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Sermons Preached by the Rev. Raymond Shaheen, P.P. 

Year 1980 



Sept. 28, 1980 


Sermons Preached by the Rev. Raymond Shaheen, P.P. 

Year 1982 
Jan. 17,1982 
Jan. 24, 1982 
Feb. 7, 1982 
Feb. 14, 1982 
Feb. 21,1982 
Feb. 28, 1982 
Mar. 7, 1982 
Mar. 14, 1982 
Mar.21, 1982 
Mar. 28, 1982 
Apr. 4, 1982 
Apr. 11, 1982 
Apr. 18,9182 
Apr. 25, 1982 
May 2, 1982 










fQj. "fov-DcuMci 5k <5^«e^ 


fo$±or D<?i/t<L Sfateeh 



Matthew 24:42 
Matthew 27:22 
John 1:18 
Exodus 20:2-3 
Exodus 20:7 
Exodus 20:8 
Exodus 20:12 
Exodus 20:13 
Exodus 20:14 


Luke 19:41 
John 20:1 
Exodus 20:16 
Exodus 20:17 
Luke 10:25 

1 982 continued 



May 16, 1982 
May 23, 1982 
May 30, 1982 
Jun. 6, 1982 
Jun. 10, 1982 
Jun. 13, 1982 
Jun. 20, 1982 
Jun 27, 1982 
Jul. 11, 1982 



"BACK TO EDEN - - ?" 





1 John 1:8 

Acts 1:26 



Genesis 1:26 
Proverbs 27:5 
John 2:23-25 
Hebrews 11:13 

(Prepared by Sheila Fisher 2/1/2012) 



Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost - Sister Mildred's 50th 

Anniversary as Deaconess - September 28, 1980 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son 
Jesus Christ, our Blessed Lord. 

The respite that Winifred and I had in the hills of home passed all too 

quickly. Not the least among the gratifying things was the fact that we had no 
concern for morning delivery of the paper — to be free from something such as 
that is a joy in itself. But I must confess, once, twice, maybe three times in 
the times I went to town I did pick up a copy of the Washington Post. 

Winifred and I cherish the moment when we can read the paper together, and 
that we were able to do when we were on holiday as we sat there on the porch 
reading the last issue of the Post that came to us. She prefers the Metro Sec- 
tion first, and when she was finished she said, "I'm not so sure you'll find it 
worth reading today - - there's not much good news." 

I was tempted, of course, to find why she would say that. It wasn't long, 
of course, as I glanced at what was in front of me . . 

- - there was the feature article: crime in metropolitan 

Washington — every 12 1/2 minutes a burglary is committed. . . . 

- - and then that uncomfortable thought for those of us who live 

in Montgomery County — we're #1 in the dollar value of each 
individual burglary — the average dollar burglary in Mont- 
gomery County is over $1700 

- - then on the right-hand side of the paper, that terrible article 

about that woman in her 30 's whose murdered body was found in 
the trunk of her car 

- - and if that wasn't enough, the article at the bottom of the 

page: a child paralyzed, paralyzed for life, the victim of 
a drunken driver 

The news was not good. 

And I said to myself, as you would have said, "It's a wicked world." And 
then I reflected upon the fact that in addition to reading the Psalm-a-day that 
Dr. Hesse and the Saint Luke Bible Reading Fellowship has recommended, I have 
also been reading again the Book of Genesis, and I recalled how in those chap- 
ters of Genesis, there's deceit. ... there' s chicanery. .. .there' s war there's 

hostility.... there's hatred. And now after forty years in the ministry I must 
say - - hasn't it always been that way? - a world that's characterized by wicked- 


But then I remind myself, in the Christian perspective: Evil remains only as 
the second most powerful force in the world. There is a greater force: it is 

called love. 

How then does one live in a world that's branded as being wicked? One lives 
in the world because this is the only world we happen to have. But one begins to 
live confidently because every now and then he'll meet someone who personifies 
love, whose life will be to others as the very mind and spirit of Jesus Christ — 
whose only justification for existence is to live in this day, among us, as 
Jesus Christ would want a disciple of His to live. 

The sermon on this very special day, a special day in the life of this con- 
gregation because it's a special day for a very special person — bears the 
title: "To Live, To Love." You can transpose it, it comes out the same way — 
from the Christian perspective - for to love is to live, and one as a Christian 
never really lives unless he loves. So, Sister Mildred, on this very special day, 
as you mark your Golden Anniversary as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ through 
the Diaconate, the sermon bears such a title. And the text, words that you'll 
quickly recognize - they have been the lodestar for your life, the lodestar for 

"To Live, To Love " (3) 

every deaconess, as emblazoned for us in the special Deaconess banner that 
graces the chancel this morning - the 14th verse of the 5th chapter of Paul's 
Second Letter that he wrote to Christians who lived in the wicked city of 
Corinth : 

"For the love o f Christ constrains us. " 
I did, as you might know, check out other translations as well, in order to 
see how pregnant these words are in the depths of Christian meaning. 

- another translator says: "The love of Christ controls us" 

- another says: "The very spring of our actions is the love of Christ" 

- - "The love of Christ leaves us no choice" says another, 

- and still another: "The love of Christ overwhelms us" 

- and this last one that I checked out: "For we are ruled by the love 

of Christ." 
No one ever really lives, no one ever makes his mark upon the fabric of society, 
without being motivated. For good or for ill, there has always been the dy- 
namic that allows people to become what they are and to touch the lives of other 
people, either for good or for ill. Every single one of us is being motivated, 
by varying degrees, of course. The deaconess is one who constantly reminds her- 
self: it is the love of Jesus Christ that motivates me. 

You must be very patient with me, I am deeply moved as I stand at this sacred 
desk today. I hope that I am always deeply moved when I interpret God's Word. 
But I am a human being, and I have strong personal relationships with the person 
who is being honored today. . . . 

...I knew her when she was still in her 20' s, she knew me when 
I was just a teenager. She was one who encouraged me to respond 
to the call of Jesus Christ to be a pastor, and throughout her 
life, no matter where she has lived, she's touched base with me, 
encouraged me to be faithful to my calling..... 

" To Live, To Love " (A) 

I am deeply moved as I stand here, sharing this very special day in her life. 

There are other reasons why I am deeply moved. I have been fortunate, in 
my forty years in the ministry I have been able to work with four different 
deaconesses. Here in Saint Luke, as you know, Sister Mary Josephine Gouker, 
who is planning to be present this hour, our first deaconess here . . . Sister 

Dorothy Marie Stalder and then Sister Mildred. But in my first parish, Sister 

Edna Coulder Hill, who was Sister Mildred's training sister, who personified so 
beautifully what the Diaconate was meant to be. And I for one, as I walk and 
work with Sister Mildred, could discover again and ever so often the indelible 
stamp of Christ as channeled on her life by her training sister. 

I also am deeply moved because as I stand among you, I recall a few short 
years ago I was privileged to preach on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of 
the Ordination of her first pastor when she began her work as a deaconess. And 
now God gives me the privilege to preach on the day that marks her retirement, 
her Golden Anniversary. 

I am awed by the privilege. For '"theiUove of Christ constrains us" has been 
the motivating force of her life. What is it to be a deaconess? To be a deacon- 
ess is to live as Jesus Christ in the midst of people. That's the only reason 

why some of us are willing to go on living we have reason to believe that here 

and there God will put down in front of us someone who could say words such as 

these she'll recognize these words, every deaconess recognizes them. Listen 

very carefully. They breathe of total commitment , something that every one of us 

would envy . . . 

"Saviour, thee my heart I tender, And would yield myself to thee; 
All my powers to thee surrender; Thine and only thine to be. 
Send me, Lord, where thou wilt send me, Only do thou guide my way; 
May thy grace through life attend me, Gladly then shall I obey. 

Let me do thy will or bear it; I would know no will but thine; 
_, Shouldst thou take my life or spare it, I that life to thee resign. 

Thine I am, Lord, for ever, To thy service set apart; 
Suffer me to leave thee never; Seal thine image on my heart. Amen. 

" To Live, To Love" (5) 

What, I ask you, does Sister Mildred have in common with Bertrand Russell, 
the renot&ied atheist? For over half a century the conclusion to which both of 
them have come. She knew it all along. He came to the conclusion only after 
fifty years of atheism. Somebody asked him what this world needed most, and then 
half apologetically, as though his friends would mark his every syllable of every 
word, he said, "What this world needs most is Christian love." 

A distinguished professor of history at Michigan State University said, 
"The trouble with the modern novel — it records life as it occurs, without any 
moral reference, without any reference to God. Sister Mildred as a parish deacon- 
ess has constantly lived out the days of her years within the Christian context. 
It was evidenced so easily the very first call that I made when she came to live 

among us. I dialed JU 5-8495 the voice at the other end as the receiver was 

lifted: "Sister Mildred speaking. Can I help you?" To live in a wicked world 
and to find one person whose noble ambition remains: Can I help you? Small won- 
der that I have such a high regard for the deaconesses. 


If you have not heard me say it before, it's high time you hear it now --if 

you've feeard me say it before you can well afford to hear it again .she was a 

frightened teenager, she was the daughter of immigrants, she was married to an 

immigrant peddler she was miles and miles away from home, she was giving 

birth to her very first child. Who was it who went to the hospital and stayed 
with her all night until the child was born? — it was a deaconess of the Epis- 
copal Church, a co-worker known to Sister Mildred in those early days and 

that teenage mother? — my_ mother. And I've thanked God again and again and 
again that He has placed in this world people such as deaconesses, whose only 
motivation for living is to meet a need in the life of another person — for 
that's what it is — and to be constrained by Jesus Christ to do it, and do it 

£ Francis of Assisi had his disciples, and one day he said to them, "one of 

" To Live, To Love " (6) 


these days we'll go to the village and we'll preach." Shortly thereafter he 
announced, "This is the day we go to the village." They walked throughout the 
business district, they went into the alleys, they went into the ghetto, the 
slums.... the day went on.... and then, wearied, one of the disciples said to him, 
"Master, you said this is the day we would go to the village and we would preach! 
— when and where should we preach, Master?" And the venerable Francis said, 
"But don't you understand! As we walked, we preached! wherever we went there 
were people — we touched their lives! They observed what we said, they observed 
what we did! It's a futile thing to walk anywhere if as one walks he does not 
preach. " 

....we prize and cherish the thought that for almost a decade she's been 
among us, ministering in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Sister, so typical of you — here it is - - it's well-worn. The cover has 
been long-since gone. You gave me this book when I was graduating from high 
school — 1933: Elbert Hubbard's Scrapbook. Again and ever so often I've turned 
to this page - - - Maxim Gorky is reciting a dialogue that goes on between a 
grandfather and his granddaughter. Says the grandfather to the granddaughter: 
"Treat everyone with friendliness, injure no one." Says the grand- 
daughter, "How good you are, Grandfather. How is it that you are 
so good?" Says the grandfather: "I am good, you say? If it is true, 
alright, but you see, my girl, there must be someone to be good. We 
must have pity on mankind. Christ, remember, had pity on all of us, 
and that's what He taught us. Have pity, then, while there is still 
time. Believe me, that is right" 

and then he goes on to tell about an event in his life. 

"I was once a watchman," he said, "on a country estate. It was my 
responsibility to guard it, and I was awakened one night — they were 
robbers, that's what they were! And I surprised them with my rifle, 
and one of them responded with an axe, as though he would kill me on 

"To Live, To Love " (7) 

thS SPOt md T Pulled ^ rifle on then, and I forced them to go into the 

brush and to bring back a heavy stick.... and then I commanded 
that each one would beat the other into weakness. And when they 
were subdued I took complete control. One of them cried out and 
said, 'Master, have mercy upon us - give us a bit of bread! 
We've had no bread for our bodies' 

" * kept them for a whole winter," the grandfather said, "I 

nursed them to health, and then when spring came, they went on 
their way." 

••..Says the grandfather to the granddaughter, "But don't you see, 
in this world someone has to be good." 
That's why God gives us a Sister Mildred and her kind. 

I would be less than honest if I did not tell you that the older I become 
the more I know Judgment Day is at hand. One could dread the Judgment. There 
are different ways of thinking how it will take place. One writer in a book 
says, not being particularly theologically inclined - the thing that he would 
dread most in Judgment would be to have God, the Lord and Giver of Life, say to 
him, "I gave you your time on earth. What now did you make of it?" I know what 
Sister Mildred's answer can be. 

Sister Mildred, I have told some of your fellow members here at Saint Luke 
that when you came to us to join our staff, I knew realistically that it might 
well be your last term of service. I prayed to our Heavenly Father that these 
years in our midst would be your golden years, your finest years. I would like 
to believe that you could say that. But that's beside the point - - as I now 
say to you: these years in Saint Luke Church, with you as a co-worker, have been 
my finest years. 

* * * 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

Second Sunday after the Epiphany January 17, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from q <l< , ~ 

God our Father, and from His \i\ guf *~ 

Son Jesus Christ, our Blessed ykj. 

Lord . Amen . 

I have not clocked it recently, but I presume the 14th Street 
bridge is surely less than ten miles from the place where you are 
seated this morning, and with optimum traveling conditions, one 
could be at National Airport in some 30 minutes from here. It is 
all so familiar to so many of us, particularly to those of you who 
may cross the bridge daily or head for National Airport with some 
measure of regularity. And as far as the Potomac River is concerned, 
we who live in this area look upon it as an old friend, with the ut- 
most familiarity. 

It's been made so different this past week. The placid or semi- 
placid Potomac has become a watery entombment. And within the remain- 
ing years of your lifetime and mine we shall never think of it without 
recalling it as an unwelcome grave, or a place where heroes were in- 
stantly fashioned. 

I have been unable to rid it, this event of this past week so 
close to all of us, from my mind. And as I come to the sacred desk 
this morning I am naturally constrained to put aside the sermon that 
had been scheduled. I must share a reflection or two with you. Your 
patience, please. The words may not come as easily or as quickly as 
I should like, despite the pressure of the heart-beat that characteri- 
zes each syllable. 

" To Be on the Alert" (2) 

The passage of Scripture, and I have no right to stand at this 

sacred desk unless I am constrained to interpret for you a passage 

of Scripture - - and there's only one passage of Scripture that 

grips my mind as I am overwhelmed by this event of the past week -- 

it's recorded in the 24th chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew. 

Some of you will readily recognize it: 

" Watch, therefore, for you do not know 
the hour ..." 

When the Gospel writer was dealing with this particular passage 
he was thinking, of course he was, of the return of Jesus Christ, of 
the establishing of His Kingdom here on earth. But by the very same 
token, our Blessed Lord gave the hearers in His day a constant alert: 
"You do not know the hour, you do not know the time." That's the pas- 
sage of Scripture that keeps bobbing back and forth on the horizon of 
my thought as I've dealt with this event of the past week. 

Now there are three things that I need to tell you this morning, 
as this sermon continues to unfold in purely auto-biographical fash- 
ion. It is, as any is perhaps intended to be, the personal testimony 
of one person. Hopefully, of course, that person is enlightened by 
the Holy Spirit. And I should be pleased indeed if by the time this 
sermon is concluded it would come to you unmistakably clear, with 
the divine perspective. 

Observation #1: By the way of reflection, if you please — a 
very simple thing — two words: IT HAPPENED. My immediate reaction 
when I heard the news, not knowing the full story, of course, was 
simply this: it's a miracle that it never occurred before. I am not 
sitting in judgment on anyone. I wouldn't even attempt to do that if 
I could. There are so many things that we don't know and there are so 
many areas in which we're not qualified to speak, nor should we. But 

" To Be On The Alert " (3) 

it did happen. 

Oh, we've taken a measure of pride in this, our airport, so close 
to us, that so few accidents have ever happened in its history. We've 
become so accustomed to thinking that nothing of this kind might hap- 
pen, except soberly as we've thought of the possibility. Day after 
day and week after week, for so many decades, you see, in fact some 
of you did not know at all that there had been that tragedy in 19 49. 

We recognize, of course we do, that it can be said that the safest 
of all means of travel today, there are those who maintain is air 
travel -- far more risky to ride in an automobile, or a horse, or a 
bicycle, or a motorcycle. It did happen. 

What else is to be said? It happened. And the impact was made. 
What can be done about it? The immediate reaction perhaps could be 
this, as I recall the lines of Maria in West Side Story -- when one 
of the characters had been stabbed. .. and there he is bleeding on the 
street... and all Maria can say is this: "I wish it were yesterday." 
But yesterday has come and gone. And yesterday was unscathed and un- 
ruffled -- there is the immediacy of what's before us. So I suppose 
my first observation that I share with you is this: IT HAPPENED. And 
it's over. And you can't go back five minutes earlier. 

When Suzie Kerns was a member of this congregation (she and her 
family moved to Illinois) — she had on display some of her art work. 
She left one of them behind, a batik that hangs in the main church 
office. I see it whenever I leave my office, on the wall directly 
opposite the door that leads to my office. Suzie has a custom of 
labeling her works of art. Every painting she's ever done, she gives 
it a name. And I said, "Suzie, what's the name for this one?" And 
then with a look on her face as much as to say, "Well it's obvious, 
Pastor, can't you see for yourself?" - - her title for this one is 

" To Be On The Alert" (4) 

"It's Over" -- aptly dubbed, for she portrays for us a tree, in the 
fall of the year, which has shed its leaves. Not a single leaf, I 
dare say, remains on the tree, if I remember correctly. So, as far 
as she's concerned -- it's over — spring, summer has come and run 
its course. Now.... the only thing that can be said -- it's over! 
The second observation, by way of reflection -- IT HAPPENED 
SUDDENLY. First — it happened. Second, it happened suddenly. 
Only this person or that person perhaps may have had a premonition, 
only the pilot who was accustomed to flying, as he indicated from 
his bed, had some idea that this could occur. I, who have done my 
share of flying, I can identify — finding one's seat, being jostled 
a bit, eager to find just where you' re to be located. ... then stuffing 
your carry-on underneath the seat in front of you. .. taking off your 
overcoat, your jacket, stuffing it up there in the rack ahead and 
trying to settle down as nonchalantly as possible, reaching for a 
magazine. ... giving only half-attention to what she's telling you 
about the necessary precautions that ought to be observed. . . . company with any of you, I too have known a measure 
of uneasiness at take-off and landing. To this very day 
if Winifred's seated alongside of me I reach for her hand 
on take-off, and there's that gentle pressure. Without 
any words between the two of us we know there's a prayer 
of thanks to God when we take off successfully and land 
just as well — we've even been known to applaud when 

the landing's been made well 

I can identify with them in the watery grave -- it happened — 

And yet Scripture is always reminding us that death is inevi- 

" To Be On The Alert" (5) 

table. It's sure to come. Sometimes death comes as a welcome re- 
lease, and sometimes death comes beautifully, as it did for my 
father of blessed memory. He was about 90 years of age when he died. 
And if you were to ask me what was the cause of his death, as an un- 
learned one, medically speaking, I'd have to tell you what maybe the 
doctors might say -- he died of old age — worn out I - - "Raymond, 
I'm tired" - - that's what I heard him say. And almost as though 
it had gone full cycle I was doing for him within a week of his death, 
or ten days, what he had done for me at an earlier period in my life 

I cradled him, this old man, in my arms . . . . I washed his face, 

I shaved him, I groomed his hair, I prayed with him - - - all of 
these things he had done for me 1 -- years and years before.... 

...he had washed my face, he had groomed my 

hair, he had prayed with me 

For him death came beautifully and completely. 

Death doesn't always come like that. Death can come in a tragic 
manner, and words defy description — and in a manner we'd be very 
happy if we could rid from our thinking. I have had my share of 
it as I've ministered with any number of you, and with the other 
parish that claimed my soul as a pastor before I came to you. And 
yet when it comes suddenly — unexpectedly — tragically — what 
is there to say? 

The third thing. 

First, it happened. Second, it happened suddenly. Third: it 

happened locally which is simply to say to you, be on guard, 

my friend. If it should have happened two thousand miles away, it 
would have been no less tragic. And that's the sad indictment that 
comes to every one of us. Unless you are unusually sensitive, some- 

" To Be On The Aler t" ( 6 ) 

thing that happens so far away doesn't seem nearly as tragic as 
when it happens close at hand. Whenever a person bleeds, no matter 
where that person may be, I too should bleed in Christ ... .wherever 

a person is hungry, ill-clad, neglected, ignored I too should 

bleed inside. Just because it doesn't happen at my door-step 
doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. And just because it may not 
happen so near to me, doesn't mean that it's less tragic when it 
happens somewhere else. 

Oh, there are redeeming things that come out of anything. The 
Apostle Paul is absolutely right when he says that "all things can 
work together for good to those who love the Lord. " We learn our 
lessons. There were the heroic ones. And we've learned a great 
deal that we hadn't learned before, and we will be far more sensi- 
tive to any number of things that we haven't heeded before. That 
purpose, too, is to be served. 

Interesting, isn't it, in a sermon a week or two ago I had 
planned to preach for you, I was going to include an illustration 
that because of the pressure of time I omitted. When the Titanic 
was sunk, a New York paper, I've forgotten which paper it was -- a 
cartoonist tried to catch something of the feeling -- giant liner 
rent asunder , torn .... it was one drawing that said (there were 
two drawings, by the way) the one drawing showing the liner, help- 


...and then there was another drawing showing a gallant man, ab- 
solutely refusing to take his place in a rescue craft, and stepping 
aside for a mother and a child. And the caption underneath that 

cartoon was this : THE WEAKNESS OF NATURE - 


"To Be On The Alert" (7) 

The gallant ones, you see, will remember who plunged into the icy 
water to save a woman that a minute before he ha d never known existed 
-- indelibly etched on the fabric of your soul 

that person — has he been identified yet? — who five 

times refused the possibility of rescue, giving way to 

others .... 

It happened. It happened suddenly. It happened locally. I'm 
not being morbid when I tell you, none of us knows the hour when it 
may happen to us. But it's inevitable. The Christian has a decided 
advantage. Heeding our Blessed Lord, the admonition remains, "Watch, 
therefore, for you do not know" . . . and by the grace of God we can 
always be made ready. 

That's why some of us when we have our waking moments, as we 
face a brand new day, get squared off with God, if you please — ask 
Him to order that day in a way that we might not disappoint Him. 
"Watch therefore - - this day" . . . and when night settles in and 
we lie down to sleep, to sleep with a good conscience, with a soul 
that's made ready, by the grace of God. 

The Christian has this advantage. Happy indeed are they who 

can pray, "0 Lord, in the hour of death, do not suffer me to fall 

from Thee." This I most certainly believe. 

* * * 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Third Sunday After The Ep ipha ny January 24, 19 8 2 



GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God t/I ' 

our Father and from His Son Jesus pffU 1 ^ 

Christ, our Blessed Lord, c Amen. YlM' 

Did it ever occur to you to ask the question: what is it 
that's primary in the mind of a preacher, this one in particular, 
if you please, as he stands at the sacred desk on a Sunday morning? 
In case you have not asked the question, let me encourage you to 
ask it -- and allow me to answer it immediately. What goes through 
my mind as I come to this sacred desk repeatedly, and for the oppor- 
tunity I am profoundly grateful, is basically the very same thing 
that went through my mind on that Sunday, 26 years ago this month, 
when I first came to this sacred desk. 

Little did you realize, had you been present then, that when 
I was about to preach the sermon I was saying to myself, well, here 
we are - - we're going to think about the things that really matter 


Did it ever occur to you how seldom we really think about the 
things that matter most? When tape recorders were first put on the 
market, I recall how, being a guest in a certain person's home -- 
and he was that kind of a person, you know, who secreted his recorder, 
and then when the evening progressed and the greater part of it had 
been spent, he played back the evening conversation. ... and we could 
hear the things that we had been talking about. Honestly now, how 
much of it has so little value! Not that a purpose is not to be 
served in just talking, but to deal with the things that matter most -- 
that's something that stands in a class all by itself. 


How fortunate we are to belong to a church whose tradition is this, that 
whatever happens in these moments with a man called by God to be an interpreter, 
that what he proclaims should be the Gospel — rooted and grounded in Biblical 
truth. And that the net result should be to confront people with the person 
of Jesus Christ. 

Some years back a religious journal used to deal with this subject perio- 
dically: How did your mind change in the last decade ? I put that question to 
myself- as I come to this sacred desk: How has my_ mind changed since 1956? One 
thing that remains constant, I have never allowed myself casually to come to 
this sacred desk. When I stand here I continue to stand with the sense of 
awe — eV en as I came to you that Sunday in January more than a quarter-of-a- 

century ago. 

Within this past week I've found time in my study to go back and scan all 

the Annual Reports since 1956 and at the same time I've taken more than a 

casual glance at some of the sermons that have been preached from this pulpit 
in that same period of time. I was almost tempted to preach this morning, 
word for word as best I could recall it, that sermon that I preached that Sunday 
in January when I came to you, the Sunday before I was installed as your Pastor. 
Let me recall for you now the text — the 22nd verse of the 27th chapter of the 
Gospel according to Matthew: 

" What now shall I. do with Jesus who is 
called Christ? ..." 

...a question, you see: what I permit myself to believe the question. No 

question that's ever going to be asked you will be of greater importance. 

For more than a quarter-of-a-century that's what I have been doing when I 
come to this sacred desk -- are you aware of that? No matter the content of 
the sermon, no matter the substance or its title — interwoven throughout, 
that question has been there: What will you do with Jesus who is called Christ? 

I am fully sensitive to the fact that in this quarter-of-a-century there 

has been the passage of time for some of you - - that child that I baptized 
25 years ago now has brought his children to be baptized. .. .the couple that 
I married 25 years ago have now celebrated their silver wedding anniversary. . . . 
the person who was a teenager at 15 is now 41 years of age, and perhaps a grand- 
father at that! . . . the person who was 40 — 26 years ago — has been receiv- 
ing Social Security benefits for a number of months by this time. And speaking 
of the passage of time, I am sensitive to the truth that the person who was 75 
When I first came to you has been translated into God's nearer presence. To 
touch people at different stages in their growth and development is an awesome 
responsibility, when God's holding me responsible for what I've done as I've 
come to this sacred desk. With whatever clear conscience He may permit me, I 
will want to say to Him, again and again and ever so often I put to them the 
question: What will you do with Jesus who is called Chr ist? . . . the question 
of Pontius Pilate. 

The first thing that needs to be said: it's a personal question. And the 
questions that matter most in this life are always personal. He said to me as 
he was leaving church at 8:30 this morning, "Will you come to see me, Pastor? — 
I'm going to be admitted to the hospital this week. I have cancer." may read all that you want to read about cancer, 
but when you say to somebody else, I have cancer — when 
it becomes as personal as all that, it's an entirely dif- 
ferent matter. The questions that really matter most are 
always personal. 
It is a personal question that has to be answered individually. I repeat- 
edly tell those whom I instruct in the faith that belief is always a very per- 

sonal thing. Nobody can tell you what you believe only you can say what you 

believe. This is one reason why, I suppose, I object strenuously, in my own 
mind at least, when they re-wrote the Apostles' Creed in certain quarters. . .and 
the congregation stands and with one voice -- with which I have no objection, 

' ' -inu-u^ , iilai matte k nuui ( -, ) 

that they ought to have this unanimity — but for a people to say: "WE believe." 
I don't mean to press the point unduly, but nobody can tell you what you believe. 
I cannot presume to say that the person who stands alongside of me believes, but 
if you happen to believe as I believe, and I believe as you believe, then to- 
gether we can stand but it's still a very personal thing. 

I beg you, do not find fault with me, but in this moment before you I've 
tried to bring to your attention what I honestly believe is something of value 
that we've introduced into this congregation within the past 25 years, what has 
to deal specifically with the Confirmation experience. The first class was 26 
youngsters; we have had as high as 66 youngsters in the Confirmation Class. But 
I've never allowed myself to believe that you confirm a group of youngsters en 
masse , where they answer collectively. In my own mind I also quarrel with the 
church when it had its own study some years back, when they were dealing with 
Confirmation, and they said basically Confirmation is a young person identify- 
ing with the adult community. It's more than that! Confirmation is a young 
person taking his or her stand for Jesus Christ, and that stand has to be taken 
individually. We become a collective expression of it, of course, but it has 
to be taken individually. In the things that matter most we respond personally, 
and that's why we introduced, and I believe earnestly introduced it wisely and 
well. Even when the confirmand meets for his private and personal interview 
at Bethany, our Retreat House, we deal with that for a half-hour: the response 
that you're expected to give, and what does that response mean to you as a 

. . . and then there's that great moment in the 
service itself when the individual walks up and 
gets very close to the altar, and the question 
is put directly: Do you love t he Lord Jesus and 
do you promise to serve Him 
through His Holy Church? 


. . . and then we say every voice remains silent, 
except yours. It's a personal answer that has to 
be given individually. 
Pilate made the mistake of his life when he turned to the people and said, 
"What shall I do?" Nobody can answer for you. You have to answer for yourself. 

