A Sermon Preached on January 19, 2008
at the Wedding of Sally Yuan-Ting Kao and Sean McClaren Jackson
in St. John’s Episcopal Church, Stamford, Connecticut
by The Rev. Dr. Leander S. Harding
There has been an argument in the churches since the time of the Reformation about the number of sacraments. Traditional Roman Catholic theology had said there were seven — the Reformers, only two: Baptism and Eucharist. If a sacrament is something commanded by the Lord Himself, then there are two. If a sacrament is a liturgical rite performed by the church as an outer and effectual sign of God’s gift of an inner and transforming grace, there are at least the traditional seven. Anglicans have spoken of two dominical sacraments and five sacramental rites. I am an unabashed proponent of understanding Holy Matrimony sacramentally. There are other understandings that are possible. Perhaps the one that is most common in contemporary society is that marriage is a contract between two consenting adults for their mutual benefit and fulfillment, including the fulfilling experience of getting and raising children. The corollary is that when the marriage is perceived by one of the parties to be no longer beneficial and fulfilling, the terms of the contract have not been honored and it is permissible and even in a way necessary to withdraw. Hence the culture of divorce, which, humanly speaking, in terms of the span of human history and cultures, is not unusual.
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Ordination of William Starke to the Priesthood Dec. 14, 2007
A Sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Leander S. Harding
I have been a shepherd of both the four-legged and the two-legged sorts of sheep. My wife and I helped to support the ministry in the first parish I served in rural Maine by raising sheep. Bill has asked me to speak on the figure of the Good Shepherd. This figure of Jesus as shepherd — as pastor — is the oldest representation which we have: a picture in the Roman catacombs of a young shepherd with a lamb draped about His neck. The crucified Christ is the most widely shared representation of Jesus, and second to it and closely related to it is the figure of Jesus the Good shepherd. Closely related because at once we think of the biblical Good Shepherd, we must think of the one who lays down His life for the sheep — who is irrevocably committed to the sheep and flees not when the wolf approaches — who is faithful even unto death. This utterly unique Shepherd who is also the Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world and who is truly our peace with God and with each other — who is truly Life, Life eternal — the life of the Resurrection and of the world to come.
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My Christmas book Flying Saucers and Christmas has received a review by Don Mitchell, one of Amazon.com’s top ten reviewers. The title sermon received an award from the Episcopal Evangelism Foundation. My hope for this book is that it can be given to family and friends as a kind of book evangelism.
You can read the review and order the book at Amazon.com.
If you would like a signed copy please visit the Flying Saucers and Christmas webpage to order directly from me.