Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 27, 2014 - Easter 2A

In the name of the Risen Lord. Amen.
            Have you ever wondered why there is no St. Judas Episcopal Church? Now, perhaps, you think the reasoning for that is rather obvious. After all, Judas betrayed Jesus and handed him over to the authorities. And he even did it with a kiss, a cruel perversion of a usually loving act. But you can find plenty of churches founded on the namesake of Thomas, Peter, and Mary. And so, in light of the transformation of the Resurrection, with all things being redeemed, why is it that there is no St. Judas?

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 18, 2014 - Good Friday

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
            Good Friday is, perhaps, one of the most challenging days on which to preach. As that opening prayer suggests, Jesus’ glory comes through his cross. St. Paul writes in the opening of his letter to the Church in Corinth- “When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Later, in Galatians, he will write “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And the enigma that we’re stuck with is- how do we boast in the cross of Jesus? How is it that this horrific, bloody, humiliating public execution is to be the bedrock of our hope and salvation?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Palms and the Passion

As I mentioned in yesterday's sermon, I don't like the conflation of Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. After church, several people remarked that they, too, thought it makes for a disjointed and confusing liturgical day. The practice of joining these two foci does date back to the Middle Ages, so it is not without historical warrant. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 13, 2014 - Palm Sunday

Almighty God, as we enter this most holy week, we ask that you fill us with expectation as we remember Jesus’ humble entry into Jerusalem. May our journey towards the cross and tomb bring us closer to you. Amen.
            Easter is my favorite Sunday in the Church Year. Palm Sunday is my absolute least favorite; I hate it. Actually, it’s not so much Palm Sunday that I can’t stand- I rather like Palm Sunday. It’s Passion Sunday that I detest. Blending the Palm Sunday narrative with the Passion makes no theological or logical sense. It’s confusing, distracting, and assumes the worst of laity: namely that you’re just going to skip Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Whenever I preach on Palm Sunday, I mention this. And with the exception of the year that I was coming back from Israel the day before Palm Sunday, I’ve preached every Palm Sunday since I’ve been at St. Francis. So I’m going to take that as a sign that, by consistently assigning me to preach on this day, Michael agrees with me. If you’re interested in a sermon on the Passion and Crucifixion, I suggest that you come back on Friday at noon. Today, we’ll focus on Palm Sunday.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Rethinking "Reservations Required?"

Disputation of the Holy Sacrament - Raphael, 1510

Nearly two years ago I wrote a post called "Reservations Required?" about the debate around open and closed Communion. In it, I briefly summarized the straw man argument for each side and shared by own rationale for preferring a closed Communion (meaning only baptized Christians should receive Eucharist). That was 2012 and since then, the debate has not been settled and I have heard of more and more parishes opting to make statements such as "all people are welcome to receive Communion." I have even heard of some parishes that have become known as "open Communion parishes," in a way that strikes me as exclusive rather than inclusive, as in "we are enlightened and hospitable, and if you disagree, then you must be neither of those things."

And I honestly wondered, am I being oblivious to the movements of the Spirit? Are there strong arguments for open Communion? I know a lot of intelligent people that support the idea of open Communion, I had just not heard of a compelling argument for that position. So I decided to log onto to a religious database and search for articles on every side of the issue. I ended up find ten articles on the topic.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

April 6, 2014 - Lent 5A

Lectionary Readings

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
            “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” a heart-wrenched and grieving Martha says to Jesus. What was it, do you suppose, that Jesus was doing? The text says that “after having heard that Lazarus was ill, Jesus stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days. Why did it take Jesus so long to arrive?