What shall I do with Jesus who is called the Christ? As the sermon con- 
cludes this morning let me introduce an element that perhaps you've never con- 
sidered before, and that is, underline the preposition wi tit . What shall 1 do 
with Jesus who is called Christ? Pilate didn't read it that way, but I hope 
you will — an invitation to partnership, a challenge to identify with what 
Jesus Christ (and I don't say it facetiously) with what Jesus Christ is up to. 
Now if that question is to be put to you: What will you do with Jesus who is 
called Christ? — you need to know what Jesus Christ is up to! What is He doing? 
In what direction is He heading? From a human perspective, how is He expending 
His energies? To whom is He paying attention? - - ah, that's the exceedingly 
precious thing! When you recall Jesus Christ, no matter how you read His life 
and the time that He spent here on earth, He was always paying attention to 
people, talking with them, challenging them, appealing to their better side, 
enabling them to believe that they were important to God. 

What is Jesus Christ up to? He's always up to a concern for people , en- 
deavoring to stamp upon the fabric of their minds and their hearts and the 
total being, that their lives dx) count, and they are meant to count for God! 
As you've heard me say it repeatedly, they're not meant for Hell, they are 
meant for Heaven. And that's no small thing to introduce into the life of any 
person. From a human perspective, it's this noble motivation of always saying 
you can be better than you are! ... by the grace of God! 

What are you doing with Jesus Christ? I have my moments when I think of 
the time of Judgment. I suppose the older one becomes the more he thinks in 
those terms. For one day it will all be over. And when it's all over, then 

' ' THINGS THAI MAT'lttK MUST ' ' ( 5 ) 

what? Well, maybe that's the question-of-questions that will be put to us: 
"What in Heaven's name were you up to while you were here on earth?" Happy 
indeed is that person who can say, "1 sought in all things to glorify the name 
of Jesus Christ." 

I hope you are to be numbered among those who take time to read the Book of 
Reports. For when you read the Book of Reports I hope you are able to read 
between the lines. As has been already said this morning, deal not only with 

facts and figures, but deal with motivation and objective to what end did 

we expend our energies this past year? Ours is a generation that's supposed 
to be more conscious of the conservation of energy than any group of Americans 
in recent history. We're supposed to be. How did we make our energy count in 
the name of Jesus Christ? And when you read that Book of Reports, happy indeed 
is that person who can put it aside and say it's an account of our partnership 
with Jesus Christ 

— what have I done with Him? 

— with what causes did I identify? 

— could I honestly say that, as a member of Saint Luke 
Church I've helped to advance the things that, are 
precious to Jesus Christ? 

And when the final story is written, that's what matters most: the manner by 
which we fulfill our partnership with Jesus Christ. 


(this sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Fifth Sunday after Epiphany February 7, 1982 



Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. A 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God ft i 

our Father and from His Son Jesus (AaHM- v 

Many of us covet for ourselves, as we quietly reflect upon our relation- 
ship with our children and grandchildren, the way by which we think we'd like 
to be remembered by them. Now there's nothing wrong with that. Happy indeed 
is that person who thinks he's exerting a wholesome influence thafieis worthy 
of being remembered. 

Quite unashamedly I don't mind telling you that if not now, then hope- 
fully in the years to come those two sons of ours, and those two grandsons — 
I'd be very happy indeed if when they think of me, they might remember how on 
occasion I crawled in bed with them at nighttime and shared with them an eve- 
ning prayer. No* without risk, I dare say. I remember one time in particular 
when, going out of the darkened room, I thought he was safely asleep. .. .only to 
have him say - - "But I can't see God.... I can't see Him. What's He like?" 

It gives me pause to think, of course it does, and then I conclude, as 
well I should, that this perchance is the bottom line when we come to talk about 
the spiritual maturing of a child. You can rest assured that some progress is 
being made if a child will ask the question: What is God like? 

Perhaps you are a Sunday School teacher, if not a parent, and so in a 
Sunday School class situation the youngster startles you and says — right there, 
right aloud in the presence of all the other people, and puts you on the spot — 
"But what is God like?" I submit to you that it's a good thing when that happens, 
because that's why we have Sunday School. Sunday School is to teach people about 
God. And if we don't succeed in introducing them to the basic fact of God, then 
we're failing. 



You need to know this, and don't fault me for It — when lepput the ques- 
tion to me: What is God like? — I said, "Before I answer, why don't you tell me 
what you think God is like." And he did. And as I recall it for you as best I 
can, this was his answer: "God is very, very old, and He lives in Heaven." 

What will you make of the answer, honestly now? Is it a good answer, or 
a poor answer? I sometimes think it's not a very good answer. Now be patient 
with me. 

God is very, very old ... it makes me feel as though he thinks God is 
antiquated, out of step with this present generation, that what's 
happening now is alien to Him, and He doesn't quite know what's 
going on because He's very, very old. 
And when he says to me, "God is very, very old" — I shudder if he implies 
that being very, very old, God is very, very tired. What's to be 
said for a God who is old and tired? That question needs to be 
Or what's to be said of a God who is antiquated? Once in a small group where 
young people x<rere present, the leader in charge probed them, and deftly so, by 
asking this question: How much do you suppose God knows about nuclear fission? 

— How much do you think God knows about radar? 
He was shocked to have the youngsters say: "Not very much." Well, that's what 
happens if you think in terms of a God who is antiquated, and very, very old. 

....or a God who is only, as you think of Him, in Heaven. I wouldn't 
give much for a God, who when we think of Him wouldn't think of Heaven. But to 
imprison God in Heaven — does that mean God has no interest in this world? — 
that God's only concern is Heaven? 

Now do you understand, when so innocently he says to me — "God is very, 
very old, and lives in Heaven" — why I ask myself, dare I trust him with this 
concept of God for the rest of his life? 


Alvin Rogness, able preacher, good theologian, one-time preached from 

the Saint Luke pulpit. .. .he's written a number of things and relates very well 

to people of all generations. Once he dealt with the question: What is God like ? 

Let iae read for you the paragraph he wrote: 

"M©st people picture God as a comfortable old grandfather, 
with a long, grey beard, clothed in a long flowing 
white nightgown. Generally speaking, He is in good 
spirits. But sometimes He becomes angry, and sends 
earthquakes and war and rheumatism to make people 
unhappy. He has angels to run His errands, and His 
Heaven is filled with old crahks who've never learned 
to laugh ..." 

There are oeople who, when they think of God, think of Him in those terms. 

Today's serwon bears the title — "TRUE PICTURE'.'" We need to have God in 
sharp focus, we need to have a true picture. And there's a text — of course 
there is a text - - I have no right to come to this sacred desk unless what I 

share with you is rooted and grounded in Scripture and the text is the 18th 

verse of the first chapter of the Gospel according to John: 

"No man has seen God at any time . . . " 
Is it futile for me to go on with this sermon? You can read for yourself the 
intimation in the bulletin that you have in your hands. For this sermon is meant 
to constitute a part of me which is trying to speak to this very thing as we 
endeavor to describe what can't be described - - "No man has seen God at any 

The old Jew, of course, settled for that quite comfortably. It was the 
command: "You shall not make unto me any graven image" — you don't take your 
hands and you don't try to fashion a likeness, and then say "This is God" — 
because they were given to understand from the very beginning that you can't 
picture God. God is spirit. They had to settle again and aver so often for 

what they were told: "I AM THAT I AM" and you be content with that. They 

were never allowed to deal with anything that was like a picture of God! "No 

"A TRUE P ICTURE" ( 4 ) 

man has seen God at any time" . . . and so the Jew settled for that: "I AM TEAT 
I AM." 

Henry Sloane Coffin, theologian, writer, preacher, interpreter of Biblical 
truth, one-time president of Union Theological Seminary in New York, was com- 
missioned to go to the Far East to speak to people who represented different 
religions about the Biblical understanding of God. His purpose, of course then, 
his work was to tell people what God is like, to answer this question. Before 
he went he had a session with the rabbi, a very learned one, and perceptive. 
When they were dealing with this very thing, about the basic nature and charac- 
ter of God, the rabbi said - - let me read for \ ou exactly what he said to 
Henry Slaane Coffin - - "You Christians possess one advantage over us. When 
we use the word God our listeners have a somewhat vague conception in their 
minds of righteousness and power, combined in a being who fills the universe. 
When you Christians employ the word, your fearers think at once of the figure 
of Jesus of Nazareth." And the rabbi was absolutely right, because this is 
what God Himself had in mind. And that's why you need to hear the rest of the 
text. I only read part of it for you. Always give God a chance to finish His 
sentence - - always give God a chance to g&lre you His complete thinking on a 
subject. The text reads: 

' ' No man hath seen God at any time; the only 
begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, 
he hath declared him. . . " 

That's exactly what God had in mind. No one has ever seen Me but I'll see 

that I'm declared - - I'll see that I will be made known to you." And that' 3 

exactly why Jesus Christ came into the world. 

Now let's deal with the question: What is God like? How do you get a true 

Well if I wanted a true picture of anyone or anything I think I'd go to 
those who are in a position to give it. I wouldn't fool around with people who 


weren't qualified. That's why I'm so happy I can turn to the Bible. The Bible 
is so completely authoritative on this score, for if you want an assessment of 
the Bible — the Bible is an autobiography of God. You make a mistake when you 
permit yourself to think it's a book about man. It deals with men, and women, 
and children. But it's not first a book about people - - it's a book about God... 
And God's dealing with people, and the way people ought to deal with one another 
on the basis of God's dealing with them. So if you want to know what God is 
like and you want a true picture, you first turn to the Bible... for the Bible 
reveals to us the basic nature and character of God. We get a better glimpse of 

what He is, who He is, and what He's been up to. 

This may be a feeble attempt on my part, but be patient with me - - you're 
seated in a room, there's a partition. You hear a voice or voices on the other 
side. You're deeply troubled. . .you can hear something — you can't quite make it 
out, but you can't see. You'd feel far more comfortable if you couladsee who it 
is. After a while you get up, and you walk outside — a step or two in the cor- 
ridor, you turn to the right, and there's a door. You knock on the door — ah, 
the person answers. And then and there you can see who this person is. And an 
entirely new and different dimension is added to your experience. 

Down deep inside every one of us there is this hunger, there is this thirst, 
this desire "to see" God. And God Himself satisfies that need in our lives and 
reveals Himself through Scripture. It's the Bible that tells us about God. 

Martin Luther said, "It's the Bible that's the cradle of Jesus Christ" . . . 
which is simply to say it's in the Bible that Jesus Christ is made known to us. 
How do you know anything about Jesus Christ? You know by what you read in the 
Scriptures. Everything that I've preached to you from this pulpit comes to you 
by way of the Scriptures — it's the norm for our faith, what we believe and what 
we practice. A writer of the New Testament, referring to Jesus Christ, could 
say: "In him — in this person — all the fulness of God is pleased to dwell," 

You're not forgetting, are you, there was that time when some disciples 
came and asked the age-old question: Show us what God is like — this yen to know. 
And quietly and confidently — let me give you a free translation. You know the 
answer for yourself, in classic Scriptural terms, but Jesus said, "You want to 
know what God is like? - - you really want to know? Take a good look at me. Who- 
ever has seen me sees God!" 


We Christians have this advantage. There's no question about it. When 
you think of Jesus Christ you think of God. When He was here on earth there 
were those when they encountered Jesus Christ, walked away and reverently put 
their fingers to their lips and whispered theename of GOD. 

So you look at Jesus Christ in order to find out what God is like. Now 
let me ask you the question: How do you really know a person? I'm numbered 
among those who honestly believe you know what a person is by what he does. It 
may take a little while at times, and that's why some of us cherish friendships 
that last. The longer we know them the better we know them. What they really are 

will surface. 

A person is what he does. I know there is room for hypocrisy there - a 
person may so act as to give you the impression of what he really isn't, but in 
the long run — make no mistake about it -- in the long run what a person really 
is will be revealed. So if you want to know what God is like you look at Jesus 
Christ — and what do we find Him doing? - - loving people, forgiving people, ap- 
pealing to their better side, offering nothing but goodness, personifying for them 
Truth living among them as God would walk in their midst. 

If you want to know what God is like, we Christians have an advantage. L 
Look at Jesus Christ - - a human being is always God's preferred method of making 

Himself known. 

I am ashamed of myself when I look back and think of my beginning years in 
the ministry. At 25 years of age I was so God-sure of so many things, particularly 
the way I felt God changed people. I followed a man who had been my mentor, my 
tutor, and I use the word advisedly « whom I fairly adored, and learned so much 
from him. But in my immaturity it troubled me greatly when I heard somebody say 
that when they thought of him they thought about God. I thought to myself, at 
25 years of age, how could anybody dare to equate or to identify a person with God? 

As the years come and go, I think of how absolutely precious it was that 
that could have been said of my predecessor. How do we think of God? Every now 
and then we meet someone who is God-like! You've heard me say it again and ever 

so often - - 

~ I have my moments when I believe in truth because I've 

met persons who are truthful 

— why do I believe in goodness? ~ because I've encountered 

people who are good! 

— why do I believe in love? ~ because I know how I have 
been loved.... and how I love in return 

It's Scripture, I tell you, we are "living epistles." God becomes real to people 


through people. 

A few Christmases ago I found myself writing a note on some cards that I 
sent to a limited number of people. And I was thinking about Christmas, cele- 
brating the fact that God has come to us in Jesus Christ — a tremendous truth. 
And I found myself writing so easily: "When I think of you, my friend, it's so 
easy to believe that God is in this world through Jesus Christ." 

When Henry Drummond was introduced to a chapel audience, George Adams 
Smith said, "Let me present to you a man who will remind you of Jesus Christ." 
It's possible. And it can happen — would you believe it — through you." 

.... "No man has ever seen God" 

....but I can see people 
such as you who say they believe in God. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 
The Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany 

February 14, 1982 


WE MAKE so little time, God, to do 
this sort of thing, to give some 
measure of undivided attention to 
the interpretation of Your Word. 
Enlighten us by Your Holy Spirit 
that we may better understand. 
Through Jesus Christ Thy Son, our 
Lord, who when He came, came preaching, 
Amen. . 



He was wearing a blue uniform, and he had a badge. He was standing in the 
middle of the street in the 6600 block of Blair Road. I was on my way to attend 
the funeral of a colleague in the ministry. My mind was preoccupied with concerns 

that seemed very important to me 

. . .would I get there on time? 

. . .where might I be seated? 

...if I arrived late, would this be a distraction, 

would I be embarrassed? 
. . .would I find a parking place that was convenient? 
...would my car, in that particular neighborhood, be safe? 
. . .when did I last see my colleague? . . .would I recognize his widow? 
. . .would I be as fortunate to die as he — for he was stricken at 

George Washington Hospital when he went to make a pastoral 
call . . . 
You see, my mind was preoccupied with concerns — selfish concerns — in a very 

real sense of the word. 

Then there was that man, wearing a blue uniform and he had a badge. Sudden- 
ly he became almost bigger than life as he stood there in the middle of the 6600 
block of Blair Road and I did as he directed, I pulled off to the side. In less 
than ten minutes the encounter was over. The ticket which he had handed me simply 
confirmed that he without any emotion at all had in a most matter-of-fact way in- 
formed me that I had been driving, according to his all-seeing electronic eye, at 
an excessive speed in a 20-miles per hour zone. 

Realizing at once that to him my clerical collar made me no less a violator 
of the crime, I didn't even attempt to trade on it — give me credit on that score 
at least nor did I entertain the notion that I could excuse myself because of 


a noble mission on which I was bent, to attend the funeral of a colleague. 

Have you the slightest interest, now, in knowing what I did next — once I 
placed the ticket on the seat beside me and the man with the blue uniform with 
the badge again went to the middle of the street in the 6600 block of Blair Road 
and motioned authoritatively to another to pull off to the side, just as he did 
me and the four or five others behind me — have you the slightest interest in 
knowing what I did next? 

Well, not much, really. Nothing spectacular, save unwittingly to gather the 
stuff out of which this introduction to the sermon could be made ... I simply 
drove to the next intersection and very properly negotiated a turn that sent me 
on a reverse course, driving as you might suppose, at what seemed to me a snail's 
pace, of 20 miles per hour. With what also seemed like all the leisure in the 
world, my eyes came upon it as I looked to the right and to the left — clear as 
day, there it was — a yellow square with the numerals ^£ in black bold letters. 
It was there, as the officer said — it was there all the time. I had not seen 
it. I was preoccupied with my own concerns. No matter how noble they may have 
been, I was preoccupied with my world, and with my world alone. 

The point which needs to be made at once: we can be a danger to others, and 
perchance to ourselves, when we take to the road and think only of ourselves. The 
law is intended to protect other people from the selfishly preoccupied person. 
Life itself proves the necessity for the law. 

I must confess to you that Thursday morning of this past week I was not pri- 
marily concerned with either obeying — I need to admit that — when I got into 
my car that morning that was not my chief concern. What rules there were they 
were meant to be obeyed — I was not preeminently concerned with either obeying 
or violating the law. And that, I dare say, is probably symptomatic of our genera- 
tion and of our society. In the modern world, law has lost much of its meaning 
for many of us. And that's a sad commentary. 

How earnestly do you take the law that's been laid down? How frequently do 
you remind yourself of basic rules and regulations for the sake of mankind that 
are intended to be respected? Or are you, such as I was this past Thursday morn- 
ing, merrily going on my way, preoccupied with my own concerns, with my own little 
world, little realizing that as I traveled — you may as well know it — at 40 
miles per hour in a zone that said, for the safety of others (read between the 
lines ^ for the safety of yourself. You keep the limit to 20 miles per hour 


symptomatic, I dare say, of the world in which we live - - we think so little of 
the laws that were meant to be obeyed. 

When I was a youngster one of my closest friends was the son of a Methodist 
preacher. And the Methodist parsonage was not far away. We went to school together, 
and like as not on a Sunday I very easily would go along with him to church. Now 
remember and remember well that whenever they had Communion, part of the ritual, 
simple as it was in that Methodist church in that day, was always the congregation 
reciting the Ten Commandments — they were held out there in front of people. We 
need to go back and put the Commandments in front of us. 

Before they had the by-pass around Gettysburg, whenever we headed for the 

hills-of-home we drove right through the heart of Gettysburg which meant we 

passed, on Route 15, the Adams County Court House. It could be that there are 
other court-houses of this type it's the only one that I know of that has em- 
blazoned on the bronze plaques at the entrance to the court-house — not the Consti- 
tution of the United States not the basic code of the State of Pennsylvania, 

the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania not the code of Adams County. The two bronze 

tablets there, at the entrance to the Adams County Court House in Gettysburg: the 
Ten Commandments. For I have reason to believe that wherever civilized man has 
gone, he's taken with him a respect for the basic law of the universe. 

As we meet together now these Sunday mornings before Lent and during the Lenten 
season, your attention will be invited to a consideration of the Ten Commandments. 
We do well, then, this day, to read the beginning. 

"... And God spake all these words, saying, 

I am the Lord thy God, which have brought 
thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house 
of bondage. 

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven 
image, or any likeness of any thing that is in 
heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, 
or that is in the water under the earth: 

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, 
nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a 
jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers 
upon the children unto the third and fourth genera- 
tion of them that hate me; 

And showing mercy unto thousands of them 
that love me, and keep my commandments. . . 

Now let me say to you as earnestly as I can in the very beginning that you 

may have your times and your seasons when you will excuse yourself if you break one 
of these Commandments. Somewhere you've written a chapter in your life, perhaps, 
if you're like any number of people that I know, when you have not told the truth. 


somewhere at some time perhaps there's a chapter in your 

life when you have not kept your eyes where they belong, and 

your hands where they belong you've taken other things, 

or you may have taken other persons, and used them for your 
selfish desires or lowest intentions. And because you have 

a conscience, you have been stricken by it 

But then maybe you have had your moments when you've excused yourself. Honestly 
now — you've made an allowance for your violation of God's law. 

But I can also say to you with equal candor, you're not about to make excuses 
for everybody else, and I'm reasonably certain that you wouldn't entertain the 
notion of saying that just because you or I had violated one of those Commandments, 
that we would say this should be the accepted behavior of all the people on the 
face of the earth. Just because I have stolen once I would not want to believe 
that I would want to live in a world where I could say anybody can steal. Just 
because you have coveted or laid your hand on something that doesn't belong to you, 
a thing or a person — in your sober moments you would never subscribe to the notion 
that you'd want to live in a world where everyone would be free to do that sort of 
thing. To the glory of the Creator, who made us, our consciences dictate that we 
accept the judgment of God. 

When I used to have the good fortune to relate very closely to members of the 
Confirmation Class, I would come down as earnestly as I could and as heavily as I 
could, on the teaching of the Ten Commandments. I was never quite certain how they 
might respond with what this gray-haired chap was about to tell them. But I was 
willing, perfectly willing, to rest my case. I would say to them that God, having 
called the Children of Israel out of Egypt — sending them on their way to the 

Promised Land, stopped them at a very critical point in their journey as much 

as to say, "Now there are some things that you've got to get perfectly clear, there 
are some things regarding which there ought not to be any question. You're going 
to find yourself surrounded by other people, whose practices of behavior, whose 
code of ethics, whose scheme of morality, even their religious concepts, will not 
be worthy of your emulation - - and for your sake, listen to me and hear me well . . 

(I can picture God saying it this way) 
"... before you take one step farther, before you go one mile farther, let's 
get it perfectly plain — whose you are, whose world this is, and how you're meant 
to relate to one another." 


You may not have thought of it this way, but it's as though when God gave us 
the Ten Commandments He said, "Here's the manufacturer's manual! -- take it! — 
read it! I made the world. Who knows better how it's meant to operate, in order 
to get maximum benefit? Live by the rules!" And so God laid down those rules 
from the very beginning. 

Make no mistake about it, they're completely authoritative, they are not 'Ten 
Suggestions' — they are not ten alternatives. There's nothing optional about them 
as far as God is concerned. God says, "This is the way it is, this is the way it's 
meant to be." 

I think God will excuse me, and I hope you will too, when at this point I 
need to say to you that God spoke to them in those terms not because He was on 
some divine ego trip, when He keeps saying I_ . . . I_ . . . I_. He talks like that 
and He thinks like that for our sake. I'm a firm subscriber to the fact that we 
need authority. There vere moments in my life, of course there were, when I couldn't 
quite understand why when my parents said something, it didn't make sense to me, 
but they insisted that I obey — on the basis of what they were telling me. The 
longer I live the more I recognize how that family of six kids, we benefited 
whenever they apoke authoritatively in our behalf — on the basis of what they 
knew to be true, they were in duty bound to say, "This is it — this is the way!" 

That's what God is doing. We've gone through a terrible period in our history, 
some of us have lived through it, when we shied away from authority, and we do it 
at great risk, and we do it at great peril. Whenever you and I allow ourselves 
to ignore the fact of law, we run into danger. Let me say it again, get it in 
proper perspective: very innocently I was taking my course. I had blotted out 
from my mind, on that particular day, any adherence to any basic rules and regula- 
tions. I was thinking only of my selfish concerns. 

God, who made the world, the Creator of the universe, is also the one of whom 
we say, is love. And if we are to love one another, we can't afford to skip the 
rules. We may foolishly allow ourselves to think that as long as we love we don't 
need law. Even in the Christian experience we begin with the law. God Himself 
never has said, "You can forget it." God may say to us, "If you break My command- 
ments I will still love you" - - and the blessed good news of the Christian experi- 
ence is He will forgive us. But that doesn't mean we can get by without paying 
the price of the law that's been broken. And we forget that. 

My mother was perfectly right when she said to me, "Raymond, you can eat 


green apples if you want to, but you can also get a stomach ache!" And even 
though when I came home with that stomach ache, there was that maternal "I told 
you so" look in her eyes. It's a strange thing — we talk sometimes about break- 
ing the Commandments, but essentially, my friend, we don't break the Commandments. 
When we fail to obey them, they break us! Maybe some day, perchance before it's 
too late, we'll give God credit for knowing a thing or two. And every time we're 
inclined to travel the road without respect for His laws, we run the risk of 
traveling a road that leads to ruin. 

I'm not taking time this morning to enumerate for you the other gods that 
we can put before Him, except to say to you as I walk away from this pulpit, the 
god-of-gods that we're inclined to put before Him, the one true God, is usually 
the god of self. And that's why this sermon began as it did. The most damnable 
of all things that we can put ahead of God is our concern for our own little 
world. And even if on occasion it's a noble world. But when we think of our 
world, no matter how noble it may be, at the expense of other people who may be 
found on the highway of life, we're traveling in a manner that is not pleasing 
to God. This I most certainly believe. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

Transfiguration Sunday February 21, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our 
Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

Periodically in the course of the years that God has allowed me to come to this 
sacred desk, I have invited you to consider with me a series of sermons based upon 
the Ten Commandments. And each time that that series has been prepared I've earnestly 
endeavored to provide you with a measure of insight that perhaps you may not have had 
before. The series was begun last Sunday morning and continues throughout the Lenten 
season. Today it's the second Commandment: 

"Thou shalt not take the name of 
the Lord thy God in vain." 

Tell me now, on the scale of one to ten — there are ten of them, you know — 
where would you place this Commandment if you had the decision to make? Among the ten 
there are those that deal with lying, stealing, killing, coveting, making graven images, 
committing adultery - - - this one, on profanity, if you please — taking God's name 
in vain — scale of one to ten — where would you place it? 

In all likelihood you would not give it the same rating that God Himself saw fit 

to give it. I'm convinced that that could be true for I am appalled, as I move 

here and there, find myself in this company or that group of people, to discover how 
frequently and how easily, and how casually, how recklessly, people use the name of 
Almighty God. 

I would be less than honest if I did not tell you I'm offended by it. Whatever 
may be my weakness, I do honestly try to maintain a high and holy regard for the name 
of God. He is that precious to me. And I wish that when I hear people use God's 
name lightly or recklessly, profanely, I could say to them "You're talking about a 
very good friend of mine — one without whom I'd not care to live, and I'm grateful 
for those who have taught me to place a high value on all that He is, and I wish 
that you could feel the same, for the years have taught me that your soul is in jeo- 
pardy, and the regard that you have for other people is in peril when you take a 
name as wonderful as His lightly." 

Do I read the past with too many-colored lens — and I remember to my soul's 
satisfaction how, back there in the town in which I grew up, or rather the town in 

which I was born - - let me tell you a bit about it was a church-town — Williamsport, Pennsylvania, 
where I was born. We had a number of different Roman 
Catholic parishes that I remember, all founded very 


largely by ethnic groups - - 

— the Polish people, they went to Holy Rosary 

— the Irish, they went to the Church of the Annunciation 

— the Italians, they went to the Mater Dolorosa 

— the Germans — they were ensconced in Sauerkraut Hill, 

that's the name that we had for it — half a block 
away from where our Minister of Music looks back with 

affection upon his alma mater 

As I remember as an impressionable youngster seeing a man walking by that massive 
St. Boniface Church — even on the side of the street where Stroehman's Bakery was 
located, and as he passed, he tipped his hat, he bowed his head — a measure of 
respect, a measure of high and holy regard for that church, because that church repre- 
sented not simply brick and mortar - - that church represented God — God's House — 
not simply the place where the Host was there in veneration, waiting for the next set 

of communicants to come no, not for that reason alone. Not simply because within 

that church was the statue of Mary, the beloved Mother of our Lord, for whom he had 
respect. It was God's House , and when the people crossed the threshold of that parti- 
cular place they would find themselves standing upon holy ground and gathered together 

within hallowed walls. That place represented God a far cry, you see who bows 

his head these days when he passes a church? - - who tips his hat these days when he 
passes a building such as this? I am numbered among those, honestly I am, who honestly 
believe that people are to be judged by what they hold in reverence. 

When our Super tuesday family gathers within these walls, Junior High age folk, 
one of the very first things that we do when they come together in October is to 
deliberately etch upon the minds of those youngsters that when they stand within 
these walls they stand on holy ground — it's a place that's different. 

Don't get me wrong, I know that God is to be found anywhere and everywhere — I 
know that, you know that. But because we are human there are some things that have 
to be handled in a sacred manner for our own sake. A people will be determined and 
they will be judged by the things on which they place a sacred value. It's a far 
cry, I tell you, from that day when I saw the man tip his hat and bow his head when 
he passed the church building, to today, and we are not the better because of it. 

