Sunday, December 30, 2018

December 30, 2018 - Christmas 1C

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Don’t you just hate it when you lose something? You can’t remember where you put your keys or an important document. It’s even worse when you can’t find someone you love. Several weeks ago, one of our dogs got out of the yard and was missing for a few hours. It was scary. I drove around the neighborhood calling his name to no avail. But then he showed up at our front door a few hours later. And he didn’t know he was lost, he just thought he was having an adventure. And that’s the thing about being lost, it all depends on your perspective. Often people who are lost don’t think they are lost. But when you can’t find them, the sense of panic can be overwhelming.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

December 25, 2018 - Christmas Day

In the name of the One who is, and was, and is to come. Amen.
            Merry Christmas! The Christmas morning Eucharist is one of the holiest there is and the Christmas morning sermon is one that I always enjoy preparing. For one, I know that you all want to be here. No one gets dragged to the Christmas morning Eucharist, they get dragged to Midnight Mass. There is something special about gathering in the Lord’s name to celebrate the Eucharist on this the most foundational of days in our faith when we celebrate the glory and grandeur of the Incarnation. And the Gospel text that we have this morning from John is one of the richest in all of Scripture and theology. It’s always a treat to sit down with commentaries for a few hours and dig into these iconic verses. So indeed, it is a joy to be here with you all this morning.

December 24, 2018 - Christmas Eve

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            What a joy it is to be here with you on this holy night. There is something special about this night. Something beckons us out of our warm homes and pajamas and calls us through the darkened streets to make our way to gather with friends and strangers to recall the birth of Jesus. Maybe it’s a deep sense of faith that brings you here, perhaps it’s nostalgia, or it could be something in your soul that tells you that you might find here tonight that thing you’ve been searching for. Whatever it is, there is no denying the power of this night which fills us with wonder and stirs us to sing praises to God.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

December 23, 2018 - Advent 4C

God our redeemer, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as she looked for his coming as our savior, so we may be ready to greet him when he comes again as our judge in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “White Christmas” – we’ve heard these songs dozens of times over the past weeks. But there is one song that we haven’t heard this season, and, no, I’m not speaking of “Dominic the Christmas Donkey,” which is a fun song. The song to put on our lips and carry with us in our hearts is Mary’s song which we heard this morning.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

December 16, 2018 - Advent 3C

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Once you’ve been through Advent a few times, you’ll start to notice the pattern. On the First Sunday of Advent, the focus is apocalyptic, with Jesus speaking of the end of all things. The Fourth Sunday of Advent focuses on Mary as the God-bearer. Which leaves us with Sundays two and three and their focus on John the Baptist’s prophetic ministry and call to repentance.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

December 9, 2018 - Advent 2C

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people and set them free in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            You may have noticed that this morning’s psalm does not come from the Book of Psalms, but rather from Luke. A psalm is a hymn to God found in Scripture, and this passage from Luke certainly fits that definition. This particular psalm is known as the “Benedictus” because that is the Latin translation of the first word “blessed,” and historically, that is how psalms are named.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

December 2, 2018 - Advent 1C

O Lord, we wait in hope for your coming  in the of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            The song on the radio tells us that this is the most wonderful time of the year, and it is. Advent is a special season for us as people of faith. It has been said that the Church remembers three different comings of our Lord Jesus Christ – as he comes in history, mystery, and majesty. As far as Jesus’ coming in history, we think of the Incarnation which we will celebrate more fully from December 25 through January 5. Jesus also comes to us in mystery each time that we gather in his name to break bread and share the cup. And there is his coming in majesty at the end of all things to culminate his reign of shalom and love. It is this final coming of Jesus Christ in majesty that Advent focuses on, which is why Advent is such a majestic time for us as Christians.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

November 25, 2018 - Proper 29B: Christ the King

Almighty God, guide us to seek your Truth: come whence it may, cost what it will, lead where it might. Amen.
            There’s a podcast that I listen to, and I’ve been told that’s the most Millennial way possible to introduce a topic, but this podcast asks it’s guest each week “What one trend in society worries you the most?” People respond with all sorts of answers, but as I’ve thought about that question, I’d have to say that the trend that worries me most in our society is the erosion of truth. As we heard in today’s reading from John, Pilate asks “What is truth?” For much of Western civilization, the quest for truth has been a driving force. We have built libraries, philosophies, laboratories, cathedrals, and universities as we have sought truth. Some have argued that what separates humans from other animals is that we are “meaning-making” creatures; that is, our desire for meaning and truth is what makes us unique. But as you all know, there is an overt crisis of truth in our society.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

