St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
July 28, 2019
The Reverend Rick Veit
Well, we have just about finished another 10-day CFD – Cheyenne Frontier Days. Thank you to all those who have volunteered many, many hours towards this great event that draws in people from all over the country and world. The Veits took it in more fully than we ever have before: four concerts, PBR, Rodeo, Rides, Airshow, Parades, great TASTING foods. I am not sure it was very good for us, but it sure was good for us. I even wore my historic yellow and black U.P., Union Pacific, socks today. Again, cheers to all of those involved, and welcome back to all of those who needed to leave town because of the craziness of CFD. We are happy that you are back.
I am trying to make friends outside of Facebook while applying the same principles.
Therefore, every day I walk down the street and tell passers-by what I have eaten, how I feel at the moment, what I have done the night before, what I will do later and with whom.
I give them pictures of my family, my dog and me gardening, taking things apart in the garage, watering the lawn, standing in front of landmarks, driving around town, having lunch and doing what anybody and everybody does every day.
I also listen to their conversations and give them the “thumbs-up” and tell them I like them.
And it works just like Facebook! I already have four people following me: two police officers, a private investigator and a psychiatrist.
I do not know what this has to do with anything other than, perhaps, be careful how we live our lives. That is good advice. But how do we live our lives? There is that great Robert Fulghum book, All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten. Or quotes that come over Facebook, like one yesterday, “A wise man once said nothing” (Thinking Minds). I like it. I also was writing down some of Tim McGraw’s messages last night: Always Stay Humble Tonight, Be nice to people/help people along, Halleluia/Amen, and, of course, Live Like You Were Dyin’.
My daughter, Lucy, yesterday, as she was looking at my high school newsletter from Denver Lutheran High School, asked me, out of the blue, “Dad, am I a Christian?” Then she asked an immediate follow-up question, “What does being a Christian mean?” GREAT question Lucy – out of the mouths of babes, or eight year olds.
As Christians, our primary source for how to live our lives can be found in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. As Episcopalians, the American wing of the Anglican Church of England, we use the three-legged stool for figuring out how to live our lives: Scripture, Traditions based upon what we know to be true from the scriptures, and Reason, our experience and understanding in life. Scripture, Tradition, and Reason – the three-legged stool. Our closest source for what we believe to be true with the three-legged stool as Episcopalians can be found in virtually the entire Book of Common Prayer. Except for the charts and tables in the back and a few other historical documents, everything that we believe to be true from the Scriptures, Traditions, and Reason can be found in the Book of Common Prayer and in the Canons and Constitution of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Did you know that that is the official name of the Episcopal Church? The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Not surprising: the Episcopal Church would have the word Society in its name. How British of us. But I digress.
The Catechism is found in the back of the prayer book. It is a question and answer section about virtually everything we believe. Every prayer and every liturgy is part of our theology, what we believe to be true. They should be used to help form and steady our lives, especially in the midst of turbulence. In fact, the weekly Eucharist and Daily Office are meant to order our lives that ebb and flow, that raise up to the highs and bring us down into the depths. We also turn to scripture daily and especially on Sundays. In fact, let’s look at the wisdom that can be found on how to live our lives in today’s scriptures. We also learn a bit about who God is and how God acts.
From Genesis, the first book of the Bible and Original Testament, we learn that:
1. We should be righteous and faithful, do what is right and do what God calls us to do. If we do not, there will be consequences.
2. We learn that we are not supposed to live with pride and arrogance, or injustice.
3. We are not supposed to worship idols.
4. We are supposed to care for the poor, for those with any need, and we are supposed to be hospitable.
5. Finally, we are not supposed to be violent sexually, forcing ourselves on one another. That led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
These are some of the messages found in the reading from Genesis today and if you read a little further in the story.
From the New Testament, Paul’s letter to the people of Colossae, we learn that:
1. Our rituals, our merit, and our hard work are all important, but they are not the most important part of life. Because of Jesus, our Messiah, even when we do not do well in life, we can still be with God, both now and for ever. God loves us and forgives us. We do not have salvation because of our rituals or our merit or our hard work. We have salvation because of Jesus Christ.
Back to the Original Testament: Psalm 138 – There are a lot of teachings about how we are to live our lives and how God lives his life as well in the Psalms.
1. We give thanks to God, every moment of every day.
2. We are to sing praises to God for his love and his faithfulness to us.
3. We are to bow down or be humble. Maybe Tim McGraw got his song lyric from Psalm 138
4. We are supposed to call out to God. Converse with God and be honest.
5. We are not supposed to abandon the work that God calls us too. Or, put another way, be active in the faith.
Then we learn about how God lives.
1. He is high, but cares for the lowly, those in need. There is that recurring theme again.
2. He watches out for the haughty, the pompous, those that need all the attention.
3. God keeps us safe and stretches out his hand against our enemies.
4. He makes good his purpose for us.
5. And his love endures for ever.
Finally, in the Gospel of Luke, back to the New Testament, as we live our lives,
1. We are to pray, or talk to God. There is another recurring theme.
2. How are we to pray? Jesus shows us. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us each day our daily bread, or give us our sustenance. And forgive us our trespasses or sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial, or temptation. And at the end of the prayer, many years later, the church added, For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen, or so be it!
3. Next, we learn that we are supposed to serve those who are hungry, those who are in need. Again, there is that recurring theme in both the New and Original Testaments. And we are not just supposed to serve lightly and mildly, but boldly, not giving up until all of those in need have received what they need.
4. Lastly, we are supposed to ask God, Continue searching for answers, and Knock, or be persistent and active in our life and faith in what God is calling us to do.
It is a lot to take in all in one week. Usually I just focus on a few points each sermon. But you can see the range and depth of what we can learn on any given Sunday. This week, go back again and study these Bible readings that we heard today. See what God places on your hearts. He shows us how to live in the scriptures. From those scriptures we form traditions. And we interpret those scriptures from our experiences.
To God be the glory. And remember, it is the three-legged stool that primarily helps bring us together as Christians, not Facebook. Sorry Mr. Zuckerberg. By the way, I wonder if he tithes his earnings and his time and talent. But I digress. Amen.