Christian Community: Binding and Loosing and Why It Matters

Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, August 27, 2017, Pentecost 12, Proper 16, Year A, Matthew 16:13-20


“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Good morning.

It is good to be back with you today. While I was away on vacation, I spent some time reflecting on our last year together. Partly because this month, we entered into our second year together, but partly because I needed to search my heart and soul and see if any of this has mattered in the last year.

The 50 or so times we gathered around this table to break bread and sip wine, the dozen or so times Vestry has met and deliberated the important matters that affect our common life, the recitation of the Nicene Creed and Lord’s Prayer, over and over again.

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Make Room In The Boat and Take A Nap

Sermon by The Reverend Christian Baron, Co-Rector, August 13, 2017, Pentecost 10, Proper 14, Year A, Matthew 14:22-33

“It is a ghost!”

In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… Amen.

Today’s sermon is brought to you by the motion sickness medicine: Dramamine. Powerful, fast relief from motion sickness when you need it most.

Trust me… Dramamine will really knock you out. Makes you fall right to sleep. And now we know the rest of the story from Mark 4 when Jesus was sleeping in the front of the boat while the storm tossed the boat around… Only Dramamine could make a person rest so easily in the middle of a storm.

My first experience with Dramamine was back in 1997. My brother, Josh, and I had driven my Dodge Omni to Gulf Shores, Alabama, during Spring Break. There were many adventures to be told from that trip, but those are for another day.

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Transfiguration Sunday and God’s Dreams for Us

Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, August 6, 2017, The Transfiguration, Year A, Luke 9:28-36


“Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.” In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Good morning St. Philip’s!

When I pulled up the readings for today there was something familiar, something oddly familiar about them. Liturgical Feast days tend to have the same readings each year, but this was more familiar than that.

I searched through my normal go tos and finally put my finger on it. Transfiguration Sunday in 2016 was our first Sunday together!

It’s also Fr. Lovett Sundae Sunday, and the anniversary of Deacon Marilou’s ordination, but it signifies, as a community, that we have navigated a complete trip around the sun, together.

The experience of going through change has the potential to transfigure us.
To noticeably alter the appearance of our community.
The experience of talking with God has the power to strengthen our resolve to live into who and what God is calling us, as his beloved children, to be, do, and change.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, fun, or fast…
even though sometimes it is…

But it does mean that it is an opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to use our situation to mold our hearts into one body.

To align our hearts and wills with God’s dreams for humanity and work more faithfully, today, toward revealing that dream to those in our circles of influence.

And one year ago, I stood before you to preach on this exact same text.

So it’s time to check-in. We’re coming out of the cloud of all the firsts, and now we get to look back at the last year and reflect on it.

How have you personally changed over this last year?

How have we, as a community, changed?
I can tell you that I have personally been changed over the past year… I see things differently… We know each other better.
I have learned a great deal from you.

I am aware that change is difficult.

Change has the potential to resurface loss and grief.

It reveals things about us that we didn’t know needed to be transfigured.

It opens wounds we thought had healed.

But choosing to lean into change and let the experience wash over us has, even more, gifts than it does obstacles.

There was a reason Moses had to go up the mountain to talk with God…a reason the experience of saying yes to God’s work changed his appearance…a reason it changed his people.

That tablet that Moses came down the mountain with, it was a covenant, a letter of agreement, as it were, that God made with the people.

God said, if you want to be my people, you have to love me and love each other.

You have to love yourself and your neighbor.
Be good to one another, let the spirit of God guide your hearts with how to speak from places of generosity and kindness.

That’s how others will know that you are my people.

There’s a reason Peter’s second letter is reminding the church that they have changed because of their encounter with Christ.

We are all getting out of this life the same way, aren’t we?

In that way, we are the same.

But we are all gifted differently and have different vocations to be agents of God’s love and mercy in the world.

We have different gifts and talents that God wants to use as instruments for good.

Different ideas and opinions that shape our collective experience of the Holy.

And that is what makes us the Body of Christ.

And we are all invited into a fellowship of justice and love.

Like the reading from 2nd Peter:

“So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all, you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

God is the one who changes people. Not humans.

God is the one who calls us into the covenant, into fellowship, to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. Not humans.

God is the one who pours out her spirit into our lives through scripture, and community, and sacraments. Not humans.

There’s a reason that Jesus took his friends up the mountain so he could talk with God.

And they stayed awake even though they were “weighed down with sleep.”

They stayed awake and got to see Christ’s glory.

So, yes.
St. Philip’s is changing….

There are a few cosmetic changes, but for the most part, the big changes are the changes inside…

God is changing us from the inside…

And we are moving into the next phase of mission and ministry for Benzie and the surrounding counties and our clothes are dazzling white.

We have been on the mountain, in the cloud with our Loving God who has declared that this place is filled with his beloved children.

We are staying awake to the possibilities of how we can live into God’s dreams for us as a community, as a people, who God called to walk in love.

So stay awake, St. Philip’s. God has more to do with us, as a community, with you and me as individuals. I’m excited to start our second year together and expect God to show up in new and powerful ways as we live into this mission, this ministry…together. Amen.