November 22, 2018 - Thanksgiving

In the name of the One from whom all blessings flow. Amen.
            A recent Pew study found that 80% of all Americans report feeling thankful in the past week. 80%? If that seems a bit high to you, it seemed that way to author Diana Butler Bass, who has written a new book called Grateful. She says that she was confounded because other studies show that Americans are more anxious than ever and more pessimistic about the future. If you look at our economy or our political system, it certainly doesn’t seem like gratitude is a core principle in our society. She says that what we are experiencing is a “gratitude gap” between how we state that we feel and how our lives are actually lived out.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

November 18, 2018 - Proper 28B

In the name of the living and Triune God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Jesus warns his followers that things are falling apart. The magnificently large stones of the temple will be toppled. False teachers will come along and lead us astray. There will be wars and rumors of war. There will be conflict, there will be environmental disasters, there will be famines. In short, terrible times are ahead. The institutions that we count on will fail, human sin will run amok, and the earth itself will reveal the brokenness of human sin. Jesus warned us.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

November 4, 2018 - Proper 26B

In the name of God – who was, and is, and is to come. Amen.
            “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” What a world this would be if our actions were more aligned with those words. The reason why I preach about love so much is that the Beatles were right, “love is all you need.” Being rooted in the knowledge that God loves us, if we respond to that love with our whole being then we’d see more what we pray for each week – thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. But because of Sin, we aren’t the best at remembering that we are loved or showing love to others. And so love must remain at the center of the Church’s preaching. Once we get love right, then I’m happy to entertain a discussion about what the next priority ought to be. But until then, love remains at the center.

Friday, November 2, 2018

November 2, 2018 - All Souls

O eternal Lord God, who holdest all souls in life: Give, we beseech thee, to thy whole Church in paradise and on earth thy light and thy peace; and grant that we, following the good examples of those who have served thee here and are now at rest, may at the last enter with them into thine unending joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for everAmen.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

November 1, 2018 - All Saints

O Almighty God, who by thy Holy Spirit hast made us one with thy saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may ever be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and may know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to thy power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.
            That Collect is one of the treasures of our Book of Common Prayer. It’s not often used, as it is the third option of the generic commons for a saint. Though it may not be one of the most often used prayers in our tradition, it is a splendid one to consider on the Feast of All Saints. This Feast of the Church is rooted in Baptism; in the fact that we are brought into the Body of Christ which transcends space and time. And as we can see in this prayer, which is found on page 7 of your bulletin, being the Baptized people of God sanctifies us, connects us, and gives us witnesses.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

October 28, 2018 - Proper 25B

Be with us, O Lord, for if you are with us nothing else matters, and if you are not with us, nothing else matters. Amen.
            “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Those words of Job express so much about the human condition and both the blessings and the challenges of saying anything about God. This morning, I want to say four things about the grandeur of God, but first I will give a very short summary of the Book of Job to make sure that we’re all up to speed on how we got to this, the final chapter in Job.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

October 21, 2018 - Proper 24B & Feast of St. Luke

In the name of the loving, liberating, and life-giving Trinity. Amen.
            What difference does it make that you are a follower of Jesus? I’m sure you all know people who aren’t people of faith and yet they live lives similar to yours – they are nice people, they give to charity, and they’d be there to help you in a time of need. Certainly, we’re here this morning and they’re not, so that’s a difference. But the way they might view our religious practices is that it’s a nice hobby for us. It gives us a sense of purpose and meaning, and they might find that same sort of thing when they walk in nature, or practice yoga, or listen to music. When it comes down to it, what is the difference between a devout Christian and a compassionate atheist?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

October 7, 2018 - Proper 22B

Come, thou fount of every blessing, and tune our hearts to sing thy Grace. Amen.
            Jesus, why in the world do you always have to do this? It’s a lovely morning and we’ve come together with our church family to praise you and you have to say something like “Whoever divorces their spouse and marries another commits adultery.” Jesus, don’t you know that’s not the sort of thing that we say in church? And what am I supposed to do as the preacher, just pretend that you didn’t just say that? Well, Lord, I’m just thankful that the people that you’ve given to me to care for have open minds and are committed to this parish. If we’re going to have to struggle with these words, at least we can do it together.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

