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).

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.

Preached (without any notes at all) about evangelism and spiritual direction this morning.

Talked about how we all have had bad experiences of being evangelized that color how we think about what many Episcopalians refer to as the “E’ word.  I shared how in college some guy came on campus talking about the pigs and the Christians (are you a Christian, or are you a pig?) …  After a couple of minutes of this I left.  But not before telling the speaker that I considered myself a Christian.  And for the first time in my life he had made me embarrassed to admit it.  (Two people in the congregation had had good, as well as bad experiences of being evangelized.  Everyone had bad experiences.) (more…)

This is my sermon for the Vigil tomorrow night:

My father named me Jacob, after the patriarch — for all the good that does!  What good is a name like that to a shepherd?  People today forget that Jacob himself really was a shepherd.  They refer to their leaders as shepherds.  But they mean it figuratively.

They look at real shepherds with contempt, and go out of their way to avoid contact with us.  They call us thieves behind our backs — and even sometimes to our faces.  But they wear our wool and eat our meat all the same.

Shepherds live hard lives in some ways, exposed to the hot summer sun and the cold winter winds, fighting off wild animals, working throughout the day and night when necessary.  I’m told we also smell.  I wouldn’t know.  But they say we pick up the odor of our charges, and people of breeding turn their noses up when we are near. (more…)

This will be my Christmas Greeting (to come out in early January) for my congregation this year:

The word “incarnation” has been on my mind this past week.

It means something like “in the flesh” or “given flesh” – as in Jesus was born in the flesh on Christmas Day.

But I’ve found myself thinking that we, as Christ’s mystical Body, give flesh to Christ in our own community today.

Our hands are not just our hands:  they are God’s hands.

Our eyes are not just our eyes:  they are God’s eyes.

We act for God today.

We represent God today.

What we do puts flesh on God for the people around us today – just as Jesus puts flesh on God for us as Christians.

And this idea carries over from the season of Christmas (that runs through January 5th – Twelfth Night) into the Epiphany (January 6) and the season following, which is about what Jesus did in the world.

Jesus wasn’t just born.  Jesus acted.  Both are necessary parts of God’s incarnation in this world.

In our baptisms, we are reborn (by the power of the Spirit) in Christ.  And we are called to act, to incarnate Jesus’ presence, in his Name.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.  May we live out the spirit of Christmas in the year ahead.

Actually, when I wrote this sermon (for tomorrow) I titled it “Jesus Walks on the Water.”  but my sermon writing is somewhat stream of consciousness (often) and I ended up somewhere unexpected.  Reflecting on what I had written, I found myself thinking about how we, like Peter, walk on (or at least in) the waters of faith.  So here it is:

Be honest now.  What would you do – how would you react – if you were in the middle of a stormy lake, in a small boat, and you saw Jesus walking on the water towards you?

Or is this so common an occurrence that you don’t have to think about it? (more…)

This is what I think is going to be my Easter sermon this Sunday, so members of my congregation may not want to read it (before then):

One phrase that really caught my attention in the Daily Office readings this past week was from John’s gospel:

“The truth of the matter is, unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.” [John 12:24 The Inclusive Bible] (more…)