Sermons by Father Ken Wratten

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Father Ken received a BSEE from Syracuse University, and an M. Div. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley in 2002. He has served as fifth vicar and then rector of St Stephen's July 1, 2001 through the present. When St Stephen's became a parish church on October 27, 2007, the title changed from 'vicar' to 'rector'.

Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
October 30, 2016
10:00 am

Topic: Then and Now
Scripture Lessons (RCL)

In 1999 the Episcopal Church Foundation wrote a report called ‘The Zacchaeus Project’. Here is what they wrote in their introduction to the report:

“About 2,000 years ago in the city of Jericho, a short man named Zacchaeus climbed up in a sycamore tree so that he could get a clear view of Jesus. What motivated Zacchaeus to climb that tree? Being short, he had become accustomed to having to work for a clear view when there was a crowd. But there were other factors. His search for a vantage point may have been a longing – a search for change and a different and better perspective for his life. With this view, an astonishing new possibility arose. He saw Jesus. That perspective became life-giving.

Twenty first Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Twenty first Sunday after Pentecost
October 9, 2016
10:00 am

Topic: An Attitude of Gratitude

Ten people with leprosy called to Jesus from a distance, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us’. Leprosy is very contagious. People with leprosy, what we know today as Hansen’s disease, suffer skin lesions, respiratory damage, and if left untreated, permanent damage to skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. In 1995 the World Health Organization reported that there were at that time between 2 and 3 million people infected with leprosy. Leprosy is now treatable. In biblical times, lepers were confined to leper colonies, away from their family and community. They were instructed to cry out, ‘unclean, unclean’ to warn person not to approach them. They were isolated, feared, and rejected.

The different response of the tenth leper in this Gospel reading is a study in the response to God intervening in OUR lives; God changing everything; the hand of God reaching out and touching US. It is a study for each of us to consider; do we have the eyes to see God at work in the world, and what do we do when we do see?

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 2, 2016
10:00 am

Topic: Faith to Forgive

Our last month of journey through the Gospel of Luke has shown us a series of parables from Jesus that followed his admonition that we be aware of the cost of being his disciples. It is counter-cultural, and it is hard work. But the benefits are out of this world.

We heard the parable of the lost sheep, pointing out the need for us to recognize when distractions are pulling our attention away from our spiritual life and health. The parable of the lost coin was about us taking inventory whether the events of life have upset our personal schedules, and pulled us away from God over a period of time. The parable of the shrewd manager taught us to be thoughtful and decisive like that manager was, but as Christians, the objective is to direct our life toward the growth of God’s reign in ourselves and in the people around us. Finally last week,

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 25, 2016
10:00 am

Topic: The dangers of spiritual complacency

Jessica Hullinger wrote earlier this year in the magazine The Week (4/28/16) about the “transcendental revelations of astronauts.” She says that astronauts claimed to experience something in space in 1987 that was later termed “The Overview Effect”—“a sense recently begun studying the effects of awe, but they believe we experience awe when we are confronted with something vast, either physically big (the Grand Canyon, for example) or conceptually huge (like meeting your favorite celebrity). For a moment, this vastness confuses the mind, and forces the brain to accommodate by making room for what it’s seeing.”

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 18, 2016
10:00 am

Topic: The parable of the shrewd manager
Jeremiah – What must God do to change people’s apathy?
1 Timothy – is instruction on how we should pray; prayer offered to all people, because God’s grace is universal; prayer for civil leaders; prayer as an outgrowth of our unity in the community.
Luke – on the surface looks like it is license by Jesus to be shrewd, cunning and dishonest like the shrewd manager, but be shrewd and cunning for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

Obviously, that is completely inconsistent with every other teaching of Jesus. But there are characteristics of the manager that could be the point to this teaching. The manager was thoughtful about what he would do in his situation; and he was decisive. He immediately took action. There is teaching in thoughtfulness and decisiveness… but for the Kingdom of God.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 11, 2016

Topic: Coming Home

Jesus was talking to religious leaders who believed that if someone sinned, they should turn their life around, ask God for mercy, and God would grant it. Until they ‘repent’, they should be treated as outcasts, and NOT invited to be dinner guests. These parables we just heard say that God doesn’t wait for people to turn their life around; God goes after them, to bring them home, into His family. He doesn’t just FIND them, he brings them HOME. This turns around the notion that we need to express our remorse to God when we know we have fallen off the path of His grace, in order for God to accept us ‘back’. Instead, God doesn’t wait to see signs of remorse, but comes after us wherever we are. Our remorse should be the response we give to God’s loving determination to come after us, find us, and bring us back home to Him.

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 4, 2016
10:00 am

Topic: A Study in the True Cost of Discipleship

Jesus said that we cannot be true disciples of his unless we give up all of our possessions. That certainly is a radical statement. I don’t think I could decide to choose homelessness, to intentionally turn to begging to get my next meal, to willfully face living on the fringes of society. But there is another meaning to this language of possessions. After all, wealth of itself is not the problem, but how we use our wealth. From this parish, we plan carefully and prayerfully, working to accomplish good things with the money we manage from the treasury here. The annual offerings are expected to do a lot more than keep the lights on and the lawn watered. They are expected to do nothing less than change lives while they carry the message of God’s love.

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 21, 2016
10:00 am

Topic: Accepting the Invitation

God’s invitation to wholeness is for all of humanity. Jeremiah was called as a prophet ‘to the nations’, not just to Judah. God sent his Son Jesus Christ to bring the Good News to all people, not just the Jews. It is a universal mission. But the reality is that God’s invitation into a holy life – being set apart, making life’s priority to bring honor to God, is not an easy invitation to respond to.

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 14, 2016
10:00 am

Topic: Passion fuels Perseverance

Have you been watching the summer Olympics? Who has stood out for you? Katie Ledecky; won 4 gold medals, and 1 silver medal last week. In the 800 meter freestyle, she finished an amazing 12 seconds ahead of the next swimmer. I watched a short interview with her, after she had won one of those gold medals. The reporter asked her how it felt to be in this Olympic arena, with this level of competition and pressure, and to perform at that level. She answered that she was honored to compete with a world class field of swimmers; she LOVED having the chance to swim against them, and that she could count herself among them.