It's a far cry when from that day when Sir Christopher Wrenn, the architect of 
that magnificant architectural gem which is known as St. Paul's Cathedral in London. 
Some of us to this day would count our visit to London incomplete if we couldn't 
possibly gravitate toward that magnificent structure — that stood out there so bril- 


liantly against all the damage that was being wrought on so many sides when Hitler 
vomited his bombs upon London - - and how the Britisher again and again, and parti- 
cularly the Londoner, would say, "We can take it! - We can take it! — as long as the 
Cathedral stands!" Ah, the cathedral stood for something, you see, something wonder- 

When Sir Christopher the architect designed St. Paul's — would you believe it — 

listen to what I am going to read - he posted this directive: 

"... Whereas, among laborers and others, that 
ungodly custom of swearing is so frequently heard 
to the disregard of God and to the contempt of 
His authority, and to the end that such impiety 
may be utterly banished within these works which 
are intended to the service of God and the honor 
of religion, it is further ordered that such pro- 
fane swearing shall be a sufficient crime to sum- 
marily discharge any laborer. . . " 

Where is the shop steward who would talk like that today? Where is the office manager 

who would lay down such a directive among us now? It's a far cry from that day until 

now, and we are not the better because of it. 

"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy 
God in vain" - - - is the second commandment — that's the value that God placed upon it. No mat- 
ter where you may put it, that's the priority which God says it warrants. 

Have you ever asked yourself the question honestly — why? Why should it be 
taken that seriously? - when people so easily ignore it? What is a name? . . begin 
at that point. You — let me hear your name spoken, as I know you, and immediately 
there will come to the fore all that I know you to be. I cannot separate you from 
your name. Your name is you , and you are very special. You are a person who is worthy 
of respect - - you are not to be ignored! 

In days gone by people chose names very carefully, honestly they did — and that's 
why I'm pleased every now and then when I go to Holy Cross Hospital, as an example, 
on the maternity floor, in the rack where they keep their tracts, their pamphlets to 
give out to people. They used to have a special folder on The Naming of a Child . 
There was a time when people named a child according to the virtues that they expected 
that child to embrace, so that one day they could equate the name and the child to- 
gether — easily, j naturally . . . Karen means pure . . . Dorothy comes from the Greek 
which means: ' Vast from God " . . . Althea means truthful . . . Irene means peaceful . . 
. . Winifred , my wife's name — I remind her constantly: lover of peace . God's name 
is to be equated with God. It represents all that He is. 

In order to impress upon you as best I can, do you realize what would happen if 


you passed a particular room where you heard people talking, and all of a sudden your 
name was mentioned - - you would react according to the way your name was spoken. If 
they laughed, and a measure of ridicule was introduced, you could feel very very un- 
comfortable, and you could not excuse yourself nor them by saying, "Ah, but they 
weren't talking about me - - that was only my name that they were using - - that 
wasn't I" . . . you would be a fool to think that way. For when they used your name 
they were thinking of you. 

I know a measure of delight when I remember how she said to me: "I never really 
liked my name until I first heard it spoken by the man who claimed my heart. - - It 
was the way he spoke it." Who was it who wrote these lines, indicative of that very 
thought: "A person's name is not just another word. In a deep sense, your name is 
you the way people use your name shows how they feel about you . 

— if people love you, they will speak your name 
with tenderness .... 

— if they fear you, in all likelihood they will 
say your name with respect 

— if they adore you, they will speak your name with 
a kind of reverence 

— if on the other hand they hate you or despise you, they 
will probably talk about you sneer ingly, with scorn and 
contempt . . . 

God knows this. And God knows what's going to happen to us, when recklessly and 
casually and profanely we use His name. It is indicative of the measure of respect 
or disrespect that we have for Him. You can't read it any other way. 

Watch your language, my friend, for words constitute a window of the soul. Many 
of us judge one another by what we hear them say. That's one reason why, I suppose, 

why some people become very cautious before they speak because there are people 

who have a way of imprisoning them and engraving them in stone, because they'll 
never forget what they once heard them say. 

When a recent President of the United States retired from office, a man volun- 
teered to give him a bit of advice. It came a bit too late, perhaps, and the advice 
was simply this: "You don't always have to speak every time somebody asks you a ques- 
tion - - you don't always have to go forever through life saying something." - - be- 
cause once, I honestly believe, I give him credit in this way he misspoke him- 
self, and the media never allowed him to forget it. They trafficke on it, they made 
much of it. And to this very day they remembered what he said! 


Watch your language, my friend. Watch your language when you speak about God. 
In no uncertain way it represents how you think and how you feel about Him. Would 
you believe me if I were to tell you there was a time intthe early church when the 
Lord's Prayer, as an example, was never prayed by a gathered company until they 
first offered a prayer according to the ancient Syrian liturgy of St. James — until 
they first offered a prayer asking God how to use His name aright in the prayer that 
they were about to offer. 

In ancient Israel, there was a time when they took that command so seriously that 
it took a great deal of courage upon the part of any person to even attempt to think 
of the name of God. 

Why do I make much of this? Because I honestly believe the man was absolutely 

right who said — was it the President of Harvard or Yale, I've forgotten? who 

even subscribed to this magnificently when he said, "An acid test of a truly educated 
person may be the ease by which he speaks the name of God, and with respect." 

. . . when we lose respect for God we lose respect 

for people - - because you can't properly separate 

people from God . . . 

. . . when you lose respect for people, and when 

you lose respect for God, a civilization is in 

grave peril. 
This I most certainly believe. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 
The First Sunday in Lent 

February 28, 1982 


GRACE, mercy and peace from God our 
Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

Today we continue the series of sermons based on the general theme of the Ten 

Commandments : 

"I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt have no 
other gods before Me. 

"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord 
thy God in vain, for the Lord will not 
hold him guiltless that takes His name in 

And for today's consideration: 

"Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. " 
I suppose I could say to you, to all intents and purposes the benediction could 
be pronounced at this point in the service. Don't let me build up your hopes, it's 
not going to happen. But in a very real sense, the sermon has already been preached 

regarding this subject may not have thought of it in this way, but no matter 
where you may live, if you've driven here this morning, as 
soon as you walked out of your house, turned your ignition key 
in the car and headed in this direction, you were giving excel- 
lent testimony to the truth that's inherent in this text: 

"Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy." 
To all intents and purposes this sermon, as far as you're 
concerned, has already been preached.... 
Or perchance if you're numbered among those people who last night, even as you 
prepared for bed, may have read the Scripture lessons as printed in the bulletin 
that you received and helped to prepare yourself for what was going to happen today 
within these hallowed walls, you've already preached this sermon. 

...or if perchance you're numbered among those who 
could walk to this place — you've already given 
testimony to the truth of the text. For undoubtedly 
there were those on your street who saw you heading 

'A DAY SINGLED OUT - - " (2) 

for a particular place on this particular day — 
"Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy" 

...that's exactly what you're doing. 
Surely there is a smile of Heaven upon you as you remember what God said you ought 
not to forget. 

If you have yet to reach 40, would you be kind enough to let tee tell you the 
salutary thing that lies ahead for you. Speaking from my own experience, it was 
only after I had hit 40 that I began to appreciate, as I had never appreciated be- 
fore, the basic values that had been inculcated in my life during the impressionable 
years. It was only as I hit 40 that I began to recognize what it was that I had 
been taught. As an example: thinking of today's sermon, while my parents were not 
regular church-goers, Sunday in the home in which I grew up was different. It was 
different from any other day in the course of the week. There was a limited amount 
of activity in my home on Sunday. And now when I look back, I even had what we 
called in those days, a "Sunday suit" that was reserved especially for when I'd go 
to Sunday School or church - - erfren the clothing that I wore had a certain halo, if 
you please, attached to it. It was set aside for a certain day, it was set aside 
for a certain purpose. The older I become, the more I recognize the value of that 
kind of thing. Today it's so different. 

I remember, of course, when I was growing up, my home-town pastor talked about 
the threat of the "Continental Sabbath" - - because the Europeans, 40-50 years ago, 
were much more liberal than we were a half-century ago . . .but now, there's no 
difference - - the commercialization of the Sabbath, the Open Sunday — anything 
goes these days, more or less. It's so different. And I am reasonably certain we 
are not the better because of it. 

You may smile broadly, but only momentarily, when I tell you about the man who 
was my predecessor in the parish where I first served — 50 years ago, as I recall 
it, when he was living he would never so much as buy a Sunday newspaper, or have it 
delivered to his home, for he would not be a party to keeping some youngster from 
going to Sunday School because he had to deliver the Sunday newspaper. .. .nor would 
he go to the store across the street from the church to buy a copy, because by his 
patronising that store he'd encourage that store to keep open on Sunday . . . 

....don't you dare smile too broadly, my friend ~ give the 

man credit for taking very, very seriously what he believed to be was a 

commandment of the lord. That was his way of trying to give due and 

proper regard for a divine directive. 

"A DAY SINGLED OUT - - " (3) 

The man who was my mentor in theological seminary, who cradled in his arms both 
of our sons when they were named for Jesus Christ, grew up on a farm in York County 
On one occasion he told us in class how if he were going to the barn on a Saturday 
night to milk the cows, and as he headed for the entry his father would catch him 
whistling, his father would, say, "Cut that out, Harvey - tomorrow's Sunday" - - 
even on a Saturday night, that lad growing up on a York County farm in Pennsylvania 
was taught to have a regard for a day in the week that was meant to be a very special 
day - - - don . t smile too broaaiy , Non£ Qf ug hag a r . ght toshort _ change anybody ^ 

takes very seriously what we may take lightly, a divine directive. 

Some years back, when we were being shown around the city of Charlotte, North 
Carolina, our escort said, "Now do you see that store across the way? -- let me tell 
you about that store. It's a department store." ... and we could see as we looked 
at that store, merchandise items attractively displayed in the windows. Said our 
friend, "When Sunday comes, the curtains are drawn - - for that person who owns that 
store is a devout churchman. He wouldn't so much as think of entertaining the thought 
of people who pass by on a Sunday to think in terms of buying and selling." - - don't 
smile too broadly, my friend - - there's much to be said for any person, anywhere, who 
takes seriously a divine directive. 


Said God, when He laid down the law - and I must remind you what I've tried to 
tell you in the two earlier sermons - - when God lays down the law, it's not because 
He's on any ego-trip, God forbid that we should even think in such terms - - when God 
laid down the law He had our benefit in mind, He was thinking in terms of what would 
be best for us: rest — recreation of the mind and the spirit. 

I began my ministry during World War II. Bethlehem Steel had a large operation 
in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Those who hadn't gone off to war were busily engaged 
in the war effort. They had three shifts, going seven days a week. I have proof 
positive for the kind of thing that God had in mind when He gave this Commandment, 
when one of the men came to me and he said, "Pastor, I can't take it any longer! I 
have been working for seven weeks, seven days a week - - I can't take it! God knew 
that all along. You take one day, and it's meant to be d ifferent - a day not only 
of rest - - but let me say it again as quickly and as earnestly as I can, of recrea- 
tion of mind and body and spirit. Some day, somehow, we might give God credit for 
knowing a thing or two as to how this world was meant to operate, and how we were 
meant to live - in our relationship with Him and in' our relationship with one another. 
As far as the Commandment is concerned, you begin by underlining the first word: 

"A DAY SINGLED OUT - - " (4) 

Remember - - which implies, if necessary you make a deliberate effort. There are some 
things that never just happen, they happen only as you make a conscious effort . . re- 
member^ And when you speak of the word remember, it implies, of course, very properly", 
a recollection of something that happened. I'm suggesting to you that you think in 
terms - - I told you each time I preach a series of sermons on the Ten Commandments 
I endeavor to provide you an insight that I was unable perhaps to provide you at an 
earlier time. I'm suggesting now, when you think of the Lord's Day, or the Sabbath, by 
whatever term you want to call it, it's still one-day-in-seven - - - that you think in 
terms of an anniversary. 

We need anniversaries because we're human. We need a particular time, we need 
a particular season when we look back and remember.... 

— why do we have birthdays? — as an anniversary celebration 
when we look back and we remember that once upon a time we 
were born, and there were two people in particular whom God 

chose to bring us into this world that's why we observe 

birthdays not only to think in terms of ourselves but 

to think in terms of the relationship we have with those 
whom God used to bring us into this world. . . 
And then perchance somewhere along the line we'll place a high value on the. fact that 
_ we were not only born but we were born for a reason ... and every time the anniver- 
sary of a person's birth comes along he ought to ask himself the question, as he looks 
back and recalls the years that have come and gone so quickly: and to what end? What 
difference does it make that I have been born? - - a good question for any man to ask 
himself on a birthday anniversary. 

— a wedding anniversary why do we have them? Not that on 

one day in the course of the year a spouse should Jove the mate. 
...but on that one day in the year in particular one should 
realize that one is related to one person in a very intimate way, 
as related to no other person, and the sharing of a life, and the 
traveling together of a common path — remember . 

We need to look back, and recall. And on this one-day~out-of-seven — or I 
should say this one-day-in-seven — because in a certain sense every day is precious 
in God's sight, you know that don't you? - - we ought to place a halo on every day, 
not just one day alone. And God holds us accountable for what we do with each of the 
seven days. But in this one-day-in-seven we think specifically of what's been done 
for us. 

I don't know of any religion on the face of the earth that makes as much of the 

"A DAY SINGLED OUT - - " (5) 

recollection of the past as our Jewish friends in their religion. You may not have 
to know a Jew to know this to be true, you can read the Old Testament for yourself - - 
again and again and again God is asking them to look back and to recite for themselves 
what it is that's been_done for them. And so on this one day in the week in particular 
we're asked to look back and remember what God has done for us! - six days - the 
seventh day - rested . . . look back. And God called good what He had done. And God 
said, "It's for you, the crowning glory of my creation - vou enjoy it, you make the 
most of it. What a salutary effect it would be if every Lord's Day you and I sat down 
d gliberatel g - remember - God created the world. We brand it to easily a wicked 

world, a world that's headed toward Hell but a world that God says is "My world - 

I made it, I know how it's best meant to operate . . " if on i y one day in seven y(JU 
and I sat down and deliberately thought about that, how different the six days in the 
week that follow could become. When we saw from the divine perspective, this is God's 
world, and we're meant to be in the arena where the drama of life is acted out in a 
way that brings honor and glory to Him who created it - - remember ~ this day - God 
looked upon His world and God called it good, and He gave it to us. .. .remember . 

For us Christians the Lord's Day, when death could no longer have dominion over 
Him, when He arose from the dead and Christians believed that to be such a tremendous 
truth, they said we must never, never forget it! We are children of the light and not 
of the darkness ... we are children of life and not of death. And every time we 
come together on the Lord's Day we ought to remember that it was on this day that the 
Holy Spirit enveloped a company of believers - empowered, enlightened them, and then 
sent them out into the world to turn the world upside-down - - it happened. What a 
tremendous difference it could make if every time you and I come together we could 
say to ourselves, we're looking back and remembering something that happened, and we 
are the heirs to it. And every Lord's Day is meant to be a kind of Easter all over 
again, and every Sunday is meant to be a kind of Pentecost all over again. 

I have not come to this sacred desk this morning to rebuke you for not keeping 
the Lord's Day holy. I have come here to commend you, and to encourage you. Voltaire 
said he could ruin (I'm giving you a free translation) - - he could ruin the faith of 
people by destroying their Sabbath, their Lord's Day, as the case may have been. And 
he succeeded fairly well! A people shall be known by what they regard as holy. Re- 
member — this day. 

I am deeply gratified when I think what happens here at Saint Luke, how you 
come, how you pay attention to God's Word, how you encourage one another in the 
fellowship that you have, in the kind of thing that's engendered when you greet one 


another and have respect for one another — as you commit yourself anew to the things 
that God expects us to accomplish through this congregation. And before I walk away 
from the sacred desk, let me number among the things that delight me as you give re- 
gard for this commandment — you may not have thought much about it — but I'm 
delighted when I realize that we belong to a church where almost every Lord's Day 
without exception a group of our precious young people head for the National Lutheran 
Home and spend a portion of their day in paying attention to older people, sharing a 
bit of God's love and concern. You ask me how to keep the day holy? — any number of 
ways by which it can be done. And this too should be numbered among them . . . 

... as significant as anything that ever happened at 
Bethany was after we had an in-depth retreat session 
there ... a woman left Bethany and went right to the 
home of a member who was house-bound, gave her a bath, 
prepared her meal for the next day . . . 
How do you please God? - - by obeying His commandments, and paying attention to one 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 
The Second Sunday in Lent 

March 7, 19 82 

(Exodus 20:12) 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from 
God our Father and from His 
Son Jesus Christ, our Blessed 
Lord. Amen. 

For what it may be worth to you, let's take a second or so to get this 
sermon series, based on the general theme of The Ten Commandments , in a per- 
spective. Arnold Toynbe-', the well-known historian, states that to date there 
have been twenty-one great civilizations of the world. The stern historical 
fact is this: fourteen of those so-called great civilizations of the world 
have disappeared. A conclusion to which one could readily come is this: 
they had become instruments which God could no longer use, because they had 
disobeyed Him. The Ten Commandments had been discarded, they had been broken, 
they had been cast aside. 

You may say to yourself very quickly, but perhaps they were never given 
the Ten Commandments as those civilizations which were part of the Hebraic- 
Christian tradition have known them. But the interesting fact is this: it 
would seem to me that any student of history comes to the conclusion that no 
matter what the civilization may be, where there is basic disregard for what 
God had in mind regarding His people and His world, that civilization eventu- 
ally ruins itself. whether they adhere or do not adhere, by any measure of 
respect, even though it may be but a token, to what the Creator of the Universe 
has always had in mind for all of us. 

And let it clearly be said, as a distinguished Swedish theologian once ob- 
served - - "We're all of us in the hand of God, whether with our belief or 


with our unbelief, and what God decrees remains — whether we ignore Him or 
acknowledge Him. For some day some of us will discover that what God has 
decreed life is constantly proving. 


Today's sermon in the series: " Honor thy father and thy mother, that 
your days may be long in the land which the Lord God gives to you. " 

Let it be clearly understood at once, I have not come to this sacred desk 

this morning to lament, to chastize, or to rebuke irresponsible parents. ... to 

chastize, rebuke or lament disobedient children. One sees enough evidence of 

it, and one wrings his hands and lowers his head and laments enough regarding 

that sort of thing. But with whatever energy God gives me in the time that 

remains as this sermon is to be preached, I'd like to remind you of the kind 

of thing that God had in mind for us, and to assure you that here and there 

people take God seriously, and it pays off handsomely. 

" Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days 
may be long in the land that the Lord thy God 
gives thee ..." 

How can I introduce this subject to you in a way that could be different? 

You've dealt with these Commandments from the days of your childhood. What 

new insight, by the grace of God, could I offer you? 

I saw George Burns' second movie that deals with God — "God - Book II" 
— I think was the name of it, or "God II" — that's cast a perfectly adorable 
child to be the central figure. She responds to the fact of God in a way 

that only a child can respond. Her parents do not understand her the school 

authorities do not understand her.... the psychiatrist doesn't understand her. 
And she does have her moments, as the story develops, when she isn't quite cer- 
tain that God understands. 

She gets an assignment from God, and very cleverly she helps to placard 
the community in which she lives with a very clever slogan — because God wants 
to be known by people, you see, and God wants people to think in terms of Him. 
And she comes up with this very clever thing — which is just two words: 

She succeeds admirably. And it turns out very well, really it does. And now 
the closing scene, when she and God are alone. 


Oh, she's complained on occasion because He doesn't show up as often as 
He should, and as soon as He should, and now she's taking Him to task for not 
having shown up when she needed Him most. And as though she's countering now, 
angry and disturbed, she rails against God as much as to say, "And you don't 
need me." And God says to her, "But I do need you. I need all the help I 
can get, I always need helpers." 

The movie concludes with a kind of Mona Lisa smile upon the face of the 

adorable young thing and you try to surmize for yourself, What is she 

thinking? Is she suddenly discovering what an exalted role God places human 
beings in? - - and to think that God should choose her, and people, to as- 
sist Him? Could it be as wonderful as that! - - and does it suddenly occur 
to her now as she thinks reflectively that that's what other people have 
been to her, as God's helpers. 

Alvin Rogness, the beloved preacher, teacher, theologian of the American 
Lutheran Church, who once graced this sacred desk, has his own treatment of 
Luther's Catechism. And when he comes to the consideration of the Command- 
ments, and this one in particulary, how does he refer to parents? He's done 
it in a very clever and creative way. He refers to them as "God's Vice Presi- 
dents" - - God's helpers. Which leads me to say to you what I've already told 
you on more than one occasion, that there isn't much that God ever gets done 
by himself and by himself alone. The only thing that I know God ever did single- 
handedly was the act of Creation. And for the most part ever since then when 
He wants something done His preferred method is always to reach for a person. 
He relies upon people to get His work done. 

It was John F. Kennedy who very properly said — perhaps as masterful as 
anything that he said, in his Inaugural Address: "We must truly make here on 
earth God's work our work." And if we don't . . . who will? 

So when you come to think of this Commandment, think of the exalted role 
in which God places people — as His Vice Presidents, and as His agents, as 


His helpers, as His assistants. Which leads me to say to you, you begin at 
that point when you consider this Commandment: the role of a parent. 

Luther did something that we ought not to ignore. Luther said when we 
deal with this Commandment we ought to think of all those who have authority 
over us, whatever their job may be, because God is going to act in and through 
them in our behalf. So begin at that point: you honor your father, you honor 
your mother because God has chosen them, as God thinks of His world, as His 
agents - - the exalted role of those who are in positions of authority, as 
God conceives it. 

Now let me say again to you what I said earlier: I know that there are 
parents who are irresponsible. I'm not talking about the way it's gone wrong. 
I'm here this morning to talk about the way it's meant to be. I have my 
moments when I think of the Ten Commandments as God's manual. He made the 
world, He's the manufacturer. And having made the world, He knows how it's 
best meant to operate. And this according to His scheme and His plan is the 
way it should operate: "I will use parents and those in authority to be My 
agents, to represent Me." This is the role of the parent — an exalted role. 
God could not think of a better way by which to transmit His truth and His love 
than through those who are nearest and who are meant to be dearest to us. 

I know a certain thrill when I realize that the Ten Commandments are not 
something that a group of preachers figured out. . . .not something that a group 
of Cardinals got together and declared as dogma.... not something that a council 
of economic advisors figured out! God's idea, the Creator of the Universe, 
— the Manufacturer of the World — He said 'This is the 
way it can best operate. ' 
That's the role of the parent, to be as God's agents, His Vice Presidents, to 
be to people as He would be. And that's the responsibility that rests upon 
parents . 

Now there's always a risk involved, because parents are human beings. 


They have feet of clay. I shudder when I have my moments when I discover the 
two sons for whom God has given me responsibility as they mature in life, as 
they go from one stage to another, when they will discover how much their 
father's feet are made of clay. And I would ask that they be as charitable with 
me as I have learned to become with my parents, of blessed memory. For I, too, 
had my moments when I discovered that when we went to church they prayed the 
same prayer that I prayed — "Father — forgive!" There are risks involved, 
of course, because no one can fully obey God. But there's always the possibi- 
lity, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to bring a measure of fulfillment to 
the assignment that God gives to us. 

Which leads me to say to you: first, the role of the parents, as God's 
vice-presidents — the risk that's involved because they may not be able to 
fully measure up . . . and together we ask for charity with one another, as 
God is charitable with us. 

And thirdly: always the possibility of a precious reward. For, having 
tried to fulfill the responsibility which God placed upon her — her name was 
Monica, remember it and remember it well, the mother of one of the greatest of 
all the Church Fathers, Augustine, who in the days of his youth was a rascal. 
You name any sin — he had either thought it up or practiced it with relish. . . lustful as they come. But Monica never gave up praying for him. 

Two things were instrumental in his conversion: a Bishop of the Church 
who accepted him exactly as he was — who began at that point, and was kindly 
disposed toward him and in his every relationship with him was not judgmen- 
tal, consigning him to Hell. Augustine never forgot the Bishop who accepted 
him as he was .... 

....and the other credit that he gives for his conversion — the prayers 
of his mother. In anticipation of her death she wrote her son: "Think of me 
not where my body is laid, but remember me always before the altar of the Lord." 


....absolutely beautiful and perfect. In the final analysis Monica wants to 

be remembered as she's related to God. "You shall be as my vice-president. . .you 

shall be as my agent . . . you shall be as my representative." 

Where did I first learn about love? Where did I first learn the value of 
truth? Where did I first learn that my life could matter? — that I was impor- 
tant to someone? From my parents. 

Let me remind you, as I may have told you before, when my mother died I 
stood by the grave and with what emotional strength as I could gather I spoke 
the last words as I committed her body to the ground and her soul to the God 
who gave it. And as I walked away it occurred to me in no uncertain manner what 
I had always known — but up until that moment had never articulated as well — 
she was the one person, more than any other person on the face of the earth, 

who first taught me about God "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy 

days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God gives thee." 

I have not come to this sacred desk this morning to chastize, rebuke or 
to sit in judgment upon irresponsible parents. ... to chastize, rebuke or sit in 
judgment upon disobedient children. But I am happy to tell you that here and 
there, there are people such as you who take seriously what God had in mind 
from the very beginning. And therein lies reason for hope. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor David R. Shaheen 
The Third Sunday in Lent 

March 14, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 





As the first Lesson was being read this morning — did your mind wander a bit, 
or, recalling that moment for you now, if I were to ask you — those Commandments, 
the order in which they were read - - could the order have been changed? What if a 
Commandment would have been deleted — would it have made any difference? 

Questions such as this have been raised from the pulpit before, and I too would 
put a similar question to you as I stand today in the place of the one who ordinarily 
preaches from this sacred desk: How would you rate the Commandments, on a scale of 
1 to 10? Where would you put the one that's to be considered this morning, as this 
series continues uninterrupted? 

It's a bit risky to think that we could rate the Commandments. Who among us, any 
of us, would dare to suggest that one is more important than the other, or which one 

might have lesser value than the other or to be even more risky, which Commandment 

could be eliminated? What if there were to be 9 instead of 10 — which is the one, do 
you suppose, that the human race could get along without? 

Now from a purely human point of view — (that's been carefully worded) — from a 
purely human point of view, the Commandment against killing is one that we would not 
want to get rid of, for that's precisely the Commandment that's ours to consider today. 
Recorded in the 20th chapter of Exodus, it's the 13th verse - - four words make up the 
Fifth Commandment : Thou shalt not kill. 

Contrary to all the sordid evidence that we could present, such as murder-for-hire 
as an unsavory example, the case could easily be built in order to maintain that most 
people, if not all people, cherish life, especially their own. Even for many people, 
despite the constantly deteriorating condition of their own health, the desire to live 
remains strong and vital. 

We need to think of a Commandment such as this in another way, too — for who 
doesn't want to live in a society where life is held precious, that it's something to 
be protected, that it's something to be preserved with honor and dignity. Even the 
ugly fact of war is justified again and again as necessary in order to defend life 


and protect the things that make for its survival, on a purely human basis. And who 
among us dares to deny the fact that thinking man, as we like to refer to ourselves, 
whatever his religious orientation, or lack of it, prefers an ordered society in 
which a person is free to move about, without any fear of being brutalized or killed, 
whatever the violent method? True as this may be, we need to remind ourselves that 
the Commandment is held up for us as a basic law of the human race, not by any parti- 
cular referendum or fiat, but primarily because God in His wisdom has decreed it — 
the Commandment: Thou shalt not kill — it was God who established it. And I wish I 
could come to you this morning and tell you this Commandment is easily understood 
and that it's universally obeyed. But it isn't . . . and I can't. 

Think for a moment, if we were to take this Commandment at face value, would it 
mean that all of us would become vegetarians? 

— - taken at face value, would it mean that all of us 
would become pacifists? 

— and brace yourself for this — taken at face value, 
does strict adherence to this Commandment imply that 
none of us would ever be allowed to defend himself, or 
a helpless loved one, against an unwelcome intruder? — 
against a maniac or a murderer? 

Any attempt on our part to understand this Commandment is compounded by the fact 
that when you read the Old Testament it's set before us — there are those victories 
that are gained by God's Chosen People, as they go tramping off toward the Promised 
Land - - it's recorded for us. There are those battles — people are killed left and 
right, and there's plundering with a vengeance. And those victories are recorded as 
God-ordained, victories over enemies, and their cities, and fields and their families 
....victories which they never could have accomplished, save for the help of God. 

And what is more, there's that chapter in the Bible, that chapter in Israel's 
history where Moses as the law-giver makes allowance for the avenger. It's a surprise 
when some folks learn that there was a day when it was decreed that the next-of-kin 
should seek revenge when someone precious to him had been murdered. 

And so we could go on, and on, and on. And while such questions are not without 
some value, we need to think in some other terms, to move on in order to understand 
this particular Commandment as best we can. For there are other questions that need 
to be asked - - 

— why was it given by God in the first place? 

— what do you suppose God had in mind? 

— essentially now, the question is this: how is life to 
be viewed from the God-perspective? 

-Ihe-tm dcninblc fact i3 simply this: God is n' e a tor and giver - and sustai nc r o f l i fe 



The undeniable fact is simply this: God is creator and giver and sustainer of life — 
looks upon life as sacred. That's really what God is saying to us in these four 
direct words: Thou shalt not kill needs to be interpreted: life is sacred. You can- 
not read it otherwise. Life is sacred. 