September 30, 2018 - Proper 21B

Be with us, O Lord, for if you are with us nothing else matters; and if you are not with us, nothing else matters. Amen.
            The Bible is full of rich and stimulating stories of faith. Once such story is that of Esther. It’s not a story that is well-known though, and it only shows up once every three years in our cycle of Sunday morning readings. While I will point to some aspects of the story that are worthy of our deeper consideration, I want to start by telling the story of Esther, both because it is a story that the Church should be more familiar with, but also because just hearing the story itself will be edifying to your faith.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

September 23, 2018 - Proper 20B

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit one God and mother of us all. Amen.
            Today’s Gospel text from Mark is iconic, and I mean that literally. Sunday School classrooms and nurseries around the world have paintings of Jesus taking a little child into his arms as he teaches his disciples that “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” The reason why this Biblical scene so often appears in relation to ministry with children is that it is a sweet and endearing depiction of Jesus. The image seems to reassure nervous parents that it’s okay to leave your child under the watchful eye of Jesus. And certainly, commending our loved ones to God’s care and keeping is a good thing to do. But this enacted parable that Jesus offers about children coming to him is not, at its root, a story about a cuddly Jesus; rather it gives us a radical and subversive example what it means to follow Jesus.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

September 16, 2018 - Proper 19B

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Who is Jesus? It’s a simple question but it is one that makes all the difference in our lives, in our deaths, and in our world. Who is Jesus? The question is not “What do the Creeds say about Jesus,” or “What is your favorite Biblical image of Jesus,” or “What does your priest say about who Jesus is.” But who do you say that Jesus is? The answer to that question will give you the foundation and the trajectory of everything else.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

September 9, 2018 - Proper 18B

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            This passage that we heard this morning from Mark is one of the more challenging stories that we have about Jesus. The reason why it’s such a challenge is that what we are presented with is a side of Jesus that we don’t often hear about. When we conjure up images of Jesus in our minds, we usually think of Jesus as the nicest person we can imagine. But the way Jesus acts in this passage from Mark challenges that stained-glass version of Jesus.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

September 2, 2018 - Proper 17B

In the name of the Holy Trinity Amen.
            What do you think might the be the book of the Bible that has been the most commented on throughout history? You might guess the Gospel according to John – after all, it’s full of symbols and signs that are ripe for theological harvesting. Or maybe Revelation, with all of its apocalyptic images, as it does require a lot of explanation. But in actuality, the book of the Bible with the most attention paid to it is the Song of Solomon. The book is eight chapters long, but the six verses that we read this morning are the only part of the book that shows up in our entire three year lectionary – so you’d be forgiven if you didn’t even realize that this most commented on book of the Bible was even in the Bible.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

August 26, 2018 - Proper 16B

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            I don’t know about you all, but it had been a really long time since I sang the hymn “Onward, Christian soldiers;” it’s been a least a decade. If you pay attention to the text, it’s actually a great hymn that speaks of Christ leading us in our struggles against evil, which crumble in the face of the power of God’s love. It includes the wonderful line “we are treading where the saints have trod; we are not divided, all one body we, one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.” Not only does the hymn portray a triumphant and glorious vision of the Body of Christ, it also has a great tune for singing. Of course, the reason why we don’t sing this hymn very often, or at all, is because of the militaristic metaphors. After all, it’s not “onward, Christian peacemakers,” it’s “onward, Christian soldiers.”

Sunday, August 12, 2018

August 12, 2018 - Proper 14B

Loving and generous God, guide us to seek your Truth: come whence it may, cost what it will, lead where it might. Amen.
            As you’ll recall from the past several Sundays, we are in the midst of a seven week run of readings from the New Testament epistle of Ephesians. The book is six chapters long, and so to fit it into seven nuggets that are short enough for the context of Sunday worship, the lectionary has to leave out parts of the letter.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

