Grace Northeast Sunday Sermons
Jesus, Immanuel — Sunday, December 1, 2019

Jesus, Immanuel — Sunday, December 1, 2019

December 2, 2019

Reading from the Hebrew Bible: Isaiah 7:10-17, 10:20, 10:27, 11:1-3 

Ahaz was king over Judah, and two of the kings of Israel threatened to attack Jerusalem.  Ahaz’s heart was shaken to its core. And through the prophet Isaiah the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, “Ask for a sign from me, the Lord your God; it can be deep as the pit of death, or high as heaven.”

But Ahaz said, “No, I will not ask! I will not put the Lord to the test.”

Then Isaiah said:
Hear then, O house of David!
Is it not enough that you wear out your fellow humans, 
that you tire God also?
God will chose the sign for you:
Look, there is a virgin who is pregnant and shall bear a son,
and shall name him Immanuel.
He will eat rich foods, curds and honey,
by the time he is old enough to reject evil and choose good.
For before he is old enough to reject evil and choose good,
the land of the two kings whom you dread will be laid waste.

On that day the faithful remnant of Israel 
will not lean on the one who struck them,
but on the Lord, the Holy One of truth.

On that day the burden of the Assyrian oppressors
will be removed from your shoulder,
and his yoke broken from your neck.

Then a shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of its roots.
The spirit of the Lord will rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and awe of the Lord.

 

The Good News: Matthew 1:18-25 

This is how the birth of Jesus, the Anointed, took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but they did not live together. She was found to be pregnant, with a child from the Holy Spirit. Her fiancé Joseph was a righteous man, and knew she would be publicly disgraced, so he planned to break the engagement quietly. But the same night he decided to do this, in a dream he saw an angel of the Lord, who said to him:

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child she carries truly is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.”

When Joseph awoke, he did exactly what the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took Mary as his wife, and when she gave birth to her son, he named him Jesus.

Gifts to God, Gifts for Others — Sunday November 24, 2019

Gifts to God, Gifts for Others — Sunday November 24, 2019

November 25, 2019

DEUTERONOMY 15:1-11

Moses told the people: Every seventh year you will forgive all debts. And this is how: every lender shall forgive the loans they made to a neighbor, because God’s forgiveness has been proclaimed. If there is a stranger among you, then you may continue to ask for the money back, but you must forgive whatever any member of your community owes you. But there should not be any needy among you - God will surely bless you in the land you are being given, if you will obey the Lord your God by diligently observing this entire commandment that I command you today. When the Lord your God has blessed you, as is promised, you will lend to many nations, but you will not need to borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.

If there is among you anyone in need, any member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your neighbor in need. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Be on guard against selfish thoughts, such as, “But the seventh year, the year of forgiveness, is near, and thus my neighbor might not ever pay me back;” your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you, and you would be found guilty. Give liberally and be generous when you do give; when you follow this commandment, then God will follow the promise to bless you. Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you: “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.”

 

LUKE 20:45-21:6

Where everyone could hear him, Jesus turned to the disciples and said, “Beware of the religious leaders, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in public, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at dinner. They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the
temple collection; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their
abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

When others were looking at the temple, admiring its beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

Whose Face Is On This Coin? — Sunday November 17, 2019

Whose Face Is On This Coin? — Sunday November 17, 2019

November 18, 2019

The readings for this Sunday: 

Deuteronomy 14:22-29

When you reap the harvest of your field, set aside ten percent of everything you gather. When the Lord your God has chosen a place for the temple, where the name of God will live, you will bring that ten percent - grain, wine, and oil, and the first-born of your herds and flocks - and there you will eat it as a great feast, so that you will learn to give thanks to God. You shall eat right there in the temple, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your family rejoicing together. And do not neglect the priests when you do this, for remember - they were set aside to serve, and have no land to farm.

But every third year, when you bring ten percent of what you have gathered, you will not eat it in the temple, but store it in your own town: and the priests, the foreigners, the orphans, and the widows may come and eat their fill, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work that you undertake.

 

Luke 20:20-26

The religious leaders watched Jesus and sent spies, who pretended to have honest questions, in order to catch him in something he said and hand him over to the governor. So these religious spies flattered him, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach. You do not compromise for anyone, but teach the way of God in truth. So tell us: is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But he could see through their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a coin. Whose face and name is on it?” They replied, “Caesar.” He replied, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And they could not trap him in what he said, and were struck silent by his answer.

The Lamb on the Throne — November 3, 2019

The Lamb on the Throne — November 3, 2019

November 4, 2019

READING FROM THE HEBREW BIBLE     ISAIAH 25:1-10

L:  O Lord, you are my God;
      I will exalt you, I will praise your name;
for you have done wonderful things,
    plans made far in the past, faithful and sure.
A:  Even the powerful city you have made a heap
    the fortified city a ruin;
the palace of strangers is a city no more,
    it will never be rebuilt.

