Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter 2019 - Fr Phil

Easter 2019

April 21, 2019
Fr. Philip Eberhart

How many of you have seen the movie RISEN? 

I want to do a showing here in the next few weeks. 

It is the story of a roman centurion who is placed in charge of finding the body of Jesus after the crucifixion.  His quest takes him further and further away from the many gods of the Roman pantheon and toward the God of the Hebrews, and to His perfect image and Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

Two scenes in the movie are really amazing: 

the first is his interview with one of the soldiers who was present at the tomb, now pardoned and drunk in the back of a bar.  But in relating what happened at the tomb that morning, he suddenly becomes lucid, staring off into an experience that he cannot fathom.  "The stone flew away from the tomb like a leaf!"  "I was looking at a light - like the sun - shining from the tomb"  " bright I could not look at it."

the second scene, is when the centurion, bursts in on the hidden disciples and Jesus is there with them.  He recognizes Jesus from the cross and is stopped in his tracks. He drops his sword and edges over to the side of the room and slides down the wall to sit on the floor, a few feet from the Savior, who is showing his wounds to Thomas (and the centurion, by the way.)

One of my favorite verses in the NT is a verse that I used as a text on the day I preached my father's funeral:  It was the verse I was preparing for a sermon during the week he was in the hospital, unresponsive to either I or mom.  It is from First Peter 1:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


the event we commemorate and celebrate today is more than just something that happened, a long time ago and far far away!  It more than the stuff of movies, though it certainly is that!

It is the stuff of life change!

If we fully grasp the significance of this day, the "weight of glory" that it holds for us who believe and indeed, for all persons;  

If we take ahold of its meaning for us and for others;

If we take the time to ponder the questions it poses to us, especially in our modern world:

         Who is this Jesus?

         What is the meaning of this death?

         What happened to the body?

         If Jesus rose from the dead,

             ...  then what?

When we simply conclude, as the centurion did, that ITS ALL TRUE,
THEN it changes everything!

It changes our whole life!  

It changes our past, our future. 

It changes our brokenness & our success!  

It changes our loneliness, our relationships, our friendships, our companions.  

It changes our eating, our drinking...  

      the bread and the wine.

It changes everything... if it's true. 

 But is it?

Have you come to the conclusion of your quest?  I presume if you are here this morning that you are at least on the quest!  The quest to find the answer to those questions for you.  To find the thing that changes everything about our existence on planet earth.  That explains it all and gives it meaning and purpose.

Peter calls it A LIVING HOPE!  

Alive indeed! Because the Lord is RISEN INDEED! 

Can you imagine the scene in the Upper Room that first night after that morning.  The news had come from the women, from Mary, who had been told to go tell "the disciples AND PETER."  Isn't it interesting that Peter was singled out by the Risen Jesus for the news.  Why?  Not because Jesus didn't consider him a disciple anymore, but because Peter himself probably didn't.  He was in the room, but can you imagine the shame - no leadership here anymore!  Just shame.  Along with the whole crew who abandoned their Lord in His time of need.

And suddenly Jesus is standing there.  Peter hears the corporate gasp of the other disciples and slowly turns to meet the Risen One, face to face. All the color - all the life flows from his body and he falls to his knees, his face buried in the robe of Jesus for shame.

Jesus reaches down and lifts him up with nail scarred hands. He lifts his shamed face to look into the face of His savior.  And he says,...

What do you hear Jesus say to you?

We are all Peter!  We have all betrayed and abandoned him at times in our lives, from day to day.

What do YOU hear Jesus say?
"I told you so!"  

 "You're sure a sorry disciple!"  

 "So... Wha'd ya learn?"
NO!  None of the above.  

What were Jesus' first words to all the disciples?


Is there anyone here who would sign up for "Peace"?  "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. Not like the world gives, give I unto you."

Now imagine with me again, the moment of reunion.  

Jesus appears that evening to all the disciples.  Peter turns around and sees Jesus there - falls to his knees, his eyes sad with guilt, his fisherman's frame shaking with tears - 

And Jesus - comes over and puts his hand down on Peter's head - and then lifts him up by the shoulders, from kneeling to standing face to face.


