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Sermon: "Parable of the Unjust Steward"

Sermon.09.22.19 St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Jeremiah 8.18 – 9.1; Psalm 79.1-9; 1 Timothy 2.1-7; Luke 16.1-13 Today’s collect provides the lens through which we should examine the lectionary readings: “Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure.” Our reading from Jeremiah begins with a lament: “My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick. Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: ‘Is the Lord not in Zion? Is her king not in her’” (Jeremiah 8.18-19; NRSV). The people’s worship of foreign idols has p

Sermon: "God's Judgment and Grace"

Sermon Preparation.09.15.19 St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Jeremiah 4.11-12, 22-28; Psalm 14; 1 Timothy 1.12-17; Luke 15.1-10 We can’t deny it – Jeremiah contains some difficult passages. Last Sunday we looked at Jeremiah’s visit to the potter, and heard God’s word, “Thus says the Lord: I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings. But they say, ‘It is no use! We will follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will” (Jeremiah 18.11b-12, NRSV). I suggested that, given our understanding of the love of God, God may not actually shap

Sermon: "Consider the Cost"

Sermon.09.08.19 St. Paul’s Episcopal -- Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Jeremiah 18.1-11; Psalm 139.1-5, 12-17; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14.25-33 Today’s readings contain numerous images, convey tough messages, and raise critical questions. In Jeremiah 18 the Lord tells Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house where God will speak to him. As Jeremiah is watching, the potter spoils a pot. In ancient times, casting a pot required more coordination than today. The potter spun the wheel with his feet and shaped the clay with his hands. Hence, the potter often had to rework the clay into another vessel. As Jeremiah observed this process, God spoke to him: “Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as th

Sermon: "Choose Wisely"

Sermon.09.01.19 St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry V. Ort Jeremiah 2.4-13; Psalm 81.1, 10-16; Hebrews 13.1-8, 15-16; Luke 14.1, 7-14 Today’s appointed readings have a great deal to say about choosing wisely. In Jeremiah, we encounter the prophet’s lament for the people of the house of Jacob and the house of Israel have not chosen wisely: “What wrong did your ancestors find in me [God] that they went far from me, and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?” (Jeremiah 2.5; NRSV). Jeremiah recounts some of the wonderful things God has done for the people: Bringing them up from Egypt, leading them through a wilderness no one passes through, and bringing them to a la

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