Septuagesima, 2017
Matthew 20:1-16
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

Do you believe you get what you deserve?

Concluding the parable in today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus says: “The last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16).

We’re not shocked when Jesus says this, but we should be.

He just taught a parable that everyone understands, but the characters in the parable that we identify with are the villains.

When have you seen someone do less work than you, contribute to a project less than you, show up less than you, and care less than you—when have you seen someone do that and get paid the same as you—and you not cry foul?

Jesus describes a situation that is completely unfair.

We should be shocked.

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The Transfiguration of our Lord, 2017
Matthew 17:1-9
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

How would you define suffering?

How would you define glory?

I’m not sure if there are two words that are as different as those. No matter your definition of suffering, your definition of glory is the exact opposite.

And yet, for St. Matthew, author of the first account of the Gospel, author of today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus’ suffering and glory are to be seen as two sides to the same coin.

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The Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, 2017
Matthew 8:23-27
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

How many of you like to sleep with a certain sound or light?

Some people can’t sleep if there’s any extra sound. And some must sleep in a completely dark room.

Some people prefer a nightlight. Some people need to sleep in a room without windows.

Some people prefer the sound of rain when they sleep. Some people prefer silence.

When it comes to sleep and rest and peace, the Holy Scriptures are far from silent.

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Epiphany 3, Sermon 2017
Matthew 8:1-13
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

You can’t believe every story you hear about Martin Luther, but even if it’s not true, this is a good one:

During one tempestuous time in his life, Martin Luther was lamenting the tests and trials that God was stacking upon him. His lovely wife, Katharina von Bora, at her wit’s end, finally said, “Well Martin…it’s your fault.”

And, like every husband would, Luther took that with perfect, divine grace. He responded, “What did you say?”

And Kitty replied: “You’re the one who prayed: ‘Thy will be done.’”

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Epiphany 2 Sermon, 2017
John 2:1-11
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

Generally speaking, what’s inappropriate at a wedding?

If you’re the guest, and if you’re a woman, you don’t wear a long-flowing white dress to someone else’s wedding.

If you’re the guest, and if you’re a man, you don’t propose to your girlfriend as a big surprise to everyone in attendance.

And, male or female, if you’re the guest to a wedding, you don’t walk around advertising your own business.

These are obvious answers to the question “What’s inappropriate?” But we also know the obvious answer to the question “Why is that inappropriate?”

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The Baptism of Our Lord, 2017
Matthew 3:13-17
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

There’s an episode of Malcolm in the Middle where Hal, the dad, walks in and turns the light on only to find that the lightbulb’s burnt out.

In his search for a new lightbulb, he realizes the shelf on which the lightbulbs sit has a loose screw.

In his search for the screwdriver, he realizes that the drawer suffers from a squeaky, grinding noise.

So, he finds the can of WD-40, which is empty.

So, needing to get a new can of WD-40, he gets in his car, which, let’s just say, needs a tune up.

Then, Lois, his wife, walks into the garage and says, “Hal, would you replace the lightbulb in the kitchen?”

And from under his car, parts and tools all around him, he says, exasperated, “What does it look like I’m doing?”

Now, I told you that, because to understand Jesus’ baptism correctly, you need to hold on to several threads at the same time, but—I promise—it’s worth it.

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Christmas 1 Sermon, 2017
Luke 2:(22-32)33-40
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

Merry Christmas!

Have you noticed that we, as a nation, a community, and even in our own families, are very good at preparing for and counting down to Christmas Day?

For many families, watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade conclude with Jolly Old St. Nick—whether you do Santa or not—is a way to officially begin the annual Christmas count down.

We listen to the same five songs sung a thousand different ways. We “get out the Christmas decorations,” and that could mean either one box or fifty.

We send Christmas cards. We sing Christmas hymns (even when it’s still Advent!). And we wait with eager expectation Christmas Day, when we can open presents, relax, and go to church.

We’re good at counting down to Christmas Day.

But Christmas, the season, is more than one day.

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Christmas Day, 2016
John 1:1-14
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5).

Prior to the Incarnation—which occurred at the Annunciation, nine months before Jesus’ birth—prior to that, this is how we spoke of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity:

We refer to Jesus as the Divine Word. The Pre-Incarnate Christ. The logos.

This is how we flesh out, no pun intended, the various places in the Old Testament where there is a strange, Christ-like figure.

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Christmas Eve Sermon, 2016
Luke 2:8-14
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:8-14).

That said, Jesus is not the reason for the season. You are.

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Advent 4 Midweek Sermon, 2016
Luke 24; Hosea 6:1-3
Rev. Benjamin Tyler Holt

In Acts 17 and 18, we read the Paul and Apollos proved that the Christ was Jesus (cf. Acts 17:2-3; 18:28). To do so, it says that they used the Scriptures.

Of Paul, it says, “He reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead” (Acts 17:2-3).

Of Apollos, it says, “He powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus” (Acts 18:28).

We need to remember that the only Scriptures they had are what we refer to as the Old Testament.

So, what Old Testament Scriptures prove Jesus to be the Christ? What can we point to?

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