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Showing posts from April, 2014

Exploring Bright Sunday, Easter 2A

When I was in seminary, I spent a summer serving as a student chaplain on an inpatient, locked, geriatric psychiatry floor.  Along with mental health concerns, many of the patients had diseases that would, without question, shorten their lives.  It could be a grim place at times--and one of the challenges of time spent on this floor was that because it was a locked unit, staff there could become somewhat isolated from the rest of the hospital.  
In order to encourage the morale of the staff, the senior attending physician, would start each morning’s mandatory staff meeting with a joke.
He felt that laughter was an essential component of care giving.  Laughing together encouraged a strong bond amongst the staff and added a degree of levity to our work days that benefited not only the staff, but those for whom they provided care.  
We don’t laugh particularly often in church.  Thomas Cranmer wrote a prayer book, not a book of knock knock jokes...but if we never find opportunity to laugh h…

That Easter Day With Joy Was Bright

Easter 1 Sermon Year A St. Clement’s Episcopal Church
i thank You God for most this amazing day
By e e cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginably You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Most in this room have always known winter.  The frigid weariness of the cold months, the scarfs, hats and mittens, the crunch of icy snow, the fog of breath.  Most here know that winter always gives way to spring and that summer will come.  
For me however, born and raised on Maui, that knowing requires a leap of faith, an act of trust in t…

Not All of You Are Clean

Maundy Thursday Year A, St. Clement’s, 2014
For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 
Jesus knelt before each of them, cradling each calloused heel in his hands.  Cool water poured over each foot and the dirt of their travels sloughed off into the basin.  The dust, settling out into the water as one by one they lifted their feet, one by one they acquiesced to the care of their beloved friend.  
He showed no partiality and no concern beyond this simple act of love.  An action made radical by the very nature of the one who performed it.  The Son of Man, handling the very water and dirt of creation.  The disciples, rending themselves vulnerable as they presented themselves for cleansing.  
Intimate and awkward.  
They accepted the ministration of Jesus the Christ--and like so many of us they longed for more.  Not just my feet, but my hands and my head!  But, the feet prove sufficient. 
In that intimate and awkward moment.  
In that moment colored b…

“The Hand Did It”--A Sermon For Palm Sunday, Year A

Not all that long ago, my three year old made the following claim, “It wasn’t me, it was my hand that did it”.  While stifling a laugh, I explained that while it may have been his hand that had done it, he was the one in charge of his hand.  His hand’s action had been performed on his brain’s behalf--and we can’t separate the action of his hand from him.  
Needless to say, he helped clean up the mess his hand had made.  
Cute anecdote aside, there is something about who we are as human beings that makes us want to pass the blame on--whether that is shame or fear of punishment or something else entirely--it can be exceedingly difficult to claim an action as our own, owning a reprehensible deed and in that owning being honest about our own culpability.
We bargain, we negotiate, we pass the proverbial buck and use the less proverbial but.  The comic strip artist Bil Keane played on the universality of this tendency through his introduction of “gremlins” called “Not me”; “Ida Know”; and “Jus…

Dem Bones, Sermon for Lent 5A, St. Clement's Episcopal Church

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All week the Spiritual, Dem Bones dem bones dem dry bones has been stuck in my head.  Composed by African American author and songwriter James Weldon Johnson, this particular song lists the bones from toe to head and head to toe--each connected to each and each responding to the word of God.  
"Ezekiel connected dem dry bones, Ezekiel connected dem dry bones, Ezekiel in the Valley of the Dry Bones, Now hear the word of the Lord."

Structurally, the book of Prophet and Priest Ezekiel, confronts the Israelites--both those living in Judah and Jerusalem and those living in exile in Babylon--with judgment.  Ezekiel is clear that ritual impurity and idolatrous behaviour are to be swiftly condemned and topical headings include such gems as: the siege of Jerusalem; a sword against Jerusalem; Judgment on idolatrous Israel; Impending disaster; Slaughter; disaster; and judgment.
I'm not sure Ezekiel received many invites back to preach...
Yet, what Ezekiel expresses throughout these pag…