Sermons

Sermons

Baptism of Our Lord

There are many things we learn from our faith.  We learn how to treat other people.  We learn what priorities to set in life.  We learn moral guidelines to use in making decisions.  But what you believe is the most important thing we learn from our faith depends on who you listen to. The gospel writers, for example, have a difference of opinion concerning what is of primary importance in our understanding of the defining element of our faith—the identity…

Feast of the Epiphany (observed)

Way back in my first semester of seminary, in a course titled Introduction to the New Testament, our professor made a comment that stuck in my mind. He said the Gospel of Matthew is the “most Jewish” of the four gospels. What he meant was that the writer of Matthew consistently quotes the Hebrew scriptures to demonstrate to his readers that Jesus is the Messiah, the fulfillment of ancient prophecy, the hope of Israel. For that reason, I thought it…

Christmas

Tonight means different things for different people. For children it’s one of the most exciting nights of the year. For their parents it might mean something else. One unknown mother expressed her wishes at Christmas in a letter to Santa.  She wrote, Dear Santa, I’ve been a good mother all year. I have fed, cleaned, and cuddled my children on demand, visited my doctor’s office more than my doctor has, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to…

Fourth Sunday of Advent

One of the things I love about this time of year is the opportunity to visit with friends in their homes.  I’d say that over the past few weeks I’ve attended holiday gatherings in no fewer than half a dozen different homes.  And like lots of people, many of these friends like to line up the holiday cards they have received on the shelf above their fireplace.  So, when you enter the living room you see not only how many…

Third Sunday of Advent

The Gospel reading for this morning has always puzzled me.  The story is pretty simple; John the Baptist sends some of his followers to talk to Jesus, to ask if he is really the Messiah, or whether they should keep looking.  Then, rather than getting into a bunch of theological jargon, Jesus simply tells them to look around at what they see going on and to decide for themselves.  What they see, of course, is amazing.  The blind are receiving…

Second Sunday of Advent

If there is one thing that my work as a priest has taught me, it is that life is full of uncertainty.  And, perhaps because of that reality, many of us spend a great deal of time searching for things that we believe we can count on.  A fisherman will go back to that special spot that always produces fish.  A gardener will find it difficult to switch from tried and true varieties of vegetables.  People look for sure things…

First Sunday of Advent

There’s a book I read a number of years ago that I occasionally return to for reflection. The Gospel of Inclusion was written by the former Pentecostal mega-church pastor, Carlton Pearson.  In this book, Pearson, who now preaches a Gospel of universal salvation, spends a great deal of time looking at the concept of “the end times.” The end times is the theological belief in the 2nd coming of Christ as a day of judgment when Jesus will return and…

Feast of Christ the King

In his ministry, Jesus once declared, “For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners”. Now, we Episcopalians sometimes get a little jittery around the word “sin.” And I believe we are justified in feeling that way. The word sin has been co-opted over the centuries and used to denote an act that is some ethical, moral, or legally religious transgression against God. And with that definition, sin has been used to make many people feel or believe…

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

A young man phones up his father at work for a chat. The dad says, “I’m so sorry, son, I’d love to talk, but I’m up to my neck in work today” Son says, “But dad, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.” Dad says, “OK, but since I’ve got no time, just give me the good news.” Son says, “OK.  Well, the air bags work . . .” I know they’re corny, but I love…

Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

If you’re a teacher or you know someone who is a good teacher, you’ll appreciate this story.  There was a priest who, for many years, made it his policy to refer the theological questions of six-year-olds to his wife.  Since she taught young children, he thought she had a much better grasp than he did on how to address the questions children asked. One day, a first-grader brought a drawing of a skeleton into class where his wife taught English…