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       Sermons | Passionate worship

      This sermon was preached by the Rev. Michael Moore at Swift Presbyterian Church.

      Aug. 7, 2022 | Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

      Fear Not, Little Flock
      Hebrews 11:1–3,8–16  Luke 12:32–40

       T HE GOSPEL READING (Luke 12:32–40) for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost is often a challenge to today’s readers and hearers of the Gospel. Sell all of your possessions … be dressed for action … have your lamps lit … be ready for you don’t know when the Son of Man is coming… .

      Yes, this apocalyptic warning might be difficult to understand. It may even be downright frightening to readers and believers today.

      I have been fascinated by “end times” thinking for as long as I have been in ministry. Over the years I have watched so many people try to read their tea leaves or search for a secret code in the books of Daniel and Revelation.

      Yet, as I sit at the feet of Rabbi Jesus today, I hear a different message. Before he talked about giving everything away or being prepared for the return of the Son of Man, Jesus said these words:

      Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

      † † †

      THIRTY-FIVE YEARS AGO (on Aug. 1, 1987), I began serving as a pastor after seminary graduation and passing the ordination examinations for the Presbyterian Church (USA). After three years in the parish I went on active duty with the U.S. Air Force as a chaplain. Following my retirement, I went back into the church where I have served churches in Florida, Colorado, and Georgia.

      Now I am serving as an interim or transitional minister at Swift Presbyterian Church. What is unique about this call in Alabama is that I am walking with a congregation through the threshold time as you seek to understand who you are and who God is calling you to be right now.

      Some would say that this is a scary time for Swift — or, to be honest, for any church at this time. The COVID pandemic (which is still ongoing) has turned the church on its ear. The church is in uncharted waters today as it seeks to discover who it is and what it has to offer to people today.

      Some might say that these times are indeed scary and apocalyptic in nature. This is where the advice that Jesus gave to his followers makes sense to me. Fear not, little flock! But Lord, how can we not be afraid with all of the upheaval and changes that we are experiencing today? Well, as Ecclesiastes 1:9 says:

      What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. (Bold emphasis is mine.)

      The world (and the church) has experienced times of uncertainty and fear throughout the ages. I believe that what is important is how we live in these times … how we serve the Lord and love our neighbors in these times.

      † † †

      THE SECOND READING from this Sunday’s lectionary which I am focusing on is Hebrews 11:1 which has been a favorite verse of mine and which has provided much comfort in times of uncertainty. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (New Revised Standard version).

      What the writer of Hebrews is telling me is that I need to have faith, even when as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said:

      Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

      The church today is on the cusp of a new birth. It is on a threshold both of birthing and choosing how to continue the work of love, justice, mercy, and peace which Jesus continues to call it to do.

      So much has changed in the 35 years that I have been in ministry. Yet the words of Jesus offer me comfort and guidance as I seek to walk with the Swift Church congregation through this time.

      Fear not, little flock… .

      — Michael Moore   


      SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

      This is the Word of God for the people of God:


      Hebrews 11:1–3,8–16
      Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version

      The meaning of faith
      1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

      The faith of Abraham
      8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old — and Sarah herself was barren — because he considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”

      13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

      — This is the Word of the Lord.
      — Thanks be to God.


      This is the Word of God for the people of God:


      Luke 12:32–40
      Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version

      32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

      Watchful slaves
      35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, heg would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

      — This is the Word of the Lord.
      — Thanks be to God.


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      • Presbytery of S. Alabama
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      23208 Swift Church Road
      Foley, AL 36535
      Phone: (251) 943-8367
      email: swiftpc@gulftel.com


       

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