"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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It's not just a Cause: it's a Person
Lately I've been thinking again
about something I'd read a few years ago:
Think for a moment of someone you
admire. It might be a political figure whose cause excites you. It might be a
prominent businessperson, or a doctor or lawyer whom you respect.
Think of some person whom you look
Have him or her in mind?
Now imagine that person calling
you up on the phone and asking you to get together for lunch someday. Just the
two of you. At that lunch, he or she invites you to be part of an important and
noble project that he or she wants to start.
He or she wants YOU to be part of
it, involved in it.
Begin to let that thought play
around in your mind, as a way of preparing you to think and respond to Jesus'
call to the fishermen.
Here's the point: It is not just a
cause that stirs us.
It is a person.
Years ago, I heard about a talk
given on stress at a management institute at Harvard Business School. It was
about how executives and other people should deal with stress.
When a person came in to begin the
series of talks, most people present were eager to hear what this person would
say: they were all in high-stress situations or careers.
But here's what this expert on
"I imagine that you think I
am going to talk to you about how you should relax. That you as executives need
to take time for vacation. That you need to exercise, and that you need to eat
properly...or that perhaps you should practice yoga.
"'But that's not what I am
going to talk to you about at all,'" he said, "'because that won't take care of
He said, "the reason that so
many of you are stressed...the reason you drink too much, eat too much, work
too hard, and feel frazzled and fragile is that you think what you are doing is
"You spend a lot of time
doing it. You work hard. You make a lot of sacrifices.
"But in the end, deep in your
hearts, you don't really think what you do is worthwhile."
Apparently you could have heard a
pin drop in that room.
The speaker said he'd given the
talk many times, sometimes to leading executives at major corporations, and
during the talk some executives would break down and cry. He added that one of
them came up once and asked him to make a recording of his talk so that he
could give it to his son, so he wouldn't make the same mistakes he had, right
up to his mid-50's.
As we gear up for the Fall...start
academic years and new program years...as summer winds down and we start into
this busier, oftentimes more "stressful" season, we need to remind
ourselves - at least sometimes I need to remind myself - that the sole reason
The Falls Church Episcopal (or any Christian church for that matter) exists is
to put people in touch with a person: the person of Jesus. That (or more accurately, he) is what makes the church unique.
So now think about that opening story
again: the person you look up to, who desires to have lunch with you, in order
to invite you, personally, to be part of an important project.
Jesus desires to have that meal
He wants YOU to be a part of, and involved in, the important and noble project that he wants to continue: being your unique part of the Body of Christ.
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…