August 5, 2018 - Proper 13B

In the name of the holy and blessed Trinity Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            I don’t watch much television, but the bit that I do see happens to be the worst kind. When I’m running on a treadmill at the gym, there’s a row of televisions in front of me, and most are tuned to a few cable news networks. Even though I’m not really watching them, I do notice. And what I notice is nearly always appalling – the partisan weaponization of journalism, intentional misleading of the public, and prioritization of ratings over content are all disturbing. Sadly, this sort of manipulation isn’t only present on cable news networks. Our economy, legal system, and even churches have all succumb to the idea of a zero-sum world – a world in which there are winners and losers, and we’ll pay nearly any price to be on the winning side. The influence of money and our insatiable appetite for power have corrupted the institutions on which our society is built. We’ll tell and believe half-truths if they serve our needs and desires. We’ll overlook facts when they don’t. Being inconsistent in our morals is a daily practice, as we can hear the phrase “Well, the situation is different” on a nearly daily basis. In short, our culture is rigged, unstable, and turbulent.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

July 29, 2018 - Proper 12B

Be with us, O Lord, for if you are with us, nothing else matters; and if you are not with us, nothing else matters. Amen.
            Have you ever considered your faith in terms of dimensions? This morning in Ephesians we heard that St. Paul prays that we might know the breadth, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love. How far into your soul do you perceive this love? How far are you willing to go in faith? How widely is this love manifest in your life? How deeply do you feel God’s love for you? This beautiful passage from Ephesians invites us to consider the dimensions of God’s love for us.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

July 22, 2018 - Proper 11B

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit one God and mother of us all. Amen.
            You’ve probably heard the cliché “Good fences make good neighbors.” Maybe that’s true for some neighbors, but it simply doesn’t work when it comes to our faith. Good fences make terrible Christians. In the letter to the Ephesians, we heard this morning that “For Jesus is our peace; in his flesh he has made both Israel and Gentiles into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” The Greek actually says that Jesus “destroys the dividing portion of the fence.” You might know that the saying about good fences comes from a Robert Frost poem called “Mending Wall,” in which he makes the point that good fences do not actually make good neighbors. Frost writes “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” As we read in Ephesians, that something that doesn’t love a wall is called the Gospel.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

July 15, 2018 - Proper 10B

In the name of the Holy Trinity. Amen.
            Beginning today, the lectionary gives us seven weeks in a row in which we’ll read from Ephesians. Though we don’t pay as much attention to the Epistles of the New Testament as we might, they are wonderful letters that still contain much truth, wisdom, instruction, and inspiration for us today.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

July 8, 2018 - Proper 9B

In the name of the holy, glorious, and undivided Trinity. Amen.
            I remember when I was going through the discernment process to be ordained as a priest and was serving as an intern at a church in Winston-Salem. I was asked to lead a program around questions related to end of life issues. One of my duties was to help people in preparing a document about their intentions so that their families wouldn’t have to be making so many important decisions as they were in the grieving process. Naturally, part of the discussion involved questions about cremations, caskets, and funeral homes. So I asked a local funeral home to come and do a presentation at this parish.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

July 1, 2018 - Proper 8B

In the name of the God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            In 1868, as the state of Illinois went from being frontier country to one of the great states in the Union, they built a State House to mark this rise in stature. And as you often do when you begin to build such an auspicious building, you first lay the cornerstone. In the case of this Illinois State House, the state newspaper noted that it was a “handsome specimen of limestone” and was eight feet, by four feet, by three feet. Quite an impressive stone. The newspaper even records the words that were etched onto this foundational stone.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

June 10, 2018 - Proper 5B

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            “When Jesus’ family heard about what he was doing, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’” Sometimes the work of the preacher is to help in translating an ancient text into modern terms. But you all have been to enough family gatherings to know exactly what is going on here. Jesus is crazy, off his rocker, not playing with a full deck of cards – or at least, that’s the accusation being made against him. Today when we call someone crazy, generally we do it as a way of invalidating whatever their action or position is. And it was no different in Jesus’ time.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

June 3, 2018 - Proper 4B

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Deuteronomy 5:12-14 says “Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work.” Other than the command to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves, the Sabbath commandment is the most important. Rightly observed, the ordinance to keep the Sabbath orients our lives to God and sets on the path of living a sanctified life. But the Sabbath commandment is also the most difficult to keep.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

May 27, 2018 - Trinity B

In the name of the holy and blessed Trinity Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            So how about Bishop Curry’s sermon at the Royal Wedding? If you’ve ever doubted the power of the Holy Spirit to move in this world, then the events of the last week are your cure. The experts tell us that people aren’t interested in religion, that our divisions are too rancorous to mend, that young people are only interested in rock bands and projection screens. But I didn’t see any of that in St. George’s Chapel – I saw a world captivated by the simple but profound message of God’s love.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

