Jesus


Except for our gospel this morning, all of our readings have to do with wisdom.  Solomon, invited to ask God for anything at all, asks for wisdom.  And God thinks this was the right thing to ask for.  Our psalm suggests that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom — again, seen as a good thing.  And in Ephesians we are exhorted to live as wise people.

Wisdom seems to be important.

And although our gospel doesn’t talk about wisdom, it is a reading from John’s gospel, which seems to develop the first creation story from Genesis — you remember that story, don’t you?  In the beginning God created.  And how did God create?  God created by speaking things into being.

And how does John’s prologue, John’s creation story start?  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being …”

The Greek word which we translate as “word” is “logos.”  And the logos is much more than just a spoken word. (more…)

I don’t have too many more opportunities to share my thoughts with the folks at St. George’s.  Here’s what I thought was important to share today:

Imagine the hottest person you can, man or woman, whatever floats your boat.  For me it would be a woman.  Imagine that she’s the most alluring thing you’ve ever seen.  She’s everything you’ve ever wanted, and more.  She’s smarter than you are.  She’s better read.  She’s more athletic.  She’s kinder.  She see’s right through you.  She looks at you, and she just knows everything there is to know about you.  Are you going to approach her?

I’m betting you don’t.  She’s simply overwhelming.  She puts you to shame. You know, on a basic level, that she’s simply out of your league.  There is simply no way in hell you’ll ever measure up to her.  We are simply ashamed to approach her. (more…)

[This is something I have used for Palm Sunday/Good Friday off and on for years.  With retirement looming June 1, I’m not sure I’ll have the opportunity to use this again.  So I’m sharing it here.  Permission is given to use this, but only if I’m given credit as the author.]

After dinner, you and your friends go for a walk, and stop in the park.  You ask them to wait for you, while you go away by yourself and think about what’s coming down.

It’s not a pretty picture.  It fills you with dread.  Your soul is so filled with sorrow that it almost leads you into despair.  If only there were some other way …  “Father, take this cup from me …  But no, this is why I’m here:  to do your will.”

In your distress, you return to your friends, seeking some comfort from them, from their presence — there is so little time.  And they’re sleeping for God’s sake.  Couldn’t they be there for you this once? (more…)

Today, in the calendar of the Episcopal Church, is the day we commemorate Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1109.  He was born in Aosta, in northern Italy, around 1033 CE.  He left home as a young man, traveling north, until he reached the Abbey of Bec in Normandy, where at Lanfranc’s urging, he embraced monastic life and took his vows in 1060 — succeeding Lanfranc as Prior in 1063 and later as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093.  So he was roughly 27 years old when he finally settled down.

Anselm is probably best known for his ontological argument for the existence of God — which I studied way back in college.  Basically it says that since God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived, and since we have the idea of God (as unconditional being) in our mind, such a being has to exist (or there would be something greater) and we could not even talk about such a being if it did not exist outside of our mind.

I’m probably not doing a fair summary of the argument, possibly because it has always seemed a circular and unconvincing argument. (more…)

I’m not dying, I’m retiring (and looking for new work) because it’s time to move on.  But I was struck by a story (in Chittister’s The Rule of Benedict):

An ancient people tells us that when the moment of a great teacher’s death was near, the disciples said, “What is it we will see when you are gone?”  And the master said, “All I did was sit on the river bank handing out river water.  After I am gone I trust you will notice the water.”

How wonderful!

As a priest, it’s really tempting sometimes to get caught up in one’s own importance.  We often think we are indispensable.  But we are not.

To use the image in the story, what matters is the water — using Christian terminology, “the water of life,” which is Jesus.

If I have been faithful, I’ve handed out this water flowing freely past me to those who pass by thirsty — which is all of us.

But the water is there, and free, whether I am there or not.

I hope my congregation notices the water when I am gone.

Today we celebrate “The Annunciation of Our Lord,” which is a pretty big deal.  But as I read the blurb in Holy Women, Holy Men (and thought about the name of the feast) I was struck by a feeling that we didn’t get it quite right!  I know.  That’s pretty presumptuous of me.  But let me explain. (more…)

Ok – this started out as an idea that didn’t quite gel.  Then I got a real start at my clergy writing group.  And it evolved into this sermon:


So, here are these Greeks, these Hellenists, these outsiders to the Jewish faith.  They’ve been hearing about Jesus.  There’s just something about Jesus … (more…)

I think we have a problem when we talk about Jesus as our king — analogous, perhaps, to the problem we have when we talk about gospel love.  We simply don’t use the words “king” and “love” the way Jesus used them.

For us, in every day American English, the word “love” is about what we feel.  For Jesus, the word “love” was an action verb about what we do.  We want to pair the words “love” and “hate” as opposites.  I suspect pairing the words “love” and “kill” would come closer to being opposites, as Jesus used the word “love.” (more…)

I was reading, with Matins this morning, an excerpt from the treatise On the Six Days of Creation by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan.  In it, he is wondering where evil comes from.  He concludes “It is a pervasion of mind and spirit, swerving from the way of true virtue, which frequently overtakes the unwary.  … The enemy is within us. (more…)

In my daily office readings of late, in the Hebrew Scriptures, there has been a lot of talk about worshiping God alone, and keeping apart from the gods of other people.  God gets very angry when Israel worships other gods.  And I find myself thinking about my universalist religious approach (as opposed to exclusivist Christian approach) in this context.

And I’ve got to say at the start, I have real trouble believing that all of this comes from God. (more…)

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