Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wise Words.

Hope - from my neighbor's yard yesterday evening
Sunday morning I had the privilege of hearing a sermon that moved me to tears. I came home and wrote my pastor* an email:
"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.

15 comments:

  1. That sermon was not what I was expecting with your introduction and it took me a minute to figure out what Dr. Ollie was getting it. But now that I have figured it out - YES!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this. We are in a pastoral transition and I am left feeling undernourished on Sundays. This Monday, I opened my Bible and started reading the sermon on the mount. I wrote it out in my journal and have been pondering the words the last two days. I do believe there is more to this message for me.

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  3. Like Carole, the sermon was not quite what I was expecting -- and I had to re-read (more carefully). Thanks for sharing. Yes . . . wise words.
    XO

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  4. Wow. I am so happy that he allowed you to share this, it is absolutely perfection!

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  5. WHOA! That certainly gets your attention. Totally unexpected and oh.so. appropriate in these "trying times." Please share our remarks with Dr. Ollie...and thank you so very much for sharing , Mary.

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  6. Wow! I think we must use the same lectionary in the Catholic Church. Our priest spoke about the importance of not objectifying people, but seeing each person, no matter their race, religion, or political views, as a person loved by God; he went on to talk about the importance of living by the beatitudes vs. their opposites. Thank you for sharing this, it is important and I believe that we can make a difference!

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  7. I likewise thought the lectionary for Sunday was supremely perfect - funny how that works, isn't it? And, I agree - that sermon is indeed spot on!

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  8. Spot on! Thank you for sharing and please thank Dr. Ollie as well.

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  9. Such an interesting contrast ... and powerful.

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  10. Truly wise words! My appreciation to Dr. Ollie for allowing you to share. Thank you, Mary.

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  11. Please thank your Rev. Dr. Ollie for allowing his words to be shared with all. Also thank you for sharing this with all of us. I truly appreciate it.

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    Replies
    1. You're so welcome. Ollie always provides food for though on Sunday mornings; I'm glad we could share a little of that with y'all.

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  12. So powerful. Thank-you Mary and Dr. Ollie!

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  13. We are following the lectionary as well. This was my facebook post last Sunday:

    Did you study the Beatitudes in church this morning? Did they go something like this? Yea, I didn't think so.

    Blessed are the rich, the powerful, the important! For the world will dance to their tune.
    Blessed are the strong, the aggressive, the ruthless! For their enemies will fear them.
    Blessed are the arrogant, the winners, the conquerors! For they will be admired, celebrated and talked about.
    But woe to you who are poor, for the world doesn’t owe you a thing.
    Woe to you who are meek, for your enemies will walk all over you.
    Woe to you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for that’s unrealistic and nobody cares.

    (Anti-beatitudes written by Steven Greydanus)

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  14. The right road and the right voice-the choice is yours. Ollie does have a way with words. I need to get back for another service sometime soon. Thank you for sharing- as always!

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Thanks for the feedback!