St. Mark's Episcopal Church

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Pentecost 4 Sermon 2010
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Rev. Joyce Avery

GLORY TO YOU FROM OUR LORD & SAVIOR JESUS THE CHRIST!

Corby’s Sermon of last Sunday is hard to follow. She is a great deliverer of interesting and thought provoking sermons. In other words she’s great!

Today is Father’s Day, and as usual it will just be another Sunday for some, but today is a good day to wish every father a great day and to be pampered.

I found a cute story of a son worrying about how his father would react to his situation:

A young boy was driving a hayrack down the road, and it turned over right in front of a farmer’s house. The farmer came out, saw the young boy crying, and said, “Son, don’t worry about this, we can fix it. Right now dinner’s ready. Why don’t you come in and eat with us and then I’ll help you put the hay back on the rack.” The boy said, “No, I can’t.  My father is going to be very angry with me.” The farmer said, “Now don’t worry, just come in and have some lunch and you’ll feel better” The farmer and the young boy went inside and had dinner. Afterwards, as they walked outside to the hayrack, the farmer said, “Son, don’t you feel better now?” The boy said, “Yes, but I just know that my father will be very angry with me.” The farmer said, “Nonsense. Where is your father anyway?” The boy said, “He’s under that pile of hay.”

So much for that father on his special day!

In today’s Gospel lesson, we have a story of the man in the country of the Gerasenes, that is, Gentiles on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, “who had demons.”  Lots of demons it turned out. Today we might say he was manic depressive, or bi-polar or just plain mentally ill. The town’s people were afraid of the man and have chained him naked in the tombs outside of town. He lived naked among the dead instead of clothed among the living. Just as Jesus has taken his ministry beyond the boundaries of his own people, this man is made to live outside the boundaries of human society because of his mental condition.

Now we might think of this treatment of the man as somewhat primitive and even cruel. But a visit or even a drive through state mental health facilities, or a visit to “cities” of cardboard boxes on the edges of our communities and under highway and railroad embankments across the country reveals that we have in fact not advanced too far if at all in our “treatment” of the mentally ill in our society.

Then along comes Jesus. He steps out of the boat and meets the man with demons.  When Jesus meets up with the man, he asked Jesus to not torment him.  Jesus removes the unclean spirits from him. Now there was a large herd of swine on the hillside, and Jesus sent the demons to go to them and enter them. When this happened the swine all ran down the hill into the lake and were drowned. The swineherders were astounded and ran off to tell the people what had happened. When they all assembled around the man, they couldn’t believe their eyes as the man was dressed just like them and could talk with them. They were afraid, and asked Jesus to leave them as they were seized with fear. The man wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus sent him away, saying return to your home and tll all what God had done for him.

This is a great story about this man, and it also shows just what narrowed minds the people of the Gerasenes had.  I suppose we would all be afraid in some ways, as to not trust him or believe that he is cured from the demons.

When God looks at us, he doesn’t see what we’re wearing or what we are doing, but the Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward
appearance, but the Lord looks in the heart.

Many years ago a young man was given an old office chair. It was all in pieces, and at that time he was in a woodworking class in high school. Two things stood out on that chair. First, the arms were the smoothest of any wood he had ever worked with. On the flip side, the underneath portion of the seat was totally rough. It had never been sanded. One mark of old furniture is the fact that the underneath parts are always rough. Who wanted to spend time sanding and finishing stuff which really didn’t matter, anyway, especially when it had to all be done by hand? It was important to work on what really matters!

Have we missed that? Do you spend time on what really matters? Life is a series of decisions, and I like the one quote I’ve heard that puts things into perspective: “In ten years, will this decision really matter?”

I read what God looks at in a person! He does not look on the outside of a person, but on the heart. What is important to God, is character. Character counts! Character matters to God, and it needs to matter to us. It is as though God is saying, “What most of you are concerned about, is ‘like the bottom of an old chair. Who cares? What you need to work on is what is really important!”

Watch your thoughts; they become words,
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

On this Father’s Day, I wish to give a special challenge to all the men here today. You are an example to those around you, especially to children. Be a person of character and integrity. The Kingdom is established not because you were called, nor by the gift of the Holy Spirit given to you, but through your obedience to God. Let each of us be obedient to the glory of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Let pray for all Fathers:

Heavenly Father.
You entrusted your Son Jesus.
The child of Mary,
to the care of Joseph, an earthly father.

Bless all fathers
as they care for their families,
Give them strength and wisdom,
tenderness and patience;

support them in the work they have to do, protecting those who look to them,
as we look to you for love and salvation, through Jesus Christ our rock and defender.
Amen 

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