Showing posts from October, 2015

A Letter to the Church, Pentecost +24

Dear Friends,
As many of you know, my beloved, feisty, 97 year old grandmother died on Tuesday.  And, so I begin this letter to you on a plane roughly half-way between Minneapolis and Maui, on a flight I had not planned to take. But, life and death happen--and so, here I am and here you are (well, technically, at this precise moment I hope that I am still asleep because, you know, time change).  As Michael Moore, said, a letter for a sermon was what the church used to rely on for edification--and so, consider this an epistolatory sermon in the style of Paul...
In which case, 
Theophilis, aka Gretchen, I bid you peace and ask that you convey my greeting to any who are new to the church.  
As I prepared to write this sermon, rather, letter, I turned to a sermon I wrote three years ago on this text. And, to my surprise, it was the sermon I needed to read in this moment as I mourn the loss of Tutu.  
In that sermon, I detailed a “Call the Midwife” episode in which the main character mour…

Then, Now and Will Be: 1892 and 120 Years of Stewardship

On the Occasion of the 120th Anniversary of St. Clement’s Scripture Found Here
For context, the liturgy used on the 120th Anniversary of the Founding of St. Clement's was that of morning prayer with communion from the 1892 Prayer Book (American).  An online version of the 1892 prayer book can be found at
On the bookshelf in my house I have a copy of my Mother’s 1928 Book of Common Prayer--my brothers thought I should have it after she died, you know, since I’m the religious one.  It has her name in it, and every time I look at it, I am reminded of her.  I’ve never used her prayer book for my own prayers, but it becomes a means of connecting with my memories of her and grounds me more firmly in who I am.  
And, then, there is my home communion kit. Gifted to me by Jean Hoover, it belonged to her husband, the Reverend Henry Hoover.  Both Jean and Henry have died, but in using their gift I am reminded of the love that endure…

Divorce and Advocacy for the Vulnerable

Proper 22B, 2015 A Preferential Option for the Poor Readings Found Here
It’s the rare family that has not in some ways been impacted by divorce...and so I am careful with these words. I have to hold them gently and honor them fully lest we do ourselves harm in their interpretation.  I have to listen, to my pain and yours, before I begin to letter after another...seeking the grace within a text that has no loopholes.  I have to put on what I think of as my “grace goggles” in order to see the gift that this particular text so wonderfully offers when we read it with an eye towards liberation.  
So, I begin with the recognition of the damage that this text has done to the countless folk who have been impacted by divorce.  There are those for whom divorce was the best option and the right thing, those for whom it was a tragic necessity, and those for whom divorce was its own liberation. And, I move from that recognition to another reality--this text is not about divorce in the …

Lashon Hara--Mean Spirited Words

A Sermon for 19B, 2015 Scripture Found Here
When I first moved to Cleveland, I lived in an Ultra Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.  I noticed, fairly shortly after moving into the community, a bumper sticker on several neighborhood cars “No Lashon Hara”.  My housemates (otherwise known as the awesome friends who took me in until I found a job), explained that this meant “no evil tongue”...and was meant as a response a conflict at one of the local Synagogues.
No Lashon Hara, no cruel words or slander spoken against another with intent to bring about evil--even indirectly.  The Jewish tradition takes seriously the power of words, even true ones, to destroy relationships.  A popular Jewish folk tale goes as follows:
“A woman repeated a story (gossip) about a neighbor. Within a few days everyone in the community knew the story. The person she talked about heard what had been said about her and she was very sad. Later, the woman who had spread the story learned that it was not true. She was v…