Category Archives: Life in a parish

A Veteran’s Day Invocation

Over the last several years it has been a tradition here in East Greenwich that the rector of St. Luke’s offers an invocation during the town’s Veterans Day Parade.  This year, the rector was away at a conference, so I was asked to give the invocation.  So this past Saturday, I strolled down main street to Town Hall to watch the parade and give the invocation.  Despite the bitter cold there was an excellent turn out.  I was struck by the dedication and service of so many throughout our town to create a special day for all Veterans.  Check out some photos of the day over at East Greenwich News.  Below is a copy of my invocation.  Let us continue to pray for those who have served, those who continue to serve, and that all of us may work for justice and peace for all people so that one day wars might cease in all the world.

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Photo taken by Elizabeth McNamara of East Greenwich News

Let us pray:

O God, the author of peace, we come before you this day to offer our humble gratitude for all those who have answered the call to serve our nation in the Armed Forces.

We come before you this day to offer our prayers for all those who have fought the good fight and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We pray for those who have returned home, whose spirits and bodied are scarred by war, whose nights are haunted by memories too painful for the light of day. We pray for those who have returned home to find themselves neglected and forgotten. Open our hearts that our remembrance and gratitude for them may not be confined to one celebration, one day a year.

This, and every day, may we remember and give thanks for the dedicated service of our home-town heroes who marched on the front lines, who sailed the stormy waters, who flew in the dangerous skies. Let us offer our gratitude for those who served on military bases, staffed our embassies, and guarded our leaders; who worked in factories, classrooms, offices, kitchens, hospitals, and all other outposts of service.

As we celebrate and honor all those who have served, let us also remember those who continue to serve. Those who are stationed in places near and far. Those who do not know when they will see their loved ones again. Those who stand in harms way. Those who stand ready to give their lives for the cause of liberty, freedom, and justice. May our prayer for them always be their safe return home.

As we offer our thanks to all those who have served our nation, we ask that you instill in every person a sense of restlessness at injustice. That no person may rest until all people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. Make us a nation that always strives for the freedom and peace of all people. Give us a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; that one-day we may know wars to cease in all the world. That one day, all of your creation may live in that perfect peace that only you can give. Guide all the people of this land that we may do justice, and love mercy, and walk in the ways of truth.

All of this we pray in your loving, liberating, and life-giving name.  AMEN

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Blessed Martin, Pray for us!

The following reflection on Blessed Martin, Bishop of Tours, was written for the November 12th edition of the St. Luke’s Weekly.  I’ve had some good response to it from parishioners so I thought I would share it here as well.   

Today, November 11, the Church celebrates the feast day of one of my favorite saints: St. Martin of Tours. Blessed Martin was born about the year 330 at Sabaria, the modern Szombathely in Hungary. He spent a great deal of time in his early years in Rome and would complete a term of service in the Roman army. Martin is probably most remembered for two things his cloak and a goose.

In the year 372, Martin was elected Bishop of Tours an office he did not desire. As a way of trying to avoid his election, Martin hid in a barn. As legend has it, when the crowds searched the barn looking for him, a goose went over to where he was hiding and started honking thus giving away his position. The goose has thus been a symbol of Martin and there was even a medieval custom of eating goose on Martinmas (the Feast of St. Martin) as a way of honoring Blessed Martin’s memory. As fun as this legend of Martin and the Goose is, it is far from the most important part of Martin’s story. Martin’s legacy is truly understood and symbolized by his cloak.

While Martin was a catechumen (a person learning the faith and preparing for baptism) a beggar approached him asking for alms in the name of Christ. In that moment, Martin took his sword and cut away part of his military cloak and gave it to the beggar. The next night, Jesus appeared to Martin, clothed in Martin’s military cloak and said, “Martin, a simple catechumen, covered me with this garment.”

Martin took that which symbolized his power and authority, that which symbolized the power, authority, and military might of the Roman Empire and used it for the relief of one poor beggar. He broke from power of the empire to serve those in most in need and found that in doing that he was serving Christ himself.