It's for this reason, you see, that in those early days God allowed that if a 
man should commit a murderous act, then he in turn should forfeit his own right to 
live, that his own life should be taken from him. Not, mark you, that the avenging 
would be a violation of the Commandment, but rather that it should be an expression 
of the basic principle that life is sacred! And why so sacred? The answer, of course, 

in Biblical terms, comes naturally that life is sacred because man is made in the 

image of God. That means, dare we say it boldly, that every single human being on 
the face of the earth is to be understood, to be treated as an expression of God. 

Whatever we may or may not come to think or understand of this Commandment, we're 
to remember that from God's point of view there is no life without some value, that 
within each person there's some measure of divine potential. And it could be that 
when you come to consider this Commandment, that something like this never entered 
your mind, that when you have to deal with some unlikely, some unattractive, some 
unpromising person, you should say to yourself: respect is due that person — that 
you should endeavor to help that person because whatever his sin, that person is a 
child of God. In a certain sense, just because you may have never broken this Com- 
mandment, it does not necessarily follow that you kept this Commandment. 

Luther in his explanation of what it means to take this Commandment seriously 
says that we should so fear and love God as not to do our neighbor any bodily harm 
or injury, but rather assist and comfort him in danger and in want. You see, there 
is more to this Commandment than meets the eye, and we make a mistake if we think 
some Commandments do not mean as much as others, that some do not apply to us because 

we haven't broken them or in considering this Commandment and its basic intent, 

we realize that it's basic to all of our thinking in terms of relationships with one 
another, that life is sacred, that life is to be respected. 

There's an ancient fable, and I do not know its source, the story about a spider 
who descended one day by the slender thread that he'd spun out of his body from the 

dark rafters of his home in a barn and on the lower level he built his web, and 

before long he grew sleek and prosperous, and like some of us, he became forgetful. 
and then one day as he moved about his web he was irritated to discover that 


slender filament which rose vertically from his web and disappeared into the dark- 
ness beyond. And as he mused to himself, he said, "That thread catches no flies — 
of what earthly use can it be?" . . . and so speaking, he extended one of his crooked 
claws and he yanked at the thread, he cut it and whereupon the whole web col- 

Life around us begins to collapse when we lose its invisible means of support. 
Commandments are meant to remind us to whom we are ultimately responsible in the 
way we live. And when you think of your life, and I think of mine, you think of the 
life of people sitting next to you, and your neighbor. This Commandment is intended 

to help us understand that all life is sacred and likewise, so is the way that 

we live out each day, and particularly in our relationships with one another. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor David Shaheen 

The Fourth Sunday in Lent March 21, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our TiJ ' M 

Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, £ t4f&M'1 

our Blessed Lord. Amen. 


This sermon is another in the series that's being preached on the Ten Com- 
mandments. And today it's Commandment Number Six that's given us to consider, 
the commandment that God gave the Children of Israel regarding adultery. 

At the very beginning you need to hear these words. Those of you listening 
to the preaching of this sermon fall into one of two categories: either you have 
committed adultery, or you haven't. And there is a Christian perspective to be 
brought to bear on both categories. 

Is it too daring to suggest, do you suppose, that even before this sermon 
unfolds, that the forces and factors that lead to adultery may be worse than the 
adulterous act itself. For how is it, do you suppose, that one becomes adulterous? 
Good question. 

There is something else that needs to be said as we deal specifically with 
this Commandment and wrestle with it as earnestly as we can. It refers to our 
young people. As many of you know, we place a high value on the Confirmation experi- 
ence that we have in Saint Luke. We earnestly try to make it a thing of substance. 
Fortunately, by far the highest percentage of our young people respond enthusiasti- 
cally to what we offer. The context within which the instruction is provided is 
made as winsome as possible. Teachers are carefully chosen... the greater part of 
the instruction period is spent in small groups, the teacher having no more than 

eight students 

and when it comes to material that we use, that too 

is carefully chosen. One of the finest books that we use 

as resource for our 9th grade class, the one that anticipates 

being confirmed, is an excellent text called " Living In The 


A lot can be said for its format and its style and its content. But above 
all it needs to be recognized that its author is a veteran pastor and teacher of 
the Church who is a skilled interpretor of Biblical truth and is gifted when it 


comes to placing a pen in his hand, despite, or because of his seventy years. He 
deals in a refreshing way with Luther's Catechism, and especially the Ten Command- 
ments, and has an appealing way of reaching young people. So that you can under- 
stand why I appreciate so much his substance and style, let me indicate for you 
how he handles this Commandment on adultery. 

What do you suppose is the heading for his chapter on this subject? Mindful 
of the fact that today's young people are presumably the most sexually aware genera- 
tion in history, the most sophisticated, the most sexually active . . . mindful of 
the fact that there ' s an ever-increasing rate of pregnancies and an alarming rate 
ef illegitimate parents - - he captured their interest at once with a three-word 
caption: the title for his chapter is simply: "Where Sex Belongs ." And he gains 
their respect at once by the very use of the word sex and recognizing it as a fact 
of life. And then from that point on this grand old man that I would honestly guess 
would pass for the grandfather of any of us, proceeds to treat this Commandment in 
a most thought-provoking way. 

When I've had to wrestle with the fact that each year a group of our 9th graders 
will be going away for a special weekend, we'd be dealing specifically with this 
topic and wrestling with how we express our sexuality as men and women from a Chris- 
tian perspective, I've turned again and again to the words of Alvin Rogness. I've 
never known this subject to be treated any better than the manner in which he addres- 
ses it. Would you indulge me, then, for a minute or two? I'd like to read for you 
several paragraphs from his book so you can see for yourself exactly what I mean 

"... We live our lives within many different circles. 
Within each we have relationships with other people. 
Some circles are large, some small. Our school or the 
place we work is one circle. .. .within it are some peo- 
ple who like us, and we like them.... 

— our home is a circle and there we know a special kind 
of love and special kind of relationships — parents, 
children, brothers, sisters 

— our church is a circle where we share a faith with others . 

Some we know well, some hardly at all, 

— the smallest circle is marriage — two people who fall in 
love, promise to remain a circle of just two persons for life. 
They give themselves to each other in fullness and complete- 
ness that no other circle demands. This is the deepest and 
most intimate relationship of all, and it is into this circle 
that God has placed the gift of sexual love. 


" . . • . Friendship is different. This, too, is a 
wonderful circle. You may like a great number of 
people and call them friends, but most people have 
relatively small circle of special friends. From 
the time we are children we tend to gravitate to a 
few who are especially close to us. We do this to 
the end of life. 

— two people are drawn together like David and 
Jonathan in the Bible, not biologically, not out 
of common tastes in politics or even religion, 
not out of the equity in wealth or intelligence. 
Somehow they find in each other a warmth, an open- 
ness, an understanding and a trust. They demand 
nothing of each other. They simply enjoy one anoth- 
er. This is not the same as falling in love. 

.... if friends were to have sexual relation- 
ships with each other, their friendship would be so 
changed that it would be gone, simply because God 
does not intend sexual acts to be a part of friend- 
ship. In fact such use, or mis-use, of sex will 
destroy friendship. A new relationship emerges 
which can only grow more distasteful as friends 
realize their friendship is gone. 

— and certainly sex never belongs between 
chance acquaintances, or between people who simply 
like each other, even though the act may give 
momentary pleasure. Sex is never a detached plea- 
sure like eating a good meal — that you can do 

alone. You use food to satisfy a hunger in 

sexual relationships outside of marriage you use 
another person as an object to satisfy lust ..." 

And then he goes on to conclude this chapter in this way . . . 

"... God will not be mocked. We cannot outsmart 
Him. He has made us, after all. He, better than we, 
knows where this delicate, glorious and mysterious 
gift belongs. And He is saying clearly that it 
belongs in the circle of marriage. 

This Commandment is explicit against fornication and 
against adultery. . . " 

Now there you have it. No question about what God had in mind when He laid down 

the law and included a specific prohibition against sharing of sex outside the 

marriage circle. 

There is something to be said in reminding ourselves about that old platitude 
that could so well be applied to this particular Commandment. Remember the old 
saying that goes like this: "Don't take down any fence until you first find out 
why the fence was put there in the first place." In this day and age when God's 


fence around the marriage bed is recklessly, carelessly or willingly removed, the 
Church does want to remind people why God put that fence there in the first place: 
It was put there primarily to preserve the sanctity of the home. 

In order that we might get this in sharper focus, let's look at it this way: 
As the Children of Israel were heading for Canaan they were moving toward a people 
who had been declared by secular history as one of the most immoral, licentious 
people of all times. Even their immorality was practiced in the name of religion. 
And so God gave the Children of Israel a "No-No" regarding their playing fast and 
loose with the marriage vows. They were not to be as other people. They had the 
benefit of receiving from Him the manner and the method by which life was meant to 
be lived. It should not be necessary for them to learn the hard way, become self- 
destructive. They'd been given the benefit of a divine directive, and through them 
the whole world could learn of life from the Giver's point of view. 

Now who among us would not be willing to admit that we do not always obey when 
God directs? None of us has ever been a flashing success as His obedient children. 
We do break His laws, one of them after another. And even the best among us is not 
free from temptation. If we don't commit one sin, then surely we commit another — 
this one or that one — or all of them. And adultery is not the only sin. It is 
sinful, of course, but it's one among others. 

And when this Commandment is broken, what then? There's so much to pay, by many, 
in many ways. Happy, of course, is the person who might be able to say that he or 
she has been fortunate enough never to have violated this particular Commandment . 
But such good fortune gives no basis for either self -pride or condemnation of those 
who, for whatever reason, have become adulterous, whether it be once, or often. 

Those of you who are hearing these words fall into one of two categories: either 
you have committed adultery, or you haven't. Do you remember the encounter Jesus 
had with the woman at the well, and those who accused her, and what it is that He 
had to say? "No man hath condemned thee," said Jesus to her, "nor do I." Because 
Jesus will recognize that no adultress is saved by condemnation, nor does it behoove 
any one of us to become self-righteous. But unfortunately the mistake that many peo- 
ple make is that they see adultery and its sinful life and accuses others as if it 
were the only sin. They never let them forget it. 

There was a distinguished New York preacher who once concluded his sermon to 
his people as he dealt with this same Commandment by speaking to them with both com- 



passion and conviction, and perhaps what he had to say really needs no further 
comment. Early in His ministry Jesus was suddenly confronted by some woman 
dragged out from some house of ill fame and thrown down in the dust before Him. 
The scribes and the Pharisees said to Jesus — and you can imagine their unctious, 
self-righteous tones — "We've taken her in the very act of adultery. Now what 

will the young prophet of Nazareth do? — will he break the Mosaic law?" and 

already they reached for stones to stone her to death. 

Jesus stopped down and with His finger wrote on 

the ground . . . and then looking up, He said, "He that 
is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at 

and then again He stooped down and wrote in 

the sand, so that He did not have to look at these men. 
....and when He stood up, all that He saw was the sand. 
Not a man was left. . . . and there before Him was the 
woman, and He said, "Woman, where are your accusers? 

Hath no man condemned you? 
She looked up and said, "I see no man." 
Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and 
sin no more." 

You and I fall into either one category or the other — 

the woman . . . the words of Jesus Christ . . . 
speak to both of us. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor David R. Shaheen 

The Fifth Sunday in Lent March 28, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our 
Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

I walked by it many a day during the summer that I worked in Manhattan. There 
it was on one of the giant bill-boards for which Times- Square has always been noted. 
It was bigger than life, advertising a new movie about to open. The movie was 
called "THE RAT -RACE." On the side of this building that was facing Broadway was 
the artist's caricature of the proverbial man-in-the-gray-f lannel-suit. He was 
headed for the Big City, suit-case in each hand, and underneath the picture of the 
man was the description of the movie - - 

— Tony Curtis is Pat, the ambitious guy from Milwaukee... 

— Debbie Reynolds is Peggy, a dime-a-dance gal.... 

.they are two hopefuls who are willing to do anything — claw, steal, kill - - 

to get ahead in the rat-race. 

I walked by that bill-board on more than one occasion, almost daily. And then 
one day it dawned on me, that's a description of my generation. The bill-board was 
about someone my age, a youthful looking figure, finished with college, trying to 
get started, someone young. And I refused to believe that every young person in 
their 20 's was out to make a fast buck — to run like a steam-roller over anyone, 
any time, anywhere. 

The passing of the years has taught me an appreciation for a realistic reading 
of life. And while it's not that everyone will do anything — claw, steal and kill 
— to get ahead in the rat-race - - - while it's not true that everyone will, 
there's always the possibility that some will. 

God, of course, knew of this possibility all along. Who, after all, reads life 
more realistically than God? And if it's proof you need, then it's the Ten Command- 
ments to which I would call your attention. The Children of Israel were only a few 
months out of Egypt — headed for the Promised Land, a wandering band of refugees 
who left with only what they could wear, or what they could carry. To these property- 
poor people God lays down the law, a series of commandments, and among them the one 
that we're to consider this morning as this series of sermons based on the Ten Com- 
mandments unfolds. It's the Commandment dealing with stealing. 


Don't you think it a bit odd of God to give a commandment- dealing with property 
to a group of people who had practically nothing? In the day's perspective, not a 
single one of them had a bank balance, a key to a safety deposit box, a single share 

of stock, a deed to a piece of land a house.... a boat.... a car.... a bed! They 

were penniless, a bunch of homeless people on the march. The only thing any of them 
could call their own was what they were able to carry in their hand or wear on their 
back. And to this people, who have practically nothing, God says, " You don't steal ." 
And you might smile when you think of it - - but steal what? Why, then, any one of 
us could legitimately ask, would God make much of this business of stealing while 
addressing a people who had so little? 

You must always remember that God knows our nature. And knowing our nature, He 
knows our possibilities. You see, from His perspective, there's always the likeli- 
hood that we could become acquisitive, that we could gather, that we could possess, 
that we could claim. And granted that they were penniless, these homeless people 
wandering across the desert - - the day would come when they would settle down, 
they'd strike a claim, they'd begin to think in terms of what they could call their 
own. And when the day would come that they'd begin to prize their possessions, they 
could run the risk of casting a covetous eye on what someone else might prize. And 
when the uncontrollable reach and grasping hand would show itself, God said "Don't!" 

And as you have been listening to what's transpired in the sermon so far, haven't 
you asked yourself the question: but aren't you overlooking something? If God deals 
primarily with the spiritual worth of things, why does God give so much recognition 
to material possessions? Haven't we been taught that we can't take anything with 
us? Haven't we been led to believe that we're to take a detached attitude toward 
property and the material things of this world? Isn't it a basic tenet of the Chris- 
tian faith that we're not to lay up treasures on earth? or to put it in a more sim- 
ple and a very basic way doesn't God's chief interest lie in people rather than 

property? Whatever we may or may not fully understand in this regard, the fact 
still remains, you can judge a person's character by the regard that they have for 
things — either their own or those of other people. And as long as there are 
people in this world, they will always, generally speaking, acquire possessions, 
acquire property. 

There should be no question about the fact that God smiles favorably upon the 
person who has taken possession of something by paying an honest dollar that's come 
from an honest day's work. And God who is love surely is kindly disposed toward 


those who have, just because others have given to them nor should any of us 

allow ourselves to think for a single moment that God would turn His face, and 
many of us who has an eye for a thing of value that someone has abandoned or 

disclaimed that's really the three basic ways that we do acquire things, 

isn't it? 

. . . .we get what we have because we work for it — 

things become precious to us because we've labored hard, 
and there are those who tell us that the things that we 
prize most are frequently the things that we've worked 

hardest for 

. . . .we do have some things because people out of love have 

been kind enough to give them to us ... . 
....or you may number among the things that you now call your 
own something that you once found .... 
But there is a fourth way by which someone can get something - - a person can steal. 
A person may deliberately take from another what they prize or what they cherish. 
And concerning stealing, God says flat-out: "No!" 

Before the sermon ends let me address for you this question of why God prohibits 
stealing. Maybe He's the kind of a person who needs to have God explain or justify 
His edicts. If you are such a person, perhaps it will be helpful for you to realize 
that when a person steals, he actually violates the character of somebody else and 
destroys that person's faith in human nature. You see, God really wants us to trust, 
to believe in one another. And when a person steals he violates a God-given blessing 
that's bestowed upon him by which he was meant to work and to earn what could, be his. 
And by stealing he actually and deliberately short-circuits God's plan for his own 
personal development, for his own integrity, for his own sense of honor. 

And yet there's another reason with which we need to reckon: Christians of all 
people live by this fantastic notion that when it's all said and done, no one of us 
really owns anything! It's a mind-blowing idea! And in our understanding of God 
we begin with the premise that everything belongs to Him — He's the giver of all 
things. In a very real sense, of what you and I have, we have on deposit from God. 

Have you ever thought about God as the great Depositor? Don't forget that when 
a person deposits something, he never really relinquishes his claim. At any time 
God may appear, holding us responsible for what we happen to have which is right- 
fully His. So, the Christian looks upon property it's not really ours! God 

is the owner of all things. It's a mind-blower! 

,J ¥HE-eREATES?-T&££F" (4) 

There are those who maintain that only the people who subscribe to this under- 
standing, to this kind of reading of life, have gotten the greatest satisfaction 
out of both living, and dying. Look then not only upon God as the great law-giver 
when you think of this Commandment, but also as the Great Depositor - - who holds 
us responsible for what we do with what we have. And eventually it can be said 
that the supreme test of any person's character is what they do with what they 

The old rabbis, my father used to tell me, had their own concept of Judgment. 
It was God at the end, standing before the latest person to die and putting one 

simple question to them the answer of which, of course, would determine their 

eternal condition. The question, now that the person's life was over: 
"Well, what did you make of it?" 

The concept of Judgment like that is well worth remembering when you think of this 
Commandment. Life from God's point of view was never meant to be a rat-race of 
clawing and stealing and killing but rather an experience of loving, and of 


....and that's something to think about, isn't it? 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor David Shaheen 

Palm Sunday April 4, j 982 



ft' w 

In company with some of you I have had the good fortune of having a dream 
fulfilled by being able to visit the Holy Land. I'll never forget the first time 
I had such an experience. Our small company, there were only twelve of us in num- 
ber, arrived and went to a small hotel not far from the Mount of Olives. 

I remember several things about the hotel in particular. 

First, was its location. 

Secondly, the fact that it seemed that we were given individual attention by 
the hotel staff . . . not surprisingly so — we were the only ones in the hotel! 
There were only twelve of us occupying the entire structure. The tourist season 
had not yet begun, and so we were the ones who were the object of the staff's un- 
divided attention. 

But the thing that impressed me most, or even more so, was the name of the 
hotel. It was called the Hotel Panorama. .. .and aptly so. The hotel was so situated 
that we were constantly given a broad and complete view of the ancient walled city 
of Jerusalem. 

Quite naturally, as you might suppose, I had deep thoughts whenever I would 
stand at the door of the hotel and look across the valley and see the Holy CLty. 
And as you can readily understand, so much of it comes back to me today as I stand 
in this place. For that is precisely what a trip to the Holy Land can do for a per- 
son — enable them to identify more fully with so much that occurred in the life of 
our Blessed Lord. 

Your patience, then, please, as I reflect on this Palm Sunday on that day in 

the life of Jesus — when He beheld the panorama, the Holy City of Jerusalem, and 

was about to enter it in a most dramatic fashion. There is a text for this brief 

meditation, the 41st verse of the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to Luke: 

"And when he was com e near, he 
beheld the city and wept." 

Let's see if we can get it in sharp focus. He was, as you know, God come to 

us in human form which is to say, He was a man. And He was every inch a man. 

And now, generally speaking, men are not given to crying. Weeping, in the mind of 
some people, is equated with weakness, and as some folks would have it, the more 


masculine a parson, the less we would expect him to orv m« 

pccc ninl to <= r y- With reverence and esteem 
they inch „p„„ Je8us as ooc greater ^ ^ ^^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 

to Him as Christ the King, And do „e not also associate with llinl dlvJnJty , „„,, 

call „i„, the Son or God or as the Creed-writers put the words to our lips- 

Very Cod of very Cod, begotten, not made, being of one sohstance with the Father" 
.....say it again and again if you dare - - «„, generally speeding, are not given 
to c ryi „ 8 . And . king . . „ hy s|iooU a kjng eyer ^^ ^^^ ^ ^ 

thrng that he „a„t s? And if he doesn't have it lor the moment, isn't there always 

some way within reason to get it' Men »pnpr a ii,, i 

g it. Men, generally, do not cry.... kings seldom, if 


God why would a god cry? 

No matter what you „, k e of it, Cod „„„ caae to „„ £n ^ ,„„ Qf ^ chr[st 

enter Jerusalem. 

Your experience and mine has taught us that some people cry for no reason 
at all. it just seems second nature to them. But there are others who when they 
cry have a reason 

- some will cry because physical pain is far greater than 
they can bear.... and bodily affliction weakens the mind and 
the spirit so much that the tears cannot be held back... 

- some people cry because of the emotional burden of life, and 
when the heart is heavy ~ no matter how good and brave a person 
may be - tears have a way of coming, and if not in public, then 
at least in private.... 
Some people cry because of their own pain, some people cry because of the pain of 
others ... and occasionally a person whose joy is great may be moved to tears. 
Jesus wept. Why did He cry? 

On the surface, presumably, there's hardly any reason why He should cry 
As far as He's concerned, everything is going according to plan. His destination 
from the very beginning had always been Jerusalem. He wanted to ride triumphantly 
xnto the city. And now all of this was about to take place. As tbe prophets before 
Hrm ha d demonstrated, so the crowds would gather around Him, and they'd shout their 
hosannas, and they'd salute Him as He rides on a donkey. He never had a day quite 
Ixke this. He even encouraged it, initiated it. Should this then be for Him a 
-ime to cry? 

A Cud Who Can Cry ( J ) 

He wept. But they were not tears of joy. And He had His reasons for weep- 
ing - - knowing the true nature of people like you and me, He could see beyond the 
crowd's shouts of "Hosanna" to their cruel, callous cry of "Crucify!" And so when 
He cried He did not cry for Himself. He cried for the people that He came to 

And that's the line of difference between His tears and ours. We cry so 
easily for ourselves — how easy it is for us to wallow in our self-pity, to feel 
sorry for our condition. Not so with Jesus Christ. When He cried He cried for 
other people, and not for Himself. When He beheld the city He wept for the people, 

the ones who would reject Him 

..He cried for the people who would forsake Him 
. .He cried for the disciples who would deny Him 
..He cried for the disciple who would betray Him 
. .He cried for the people who would crucify Him 
..He wept for the people to whom Cod had given the 

freedom of choice, and rather than choose good, 

they chose evil 

And there would be nothing that He could do about it except allow Himself to become 

There is no secret about this. You know it as well as I do — there are some 
of you here this morning who know exactly what I'm talking about, especially if you're 
a parent. For more than thirteen years you have placed in my shepherding care hun- 
dreds upon hundreds of young people. And more often than I care to remember I've 
stood with some of you as parents and wept, as you've seen your teenager trying to 
express some new-found freedom, foolishly use it to reject, to deny, to forsake, to 
betray the way of truth and goodness — even to the point of preferring the Devil to 
Christ. And there wasn't a thing you could do about it, nor I, except to become 

So we're all children in the eyes of Cod, and all too often disobedient chil- 
dren. Palm Sunday reminds us of our Heavenly Father who either stands in the side- 
lines and waits.... or who is pushed and shoved about, nailed to a cruel cross, until 

we have done with our foolishness 

"And when he beheld the city he cried ..." 
...but not for Himself. He cried for us. 


For some people that's a mind-blowing idea of God. Our image is of God 
being so powerful and mighty. A God who cries - - a God who cries for us? What 
would your life be like, do you suppose, if you didn't believe in a God who cries? 
If you didn't believe in a God who sometimes sees our condition through the tears 
of His eyes? For us to have a God who cries is for us to have a God who is not 
detached from our life, but He's so involved that when we fail Him He's vulnerable 
to our sins. No other religion in the world has a God like that - - a God who 
cries, and not for Himself.... 

who cries for people that He wants to save 

a God who when He looks in your direction, 

as He looks in mine, occasionally will weep . 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor David Shaheen 

The Resurrect ion of Our Lord April 11, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God . ( , 

our Father and from His Son Jesus (IlJi i.-> <r-0 ' 

Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

The text - the 1st verse of the 20th chapter of the Gospel according to John: 

" Then the first day of the week, Mary 
Magdalene arrived at the tomb , while it was 
still dark, and noticed that the stone had 
been taken away ..." 

The title, if you need one, simply this: " EASTER - AN EXPERIENCE. " 

Contrary to what some of you may think, an Easter sermon is not easy to preach. 
I'm not reluctant nor embarrassed to say this at the very beginning, so let me re- 
peat it: Contrary to what some of you may think, an Easter sermon is not a very 
easy sermon to preach. 

I know very well that Easter is the central truth of our Christian faith, 
and that every creed that we have written declares it. And no preacher dares to 
be silent on this day of days — nor dare you! And that's why we include it in 
our worship at a most propitious point, an opportunity for every voice to be tri- 
umphantly heard and joining in echo wherever Christians gather on a day such as 

this: THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED! It's something that we believe. Do we? or 

do we? 

Let me be as honest with you as I possibly can be, and you return the compliment 
you be honest with me. And let's be fair, very fair, with each other. I have the 
feeling that if I asked this question of every one who is present right now, if I 

asked the same question if I were to leave this pulpit and walk down the aisle 

and go from row to row, and if I looked each one of you in the eye, and if I could, 
call you by name - - - "Do you honestly, without any doubt or hesitation — do you 
fully , completely, perfectly believe on your own, not on the basis of what some 
have tdld you dr what you've read or what you've seen - - - that a 33-year-old-car- 


penter, put to death as a criminal, placed In a grave with a huge boulder rolled 
against it, came back to life after three days — almost two thousand years ago? 

I will not proceed in that manner, so you can relax. Time alone would not 
permit such an interrogation, or testimony, as the case may be. And frankly speak- 
ing. I suppose I could honestly say that some of you would react a bit awkwardly 
and think the whole exercise in poor taste. While others of you, I have reason to 
believe, would applaud it. And having been with you as long as I have, and being 
the son of a parsonage, I'm going to presume to tell you how I think or predict 
what the responses would be, had I gone pew to pew from person to person. ... and 
each of you would have responded. 

Please understand that to a large degree what you're now going to hear has 
pretty much been determined by conversations that some of us have had, or has been 
pretty much determined by the way I've seen you behave in a time of crisis, when 
personal faith is either evident or it isn't. 

First now, the greater majority — could it be 70-80-90% or more — I think 
would speak up. It could be that my estimate may be off a bit. . . .but the greater 
majority would speak up with positive conviction.... 

...and a few of you, here and there, would probably break into 
song in a true charismatic fashion without waiting for your 
non-compatriots in the spirit to be bold — they would spon- 
taneously join you. And what you might lack in any evidence 
of numerical strength, your rapturous response would resound 

to every corner of the Nave and with a display of restrained 

fervor, with a measure of unembellished affirmation, by far the 
greater number of you would answer with whatever variety of 
individual personality your temperament would reflect. 
Then there would be, I dare say, a second group among us, a small percentage, 
and I shan't begin to predict a figure — who would not answer with any degree of 


enthusiasm. And before I say another word, you should know that as I assume them 
to be honest, I have no trouble at all in respecting their complete candor. They 
are the ones who would answer, in all likelihood, in this manner: 
"I would like to say that I believe, but I have 
problems with the whole thing. I can't understand 
how it could happen. If a person dies, he's dead! 
I just don't understand it. It really isn't a case 
of my being able to honestly say that I believe. . . . 
nor is it a case of my honestly being able to say 
that I don't believe it .... " 
It's to these people that this sermon is primarily directed, an honest attempt on 
my part to be as helpful as possible. People who have questions like this cannot 
be ignored. 

A great preacher once dealt with this very issue far better than my limited 
years of experience can offer you, and he did a masterful thing. He spoke first 
of the fact that most people have no difficulty in accepting the crucifixion — 
it's the resurrection that they can't understand. As an example he cited: "With 
the cross we deal with sin, suffering and death. Most of you, " he said, "know 
something about all three. You have sinned. And even you may not call it that, 
you've felt the twinge of conscience and you've done things that you know were 

wrong've had your share of suffering, perhaps you've had more 
than your share. You know what it is to suffer from a broken 
heart. . . . 

....and you have been in the presence of death. Although you 
yourself have not yet been through it, you've seen others go 

through it. You've felt the chill of it 

Easter — the resurrection — that has to do with something completely outside 
the range of your experience. You've never known anyone who has died and come 


back to life ..." 