Peter's eyes are still downcast.  And Jesus says it - "Peter."


He lifts his face and their eyes meet, just like three nights ago in the courtyard, right after his denial; but this time, Peter recognizes that familiar lilt in Jesus' voice, and realizes that He - Peter himself, the denier, the coward before the accusation of a teenage girl slave - Peter has been forgiven, and this is all really happening!

Pinch yourself - go ahead, do it!

It's all real.

Jesus wants that reality to sink in here this morning!  Because what happened to Peter and to James and John and all the others will happen to you and to me and to all the whole church.  WE GET HIS PEACE AND JOY FOLLOWS! 

Almost 60 times in the New Testament alone the word JOY is used.  Just when I look up at you I want you to say the Word JOY -  insert it in some of the more familiar examples:

[Luk 1:44 NASB] Elizabeth said: 44 "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.

[Luk 2:10 NASB] 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

[Luk 10:17 NASB] 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."

[Luk 15:10 NASB] 10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

[Luk 24:41, 52 NASB] 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" ... 52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy,

[Jhn 15:11 NASB] 11 "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

[Jhn 16:20 NASB] 20 "Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.

[Act 13:52 NASB] 52 And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

[Rom 14:17 NASB] 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

[Gal 5:22 NASB] 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

[1Th 1:6 NASB] 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

[Heb 12:2 NASB] 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

And as we heard esrlier, from Peter's own pen:

[1Pe 1:8 NASB] 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

And from John, the beloved disciple:

[1Jo 1:4 NASB] 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

[2Jo 1:12 NASB] 12 Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.

And finally in the JUDE DOXOLOGY:  (GET YOUR BELLS 

AND KEYS READY AGAIN)  [we're going to do something here that is unusual in church...   Imagine your team just won the World Series or the Super Bowl!  That is the scale we're talking about here!  Get ready -

I want your outside voice!]

[Jde 1:24 NASB] 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.


AMEN. Alleluia!





Hallelujah!  The Lord is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed!  Hallelujah!

Let us pray: 
Lord Jesus Christ, on this day you have overcome death and the grave.  You have come back to life and brought us with you from the dead!  We who were dead in our sins, worship you.  We who doubted, believe.  We who walked with you without knowing Who you were, have our eyes opened. We hear you say, Peace be with you.  

We receive your Peace - the peace that comes in Your Presence.  

We walk in the fullness of JOY!  Joy that You have given us!

Help us to come fully to believe in You, Lord Jesus.  To have a Living Hope. to be Inheritors of the imperishable.  Make us truly yours, Lord Jesus.  Help us to see in your death, the grace for our whole life.  Restore us to fully walk with you in our day to day, listening to your voice, hearing your words, filled with love for you and for others, and obeying you in every way, because we love you, Risen Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. 
In your Name and for the sake of Your Kingdom, we pray.

Sunday, April 14, 2019


Palm Sunday
April 14, 2019
Fr. Phil Eberhart

The Home Stretch

This morning is Palm or Passion Sunday.  We've just heard our own voices cry, "Crucify Him!"  We've traveled a week in an hour - from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the waving of Palm branches and "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!:   Hosanna to the Son of David!"  to  "Crucify Him!"  

On Palm Sunday of 1996 I entered the pulpit of this church for the first time as Priest-in-charge.  This is 23 years on now and a lot of water under the bridge.  Amidst the comments about my taking this charge, was one by Bishop Bill Frey, who simply said to me, "Watch out for triumphal entrys!"

Friends, God has used these 23 years in many people's lives, to touch, to heal, to deepen, to send, to activate and reactivate people for the Kingdom of God.

I can't preach long this morning because of all that we've got going on.  So much of the whole Holy Week message is simply contained in the actions we partake in, the processional, the reading, the foot washing and communion on Thursday, the observance of the Crucifixion on Friday, the stories of God's People on Saturday and the Resurrection on Sunday next.  I've entitled the sermon  "THE HOME STRETCH."  

