Showing posts from October, 2014

Painful Privilege

This week, I was gifted the opportunity to be at the bedside of a dear parishioner as she died.  With grace and dignity, she claimed her place amongst the communion of saints.  And, it is her voice I hear singing this hymn...
"What Wondrous Love is This" An American Folk Tune
What wondrous love is this,
O my soul! O my soul!
What wondrous love is this!
O my soul!
What wondrous love is this!
That caused the Lord of bliss!
To send this precious peace,
To my soul, to my soul!
To send this precious peace
To my soul!

When I was sinking down,
Sinking down, sinking down;
When I was sinking down
Sinking down
When I was sinking down,
Beneath God's righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown
For my soul, for my soul!
Christ laid aside his crown
For my soul!
3. Ye winged seraphs fly,
Bear the news, bear the news,
Ye winged seraphs fly
Bear the news!--
Ye winged seraphs fly,
like comets through the sky,
fill vast eternity!
With the news, with the news!
Fill vast eternity
With t…

The Things We Carry, Proper 24A, 2014

The Revised Common Lectionary dictates which texts are to be used for the sermon, they can be found here.  
I wonder what they tucked into their belts.  I wonder what they glanced at longingly as they fled into the darkness of the night.  I wonder, what was left behind as the deserts immensity became clear and the weight of even the smallest tokens became too much a burden.  
I am reminded of the Tim O’Brien collection of short stories, “The Things They Carried” in which he describes the burden borne by soldiers in Vietnam, “They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity.” 
The heaviness of their burden, the vast expanse of it all.  What a weight as the non-essentials are cast away one by one.  Rotting in the wet or desiccating in desert winds.  As the things themselves lose importance when confronted with the reality that they are just things.  
Golden calves too heavy, gems to…

Daniel Berrigan, Squirrels and the Suffering Servant: Proper 23A

There are times when I read the Gospel--proclaiming the good news of God from the midst of the people--and my overwhelming desire is to be reading SOMETHING else.  
There are beautiful passages in scripture.  Love of neighbor, love of God.  There is poetry and prose, metaphor and miracle...
Then there is this, this passage from Matthew that has preachers throughout the country doing exegetical backbends to try to get around a text that seems so contrary to our fundamental understanding of a God of inclusion and love, a God of redemption and calling.  
The Girardian theologians, who are committed to reading non-violence in the text, suggest the preacher consider the joke, “when is a squirrel just a squirrel”--a pastor in preaching a children’s sermon holds up a stuffed squirrel and asks the children what it is...after a long pause, one of the children says “I know the answer is supposed to be Jesus, but that sure looks like a squirrel to me”.  So, when the text describes a king, we think …

Who We Are and To Whom We Belong, Proper 22A

Proper 22A 2014
When I was a teenager I heard Eucharistic Prayer C for the first time.  This particular Eucharistic Prayer includes the line “this fragile earth, our island home”.  At the time, as a kid on the island of Maui, I found it amazing that the prayer book was referring to my home--Maui, where the tradewinds blew, the roosters crowed, the waves crashed and the ash from burning sugar cane drifted like some sort of bizarre tropical snow flake.  
The metaphorical meaning didn’t occur to me at the time--all I knew was a small island and the prayers recited from the upper room where I gathered with the dozen or so people who comprised the worshipping community of St. Paul’s Episcopal Mission.  
The Olverson family, Mary who drove all the way from the other side of the island to play the keyboard, Reverend Kate and the Nelsons...
If the Olverson family was late we would wait to process in...partially because we could see them driving towards the chapel and knew they’d be there in a min…