And I'm not thinking now of those rare instances where a person's heart stops 
beating for a few minutes, and then is made to beat again. The fact that there is 
nothing like it within the range of your experience is one reason why it's so much 
more difficult to speak about the Resurrection than it is to speak about Jesus' 
crucifixion. And presumably that's why more people than we care to admit say the 
Creed with their fingers crossed, as somehow they let the words slip from their 

Maybe it's because we live in the so-called scientific atmosphere that has 
something to do with our reluctance to say that we wholeheartedly believe. But 
we're the kind of people, you know, who never quite feel a thing is real unless we 
can explain it, or grasp it. There is something detrimental about our determina- 
tion to have everything fully explained before we can stand to benefit by the 
experience itself. 

My father, if he gets a chance to listen to the tape of this sermon, will 
probably be a bit jolted by what I'm going to tell you about a surmise of mine in 
his protracted illness. You know this illness of his has gone on now for more 
than five weeks. This is the first Easter in more than 45 years that he hasn't 

been in a pulpit 

— this sickness has been overshadowed — he probably 
won't like me telling you this, but I'm in the pulpit 
today . . . this sickness has been overshadowed by his 
constant wanting to have everything explained to him. 
He confronts his physicians, and my mother too, with 
all kinds of questions: What caused the condition? 
...What's the medicine for? Does the dosage have to 

be so strong?. .. .Why can't he sleep? And why is 

he weak? ....Why didn't he get better three weeks 


...and all the while that he wants everything explained, he'd be far better off if 
he'd simply accept the fact that he's sick. Bluntly put, putting too much energy 
into trying to get an explanation can be crippling. Good things sometimes begin 
only after a person is willing to accept the experience as it is — and then move 
from that point. 

I am happy, by the way, to be able to report to you that the Senior Pastor's 
condition is improving. But the turning-point came when he accepted as a bona fide 
explanation the fact that he was nothing other than a sick man. (And parentheti- 
cally, if he hears a tape of this sermon he may be so mad he'll be out by Tuesday.) 

But in all seriousness, to those of you who have trouble believing in the Resur- 
rection just because you've never had it explained to your satisfaction, 1 can tell 
you this: chances are you will never have it fully explained to your satisfaction. 
I, as one of your pastors, freely admit — I do not pretend to fully understand the 
Resurrection — nor does that trouble me overmuch. There is so much that's clouded 
in mystery. But I am deeply grateful for all that God does reveal. And therein 
lies my hope and my joy and my faith. I have seen the love and the power of Christ 
come alive in countless people. No dead Christ could accomplish what I've seen hap- 
pen in the lives of some of you into whose face I look this very moment. 

I have been to Jerusalem. Along with some of you I have reverently gone to the 
Garden Tomb. Exactly what all happened that first Easter morning I don't know. Do 
you? Can you explain it fully? Can you explain it completely? That's not the point, 
really. What is important is not explanations, but the experience of the fact. And 
I want you to listen to these borrowed words which says it better than anything I 
could put together on my own: I do know that over Him who offered Himself in perfect 
obedience to the will of God, death has no dominion; sin had no claim whatever upon 
Him; evil never got the best of Him; suffering never soured Him. And in the end, 
death could not hold Him. I know that He is alive. And because He lives, you, I — 
we — shall live also. This I most certainly believe. 

A * A ~k 

(transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor David R. Shaheen 

The Second Sunday of Easter April 18, 1982 




This sermon is the next-to-the-last in the series that was begun some time ago 
based on the Ten Commandments. Its title today is "To Tell The Truth." It's the 
8th Commandment that's given for our consideration. You'll find it in the 16th 
verse of the 20th chapter of the Book of Exodus. It goes like this: "You shall not 
bear false witness . " 

Now it may be of some interest to you to know that some of this sermon which 
you are about to hear was prepared on April 15, a day and an evening which, such a 
short time ago, may recall for you the feverish attempt on the part of some people 
to have their income taxes postmarked by the final deadline - - special post offices 
remained open until midnight, and there were postal clerks standing on the curb 
lanes to reach for forms from lines of passing motorists, in order to ease their 
anxiety, to offer some measure of welcomed assistance related to belated, hurried 
tax-payers. So much for April 15, and whatever else that particular date on the 
calendar may bring unhappily to your memory. 

But now for the moment it may be of some Interest to you to know that as far 
as this sermon is concerned, it has been estimated that the U. S. Government has 
been cheated annually, at least this is their estimate this year, of some 88-89 bil- 
lion dollars by people who do not tell the truth, who practice deception, if not 
outright fraud. Someone has gone so far as to suggest even among the so-called 
honest ones among us, that there is a tendency to allow for a margin of at least 
$100 on each return that we, the honest ones, make $100 margin in our favor. 

Now you've heard undoubtedly of the so-called 'conscience-mail' that is oc- 
casionally received by the Internal Revenue Service not tons of it, of course, 

but occasionally they do get letters such as this one: 

"... Dear Internal Revenue People, 

Enclosed please find my check in the amount 
of $100.00. I did cheat a bit on my return last year. 
My conscience troubled me so that I could not sleep. 
Thank you . . . 

. . . P.S. If I can't sleep again tonight, 

I'll send you another check in tomorrow's mail . . 

Now you may laugh, but only momentarily, because on sober reflection — and we 
are capable of thinking soberly at times, we find the smile fading from our faces 
when we realize that those of us who try to pay our taxes honestly, we do find 

"To Tell The Truth" (2) 

ourselves handing over to the Government every third to every fourth pay check, or 
to put it this way: working for the Government at least three to four months, if 
not more in some cases, for Uncle Sam - - - we do find that smile facing when we 
find that 88-89 billion dollars that the Government won't get this year because 
people cheat and lie - - that 88-89 billion dollars would balance the total U. S. 
Budget for us — so it's been reported. And only God knows how much of our ailing 
economy can be set straight if the budget could be balanced. 

April 15 . . . that date on the calendar simply serves to bring the sad and 

sorry fact into sharp focus: people do cheat people lie. And some people say 

it's going on all the time, and that it's a way of life. And I for one refuse to 
believe that it should or that it could be so. Maybe because I was naive when I 
was growing up. Having been raised in a parsonage, perhaps I was protected to a 
certain degree. Most of my friends were made within a Christian environment. And 
I remember that I was taught to tell the truth — honestly try to tell the truth, 
and believe generally that most people told the truth, especially the people that 
you respected. 

.and then one day — and I remember it well — when I got a shock. 

And I haven't been the same since. I need to tell you about it, if 

you don't mind, that you might appreciate the frame-work of reference 

in which this sermon is being preached. 

It goes back to the days when I was an idealistic college student and I had 
my heroes, and one of them was a man who looked like he could be everybody's grand- 
father. He was the President of the United States. His name: Dwight David Eisen- 
hower . He was living in the white House 

(I repeat: I was idealistic — he was one of my heroes) 
...and then there was that day in 1960 that history books probably refer to, if only 
in a foot-note, as the U-2 Incident. Francis Gary Powell, American pilot, flying 
in a spy plane, was forced down over the Soviet Union. And when asked about it at 
first, President Eisenhower — my hero — lied. The question I had to ask, even 
though he later told the truth about the incident, the question didn't escape me: 
— if the man lies once, will he lie again? 

Priscilla Bach has written a book, perhaps one of the finest that I've ever 
seen, entitled: " Lying: Moral Choice in Public And Private Life " and in that book 
she refers to the time that Adlai Stevenson had to go before the United Nations in 
1961, and he had to tell lies about the Bay of Pigs invasion. And Stevenson him- 
self has written that from that moment on his life was drastically changed. As 


you might suppose, the author of this book makes much of the recent decline in public 
confidence not only in American government but in our lawyers and business-men, 
bankers and doctors. Battered by revelations about Vietnam and Watergate, almost 
70% — 7 out of every 10 respondents in a poll by the late 70 's concluded that 
over the last ten years this country's leaders have consistently lied to the people. 
Author Bach maintains that the loss of confidence reaches far beyond government 
leadership. In 1966 to 1976 the portion of the people answering Yes to whether they 
had a great deal of confidence in people who were in charge of major institutions 
dropped from 73% to 42%, in medicine; for major companies: from 55% to 16%; for law 
firms: from 24% to 12%; for advertising agencies, from 21% to 7%. who wants to live in a world, where no matter how 
ideal in other respects, where words and gestures could never 

be counted on? — questions asked answers given. — information 

exchanged - - and all would be worthless, were all statements ran- 
domly truthful or deceptive - - action and choice would be under- 
mined from the very outset. 
There must be a minimal degree of trust and communication for language and action 
to be more than stabs in the dark. This is why some level of truthfulness has al- 
ways been seen as essential to human society, no matter how efficient the observance 
of other moral principles. Even the devils themselves, observed Samuel Johnson, 
do not lie to one another, since the society of Hell could not subsist without truth 
any more than others. So God, at the very beginning, laid down the law for His 
people: Truth is the glue, if you please, by which people are bound, by which peo- 
ple are held together. 

Why is it, then, that people still continut to lie, cheat and deceive? The 
reasons are many: people depend on deception to gain a selfish advantage. People 
lie to get themselves out of a predicament. People lie to avoid hurting feelings. 
— some people lie deliberately, in order to manipulate, to 
gain a place of power. The lamentable fact remains that all 
too often deception is taken for granted when it's felt to 
be excusable by those who tell the lies, and who tend also 
to make the rules .... 
In the final analysis, people forget that the consequences of lying, cheating and 
deceiving still have to be dealt with. It's from the perspective that it's clearly 
unthinkable that we should ever permit ourselves to think that people should be 
able to lie with impunity whenever they want to do so - - and it would be just as 
unthinkable to assert that such a right, even in the more restrictive circumstances 


where liars claim a good reason for lying. 

Especially true, maintained a distinguished researcher on the subject, because 

lying so often accompanies every other form of wrong-doing — from murder to 

bribery ... .to tax fraud... and to theft. So a wise man once said, "Truth and inte- 
grity are precious resources, easily squandered, hard to re-gain. They can thrive 
only on a foundation of respect for veracity." 

A final word about this commandment - - it does lie within each of us to 
choose to tell the truth or to lie. God makes perfectly plain to us what our choice 
ought to be; and what is more, He gives us the wisdom and the power of the Holy 
Spirit to abide by it. You need some guidelines from the Christian perspective — 
about the way to speak? Here are four simple questions you could ask yourself 
each time you need to deal with this commandment: 

- - is it true? 

- - is it kind? 

- - is it necessary? 
is it helpful? 

Now, those are four questions that are worth thinking about. The Commandment is 
not impossible. 


(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 


Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Third Sunday of Easter April 25, 1982 

(Exodus 20:17) 

First, by your leave, a very personal word. 

My gratitude is very great to all of you for your love, your prayers, 

your concern during that unwelcomed and unexpected six -week seige. 
I have learned much by it. I began to appreciate all over again 
why the bells are jfung during the praying of the Lord's Prayer. 
When the weather was right, I could identify with you as you 
worshipped on Sunday mornings as I heard the bell being rung when 
you were praying the Lord's Prayer, and I prayed it with you. 

I am grateful for your cards. I did learn that I had to read some of 

them with marked ambiguity. As an example, any number of them said, 
Don't worry, Pastor David and the staff are doing perfectly beauti- 
fully . . . and then as a kind of Post Script — "We are praying 
for you." 

I am very sorry that my energy level is such that I know very well that 
I will not be able to stay for the entire two-and-a-half-hour per- 
formance of the ELIJAH tonight, but I want to be there, at least 
for the very beginning, and to meet with the choirs and the parti- 
cipants beforehand. It may be of some interest to you to know that 
when I was in college, even though I couldn't read music, and for 
some reason that I still don't quite understand — I was scheduled 

to sing in the ELIJAH. and to this very day I remember: "The 

harvest days are over, the summer days are gone . . " — I blurted 
out a bit too soon when it came time for that part, and I tried to 
protect myself and divert attention immediately to the fellow along- 
side of me - - only to discover later that that was the nephew of 
the director! You can readily understand why I did not sing in the 
final performance. 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our 
Father, and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

Today we conclude the series of sermons being preached for a number of weeks 
now on the general theme of The Ten Commandments. You need to know, and know in 
no uncertain manner, why this series was chosen. I have two very strong feelings 
regarding the Ten Commandments: (1) There is no question in my mind that there is 
probably no document, if you please, which has exercised a greater influence upon 
religious and moral standards than this Mosaic code. Whatever the culture, what- 
ever the traditions of our various civilizations may be, nothing, absolutely 
nothing has had greater influence on religious and ethical standards than the 
Ten Commandments . 


Then too, and I say it quite painfully, I honestly believe that while they 
are just as valid today as they were in the day of Moses, it cannot be maintained, 
unfortunately, that they are everywhere revered, everywhere regarded, or even 
taught. And that is one of the saddest things that can be said about contemporary 
man. For all too often, by too many, in too many places, the Ten Commandments are 
discarded, regarded as something as outmoded - - quite out of character with our 
sophisticated so-called "new morality." 

. . . .which leads any number of people to believe that 
nothing is sin any more. As one astute observer of the 
human scene, a distinguished Roman Catholic theologian 
has put it, "It's this love bit of the permissive genera- 
tion, where if it feels good, if you like it, you love it, 
you d£ it!" It's taken over ... so much so that people 
are led to believe, dangerously, of course, you formulate 
your own conscience. Anything can be right .. .nothing can 

be wrong 

These are the two reasons why without any hesitation we have been thinking about 
these Ten Commandments for a number of weeks. 

And I should also tell you this lamentable fact which you will not welcome: 
after 26 years I continue to know a measure of anguish that we have to spend a con- 
siderable amount of time in our catechetical program, a youngster now who is in the 
ninth grade, and drilling into them the Ten Commandments — we can no longer assume 
that when they come to us on the first day of Supertuesday in October that any one 
of them can stand up and recite the Ten Commandments from beginning to end and give 
some interpretation - - if not Luther's, then somebody else's — the meaning of the 
Commandments. I am sorry to have to say that to you, but that happens to be true. 

I am reminded of what I read a few years back about a chap who was invited to 
visit the brand new home of a newly married couple. They were very, very pleased 
to show it off. They had moved in now.... and as this gentleman went from room to 
room he soon discovered that everything was done in the contemporary manner — it 
was all modern decor - - (now I have no particular fault with that, you need to 
bear with me because the illustration ultimately makes a point) - - and after they 
had finished going around from room to room within the house they said, "Maybe 
you'd like to see what's outside." . . . they had an attached garage. The cars 
were parked in the driveway, and they used the garage as some of us have been able 
to use an attic. And when he went into the garage he found these items that had 


been passed on to them by their parents and grandparents — heirlooms, relics. They 
had stored them there. 

They showed off to him an old chiffonier - - 

(Kelly, a chiffonier is a chest of drawers) was strong, made out of solid cherry — handsome. The visitor had an eye for 
it, an appreciative eye. It was more than he could take, and so before he realized 
what he was doing he said, "Good heavens, why do you keep such a valued piece here?" 

They answered, as honestly as they could "Well, it's an heirloom. It was used 

by our grandparents, and they passed it on to our parents, and they in turn have 
passed it on to us. But we've put it away because it doesn't fit in with our modern 
furniture - - it sticks out!" ... I suppose they could have added: "It's an of- 
fensive to what we chose ..." so it stands neglected, left alone in the garage. 
It did not go with their choice of furniture. 

Why do I tell you this? 

Take time to reflect upon it, my friend. Can it not be maintained that it 
could be this way with the Ten Commandments? Once they were important. There was 

a day when they were valued - - our grandparents, they believed in them, they lived 
by them, they ordered the days of their years by the Law of the Lord. Then they 
passed them on to their children, our parents. Now honestly, perhaps they did not 
revere them with the same degree of fervor as our grandparents did, but at least 
they recognized their validity and their existence. 

They, then, did they not, passed them on to us. And what has contemporary 
man made of them? We hardly recognize them - - have little need for them. We 
are the generation inclined to make up our own rules, to make up our own regula- 
tions as we go along from day to day. The Commandments? - - they just don't seem 
to blend in with us. Oh, we don't completely disregard them. We, too, place them 
in an attic, and in this case the attic is the church. And we allow the church to 
become the custodians and the care-takers, of the heirlooms of the past. We tuck 
the Ten Commandments away in the care of the church, and there we store them as 
something of value as far as a yesteryear is concerned. 

That's why we've included this series of sermons on the Ten Commandments. It 
is at great peril that we ignore them. Do you remember, I told you in the very 
initial sermon, in all reality we don't break the Commandments. If we don't keep 
them, they break us! They're ingrained into the very fabric of life, with a per- 
fect, complete understanding of the basic traits of human nature from the God- 


The final Commandment: Thou shalt not covet. 

Some time ago I asked you, on a scale from 1 to 10 - - where would you rate 
the Commandments? - - how would you rate them? where would you put them in order? 
Well in all likelihood you wouldn't place a very high value upon this one. And 
there may be any number of you right now who are resting very comfortably because 
you're allowing yourself to believe in one way or another that this Commandment 
doesn't quite apply to you - - - Thou shalt not covet. 

You excuse yourself, honestly you do, because you can say to yourself, there 
is no law in the land, as an example, that can send me to jail because I covet. 
Coveting deals specifically with what happens on the inside . . . .not at the beginning, 
with what happens with outward action. As an example: a man can be put in jail if 
he's broken the Commandment: Thou shalt not steal - - he can be accused and tried 

for theft, and a penalty exacted 

...a man can be accused of perjury, legal charges brought against him, 

he can be taken to court and be tried, and the penalty exacted 

...a man can steal — charges can be brought against him — imprison- 
ment, fraud, you name it, and a penalty exacted 

...and while it may not be as common as it once was, legal charges 
can be brought against a person for having committed adultery, and 

a penalty exacted 

But as far as 1 know, there's no legal code that can take me to court because I can 
stand on the corner and cast a covetous eye on a thing or a person. You may, with- 
out anyone else knowing it, stand there and cast a covetous eye upon that house 
across the street that's now mortgage-free — 4-bedroom house — beautifully land- 
scaped — 3-car garage, with a heated serpentine swimming pool in the back 

(I should tell you quite parenthetically, human as I am — I 
had a tough assignment when I was preparing this sermon. It 
was a beautiful day and part of it was being prepared as I 
sat on the enclosed porch in the parsonage — a sermon dealing 
with coveting - - and Al Sebastian drives up and parks on our 
driveway, his beautiful 98 Oldsmobile. . . .and in the garage I 
have my 4-cylinder Omega - - ) 
....there is no law that can take you to court as you stand on the corner and cast 
a covetous eye on another man's wife ... so you feel a bit relieved, don't you? 


You can allow yourself a great deal of latitude, you think, with this Command- 
ment: Thou shalt not covet . And yet with all the ardor that I can command, with 

all the strength that my soul can bring to bear at this point it's the violation 

of this Commandment that can send a man or a woman to Hell ! And I can quote Scrip- 
ture after Scripture to that effect 

"... for as a man thinks, so he becomes ..." 

" . . . it's out of the heart that we have the issues of life . . " 

Let me give it to you as simply as I can: let a man covet another man's wife — 
it can lead him to commit any number of other sins. That's what's so diabolical 

about this sin - - it's the gate-way to so many other sins let him covet another 

man's wife, and in order to maintain her perchance as a kept woman, he may steal, 
he may practice all kinds of fraud. . . . 

— an example from the Bible: David - - beloved in the 
sight of God — coveted another man's wife. The coveting 
led not only to adultery but to murder! 
...that's what makes this sin so heinous, it deals with the heart — it goes down 
deep. We're all driven by our urges, we're all driven by our desires. Let's recog- 
nize that. And the stronger the person, perhaps, the stronger the desire! 

You know very well by this time the strong desire that possesses my soul in 
behalf of this congregation, the things that I covet for you as a people of God. 
Paul says you can covet, but make certain you covet the right things and you covet 
them for the right reason! That's something entirely different. 

In the New Testament Paul makes much of this thing of earnestly coveting the 
better things. But in the Old Testament the emphasis comes down very heavily about 
coveting the things that belong to somebody else that make you hellishly miserable 
because you don't have them. It's the kind of coveting that drives a man to dis- 
possess in order to possess. And when it's somebody else that has the thing that 
he wants, it alienates him from the person who happens to have it. 

There are always pluses, you know, when you allow your life to be in the hand 
of God. This enforced idleness, this absence away from you, gave me much more time 
to read the Scriptures. And I went back and discovered all over again what's always 
been there - - it's an excellent example of the kind of thing that I want to talk 
about this morning . . . who among you doesn't know about the fall of Jericho, back 
there in the Book of Joshua? - - where God gave the command to walk around the 
city, and then on the seventh day, seventh time, and then the blowing of the trumpet 
and the shouting - - - and the walls came tumbling down. And all the while Jehovah 


God had said to them, "This is going to happen because of what I'm going to do for 

you When the walls come tumbling down," says God to Joshua, to the people, "don't 

you dare keep for yourself any of the spoils. You shall not cast a covetous eye 
upon anything that's inside Jericho!" The fall of Jericho was a triumph, a tremen- 
dous success. 

Now what you don't remember about that Book of Joshua probably is that not long 
after that there was the God-given order to seize another city by the name of Ai, 
which was a complete failure — a tragedy. Flush from their victory, they fell flat 
on their faces. And then the reason was revealed: among them was a man named Achan, 
and when Achan went into Jericho he cast a covetous eye upon certain things and 
grabbed them and claimed them for himself and took them back and hid them in his 
tent. You can read it for yourself in Joshua . . . and then God had Joshua bring 
Achan out and made Achan confess. And as the Children of Israel recognized the con- 
sequences of their disobedience on the part of this one man their anger was so great 
they killed his family and stoned him to death! as they recognized the conse- 
quences of violating a commandment of the Lord. 

What is the antidote for coveting in this sense? to covet the best gifts. 

What's the best measure of control for me as a person? Not so much attempting to 
control my possessions as to master my desires. And to recognize that what I already 
have I should learn to share and to give. But man by nature is stained by original 
sin. Coveting always reminds us that we want more , and more , and more , and more . 

You remember the story I used to tell you about Abraham Lincoln, walking down 
the street with a boy on either side, and both of them crying, and somebody said, 
"Mr. Lincoln, you have two crying boys on your hands - - why their tears?" Mr. 
Lincoln says, "I have a problem. And would you believe it, my problem is the problem 
of the entire world: I happen to have three walnuts in my pocket, and each of my boys 
wants two!" - - everybody wants what everybody else has! And the that 

characterizes the whold world is characterized by a world that's divided between the 
"haves" and the "have-nots." 

I hope you won't misunderstand me, I'm so sorry for whatever trend there may be 
in China to become increasingly Westernized. They had so little of so much that we 
have, and they seemed so much happier 

Back again to this antidote for coveting — learning to appreciate what I al- 
ready have that God has already seen that I should have and then learning to 

share it with somebody else. 


You'll have to forgive me I am being carried away after all, it xs 

six weeks since I have been here. ... .there were these two men who saw this per- 
fectly beautiful automobile — was it a Mercedes? - - was it a Porsche? I don't 
know. But it was perfectly beautiful. Together they were drawn to it. 

...and the one volunteered the information, "So-and-so gave 
that to his brother" . . . remarked the one man to the other, 
"I wish I could be a brother like that!" - - - 

...ah, you get it, don't you? 
Instead of being covetous that the man had a brother like 
that - - here was the perfect answer to it: 

"I wish I could be a brother like that." 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Fourth Sunday of Easter May 2, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God ,^ 

our Father and from His Son Jesus i t fO' 

Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. ^^ 

The title for today's sermon is a very simple one, consisting of three 

words: "ALL OR NOTHING;" and the text, from the 10th chapter of the Gospel 

according to Luke: 

" And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and 
tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I 
do to inherit eternal life? 

He said unto him, What is written in the law? 
How readest thou? 

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the 
Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with 
all thy soul, and with all thy strength, 
and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as 
thyself " 

Tell me now, in the final analysis, how would you like to be remembered if 
one were to put you in this kind of category: Would you like to be remembered as 
the person who was able to ask the right question? - - - or the person who on oc- 
casion was able to give the right answer? If one could not do both, there's ab- 
solutely no question in my mind what I would prefer. I'd like to be remembered as 
the person who had the happy faculty to be able to ask the question that had to be 

So often in so many places and in so many different times a cause is lost 
because no one was either in a position or had the good sense to realize the basic 
question that had to be dealt with. Sometimes it's far better to be able to ask 
the right question, even though you may fail when it comes to giving some answers. 

As an example: here is the question that was asked by a man who one day 
found himself in the presence of Jesus Christ and took advantage of it . . . 
(Oh, I need to tell you quite parenthetically — Harry 
Emerson Fosdick, when I was beginning my ministry, in 
my judgment was the only preacher worth listening to on 
national radio, and he did a magnificant job as being 
the pastor and the preacher of the famous Riverside 
Church in Manhattan. He used to say in jest that his 


beloved father would tell some of his friends how 
much he wanted to go to Heaven. .. .and then his 
friends would say to him, knowing him as they did 
and being the kind of person that he was - - - 

"Just why do you want to go to Heaven?" 
...and he answered, presumably in jest, this very 
unconventional answer: 

"Well, I want to go to Heaven for this 

reason - - I want to be able to get a 

chance to get God over in a corner all 

by Himself and put a question or two to 

him that ' s been on my mind ! " ) 

I have reason to believe that when our Blessed Lord was here on earth any 
number of people waited for the chance to have Jesus Christ all by themselves , 
just to put to Him a question or two with which they had been wrestling. 

That's about the up-shot of the basis for this text today. This fellow, as 
you want to say, was standing in line, and when the opportunity came he very forth- 
rightly, as he had observed the human scene - - - remember now, astute enough to 
observe the human scene and to think how people made fortunes and lost for- 
tunes, how people dealt constantly with their fears, their failures and their 
frustrations . . . how any number of people had yet to come to grips with the 
things that matter most.... 

....having observed all of that, quietly and calmly 
and very earnestly he said, "Jesus, what does a person have to 
do to have eternal life?" 
...a free translation of that, if you don't mind, would be: 

"How is it possible to have a measure of satisfaction, 
to know that when this life will all be over, that 
you didn't miss the important thing?" 

I have told you repeatedly that the old rabbis had their own picture of 
Judgment, and that was, when a man would breathe his last — never again be given 
the chance to go back and life his life all over again — it's all over now — it 
was that picture of Judgment, in the mind of the old rabbi, where God would be 
standing and confronting the person whose life had been lived and was all over... 
....and the question-of -questions that would be put, 

"Well, you had your chance. What did you make of it? 
Did you make the most of it?" 

" ALL — OR NOTHING " (3) 

I have been transparent with you from time to time as I've stood at this 
sacred desk — you know that — and I cherish the privilege that you allow me to 
be that way. None of you can understand sometimes the anguish that I know in my 
soul, when I have stood by a grave and walked away, and have been in a position 
to realize myself the potential in that person that remained untapped, the so- 
called endless amount of good that could have been let loose, the countless num- 
ber of people whose lives could have been blessed ... if only that person in 
his lifetine had made the most of it ! — had enabled the stamp of eternal life to 
have been reflected on every single day that he lived. This really is this man's 

question to Jesus Christ: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 

what can I do to make the most o f the 

time that I have now and to feel that I 

have dealt with the things that are of value? 

Fortunately for our sake, this is a case, the asking of the right question... 
Fortunately for our sake, the giving of the right answer. 
You don't always get a winning combination like that! And Jesus replied with the 
utmost of confidence and assurance, "You already know! It's in the book — how 
does it read?" . . . and bless his soul, he answered perfectly: 

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, 
with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself." 
And I am willing to believe, had I been standing there, that I would have seen a 
smile as broadly as possible come over the face of Jesus Christ when He said, 

"You have answered correctly! That's it! Do this, and you will live! not 

just somehow, but you'll live triumphantly — magnificently you will live life 

to the full!" 

Now for the moment I am in duty bound to ask you to consider the nature and 

the character of that answer, that correct answer: 

to love God with all your heart? — with all your soul? 

— with all your mind, with all your strength? 
— and your neighbor as yourself? 
Unreal, isn't it? Does it lie within the realm of possibility? You can't ignore 
asking that question. 

What people fail to realize at times is that Christianity if of all religions, 
I dare say, the most demanding of religions. This is demanding a great deal — 
not 10% not 20% not 50% 100%. 


"ALL — OR NOTHING " (4) 

Your pastors don't take this responsibility of interpreting this text lightly, 

especially when it comes, when the time is at hand to deal with our confirmands. 

You need to know that next Lord's Day and the Sunday that follows, your two pastors, 

and perhaps with the assistance of our newly arrived Assistant Pastor, Director of 

Youth Work - - - we will be at Bethany, our Retreat House, where according to our 

custom there will be personal interviews with those young people, 9th graders who 

are anticipating confirmation within the shadow of this altar on Pentecost, the 

last Sunday in May of this year. We have been doing this now for a number of years. 

