Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sermon Notes for Proper 25

I stuck fairly close to this outline at St Bartholomew's, Granite City and St Thomas', Glen Carbon, but delivered the homily without notes. It's just a walk-through rough exposition of the Psalm for the day--Psalm 1.


  • The Matrix—red pill/blue pill choice (truth and potential happiness vs. comfortable anxiety and despair)
  • Psalm 1 presents us with just such a choice

1 Happy are they...

  • Happiness/blessedness—the highest human aspiration (lies beyond intermediate “I would be happy if…” statements)

who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, 
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful

  • First advice, a negative: avoid the wicked/sinners/scornful (in Heb. parallelism, those terms are successively illuminating, and they all refer to those who are self-sufficient, autonomous) 

2 Their delight is in the law of the and they meditate on his law day and night.

  • Hard for me to conceive of “delighting” in any law (60s, evangelicalism—only a wannabe lawyer studying for the bar meditates on any law day and night!), so I have to think of “law” not as something imposed by force, either reasonably or arbitrarily, but as simply “what is” (as in “laws of nature”)

3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither; everything they do shall prosper.

  • Illus: ribbons of green on a desert landscape—trees “prosper” (have access to a source of life-giving sustenance) no matter what the immediate circumstances are. 

4 It is not so with the wicked; they are like the chaff which the wind blows away.

  • The "wicked" (the autonomous, arrogant, self-absorbedly independent) = "chaff" (i.e. they are "lightweights")

5 Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes, nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

  • …who cannot “stand upright when judgment [settling accounts, paying the bills, closing the books with final postings to the ledger] comes, they are shells of the real selves, lacking in substance 
  •  What a blessed/happy prospect it is to be able to stand upright in God’s presence, without shame or fear  (because of the “law of the Lord cum paschal mystery) that is the very fulfillment of the human telos

For the but the way of the wicked is doomed.

  • v6: we have a choice of “ways” – God and happiness are at the end of one way, and not the other [red pill > new birth > real world] – may we all choose life

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