Author Archives: Scott Bempkins

Sermon: “Venturing Out Beyond Our Fears” – March 8th, 2020

The Rev. Dr. Paul Kolbet

Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Acts 10:34-43, Matthew 3:13-17

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In our Gospel reading, we find Nicodemus. He was a good man, a teacher, and a keeper of the law, yet, even though doing so much that was right, he still struggled with a need that he had. We are not told specifically what it was, but when you need something, in a sense, it doesn’t matter why or what, it just matters that you feel the need. Whatever it was, it was pressing enough that he ventured out in the dark, at night, alone, looking to have a conversation with Jesus. There is something so AD 30 about this story. In 2020, he probably would have asked his phone, right? Or maybe, after calculating the rick of encountering the Novel Coronavirus, he would have stayed home Googling for answers?

Sermon: “On Lent: Its Temptations and Possibilities” – March 1st, 2020

The Rev. Paul R. Kolbet, All Saints Chelmsford

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1, Psalm 32, Romans 5:12-19, Matthew 4:1-11

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus “was led by the Spirit in the wilderness” to be “tempted [or tested] by the devil” for “forty days.” This first Sunday of Lent we meditate on Jesus’s temptation in the desert as we begin our own period of personal reflection and discipline that occupies us for the forty days leading up to Easter. Today we find Jesus alone in the wilderness. After he has gone without eating for 40 days, he was terribly hungry and began hearing a voice. Not a good one! We are told it was the Devil’s voice so we know before it says anything at all that it will be a lying voice of destruction and death. You know this voice; it is the voice that steals your joy! But, on the surface, the Devil’s voice always sounds reasonable. That Dread Spirit invites Jesus to turn stones to bread, suggests that Jesus hurl himself down from a tall building in Jerusalem so that God could miraculously intervene and save him, and finally offers him rule over of the earth if only he would worship the Devil. This is how Jesus is tempted.

Sermon: “Jesus’ Transfiguration and Our Own” – February 22, 2020

The Rev. Dr. Paul Kolbet, All Saints Episcopal Church, Chelmsford, MA

The Last Sunday in Epiphany

Exodus 24:12-18, Psalm 22, Peter 1:16-21, Matthew 17:1-9

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The season of Epiphany is the season celebrating Jesus’ ministry. The Scripture has invited us week after week to look at Jesus and listen to him hoping that we would see more and hear more than we ever had before. In this last Sunday of Epiphany, Jesus is in something of a hurry here because he knows that he is running out of time. We, and his closest disciples, are given one last chance to look. The mystery is so great that the Bible itself struggles as it attempts to lift the veil as it were. It presses the limits of language as it attempts to put the matter in words and images we can understand much like we do with the truths to be found in children’s stories. It speaks of a mountain and light, but what it is really talking about is an experience of catching a glimpse of the Truth, not just any truth, but Truth itself, God. The Bible does not say that to see God we need to go to a mountain in Israel’s Galilee. It says that this sort of experience of Truth seeking is like climbing a mountain. Anyone who has ever climbed a mountain knows that the remarkable thing about it is that each time you turn around and look from a new height, the view is a bit different. You see in a new way again and again as you find yourself liberated from what was obstructing your vision, again and again.

Sermon: “Good News in the Hard Sayings of Jesus” – February 16, 2020

– The Rev. Dr. Paul Kolbet, All Saints Episcopal Church Chelmsford

Deuteronomy 30:15-20, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Psalm 119:1-8, Matthew 5:21-37

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus hasn’t made it at all easy on the preacher today, even though it is only his second Sunday here. Some of you shifted a little uncomfortably when Jesus said anyone who says, “You fool” will be liable to hell. Maybe you took comfort in thought that Jesus may not know that there are worse words. There is something for everyone to feel bad about. But I stumble on the passage where Jesus says in today’s reading, “You’ve heard it said in the law of Moses, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Sermon: “You are the light of the World”- February 9, 2020

The Rev. Dr. Paul Kolbet, All Saints Episcopal Church, Chelmsford, MA February 9, 2020

Isaiah 58:1-9a, Psalm 112:1-9, 1 Corinthians 2:1-12, Matthew 5:13-20

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As you know, the scripture we read on Sunday morning is on schedule that we call the lectionary and it is put together by a committee and revised every now and again. What we read on any given Sunday was picked years in advance with no knowledge of the events of the day. What continues to astonish me is how time and again, if we pay attention and listen, the word we need to hear is proclaimed when we need to hear it. That is not because of the brilliance of the committee that put the schedule of readings together, but because of the unique, spiritual capacity, of this book, of our sacred scripture.