Sunday, March 26, 2023

March 26, 2023 - The Fifth Sunday in Lent

Help us to trust that we are always alive in you, O God. Amen.

            It’s a joke, and especially this time of year it really is true in my home, that there are two certainties: death and taxes. With Holy Week coming and nine sermons between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about death. And being married to a certified public accountant means that a lot of evenings and weekends, in addition to the work day, are all about taxes. Why Jesus had to die during tax season, I really don’t know, but it makes our household rather busy. The joke about death and taxes being the only certainties works because, the truth of the matter is, none of this belongs to us.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

March 19, 2023 - The Fourth Sunday in Lent

Lectionary Readings

In the name of God, our holy Father and blessed Mother. Amen.

            Most people enjoy a good magic show – whether it’s a slight of hand or an optical illusion, we are delighted to see the seemingly impossible. Or do you remember those posters known as “magic eye art”? At first glance, they are just visual nonsense, but if you look at it long enough, a three-dimensional shape emerges. Artistically speaking, they were pretty bad, but people bought them in droves and put them on their walls because we love the idea of seeing things on a deeper level. And there are also times when our vision limits us. Looking out the window of the plane, it really does appear as if the earth is flat. You can see up to a certain point, and then it appears to just stop. In that example, our sense of vision limits what we can truly know about reality. In today’s readings, our vision of both what we can and cannot see is called into question.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

March 5, 2023 - The Second Sunday in Lent

Lectionary Readings

Help us to hear your call to us, O Lord of love. Amen.

            I remember back when we lived in the DC area and the initial confusion I had with directions. Yes, I knew I needed to get on the beltway, but did I need to be on the inner loop or the outer loop? Or I knew I needed to get off at the Federal Triangle Metro stop, but did I need to go in the direction of Franconia-Springfield or Largo Town Center? I picked it up pretty quickly, but were a few times I went the wrong way because I got the direction reversed.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

February 26, 2023 - The First Sunday in Lent

Lectionary Readings

O Lord, help us to trust what you have said in Jesus Christ. Amen.

            Plausible deniability – even if we don’t know exactly what it means, it’s a strategy we all use. When we are guilty of something, if there is a reasonable way for us to claim that we didn’t know what we were doing was wrong or that a rule was being broken, we clutch onto that excuse, hoping it will exonerate us from all accountability. We see it happen in business – when a manager claims not to know what their employees were doing. We see it in politics – when an elected official claims they did not know that their campaign donations came from a shady character. We see it in relationships – “Oh, I didn’t know that you didn’t want me to tell anyone about that.” We see it in parenting – when one sibling hears a rule spoken by a parent but then says they didn’t realize that it also applied to them. Plausible deniability is a favorite strategy for doing whatever we want and then trying to get explain it away.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

February 22, 2023 - Ash Wednesday

Help us, O God of grace, to remember that we are dust. Amen.

            On Ash Wednesday, the preacher generally has two topics to consider – Sin and Death. And, in general, half of the preacher’s work is to make the case for the reality of either. In a world in which religion is on the decline, a category like “Sin” just doesn’t fit into most people’s worldview. Furthermore, we’ve been taught not to shame people or talk about their imperfections, so naming the fact that we are all flawed and broken is not generally accepted in polite company. In such sermons, the task becomes defining Sin and getting us to the point of recognizing that we are bound by Sin and need help from beyond ourselves to be freed from it.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

February 19, 2023 - Quinquagesima

Lectionary Readings

Grant us to go deeper in your love, O Lord, that we might share it all the more with your world. Amen.

            Have you ever had an experience in which you saw or learned something that forever changed your experience of that thing? For me, an example is the hymn “It is well with my soul.” To be honest, I used to think it was sappy and na├»ve. But then I learned about the history of the hymn’s text. The author, Horatio Spafford, wrote it after his four daughters died when their ship sank crossing the ocean in 1873. He took the next ship over to Europe and when they were a few days into the journey, the captain told him that they were at the spot where the other ship had sunk. According to one of his daughters who was born after this tragedy, it was at this moment that he came up with those famous words – “When sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well with my soul.” I used to hear that hymn and roll my eyes, now it’s a mixture of teary eyes and goosebumps. Because I saw the truth behind that hymn, it was transfigured.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

February 12, 2023 - Sexagesima

Though we do not always choose your love, O Lord, we thank you for choosing us in Jesus Christ. Amen.

The story of humanity in Scripture begins with a choice. Should we eat from the forbidden tree or not? Consistently, the story of humanity is the story of us making choices for death instead of life. That’s what happened in the garden, it is what happens throughout the pages of Scripture, and it is what is happening in the pages of the newspaper. Today, we hear Moses tell the people, “I have set before you life and death, choose life.” We have choices to make –choices between being blessed by loving or being cursed by selfishness, and we often chose death.