Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost – October 22, 2017

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Show me the money!! I am guessing most everyone born before 2000 is familiar with this famous line. Of course, it is from that classic event of our time – the annual stewardship campaign! Not really, although some campaigns have taken on this strident slogan much too often for my experience of ministry.

Show me the money is actually the classic and most often quoted line from the movie Jerry McGuire featuring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Rene Zellwegger, and other notable stars of the day. The premise of this movie was about a hot-shot sports agent who falls from favor in a larger agency and loses his job. He presses on independently, striving to represent Gooding Jr. who is about to enter the free agent market. He meets Zellwegger and her young son, falls in love and finds his anchor of humanity and morality again. The “gods” they chase and worship are, of course, football. Well, some things just do not change all that much it seems.

Show me the money!! In Matthew’s Gospel, the controversy conversations between Jesus and the Pharisees continue around the issue of living in the world and being faithful to God’s Word and work in the world as well. As I prayed these words, I was reminded of another movie Pay It Forward. A lovely movie about a young boy who took on a teacher’s challenge by helping one person, and then requesting that the person pay it forward by helping at least three other people.

It seems to me that for God and Christ Jesus, our faithful living calls us to live out the mind and heart of show me the faith … show all the Love!

See The Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.’s sermon for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost – October 22, 2017/Year A in its entirety.

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Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost – October 8, 2017/Year A

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We are experiencing a few “transitions” in our parish family life. Today there is the transition INTO the family of Christ’s body with a baptism. Also today there will be the transitions FROM baptismal promises lived FOR US to baptismal promises lived BY US as we admit the 2018 Confirmation Class into their journey of a “claimed faith” ahead. And yes, there is that “other” transition AWAY we experience as I complete my ministry serving with you at the end of this month.

All these “transitions” lead me to the words we hear of scripture this day, and a story. The words from Paul to the church in Philippi – “Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

See The Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.’s Sermon for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost – October 8, 2017/Year A in its entirety.

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Sermon for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

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That’s not fair!!! The echo of our childhood ways when we believed that anything done any other way than what we wanted was done against me! That’s not fair!!! Gratefully we enter our adult years and, as St. Paul commends, “out of our childish ways,” we do not embrace this personal affront any longer … well, not that often … okay, perhaps sometimes but not all the time!

That’s not fair!!! It seems this hue and cry is embraced at this time of year by many young and old as we cheer our favorite college and professional football teams. It seems that no matter what the “zebras” do, it is never right, not for MY TEAM anyhow.

That’s not fair!!! We seem to be in a time and cycle of life where not taking responsibility for OUR actions, or inactions, is the predominant behavior du jour. When “That’s not fair” is my favorite fight song, then EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING that is done is done against me.

That’s not fair!!! In our faith journey with Jesus, we know what Jesus would do in response to the inequalities of life on life’s terms. So the question of Jesus to us this day … what will you do about it with me?

That’s not fair!!! This is not a new fight song. It is as old as our journey of faith since the beginning!

See The Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.’s sermon for Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost – October 1, 2017/Year A.

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Sermon for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost and 175th Anniversary of St. Thomas’s Parish

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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY ST. THOMAS’S!!! We celebrate 175 years young this year! You do not look a day over … I will take M. C. Hammer’s advice here and say “don’t touch this!” There are many touchstones of this day that are important to know, to remember, so that we may live them forward.

“Come to God, a living stone … precious in God’s sight, and  like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood … acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

See the The Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.’s Sermon for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost and 175th Anniversary of St. Thomas’s Parish in its entirety.

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Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 10, 2017Year A

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“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law … Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”

There seems to be a widening chasm in our world and society that is simply becoming more evident and more insidious each passing day. We have The Law standing on the precipice of one mountain, projecting out its fear of the “other” in retribution and rejection. We have Love standing in the valley, inviting The Law to come and reason with it. The Law stands firm, imperious in its belief that it is right because it is written!

Sadly over history, this has been embraced by some as the WHOLE meaning of the Christian faith. Our purpose is to monitor and police society on its morality instead of being a companion and life bearer of Divine Love. If you have not read the  Nashville Statement produced by 150 evangelical Christian pastors, I encourage you to do so. You will read the meaning of what I am saying this day.