Shortly after his baptism Martin left the army, took on a life with very strict religious practice, and strived always to live into the servant ministry of Christ: caring for the hungry, the homeless, the stranger, and anyone in need.

This is why I love Blessed Martin. Here is a man who had a significant amount of power and privilege and he gave it up to be a servant of God and a follower of Jesus Christ. Martin embodied in a powerful way the things we commit ourselves to in baptism; the things we are called by the Gospel mandate to follow. For me, Blessed Martin is a reminder of what some have called the movement of Christian resistance. The movement of Christians to resist the powers of this world, and align ourselves with the powers of God that always strive for justice and peace. You may have noticed a small silver metal pinned to my suit jacket each week, that is my Martin medal. It is an outward reminder to me that I have chosen to be a follower of Jesus and that requires me to live my life according the mandates of the gospel. While it is never an easy road, I know that witnesses and saints like Martin will guide me along the way.

As our world is increasingly filled with division, hatred, violence, and all sorts of vitriol, it seems to me that it needs more folks like Martin. More folks to stand on the side of justice and peace. More folks to stand asking the oppressive forces of darkness in this world. More folks to stand on the side of the love of God. More folks to cut their cloaks in half and care for the poor. May we evermore strive to be like Martin as we seek to follow the God who is all about compassion, kindness, grace, forgiveness, and relationship. Saint Martin, pray for us.

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Sermon: Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Below is my sermon from this past Sunday at St. Luke’s East Greenwich.  We are using track two, and the lessons can be found here.  I preached this sermon without notes, but there is a video recording of it.  As always your feedback and comments are encouraged and welcome. 

 

 

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Sermon: The Transfiguration of our Lord

Below is a copy and recording of my sermon from The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord (August 6, 2017), preached at St. Luke’s East Greenwich.  You can find the lessons here. As always your comments and reflections are welcome. 

Today we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration,
one of my favorite feasts in the life of the Church.

This feast we celebrate today is so important to me because it is all about two things that are the core of my faith and my personhood – identity and integrity.

On this the feast of the Transfiguration something is revealed to us about the identity and integrity of Jesus, and of ourselves. And I truly believe that if we open ourselves fully to what is celebrated on this day,
we might just find not only God,
but ourselves transfigured.

transfigiconToday’s Gospel passage finds us on the mountain.
Just as in real estate, location is everything in Scripture.
Mountaintops are known, and symbolic of, places where God is revealed.

So when we hear: “Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray,” that is a clue to us that something incredibly important is about to happen.
God is about to reveal God’s self in some miraculous way.

In this Gospel passage, in this mountaintop moment, God is making sure that the core of the disciples – Peter and John and James – have no doubt about the fullness of Jesus’ identity. In the verses leading up to todays’ passage from Luke, there are a series of stories and events that attempt to communicate to the disciples the divine nature of Jesus. Time and time again the disciples just do not get it. They keep trying to force Jesus into their idea of who the messiah should be and how the messiah should act.

As an aside, it needs to be noted that throughout Luke’s Gospel, the female disciples absolutely get it, but the gender division of Luke’s narrative is another sermon for another time.

As we approach this mountain top encounter there are three key elements that speak to the identity and integrity of Jesus.

First, Jesus takes these three disciples up the mountain to pray.

Now this might be an obvious statement,
but I am going to go ahead and say it anyway;
for Jesus prayer is incredibly important.

Repeatedly throughout Luke’s narrative we witness how Jesus is empowered by prayer.
Through prayer Jesus opens himself to receive the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Through prayer Jesus chooses the apostles.
Through prayer Jesus is able to maintain his integrity through abuse.
Through prayer Jesus is strengthened to confront the oppressive structures of the empire.
And it is through prayer
that the disciples would be able to do all these things and more, if they could simply get out of their own way and truly accept the presence of God in their lives.

At this point in the Gospel, the disciples do not have this prayer thing down. It will be another two chapters until they ask Jesus to teach them to pray.

Even though they still have not received their formal training in prayer, God still uses the empowering nature of prayer to be a time when the disciples – and all of us – are able to come into proximity with the Divine.