We have no right to allow them to become confirmed unless we as their pastors enter 

in with them some measure of understanding as to what's involved . . . 

- - we give them to understand that when they stand 

here in the service — as you know, you may remember 

it from your own youngster's confirmation — we've 

devised it to make it as personal as possible, and 

Pastor David allows me the privilege, for which I am 

profoundly grateful, as he plans for the service . . . look the confirmand straight in the eye and 

to put the question: 

"Do you love the Lord Jesus and do 
you promise to serve Him through 
His Holy Church?" 

If we haven't taught them before they most certainly get it in the interviews at 

Bethany, that there's only one acceptable answer . I don't mind telling you, we put 

the words on their lips, we tell them what the answer is. We have no choice — we 

have no alternative. With every ounce of the preacher that lies within me, let me 

rise to this occasion now as I stand before you - - we are in duty bound to place 

before them the demand of Jesus Christ. For this is the moment when they go on 

record to allow the world to know in no uncertain manner that they are disciples 

of Jesus Christ. And we, your pastors, are in duty bound to allow them to know 

that Jesus Christ, their leader, is a demanding leader. So the question is put: 

"Do you love the Lord Jesus and do 
you promise to serve Him through 
His Holy Church?" 

...and we tell them the only acceptable answer: 

"Yes, with my whole heart." 

Now there are people — you may as well know this, I've always tried to be 
as frank with you as I can — there are some people who tell us that that's ab- 
solutely unrealistic. We even have some parents, non-members of the congregation 

"ALL — OR NOTHING " (5) 

whose youngsters have become part of our life and of our spirit and who are caught 
up with the Christian life-style as we exemplify it.... and the youngster wants to 
take the stand . . . and we even have some parents on occasion, who if they don't 
smile outwardly, they smile inwardly in a measure of ridicule - - unrealistic — 
how dare you allow a 13-year-old or a 14-year-old to answer "Yes, with my whole 
heart"? - - - the answer is simple: we have no alternative, by the authority 
vested in us in Jesus Christ. 

As far as He's concerned, as a matter of record, it is all or nothing. So 
we try to interpret that to them in these personal interviews. We try to give 
them to understand that Christ does not want a 10% Christian. . . . 

- - Jesus Christ doesn't want a 25% Christian.... 

- - Jesus Christ doesn't want a 35% Christian.... 

....and sometimes when their parents are present for part of the interview, this 
gives us a marvelous opportunity to bring their parents into the picture. And if 
I am the one who happened to have married their parents, I say to the youngster, 
"Now when your dad and your mother stood in front of me — your mother, I dare say, 
would have run out of church immediately if your father would have said, when I 
raised this question about faithfulness. .. .according to the marriage vows, you know 
the conventional answer — your mother would have run out of church, I dare say, if 
your father would have said, "I'll be faithful to you three nights a week — but the 
remainder of the week, don't count on me!" This shouldn't be too hard for us to 
understand, this whole business of commitment, this whole business of all or nothing , 
It's the only real basis on which anything of integrity can have any validity. 

But I know it's hard to understand, of course I do, because I too was once 
a teenager. And so I try to give them a reckless or a free translation of it by 
saying — "with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, with all my 
strength, and my neighbor as myself" — this is what it means: 

— It meant that I'm to remember that I belong 

to Jesus Christ 

— It means that I'm meant to do what Jesus Christ 

wants me to do, no matter where I may be, no 
matter with whom I may be, and regardless of 
the condition or the circumstance or the situa- 
tion at hand . . . 
Now, what's unreasonable about that? 

And the grand and glorious thing about it is this : that when Jesus Christ 
asks us to make a promise, He says, "I'll help you to keep that promise." - - and 


that's the advantage that the Christian, the disciple always has. 

In these very helpful sessions that we had in the Great Hall, or the "Town 
Hall" meeting, a week ago - - the answers that you got to the questions that you 
asked. .. .none of the three of us knew how the other was going to answer. The 
answers were all completely unrehearsed. Each one was on his own. And I was 
pleased beyond words when one person answered and said, when he was asked about 
whether he could fulfill the responsibilities that were being asked of him, and 
whether he was being apprehensive he simply answered: "Of course I'm appre- 
hensive. But by your help and by the help of God I'll give you the best I have." 

Now we're all in this thing together, at whatever level you may be. You're 
not a confirmand? . . . You're beyond that age? You're a maturing Christian? 
Well, let me ask you the question: How are you doing? How are you faring? Suppose 
Jesus Christ returned and said, "You're right, you shall love me, you shall love 
God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength, with all your 
soul - - - how are you doing?" 

. . . .happy indeed is that person who could stand up 
and say, "Not as well as I would like, but far 
better than I thought I could if it wouldn't be 
for your help ! " 

....and that's a happy thought. 

■k * * 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Sixth Sunday of Easter May 3 6, 1982 


9 i'< 8 

our Father and from His Son Jesus ^ hJk* • 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 

our Father and from His Son Jes_. 

Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. Q 

I must confess to you I'm a bit reluctant to announce the title for the 
sermon, after hearing the word spoken at the lectern before the singing of the 
middle hymn — words and music together which remind us of the perfectly beauti- 
ful world in which God has placed us. You see, the title for today's sermon 

But after all, you see, it did start in a garden, an idyllic one at that. 

The text is the 8th verse of the 1st chapter of First John: 

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves 
and the truth is not in us." 

Whatever happened to sin? Nothing really. It is still around — as much 
as ever if not moreso. The trouble is many people recognize it only as they see 
it and the results of it, by whatever name, in the lives of other people. Few 
of us are comfortable at branding ourselves in the classic language of the 
Church as "poor, lost, condemned, miserable sinners." To the contrary, we're 
mostly inclined to ask God, and people generally, to think rather highly of us. 
As I stand at the sacred desk this morning I am in a position to tell you 
that it's a matter of historical record that the mother of Charles W. ESfeeet, one- 
time President of Harvard University, who when she heard that a friend of hers 
had joined the Episcopal Church, wrote her a letter, and began in this manner: 

"Dear Elisa (that was her name) They tell me you have 

joined the Episcopal Church. Now honestly — 
you don't get down on your knees in church, do 
you, and call yourself a miserable sinner! This 
kind of thing I will never do, nor any member of 
my family . . . M fcU/ ^ 
that was the mother of Charles W. BlUo t, one-time President of Harvard Uni- 

She must have had a distant cousin who was one time a member of this congre- 
gation, because I remember when a group was being prepared for membership in this 
parish — about 20 years ago the group met in what is now the Seminar Room. And 
as we were meeting for the last time before the group was going to join the next 

"Now About Sin" (,2) 

Sunday, intelligent, sophisticated — she said to me in no uncertain manner, "I'll 
be joining, but I am not to comfortable about what happens in Saint Luke Church 
every Sunday. You see, Pastor, we're no sooner inside the walls then you have us 
standing on our feet and you have us say that we've sinned against God! "....she 
spoke very freely and frankly . . . 

She said, "Really now, I don't consider myself a sinner. At least I am 
in church.... I am going to join in singing the hymns....! do 
pay attention when God's Word is read, and I try to get some- 
thing out of the sermon when it's being preached and when 

the offering plate goes in front of me I put my part into it — 
I don't consider myself a sinner . . . all those other people 
who haven't come, who don't pay attention to God's word, who 
don't try to get something good out of a sermon, who don't 
financially support the work of the Kingdom — they ' re the 
sinners, Pastor." 
It took a bit of doing, but I honestly believe I did say something that was 
halpful, if only to quote for her the text which is the basis for all that you're 
going to hear in the next 15 or 17 minutes from this sacred desk. 

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, 
and the truth is not in us" 

Bernard Shawe wrote a play called "Dr. Kannock and I remember one of the 

lines - - "If you say that you are well, it's only because you do not know that 

you are sick." Theologically speaking, it's pretty much that way with our sinful 

nature. If we say that we are well, it's only because we have yet to discover 

that we are by nature sinful and unclean. 

But honestly now, generally speaking, we shy away from calling outselves 
sinners and shy away from thinking of the concept of sin, and there are reasons. 

Reason Number One: When we talk about ourselves being sinners it suggests 
repression — unnatural suppression of so much that we enjoy. You see, we have 
reared a generation of young people whose by-word, if not verbally at least by 
their acts, - - "If it feels good, you do it!" When we talk about our sinful 
nature, we are in duty bound to talk about our limitations then that are placed 
upon our freedom. We're not at all unhappy about the unfair restrictions on 
our rights to make the most of the few years that we have here on earth — we 
want to do it our way, we want to do things that are pleasing to us. 

I like to think sometimes, it's not an accident that the middle letter, 
the central letter in that word SIN is I because that's what sin is — 

Uv n AJJUU i 

man putting himself up in opposition to God. God said to him at the very begin- 
ning, "This is what I don't want you to do . . " But Adam and Eve got their 
heads together and said, "No matter what God says, this is what wVre gpomg tp 
do." And we have been paying the price for that kind of thinking ever since. 
And when we talk about sin, it gives us an imagery of God — it's not a 
very healthy one, at least for some people, — don't get me wrong... 

....when I was a youngster, didn't I have that concept of 
God, sitting there in Heaven with that great big book in 
front of Him, with His' pen in hand, those blank pages.... 
...and all of a sudden there was a page that had my name 
on it, and when 1 would come to the time of Judgment He'd 
open the book to the page where may name is, and then 
what would He do? He'd go down and read alljrhe times when 

I had disobeyed Him 

. . . .when we talk about sin we talk about a God who has an 
eagle-eye. And whether we're honest with ourselves or not, 
we permit ourselves to believe that He gets a measure of 
delight in catching us - "Ah, I've got you! - You did it 
again, and you thought I wouldn't see — but I did!" 
And we're especially troubled with this idea of sin because most of the 
sinning that we do, we find quite enjoyable. Still as of old, stolen fruit is 
sweet! So we don't want to think about God, to talk about a God who takes away 
our pleasure, the things we enjoy. 

Oh, the Puritans, they were masters of that, you know. Let me tell it to 
you again - - sure, I told you about it before, didn't I? - it comes out of 

New England, Puritan New England 

the preacher who had two preaching points, separated 

by some distance, with the stream of water between the two. 
And one winter's morn -- he lived close by the first preach- 
ing point — when he went to go there and keep his assign- 
ment, he discovered that his horse was lame — the only 
means by which he had to keep faithfully the appointment 
in the afternoon at the second preaching station. How, 
now, could he allow himself, in the quickest way, to get 
to that preaching point so that those people in the after- 
noon would not be denied the preaching of God's Word? 
....well it occurred to him - - a lame horse that he couldn't 
ride . . . .winter .... the water was frozen . He ' d skate from one 


from one preaching point to the next. And that's exactly what he did 

...only when he arrived — remember now, Puritan New England — 
there were the deacons, and they saw him skating down this 
little stream. They couldn't wait to hold court — "Skating 
on the Sabbath!" He thought he did a masterful job defending 
himself. He was in duty bound to preach God's Word, to keep 
this assignment that afternoon to be with the faithful. And 
for him skating was the surest way, and the quickest to get there. 
He thought he had won his point against the deacons who were 
bringing in offense against him. . . . until one old deacon, 
looking him straight in the eye, with that crooked finger, said 
to him, "Tell me, before I cast my vote — tell me — did ye 
enjoy the skating?" 
There are people who have that concept of God — who doesn't want us to be happy, 
who doesn't want us to enjoy this life. We get Him wrong, you see — go back to 
that page that deals with the Garden of Eden — what is God saying to us when He 
places us in this idyllic and perfectly beautiful place? — "Make the most of 
it — enjoy it! I call it — good." 

I suppose every single one of us has his moments when he thinks how 
he'd like to be remembered when his final chapter is written. I'm not at all 
ashamed to tell you that when I may no longer be among you here at Saint Luke, 
I should like some of you to remember, and especially those of you who are young, 
who are part of a catechetical experience, that we wanted always to have our young 
people to believe — it's a joyful thing to be a Christian, to delight in the way 
Of the Lord, to love Him and to serve Him, to obey Him. 

There are some people, then, who shy away from sin, thinking about 
it, because you can't possibly think of sin without believing yourself as a 

responsible person - - God does hold us responsible for the way we live ou t the 

day s of our years. And many people in this day and age never much concern them- 
selves with that precious ingredient called responsibility. It's a very healthy, 
a very salutary thing to remember that as a Christian God holds me responsible. 

So we as a people have dropped the idea of sin from our thinking as well 
as from our vocabulary. I say we've dropped the idea, but the strange thing is 
that we can't, we really can't drop it no matter how hard we try, no matter how 
many people there are who will help us rationalize what we have done, and who 
will help us find reasons for dropping the idea of sin. We simply can't have 
done with it. We may get to the place where we accept sinning as a way of life — 


everybody does it and then a terrible thing sets in — we no longer be- 
come sensitive to it, we no longer become disgusted by it. Someone has penned 
We have gotten to the place where we expect it, we even look for it. 

In Norman Jaspen and Mike Frobolic's book, "The Thief In The White Collar" 
it's been estimated that each year some one billion dollars is stolen by the so- 
called white collar thief, the thief who steals from the company for which he 

works and that another five billion changes hands in the form of bribes, 

pay-offs, kick-backs, presents and other forms of dishonesty in business life. 
We don't call it sinning. We simply write it off — as a bribe, a pay-off, a 
kick-back. . . . 

. . . .within the past decade loss claims in honesty 
insurance, the kind that covers the loss of money 
or foods stolen by employees, has risen by 250%.... the past 20 - 25 years, 105 banks have been 
forced to close because of embezzlement.... any given time the authors estimate that 
between 10 - 25 millions of dollars are missing in 
thefts that banks have yet to discover. This is 
the heinous thing about our generation: we've come 
to make terms of our sinful nature, and no longer 

become disgusted by it 

....and even perchance to become offended when in church the ancient traditional 
liturgy reminds us "We are by nature sinful and unclean." 

Professor Langdon GilkeJ in his book "Religion in The Scientific Future" has 
written - - "A scientific age which has added immensely to our understanding and 
to our powers, has not made us more virtuous; nor has it made the meanings of our 
life any more secure. Our control over ourselves and our consequent control over 
our own destiny seems in no wise to be an/ more within our grasp than before. The 
old theological problems of the use man makes of his freedom, of his bondage to 
self-interest, and of the ultimate meaning of the human story have been dissolved ■ 

neither by the physical nor by the life sciences rather they have precisely 

increased by them." 

Who was it who said, when he thought of all the technical advances that we've 
made in our day, sadly observed, "We are not good enough to be so clever." 

There's a bright spot on the horizon, I dare say. Perchance I speak from 



personal experience. While I have never been a stranger to sin, frequently vic- 
timized by it, I must confess to you, the older I become, the more convinced I 
am that in the time of judgment the words that will be voiced quickest from my 
lips as 1 face my Maker will be: "Lord, have mercy!" - - and therein may lie my 

Said Peter, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man," Confronted by 
Jesus Christ we see our wickedness. This I say to you quickly as I walk away 
from this sacred desk - - when He was here on earth, did it ever occur to you 
how seldom He pointed His finger at people and called them sinners? He accepted 
the fact that they were sinners, but as they were exposed to the beauty and the 
truth and the dignity of His life He won their hearts and brought a transforming 
touch. How fortunate - - for those of us who re-discover the fact of sin — to 
re-discover the Saviourhood of God! 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 


Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Sunday After Ascension ' May 23, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 

our Father and from His Son ._ /• l{. 

Jesus Christ, our Blessed Lord. (\JV^\ 


Today's sermon is based upon the first Lesson that was read this morning. 

It bears the title: "THE TWELFTH MAN" and the text, the 26th verse of the 1st 

chapter of the Book of the Acts of The Apostles: 

" And they gave forth their lots; and the 
lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered 
with the eleven apostles. " 

You're fortunate, my friend, if you have what I am pleased to refer to as 
the gift of the sanctified imagination, which means that when you read Scripture, 
you try to identify as best you can with the incident as it occurred and to 
relate to the people involved. If we could employ that sanctified imagination 
now, I'd like to suggest that maybe it happened in this way: Peter, bless his 
soul, self-appointed leader, always constrained to speak, stands up and addresses 
his compatriots. .. .and I suppose he puts it in this kind of manner: 

"Do you realize what ' s happened to us in the last six weeks ' 
period?" - - it's a salutary thing, you know, to do that 
every now and then, to look back and realize what all has 
occurred, and to try to bring it into some kind of proper 
perspective . . . and then to decide what the next step is 
that ought to be taken 

That's always very important. It's never enough simply to look back, but 

one must also think in terms of the next step that has to be taken. And Peter 

began to tell them: 

' "... Do you remember that within this six weeks' period 

of time, our Master, whom we love dearly, was denied, be- 
trayed, crucified - - and every single one of us numbered 
among the Twelve forsook Him and fled. But then there was 
the glorious Resurrection! — and after the Resurrection 
He kept appearing and re-appearing to us in the strangest 
places, in the strangest ways, at the strangest times! very recently, we were privileged to be 
with Him on the mountain-top, when we saw Him for the very 
last. And I'm in duty bound to remind you what He said to 
us. He was not speaking to people generally. .. .but He did 


speak to us, and said, 'Now you go, and you preach, and you 
teach, and you baptize, and you witness, and you make disciples...' all of this has happened within a six-weeks' period, 
and I also find myself constrained to tell you that it's 
high time we fill a vacancy. One of our twelve, you know, 
disqualified himself ..." 

....and then he made some reference to Judas and his suicidal 

As you read that passage of Scripture, give Peter credit for this. He did 
not exploit Judas 's miserable state. He did not grind him into the dust and say, 
"Rascal that he was, trusted by our Blessed Lord — betrayer! " He simply re- 
fers to the fact that he did what he did, and then makes them aware of the situation: 

" . . . as he disqualified himself, right now there are only eleven of us we 

ought to be twelve again." 

Now I'm about to suggest to you that had I been present then, I think I'd 
have said, "Peter, I can't be as enthusiastic about your proposal as seemingly you 
are." . . . and Peter would ask me to explain myself, which I am about to do to 

you . . . 

...I would have said, "Peter, if our Blessed Lord in all His 
wisdom chose one disciple among us who was a bad apple, figura- 
tively speaking, if he was the dud that he was, what reason do 
I have to believe, Peter, that I can trust my wisdom in choosing 

.... I think I would have answered that way . 

Fortunately, as I read the record, presumably none spoke in that spirit or in 
that manner. But apparently they were all enthusiastic because they all proceeded 
to cast lots and to nominate two people, one of whom would be chosen. 

Now the question needs to be asked: how do you suppose that was possible? 
May I suggest it was possible because every single one of them, as they thought 
of Judas Iscariot, the failure, thought of themselves as failures. Because it's 

a matter of Scriptural record that one denied one betrayed and every single 

one of them, when the chips were down, ran away. Where were they when He needed 
them most? So I have reason to believe that every single one of them knew the 
meaning of failure. And you and I need to recognize that. None of us will ever 
offer Him perfect obedience. For every single one of us who claims discipleship, 


there is always - - let me say it again and ever so often - - - there is always 
the possibility of failure. None of us can guarantee Him perfect obedience. 
And I think they recognized that . 

But what is more, you may not have recognized this - - but when Jesus Christ 
came back to them, appearing and re-appearing, what do you suppose happened? — did 
you ever ask yourself that question? 

- - let me propose to you that every now and then when He 
came back in those appearances and re-appearances, He came 
to a person, like Peter, put His strong arm around his shoulder 
and said, "Peter, you know that I know - - I remember how you 

said you'd never fail me - - I remember what I told you and 

I remember how you boasted and said - even though others might, 
you wouldn't. But, Peter, you did!" . . . and then Peter could 
feel that strong gentle pressure of the arm of Jesus Christ. 
And Jesus Christ turned and looked Him straight in the eye and 
He said, "But, Peter, you're still my man! You're forgiven , 
and we'll start all over again." 

You may never have read it this way between the lines, but I suggest to you 
that it could have happened in that way - - as He went to Andrew.... as He went to 
Bartholomew, as He went to every single one of them, one by one, at one time or 
another, putting His arm around them and speaking that marvelous word: "You are 
still my man." 

Two things: There is always the possibility of failure - and - 
There is always the assurance of God's forgiveness. 
...and this I believe was firmly established in their minds as they re-grouped, be- 
came twelve again, and began all over. 

You know the method, they cast lots. In those days they used stones, they 
scratched upon the stone that they had chosen the name or the initial of something 
that represented the name of the person for whom they wanted to vote. Under the 
influence of the Holy Spirit there were two people who were nominated - - then they 
shook the vessel or the container, whatever method they may have used — maybe a 
hand went in and pulled one out, or they could have thrown the pebbles up and then 
decided whenever this pebble fell in this direction nearest to this person, that 
would be the one. Eagerly they awaited. The Scriptures say it was Matthias who 
was chosen. 


From a human perspective now, how do you suppose the man who didn't make it 
felt? What kind of personality complex began to set in then? Or better still, 
how do you suppose Matthias felt about the man who wasn't chosen? Interestingly 

enough, we hear nothing about either one of them from that time on. We know 
nothing about what happened to Joseph Barsabas, nor do we know what kind of a 
disciple Matthias made. 

But I am inclined to bring to your attention the fact that he was labeled 
"successor to Judas" - - and what do you suppose that meant to him? Was that a 
constant reminder that there was a cloud hanging over his head? — that he was 
chosen to replace a man who had failed and who had failed miserably? — and there 
was always within him the possibility of becoming a Judas? ... a question worth 
asking. Worth asking for the simple reason that all of us become successors to 
Judas, whenever there is a vacancy created in discipleship, all the rest of us 
are meant to do one of two things: take up the slack, or to find another to take 
his place. 

I don't mind telling you that from time to time as I've stood at this Sacred 
Desk I've allowed myself to become fully transparent to you. I try to do it as 
circumspectly as I can. There were six of us youngsters who grew up to become 
adults in my family. Little did we realize that there would be one among the 
youngsters, the brother next to me, who would be the one to die first — brain 
tumor, lung cancer. In many ways he was the most vital of the six of us. It was 
a sobering experience for me, with all of its trauma, but I made up my mind that 
as God would give me the energy and the strength, I'd do my best to make up for 
the loss of his life, to live a bit more fervently, more earnestly, more seriously. 
Whenever there's a vacancy, there's that kind of demeanor that becomes a Christian. 

And did it ever occur to you, my friend, that the Kingdom of God goes forward 
one generation at a time? Pastor David is perfectly correct and quite proper when 
he brings to our attention during the announcement period that when the newest re- 
cruits for the Kingdom walk this sacred aisle next Sunday afternoon at 5:00 o'clock, 
we will turn with a welcoming gesture, as much as to say: "We can't get along with- 
out you - - we need you! The troops have to be replenished!" And what is the 
criteria? - - a person who proclaims and recognizes the reality of the presence 
of Jesus Christ within his soul. Anyone can qualify as a successor to the person 


who needs to be replaced as long as he meets that kind of qualification. The 
Kingdom of God is in need of people who can testify to the reality of Jesus 

And how do you do it? One of these Sundays when I am standing at the lectern 
I am going to play for you a tape that I got from that adorable thing who accom- 
panied us throughout our stay in China. She was 22 years of age April 1. We 
used to engage in conversation, as though she were trying to make me argue with 
her, because she was not a believer in God. I remember her saying to me, "Have 
you given up trying to convert me?" 

and my answer: "Lui, I don't convert you — only 

God can do that!" 
In the letter that I received from her this week, she wrote some beautiful things. 
But then, honest as she is, she was constrained to say, "I still do not believe in 
God as you do . " 

When I write her, will I argue with her? Of course I shall not argue with her. 
And if I were to see her again now, face to face, I would hope for only one thing: 
that I could communicate to her my_ experience. That's the way it's done! That's 
why you and I are here, because there's been successor to successor to successor — 
and the word continues to be spread and the reality continues to be established by 
the bona fide witness and that's something to think about. 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 
The Day of Pentecost 

May 30, 198 2 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 

our Father and from His Son , 

Jesus Christ, our Blessed Lord. A ¥ \' H 

Amen. (JJVLA ' ' 

There were eleven now.... there once had been twelve. Which one 
of the twelve do you suppose it was who spoke like this? — "I can't 
believe it! - - it just doesn't make sense to me!" - - sounds like 
Peter, don't you think? 

Peter was always the one who didn't hesitate to speak what he 
thought; whether what he thought was worth speaking or not may have 
a different story. But in all likelihood it could have started a 
chain reaction, where one disciple turned to another and said, "Come 
to think of it, it doesn't make sense to me either." 

You see, our Blessed Lord had just said to them - - well, let 

me read it for you in the classic King James, the 4th verse in the 

1st chapter of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles: 

"And while staying with them, He 
charged them not to depart from 
Jerusalem, but to wait for the 
promise of the Father ..." 

It didn't make sense to them at all — Jerusalem of all places 
to stay together! I can well imagine Peter saying to his Master - 
"Don't you realize we'll be a bunch of sitting ducks! They tried to 
do you in as it was! Now if the authorities learn that we're all 
here together, what capital they'd make of that! - with one swell 
stroke they'll annihilate all of us! -as long as we're all here to- 
gether, i would submit that you think in terms of letting us scat- 
ter . . "Andrew, you stay at Joppa" - -"Simon Peter, you put up 

xn Nazareth . . » so they could have said one to another. it 

made sense to them. 

And our Blessed Lord, quietly and calmly, with all the confi- 
dence that forever became Him, so He would see it - - He would turn 


to them and say, "But you still don't understand, do you? You're always trying 
to pit your wisdom against mine." - - - He may not have said it this way, but 
from our vantage-point we can put these words on His lips. The arrogance of 
human nature, to think that they know better than God! It's really been our 
problem from the very beginning. And so Jesus said, "I know what I'm talking 
about. You stay! Do I have to ask you to trust my wisdom? Have I ever failed 
you? Haven't all my predictions and my promises come true? If it doesn't make 
sense to you, then trust me for the fact that it seems wise to me. . . " 

Now, this morning, as we're gathered here, we can see the wisdom of it — 
His directive, His mandate, His "Stay! — you don't scatter!" — for the simple 
reason that they were not yet ready to be separated one from another. They needed 
to stay together for at least three reasons. 

One - - They had to be unified by the Spirit , they had to be possessed by 
what only God could give them, and that gift was meant for each one of them. The 
time would come — of course it would come — when they would be scattered, parti- 
cularly as they would remember His parting command. Then, when they would go, it 
might be an isolated situation when they could look back and remember what they 
had been given — at a particular time, in a particular place, and as they were 
with one another. 

When Martin Niemoeller was for eight-and-a-half years the personal prisoner 
of Adolph Hitler, confined in that cell, there were several things that kept him 
sane: one, he kept reminding himself of that precious verse of Scripture, "Lo, I 
am with you always" . . . and the second thing: the encouragement he received as 
he remembered that there in that suburban Berlin parish that he served, day in 
and day out there was a handful of disciples, a handful of fervent believers who 
kept the prayer vigil — he was knit with them in the bond of the spirit, and that 
sustained him 

. the day would come when they would be scattered, when they would be 

separated, but until that day would come they had to be unified by the Spirit so 
that they were stabilized in their isolation. 

Did it ever occur to you how much you receive within these hallowed walls 
that holds you in good stead once you're separated one from the other? Why is it 
that God in His wisdom set us as solitary in families, if not for that reason? 
For the isolation may come, if not by distance, then by affliction, and sickness. 

"In. .Obedience To Jesus Christ' 


Ihere was a second reason why He said, "You're not ready to go ... vou 

" ay *"' " ' ^^^^ and that takes 

tome. You're not forgetting, are you, that human as they were they could blame 
one another for what had happened. I can well i mag ine one of them saying, "Peter 

you bl8 - mouth! ._ we leaned heav±ly on you< You ^^ the one ^ spQke ^ ^ • 

said, Lord, no matter what they may do, I'll always be found faithful' - and 
struck a measure of encouragement when you spoke like that, Peter, you really 
did. But we remember what you did . . . - Tradition has ifc ^ ^ _ 
then people would walk up and surprise Peter and then begin to crow like a 
rooster, that he might be reminded of his denial of his Master. Can't you imagine 

how they were for a while, blaming one another 

"Had you remained firm in the faith, we would 
have remained firm in the faith! But, Peter, 
you chickened out, and they took the carpet 
out from under our feet - they undermined our 

. — they blamed one another. 

They needed time , n0 „, to aJjust ,„ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 

cept each other as desna Christ accepted each oae of the. in t ur „. , It taaes ti»e 

accept one another. .. .it taRes ti»e to grow in a relationship that can hoid 
you in good stead. 