L: Therefore even the powerful will glorify you;
    cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
A:  For you have been a refuge to the poor,
    a refuge to the needy in their distress,
    a shelter from the monsoon and a shade from the heat.

L:  On a holy mountain the Lord will make for all people
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
    of rich food that melts on the tongue.
A:  On this mountain, God will destroy
   the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
   the pall that is spread over all nations;
   the Lord will swallow up death forever.

L:  Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
    and the people’s disgrace will be taken away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.
    It will be said on that day,
A:  Lo, this is our God; we have waited for God,
     so that we might be saved.
     This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
     let us be glad and rejoice in the salvation of God.

L:  This is the word of the Lord.
All:  Thanks be to God.

REVELATION 7:9-17

L:  John wrote: I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They called out together:

A:  “Salvation belongs to our God
      who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

L:  And all the angels fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,

A:  “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving
       and honor and power and might
       be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

L:  There were twenty-four elders seated on chairs around the throne. One of them spoke to me and said: “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” He replied: “These are they who have come out of the great trial; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason they are before the throne of God,
    and worship God day and night within the temple,
    and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
    the sun will not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat;
for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
    who will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Righteousness and Grace — October 27, 2019

Righteousness and Grace — October 27, 2019

October 28, 2019

Readings for the day:

Psalm 46

L: God is our refuge and strength,

a helper always near in times of trouble.

A: Therefore we will not fear, even if the earth should shake,

even if the mountains crumble into the sea,

even if its waters roar and rage,

even if the mountains shake because of its surging waves.

L: Even when the seas rage, there is a river that sustains us,

a stream that waters the city of God,

bringing joy to the dwelling of the Most High.

A: God is in that city. It will never crumble.

When morning dawns, we will see how God has sustained it.

L: Nations roar; kingdoms crumble.

But God speaks, and the earth melts.

A: The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!

The God of Jacob is a strong tower, a safe place for us.

L: Come, see the Lord’s deeds,

how God puts an end to the evils of the world:

bringing wars to an end,

breaking the bow and shattering the spear,

burning chariots with fire.

A: God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.

I am praised among the nations.

I am praised throughout the earth.”

The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!

The God of Jacob is a strong tower, a safe place for us.

 

Romans 3:19-28

Paul writes, “We know that whatever religious law says, it says to those who are still under its power. In this way, every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For as the psalmist says, ‘no human being will be justified in the sight of God’ by the works the religious law requires, because the law only reveals our sin and our failure to live up to the law. But now, entirely apart from religious law, the righteousness of God has been revealed! We can find support for it in religious law and in their voices of the prophets: the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. There is no distinction: all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; they are now justified by God’s grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement in his death through faith. God did this to reveal such divine righteousness; in patience and tolerance God passed over the sins of the past, to prove at the present time that God is righteous and that God justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of boasting, by one who has done what religious law requires? It is nothing. By what law? By that of works? No! By the law of faith. For we believe that a person is justified by faith, apart from works required by religious law.”

 

Luke 18:9-17

Jesus also told this parable to those who trusted in their own righteousness and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a religious leader and the other a tax collector. The religious man, standing by himself, was praying like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like that tax collector over there. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was pounding his chest in mourning and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

People were bringing even babies to Jesus that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they grew angry and loud, sending them away. But Jesus called them back, saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them. The kingdom of God belongs to people like these children. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

Guest Preacher Grace Alworth - October 20, 2019

Guest Preacher Grace Alworth - October 20, 2019

October 21, 2019

Readings for the day:

Psalm 121

I lift my eyes up to the hills;
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.
The Lord will not let your foot be moved,
nor will the one who watches over you fall asleep.
Behold, the keeper of the people Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not exhaust you by day,
nor the moon keep you from sleep by night.
The Lord will preserve you from all evil
and will keep your life.
The Lord will watch over your going out and your coming in
from this time forth forevermore.

Luke 18:1-8
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

The Next Right Thing - October 13, 2019

The Next Right Thing - October 13, 2019

October 14, 2019

READING FROM THE HEBREW BIBLE 2 KINGS 5:1-15B

L: Our first reading is from the second book of Kings,
and is read responsively.

L: There was a man named Naaman, who was a commander of the army of the king of Syria. He was a powerful man and in high favor with his king. Naaman, though a mighty warrior, suffered from
leprosy - his skin diseased and white as snow. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had taken a young girl from the land of Israel, and given her to Naaman’s wife as a slave-girl. She said to her mistress,
All: “If only my lord were with the Israelite prophet, who lives in the land of Samaria! Surely he would cure my lord of his
leprosy.”