It is in the setting of prayer that the true identity of Jesus is revealed.

 The second key element of this transfiguration event is the appearance of two prophets.

In this prayerful moment, when Jesus is transformed and his clothes become dazzling white he does not appear alone. The appearance of Moses and Elijah is an indicator that the mission of God, in the person of Jesus, is a continuation of the work that God had already begun in the prophets of the Hebrew Bible.

This makes clear that the Jewish identity of the disciples, and what later generations will call Christian identity, do connect. This is a sign that for us as Christians, that the words spoken through the prophets have been realized in the person of Jesus.   That is why of all the prophets, it is Moses and Elijah who appear.

Moses is the reminder of the past.
Moses was the person empowered by God, to lead God’s chosen people out of bondage and slavery into freedom.
Elijah, in Jewish thought, in connected to the end times.
Elijah is the one who will one day turn people’s hearts back to the covenant.
Jesus’ transfiguration is placed between those who represent the beginning and the end. The conversation the three of them have makes clear the fullness of Jesus’ mission: that Jesus is ended to Jerusalem to accomplish his mission.

Just a few verses beyond today’s Gospel passage, Luke will tell the reader that Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Jesus will begin that long journey to the cross.

Thus by standing next to Moses it is made clear to us that that just as Moses was the one who led the people Israel out of bondage and slavery in Egypt, Jesus will be the one to lead all of humanity out of the bondage and slavery of sin.

And by standing next to Elijah, the one who will bring people back to the covenant that God made with the ancestors, Jesus will be the one to usher us back to the very presences of God in the end of time.

Now if all that was not enough for this revelation of the glory of God, there is one final moment that makes Jesus’ divine nature explicitly clear:

Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

For the second time we read God claiming Jesus as God’s Son.

Several chapters earlier, at Jesus’ Baptism, we read that God speaks from heaven and says to Jesus, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

But now
here
during the Transfiguration of our Lord,
God once again speaks, and this time, tells us that Jesus is God’s Beloved.
And God does not just speak to the disciples confirming Jesus’ identity,
God commands the disciples – and each one of us – to Listen to Jesus!

No longer can there be any doubt.
This teacher, this rabbi they have been following is the divine Son of God.
This teacher will not only lead us out of temporal slavery,
but he will break down the door of hell
redeem every soul for all of eternity
and usher us into that heavenly city – the New Jerusalem.

In this moment, we receive a vision to carry with us down the mountain.

In the Transfiguration, we get a glimpse of the unimaginable reality of God’s grace, glory, and love for all of humanity.

But what happens when the appearance and revelation of God – ends?
What happens when we come off the mountain?

When Jesus, Peter, John, and James come down the mountain they met a man whose only son was possessed by a demon.
The man says to Jesus, “I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”
Jesus chastises those around him,
rebukes the demon,
and the boy is healed.
As soon as Peter, John, and James come off the mountain they find transfiguration in every day life.

That healing encounter is where identity and integrity meet in the realities of the Transfiguration.

On the mountaintop Jesus’ identity is revealed. Once they are down in the valley the disciples witness the fullness of Jesus’ integrity. They see the honest and true reality that the mission of the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is to restore all of the created order to the way God intended creation to be from the very beginning:
Good
In the imagine of God
Whole
Redeemed

By witnessing the intersection of Jesus’ identity and integrity we are forced to see Jesus differently – to understand Jesus differently.

This teacher the disciples have been following around is not going to be some great and powerful military leader –
releasing the people of God from oppression through violence and destruction.

This transfigured Christ is going to humbly heal humanity and redeem us all
through suffering
anguish
and humiliation.

While we glimpse the glory of God in the transfiguration moment on the mountaintop, we will not fully see the glory of God until we stand at the foot of the Cross.

And if we are going to understand Jesus in this new way, we must also understand our relationship with Jesus and our call as disciples in new ways.

We are called to remove from ourselves all the darkness the world has placed upon us, so that our light might shine forth. We are no longer are to understand our ministries and callings through our own desires, but instead take on the meekness and humility of Christ.