For Jesus this last week of His life here on earth was a Home stretch!  We think of the horses in a horse race when we hear that term, and the supreme effort it takes to do the last bit of the race to the finish line.  The distance from Hosanna, Lord! to "It is Finished" was the Home Stretch for Jesus Christ.   I would encourage you to read through the synoptic Gospels, Mark, then Matthew & Luke as they share the story of this last week, and then go to John, later in the week and reread the last almost half of John, from Chapter 12 to 21.  Just like Jesus, my friends, the more that we put into the Home Stretch this week, the more we will get out of it, next Sunday.  As we move through the darkness of the three days, walking with Jesus from the Upper Room to the Garden of Prayer, to the trial and condemnation, to the crucifixion - taking it all in - and then sitting in the dark Friday and Saturday, like the disciples did in the Upper Room.

We ask the same questions now as they did then... what do all these things mean?   How shall we now live our lives?
The power of the resurrection on Sunday is magnified for us as we take part in the journey of Holy Week - as we read and meditate on these accounts, what Jesus said and did.

So, like on Ash Wednesday, I invited you to "the observance of a Holy Lent"  now I invite you to the observance of this Holy WEEK.   7 pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening as we get ready for the greatest moment of our faith - the Resurrection of Jesus!  Consider it all, brothers and sisters.  Consider it all.

Let's pray...

Lord, Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the Cross, that everyone might come into the reach of your saving embrace.  Let us so enter on the observance of and meditation on your Holy acts, that we might be clothed upon by Your Spirit, and thus reach out our hands in love to those we know and those we meet, to bring those who do know know You, Lord Jesus, to the knowledge and love of you, for the Honor of Your Name.


Lent III
Mar 24, 2019

Sin is sin is sin!

I had a unique experience yesterday...

I attended to rally at the State Capitol to defeat the currently proposed so-called "sex-ed" bill.  I was watching the speakers from the back of the crowd,  probably 300 folks.  I and my friend were approached by Fox 31 News to be interviewed and we went aside to do that.   As we were being interviewed a young man came and stood just within ear shot and began heckling and calling us names,  so I left the camera shot and engaged him.  As I did so the camera swung around and...

So, I was on the channel 31 news last night engaged in a debate with a former Episcopalian altar boy,  who now rejects God and the scriptures in favor of this radical political action agenda we are seeing at the state house.  

As I read the scriptures to prep for the sermon I was struck by the comments of the Apostle Paul in this paragraph in his letter to Corinth this morning:

6Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

Paul then lists out the sins of the nation as they were in the wilderness...

Idolatry, sexual immorality,  presumption (putting the Lord to the test) and grumbling against God! 

You know,  the more things change,  the more they stay the same!   The further we go down the road of civilization,  the less progress we actually make.   I think we could likely use the same "big 4" list for our modern American culture! 

The interesting thing to me here was the words of Jesus in the Gospel:

2And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?
3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Jesus is very clear and concise here.  He always brings the point back to the hearer ... to you and me.  To my individual sin and culpability before God! 

One of the earliest scriptures I was required to memorize as a college student with the Navigators was 1 Cor 10:13...

13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
KJV, of course!

The point here is that we're all responsible for our own sin - all individually sinners in the big picture, all sinners that don't get to point fingers at others and say they are "worse" sinners than I am,  and to thereby justify myself in some way. 

Jesus never let anyone off the hook in that way,  ever. We don't get to compare ourselves to others,  in any way,  for good or ill.  We stand before God like Moses in front of the holiness of God at the burning bush...  each and every one of us will stand there. 

And our sin will be covered or it will be uncovered! It's that simple.  Jesus came back twice to his injunction to his hearers:

unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

God is no respecter of persons... your sin isn't greater or lesser than mine.  We're both sinners.  And we can both find grace and forgiveness at the cross!  Jesus didn't spend a lot of time mentioning particular sins because he knew we all wanted him to!  We're all anxious to get the light and heat of God's fire off of us and onto the Real sinners!  

Jesus here calls us to the work of repentance,  to name our name,  no one else's!  To stand in the place of Moses in front of God...  take off your dirty sandals,  even the ground here is holy! 

