Sermon: C Easter 7 12 May 2013

Acts 16:16-34; Ps 97; Rev 22:12-14, 16-, 20-21; JOHN 17: 20-26

Do not leave us comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us. Amen.

This Sunday, Easter 7, three days after Ascension Day, a week before Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, is the scariest Sunday of the Christian year, at least for me. The whole ten days from the Ascension to Pentecost are both challenging and lonely, and test us and our faith. These days remind us about heading into the unknown and what it takes from us to trust in promises that sound fine, but actually who knows, who can know? Such promises risk sounding too good to be true, and that makes us wary, but Jesus says, “I will not leave you comfortless,” and promises to send the Holy Spirit. Whatever can the disciples have made of that promise? What’s the Holy Spirit; what’s a Paraclete, and what would an Advocate look like or be? Read more ›

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Sermon: C 6 Easter 5 May 2013

Acts 16:9-15; Ps 67; Rev 21:10, 22—22.5; JOHN 14: 23-29

Let the peoples praise you, O God, alleluia; let all the peoples praise you, alleluia. AMEN.”

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give it as the world gives. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled. — And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. Don’t let your hearts be troubled, and don’t let them be afraid.” Read more ›

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Sermon: C 5 Easter 28 April 2013

Acts 11: 1-18; Ps 148; Rev 21: 1-6; JOHN 13: 31-35

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. AMEN.

This morning’s readings circle around the concept of love as the disciples heard it, in traveling around, with, and continuing to follow Jesus. The readings present an odd combination of images and associations. The chosen psalm is straightforward praising the Lord for his mighty acts. Since Halleluiah is the theme and concept for Eastertide, this psalm echoes or leads to both. Reciting this psalm in Easter season, we are suggesting that the Lord had done great deeds for them, and by extension, his deeds for us include the resurrection, ascension, and on-going life of Jesus our Lord. The psalm is joyful and suits the feeling of the season. Read more ›

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Sermon: C 3 Easter 14 April 2013

Acts 9:1-6 (7-20); Ps 30; Rev 5:11-14; JOHN 21: 1-19

Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed, in truth. Alleluia!

The Easter 3 readings are full of Wow, thanks and then help to paraphrase. The numbers in scripture always intrigue me, and so one year, in reading this John, I looked up, maybe, 14 commentaries about 153 fish, why 153? Each commentary had an authoritative definitive answer; none was the same; each writer had earned directly or indirectly $’s for his (I’m pretty sure) answer. John’s Gospel is, however about theology, not narrative history. Unless, in the culture then 153 was the record number of homeruns, lambs shorn in a day, or water vats turned into wine at one party, I’d guess 153 was a number of a big bigness of fish caught, but real fish, not symbolic ones. John was saying Jesus turned a bad day of fishing into one of enormous bounty, bigger than imaginable, enough for eating then, a stockpile for a communal future, and one reflective of a generous Creator’s constant awareness of what his beloved creation always needs—enough to eat, to work, live, and love on. Here John is telling a parable in using a random, specific large number to convey the extent of the care and gifts to G*d’s people, in need and in their lives to come. John wasn’t doing a one to one allegory where fish = food, 153 = 10 fish/each of 12 tribes and one for each of his 33 years or some other nonsense. I’d guess it’s an introductory rhetorical largeness for the next story. Read more ›

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Sermon: C 2 Easter 7 April 2013

Acts 5:27-32; Ps 150; Rev 1:4-8; JOHN 20: 19-31

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Hallelujah! Amen.

Every year for this Sunday, I carefully reread today’s Gospel in Greek, to see why Thomas gets such a bad rap. It’s not there, nor do I ever see where he “doubts.” In Barbara Crafton’s short essay, called “Nailprints” in her blog “The Geranium Farm,” she begins, “We are so accustomed to comparing ourselves favorably with poor Thomas, whose famous doubt has come to be considered part of his name…,” I stopped reading that for a moment. I reread the Gospel, not because I consider myself better than Thomas, but rather that I am Thomas, or in the direct line of this one who was “just checking.” Read more ›

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C Easter Day 31 March 2013

Is 65: 17-25; Ps 118; 1 Cor 15:19-26; LUKE 24: 1-12

Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

“Welcome happy morning age to age shall say.” And so we arrive at the real Easter Morning, the 4th day of a three-day sequence. Parishes that do glorious Vigils, as we do, have some inclination to skip Easter morning, because it has already become Easter; they’ve sung “Jesus Christ is risen today;” and what more is there to do to welcome the risen Lord. We began this service with a Procession for this reason. While the parishes that do Vigils have done processions, and readings, and drama, and darkness and light, and more, Easter morning is still Easter morning, and Easter cannot be observed with less moment than the other two major Church festivals of Christmas and Pentecost. Whether or not a Vigil was held doesn’t impact those people for whom Easter happens in the early part of Sunday morning. The great Triduum, the great Three Days don’t include Sunday, because Sunday is always Sunday and always a feast to remember and relive Easter, especially on …Easter. Easter morning can never be an afterthought to the Vigil, nor simply zipped through. Easter is at least Easter, especially on—Easter.

The readings illustrate various concepts of what a new heaven might be like, could be. …No more shall the sound of weeping be heard in Jerusalem; no more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime… they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit..” These are such real and simple goals and gentle possible lives, and yet these are still not the norm, or even the earthly expectations for all God’s people, and certainly not for those in Jerusalem. (I digress, but in today’s Anglican Cycle of Prayer the Psalmist’s line: “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem: [they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be in your walls.]” is the prayer for the week of Easter. Would it not be an achievement of humankind for that not to be the obvious and still necessary prayer for this week, whether about actual war, or simply enmities.) That aside, Isaiah’s vision of the time of God’s reign is neither out of date nor achieved, and would still be a heavenly achievement. Read more ›

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C Easter Vigil 2013

Alleluia! The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

If, in the Genesis first reading by the third Day of Creation, we have not demonstrated clearly that this great liturgy is different from all others, surely that tonight’s Sermon is listed on page 18 should be a definitive clue. This liturgy is not designed around a balance between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table. This Liturgy is more like a family reunion party after not seeing each other for a while. Everyone needs to hear our grandparent’s, our ancestors’ family stories, enough of them to recognize themselves as part of the family. We want to push those old voices along too, but the stories remind us, who we are, where we came from, what makes us a community, and to where we’re traveling together. That story, one made of so many stories, takes time and listening, time and feelings, time and mystery, time and beauty. Read more ›

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