First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Greg Briggs,
Interim Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Sermon & Weekly Bulletin~ November 3, 2019

11-03-2019 Bulletin PDF

  1. Prayer and Introduction
    1. “May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our rock and redeemer. Amen”
    2. Title – Trying to See the Saints: A Story of Repentance or Revelation?
    3. Unseen saint at Bethlehem
      1. Unexpected endowment of _______________
        1. He was a school janitor, she worked in the office
        2. Quiet, not well known around church, though she volunteered in the office now and again.
        3. After his death, the church was given an endowment of just under a million dollars for mission and outreach.
          1. Shared the story of her passionate concern for the people who were homeless that she encountered at the church
        4. Real gift wasn’t the money, it was her personal witness
          1. Church dedicated that the endowment would have a focus to engage the congregation in the wider community
        5. At the time, no one knew what was going on underneath. Just another couple getting by.
      2. Trying to see
        1. Zacchaeus trying to see Jesus
          1. Climbed a tree, made a sight of his’ self
        2. Jesus seeing Zacchaeus
          1. How’d he know Z’s name? divine gift? Saw him ahead and asked about him?
          2. Saw him, and saw his value
            1. Son of Abraham
            2. Valued as “one of the lost”
          3. Crowd not seeing (ignoring Zacchaeus)
            1. Only saw the sinner, the tax collector
            2. Judgement, and maybe a bit of projection
  • Reminder of last week’s scripture about self righteous
  1. Zacchaeus – reformed scoundrel or revealed paragon?
    1. His story also intersects many other Lukan stories
      1. “Lost” things and people
      2. Small, reminds of how Jesus called children to him
  • Rich, like the rich ruler who couldn’t part with his wealth
  1. Happy to receive Jesus
    1. Why? Social outcast? Needed redemption?
    2. Ritual of hospitality
  2. Giving more than expected in the law
    1. Intersecting with story of Widow’s mite – coming up in Luke 21 giving out of one’s need, not just want
    2. Feeling the ‘pinch’ – giving half
  3. The Lost – not just sinners, but those rejected by others
    1. Best defined in the beatitudes – poor, mourning, meek, filled with hunger, filled with hunger for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and those that are reviled for Jesus’ sake
    2. Evangelical bent: lost = sinners, those that have not found Jesus
    3. Ecumenical bent: lost = those that have been rejected or overlooked by society
    4. Who do we see, who do we ignore? What blinders do we carry?
    5. Major reason for decline of contemporary Christian church –
      1. When church became more concerned with being polite and nice instead of good and just.
    6. Collaborator or Resistor?
      1. Everyone in this story is in a compromised, oppressive situation
        1. Just as we are today. We may be enjoying a pleasant life, but it is at the expense of others who are not paid enough to live, and at the expense of the environment which can’t continue to support this way of living
      2. Albert Camus “You are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them.”
      3. Zacchaeus may be like Oskar Schindler in WW II, or other resistors?
      4. Fred Craddock “One is not privately righteous while participating in a corrupt system that robs and crushes other persons”
        1. So many places that is true even today
      5. All Saints Sunday
        1. Our celebration is really a merging of a trinity of early Christian holidays
        2. Allhallowtide – triduum – 3 day holiday – like end of holy week
          1. Hallow’een – all hallows eve – making fun of death and the devil, “death where is thy sting” – it is a Christian holiday, though it has later been blended with other faith traditions
          2. All Saints – honoring the saints of the faith, known and unknown
  • All Souls – honoring all those that have gone before
  1. What makes them saints vs. souls?
    1. In Reformation, the hierarchy was lessened, and became a broader celebration of all that have gone on
  2. Remembering the Saints
    1. Honest reminder – saints often weren’t considered such in their own time
    2. Many of our inspiring faith leaders were considered troublemakers in their time –
      1. Martin Luther – and the Protest-ant reformers
      2. Teresa of Avila, Hildegaard of Bingen, really any medieval women theologians, were accused of heresy
  • Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  1. John J. McNeill – openly gay Jesuit priest, who was expelled for his welcoming theology
  1. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
  1. Remembering what the saints in your life were like
    1. Remember those that influenced your life, and remember them in their fullness, not just their “saintly” behavior
    2. Look for those who live like Zacchaeus, and honor their example
    3. Notice when we are more like the crowd, judging people based on one sliver of their lives
    4. Live ourselves to lighten the load of others, to resist the forces of evil


Luke 19:1-10 Common English Bible (CEB)

Today’s reading follows from last week’s Gospel lesson, where Jesus cautions us to not boast of our own righteousness, and to look upon others with contempt. You can follow along on Page _________________.

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. 2 A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” 6 So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.

7 Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 The Human One came to seek and save the lost.”