"Unapologetic Theology: A Christian Voice in a Pluralistic Conversation" is the title of a book by my beloved theology professor and friend, the late William C. Placher. It is also now the title of this blog, a place where I hope to add a Christian voice -- God knows, not "the" Christian voice, but "a" Christian voice and not just any old voice, but a distinctly Christian voice -- to the pluralistic conversation going on about just about everything.
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When our children were little, one of our favoritestories to read them was The Runaway Bunny.
At one level, the story is about a little
bunny rabbit that keeps running away from its mother, and all the things his
mother does to bring him back to her.
But surely the story is about something
else, too:it’s not just a story about a rabbit and his mother.
Surely this is
a story about God, and all the different ways we human beings try to run away
from God, and the things God does to bring us back to him.
Scripture teaches us that “God is
love.” (1 John 4:8).
It’s not just that God loves: God really is love…
God is so much love that God just
couldn’t keep it to himself.
So that is at least part of the
reason God created the world – not just any world, but this world, this
beautiful world – the sky and the seas, fish and birds – and plants – God
created those things as a way of expressing his love for us.
But from the very beginning, we have tried to run away from God’s love.
So God says, in effect, “if you,
humanity, run away from me in creation, then I’ll bring you back through my
special people – Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and Moses. I will send you laws,
Ten Commandments, to live by, so you’ll know how to love me and love each
We said, in effect, “well if you
send Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Moses, we won’t listen to them, and we’ll
forget your laws.”
If you forget my laws, said God,
then I’ll send prophets to remind you, remind you how much I love you and how
you should love each other.
If you send prophets to remind us,
we said, we’ll ignore them – we won’t listen to them.
If you won’t listen to my prophets,
God said, then I’ll become whatever you become, I’ll become one of you…a human.
I’ll show you myself how to love one
another and me.
And so God became one of us.
This is the kind of love we’re
talking about: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…he loved
us so much he became one of us, a human, in Jesus.
And what did God-made-human say when
he was with us?
He said “Love the Lord your God with
all your heart,
All your mind,
All your strength,
And love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no law…no commandment
greater, or more important than that.
Well…as the events of Holy Week
recall, we – humanity – ran away even from that love.
We did more than run away from it:we killed that love.We nailed it to a cross.
(Humanity cannot run any further
away from God’s love than that.)
But – as the events of Easter
morning will remind us – on the first day of the week, very early in the
morning, the women went to the tomb to see Jesus’ body.
The stone to the tomb had been
rolled away, so they went in.
But when they got inside, they
couldn’t find Jesus’ body.
It wasn’t there.
Then all of a sudden, two angels
were standing there and all this light was around them, and the angels said,
He is not here. He is risen.
Don’t you know?
Can’t you hear God saying,
I will fish for you,
climb for you,
dig for you,
stretch out my arms of love
take everything you have to offer
But I WILL catch you in my arms and
There is nothing, nothing, nothing
you can do to make me stop loving.
Can’t you hear God saying,
might as well quit running, and be God’s beloved child?
A sermon preached June 19, 2016
The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector
The Falls Church Episcopal, Falls Church, Virginia
(“Dear Lord: Carry your word into the most protected parts of our hearts.”)
Today I don’t have a traditional sermon. I certainly don’t have a sermon about Father’s Day, but now that I’ve mentioned it, happy Father’s Day. Today, instead of a traditional sermon, I feel led to share some things that have been on my heart this past week.
I’ve been your Rector here since August of 2012. Those of you who have been here a long time know that my preaching style is almost always “expository,” a fancy word that simply means you take a passage of scripture, and having studied it during the week, you show – or expose – its meaning and relevance as best you can, and then you sit down, trusting Holy Spirit will be hard at work simultaneously translating for each of you what you need to hear on any given Sunday.
One of the implications of this style of preaching is I tend not to preach “to…
A sermon preached January 29, 2017 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the p…