L: (This was Elisha the prophet.) So Naaman went in and told his king exactly what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, “Go then.” So Naaman went to Israel with his horses and chariots laden with gifts. He stopped at the gate to Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a servant out to him to say:

All: “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your skin shall be restored and you shall be clean.”

L: But Naaman became angry and stormed off, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come outside, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! There are two rivers in my home country
better than all the waters of Israel. Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. But his slaves said to him,

All: “Sir, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more should you do it, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

L: So Naaman went down and washed himself seven times in the Jordan River, according to the word of the man of God; his skin was restored like the skin of a young man, and he was clean. Then he returned to the man of God, Naaman and everyone with him; he came and stood before Elisha and said,

All: “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except the God of Israel.”

L: This is the word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.

✠ THE GOOD NEWS LUKE 17:11-19
L: The good news of Jesus Christ, according to the gospel of Luke, the seventeenth chapter.
A: Glory to you, O Lord.

L: On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village along the way, ten lepers approached him. They kept their distance, as required in
religious law, and from far away they called out:

All: “Jesus, Teacher, have mercy on us!”

L: When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they did, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. This man was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise up and be on your way; your faith has made you whole.”

L: This is the gospel, the good news of God’s grace.
A: Praise to you, O Christ.

Life of Francis of Assisi — October 6, 2019

Life of Francis of Assisi — October 6, 2019

October 6, 2019

Ecclesiastes 3:1-10

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, a time to reap;
a time to kill, a time to heal;
a time to build up, a time to break down;
a time to weep, a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to gain, a time to lose;
a time to keep, a time to throw away;
a time to rend, a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, a time to speak;
a time to love, a time to hate;
a time for war, a time for peace.

----

Luke 17:1-10

Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause people to trip and fall into sin must happen, but how terrible it is for the person through whom they happen. It would be better for them to be thrown into a lake with a large stone hung around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to trip and fall into sin. Watch yourselves! If your brother or sister sins, warn them to stop. If they change their hearts and lives, forgive them. Even if someone sins against you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I am changing my ways,’ you must forgive that person.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

“Would any of you say to your servant, who had just come in from the field after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Come! Sit down for dinner’? Wouldn’t you say instead, ‘Fix my dinner. Put on the clothes of a table servant and wait on me while I eat and drink. After that, you can eat and drink’? You won’t thank the servant because the servant did what you asked, will you? In the same way, when you have done everything required of you, you should say, ‘We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.’”

What Riches Can Do — September 29, 2019

What Riches Can Do — September 29, 2019

September 30, 2019

The first reading is from the book of Psalms, and is read responsively.

Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in rulers,
in leaders in whom there is no help.
When they die, they return to earth,
and in that day their thoughts perish.
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help,
whose hope is in the Lord their God;
who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps promises forever;
who gives justice to those who are oppressed, and food to those who hunger.
The Lord sets the captives free; the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord cares for the stranger;
the Lord sustains the orphan and widow, but frustrates the way of the wicked.
The Lord shall reign forever,
your God throughout all generations.

The second reading is from Paul's first letter to Timothy, chapter six.

There is great gain in right action combined with contentment. We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we might be content with these.

But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and given themselves great pain.

But as for you, Timothy, forget all that; pursue righteousness, right action, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. As for those who in the present age are rich, direct them not to be proud, or to pin their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but to hope rather in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Remind them to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share. In this way they will store up the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that truly is life.

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The good news is from the gospel according to Luke, chapter sixteen.
Glory to you, O Lord.

The religious leaders, who were lovers of money, heard Jesus’ story of the dishonest manager forgiving others’ debts, and sneered at him. He said to them, “There was a certain rich man who clothed himself in purple and fine linen, and who feasted luxuriously every day. At his gate lay another man, who was poor, named Lazarus. He was covered with sores, and longed to eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. But instead, dogs would come and lick his sores.

“The poor man died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. While being tormented in the place of the dead, he looked up and saw Abraham at a distance with Lazarus at his side. He shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am suffering in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received good things, whereas Lazarus received terrible things. Now Lazarus is being comforted and you are in great pain. Moreover, a great cavern has been fixed between us and you. Those who wish to cross over from here to you cannot. Neither can anyone cross from there to us.’

“The rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, Father, send Lazarus to my father’s house. I have five brothers. Make him warn them, so that they do not come to this place of agony.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets. They must listen to them.’ The rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will change their hearts and lives.’ Abraham said, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, then neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”

This is the gospel, the good news of God's grace.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Defying Satisfactory Explanation - September 22, 2019

Defying Satisfactory Explanation - September 22, 2019

September 23, 2019

Gospel Reading: Luke 16:1-15

Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’

Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted sensibly; for the children of this age are more sensible in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

“Whoever is faithful with very little is faithful also with much; and whoever is dishonest with very little is dishonest also with much. If you have not been faithful with dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you what is true? If you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No one can serve two masters; for you will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

The religious authorities, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.”