Our final book we explore in the "Banned Books of the Bible" series comes from the first part of the Second Century - a popular text known as The Shepherd of Hermas. This book is a testament to the zeal of the early Christians for righteous living. In today's sermon, Father John focuses on the central theme of the book - that two "angels" (or natures) reside within us, warring for ascendancy. How do we feed the negative impulses within us? Listen and find the wisdom containing in this intense but powerful book from our ancestors in the faith.
In this installment of the sermon series "Banned books of the Bible," Father John explores an early Christian romance called the Acts of Paul and Thecla. This story was widely popular among the early Christian churches. Thecla is presented as a powerful woman of faith in this document, and her life offers some very practical spiritual lessons for us today.
We mark the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday, where we receive a visible sign of our repentance upon our forehead. In this sermon, Father John contrast the ways of "returning to the Lord" prescribed by the prophet Joel and Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.
What is the core identity you maintain of yourself in your heart of hearts? This Gnostic Christian text, discovered in 1945 in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, challenges its readers to contemplate their identity as children of the living God. The author of Thomas (Didymous - "the twin") hopes that you discover that you, like Jesus, possess part of the Divine in you - that you and he are, in fact, "twins." While Father John doesn't take the Gnostic theology which permeates this Gospel that far in this sermon, we are challenged to consider what it means to live as a child [...]
Today's "banned book" is a text written two centuries before the time of Christ, by a Jewish sage named Jesus. Like Proverbs, the book of Sirach is a collection of wisdom sayings. Father John's sermon focuses on several verses throughout the book on the topic of having a healthy relationship with money. This wisdom may surprise you!
Today is our Annual Parish meeting at Saint Andrew's. In this sermon, Father John looks back on 2018 - one of the best years in the life of our church. This may be a surprising statement given budget cuts, loss of our student choir members, and even a decline in Sunday morning attendance. How can we understand what God is doing right now in the life of our parish? Jesus gives us an insightful lens through which to understand this in John 15 - listen and be encouraged!
This strange book from the second century B.C.E. was likely written by a Jewish mystic conveying visions of the stories of Genesis 5-6, written centuries earlier. In the Book of Enoch we encounter ideas that had significant impact on early Christian theological development as evidenced in the writings of the New Testament. In today's sermon, Father John explores the unique way that the Book of Enoch describes the origins and actions of evil in the world, and what we can learn from this as practical spiritual lessons for today.
Father John begins a new sermon series looking at apocryphal books considered Scripture by various groups of early Christians. Today we examine the story of Judas Maccabee and his brothers overthrowing the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes. What might God want to say to us through this ancient story? Among other lessons, that people of faith must not be afraid to live differently in our culture, and to take a stand when God leads us to do so.
Today we look at an action taken by another angel - this time the Angel of the Lord leading the Israelites through the desert and away from Egypt. When Pharaoh changes his mind and gives pursuit, the angel (in the form of a dark cloud) interposes itself between the armies of Egypt and the Israelites. One side of the cloud was deep darkness, while the other gave off brilliant light. What does this story have to say to us today? Father John explores the reality that two people can encounter the same battle in life, but have two very different [...]
What should we make of the story of Abraham called to sacrifice his son, Isaac? Is this truly a test of faith, or is there more going on in this story that meets the eye? Today, Father John explores the traditional interpretation of Genesis 22, noting how problematic it is for many people. Offering an alternative interpretation based on the Hebrew text, this sermon ends with some surprisingly applicable lessons for today from a disturbing story in the Hebrew Bible.