I consider the government of the U.S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.
‹Thomas Jefferson›
Atlantis: the domain of the Stingray
24Feb
2016
Wed
23:23
author: Stingray
category: Sermons
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Wednesday of Reminiscere

"Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

Wednesday of Reminiscere 2016 Wordle
In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Much can be and has been said of the second of Jesus’ seven last words. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” The focus is almost always on the word “Paradise.” The penitent criminal acknowledges Jesus for who He is, an innocent man and the Lord, and begs to be remembered when He comes into His kingdom. Jesus speaks the second of His seven last words, and the masses think that Jesus told the criminal that he would be in heaven that day.

Paradise is rightly equated with Eden. Eden, that garden of ancient times wherein the first man was placed to live and to tend, is said by some to have a name that is related to the Greek root hedonism. At the core, hedonism is the teaching that pleasure or happiness is the highest good, and, by extension, this pleasure or happiness is enhanced by a lack of clothing, much like Adam and Eve were in the Garden naked and not ashamed. There, in Eden, Adam and Eve lived in perfect bliss and harmony with God and all of creation. Eden was, for all intents and purposes, a God-made and planted paradise.

17Feb
2016
Wed
23:24
author: Stingray
category: Sermons
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Wednesday of Invocabit

"Father, forgive them, for they do no know what they do."

Wednesday of Invocabit 2016 Wordle
In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Jesus has made His way from Stone Pavement to Skull. There, the nails are driven into His hands and feet. The cross is fitted into its post hole, and the Son of God is on display for all to see die. He, along with two criminals, are dying for their crimes.

The two criminals are justly being executed for their crimes. Robbers or insurrectionists, they were considered enemies of Rome, worthy of being crucified and not simply jailed for a time. Jesus is dying for His crimes, too, though He did not originally commit them—in and of Himself, He is innocent. His crimes He assumed into His flesh from all flesh, for He has taken the sins of the world and made them His own in order to die with them as the lambs slain at the temple—“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Otherwise, Jesus is an innocent man, proclaimed as much by Pilate himself before having him beaten.

If the agony of the nails piercing His skin wasn’t enough, Jesus also bears the marks of having been scourged and crowned, skin and flesh ripped from bone, the prick of thorns on His brow, scabs and blood all over the place. Behold the man, the teacher who trained as a carpenter, brought low and frail by the stripes of Roman punishment. Then, as He was nailed to the cross, it is dropped into the post hole. The pain must have been excruciating.

10Feb
2016
Wed
23:23
author: Stingray
category: Sermons
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Ash Wednesday

Matthew 6:1-21; Jonah 3:1-10

Ash Wednesday 2016 Wordle
In the name of Jesus. Amen.

What is Lent? This season we are entering is a time when, as the Maundy Thursday liturgy reminds you, our Lord calls us to “intensify our struggle against sin, death, and the devil.” Easier said than done, for the harder you work at this, the bigger your failure will be. What can you do to struggle against sin, death, and the devil?

The struggle against the devil is a done deal. Oh, he still prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (cf. 1 Peter 5:8), but he’s a conquered lion. He will bite at you, perhaps take a small bit of flesh and injure you, but he’s a lion with dull or no teeth. His head is crushed, he has no dominion over you. Therefore, your struggle against the devil is this: Jesus has conquered him and given you the victory. Scowl fierce as he will, he can harm you none; one little word fells him: It is finished!

The struggle against death is also a done deal. Death is a conquered enemy now in service to God as the gateway to life eternal. To struggle against it is a futile struggle; should Jesus not return in your lifetime, death will get the better of you—you will take your last breath and be laid in your grave. Remember, “All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust,” (Ecclesiastes 3:20) “For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19c) However, there is still a struggle against death for you. This intensified struggle against death is exemplified in constantly being reminded of your baptism. There, at the font, you were drowned, joined to the death of Jesus, which is your death to sin, only to be brought forth from those waters a new creation, created in Christ Jesus for eternal life. So, how do you struggle against death? By being reminded that you are alive in Christ through Holy Baptism.

The struggle against sin, though, is different. Why are you dust that will return to dust? What did you have to die with Christ in order to live with Him? Because you are a sinner. And for as long as you remain on this side of eternity, you will continue to struggle with sin. That’s what Lent is; an intensified struggle against your sin.

7Feb
2016
Sun
14:44
author: Stingray
category: Sermons
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Quinquagesima

Luke 18:31-43

Quinquagesima 2016 Wordle
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Then [Jesus] took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.’”

We have come to the last Sunday before Lent. We have exited the season of Epiphany in which we witness Jesus revealing Himself to the nations. The Magi have visted, Jesus was Baptized, and Jesus was Transfigured before His inner circle of disciples. These last few Sundays—the Gesima Sundays—we have taken a look at a couple of Jesus’ parables which illustrate the workings of the Kingdom of God in the lives of the faithful and unfaithful, that show that God is an unfairly generous God who scatters the seed of His Word without concern for where it lands.

Now, as the church turns toward the season of Lent, preparing to recognize Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus tells His disciples this third of His passion predictions. Jesus and His followers are making their way to Jerusalem—the temple city—whereat Jesus will give His life as a ransom for all. All that was written of Him by the prophets will be accomplished. He will be delivered by the Jews into the hands of Gentiles who will torture and crucify Him. He will die, giving His life that others may live. And the third day He will rise again. The Kingdom of God is come, and the Lord has staked His claim on you on the cross.