We must, through prayer, open ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit that we may be empowered to truly and completely listen to the commands of Jesus.

Now there is one more piece about coming down from the mountain that allows us to fully take on this new reality of our discipleship.

Think back for a moment to our Old Testament lesson from Exodus.

After coming down from Mount Sinaimoses
After having an incredibly intimate encounter with God,
that according to other parts of scripture should have killed Moses
Moses’s face was shining.
After encountering the holy, Moses was visibly changed.

Now I could preach two more sermons just on this passage from Exodus, I’m not going to, but I could.

However there is one thing I do not want to miss today.

This transformation was so startling that Moses started wearing a veil to not scare those in his community. But every time Moses went and spoke to God, Moses would remove his veil.

That for us is the final key to understanding our identity and integrity as followers of Jesus.

We may from time to time, find ourselves placing veils over our faces to not scare those around us, to not cause trouble, or for any other reason.

But when we come to this place,
When we come to hear the word of God
When we come to see God face to face
When we come to hold God in the palms of our hands in the Sacrament of the Eucharist
We no longer have any reason to fear or hide our faces.
We can remove every mask,
every veil,
We can remove absolutely everything that we put up to hide the light that shines from our faces.

If we are to truly be disciples then we must live into the fullness of our identity with all integrity in front of God, and one another.

On this feast of the Transfiguration may we give thanks for the divine revelation of God on all the mountaintops past, present, and yet to come.
May we come to know something more of the identity and integrity of God.
But most importantly may God reveal to us something of our own identity and integrity that we too might be transfigured.

AMEN.

 

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Sermon: The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

This past Sunday (16 July) I preached my first sermon at my curacy parish, St. Luke’s East Greenwich.  We are using track two, and for the summer, the preacher gets to choose if we use the Old Testament Lesson or the New Testament Epistle.  For this week, I chose to go with the passage from Isaiah.  The lesson from Isaiah and the rest of the scriptural texts for the week can be found here.  For this sermon I decided to go back to preaching without a manuscript or notes.  It has been a while since I’ve done this on a Sunday, and I think it turned out pretty well (a few spots I wasn’t totally happy with, but that’s the way it goes with this sort of thing).   

So here it is, the video of my first sermon as Curate of St. Luke’s.  Take a look and let me know what you think.  As always comments welcome. 

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Getting My Prayer Book Dirty

IMG_1275One of the joys of being a newly ordained curate, is that everything is new.  Today was one of those days I got to do something really new; not just something new at St. Luke’s.

For the first time I led a committal service at a cemetery.  I had never met the family before.  They are not parishioners of my parish.  This was one of those times that the local funeral home called looking for help, and I was tagged to jump in.

The night before the committal I was feeling pretty laid back about it.  I even scoffed when a friend, and clergy colleague, referred to my big day, thinking it was really no big deal: “It’s a page and a half, how big a deal could it be.” I’m glad he warned me otherwise.  I’m thankful I was wrong.

I took my friend’s words to heart, and spent a period of time prior to the committal in prayer at home – the benefit of the cemetery being down the hill from my house.  I felt calm, relaxed, and ready for whatever I was about to walk into.  I arrived at the cemetery, and was greeted but the funeral director.  An amazing and delightful woman whom I had met very briefly just a few days before.  Her calming and warm presence, with just the right amount of humor, was exactly what I needed to calm the butterflies in my stomach.

As I got in her car to drive to through the cemetery to the place of burial our conversation came to an end, and I began to pray.  I could see the cremains and American flag resting on the backseat of her car.  We arrived.  She insisted on helping me out of the car, which I was thankful for as cassock, surplice, and tippet were a lot to manage. How embarrassing it would have been if I tripped on my vestments getting out of the car – I mean, no one wants to be that curate.

We walked up the little hill to the family plot.  For the first time I was able to see the whole family gathered.  His daughter and his step-children.  His grandchildren.  His brother.  His name was already on the tombstone, shared with his wife who died five years ago.  As the service men their to conduct military honors (without the guns) marched into place, I could feel the Spirit swirling amongst us.  We were indeed standing on holy ground.