There is that precious moment in the marriage service as we conduct it 
whxch is just before the bride and the groom exchange their vows. We offer a' 
Prayer, and that prayer has one simple, single thrust - that they may ,row in 
love and peace together as they may face the future. It takes time to gtw" in 
accepting one another. What they were doing now as they stayed in Jerusalem was 
lrke a shake-down cruise - that's really what it was. 

There is another reason why they were asked to stay in Jerusalem - just 
fff^^^M - yes. . . .but^^^ 
1-dJiappened, upon what they had. received in theirln^eTwItT^ 
our Lord and Master, and what they were receiving through one another. They 
needed time for reflective thought. 

Did it ever occur to you that this is a basic weakness of our civilization 
^^^^^ When the girl that X Li _ 

Li* UDt 

ried went to school there was no such thing as a school bus system. She and her 
compatriots walked from where they were. When school was out, they walked the 

country lane, maybe took the short-cut across the meadow and all the time you 

could think, you could reflect upon the things that had happened as you spent 
that time in school. 

It's only a dream and it will probably never, never come to pass.... I used 
to think if God would give me the privilege of building an ideal church structure, 
I would hope that I could find sufficient acreage to have the parking lot removed 
to some reasonable distance from the church structure itself. Oh, I'd have a car- 
riage drive for those who might need to be transported to the very door of the 
church for reasons of physical infirmity perchance, but otherwise my dream would 
be that once the benediction was pronounced, the recessional hymn was sung, they 
could walk slowly to their car and as they would walk they could think, and re- 
flect upon what they had experienced in the divine encounter within hallowed 

There are those who prize in Saint ± like Church the quiet time before the 
service begins, and that brief moment when the service is concluded, when quietly 
you can assess and re-assess how the soul has been nurtured, the perspective that 
you've re-gained, the re-orientation for your life once you leave these sacred 

walls they need time simply to think and to reflect, so that _ when they would 

be scattered, they would be stabilized by what they had experienced in their think- 
ing time. 

And I'd suggest another reason why He asked them to stay in Jerusalem. 
Chances are there was prejudice on their part against Jerusalem . That was the 
place where Calvary was... that's where they did Him in. Think how long it took 
for a great city in this South to have its reputation renewed and re-established 
in the minds of many Americans as people remembered that it was in that city that 
the young John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Prejudices come up quickly! They 
are not easy to handle. So I could well imagine how some of them could have 
reasoned among themselves and said, "Jerusalem ~ not for me! As soon as I can 
get away from it — there I'll begin to practice my Christian faith. But don't 
expect me to practice it here!" no matter how sacred it was to their memory. 

They needed time to reflect upon the fact that if you can't begin to prac- 
tice the Christian faith where you are, chances are you can't practice it any- 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

Trinity Sunday , June 6, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our 
Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

Tell me, assuming you were here last Sunday, the Sunday before that and the 
Sunday before that - - what were the first words spoken by the officiating minis- 
ter to this assembled congregation? . . . let me ask you this question: what 
were the last words as the benediction was being pronounced, that were spoken 
to a congregation that was being dismissed? It happens Sunday after Sunday after 
Sunday after Sunday. Do you know what those words are? 

Or by the same token I could ask you this question: if your mind could be 
as mine once was when the preacher would be preaching, as a youngster seated in 
that little church back amid the hills of home ... my mind would begin to 
wander and I'd look around at the things that I could see up at the front of 
the church. And if you should be in that situation, what does this mean, this 
symbol, this drawing, this etching that you see at the highest point of the 

front of the church? It's there today it was there last Sunday it's been 

there now for 8-10 years. What does it mean? 

In the Calendar of the Church today we celebrate the Festival of the* . ;Jbly 
Trinity. It's the only festival that's set aside to pay tribute to a particular 
teaching of the Church. Now having said that, let me tell you this. As I remem- 
ber it, it happened somewhere in Europe, as devout worshippers on their way to 
church, they walked that cobblestone path through a courtyard before they entered 

the narthex. . . . 

year after year devout worshippers were seen to stop 

at a particular point. Before going one step farther, 
the head would be bowed, the sign of the cross would be made... 
I should tell you, the church in which they were about to worship was a church 
that was consecrated in the name of the Blessed Mother, but there was no physical 
reason, had you been there, as to why they should stop at that particular point 
and have this measure of respect. 


A visitor one time came to that church and observed what was being done 
and asked one of the devout worshippers, "Why do you stop at this particular 
point, bow the head in humility and respect, make the sign of the cross, before 
you take another step forward?" ;He did not know. 

Fortunately, as additional inquiry was made, he got this answer: when the 
church was consecrated, on that wall in the courtyard a highly gifted and 
skilled artist had done a fresco of the Blessed Mother and Child. And whenever 
worshippers came they always stopped at that particular point and gave venera- 
tion to the Blessed Mother before they advanced to the narthex of the church. 
....the fresco, with the passing of time, began to 
deteriorate, it was scarcely discernable. They had decided 
it would be re-done, it would be restored. But there was 
no one in the community who was gifted and skilled enough to 
do what had to be done. So until the time would come when 
someone would be found, they placed a board over it, covered 
it up. But then, according to custom , as the devout worship- 
pers came the next Sunday and thereafter, they'd do what they 
had been accustomed to doing, the act of respect and reverence... 
But as succeeding generations came, still yet not having found someone who could 
restore it, they stopped — not knowing why — and did what they did. 

Now having said that to you, I am fully aware of the fact that on this Sun- 
day that marks the Festival of the Holy Trinity, there are any number of people 
who say, "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" — 
and do not have a full appreciation either for the words themselves or for what 
could be represented. And because that happens to be true, I've set aside the 
sermon that I'd originally planned to preach on this, the first Sunday in June, 
because I'd like to talk with you as earnestly and as helpfully as I can regarding 
this fundamental doctrine of the Church known as the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity. 

Each service of worship in Saint Luke Church begins with those words, "In the 

Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" or "Holy Ghost" and 

when the benediction is going to be pronounced, we will conclude in the same man- 
ner .... 

,,,,when a child is baptized, he is not simply baptized "In the name of God" 


he is baptized "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 

Ghost" the couple that was pronounced husband and wife as they made 

their promises within the shadow of this altar yesterday, they were pronounced 
husband and wife "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" 
_ _ _ w hy do we cling tenaciously to these words? 

When Bishop Pike, out there in San Francisco, wrote his book, liberal Epis- 
copalian that he was, he didn't hesitate to include a chapter on the Trinity in 
which he maintained that it was "excess baggage" as far as the Church was concerned. 
We'd be far better off if we'd ignore it and have done with it — it's confusing, 
and it's confounding, we'd be far better off if we simply talked in these terms: 
"In the Name of God" . . . period. 

But we Lutherans cling tenaciously to the Trinitarian concept of God. Why? 
Let me be as helpful as I can possibly be. 

I suggest to you, a person is as a person does. You can never really under- 
stand the basic nature and character of a person until you see that person doing 
something. Now, trying to probe the motivation may be another story, but to all 
intents and purposes you can tell very much what a person is like when you see 
that person in action. 

As a very simple illustration, suppose you and I were confined to a room, 
just the two of us, we were encountering ourselves for the first time. As I 
stood and looked at you, you remained completely immobile for all the time that I 
encountered you — you never so much as moved a muscle. What would I really know 
about you, except as by what I could describe regarding your physical features? 
But let a person begin to do something, and I may have some idea as to what the 
person is like. Make no mistake about it, the statement can be made: a person 
is as a person does. 

Leslie Weatherhead was a great English preacher of another generation. He 
was Pastor of the distinguished, prestigious City Temple Church of London, a free 
church, a non-conformist church. On occasion he would worship with people of 
other traditions. Once he went to a Roman Catholic church in Birmingham. He re- 
lates for us what happened.... 

...before he entered the church he knew, of course, some of 
the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, and as they were 
celebrating Mass that day he fully understood, according to 
Roman Catholic teaching, that when the priest would take the 


host, the bread, and elevate it, the devout Catholic would 
be led to believe that Jesus Christ's presence would be 
localized in that piece of bread. And if somebody were 
to press the point: "Where is Jesus Christ?" - - with pro- 
found respect the devout Catholic could say, as the priest 
was elevating the host - - "There is Jesus Christ." .... 
Weatherhead relates for us in a very winsome way that as he was worshipping he 
observed an old man, a rather nondescript character who came in and took his 
place in the church. And that's all the attention he paid to him, until, shortly 
thereafter, a youngster, for some reason that Weatherhead doesn't relate, wandered 
rather aimlessly down the aisle of the church, frightened, bewildered, crying. It 
was the old man - - Weatherhead had no reason to believe that he was related to 
the child - - it was the old man who got up, and walked down the aisle of the 

church very carefully — not to frighten the youngster and when he was close 

enough, with his big strong, yet tender, arms embraced that child, soothed and 
comforted the child, carried it in his arms and went back and consoled the young- 

Weatherhead, not being disrespectful, said, "To some people God was up there 
in the hands of the priest in a piece of bread. But for me," said Weatherhead, 
"when that old man came forward and embraced that child, it was as though the very 
arms of God were touching that child." 

Weatherhead could never have said that had the old man remained 

immobilized, firmly seated on that pew, but when he did what he did, Weatherhead 
could come to that conclusion with kind and warm thoughts as to the person's basic 
character. A person is as a person does. 

God is as God does. 

Now what do you know about God's actions? What do you know about God's deeds? 
For some people there is only a partial understanding, and that's why we consider 
ourselves fortunate in the doctrine of the Trinity. We're constantly reminding 
ourselves of the totality of God's deeds - - of all that He has done and continues 
to do. We short-change ourselves if we think only in terms of God's partial acts. 
As an example: some people have no difficulty in accepting the fact that God created 
the world. They begin... and end at that point: God's the Creator, the Master-Mind, 
the Prime Force, the Central Architect. They have no difficulty at all in accepting 
that. But they don't accept much more beyond that point. 

As we Lutherans base what we preach and teach according to Scripture, the 


Bible introduces us to a God who does something more than create the world. The 
Bible introduces us to the God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the 
Bible reveals the basic nature of Jesus Christ as God-come-to-us-in-human-form — 
to prove and to show to us what God is really like. 

As youngsters in Sunday School you know the three-word definition we had for 
God: " God is love. " Now you ought not to have any trouble at this point — love, 
properly understood, is never detached from the object that's being loved. You 
can't take a long-distance attitude toward someone that you love . You can't allow 
yourself a detached concern towards someone you love. So God did something — 
"Behold, I will both seek and save my people — I will be to them as the shepherd" 
Ezekiel says about God - - - "I will come to them, 1 will save them." And every 
time we exercise this Trinitarian concept of God we're reminding ourselves that God 
did not simply create the world but God had a continuing interest. 

When we were heading toward Hell, God said, "You were not meant to go to Hell 
- - and I will come and keep you from going to Hell by the love that I will demon- 
strate for you - - sacrificial love. 

God is as God does. If we simply thought in terms of creation, we would be 
short-changing God as far as totality of His actions is concerned. So God came to 
us in human form and every time we use the words of the Trinity we remind ourselves 
that the Father-God has a Son, and the Son came to us where we happen to be. 

We who cling to the Trinitarian concept of God do not worship a God who is 
separated from us, exalted in the heavens. The Trinity keeps reminding us that 
He's a God who identifies Himself with us - - no detached, no God-in-absentia. 

Now how could you know this? Because of God's continuing concern, a con- 
tinuing concern that did not stop with the birth of Jesus Christ, the life and 
death of Jesus Christ. Let me say it again for you, God did not perform the act 
of Creation and say, "That's it!" . . . God did not give us Jesus Christ, have Him 
crucified, have the event take place in the Resurrection Garden, include the chap- 
ter on the Mount of the Ascension and then say, "That's it!" God has done more 

than that. 

Jesus Christ talked about that continuing action, the Holy Comforter who 
would come — the Paraclete, the Spirit who would remain for us as God-in-the- 
Present-Tense. And that's what the Holy Spirit — God at work in His world now. 
As Luther explains as he deals with the Third Article of the Creed — it's God 
who comes to us as the Holy Spirit who enlightens us and empowers us, who gathers 



us together. You and I couldn't possibly think the thoughts of God if God did 
not enter our hearts and our minds and enable us to respond together. Left 
by ourselves, we are incapable of fully responding to all that He is, and that's 
why God is always coming to us — wooing us, surrounding us, inspiring us. 

You see what would happen then if we simply said every time we came together: 
"In the Name of God" . . . period? But you spell it out! You say the words re- 
peatedly, hopefully that when you say those words you might remind yourself of 
the totality of God's actions. This I most certainly believe. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 
Funeral Service for Ethel B. Anderson 

Thursday, June 10, 1982 
8:00 p.m. 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. 

Let me begin by reading for you the prayer that was prayed not once, but 
several times, as the one whom we honor completed her earthly pilgrimage. Again 
and again these were the words that she heard before she breathed her last. The 
prayer bears the title: 

"Gratitude to God For The 
Joy of Being A Christian " 

GOD, I thank Thee for the saving faith in Jesus 
Christ my Saviour, and for the privilege of 
being a Christian. Give me a deep and abiding 
faith, and grant me the grace to show in all 
my actions and in all my dealings with my fel- 
lowmen that Thou art the ruler of my heart and 
mind and thqt the joy of salvation is the domi- 
nating influence in my life. 

KEEP ME from becoming discouraged by the troubles 
and cares of this life and make me trusting, . 
cheerful and confident . At the same ' : time keep 
me humble, always, in the knowledge of salva- 
tion is from Thee, and that Heaven is Thy gift. 

IN GRATITUDE for the salvation which Thou givest, 
help me to live, to die, in the spirit of the 
Psalmist — "I will extol Thee, my. God, King, 
and I will bless Thy name forever 
and ever. Great is the Lord and 
greatly to be praised, and his 
greatness is unsearchable. 
One generation shall praise Thy works 
to another and shall declare Thy 
mighty acts. I will speak of the 
glorious honor of the majesty of Thy 
wondrous works.... The Lord is gracious 
and full of compassion, slow to anger 
and of great mercy. 

The Lord is good to all, and His tender 
mercies over all His works . . . 
My mouth shall speak the praise of the 
Lord, and I will praise His holy name 
forever and ever." Amen. 

Ethel Anderson Funeral Service (2) 

...from a prayer book given once to her mother - - a prayer book which became 
her constant companion . . . and Sis, from this night onward, your guide. 

"All over the world today's women are changing, but wherever they are, 
they are still the keepers of the culture. The world of women is rapidly 
changing, yet mysteriously there is something stable about it. Not everything 
about our sophisticated culture is good. But for what is both enriching and 
demeaning, women seem to be the stabilizers of the culture. Whatever hold it 
has upon stability or permanence depends upon woman's image of herself." 

...had Ethel read these lines she would have underlined them and 
quietly and confidently she could have said to herself, "How fortunate I 
am — I have always known who I am." 

One could never think of Ethel as a person having an identity crisis. She 
was every inch a lady, and every bit a virtuous woman, whose life was touched by 
the spirit of Jesus Christ. 

Four times — five times — we traveled together. I have recalled to 
Winifred on more than one occasion how when we were driving along that delightful 
English countryside our thoughts came back to this parish, so dear to all of us 
who were in that car. We talked of certain people, one in particular. And then 
Ethel characterized that person, using words that I have frequently used to 
characterize Ethel . . . said Ethel of this person of whom we were speaking, "She 
seems to be very comfortable with herself." 

"He who would climb and soar aloft, 
Must ever keep alive, 
Within his soul, 
The tonic of a wholesome pride." 

That allowed her to be very comfortable with herself because she was a fully 

integrated person, a virtuous woman. 

"The world of women is rapidly changing, yet mysteriously there is 
something stable about it ... " Ethel could go on and read . . , 

"Sot everything about our sophisticated 
culture is good. And yet if tbere is one human endowment, however be- 
latedly discovered, that gives cohesiveness to our scale of human values 
in the Western world, it is reverence for the meaning of a person, the 
force at the heart of our vision of reality ..." 

lc! SOU i. niiui-Ui 


Small wonder that we loved her as we did, because of the high regard that she 
had for us, as we worked. Having a high regard for herself, and being a life 
that she knew was touched by God, she had a way of looking for that which is 
of God in every single one of us. 

There are some people from whom I shy away. I can't afford to be in 
their presence too long — they bring out the worst side of my nature. Not so 
Ethel! — she was appealing to that better side of us as she affirmed the 
meaning of each of us as a person. 

I loved her as I would have loved her had she been my mother. And un- 
ashamedly I say to you, on occasion I used to say to her, "Ethel, if God would 
have had it otherwise and 1 would have been born all over again and I couldn't 
have had the mother that I had, I would have been pleased indeed had God placed 
me under your care." 

I loved her as I would have loved a sister, with high and holy regard for 
the kinship that we could exchange within the family circle. And when that 
first night that Winifred and I met her, we met her as a sister in Christ, and 
her shadow has been cast benignly upon us from that very day, and surely to the 
end of time. 

Ethel represents for us - - well, let me put it for you this way . . . 

through her lifetime the world has moved from ponies 

to planes. . . 

— from carriages to cars.... 

— from lanterns to lasers 

— she was a teenager during World War I in the 

prime of her life in World War II 
...and all the changes dramatic and traumatic that have followed! But she 
remained constant in her role as a virtuous woman. 

The one unchanging role of women in every age is to be the 
keeper of a vision. It is a legacy largely entrusted into their 
hands. Or let me put it for you this way as another has said: 
"... Women have a timeless role to play as custodians 
of life, the pre-natal life of the unborn, the helpless- 
ness of infancy, the psychic fragility of the pre-rational 


years of a child. All these tenuous holds on life 
are entrusted to the keeping of a woman. Whatever 
compassion, tenderness or intuitions of decency supply 
a dynamic to the work of men as humanizers of society, 
they most often learn these from the women in their 
lives. It is not romanticism but humble logic that 
makes a man admit, however reluctantly, that woman is 
the keeper of the hearth, the maker of the home, and 
consequently the custodian of a culture. In a changing 
world she always manages to hold on to one unchanging 
role ..." 

You ask me how she became that way? I can only tell you every 
now and then God touches a person, and every now and then a person 
responds as other persons do not respond. And God sets them up in 
front of us, and they become exemplars , and we do well to follow 
after them. 

Let me sum up by sharing this with you regarding Ethel. In a 
church in Philadelphia there are these words on a tablet: "Whatever 
is guiltless, candid and benevolent in the human character was con- 
spicuous in her. Amiable in domestic life, fervent in piety, schooled 
in the Scriptures, eminent in tenderness and charity for others, hum- 
ble in her views of herself, she was beloved and respected as a per- 
son, useful and venerable, as a servant of Jesus Christ." 

I hold in my hand a card that she sent to us when she took her 
90-year old mother back to their motherland, their native Hungary. 
Writes Ethel, "The country is still as beautiful as I remembered it. 
We have been busy delivering messages here and there. Time is fleet- 
ing, but I'm loving every moment of it." 

....and having arrived safely 
in Heaven above, there's no question about it — as she has breathed 

upon her the very breath of God, she's loving every minute of it. 

* * * 

"Breathe on Me, Breath of God" - sung by Bryce Redington 
(transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Second Sunday After Pentecost June 13, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God . , •}/ 

our Father and from His Son Jesus U JfojAJsj > ' 

Christ, our Blessed '• Ibrd. Amen. l 1 "^ 

It was a wise teacher indeed who one day, trying to make her point, 
placed before one of her pupils a single sheet of paper, 8h x 11 inches in 
size. Somewhere on that sheet of paper, just where I cannot tell you, there 
was a tiny blotch, a smudge, perhaps a quarter-of-an-inch in dimension. She 
said to her pupil, "What do you see?" And as you might suppose, it was the 
smudge that the youngster saw. 

When God created the world it was like a piece of paper, if you please — 
immaculate, without blemish. But since then we've seen smudge after smudge. 
It was not always that way. Hear now the passage of Scripture which serves as 
the inspiration for all that you're going to hear in the next few minutes. We 
go back to the very first page in the Bible, a portion of that page reads in 
this manner: 

" And God said, Let us make man in our image, after 
our likeness: and let them have dominion over the 
fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and 
over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over 
every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 

So God created man in his own image, in the 
image of God created he him; male and female created 
he them. 

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be 
fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and 
subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, 
and over the fowl of the air, and over every living 
thing that moveth upon the earth. 

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb 
bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, 
and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree ~ 
yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl 
of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the 
earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green 
herb for meat: and it was so. 

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, be- 
hold, it was very good. . . . " 

"Back To Eden --?" (2) 

Come now, let the question be asked: can we ever go back to Eden, that 
Paradise? Will the day ever return when we can be as chaste as presumably we 
once were? Or must we admit that life is only a school where evil is being 
learned? Does the passage of time only tarnish? Foolosh talk. Yet, not so 
foolish. We need to be sobered by the fact that innocence lost is lost inno- 
cence. But this is not the bottom line. Over and above all this there is the 
precious truth: God does not give up on us. His re-creative hand still reaches 
for us even though at best, as Luther said, "We give Him rotten wood out of 
which to carve and a lame hose to ride." 

God made man, and.Gtod smiled, and He said, "It is good." And when He made 
man in His own image He gave him the freedom of choice, an exceedingly precious 
endowment by which God crowns us. Not that we should become automatically good, 
as though a youngster would simply say to his parents, "Yes, father .. .yes, mother." 
No parent wants a child to behave like that. God gave us the freedom of will at 
the very, very beginning. You know what happens so quickly - exercising the 
freedom of choice, man decided to act contrary to what God had in mind. And ever 
since then -- dare we say it? -- if only to whisper it perhaps. .. .seemingly it's 
been down-hill ever since. 

But God did not intend it that way. God is always saying to us, "You don't 
have to be bad. You can choose to be good." God is always saying to us: "You 
don't have to go to Hell." God is always saying to us, "You are meant for Heaven, 
and you can choose, you can decide." 

I am much indebted to a colleague of mine who one time placed on my desk, 
when she knew how seriously I took counseling ministry, a book that bears the 
title " Reality Therapy ." And the basic theses of that book is introducing to the 
people the fact that cannot be ignored, that each of us, in the sight of God, is 
to be seen as a responsible person. God will hold us responsible for what we do 
with the freedom that He has given us. No man can hide behind the fact that 
God made it easy for him to be bad just because** gave him the possibility to 
choose evil. There isn't a single parent anywhere who can't possibly understand 
what I am trying to say to you. 

In the early years when I first became your Pastor there was a deacon of 
the church, a member of Church Council, who came to me and confessed, "Pastor, 

"R a rk To KHpti - - v" (3) 

he's a teenage son of mine, and can you possibly understand the anguish of my 
soul when I see myself now standing — almost powerless — as he makes all the 
mistakes that I made in the days of my youth! And I cannot deny him the freedom 
of making a fool of himself, if that's what he chooses to be." . . . the harsh 
reality that remains. But a man doesn't have to make a fool of himself. God 
endowed us with the capability by which we could choose to be good. 

I know it's been said in this particular manner — the old British limerick 

which reads in this fashion: 

"God's plan made a hopeful beginning, 
But man spoiled his chances by sinning. 
We trust that the story 
Will end in God's glory, 
But at the present the other side's winning." 

With all the strength that I can command this morning, I come to you to tell you 
this: it doesn't have to be that way. And God again and again and ever so often 
is coming to us, encouraging us, enlightening us, empowering us — thanks to the 
Holy Spirit, by which we can see the right path, and the strength by which to 
persevere with patience to remain on the right path. 

But to every man there comes at some time or other, to every person, always 
the possibility to stay long on the wrong road. John Oxenham said it wisely when 
he said: "To every man there openeth a way, and ways, and a way. And the high 
soul climbs the high way, and the low soul climbs the low. And in between in the 
misty flats the rest drift to and fro. But to every man there openeth a high 
way, and a low. And each man decides the way his soul will go." 

Some of you heard me say it this past week as I paid tribute to Ethel 
Anderson. Her name Ethel , you know, means noble. But Ethel did not gust become 
the noble person that she was because she was named Ethel. Ever so often, my 
good friend, make no mistake about it, the moment of decision was at hand - she 
chose to be noble she chose to remain noble. Goodness doesn't happen auto- 
matically - - nor, I dare say just as quickly, evil doesn't happen automatically. 
We make the choices. But we don't have to choose evil. There is always the 
possibility of being good. And to that end God gave us His Holy Word, which is 
the guidebook for life. It's God's way of showing us how to live! 

God gave us Jesus Christ — not only as an example, but also as a Saviour, 
that we might be rescued from the road to ruin God gives us His Church, in 

"Back To Eden ?" (4) 

which and through which we are nurtured and strengthened. And every time we come 
together — let it be clearly understood — this divine encounter to all intents 
and purposes is a re-orientation experience from all the evil by which we have 
been beset in the past week. In this time of worship God is turning us around, 
pointing us to Heaven, and saying "This — this is the way." 

I say it again, there are those of us who like to hide behind the fact that 
God should never have taken the risk that He did and allow us the freedom to 

choose evil. Joseph Epstein, in an .excellent essay, quotes Alexander Solzyneitzgen(?) 
who maintained, and I quote now for you: "We must not hide behind fate's petti- 
coats. The most important decisions in our lives, when all is said and done, are 
the decisions we make for ourselves," Epstein goes on in that valuable essay of 
his to say to us - - 

"We do not choose to be born; 

We do not choose our parents; 

We do not choose our historical epoch, or the country 
of our birth or the immediate circumstances of our 

We do not, most of us, choose to die; nor do we choose 
the time or conditions of our death . . . 
But within all this realm of choicelessness we do choose how we shall live - - - 
courageously — or in cowardice; honorably — or dishonorably; with purpose — or 
in drift. We decide what is important, and what is trivial in our life. We 
decide — that's what makes us significant, in either what we do, or in what we 
refuse to do. But no matter how indifferent the universe may be to our choices 
and our decisions — these choices and these decisions are ours to make. The 
fact remains: we decide. We choose. And as we decide and as we choose, so our 
lives are formed." 

I remember reading not so long ago about a very wonderful person, closer to 
80 perhaps than 70, still trying to remain active in his day's work. With his 
wife he had left his office to go for lunch and then was returning. He had been 
ill, but he still wanted to do his day's work with whatever strength he had, as 
long as he could. And as they left the lunch-room, he inadvertantly stepped in 
the path of a taxicab. He was hit. He refused to go to the hospital — he wanted 
to go to his home. 

A day or two after the accident there was a knock on the door. It was the 
taxi-driver. He brought with him a document, and asked the stricken man to sign 
it. The taxi-driver's job was in jeopardy; jobs were hard to come by in those 

"Back To Eden V (5) 

days. He wanted to keep his job for the sake of his wife and children and 

he asked the man that he had hit to sign the document exonerating him from all 
blame. . . . 

...he chose to sign that document — and in choosing 

proved himself the noble person that he was. Two days 
later he died. The obituary said, "He died from a serious 
attack of influenza." 
It is given to each of us to choose the kind of person we become. 

"Two roads diverged in the yellow wood, 

Sorry I could not travel both, and be 
one traveler. 
Long I stood and looked down one as far as I 

could to where it bent in the undergrowth, 
And then I took the other, as just as fair and 

having perhaps the better claim because 

it was grassy and wanted wear. 
I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere, 

ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the 

one less traveled by. And that has made 

all the difference." 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Third Sunday After Pentecost Jun e 2.0, 1982 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God fn J. ' 

our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

I have always been an admirer of the beloved Pope John 23rd, and I presume 
along with you, if for no other reason, because he clothed with humility the 
highest honor that Christendom could ever bestow upon any single person. 

He reflected upon the fact that one day he would die, and this is what he 
said: "And when the time comes that I should die, I simply want to be remembered 
as Guiseppi Rencalli, the man." I sympathize with the person who, when the Pope's 
death had been announced, could not help but respond in this fashion: "And now the 

"Plaster-Paris boys' will take over." he realized immediately that once he 

was dead, they would have the proliferation of statue after statue, each one be- 
ing so simply plastic . . .unreal. 

By that same token, as I stand at this sacred desk this morning, I am con- 
strained to tell you that we must take great heed lest we allow Jesus Christ, the 
boy of Nazareth, to be denied his humanity and to make him less than the real per- 
son that he was. As 1 come to the Saint Luke pulpit on this particular Sunday, I 
am fully aware of the fact that some of you, if only a few, are expecting a so- 
called Father's Day sermon. I shall do my best not to disappoint you. 

Naturally my mind goes back across the years, to a carpenter's shop as well 

as a home in a Galilean village called Nazareth a lad -- focus your attention 

upon Him now — scarcely a teenager at that, is busy as work. You may, if you 
wish, believe that he did everything to perfection. You may, if you are so in- 
clined, think that he never for a single second (that's l/30th of a minute) did 
anything that warranted rebuke. I shall readily understand if you are quite 
content in holding dearly the picture of Jesus, a Galilean boy, son of Mary, son 
of Joseph. 