Friends, we are in Lent. The days we're living in are evil,  because of us!  We're studying Nehemiah and his first response was to repent!  That's a good example! Nehemiah spent months in prayerful repentance before he made a move!  It's time for us to spend some time in prayerful repentance of our own and to remember the memory verse...

13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Jesus is the way.  Where you have temptation fix your eyes on Jesus,  the author and the finisher of your faith!  He is the way, He is the truth and He is the life! 

Whether our sin... my sin ... is covered or exposed in God's presence depends on a choice.  Your choice,  my choice.  And the choice is simply to believe what Jesus Christ did and said on my behalf. 

To believe it and to receive it as my own.

And we must do that today!  Today is the day.  Every "today" is the day!  His hands are open wide on the hard wood of the cross.   Won't you and I come into the sweep of his saving embrace?  

This is our task individually and together in our day,  and then to be his hands and feet and eyes and ears and mouth in the world around us.  They're starving for this,  ... hungry and thirsty for they know not what ... or even why! 

As I got to my car I was approached by another individual.  A homeless man panhandling for change,  and he came with the most apologetic manner I'd ever encountered.  I have him all my parking change and touched his shoulder and said,  "I have three words for you... Shame Off You!"  He broke down and cried as I told him he was God's child and that God loved him and wanted him whole and healed.  He hugged me and thanked me and went his way. 

Eventful day downtown yesterday.  Quite an extraordinary day.  Let's pray. 

Our Father and our God

We come with repentance and humility before you today, asking for forgiveness and for reconciliation.  Help us to remove our dirty sandals in your presence. Give us clean hands and pure hearts to do your work as you send us into the world as your ambassadors.  Help us to see our own sin, not that of others first.  Go with us as we go and stand and speak and heal in your heart name, Jesus Christ.   Amen and amen. 


Lent 1 2019

Lent 1
March 10, 2019
Fr Phil Eberhart

Deut 26:(1-4),5-11
Ps 91 or 91:9-16
Rom 10:4-13
Lk 4:1-13

Whosoever !!

Good morning!

Welcome back so soon. Many were here for a grand occasion last night for the double ordination and confirmations we had here. What a beautiful night! What a short night! I think i got about 4 hours sleep. Speaking of temptation! Almost rolled over and went back to sleep. Then i remembered... oh yes... you're preaching this morning!

I want to talk about a word this morning. It's a word that comes up in our epistle reading. The letter from Paul to the Roman church. Chapter 10 is in the middle of a section about Paul's heart's desire! The word is WHOSOEVER.

It's a great King James word. Others translate it who ever or whom ever. Whosoever occurs 163 times in the OT and NT. What I discovered is that the word mostly means "all." And as we all know "all means all!" So in Romans Paul is quoting the prophets when he says " whosoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved."

It's interesting that this is in the middle of his letter to the gentile church in Rome! He returns for a moment to remind both his gentile readers and the eventual Jewish readers that the Jews are included in his whosoever! In fact he goes so far as to say that the salvation of the Gentiles is tied to the salvation of the Jews and vice versa

"A partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved."

Whosoever is a very inclusive word! We hear a lot today about inclusion ! Everyone wants to be a part of something big. And we have the biggest deal going! God so loved the world ... that whosoever could come, Jews, Gentiles, slave, free, Male, female, ... black, white, brown, yellow, red, green or blue! There's no more need for discussion! It's time to simply GO ... do it. Go in any way you can, at all times, to every place. Go tell the story, your story, His story! And how they come together!

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And Paul goes on to commission each of us...

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Let me repeat myself... It's time to simply GO ... do it. Go in any way you can, at all times, to every place. Go tell the story, your story, His story! And how they come together! People are dying to hear!

The WHOSOEVERs of this world are empty and restless, "looking for love in all the wrong places." And ours is the ultimate message of God's love, for all the world, all the who - so - evers that we run into every day - and never say a word to.

Bishop Bill talked last night about the power of the gospel coming through relationships. Through connections. Do you know that is our written mission. "Connecting people to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom!" Let's just go and do it.

Let's pray...

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross, that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace! So clothe us in your Spirit, that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you,  for the honor of Your Name.