Trying not to be drowned out by the noise of the highway, or the birds singing away, I began the anthem, “Everyone the Father gives to me will come to me; I will never turn away anyone who believes in me . . .”  My focus was at an all time high.  I was struck by the power of those words.  I mustered the pastoral strength and authority bestowed upon me in an attempt to not let my voice shake: To be calm and steady in my words.

I reach out and grabbed a handful of earth.  I poured it, in the shape of a cross, on the cremains.  “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother Stewart . . .”  I was holding holy ground, I was pouring holy ground, my hand was covered in holy ground.

As I turned the page in my prayer book I watched as the earth fall from my hands onto the page and roll into the center of the book.  It was the first time I’ve gotten my prayer book dirty.

After we finished the prayers for the committal, taps was played, the flag was presented, I spent time with the family.  First the step-son, then the daughter, then the brother.  People always say you remember your first.  I will never forgot Stewart’s brother.  He came up to me, “Thank you so much Father for being here.  I am his brother,” and with tears in his eyes and a cracking voice he continued, “I am going to be okay.”  Before I could say a word he walked away.

After sometime standing in the family plot, Stewart’s family made their way to the cars.  The funeral director and I stayed behind.

When everything was finished my new friend, the funeral director, drove me back to the car handed me a couple of envelopes and drove away.  I took off my vestments, got into the car, and noticed that there was still earth on my hands.  I opened my prayer book to page 501 and took a moment to take it all in.  To gaze upon the earth on my hand and in my prayer book.  I began to wonder about how many more times I will get my prayer book dirty in cemeteries like this.  I began to wonder about all the names I will place into the prayers.  I began to wonder about all the holy ground I will stand upon.

As I drove away I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  Gratitude for the opportunity to be in that place with those people on this day filled with joy and sadness – as the step-son described it.  Gratitude for the vocation God has laid upon me that allows me to serve the world in this particular way.

I am sure I will having plenty of opportunities to get my prayer book dirty over these next fifty year (God willing), but I will always remember – and give thanks for – this first time I got my prayer book dirty.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord; And let light perpetual shine upon him. 
May his soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

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Drive Fast and Take Chances: A Sermon for the Third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 7A)

Below is the sermon I preached yesterday (25 June 2017) at The Church of the Redeemer.  It was a powerful day at the Redeemer as we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the laying and blessing of the corner stone, and it was also my last Sunday at the Redeemer.  The lessons can be found here, we used track 2.  You can listen to the recording over on the parish website, or click on the link below.  

DRIVE FAST AND TAKE CHANCES

drive-fast-and-take-chances-2One of my favorite memories of my late Aunt Kim was the way she used to send us forth from her house after a visit. Now, some people might be inclined to say “Be safe,” “drive carefully,” or “call me when you get home,” but not Kim. As we descended the steps from their front porch, she would stand with my uncle and cousins waving goodbye. And just as we were about to enter the car she would yell, “drive fast and take chances.”

I have always found great joy an amusement in this saying. But over the last two months, I have begun to think a bit differently about it. It seems to me this is more than just a quirky dismissal from my godmother, but rather a charge for discipleship.

Drive fast is not about recklessness, it is about urgency. It is about knowing that you have to get to your destination with a sense of intense determination. It is a call to move with haste and not delay from the journey that has been set before you.

 Take chances, then, is not about getting ourselves into foolish situations, it is about letting go of fear so that you can make bold proclamations in word and deed. It is about standing up for truth and justice. It is a willingness to be counter-cultural for the sake of what is meet and right.

As I look at our lessons today – at Jeremiah, Romans, and Matthew

As I think about the historic occasion we celebrate in our parish life – the 100th anniversary of the laying and blessing of the corner stone.

As I think about my final Sunday here with all of you.

I cannot help but think that at the center of it all is that phrase:
Drive fast and take chances.

