Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 27, 2016 - Easter C

In the name of the Risen Lord, amen.
            As it is every Easter, my first word to you is “welcome.” There is something special about Easter morning – signs of new life surround us in the form of birds chirping and flowers blooming as we enter the church and who isn’t stirred up by singing “Jesus Christ is risen today”? It will be Opening Day for baseball soon, and so all is right with the world again after the cold and dark of winter. Part of what makes this such a wonderful day is each of you. If you were here for every single service of Holy Week, welcome to you. If you are here against your will, but are just trying to make mom and dad happy, welcome to you. If you are here as family and friends of the children who will baptized this morning, welcome to you. If this is your first time worshiping at St. Luke’s and are looking for a church home, know that you are always welcome. In the reading from Acts this morning, St. Peter says “I truly understand that God shows no partiality,” and I agree with that statement. Whatever your political affiliation, whatever mistakes you’ve made, whatever doubts you have, welcome in the name of the Risen Lord. Whoever you are, you are welcome here today.

Friday, March 25, 2016

March 25, 2016 - Good Friday

Lectionary Readings

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.
            The well-known Episcopal priest and author Barbara Brown Taylor once wrote about certain “texts of terror” within the Bible. She says that these texts “Pry our fingers away from our own ideas about who God should be and how God should act so that there are only two things left for us to do with our fear: use it to propel us toward the God who is, or let it sink us like a stone.” These texts of terror, such as the sacrifice of Isaac, the plague against the firstborn of Egypt, God’s command to King Saul to kill all of the Amalekites, and the slaughter of the innocents, are texts that challenge us. These texts remind us of our vulnerability, of the fact that we do not control our own fate, of the reality that we cannot control or fully understand God.  The Passion of Jesus Christ is certainly one of these texts of terror.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 24, 2016 - Maundy Thursday

In the name of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Tonight we enter the Triduum, the three holiest days in our liturgical year. It’s not that other days aren’t holy, but Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter provide the essence of the entire Christian story. Love, sacrifice, and redemption are the themes of the Christian life and those are the themes of the Triduum.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March 20, 2016 - Palm Sunday C

Let us pray – Jesus, our true and humble king, hailed by the crowd as Messiah: grant us the faith to know you and to love you; that we may be found beside you on the way of the Cross, which is the path of glory. Amen.
            Today’s celebration of Palm Sunday may seem different from what St. Luke’s is accustomed to, and that is by design. I’ve long thought that this day is the most poorly constructed day in our liturgical calendar. Typically, Palm Sunday lasts for about 5 minutes, and then we transition into Passion Sunday for the remainder of the service. I think that transition happens too quickly and something is lost by only giving a cursory nod to the events of Palm Sunday.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

March 13, 2016 - Lent 5C

In the name of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Today’s Gospel text is like a masterpiece painting. It is full of symbols, and the more we look at it, the more we find. If you didn’t have time to understand the whole story of Jesus’ passion, these eight verses from John would give you the gist. If we had kept reading, the very next event recorded in John in the Palm Sunday procession, so this story about Jesus, Mary, and Judas is an overture to the story of Holy Week.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

March 6, 2016 - Lent 4C

In the name of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            With all due respect to Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would not be as sweet. Names matter. The passage from Luke that I just read often goes by the name “The Parable of the Prodigal Son.” Notice that that word, “prodigal,” is found nowhere in the passage itself; but, nevertheless, that is the name by which this story is known. And that name influences how we hear the parable and what we take from it. The name changes our perspective. What if we called it “The Parable of the Fatted Calf”? How about “The Parable of the Gullible Father”? Or perhaps, “The Parable of the Self-Righteous Older Brother”? Just by changing the name of the parable, which isn’t actually in the Bible, we can change the entire meaning of Jesus’ words.