Father Jerry Adinolfi’s Epiphany 6 Sermon

 

IN GOD WE TRUST

Take a look at any of today’s U.S. currency, paper or coin

  • Amongst the writings, and numbers and pictures on it you will notice one particular phase emblazoned on them all: IN GOD WE TRUST. But it wasn’t until the period of the U.S. Civil War in 1864 that the phrase, In God We Trust, first appeared on money…first, on a 2-cent piece. In 1861, the Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon Chase, wrote this note to the Director of the U.S. Mint, under heavy pressure from many Americans who wanted something done about the public mentioning of God in the society: “Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.” Finally, in 1956, the motto appeared on paper currency, the one-dollar silver certificate, and in 1957, it became the law that our national motto was to be: “In God We Trust. The rest is history. Our President reminded us the other day that it is and will always be our national motto

In God We Trust….so said the early Israelites about Yahweh as Jeremiah reported in today’s OT lesson, but it only turned out to be lip service then, and I wonder today if we aren’t falling into the same spiritual trap todayittle by little, then as now, God slowly slips away from the lips of the people in thought, word, and deed, a people who become preoccupied with the affairs of self, rather than others; with things rather than people.

Listen to what the Proverbs (26:23) have to say: “Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are smooth lips with an evil heart.” kinda reminds me of that tune sung in 1984 by the British band Sada called, “Smooth Operator.” It’s last line quips,

“His eyes are like angels but his heart is cold”

The Old Testament lesson today went on to say that cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength

But…. blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord

Its verses replicate the timeless poetry of Psalm 1 today

Those who delight in the law of the Lord will be like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season with leaves that do not wither

Here I suspect the Lord had in mind the fruit of the Spirit as noted many years later in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Psalm 33:12 reports that happy is the nation whose God is the LORD

And the same Greek root word for happy, maka,rioj,,, is also used in our Gospel lesson today from Luke: blessed are you who are poor; happy you who are the poor…”

that nation that so trusts will persevere and enjoy God’s blessing; it will be a light for the nations; it will continue to bear lasting fruit for the glory of God

but something seems to get in the way every time, then and now

again, our friend Jeremiah, my favorite prophet, brings us to task

“the heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart…”

those are harsh words and people don’t like it when it applies to them

it’s always for the other guy, that sinner over there, not me!

But wait: let us briefly examine the context of Jeremiah’s statement and see if it perhaps can help us get to the spirit of what our Collect said today, namely,

  • ….because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, but you are the strength of all who put their trust in you
  • As early as in Genesis 8:21, the Lord said that the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; all have this propensity to sin
  • The psalmist in 58:3 notes that the wicked go astray from the womb; they err from their birth, speaking lies
  • One of the scariest Biblical verses for me is taken from Proverbs 23:7 in the King James rendition: “…as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
    • He may say one thing, but he thinks otherwise!
  • In the NT, Jesus of course fulfills the thought process of the OT prophets as he so states in Mark 7:1-23: For it is from within, from the human heart, Jesus says, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

–         In the same chapter of Luke as in today’s Gospel, verse 45, the evangelist says that “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.”

  • This is exactly why the author of Hebrews (3:12) pointedly says, “Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.”
    • Thus, the words of Psalm 51 come to our rescue: “create in me a clean heart O Lord and renew a right spirit within me.”

–        Jesus of course knew all of this and would not entrust himself to the fickleness of the crowd  “….because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.” John 2:24-25. In effect, Jesus knew what they were thinking!

  • In other words, God reads the heart, the intentions of what we are doing, our motives, of what we are about to say before we say it!     
    • The 16th century English philosopher Francis Bacon, father of the scientific method, was quoted as saying, “We cannot too often think there is a never-sleeping eye which reads the heart and registers our thoughts”

Trusting in God means believing in him, believing in what he says, then going and acting upon it

  • this is exactly the thrust of the Psalm today
  • hang around with the good guys! Stick with the law of the Lord
  • you know, we need to get right with God; to stop following our stubborn, evil wills as was said of the early Israelites
    • their country was destroyed, and they were deported to Babylonia
    • they worshipped idols and did not honor the Sabbath; in effect they mocked God by ignoring him
  • I personally think that this is a wake-up call for America, to snap out of it so to speak, and turn back to the Lord; to get our priorities straight as in Psalm 1.
  • Jesus’ message to his disciples in Luke’s so-called Sermon on the Plain today is a call to action, social action, not just in poetic theology
    • To truly trust God means to let go and to let God
    • To suffer these things for righteousness sake, like being poor, or hungry, or weeping, or being hated, reviled, and defamed on account of Jesus
      • He told these things to his newly appointed disciples after he had been praying all night on the mountain; this message to them was from his Father and our Father

Our reward is great in heaven, and thus we too need to rejoice and leap for joy

  • Jesus has already gone and prepared a place for us, for those who believe in Him.
  • To be rich, to be satisfied, to be laughing, to be lauded and praised now might be a sign that we are ignoring the dictates of our Baptismal Covenant, not to be too puffed up with our success
  • We are people of the Resurrection said Paul today in today’s Epistle; we believe that God rose from the dead and he is now in full control, in heaven and on earth. He is the first fruits of the dead, never to die again.
  • IN GOD WE TRUST….as we help usher in the Kingdom of God no matter what the cost, for His grace is sufficient.

       AMEN

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