Extension of Christ's Kingdom through Prayer, Service, and Evangelism

Bishop Fisher’s Sermon to the Daughters of the King – Spring Assembly 2016

francis-trump

MAKE CHRISTIANITY LEAST AGAIN

Sermon from February 26, 2016
1 Corinthians 1:18-24
Daughters of the King Assembly,
Trinity, Marshall, Texas

Now I have to tell you this:
I love to preach to you.
I think that one of the reasons why I love to preach in your midst – is because all of you are “all in.”
You have taken serious vows to Jesus our King.
And I have figured out – that the Daughters of the King are receptive to hearing a tough and challenging message.
So tonight, I’m not going to hold back.
I am going to preach a tough and challenging word.

And the tough and challenging message that the Apostle Paul delivers to us tonight is this:
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
But to us who are being saved – the message of the cross is the power of God.”

When the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian church, the Corinthians just weren’t getting the foolishness of message of the cross.
The Greeks proclaimed a message that lifted up wisdom and eloquent speeches.
And the Jews could not believe a message about a God who is the victim of capital punishment on a cross.
So the Apostle Paul sends a hard message to the Corinthians by writing:
“Jews demand miraculous signs
And Greeks desire wisdom,
But we preach Christ crucified.”

We preach Christ crucified.
And for me, for Jeff Fisher, this verse is one of the most important passages in the New Testament.

For the world demands great superheroes,
Society desires engaging entertainers,
But we preach the foolish message of Christ crucified.

We preach Christ crucified – because his mother Mary sings of a world where the mighty are cast down and the rich are sent away empty.
We preach Christ crucified – because Jesus teaches us that the last will be first and the first will be last.
We preach Christ crucified – because Jesus loves the lowly, the lost, the last, the least.

Now I told y’all that I am not going to hold back tonight.
And there is a candidate for President of the United States who delivers a hard and strong message, over and over again.
Donald Trump has his message emblazoned on his baseball cap.
His message is this:
Make America Great Again.

Yet the message of the cross is foolish.
The message of the cross is not about making us “great” again.
The message of the cross is this:
Make Christianity Least Again.

Last week, Donald Trump and the Bishop of Rome got into a war of words.
And I gotta admit that the exchange with Pope Francis got my blood going.

Francis-Trump

In response, Trump delivered a message to Pope Francis that – when and if ISIS attacks the Vatican – that the Pope would only wish that a strong American president like Trump would be in power.
The political pundits and the media are saying that Pope Francis should have kept his mouth shut – and that the Pope should have never made any comments about Trump, because it was foolish.
Yet the message of the cross is foolish.

Now I am an Anglican, who does not live under the authority of the Pope.
Yet I believe in this Pope’s message of loving the lowly, the lost, the last, the least.
And I actually met Pope Francis at the Vatican last fall.
And I believe that Francis desires to live simply and humbly.

Francis has decided to not live in the papal apartment in the Vatican.
And I do not believe – that Francis thinks that the buildings of the Vatican are the heart of our Christian Faith.
I do not believe – that Francis wishes to make Christianity great again.

And if ISIS or anyone else were to attack the great buildings of the Vatican, then that just means that we are walking in the way of Jesus, the way of the cross.
Because “the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands,”
But Jesus lives in our hearts.

It might sound foolish for me to say this, but here it is:
Go ahead.
They can bomb our churches, destroy our cathedrals, smash our stained glass windows, kill us on a cross:
Because Jesus Christ is alive: yesterday, today and forever!

For the message of the cross is foolish.
The message of the cross is not about making us “great” again.
The message of the cross is this:
Make Christianity Least Again.

I really do love how each of you women in the Daughters of the King – wears a cross.
When I am out and about in the diocese and at your churches, I will many times run into a woman in the parish hall.
And I will spot that DOK cross, pinned onto her shirt, and I will say to her:
“Oh, I see that you are in the Daughters of the King.”
But what I should probably say is this:
“Oh, I see that you are foolish.”

Because the message of the cross is foolish.

You see, we Christians, we are not called to be great.
We Christians, we believe in foolish things:
Such as an unwed teenaged mother who gives birth to the Son of God.
Such as an undocumented, foreign woman at the well who receives living water gushing up to eternal life.
Such as a bold woman at the empty tomb who first proclaims the Resurrection.

For the women in the Gospels are foolish.
And you women today, you are foolish.
Foolish enough to wear a cross and to proclaim:
Make Christianity Least Again.

And you and I also preach Christ crucified by the way that we live our lives.
You preach Christ crucified – when you pray daily, while the world around you thinks that it is a waste of time.
You preach Christ crucified – when you speak out against any messages that try to divide us, or to erect walls, or to fear other people.
You preach Christ crucified – when you break down walls, to be friends with the lowly, the lost, the last, the least.

Because the hard message of St. Paul is this:
The world demands engaging entertainers and great superheroes.
But we preach Christ crucified.

My sisters:
Keep wearing that foolish cross.
Preach Christ crucified.
Proclaim our message:

Make Christianity Least Again.

AMEN.

Labels for Education – Down Home Ranch

Labels for Education!

The Labels for Education program in winding down due to a decline in the need for the program.  We have until the end of August to bank our points for Down Home Ranch (http://www.downhomeranch.org/), So I am asking for your help in getting the word out to our Daughters so that I can get as many Labels banked and get with the folks at the ranch for items they would like.

They have many new homes and are building a new conference center, so I feel like we can put the Labels to good use.

My address to mail them to me is: Helen Paulsen, 25 Shady Rock Ct., Round Rock, Tx 78665  my phone is 512-569-1066.  For questions – Send Email

For a list of participating products: http://www.labelsforeducation.com/Earn-Points/Participating-Products

 

Sermon by Bishop Jeff Fisher – Mine Enemies

Know your ememy

Sermon from September 11, 2015
Matthew 5: 43-48
Daughters of the King Assembly, Camp Allen, Texas

Love your enemies.
Love your enemies.

