Sermon: August 28, 2022: Jeremiah 2:4-13. Rev. Nathaniel Athian Deng Mayen
What wrong(evil)did your fathers (ancestors)find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthless things (idols), and became worthless themselves? Jer. 2:5.
This important question comes directly from the Lord (Yahweh) to the hearers, the audience who listen to Jeremiah’s preaching of the living word of Yahweh. As a result, we who are here at St. Mary and everyone who believes in Yahweh must wrestle with this question. It is at the heart of the identity of Israel, as the covenant people with early devotion in Yahweh (Jer. 2:1-3), and the identity of the church, whose sole mission is God’s love and justice to the world.
Freedom at last! This is the commonest slogan in different nations struggling for independence from the oppressors. We hear and admire the slogan because it is at the heart of individual freedom, the most valued commodity in our culture.
Therefore, when we read Jesus announcing freedom to the woman, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment” (Luke 13:12), and laying his hands on her so that she immediately “stood up straight and began praising God” (Lk. 13:13), we understand individual freedom is a free gift from God.
However, strong opposition resulted from the religious leaders who were concerned about the healing of the woman on the Sabbath. Interesting enough, instead of facing Jesus and questioning him directly, the leader of the Synagogue turns to the crowd for validation of the accusation against Jesus.
(Modified 2022-06-19: Added audio recording of sermon)
“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you” (Luke 8:39).
In Christ Jesus, we have a lot to be thankful. One of the precious gifts from Triune God is freedom. What is freedom in God? Freedom from what? Freedom to do what? How does freedom feel?
The picture that Apostle Paul and Evangelist Luke have painted for us this First Sunday after Trinity is that of a jail, including the handcuffs, chains and chackles, and the image of the possibility of being locked in the most feared maximum-security cell without the possibility of a parole.
Good Friday is the most significant day that we remember or reflect on the only moment when humanity and God were reconciled in a drastic process of love, forgiveness of sin, and the death of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God whose ministry has revealed God to humanity.
This is even a simplistic representation of the theme of the cross for us because Christians have no consensus on how the death of Christ has reconciled us to God or led to the forgiveness of our sins. After reading William Placher’s book, Jesus the Saviour, this week I was struck by his remarkable discovery: “the Christian tradition has never taken an ‘official’ position on how Christ’s death helps save us” (p. 113). For this reason, John Calvin has acknowledged a plurality of possibilities: “If the death of Christ be our redemption, then we were captives; if it be satisfaction, we were debtors; if it be atonement (reconciliation), we were guilty; if it be cleansing, we were unclean” (113, emphasis added).
I would like us to approach our preaching today through the atonement (reconciliation) perspective, in view of the same theme in Leviticus 16 (I encourage you to read this chapter at your free time).
First Sunday in Lent – March 6, 2022. St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, Regina.
We thank God for his protection, enabling us to enter safely into the season of Lent. In Lent we preach and learn about certain preparations for the upcoming season of Easter because we havecompleted witnessing great signs of the inbreaking and revelation of the kingdom of God into human history during the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.
While the focus in our Anglican liturgical and preaching calendar is Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God whose birth, ministry, death and resurrection reconcile humanity with God, Lent particularly zooms into the description about how our life should emulate Jesus Christ and his suffering for others, thereby giving us a glimpse into Christ’s life and ministry as the benchmark of Christian teaching on discipline and discipleship. We will talk about discipline today.
Christian discipline is a thoughtful process of spiritual training, correction and practice that results in transformation of heart and behaviour and enables us learn about how we shouldinteract with and understand God.
On this Second Sunday of Epiphany, we continue our reading about the manifestation or revelation of Jesus Christ to the people, cultures and the nations of the world.
One may ask why Jesus Christ should be revealed to us? It is because Christ is the Son of God who has revealed God’s love for us by offering to be the sacrificial lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. According to the Gospel of John, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart (bosom), who has made him known” (1:18).
Epiphany is also about the compelling personal transformation as become aware and accept the new identity that uplifts us beyond our normal life to the new lifecycle of love, hope and faith.
(Modified 2021-12-05: Revised sermon text. Added recording of this sermon.)
Second Advent Sunday December 5, 2021. St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, Regina
Readings: Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6.
Living God, increase your joy in us so that we may praise and worship you in truth and spirit. Amen.
When you read about how Judah was overrun by the enemies and how Jerusalem was destroyed during the time of Jeremiah and Baruch, you may ask where is God in this situation?
When you read how Paul was imprisoned and humiliated, you may ask where is God in all this?
When you think of the ongoing coronavirus that has confined us into our houses and inflicted great pain and suffering in us, because we have lost friends, coworkers, family members, or someone we know personally, you may ask where is God in all this?
There are other countless examples that we may give on how we may think in human terms about situations where we expect the powerful hands of God, but all we see and find is darkness hovering over our lives and denying us the joy of life. There is no joy in these circumstances, is there?
(Modified 2021-11-07: Added audio recording of this sermon.)
Sermon. All Saints Sunday November 6, 2021. St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, Regina. Nathaniel Athian Deng Mayen.
Today we are celebrating the great and wonderful Feast of All Saints, or as it used to be called, “The Feast of All Hallows”, from which we get the word ‘Hallowe’en’.
Rather than doing scary things, I would like to give a brief summary of the readings before we talk about the concept of the ‘communion of the saints’ and its significance to our faith.
In Isaiah 25:6-9, we read about God’s deliverance of the faithful from the oppressive regimes of the world, that is, sin and death. It is from the Scripture such as this that suffering, persecution and martyrdom, the blood shed for the sake of our faith in Christ, are considered signs of sainthood in ancient Christian theology and teaching. We suffer and die now on earth in hope that our faith will be accredited righteousness in the new life to come with Christ.
(Modified 2021-10-10: Added audio recording of this sermon)
(Following the sermon text below is an Appendix with supporting material.)
St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church. October 10, 2021. Sermon on Matthew 6:25-33
May the Spirit of God the Father and of Son, the crucified, risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, our true and everlasting righteousness, inspire us to listen and understand the Word of life that nourishes and preserves our bodies and souls into eternal life. Amen.
The opening sentence to the Gospel reading today, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25), seems contradictory to the Canadian cultural and social spirit for the Thanksgiving weekend, where the emphasis is mostly about celebrating the human merits and everything else, we think is a result of our success.