October 30, 2022

Proper 26C – George Yandell

This is the traditional rendering of the song many of us learned in Sunday school:

Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. And when the savior passed that way he looked up in the tree, and said, “Zacchaeus you come down for, I’m going to your house today, I’m going to your house today.” Zacchaeus was a wee little man but a happy man was he. For he had seen the Lord that day, and a happy man was he, and a happy man was he.

The song seems most intent on letting us know he was small of stature and was extraordinarily happy to entertain Jesus. Many of us would have quailed at what Jesus did to Zacchaeus. Yet Zacchaeus became not only happy but grateful to Jesus. 

The background: Jesus is nearing Jerusalem. He has just warned the friends traveling with him that in Jerusalem he will be handed over to the Roman authorities and be killed. He is passing through Jericho. Just prior to this story of Zacchaeus, Jesus had healed a blind beggar on the outskirts of the city. It is a miracle healing- the crowd didn’t think the blind man worthy of Jesus’ attention. Yet Jesus heard the blind man crying out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” Those in front of the blind man ordered him to be quiet, but Jesus stood still and ordered the blind man brought to him and asked him,

Continue reading October 30, 2022

October 23, 2022

Proper 25C – George Yandell

The verses from Joel for today begin by calling on God’s people to “be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God”, because their fortunes had been reversed after the widespread destruction of the locusts. The rains have returned, the harvests will be plentiful, and the people shall once again have enough to eat. They are to praise the Lord their God, who dwells among them, for they “shall never again be put to shame”.

Joel proclaims a glorious future in which God’s Spirit will be poured out on all people, no matter their age, gender, or social status. God will be revealed through prophecy, dreams, and visions. At Pentecost, Peter quotes these words of Joel (Acts 2:17-21) in his call to faith and salvation at the coming of the Holy Spirit. (Adapted from “Synthesis: A Weekly Resource for Preaching”, October issue.)

Today’s Gospel parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is addressed to “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt”. This parable is unique to Luke and provides a further example of Luke’s teachings on prayer and Divine reversals. It suggests that the prophecy of Joel is not being realized in the time of Jesus. The people are not all receptive to the Holy Spirit and they are not united in working God’s program.

Jesus presents two sharply contrasting main characters. The Pharisee was a person of elite status,

Continue reading October 23, 2022

October 16, 2022

Proper 24C – George Yandell

In Luke’s gospel, women speak 15 times. Their words are given 10 times and not given 5 times. In contrast, men speak 100’s of times. There is a virtual din of male voices. But the number of women depicted in Luke and the emphasis on their presence in the narrative are surprising. There is a notable tendency in Luke to defend, reassure, and praise women, compared to the other gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Many of the passages presuppose their economic helplessness in a male-dominated society. [Adapted from Women’s Bible Commentary, Newsome et al editors, pp. 497 & 499.] I see them as standing for all the destitute people of Jesus’ day and place. Yet they often challenged the powers that were.

Today’s parable is often called the “Parable of the Unjust Judge,” but it could also be called the “Parable of the Pushy, Nagging Widow.” Did you notice she didn’t come on with flattery for the judge? There was no: “Oh noble and just sir, may I humbly ask you for your favor”! No! She came in shouting “Vindicate me!” And she kept it up until she wore down that shameless man. She was praying.

I think we often trivialize prayer by limiting it to what Phillips Brooks once called rather breezily “a wish turned heavenward.” God isn’t room service and I think God, like us, is not moved by wishing upon a star. Prayer, like faith,

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October 9, 2022


Proper 23 – Ted Hackett

I am going to ask you to do two things this morning.
I will frame two pictures for you…
And ask you to remember them both at the same time…
I don’t think you will find it hard…
They are memorable images.

The first is an image of first century Palestine…
Imagine a little band of Jews…blue collar guys..
Walking along a dusty, hot road…
Passing through an area which was neither Samaritan nor Jewish.

They have just entered a little village…
A cluster of small, simple houses and maybe a workshop and an Inn…..
And as they go they hear tinkling bells…
It is a small group of Lepers…
They have banded together because
they cannot associate with any “clean” people…
They are “unclean”…thought to be sinners who are contagious.
They are in dirty, tattered clothes and must wear bells
to warn people to keep away from them.
O.K. …Hold that picture…

Now…picture some of the astounding images you have probably seen taken by the new James Webb telescope…
Images of things that happened a quarter of a billion light years ago…
And light travels one hundred and eighty six miles…per second!
Do the math, as they say…
There are so many zeros in that computation
that I can’t wrap my mind around it…
That’s why physicists use the letter “C”

Continue reading October 9, 2022