 In the book of Jeremiah, we encounter a prophet in the midst of turmoil: a prophet who is lamenting his prophetic mission. God has placed upon Jeremiah the task of proclaiming to the people of Jerusalem that their city will be destroyed. Jeremiah expresses deep grief and anger for this call, and that is exactly what we hear this morning.

Now these words from Jeremiah are not the words of some mental breakdown, or existential crisis.   These are words of his tradition. They are an expression that finds its place rooted in the psalms. Jeremiah has been influenced by the tradition, he has been immersed in it, and therefore cries out in that familiar language.  So he offers his lament.

You can almost feel Jeremiah’s anguish at the beginning of today’s lesson:

O LORD, you have enticed me, and I was enticed;
you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed.

Lord you have lured me in, it is as if Jeremiah is saying.  There is something almost seductive in the way the Lord calls Jeremiah.

And because of that call, Jeremiah has become the laughing stock of his community.  Proclaiming that message, proclaiming that the great city of Jerusalem will be destroyed is certainly not winning Jeremiah any popularity contests.  But Jeremiah has no choice. He does not take on the mantle of prophet because it seems like a glamorous way of life. He does it because he cannot not prophesy.

If Jeremiah refuses to speak then a burning fire is kindled inside of him – a fire so hot that he cannot hold it – a fire so hot that it will incinerate all his bones.

And because of this in the midst of his anger and grief, in the midst of his pain and anguish, he cannot help but trust in God. Jeremiah trusts that God will indeed protect him, protect him like a dread warrior, and therefore has no choice but to worship God and go on prophesying. For Jeremiah there is great urgency and intensity in his prophetic witness.

What if we allowed ourselves to channel that same prophetic intensity?

What if we allowed ourselves to be so overcome by the word God has placed on our hearts, by the vocations that God has laid before us that if we did not act upon them, if we do not proclaim them, then an intense fire would be kindled in each of us – a fire so intense that we could not bear to keep it in?

What would Hope Street look like if we lived with that same prophetic intensity as Jeremiah?

If despite any anger or grief, any pain or anguish we went on glorifying God?
Singing to the Lord
Praising the Lord
Proclaiming the words that have been revealed to us.
Living fully into our identity. 

But what is this word . . . what is this identity that God has laid upon us.

The Word is Jesus.

The identity is:
Disciple
Christian
The Baptized

Paul in his letter to the Romans is unequivocal about what that identity means:

Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Being the Baptized means living in a completely new way. Baptism is not just some rite of passage, or familial obligation. When we are baptized our very being changes – we are united with Christ in a particular and intimate way.  When we are lifted out of the waters of baptism we share in the death, and resurrection of Jesus. We are empowered with a new identity and if we fully embrace that identity it will have implications for every aspect of our lives.

As baptized people we are called to share in the life and ministry of Jesus. That means it is our responsibility to teach, to preach, to heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked. It is our responsibility to build relationships in our community through such ventures as the East Side Community Alliance. It is our responsibility to support the work of Camp Street Ministry. It is our responsibility to continue working to break down the systematic oppression of racism that plagues our neighborhood.

Being the baptized is a great responsibility. But through the gift of the Holy Spirit we have been empowered to take risks: to make bold proclamations in word and deed. For Jesus is clear, that we will do greater things if we truly believe.

Baptism places before us a road of discipleship that ultimately leads to the cross.   But through the grace, mercy, and loving-kindness of God we can trust that God will protect and care for us. We can trust that this life is not a burden, but a journey to the most glorious way of living imaginable.

So be not afraid.
Let go of the anger and grief, the pain and anguish for we are alive in Christ.

But let’s be real. There is plenty to fear on the Christian journey.

Once again this week we hear some pretty startling words from Jesus:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother . . . and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Despite what we might think at first glance, Jesus is not against family. But Jesus is making a profoundly clear statement as to where our loyalty should lie.

We are to love God above all else.
We are to serve God about all else.
We are to follow God above all else
.
And sometimes that is going to lead to conflict. Sometimes that is going to mean we will have to reject expectations from our families and friends.  It is not an uncommon story to hear family ties and ties of friendship being strained and broken because one person answered the call to follow Jesus.