“What’s Love got to do with it” plaintively sang Tina Turner. Jesus says EVERYTHING! Love has EVERYTHING to do in our call to be lawfully loving.

See the entity of The Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.’s Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 10, 2017Year A.

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Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost – July 30, 2017/Year A

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In 1492, Columbus sailed the oceans blue. In 1842, St. Thomas’s opened in faith new, too … in Newark! I suspect Devon Miller Duggan might have a word or two to say about my poetic prowess, or lack thereof. I guess will take off  the next great American poet off my post-ministry bucket list. Yet my somewhat poetic attempt is to point us toward the beginnings of St. Thomas’s on August 1, 1842. On Tuesday, we celebrate 175 years in the seed planting business.

We were founded by a vision of a few men, with mustard seed faith, to bring an Anglican/Episcopal worshiping community to Newark and then small Newark College student body. In the words of the article about St. Thomas’s written in the Delaware History pamphlet in 2010, St. Thomas’s was formed on the need to bring “a true religious experience to Newark.” The article notes at the time there were two Presbyterian churches along Main Street, while the “rowdy” Methodists were put off onto a side street. The community wanted to provide religious experiences that offered “reasonable and refined expressions of faith.” Our liturgical practices fit the bill, and the property at the point of Main Street and Delaware Avenue was purchased to build our church.

175 years later, and here we still are bearing the “mustard seeds” of faith, seeking to live into and out of God’s grace and love in this new/old home of St. Thomas’s. The call to our living faith is as powerful now as it was August 1, 1842 when we incorporated. To paraphrase a favorite theologian Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places we have been … Oh, the places we will go and grow, together!

See The Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.’s sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost – July 30, 2017/Year A in its entirety.

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Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – July 9, 2017/Year A

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“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

The invitation is to everyone, not just some chosen few who have been tired or had a burden to bear. We all come bearing something – a sadness …a worry … an ache … a brokenness. Sometimes the cracks of our life are obvious, while sometimes we are pretty good at hiding them. All of us are cracked in some way or other, and it is wise to remember the haunting words of Leonard Cohen’s Anthem, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets through.”

See The Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.’s Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – July 9, 2017/Year A.

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Sermon for The Day of the Pentecost – June 4, 2017/Year A

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Come Holy Spirit! Fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love! Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created; and with you, we will renew the face of the earth. AMEN

“When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house … Divided tongues, as of fire … rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit …”

Author Annie Dillard writes, “Why do we people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a pack aged tour of the Absolute? People who come here should be equipped with safety helmets and life vests, and the pews should all have safety harnesses. For if we come to church to be transformed, hang on tight for that is what the Spirit of the living God will do!”

For all these things that do not seem quite the same as that first Pentecost Day, here is what will be equally and importantly the same for every single one of us gathered this day, in this place, and at this time — we shall be created; and with you, we will renew the face of the earth TOGETHER!

Together we will do this through the presence and power and purpose of Love that is our Triune God!

See the Pentecost Sunday Sermon in its entirety and see all sermons.

Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Easter & Memorial Day Weekend – May 28, 2017/Year A

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Too often we get stuck in a paradoxical time between times of the first and second coming of Christ. In this two-thousand year stretch of transition ministry and expectation of Christ coming again “in power and great glory to judge the earth”, we are called to carry on the mission that Jesus began. We are not to sit idly by twiddling our thumbs as an important part of this mission is to welcome the stranger as Jesus himself showed us how to do, since the essence of our faith is expressed in community. Sometimes the Church, and that is you and me, forgets that we are called into community. Without each other, we fall far short of the heaven-on-earth vision of what we might be for each other.

See the sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Easter & Memorial Day Weekend – May 28, 2017/Year A.

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Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 21, 2017/Year A

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Christ suffered for the sins of all the righteous and unrighteous alike in order to bring us to God. The redemptive suffering of Christ serves for all humanity even those who hadn’t had the opportunity to learn God’s truth.

It is through baptism we are all united with Christ. The Advocate dwells in everyone who loves Jesus and honors his commandments.

See The Reverend Deacon Cecily Sawyer Harmon’s Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 21, 2017/Year A.

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