May 20, 2018 - Pentecost B

In the name of the Risen Lord. Amen.
            Green tabling dogs clouds quick. I said, “green tabling dogs cloud quick.” That’s gibberish, and I have no idea what it means. While those are all words, they’ve been strung together in a meaningless way. Language is an amazing gift that has evolved in human society and allows us to communicate in such rich ways. While a picture might be worth a thousand words, even more amazingly, we actually have the ability to come up with those thousand words. Language is how we communicate, it is how we interpret the world, it is how we process our experiences, how we express ourselves. The point that I will attempt to make in this sermon is that faith is a language.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

May 13, 2018 - Easter 7B

In the name of the Risen Lord. Amen.
            Have you ever heard someone create a word to fill in a gap in our language? Sometimes we just have to do this because the sense of the word we need doesn’t exist. This often happens when we turn a noun into a verb. Think of how sometimes people say “dialoguing” instead of “having a dialogue.” Linguists call this “verbing” or “verbification,” when we take a noun and turn it into a verb. In today’s Gospel text from John, there is a similar linguistic shift that happens between the Greek text and our English translation that obscures the implications for our faith.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

May 10, 2018 - Feast of the Ascension

In the name of the Risen Lord. Amen.
            It’s a joy to be with you all this evening to celebrate the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. You all are here, so I don’t need to explain why it is so crucial to our faith to mark the Principal Feasts of the Church with solemn worship. But I do thank you for being here to help us in being the Church and marking sacred time.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

May 6, 2018 - Easter 6B

In the name of the Risen Lord. Amen.
            “Sing to the Lord a new song.” That opening line of Psalm 98 is one of the more well-known lines from the Psalter and it exhorts us to “shout with joy to the Lord.” This Psalm reminds us that we are to be a people of joyful praise. There’s a novel in which a character says “You say you are a Christian. Then where the devil is your joy?” It’s a fair question – for too long, Christianity’s ambassadors have been puritanical and legalistic killjoys. This Easter season though prompts us to joyfully praise God.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

April 29, 2018 - Easter 5B

In the name of the Risen Lord. Amen.
            When it comes to Biblical passages about love, the most well-known is probably 1 Corinthians 13. You know, the one you’ve heard at nearly every wedding that you’ve ever been to: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious, or boastful, or rude.” And I have nothing against that passage, it’s a wonderful exploration of love. The passage that we heard today from the first epistle of John though is one that should be a part of our understanding of love, perhaps even more than the one from 1 Corinthians.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

April 22, 2018 - Easter 4B

In the name of the Risen Lord. Amen.
            The Lord is my shepherd…. I’m sure that many of us could recite the rest of Psalm 23 from memory. It truly is a wonderful part of Scripture and I’m glad it has entered into the hearts of so many Christians because, at its core, the 23rd Psalm is about God’s love, which is something we all need to be encompassed by. At the same time, familiarity can often lead to shallow and sentimental interpretations. So this morning, let’s get deeper into this profound poem of faith.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

April 15, 2018 - Easter 3B

In the name of the Risen Lord. Amen.
            Easter is, of course, at the center of our faith. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul puts it clearly:  “If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain… If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins… If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” It’s true, the Resurrection is what animates our faith, undergirds our hope, and inspires our witness.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

April 8, 2018 - Easter 2B

In the name of the Risen Lord. Amen.
            The cardinal rule for preaching on Easter Sunday is “keep it simple.” So, last Sunday my point was essentially “Easter is God’s glorious and joyful joke.” The thing that you never want to do in an Easter sermon is to try to explain the Resurrection. For one, the Resurrection is beyond explanation, so any attempt to explain is going to fall flat, which is not what you want when you have a church full of people. And another reason for not explaining the Resurrection is that it turns the Resurrection into a historical event that people can either believe or not. It turns the Resurrection into an intellectual exercise instead of an experience of grace. Easter Sunday really is all about entering into the joy of Easter, not explaining it.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 - Easter Day

