This week’s sermon is posted with #Episcopal in honor of #SocialMediaSunday:

“It is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher …” Jesus said that in last week’s gospel. And I think early Christians took him pretty much at his word.
As near as I can tell, early Christians simply wanted to follow “The Way.” By which they meant they wanted to live the way Jesus lived. They wanted to follow his example.
Most of them didn’t care too much for theological explanations. (more…)

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I’m throwing you a curve this morning. We have two choices for our first reading: the reading from Genesis in your service booklet and the reading from Jeremiah I’m going to preach on in the insert. Truthfully, I knew what I wanted to say about Jeremiah (and had no idea what I wanted to say about any of the other readings). So I switched us to the alternate reading.

A prophet’s life is not an easy life.
I could pull up any number of examples. But let’s just take Jeremiah from this morning’s reading from the Hebrew Scriptures.
Jeremiah says that God has enticed him. In the Hebrew context, he’s basically saying that God has seduced him. He was first seduced, and then overpowered. The imagery here, in the Hebrew, is really suggestive of rape! In our own world, something like date rape comes to mind. (more…)

This was my second official Auburn sermon:

Last week, I talked about God’s love for us: God’s acceptance of us as we are, and God’s ongoing concern for our well-being. I talked about it as Grace, our acceptance of a gift freely given: not something we’ve somehow earned. This week, using our gospel as the jump off point, I want to talk about our love of God.
Our gospel begins by saying: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The Message paraphrase renders this: “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.”
If, then. That’s what it tends to sound like to us, doesn’t it? If you do this, then that will happen. It sounds a lot like something earned, doesn’t it. Something like if we do what God tells us to do, then God will love us. And I’ve been telling you God’s love is a gift! (more…)

This was my first “official” sermon at Auburn:

Some years ago, a young professional woman living in New York City told her priest, in the wake of yet another breakup, with yet another man, that she was “so … very very … tired of always having to try to change who she was to try to please some … very very trying … man. Why,” she asked, “couldn’t someone simply love her for herself?”
To hear some Christians, you’d think that God is a rich, powerful old man who lives in a mansion outside of town. He invites us to be honorary members of his family. Which means, in practical terms, that once a week, we all have to put on our very best clothes and our very best manners for a formal tea at his mansion. And we’d better watch out. Because if we offend him in any way, he keeps a fully staffed torture chamber in his basement. And once once someone goes into the basement, they are never seen again.
Neither the endless stream of boyfriends (or, if we reverse roles, girlfriends) nor dear Uncle God with his torture chamber really love us – do they? Because they do not accept us for who we are.
Our God, the God Jesus calls Abba, actually loves us. (more…)

This is a link to an old sermon from February 6, 2011 on being the light of the world and the salt of the earth:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/84en1ng4tkrdtaa/sermon%202%206%2011.wmv

It was given at St. George’s before I retired at the 10:30 AM service in the church (not the 9 AM service in the parish hall).

Reading the Hebrew Scripture assigned for yesterday I was struck by the words “… on that day [that is, on the day of judgement] … the earth will be desolate because of its inhabitants, for the fruits of their doing.”  And I found myself thinking about gardens.  The garden of Eden, the paradise of the creation story.  The song, Woodstock, where “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”  The garden worked by members of this congregation to feed those in need in this community. (more…)

Today’s sermon, at least in draft.  I’m looking at excerpts from Psalm 37 (in verses 1-10):

 

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to preach on today.  I looked at the second half of the gospel and it made me think.  Most of Jesus’ parables seem, to me, to have Jesus saying outrageous things – like abandoning 99 sheep to find one lost sheep – as though they were normal, rational actions.  And certainly my response to who would serve someone working for you all day first is that, of course, I would.  Yet I suspect (without actually knowing) that, in this case, Jesus’ story actually reflects the norms of his (very stratified) society.  I looked at the first half of today’s gospel and thought:  wasn’t it C. S. Lewis who quoted this passage?  Didn’t he say that, of course, non of us take this literally?  And then he wondered (in it’s aftermath) if World War II might have been averted if only we Christians had been more faithful in our prayers.

Prayer.

Prayers.

I’ve always meant to preach on the Psalter.  We know, on one level, that it’s poetry (or, since it was likely meant to be sung in some fashion, song).  And, as poetry, it’s my impression at least, most people don’t seem to take the psalter very seriously.  But the Psalter is known, in tradition, as the prayer book of the Bible.  And in monastic tradition, it is the backbone of the daily offices.  The psalms are recited together in community, slowly, again and again, day after day.  Monastics talk about being slowly ground down and formed by this recitation of the psalms. (more…)