Now, raise your hand if you are really good at that.
I know that I cannot raise my hand.
I can’t even come close to loving my enemies.

Yet Jesus instructs us this evening through the words of the Gospel of Matthew by saying:
“Love your enemies – and pray for those who persecute you.”

Yet the command to love our enemies is so difficult for me, that I want to explore a bit – about who is an enemy.

For throughout human history,
Throughout biblical history,
There have always been enemies.

Even in the very beginning, in the book of Genesis, there are enemies.
In the very beginning, Cain and Abel are the very first brothers.
And it doesn’t take long at all before sibling rivalry rears its ugly head, and Cain kills his enemy, his brother, Abel.

Throughout the entire Bible, enemies are mentioned.
Throughout the whole course of human history, we cannot have a world – without enemies.

In our liturgy, the propers are the collection of prayers and scriptures that are read in worship.
And I chose the propers for this evening.
In The Book of Common Prayer, the title of the proper that I chose is this:
“For Peace.”

I don’t know about you, but every year I think that I am going to make some progress in getting over September 11th.
I won’t bore you with the full version of my own September 11th story,
Yet I will just share that I was in Washington, DC, on that day:
Just 3 miles from the Pentagon.

And this morning, as I was driving down Highway 59, four police cars came barreling up behind me, obviously participating in some high speed chase.
As I heard multiple sirens blaring, my mind immediately went back to witnessing billowing smoke coming from the Pentagon.
I’m not over it.
And this evening, I definitely need propers and prayers and scripture readings – for Peace.

I sure do need peace.
But I don’t need Jesus giving me no advice about my enemies.

You see, it is very easy, especially on this day, for me to objectify my enemies.
My enemies can be those people who knocked those buildings down in New York.
My enemies can be the Nazis who built concentration camps or the Klan who burned crosses in front yards.
Yet as long as I can keep my enemies objectified and at arms length, then I can also keep Jesus at arms length too.

Today, I need peace.
Yet I would rather not have Jesus meddlin’ in my enemies.
I would rather have my enemies tucked far away, rather than have to deal with my enemies, every day.

The most famous Psalm in the whole Bible is Psalm 23.
This is the psalm that begins, in the famous King James Version:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
And in this same King James Version, the psalm also speaks about our enemies as it says:
“Thou preparest a table before me – in the presence of mine enemies.”

Yet when I try to figure out who in my everyday life is my enemy, it helps me to read Psalm 23 in a different translation, a translation such as the one that is in our Book of Common Prayer.
In that translation, the psalm prays this:
“You spread a table before me – in the presence of those – who trouble me.”
Ah-ha, now I can figure out who my enemies are!

Know-Your-Enemy

My enemies are those who trouble me.
And when I take an inventory of my own everyday life, there are plenty of people who trouble me.
Why just in this last week alone, there have been several people who have troubled me!
(Of course, no one in this room).

Who is troubling you?
Maybe the person who is troubling you – is your ex-husband.
Maybe the person who is troubling you – is your boss or a co-worker.
Maybe the person who is troubling you – is a long-estranged friend.

Jesus says:
Love your enemies.
And my enemies are not in some far away country.
My enemies are those who trouble me, day in and day out.

However, I do not do a good job of loving my enemies.
I do not handle very well – those who trouble me.
In fact, I need some help – in dealing with those who trouble me.

Dr. Brené Brown is an amazing Episcopalian who is also a research professor at the University of Houston.
Brené has spent thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame.
If you have not read Brené’s books or watched her TED talks on You Tube, then I highly encourage you to do so.

Brené’s latest book just came out, a super book titled:
Rising Strong.
In Rising Strong, Brené writes about one of her sessions with her therapist.

In the therapy session, Brené complains about one weekend when she went to go speak at an out of town conference.
At this conference, Brené did not get a private room, but she had to share a room with another woman.
And Brené was grossed out by the messy, uncouth, brash behavior of her roommate.
(I hope that this doesn’t happen to any of you at the retreat this weekend).
Anyway, Brené was grossed out by the behavior of her roommate.
To Brené, her roommate was someone who troubled her:
An everyday, garden variety – enemy.

After telling horror story after horror story about her insensitive roommate,
The therapist looks straight at Brené and asks:
“Do you think it’s possible that your roommate was doing the best she could that weekend?”

Brené goes ballistic, incensed by the suggestion!
How could anyone dare to suggest that those who trouble me are just doing the best they can?!

My friends:
I don’t think I can ever get to the point where I can raise my hand that I truly love my enemies.
Yet I can begin to assume – that those who trouble me – are doing the best they can.

Your ex-husband is doing the best he can.
He has always had a woman look after every need in his life and now he feels rudderless and lonely – and he’s just doing the best he can.

Your boss is doing the best she can.
She is a single mom with an aged parent living at home – and she’s just doing the best she can.

Your long-estranged friend is doing the best she can.
She has no idea that she hurt your feelings and she misses you greatly – and she’s just doing the best she can.

I will never be truly able to love my enemies.
But a baby step, for me, is to begin to assume that those who trouble me – are doing the best they can.

Jesus says:
Love your enemies.
Therefore, my only hope – is to pray for grace.
And boy, do I pray for grace.
Because Jesus knows that, even back to the days of Cain and Abel, we all have those who trouble us.

And, thank God, thank God:
That Jesus gives me that grace and peace.
He spreads a banquet table before me – even in the presence of those – who trouble me.
He preparest a table before me – in the presence of
Mine enemies.

AMEN.

 

 

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  • For His Sake . . . I am but one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do. Lord, what will you have me do?
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