In the name of the Risen Lord. Amen.
            What a joy it is to see you all this morning in your Easter best. Easter is first and foremost a gift. It is the gift of new life from God and the joy that we have this morning is a gift as well. Each of you are a gift. It has been noted that the Resurrection is not an individual event that happened only to Jesus, but rather is the dawning of the new creation, of which we are all a part. Easter is a communal event because, by the grace and triumph of God’s love over the forces of sin and death, we are all raised to the new life of the Resurrection. So we are blessed beyond measure to have each of you with us this morning. By having more of the community of faith gathered here, we are that much closer to seeing the full grandeur of the Resurrection. In the name of the Risen Lord, welcome to each of you.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 31, 2018 - Easter Vigil

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            This is the night. On this most blessed and holy evening, we encounter the fullness of all Christian liturgy. In the ancient church, people who were preparing for Baptism underwent an intense period of preparation, called the catechumenate. They learned about the faith before being baptized at the Easter Vigil. However, one thing that they did not learn about was the liturgy. Today, if you want to explore the faith, you can come and participate fully in our worship, you just don’t receive Eucharist until you are baptized. But in the ancient Church, the catechumens were dismissed after the prayers and did not ever see or learn about the Eucharist. And because Baptism happened once a year at the Vigil, and they were not yet baptized, they had never seen a Baptism or Easter Vigil.

March 31, 2018 - Holy Saturday

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Holy Saturday is very likely the most forgotten of all liturgies in the Church. For one, the Prayer Book devotes only one page to it. Holy Saturday is nestled between bigger liturgies like Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, and so often clergy and choirs are spent. Holy Saturday also makes us to face the fact that Jesus died. Obviously, we know this, but often we treat his death as a minor inconvenience or speed bump on the way to the Resurrection. And so sometimes the faithful place a greater emphasis on what is known as the theology of glory instead of the theology of the Cross. That is, we make the Cross merely a mechanistic requirement for Easter. Some might say “Well, you have a crack an egg to bake a cake,” suggesting that the Death of Jesus is as minor as cracking an egg to get to its contents. But this is not only heresy, but its unhelpful. There is also the fact that on this day, we remember that Christ experienced the fullness of human death, and so the Creed notes that “he descended into hell.” Many Christians do not wish to deal with this Biblical and theological reality, and so the remove it from the Creed and ignore it liturgically, to their own detriment.

Friday, March 30, 2018

March 30, 2018 - Good Friday

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            On Ash Wednesday, the focus of my sermon was expounding upon the words of St. Anselm – “You have not considered the weight of sin.” Today, on Good Friday, we see the heaviness of sin on full display. The Powers of Sin and Death come face to face with the Incarnate Love of God on the battlefield of the Cross. My favorite work of art and depiction of the Crucifixion is the Isenheim Altarpiece. One of the features of this work is that the horizontal beam of that Cross from which Jesus hangs is bowing downward under the weight of the sin of the world. Indeed, today is a heavy day.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

March 29, 2018 - Maundy Thursday

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” As we enter into the Triduum, it is fitting that our Savior puts us in the mind of love. Though the word “Passion” which we use to describe this week comes from Latin meaning “to suffer,” and not our romantic sense of passion, it is fitting to have love on our minds in Passiontide. What compelled Jesus to wash his disciples feet was love, what drove him to give up his body was love, and what animates his Resurrection is love.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

March 28, 2018 - Holy Wednesday

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Tomorrow is, of course, Maundy Thursday – the night on which we remember the Last Supper. Matthew devotes 14 verses to it, Mark 15, and Luke 33, but John spends 155 verses over 5 chapters recounting that final meal and first Eucharist. The passage that we heard from John this evening isn’t one that finds its way into any of our Eucharistic prayers. Sure, we all remember that it was Judas who betrayed Jesus, but the details are often overlooked. But this key passage in the Last Supper discourse tells us something about both our humanity and the grace of God that we see in Jesus.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March 27, 2018 - Holy Tuesday

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Some Greeks had obviously heard of Jesus and approached Philip and asked him to show them Jesus. As you all know, a theme of our evangelism at St. Luke’s comes from John and is the phrase “Come and see.” In tonight’s passage from John, Jesus elaborates on what it means to come and see.

Monday, March 26, 2018

March 26, 2018 - Holy Monday

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            One of the first lessons that a child is taught after it knows how to walk is “look both ways before you cross the street.” It’s good advice, as traffic comes from both directions. Holy Week is the liturgical time in which we would do well to take that same advice and “look both ways.”

