because these are the attitudes for how to be.
Catching People for Christ?
Some of you may remember a few months ago, I was sharing with you the symbols of all of the world's major faith traditions. And if you remember, they all had to do something with either light, or oneness. So there is the Star of David of Judaism. There is the Islamic symbol of the star and the crescent moon. There is the Buddhist wheel, the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol, and the Hindu Om, symbolizing the Light and Sound of the cosmos. All such beautiful symbols. Then there is our symbol of the Christian cross, which truth be told, is an ancient torture device.
Martin & Jesus: Only Love Can Do That
Well, as I mentioned at the top of the service, tomorrow, we're celebrating a holiday, a holy day if you will, celebrating the life and spirit of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Most of you know that Dr. King wasn't just a civil rights activist. He was also an ordained Christian minister. And in one of his books, Stride Toward Freedom, Dr. King said that the motivation behind the civil rights movement, the inspiration for the movement, came from the teachings of Jesus.
Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
Well, like many of you, when I was a little boy, growing up in the Christian church, I heard a lot at church about heaven – and hell. I learned about how if you were good, you went to heaven after you died. And if you were bad, you went to hell. But then I also learned there was a third place, a place called purgatory. It was kind of this in-between place. And as a boy, in church, we were especially encouraged to pray for all the little babies who were in Purgatory. These were infants who sadly had died before they could be baptized. And then I also learned at church that the world's one and a half billion Muslims, and the world's 1 billion Hindus, and all the millions of Buddhists and Jews. They also weren't in heaven, because they had never been baptized.
That Perfect Light
Well, I'm so sad to say that next Sunday, when you come to church, all of these beautiful Christmas decorations are going to be gone. Our beautiful manger is going to be put away again for another year. Because this week, you see, is the last week of Christmas. Friday is the 12th and final day of Christmas. Now I know some people think that the 12 days of Christmas that we sing about are the 12 days prior to Christmas. But they're actually the 12 days from Christmas to epiphany, which is this Friday, January 6. And on the Epiphany, we celebrate the Magi, or the three wise men