“He passed through the midst of them and went on his way.”
“Without love, I am a Noisy Gong or a Clanging Cymbal.”
As I prayed with this text, I imagine Jesus—perched on the edge of a cliff—facing an angry mob of his family and friends—the people from his hometown—about to be hurled off the cliff—except the angry mob—the people—have become literal cymbals and gongs--
A mob of animated percussion instruments creating noise vile and violent enough to hurl Jesus from the cliff.
The Wedding Feast at Cana--
We can easily imagine this wedding—either from weddings we’ve known in our own lives or from movies and stories of other weddings--
Families and Friends rejoicing in the good fortune of the happy couple to have found each other and fallen in love--
A joyful celebration with food and music and dancing--
Importantly, at the time of Jesus, no wedding feast was complete without wine.
This morning we celebrate The Feast of The Epiphany.
We happen to be celebrating The Epiphany on the Sunday that is also The Baptism of the Lord: when we remember the baptism of Jesus by water and the Holy Spirit in the river Jorden.
This morning we mingle holy water and stardust.
On this second Sunday of Advent we remember the gift of Peace we have with and in Christ.
Peace is part of the mystery of Christmas. And Advent is the season we prepare our hearts to welcome the mystery of Christmas.
We are preparing our hearts for the Prince of Peace.
A baby born to Mary and Joseph who will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7).
There is a way many of us teach the mystery of Christmas to children using Godly Play. And it is told this way:
The King who was coming is still coming. This is full of mystery. That is why this time of Advent is so important. Sometimes people can walk right through a mystery and not even know it is there. People become busy.
It is a good and joyful thing to be with you here, this morning, on the First Sunday of Advent.
Advent is the beginning--
Advent marks the arrival of a new liturgical year--
We change liturgical colors from the green of Ordinary time and the white of Christ the King to the Blue of Advent--
Blue is the color of getting ready---
It is the color of the sky just before dawn
This morning we hear an important letter from Paul to the Ephesians. It is a letter of Spiritual direction, encouragement and guidance on how to live in the world as Christians. Paul writes that we ought to:
Put away falsehood
Speak truth to our neighbors
Be angry, but do not let the sun go down on our our anger
Make no room for the devil
Work honestly and share our wealth
We are to let no evil talk come out of our mouths, but only what is useful for building up, we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, and we must put away all bitterness, and wrath and wrangling and slander
Paul’s letter is written to an early, emerging Christian Community in Ephesus who are learning how to live as followers of Jesus in a particular political, social and cultural context. The Greek city of Ephesus was very prosperous, located near a natural harbor it was a hub of commerce and trade routes. It is also a center of political and philosophical thought.
Even during Roman Rule, Ephesians retained their wealth and prestige. In fact, because of their wealth, and the tax revenue that wealth generated for the Roman Empire, Ephesians enjoyed more rights and freedoms than less wealthy communities under Roman Rule.
So, Ephesus is a wealthy, political, intellectual, privileged, Greek community. And this is the context in which Ephesian Christians receive Paul’s letter.
This is Holy Trinity Sunday--the first Sunday after Pentecost in the church year--Trinity Sunday is a Feast Day to name, celebrate, and remember the mystery of the Holy Trinity:
The Creator, The Redeemer and The Sustainer. The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.
Three mysteries: one in three and three in one. each a unique representation of the holy: separate, but whole. Holy and Undivided. Eternally bound together in relationship.
The Holy Trinity is one of the most accessible and recognizable symbols of the Christian faith.
Happy Second Sunday of Easter.
Today’s gospel is one of my favorite stories of the entire church year.
I love Thomas. Poor, sweet, holy, Doubting Thomas.
I am so glad that Doubt is a part of our Easter story.
And I love that this story of doubt is the first Sunday Gospel lesson we hear after Easter Sunday.
On Easter Sunday, we were singing out with confidence: Death is No More! Christ is Risen Indeed!
But the earliest disciples greeted the empty tomb quite differently.
The first night of the Triduum--the three Holy Days of the church year that make up one liturgy -- beginning tonight and ending with the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.
There will be no dismissal from tonight’s liturgy--we are not sent out to love and serve the Lord--
not yet--instead we move together, as one body in Christ, the world over
from a last supper with friends to a table stripped bare of its bread and wine, its candles and linens--
from the intimacy of Jesus bending down to wash the feet of his beloveds, and asking them (and us) to do the same, to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus suffers in agony, alone--forsaken.
We won’t be sent out into the world rejoicing in the spirit--not tonight and not tomorrow--
we’ll carry on from the garden to the cross to the tomb--
and then we wait--
My Sermons (and other thoughts)
a sampling of sermons preached in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and a sprinkling of other writings