"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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Salt and Light: "Accountability is not about watching what you are doing. It is about being on fire."
There's a definition of "accountability" I heard some time ago, one I shared last Sunday during our Adult Forum's exploration of the Sermon on the Mount.
"Accountability is not about watching what you are doing. It is about being on fire."
That seems to be the point Jesus is making when he tells his followers that they - we - are "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world."
There is a great scene a in the movie Walk the Line, the movie about Johnny Cash, that makes this same point:
It's where Johnny Cash is first auditioning, when he and two of his buddies are singing a gospel song to the famous producer Sam Phillips.
Sam interrupts them and tells them he can't sell gospel, not the way they were singing it, because when he was singing it, he didn't believe him.Johnny Cash is offended and says, "are you saying I don't believe in God?"
Sam Phillips says, "You know exactly what I'm telling you. We've already heard that song a hundred times. Just like that. Just... like... how... you... sing it.
"Bring... bring it home? All right, let's bring it home. If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing ONE song. Huh?
"One song that people would remember before you're dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up.
"You tellin' me that's the song you'd sing?
"That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your 'peace within,' and how it's real, and how you're gonna shout it?
"Or... would you sing somethin' different. Somethin' real. Somethin' YOU felt.
"Cause I'm telling you right now, that's the kind of song people want to hear. That's the kind of song that truly saves people."
That's when Johnny Cash tells him he does have a couple other songs that he hadn't thought about sharing...
...and he rips into Folsom Prison Blues.
And launches an astonishing career.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ: accountability is not about watching what you are doing. It's about being on fire; seasoning those around you with your unique salt, being and bringing the Light that you uniquely were put on the face of this earth to bring.
If you don't be that salt you are meant to be, or bring the Light that you are meant to bring - if you yield to the easy but soul- and joy-killing temptation to live someone else's life or the life someone else thinks you should be living, you'll go to your grave having deprived the world of some of the reasons God put you here.
So let's be -- and help one another be -- accountable: on fire.
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…