In the midst of this warning, Jesus also offers words of comfort.  Jesus knows exactly what he is asking us to do.  Those who sacrifice for the sake of Christ will ultimately be rewarded – those who lose their life will find it. Those who give everything up to answer the call of Jesus will find the path to glorious and abundant life.

By virtue of our relationship with God we are the beloved of God and thus will be cared for by God: So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Knowing the risks. Knowing the cost. Jesus still asks us to follow. Jesus still invites us to claim our identity as disciples, as Christians, as the Baptized.

It is that invitation that allows us to proclaim with boldness, to shout from the housetops that which was whispered to us, to declare in the light that which was spoken in the dark.

It is that invitation that allows us to drive fast and take chances.

And that my friends, is exactly what the Church of the Redeemer has been doing for the last 100 years.cornerstone

100 years ago, the people of the Redeemer understood the urgency of the being followers of Jesus. They listened to the call from their Bishop. They prayed together. And they decided to get up and go. To leave the place they had known and come to a new neighborhood. 100 years ago the people of the Redeemer proclaimed with boldness that they were not afraid to take risks for the sake of spreading the Gospel.  And ever sense then, this community has been striving to fulfill that call – to live fully into the identity as disciples of Jesus.

It was with a sense of determination that this place – was set apart to be a temple of the Most High God. To be a place that would continually offer prayers and praise to the Most Holy Name of God. From the very beginning of the Church of the Redeemer at 655 Hope Street that life of prayer has been carried out with integrity and dedication to our Anglican tradition and heritage.

This is a place that has been profoundly blessed by the grace of God. This place has been filled with the Holy Spirit in ways that surpass almost every other that I have experienced. But most importantly this is a place – this is a community – that is unabashed in sharing that grace with those whom we have been called to serve.

This place has been a refuge for the broken and hurting. This place has been a haven for those society places at the margins. In this place there is truly a place at the table for each and every person who dares to enter the doors. That is the legacy that was built upon the cornerstone 100 years ago.

Today as we mark this important anniversary we have the responsibility to continue to build upon the foundation, which previous generations have laid. We must continue this legacy for the next 100 years, and we do that by laying new foundations. Foundations that further embed this community within the fabric of our wider neighborhood.
Foundations laid at Camp Street.
Foundations laid at the East Side Community Alliance.
Foundations laid with the emerging choir program.
Foundations that will serve as a tangible witness to the reconciling love of God that has inspired this community for the last century.

As members of the Baptized gathered here on Hope Street a great trust and responsibility has been laid upon us. So act with urgency to proclaim with boldness the love of God in your words and deeds. Let go of fear so that you might be able to take risks to spread the Gospel and follow Jesus on the road of discipleship.

Dear friends of the Church of the Redeemer. It has been my joy and privilege to be among you for these last few years. You have enriched and blessed my life in ways you will never know. So today I say to you that quirky dismissal my godmother said to me: drive fast and take chance.

AMEN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sermon: Maundy Thursday

Below is my sermon from Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), preached at my sponsoring parish, The Church of the Redeemer.  The lessons can be found here.  The recording can be listened to below.  As always, comments and feedback welcome. 

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Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.   

(Collect for Maundy Thursday, BCP 221)

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Sermon: Spy Wednesday

Below is my sermon from Spy Wednesday (Wednesday in Holy Week), preached at my sponsoring parish, The Church of the Redeemer.  The lessons can be found here.  The recording can be listed to below.  For this sermon, unlike most of the sermons I’ve preached lately, I went back to my practice of no manuscript and no notes.  As always, comments and feedback welcome. 

spyWednesday

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Sermon: The Fifth Sunday in Lent

Below is my sermon from the First Sunday in Lent, preached at my sponsoring parish, The Church of the Redeemer.  The lessons can be found here.  The recording can be listed to below, or over on the parish website.  For this sermon, unlike most of the sermons I’ve preached lately, I went back to my practice of no manuscript and no notes.  As always, comments and feedback welcome. 

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“Father Forgive”                                                                                                                                          Photo taken on 13 March 2017

 

 

 

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