preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 18
by the Rev. Ewing W. Carroll, Jr. The scripture readings that day were Jeremiah
8:18-9:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Luke 16:1-13.
remember last week’s passage from Exodus 32, where Moses asked God, “O Lord, why does your anger burn hot against
?” The passage from the prophet Jeremiah in today’s Hebrew
Scripture recalls another time when God was so displeased with the Israelites.
Their worship of foreign idols and neglect of the poor both angered and
saddened God. Listen again to the final
verse of this passage: “Is there no balm
in Gilead? Is there no physician
there? Why then has the health of my
poor people not been restored
times, some of my friends and I loved singing the old African-American
spiritual, “There is a balm in Gilead
.” But jokingly we would often change the word balm
[like Tiger Balm Oil
So we sang, “There is a bomb in Gilead…Boom
Little did we know then that today, such bombs remain present and
hurtful – throughout the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq.
I doubt any of
us want to receive a bomb. But we do
love to receive presents, gifts. Right?
Chinese New Year’s laisee packets; Christmas and birthday presents; and
special gifts on special occasions.
Occasionally, you’ve received a gift and said “thank you so much” and
then asked yourself “What in the world am
I going to do with this
?” So you put
it away and forgot about it. Or gave it
so someone else? Today’s epistle lesson
in 1 Timothy is about a gift. One of
the most priceless, precious and useful gifts we could ever receive; the gift
of prayer. And if you are at all like
me, one seldom used; and when used, not very well. In many ways, this gift of prayer, is God’s
answer to the question, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Yes Mr. Jeremiah there is – and that balm is
the saving love of Jesus Christ. Who in
turn gives to us the gift of prayer.
Last month our
Revised Common Lectionary reading included the passage from Luke where a
disciple asked Jesus about prayer. He didn’t ask, “Lord, teach us to pray
“Lord, teach us HOW to pray
“As John taught his disciples
.” Today’s Epistle lesson begins with strong
advice and encouragement to the young pastor Timothy, to make prayer a vital
part of his daily life.
Today’s hymn “It’s Me, O Lord, Standing in the Need of
” is a reminder of our need to be more serious about our prayer lives
– both individually and corporately. Not
our parents, not the pastors, not the church stewards, choir, S.S. teachers –
well, yes them too. But it’s ME. You and I - standing, sitting, kneeling,
driving, running - however - are all in
need of God’s gift of prayer. Let me invite you to say with “Lord,
teach me how to pray
gifts of prayer does God give to us? Let me suggest three.
The Gift of
Today’s letter to Timothy begins with these words, “First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions
and thanksgivings be made for everyone
. That’s real boldness. Today’s Gospel talks
about a dishonest manager – who acted so boldly – but dishonestly. Jesus then urged his listeners [and you and
me] to be equally as bold in honesty and faithfulness. And that includes in being bold in our prayer
One afternoon a
woman told her office friends that beginning tomorrow, she was going on a
diet. No more cake, pies and
puddings. The next day she came to work
with a HUGE chocolate cream cake. “Wow, what happened to your diet
asked. “Well, when I passed by the bakery this morning, I saw this cake in the
. So I said ‘Lord if you want me
to have this cake, let there be an empty parking spot right in front of the
bakery’. Well, you know what? I drove
around the bakery 14 times; and then on the 15th time there was a vacant spot
right in front of the bakery
Boldness or an excuse? You be the
reminded that in all circumstances, to be bold in prayer, including praying for
everyone – not just the people we know, love, respect or like. That ALL, includes those individuals,
nations, and systems that we find enemies or dislike. Whether it’s one time
around the block – or a million times, God invites us to be bold in
The Gift of Patience.
We live in such a Fast Food world. News of terrorists bombings, murders,
attempted overthrow of governments; natural and human disasters – the list is
longer than a dragon’s tail. There is no
news – we see it
unfolding right before our eyes, NOW.
Patience now seems to be a sign of weakness
or ancient history. We prefer microwaves
to slow cookers – whether it’s food or prayer.
Our prayer, “O Lord, thy will be done.”
includes “and give me patience ---- now
Don’t be confused – patience in prayer is not idleness. It’s not selfishness or disinterest. Recall John Wesley’s words, “Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet
God’s gifts of prayer include boldness and patience. They also include gratitude.
The Gift of Gratitude.
Our prayers often express more about
disaster than delight; more about grief than gladness; more about sadness than
serenity. How strange: we seem more
comfortable praying in times of danger and difficulty; as though the only way
to reach God is with a 999 emergency call.
Let’s be clear: however
we pray, God always hears; always responds; and always
provides. According to God’s will, not
ours. And for this we are grateful.
a pastor in the German Lutheran church, was born in 1586 in Eilenburg, a small
town in the mid-eastern part of today’s Germany. During the Thirty Years War [1618-1648],
Eilenburg suffered untold religious, political, physical and economic turmoil. Famine and disease were rampant. People were daily dying by the hundreds. There were four Protestant pastors in
Eilenburg; one fled to a safer place; two died from the plague; Rinkart was the
sole surviving pastor. During the War’s
latter years, in one year alone, he conducted some 4,500 funerals, including
that of his wife! And yet Rinkart could
pen these unbelievable words of gratitude that we sang at the beginning of
Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has
done, in whom this world rejoices…
And ending with
All praise and thanks to God…whom earth and
for thus it was, is now, and shall be
I wish for you today God’s amazing and
incredible gift of prayer. Pray with boldness; pray patiently and always pray
with gratitude – with your hearts, hands and voices. Amen.