Sunday School Lesson by Rev. Mason T. Beecroft
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Homily by Rev. Mason T. Beecroft, 09/26/2010
There was little doubt in anyone’s mind who the greatest sinner was at the table. The important, influential Pharisees had invited a man with dropsy to eat with them. They also invited Jesus to join them. In their minds, both should have been flattered to be there on the Sabbath. After all, in first-century Judaism, people only ate with social equals and this invitation indicates that Jesus and the man with dropsy had their attention. The Pharisees, however, did not really consider either to be their equal. In fact, the invitation was only a trap they had set for Jesus. St. Luke tells us that they were “carefully watching” Jesus, lurking about and waiting for him to make a mistake. So they made a plan, and asked Jesus and a man swollen with dropsy to come eat with them.
Homily by Rev. Mason T. Beecroft, 09/19/2010
In the summer of 1990, I interned with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. Clackamas County is large, stretching from east Portland to Mt. Hood. The first part of my internship involved riding on patrol with a deputy named Bill. He worked swing shifts from four in the afternoon until two in the morning. I spent two months with him. When you sit in a car with someone for that long and at those hours, you to get to know a person well. We quickly became friends and enjoyed our time, sharing a good number of laughs. Now Bill worked quite a bit of traffic, and took more DUI’s than any other deputy in the county. In his time there, he had also seen some remarkably horrific accidents. From time to time, as he patrolled, he would mention to me a wreck that had taken place at this place or another. At the time, I had never seen a dead person other than at a funeral. Once he learned that fact, he made it his personal mission to get me to a fatal accident. He thought it was important. And, of course, I was curious. One night a call came over the radio at the end of the shift. There was a fatal accident on 224 on a stretch of highway called the Carver Curves. We responded. Bill wanted me to see a fatality. As we pulled up to the scene, we noticed the car had taken on an electrical pole head-on. The pole and wires were down. The car was totaled and there was a dead man in the driver’s seat. I must admit it was a bit surreal. I sat there looking at this man, who only minutes before was driving home, and now was without life. There was no breath, no heart beat, no nothing. He just sat there, a corpse, slumped in a wrecked car, with sheriff deputies, paramedics, firemen, and a college junior shaking their heads in pity. Drunk, he had collided with an electrical pole, and now was dead, with no apparent hope. And his family was left to mourn this sudden, tragic loss.
Homily by Rev. Mason T. Beecroft, 09/13/2010
Do you remember Bobby McFerrin’s song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy?” In 1988, it reached #1 on the Billboard. In 1989, it won the Grammys for “Song of the Year,” “Album of the Year,” and “Vocalist of the Year.” We must have been really depressed that year to make that silly song so popular. “Don’t worry, be happy?” Really? What planet is that guy from? What kind of advice is that in this crazy world of ours? We live in a volatile, ever-changing, fast-paced, winner-take-all world. Our culture is known for its stress and worry. Some 43% of all adults suffer health effects due to worry and stress. Ninety percent of Americans worry that they have not saved enough for retirement. An estimated one million workers are absent on an average workday because of stress related complaints. We see violence and war every evening on our televisions and it seems that things are only getting worse. We hear about kids being taken from their own yards and then subjected to the most heinous crimes. The economy is unpredictable, and our political climate is laughable. We live in a wasteland of unbridled consumption, untold violence, endless distraction, with a completely unpredictable future, all of which contribute to our stress and anxiety and worry. Don’t worry, be happy? Don’t you wish it was that simple? But we know that it is not. Life is more infinitely more complex.
So why do you worry? You know you do. You worry about how your kids will do in school; you worry about your job; you worry about your health. You worry about your grades… or you worry that your parents will find out about your grades. You worry whether you have enough money to pay your bills or to last you through retirement. You worry about your marriage and your family. You worry that other people will like you. You worry about the church. You worry about your day when you get out of bed and you worry about the next day when you lay down at night.