Frankly, if you permit me to say it to you, such a concept of Jesus does 
very little for me. While I have nothing to offer you by way of Biblical record, 
it has occurred to me that on occasion Mary may have had to call him more than 
once when supper was ready and if you're inclined to think in this vein as 

"THE AKT Ul< KiiiSUKllNU' K-) 

I am this morning, picture that teenase Christ working hard and diligently in the 

carpenter shop, dirty with shavings and the weather is muggy, his friends are 

out fishing, swimming, boating — he has to work ... or picture him carrying 
that yoke for the oxen to be delivered to the farmer who lived at the edge of 
town, and the longer he carried it the heavier it got, and the more, perhaps, he 
wished he were somewhere else, doing something else. Don't brand me heretical 
when I talk to you in this fashion. You do Jesus Christ an injustice if you see 
Him as less than the person that He was. And when perhaps on occasion He wished 
that He were somewhere else doing something else, and that kind of thing would 

surface do you think for a single minute that Joseph did not take Him to task? 

You see, there's a passage of Scripture that spells out such thinking for us, 
giving us justification to think in this manner. For what else will you do with 
that passage in the second chapter of the Gospel according to Luke: 

"... and Jesus went down to Nazareth and 
was subjj~c_t unto them . . . 
, If that means anything at all, surely it allows for parental guidance and discipline, 

for we have reason to believe that in this Joseph fully shared since in those 

days there was no question whatsoever regarding the father of the household as the 
disciplinarian and as the authority figure. So on this day I'd like you to think 
in terms of the father as one who also serves because he rebukes. 

You are wrong if you think that "the father is first to be seen as the provider. 
There was a day when that was true. What with so many wives working these days, 
for whatever reason, in many instances the dependency of the family is upon a joint 
income. And what with the ever-increasing so-called liberation of the female 
species, there could be a resistance among some of you to the concept that one 
person, and a man at that, should be recognized as the head of the house — the 
disciplinarian, the authority figure. The fact does remain that in the day of 
Jesus the father was both seen as provider and disciplinarian. 

I am hoping to make this sermon as relevant as possible for you, and I pre- 
sume there's little need on my part then to reinforce the idea that the family 
should be given adequate provision. Thanks to the help given by the working 
wife, the average family, generally speaking, is better provided for financially 
today than at any other time in our history. But as far as discipline is concerned 
that is another story. 

"THE ART Ob" KbiiUKiiu," {J) 

There was a day, long since past, when a child would be told - - "Now you 
just wait until your father comes home!" - - some of you will get the image quickly; 
... it was Dad who had the paddle was Dad who went out and cut the switch was Dad who reached for the razor strop, 

if not his belt was Dad who gave the lecture in the woodshed, with 

more than words 

What I'm really driving at is to focus upon a lost art — the art of rebuking, the 
art of disciplining. 

Can you remember when you last, out of sheer love, deliberately rebuked and 
disciplined and chastised a child of yours? The father of more than a generation 
ago was expected to excell in the art of rebuking. And it was absolutely as 
direct as it could be. There was no mistaking it. 

Those of us who are caught up in counseling today have been advised by some 

— never to speak directly 

— never to forbid 

— never to persuade 

— never to order . . . you shy away from a direct confrontation, 

you specialize in the art of indirect counseling. . . . 
And would you believe it, that there are those who say the pastors, when they 
preach at the sacred desk - - "Whatever you do, don't take your congregation to 
task. They will resent being ordered, forbidden, being given advice, or feeling 
the pressure persuasion." 

And yet despite the current style of camaraderie, and the in status of in- 
direct counceling, I come to you this morning to reckon with an uncomfortable 
plain truth from the Old Testament. The text for all that you're hearing during 
this sermon this morning is the 5th verse of the 27th chapter of the Book of 
Proverbs. Listen to it carefully, for this is the way James Moffatt translated it 
for us magnificently: 

"Better a frank word of reproof than the love 
that will not speak. " 

I am willing to believe that there is down deep inside most of us a lingering 
hunger to" be put in our place. If we don't appreciate it at the present moment, 
then years later we will recognize the benefit of discipline, and thank God for 


those who told it as it was and cut us down to size. 

Occasionally I reach for a book that I've loaned, only to discover anew 
that it still hasn't come back to my shelf. I'm thinking particularly of John 
Steinbeck's delightful little book "Travels With Charlie." Some of you have read 
it. You may remember, quite a while ago the celebrated author took a tour of 
the country leisurely, taking as his only companion his dog Charlie. 

On one particular Sunday when he was in New England, he decided to go to 
church. He was not a conventional church-goer, as you know. It was quite an 
experience — it may have been one of those 'Hell-f ire-brimstone-and-damnation' 
sermons. At any rate, this is what he had to say regarding it. Let me read his 
exact words for you: 

"For some years now God has been the pal to us ... " 
(you can thank him for putting it that way. How it ever crept into our 
theology and into our practice of the faith I don't know. But any num- 
ber of people have dragged God down to our level and made Him a kind of 
buddy-buddy sort of thing, who would never so much as say an unkind 
word to us — we were that buddy-buddy) .. .well, these are Steinbeck's 
words for it . . . 

"For some years now God has been a pal to us, practicing 
togetherness, and that causes the same emptiness a father 
does playing softball with his son. But this Vermont, God . . " he thought of the preacher who laid it on in that New England 
church .... 

. . . but this Vermont God cared enough about me to go to a 
lot of trouble ..." 

(and I'll give it to you the way Steinbrook said it) 

" . . to go to a lot of trouble kicking the hell out of me. 
He put my sins in a new perspective: whereas for me they 
had been small and mean and nasty, and at best forgotten — 
thj-s minister gave them some size and bloom and dignity!" 

as though he put them right out there in front of him, you see. 

Steinbeck goes on to say, 

"I hadn't been thinking very well of myself for some years, 
but if my sins had this dimension, there was some pride left." 
And then he reflected: 

"I wasn't a naughty child, but in the eyes of that preacher I 

was a first-rate sinner and I was given to understand 

that I was going to catch it ! " 


You read the Scriptures, my friend, and you cannot escape this concept of 
God. As father-God He rebukes. He is always taking us to task, and it may 
surprise you a bit if you read the New Testament as though you've never read it 
before, to discover how often Jesus Christ is rebuking people, and taking them 
to task, and calling it exactly as it was! 

Lest I be misunderstood, and lest you exploit what I am saying, rebuking 
does not always have to be as condemnation. Be very careful about that. And 
I'm not so sure that rebuke must always be the first word that we speak to a 
person. . . .nor ought it to be the last word that we speak. But on occasion it is 
a word that must be spoken. From the Christian perspective it is always to be 
seen as a measure of concern that we have for a person. .. .and that there's no 
willingness on our part to ignore the evil as we see it. 

There was a man who went to Florida, Daytona Beach, at the time some years 

back when there was this avalanche of students from the north. The Easter recess 

had given them a chance to get away from home, the restraints from home, and the 

freedom of being away from a college campus and the classroom and the exams. 

They were allowing it to hang loose and to let it all hang out in front just as 

it was . . . 

There was a man who encountered such a chap one morning 

walking on the beach, wearing a sweat-shirt. The man 

had been around — he knew exactly what was on that 

sweat-shirt. But he walked up to the fellow and he said, 

"Ah - you're from the University of Virginia!" 

And the chap says, "No . . " 

And the man says , 

"Well, why don't you drop your hands and let me 
read for myself what's written on the front of 
your sweat-shirt!" 

The young man obliged, somewhat sheepishly, and this is what 

the man was able to read on that fellow's sweat-shirt: 


....the boy by now was ashamed. His conscience, thank God, 

was being aroused. The man who had encountered him continued 

to walk ahead of him. But the boy for some reason — let's 

say it's his conscience now — forces him to walk after the 

man and to engage him in further conversation. With whatever 

"THli ART Uh' KKbURlyi/ 

streak of decency there is in the fellow, he says to 
the man, "I suppose you'd like me to throw this sweat- 
shirt away?" 
And the man replied: 

"No, I'd like you to take it home.... have it dry- 
cleaned. Then I'd like you to put it in a 
plastic container ... In looking at you, young 
man, I think your future is rich in promise. 
You're a very likely chap. And chances are that 
after college you're going to get married, and 
you'll have some children.... 

....when your daughter is 16, I want you to go 
up to the closet, take out that sweat-shirt, and 
let her wear it on her first date." 

The student could only think to respond : 

"If my father had talked to me like that, I would 
never have worn it in the first place." 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Fourth Sunday After Pentecost June 27, 1982 


* if 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God , v 5 

our Father and from His Son Jesus .. i Jl ' 

Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. (J/J-*^ 

The sermon this morning bears the title: "God - The Searcher of The Human 

Heart " and the text, the closing verses of the second chapter of the Gospel 

according to John: 

"... Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover , 
in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they 
saw the miracles which he did. 

But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because 
he knew all men, 

And needed not that any should testify of man; for 
he knew what was in man . . . 

Some four decades have passed since those student days of blessed memory, 
those years that I spent on the campus of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in 
Gettysburg. 1 stayed in what we affectionately referred to as "Old Dorm." It 
was a modest, brick, three-storey structure, which I am told during the War Be- 
tween the States served as a hospital of sorts. My room was #36 on the second 
floor - - all three floors were utilized as housing for what was almost the entire 
student body. 

My desk was near the window. And one night in March as I sat there, I heard 
what was not an unusual noise in the room above me, to be followed shortly by a 
sudden downward draft, so it seemed to me, outside my window. Not long after that 
the entire student body was stunned by what was made known to us: a school-mate of 
ours who lived in that room above me, had braced himself on the radiator by the 
window, opened the window and then plunged to his death, which came immediately as 
his body with driven force came upon the frozen ground. 

I think I should tell you, he was the son of a parsonage. 
I think you should know that he was only months away from 
graduation, and then would follow being ordained 
as a Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 
I think I should tell you that rumors had it that he had 
been jilted by the woman that he loved. 


We gathered together, that student body of ours, in the Chapel of the Semi- 
nary. That grand old man, our much-beloved President, Dr. John Aberly, conducted 
the service. He took as his text a passage of Scripture that continues to grip my 
soul, and I would hope would have its equal grip upon me to the very day that I 
die. It came from a passage of Scripture which has still endeared itself to me, 
one of my favorite Psalms — #139. 

" Search me, God, and know my heart ; 
Try me, and know my thoughts . . . 

It wasn't that he wanted us to be guilt-stricken it wasn't that he especial- 
ly wanted us to examine ourselves as to whether or not we would have self-destructive 
tendencies. But it was the intention of the preacher to have us examine ourselves if 
perchance we could discover the kind of person that we happened to have been. 

How well do you really know yourself? How well do you know other people. 
Honestly now, a good question. Is it possible for a person to know himself fully 
and completely? Is it not true that some of us who have lived a bit longer can also 
freely admit that to a degree we remain a mystery to ourselves — never quite under- 
standing why we do what we have done, or why we may think what we think — not only 
regarding ourselves, but other people as well, and the world in which we happen to 
be placed, the arena in which we're meant to live the days of our years . . . 

"Search me, God — and know my heart; 
Try me, and know my thoughts ..." 

Does any person on his own ever really know who he is? Isn't this one reason 
why some people are perfectly willing, and constrained to do so, to spend perfectly 
good money to go to someone who sits there alongside of the proverbial couch, as 
wittingly or unwittingly they allow the pieces to come out — hoping of course that 
that person seated alongside of them might put all the pieces of the puzzle to- 
gether and say, "Now this is it" by the time the final session in the series has 

arrived or perchance to take the pallette and choose the colors which the person 

himself, in his own way, has indicated and then the counsellor says, "This is 

the portrait — this ±s_ you." 

Again I ask the question, is it possible for any one of us ever to fully under- 
stand himself? Does it lie within me to know who I really am? How fortunate we are 
as Christians — we have a God who sees straight through us , who knows us, who knows 
all about us, from whose view we cannot escape. 


You read again that Psalm 139 - - it's a magnificent thing 

— it talks about the omnipotence of God — He's all-powerful, 

there isn't anything that He can't do.... 

— it talks about the omnipresence of God — there's no place 

where He can ' t be found .... 

— it talks about the omniscience of God — He's the all-seeing 

God, the all-knowing God.... 
Have you ever thought of God like that? And how fortunate we are that God is one 
who knows us? After all, who could know us better than the one who made us? After 
all, who should know us better than the one who is our Heavenly Father? 
....after all, who should know us better than the one 
who gave us His Son, to suffer, in order to redeem us. 
.... that ' s how well He knows us ! 

I'm not certain that I have any full idea as to what concept you have about 
Jesus Christ when He was here on earth. What is the first picture that comes to 
your mind when you think of Jesus Christ in His ministry among us? Some of you 
think perhaps He went around saying nice things to people and giving them a gracious 
pat on the shoulder and saying, "There, there - you're all right" - - I'm not so 
sure He did too much of that — a reasonable amount, but never an inordinate amount. 

And you are wrong if you think He spent all of His time preaching sermons , 
necessary as they were. And you fall short of the mark if you think every time He 
was with His disciples they had a prayer session — important as that was! And 
you'd better alter your thinking if you think He spent all of His time snapping His 
fingers and performing miracles . . . important as that ministry was! 

As you read the New Testament as though you had never read it before, and you 
may get a surprise, hopefully. Every now and then He just sat down with one person 
at a time, and He'd have an encounter with the person individually, and looked that 
person straight in the eye, and called it exactly as He saw it, and gave that person 
to understand the kind of person that he happened to have been. You can read all 
about it for yourself — it's there — again and again and ever so often, looking 

this person, that person, straight in the eye and I have reason to think every 

now and then one of them might have responded and said, "Why do you look at me like 
that?" — knowing full well that everything was being laid out in front, nothing was 
being concealed. 

We have our moments, you know, when we think we can hide things from other 
people. We have our moments when we think we can hide things from ourselves, and 


refuse to call by name what we do know is there. But not so with God, from whom 
no secrets are hid! 

I have good news for you, in case you haven't thought of it: you can afford 
to let Him look you straight in the eye, for when He comes to probe, and to 
search, He is the one you can trust with what He finds, He is the one who can offer 
the corrective. He is the one who can offer the cleansing, redeeming touch - - 

"Search me, God, and know my heart; 
Try me, and know my thoughts. And if 
there be any evil way in me, 
You lead me in the right way ..." 

That's the way the Scriptures read, that's the way they are to be understood. You 
can afford to trust Him, to tell it as it is, because He can provide the corrective 
and the cleansing touch. 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti has a drawing, I am told, which interprets for us 
that encounter of Mary of Magdala, Mary, the woman of the streets, who when she was 

first encountered by Jesus Christ Christ is standing on a balcony, looking 

down on the street below Mary, the fallen woman, the woman of the streets, is 

tripping along gaily and happily, with never so much a thought of God, when all of 
a sudden she turns and looks up - - and there He is. And their eyes meet. And she 
can never again be the same ... He saw her as she was. He gave her to understand 
when they met that He also saw her as she could become! 

Whenever you allow yourself an image of God, think in terms of the eyes of 
God that are focused upon you. And the Christian has a right to believe that those 
eyes are focused upon him as though they were not focused upon anyone else. It's 
as personal as all that! 

When Napoleon Bonaparte had learned that some of his lieutenants were not as 
trustworthy as he believed them to be, he realized that he was in duty bound to 
find out those whom he could trust and those he could not trust. He devised, I am 
told, a very clever bit of strategy . . . 

(but now, as I share it with you, it's so understandable 
in the light of the sermon that I am preaching) 
The word went out that all of his lieutenants were to gather in a particular place 
on a certain day at a certain hour. Napoleon, the little man, stations himself in 
a large room, without any furniture whatsoever. There were only two doors, an 
entrance, and an exit. And only one person was to be ushered in at a time, only 
one person was to be in that room with Napoleon Bonaparte at the same time. He 
positioned himself the farthest away from the entrance door, and then as the door 



was opened the lieutenant came in and walked across the floor... 

....and as he did so, Bonaparte put out his hand, and he shook 
the hand of the lieutenant as he looked him straight in the eye . 

When the last person had come and gone, Bonaparte had a pretty good idea of those 

whom he could trust, and those who were not loyal. 

There is no substitute for looking straight in the eye. The youngster grew 

up to be a man, and as he remembered the days of his youth he recalled for the 

benefit of his own children how he dreaded at certain times his dad coming home 

from work, for his dad had an uncanny sense - - when he came home he could look 

the youngster straight in the eye and knew exactly as he looked in the eye of the 

kid what he had been up to that day that he shouldn't have been up to! 

"Search me, God, and know my heart; try me, and 
know my thoughts. And if there be any evil in me, 
lead me in the way everlasting." 

God is the great heart-searcher. He can read what's there. And He can read 

between the lines. And He makes sense of what He reads. And He always provides 

us the prescription: what we ought to do next. 

I don't know how you picture Judgment, but Studdart-Kennedy was a great British 

preacher — creative, ingenious, innovative. He has a cockney soldier dreaming how 

it is going to be in the time of Judgment. Let me read it for you, just as he wrote 

it, language and all ... 

"I seem to stand alone, beside a solemn kind of sea, 
Its waves, they got inside and touched my memory; 
And day by day, and year by year, 
My life came back to me. 

All eyes was in His eye, all eyes, 

My wife's and a million more; 
And once I thought as those two eyes 

Were the eyes of a London whore. 

And they was sad — my God, how sad, 

With tears that seemed to shine; 
And quivering bright with the speech of light, 

They said, "Her soul was Mine." 

And then at last He said one word — 

He said just one word: "Well?" 
And then I said, in a funny voice, 

"Please, Sir, can I go to Hell?" 

And He stood there and He looked at me, 

And He kind of seemed to glow, 
'Til He shone like the sun above my head, 

And then He answered, "No. You can't. 


" That Hell is for the blind, 

And not for those who see; 
You know that you have earned it, lad, 

So you must follow Me. 

Follow Me on by the paths of pain, 

Seeing what you have seen, 
Until at least you can build the J^ 

With the bricks of the might-have-been" 

That's what He said, as I'm alive, 
And that there dream was true ! 

But what He meant I don't quite know, 
Though I know what I have to do. 

I've got to follow what I've seen 
Until this old carcass dies; 

For I daren't face, in the land of Grace 
The sorrow of those eyes. 

There ain't no Throne, there ain't no Books 

It's Him you've got to see; 
It's Him, just Him, that's the Judge of 

blokes like you and me. 

And, boys, I'd sooner frizzle up 
In the flames of burning Hell, 

Than stand and look into His face 

And hear His voice say: "Well?" 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen ; , ,, } 98? 
The Sixth Sunday Afte r Pentecost . _ £iLii^^ 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our , L^O-A 

Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, j^AJU* 

our Blessed Lord. Amen . 


Just where it came on the agenda at that meeting of Church Council a few months 
ago, I don't remember, but I do recall when Ann esse Nuss, the capable Chairman 
of the Committee on Staff, had completed her report, she said, "Now if it please 
Council, I'd like to make another motion." The motion that she made was this: 
That the Senior Pastor of this congregation be authorized to prepare a paper in 
which he would outline for the benefit of Pastor David, who'd assume responsi- 
bility for parish administration, and for the benefit of the congregation itself, 
the kind of thing that the Senior Pastor would like to have seen on the agenda 
if he were to have continued in that role. 

The intent of the motion, of course, was not to lock anybody in to what 
somebody else might think ought to be done, but to provide, however, a continuum 
of sorts of what could be considered. 

It was a traumatic experience. A multi-page document was prepared. It 
was eventually shared with the Church Council and a joint session of the Commit- 
tee on Staff, subsequently with members of the staff themselves - - traumatic in 
this sense, that as I reflect,, on more than a quarter-of-a-century of ministry 
among you, and as I thought in terms of things yet to be done, I was absolutely 
amazed at the number of things that remained on my unfinished agenda - the things 
that I myself would like to see realized if I were to continue as the chief admi- 
nistrator of this parish... a traumatic experience to say the least. 

Having said that, let me tell you how sobering it was for me to realize 
that when our Blessed Lord was hefe on earth, He had an agenda, too. and some 
of us have stood in the very place -where presumably He came and announced His 
intention. Hw was a carpenter 's-son- turned-preacher, the penniless wanderer 
who went fro- place to place - preaching, healing, performing miracles, making 
disciples. He had been at it only a comparatively short period of time when He 
returned to His home town. They had heard a great deal about what He had been 
up to. It was no surprise that the congregation filled the synagogue to capacity 
when He returned. 



They did Him honor, of course, and they said, "Why don't you read the 
Lessons for us" — a mark of distinction that they would give to this person or 
to that person, only a limited number of people could enjoy that privilege. 

He took the holy writings, and read from an Old Testament prophet by the 
name of Isaiah. .. .and when He read, He read that passage of Scripture that de- 
clared how the work of God ought to be done here on earth - - 

— the oppressed ought to be ministered to 

— the weak ought to be made strong 

— the captives ought to be given some chance to 

be made free from their 'bondage. .. . 
■ — the Good News of God should be told to everybody. 
When He finished reading, He did a very surprising thing. He said, "Today I tell 
you this Scripture is going to come true, and it's going to come true through me, 
because this is what I intend to do. This is how I will direct my energies as 
long as I will live, doing this kind of thing." 

I have been to Nazareth. I wanted to go there not only because it was the 
place where He was brought up as a youngster, and where He worked in the carpenter 
shop and where He began His ministry. . . . .but because I wanted to be in that very 
place where He proclaimed what was on His agenda. I am in duty bound to tell you 
that He only had three years to do His thing, and I say that respectfully — only 
three years. He died, what we might say, before his time. There was so much yet 
that He wanted to do! 

Oh, I know very well every Good Friday preacher we have had who has stood 
at this sacred desk and echoed for us the words from the Cross as dealt with that 
one word in particular, "It is finished'. But I can't possibly allow myself to 
believe that Jesus Christ was saying to everybody: "Everything that I set out to 
do is now done' . . . that wasn't true at all. 

— ' there were still many blind people who needed 
to have vision..... 

— there were still many lame people who couldn't 

And how much of His energy was spent doing that sort of thing? 

— and there were so many unredeemed souls who had yet to be 
rouched by the love of God, and to become, converts to the Kingdom. His world was 
not finished. 


And in company with some of you I stood on the Mount of the Ascension 
and I had deep thoughts there too - - how Jesus Christ turned to a small company 
of people, as much as to say to them, "I have an unfinished agenda" ... .and by 
the way, that's the title for this sermon: "An Unfinished Agenda." And to all 
intents and purposes Jesus Christ is saying to His friends, "My work isn't 
completed. There's so much yet that I would like to do - - now you go, and you 
preach and you teach and you baptize and you make disciples - - you go on doing 
everything that I wish that I could do if I were to remain among you." 

it's a very sobering thought, I tell you, to realize that here is one at 
33 years of age who, as we might say, if we . analyze His life, was cut down in 
His prime, died before His time - - so much yet to be done. 

Death does not always come to everyone as it came to my dear father.... at 
some 90 years of age he was just worn out - - he died of old age. A week or so 
before he died - - "Raymond, I'm just tired" ... I can understand that kind of 
death. But one of my younger brothers, in his early 5Q's, in the prime of life - 
wi th so much zest for living - - to be stricken with lung cancer and a braxn 
tumor, and to go in four months - that's something entirely different! 
die with an unfinished agenda - - it happens again and again and again. It happens 
ever so often. 

When t traveled to the Dead Sea, I looked to the Plains of Moab and my heart 
went out to that man Moses - hand-picked by God to be the leader of the Children, 

of Israe l and how much flack he took from them just because he was their 

leader ^ust because he was in duty bound to do what God told him to do and 

h ow obstinate they were, but he gave himself to them, never failing to goad them 

on in the right direction, and always pointing that way and then when he 

got ^here, to have God say, "Moses, this is it! You don't go any farther - this 
is where you stop! You won't set foot on the Promised Land. It happens ever 
so often, to die with, an unfinished agenda. 

Bat It's not all that bad, my friend. I wouldn't give very much for a person 
who felt, all other things being equal, that he'd accomplished everything he set 
out to accomplish. You have no idea how much I spend sometimes with a concern for 
people who are bored, because they allow themselves foolishly to think that they ve 
arrived __ theySve done everything they set out to do - they have no goals beyond 
the present moment, nothing to challenge them as far as tomorrow is concerned. And 
I pray earnestly that as GodJi*ej^^ that I'll always be 


thinking in terms of another chapter yet to be written! — to be gripped by 
dreams yet to be fulfilled. He's the person who really lives who is always 
thinking in terms of another chapter yet to be written. 

I beg you with all the strength that my soul can command to examine your 
goals and to see whether or not you are dealing with goals that are too easily 
attainable they are paltry and puny. 

If I were inclined to do it sometime, and if I had the time and the 
energy, 1 could analyze our civilization by the kind of advertising to which 
we're exposed. The little time that I've spent reading and listening to adver- 
tisements provides me a measure of nausea. ' It could well be that people in 
years yet to come will look back upon us, as they examine our advertising, and say 
we were a people who concerned themselves primarily with the 3 D's: detergents 
deodorants , and d og food . Important as any of these may be in itself, it's not 
the ultimate of our civilization. 

There's a text for this sermon, the 13th verse of the 11th chapter of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews: 

"They all died in faith, not having 
received what was promised, but 
having seen it and greeted it from 

The person who wrote those words wrote them in times very much as the times 
that claim our energies and concern. And every single one of these grand and 
glorious persons died, if you please, with an unfinished agenda. I'm grateful 

for the fact I think I've come to deal with it now there will be much work 

to be done when I have finished my course. I will never be able to do all that I 
had hoped to do. And that in itself is not bad! 

— none of us will live long enough to see poverty 

completely eradicated from the face of the earth 

— QOae of us will live long enough to see every person 

claimed for Jesus Christ 

No matter how noble the dream, it will not happen in your day, it will not happen 
in your children's day. But does that give cause for despair? Of course not. 
It simply means that while you and I live we should devote our energy toward the 
realization of the dream — trying to help make it become a reality for somebody 
else! That's the acid test of life — the justification for your existence and 
my existence is when we devote our energies toward the good from which others may 


A man said it in Church Council on Tuesday evening. It was a very salutary 
experience ~ you ought to know this. We got finished with our agenda well be- 
fore our 10:00 o'clock adjournment time. And then I was constrained, and I. said 
to the Council, "Why don't we do something we've never done before - - and this is 
very, very important. We'll take time to do it: Each of you in turn share with 
the rest of us how you witness for Jesus Christ in your daily life." 

It's one thing to think in terms of a Council member as 

he witnesses for Christ through Saint Luke congregation. But this is 
not the only place where a person is intended to witness for Christ. 
— where he labors — how about that? 

And then each person in turn gave a testimony. You would have been pleased. 
And I remember one person in particular who said that he tried to plant shade trees, 
under whose shade he himself might never sit. 

So you and I, you see, are meant to give our energies toward those things 
that benefit other people eventually - even though we in our day may never realize 
for ourselves the dream come true. 

"I would not have my life be one of bliss; 
Untouched by heartache, agony, despair, 
A pale anemic thing. 

My nightly prayer is that with each new day 
I shall not miss high venturings, nor 
undeserve the hiss of envious human moles. 

Who never dare to touch off rockets in their souls, 
And flare above their deepening grooves. 

grant me this, that I shall scale life's peaks, 
Explore its glooms, no mountain's ectasy; 
Deep valley ed pains. 

Then, when my last red sands by time are sieved, 
And life has struck my sinews from her looms, 
I shall have eariwd three words o'er my remains: 

Beside Was Born and Med between: He Lived 

Not for today alone, but for tomorrow as well." 

What do you still want to accomplish in life, my friend? How significant 
are your goals? To what end are you directing your energies? These really are 
the questions that matter mosL. For you remember what I told you on occasion — 

that awesome understanding of Judgment having God stand there when we 

finish our course, and have Him look us straight In the eye and say, "Well - - 
What did you make of it? What in Heaven's name did you do on earth today? 



On May 19, 1780, in Hartford, Connecticut, at noon, a terrifying storm arose. 
The sky became as dark as the night. People became frightened. There were those 
who honestly believed it was the Judgment Day, and that the world was coming to 
an end. Some persons in panic ran here and they ran there, and would you believe 
it, it's a matter of record that some even knelt in prayer in the streets. 

The Connecticut House of Representatives was in session. Colonel Davenport 
was the Speaker, lie calmly stood up in the midst of the fever of the chaos and 
confusion and said, "I do not know whether this is the end of the world or not. 
If not, it will be a waste of time for us to quit our tasks. If it is Judgment 
Day, I for one want to be found doing my tasks. Therefore, let the candles be 
brought, and let us be found continuing in our tasks." 

Don't be frightened, my friend. You may die with an unfinished agenda. And 
it could be the acid test of your life as you leave behind you the kind of thing 
toward which you were still looking. And that can be a happy thought! 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded)