|Hope - from my neighbor's yard yesterday evening|
"Today’s service - as well as last week’s - was a welcome respite for me. I’m writing to let you know that and to ask if you’d be willing to share your Sermon for the World. I’d like - with your permission - to share it on my personal blog (which is mostly about knitting and two adorable little boys) this week. Your sermons these past few months have impressed me not only because they’re so relevant (I have also been impressed by the timeliness of the lectionary), but because they’re directly on point, while not being divisive. These past two weeks have been especially good. and today’s was exactly what I needed. I know our congregation is diverse. And while I’m not sure what my neighbors in the pews might think about our new President, I’d like to think they believe in truth, justice and humility. and that scripture and sermons like these will inspire us all to question and act."
He replied back that he would be happy for me to share his words. But first I need to share the lectionary. Matthew 5:1-12, the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, commonly known as the Beatitudes:
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (NRSV)
And now, Ollie's Sermon for the World:
The Good life belongs to the successful who hold the world in their hand.
Happiness is yours when you rise and triumph.
Aim for power that dominates others so you can enlarge your wealth.
Obey your thirst and feed your hungers with pleasures and plenty.
You simply can’t have too much fun.
Give away to others only what you must. Keep all you can.
It may take lies, deceit, and corruption to get to the top--so don’t get caught.
Finally, bottom line, if someone criticizes you, seek revenge and hit hard. Don’t feel badly about this, it has always been this way on earth.
Two roads lead from where we are (and hasn’t that been true since the beginning of time?)….the kingdom of earth and its rulers… and the kingdom of God with its prophets. Which road will you travel? Whose voice will you heed?*Dr. Oliver Wagner, Senior Pastor, Alpharetta Presbyterian Church - commonly known in my family as Dr. Ollie.