Showing posts from March, 2013

That Easter Day With Joy Was Bright

Easter Day, Year C, Gethsemane
All too often, life breaks us.  Shattered into a million pieces by our fears, our losses, our suffering, our grief.  We wander in the desert of our own creation, lost in the midst of our own lives.  If our eyes our open we can see that we do not walk alone in our brokenness, we walk with other broken people, in a broken world.  But, what are we walking towards?  
If we are to hear the Gospel today, we hear of a woman who walked towards a tomb that she expected to be full.  Caught in the pain of a witnessed crucifixion and a community rent by loss, betrayal and lies...she went.  
I can only imagine, that she felt broken.  I can only imagine, that she did not know how she would go on, or what would come next.  I can only imagine that one foot in front of the other was all that she had left that day.
Her only focus, on what she would find.  Death.
That was the journey she thought she was on.  
But, as we find again and again in scripture, what we thought was true…

Easter Vigil Sermon

Easter Vigil Sermon, 2013, Gethsemane
Sometimes it’s easier to find death.
It’s what they went to the tomb to find.
To anoint and care for, to mourn,
To shout angry curses at the sky perhaps.
Or merely to weep.
To be broken and torn by the inability to stop it.
That wave that overtook them all, 
That caught up a former friend in betrayal
And, led to lies, too many lies.  
Before that awful truth.
They had seen it of course,
That moment,
That piercing, sky ripping moment.
When the last breath soared
And sour wine was all that was left
So, to the full tomb they went.
Mary the constant, always and faithful,
Prepared for the miasma of death
The pungent smell of rotten meat
And the crawl of worms.
Ready, she prepared herself,
For the holy work of anointing and shrouding 
Unwrapping and gazing, once more
On the vestiges of her friend.  
And yet, at the tomb
There was no way to prepare herself
For what was
And is to come
Because there
Was nothing
Beyond the emptiness of the rock hewn cave
Yet, in that nothing

The Clergy Mom Dance

Today is Good Friday,

And I am writing an Easter Sermon.

I want to be done with it while my son is at preschool.

It may be Holy Week,

But, he is only almost three,

And I won't be there for bedtime, for his nightly God blesses, again tonight

And again tomorrow.

And I don't want to be working on it when he is home later.

As he has noticed that mama is working more and more,

And so he tests and pushes and whines and wheedles.

Needing me to be mama, when I am a priest.  

And I wrestle with this dual calling, weighing the impact of the one on the other

Knowing that there is a line in the sand, somewhere, but I am not sure where.

I only know that if asked to cross, I will only do so if I can continue to hold that small hand in mine

And answer yes, when "I neeeeed you Mama" needs an answer of "yes".

This week has sometimes felt a bit  like trying to shovel a snowdrift higher than my head with a very small shovel. Doable, but hard.

Foot Washing, the Redemption, Part 2

This is part 2 of my Maundy Thursday sermon, read Part 1 here
An examination of the history of this rite in the church sees it used as a sign of hospitality, servitude and deep love.  It has also been interpreted as a means of recommitting oneself to baptism.  We live in community as Christians, and we face all of the challenges that living in community brings...often finding ourselves in broken relationships.  The opportunity to share in the foot washing can serve as a reminder of our baptism and offer a renewed opportunity for reconciliation and relationship.
When we look at ritual washing of any kind, from the full immersion of ritual baths to the small sprinkle of baptism, we see an act that is not just about having clean feet.  When I wash my hands before celebrating the Eucharist I murmur the prayer “create in me a clean heart o God and renew a right spirit within me that I may serve at your altar without error or omission”.  I’m going to be using my hands at the altar, and in wa…

Foot Washing and the #Humblebrag, Part 1

Maundy Thursday, Year C
(To be continued in Part 2, which will show up here this evening!)
One of the reasons that I am an Episcopalian is that I believe most whole heartedly in critical inquiry--an inquiring mind and a discerning heart being key qualities that I pray for in others and myself.  I am not one to accept things without question and I have enough of a stubborn streak in me that I sometimes question things that have always been so--not because I wish to change them, but because I want to be sure that we understand the why of them.  
So tonight, as we share in the ritual act of foot washing, I found myself going through the process of exploring my own feelings about it and going further in order to explore what I hope we receive and understand through participating in it.  
The foot washing, at its best is an act of care taking of the other, of those with less power than us.  It is an act of mutuality and consensuality--I care for you and you allow for that care.  As is most com… 3D

One of the things about preaching is that it is an in the moment, face to face, art.  The written sermon is just not the same as being there.  I say this because I really do intend all of my sermons to be a conversation between me and the congregation--hopefully a conversation mediated and inspired by the Holy Spirit.  So, in a way, the written sermon always seems a bit "dead" to me...without the people who truly give life to the written word.

Today was a clear case of that...I struck out almost an entire page of my sermon following the 8am service.  It wasn't that I thought it was "bad", but rather because I knew something else was demanded.

In hearing the Passion read aloud I heard something new...something that I am rather shocked I'd missed.

The first victim of violence in the narrative of the Passion is a slave.  He had no weapon, no choice in being there.  He was an innocent by virtue of his powerlessness.

Then, I realized, the entire narrative is …

Palm Sunday, Year C, Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Minneapolis

Liturgy of the Palms readings are here and Liturgy of the Passion, here.
Christ Bearer, Cross Carrier
I was part of a conversation this week about the use of the phrase “leaves behind” when used in obituaries or other references to relatives and friends of those who have died.  The core of the complaint about this language is that it creates a sense of abandonment--as if death were somehow a choice someone made and that all that remains is a the loss without any record of the love that will always be or the life that was lived.  
The language we use around death is problematic that way, we seem to want to pretty it up, sugar coat it, take away the awful reality that dead is dead.  It is not sleep, it is not a passing, it is death.  And, that is part of what we are witnessing to this week.  Jesus dies.  The former king of glory who we proclaim to Jerusalem has become a murder victim of the state--and there we will stand at an empty cross and a full tomb.  
But, when we think about this, ab…

Lent 5C, a Holy Desert

Propers can be found here
A Holy Desert Lent
I spend a great deal of Lent trying to suppress the gently ironic raised brow that tugs upon my forehead as I go about my day.    The gourmet fish fry, the LONG wait to try and get into the best fish and chips shop in the city (two hours, plus on any given Lenten friday),  the general drunken debauchery of St. Patrick’s day.  All of these things, while they may be fun, all seem to stand in direct opposition to what we are supposed to be doing.  So much for the words we hear on Ash Wednesday in the invitation to a Holy Lent,
“It was also a time when those who, because of
notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful
were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to
the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation
was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set
forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all
Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith…

Lent 4C, 2013, Gethsemane Episcopal Church

The texts... Joshua 5:9-12 Psalm 32 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

How many of you have heard the story of “the prodigal son” before?  How many have also heard it referred to as “the forgiving or loving father”?  Clearly, this isn’t a new story to any of us, and just as with any story we hear again and again and again, it becomes easy to stop listening, to think we know how the story ends and what the story offers.  But, one of the wonders of the lectionary, of this invitation to hear the same stories again and again, is that in doing so we are invited to hear them anew and bring ourselves as we are in the here and the now into an encounter with the narrative.  So, just as I groaned as I realized that the offering for today was that “tired old cliche of a narrative” I realized that I am a different person than the last time I heard it--and in that difference, I hear a different story--that is, if I am willing to listen.  Let me explain...
My mother was a difficult person, even in…