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…)

Advertisements

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…)

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…)

I expect a post later to the new Sacramento Clergy Write blog (from someone other than me) from our session today.  But I will post this, from me, here on my blog.  The prompt was from George MacDonald’s Phantastes:  “Art rescues nature from the weary and sated regards of our senses.”

Been there.

Done that.

Seen that before.

There is a sense in which this is true – for adults anyway.  Maybe not a child.  For adults, as we generalize our experience, there really may be “nothing new under the sun.”

Except, of course (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…)

So here’s what I intend, at this point, to preach on Sunday:

In a few minutes, after the sermon is over and the prayers of the people, we will get to the part of the service sometimes called the General Confession.  It’s intended for us, a a community, to confess our sins.  What have we, as a community, done that has hurt others and fallen short of what God would wish for us?  I suspect that seems an odd notion:  the idea that a community of people would confess their failures to God.  But, if you think about it, it’s probably no more odd that we have a book of “common” prayer which we use to pray together as a community.  Our general confession is part of our common prayer – the prayers we say together.

It’s assumed that we have a private prayer life, and that our own prayer life prepares us for our common prayer together.  Traditionally, in the Anglican Communion, that private prayer was often the Daily Office:  the daily work of reading scripture and praying that prepared us for Sunday morning.

In my experience, we in the Episcopal Church don’t do all that much with prayers of confession. (more…)