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…)

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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…)

Does Jesus live in you?

I found myself asking that question repeatedly during this past week.  How does Jesus presence show itself in my life?

That’s what it means to be a Christian, isn’t it?  That Jesus, somehow, takes life in our lives?

I use, in my personal prayer life, The Saint Helena Breviary.  A breviary is simply a book of offices, in this case Matins, Diurnum, Vespers and Compline (- in English that’s just Morning Prayer, Noon Day Prayer, Evening Prayer and End of Day Prayer).  The Order of St. Helena is named after the Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, who is supposed to have found a remnant of the cross Jesus died on during excavations she oversaw in Jerusalem.

She built a shrine with two principal buildings where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher now stands.  It consisted of a large basilica used for the Liturgy of the Word, and a circular church known as “The Resurrection” with its altar placed on the supposed site of Jesus’ tomb.  In the courtyard connecting these two buildings, to one side, you can see the Hill of Calvary.  The shrine was dedicated on September 14, 335.  Since then, September 14, yesterday, has been know as Holy Cross Day.

As you might imagine, Holy Cross Day is a big deal (more…)

Some of you will still remember the song, “American Woman,” that still gets some play on classic rock stations.  I like the song fine, though it’s not one of my favorites.  (I prefer the version with the acoustic guitar lead in that then breaks into a harder, electric rock.)  It’s been running through my head for the last several days.  Knowing that we all read into what songs and poems and stories mean from how they connect in our own minds to our own lives, I’ve always heard this as a song about not settling for the standard work hard (at any job that pays well), care for your family and retire well thing that seems to run in American culture.  What’s important is being successful and comfortable.  Very possibly, that’s just me.

I think, if you’d asked me during my college days what the most important thing in my life was, I might have answered ending the (Vietnam) war.  Or I might have answered finding the meaning of life (I was a philosophy major) or figuring out God (I did become an Episcopal priest).  Or I might have answered my writing.  It would have depended when and in what context you asked me.

Did I want a real relationship with a woman?  Sure.  You bet!  But it might well not have been on my list of most important things.  And, in the context of making some woman happy by supporting her living the American dream, it was certainly not on my list of vital things to do with my life. (more…)

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…)

That’s the title (with the You in italics, which I can’t get the the heading) of a short piece from Martin Luther I found in Watch for the Light — a book of daily readings for Advent and Christmas that I’m using this year.  And, I guess if you’re looking for dandelions, you’ll find dandelions.  Because it fits with my sermon for tonight (which I posted yesterday).  It fits well enough that I’m considering adding it as a postscript:

The angel said to them, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you this day a savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  [Luke 2:10]

“… [The angel] does not simply say, Christ is born, but to you he is born.  Neither does he say, I bring glad tidings, but to you I bring glad tidings of great joy.  Furthermore, this joy was not to remain in Christ, but it shall be to all the people.  …Christ must above all things become our own and we become his.  This is what is meant by Isaiah 9:6  “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”  To you is born and given this child.  … The Gospel does not merely teach about the history of Christ.  No, it enables all who believe it to receive it as their own, which is the way the Gospel operates.”

So often I am finding clusters of thoughts, gathered to at least some extent around the seasons, in my readings from An Almanac for the Soul.  And I guess, if I weren’t, I wouldn’t waste my time by continuing to read from it on a (more or less) daily basis.  September 1, in theory, starts a new theme/week talking about this season as “boundary” time and the inevitability of loss in human life.

Karl Rahner is quoted:  “Every end becomes a beginning. (more…)