Sunday, March 25, 2018

March 25, 2018 - Palm Sunday B

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            We have an anger problem in our society. A few weeks ago, I was driving our girls to daycare. I was heading into town on Innes Street and was driving through Catawba College, through the 25 mile-an-hour zone. Well, for the man in the pick-up truck behind me, that wasn’t nearly fast enough. So I drove through the campus with him about a foot behind my bumper, watching him screaming and gesturing at me. When I turned off Innes, a barrage of horn beeps sent me on my way. This wasn’t just another incident of an aggressive driver, as I was actually worried that he was going to follow me to the parking lot of the daycare to confront me. The disturbing part of this incident is that this sort of interaction is common in our society. We have an anger problem.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

March 4, 2018 - Lent 3B

Almighty God, guide us to seek your Truth: come whence it may, cost what it will, lead where it might. Amen.
            If you’ve ever been to a big sporting event, you know that the television crew has a huge trailer that they park in front of the stadium to broadcast the game. It’s essentially a mobile production office and coming out of the trailer are dozens of thick wires that connect to all of the various aspects of making the broadcast happen – satellite dishes, cameras, microphones, generators. Now imagine someone coming along who happens to believe that college football has become corrupt. And this person takes a pair of hedge trimmers and cuts every single cord coming out of that trailer. Would we call this incident “the cleansing of the broadcast?” I don’t think so. Why, then, do we refer to this event in the Gospel as the “cleansing of the Temple?”

Sunday, February 25, 2018

February 25, 2018 - Lent 2B

Almighty God, guide us to seek your Truth: come whence it may, cost what it will, lead where it might. Amen.
            Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” Certainly, those words apply to today’s text from Mark. Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” It doesn’t take a seminary degree to understand what that means. It’s direct, clear, unambiguous, inescapable, and also really difficult. It has been said that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

Sunday, February 18, 2018

February 18, 2018 - Lent 1B

Almighty God, guide us to seek your Truth: come whence it may, cost what it will, lead where it might. Amen.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

February 14, 2018 - Ash Wednesday

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            St. Anselm once wrote, “You have not considered the weight of sin.” Obviously, we were not the audience he had in mind, but the shoe fits. Ash Wednesday is a day on which we, more intently than we usually do, focus on sin. One of the questions that I often get as a priest is “What does it mean to sin?” The question behind the question is often “So, I did this thing, how bad is it?” If we are going to consider sin today, we need to have a working definition to start from.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

February 11, 2018 - Last Epiphany B

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Do you remember the first time you looked through a microscope? You put something, like a butterfly wing or a flower petal, onto a slide, adjusted the light, and then peered through the lens and a whole new world was opened to you. What you saw was something that is normally hidden from us, but undergirds everything about our world. And though it’s the opposite scale, the first time you looked through a telescope lens you could see things that are much bigger than ourselves. I remember the spine-tingling sense of wonder that I was overcome with when I looked through a telescope and saw the awe-inducing rings of Saturn. Whether it’s a microscope or a telescope, these tools reveal to us beauty, wonder, and truths of which we are typically unaware. The event known as the Transfiguration, which we heard about in Mark this morning, is a Biblical story that is equivalent to looking through a microscope to see the deepest truths of our world and a telescope to be overwhelmed by the glory of it all.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

February 4, 2018 - Epiphany 5B

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” That refrain is found in our reading from Isaiah this morning and it sets the stage for considering the passage from Mark this morning. The fact that Isaiah asks those questions about having known and heard assumes that it would be easy to miss the salvation of God that he is talking about. The same can happen to us – we get so wrapped up in the busyness of our day-to-day routines, we get caught up in the news, or we get stuck in the specifics of our own crises that we might forget about God’s salvation for us.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

January 28, 2018 - Epiphany 4B

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            What difference does Jesus make in your life? It’s a seemingly simple question, but the answer makes, literally, all the difference in our lives. Sure, we all say that religion is at the core of our principles and priorities, but judging by the society that we live in, that’s little more than lip service. We might notice that people of faith seem to fare no better than staunch atheists when it comes to income, health, or just sheer luck; and then the question is whether or not the demands of faith are worth it. And so instead of giving 10% to charity, we settle on 2%. Instead of keeping the Sabbath with rest each week, we only take a break on vacation. Because, at the end of the day, do the disciplines and ideals of a 2,000 year old religion that was established in the Middle East really have anything relevant to say to our time and culture beyond “be nice” or giving us some comfort in difficult times? In other words, does faith in Jesus actually have anything to do with our world and lives today?