Friday, September 28, 2012

Meditation for September 30 & The Feast of St. Michael & All Angels: Pursuing Peace and Radical Thanks-giving

The Gospel for Sunday exhorts us to practice hope and curiosity by recognizing that “whoever gives you a cup of water to drink, because you bear the name of Christ” may be the face of Christ and  teach us to practice and receive mercy and pity. And more radically the Gospel suggests that if we “have salt in [y]ourselves,” we should “be at peace with one another.” Praying the collect for St. Michael and for this Sunday are helpful channels.

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sermon: B 17 Pentecost 20 Proper 23 September 2012

Prv 31: 10-31; Ps 1; Jms 3: 13-4:3, 7-8a; MARK 9: 30-37

May it be Your Will, Eternal Our God, that this be a good and sweet year for us. AMEN.

 “Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.” These lessons again sound more like those from the Wisdom or Jewish tradition, than something from a standard idea of Christianity. The readings remind us that much of Christianity comes from these Jewish roots, and also that we here are in an increasingly fast rush to the end of Pentecost. To make dramatic that annual observance of end-times, the tone of these weeks sounds decisive and minatory.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sermon: B 16 Pentecost 19 Proper 16 September 2012

Prv 1:20-33; Wis 7:26-8.1; Jms 3: 1-12; MARK 8: 27-38

May it be your will, Holy and Eternal One, God of our forebears, that you renew for us a good and sweet year.

In every generation Wisdom enlighten holy souls, making them friends of God, making them prophets. For God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with Wisdom, (from today’s Canticle.) With such thinking, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am?” After a series of wild wrong and safe guesses, Peter answers, “You are the Messiah.” Then Jesus orders them to tell no one. His order for secrecy is in Mark’s Gospel and is somewhat puzzling. If everyone were told Jesus was Messiah, it would have both made it difficult for Jesus to continue preaching, healing, and working to bring about God’s reign, as well as to deal with people who didn’t believe him and were trying to hinder, thwart, and otherwise stop him. Supporters and opponents would, each and both, have made Jesus’s work difficult to continue, so Mark says he urged those around him to secrecy. We’re used to reading and hearing Peter’s declaration of Jesus’s identity in Epiphany, Lent, and sometimes in late summer, but what Jesus goes on to say, inset into today’s readings, to teach, and declare are more the today’s focus.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Meditation for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost: Why Me?

The gospel for Sunday follows readings that ask us to imagine a loving God, who surrounds us with goodness and strength and a multitude of challenges. Jesus confronts his disciples with a question: “who do you say that I am?” And then Jesus describes pattern for living: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” I imagine some stunned silence.

Six years ago, I slid Barbara Crafton’s “Almost Daily Mo” response into my lectionary text. I pick it up fairly regularly as a reminder: “Take up your cross" isn't really about patience under suffering. There's nothing plodding about this counsel. It's not about patience; it's about an embrace. Don't hide from your cross. Don't deny your cross. Don't change the subject every time your cross comes up. Take it up! Don't let your cross turn you into anything less than the human being God made you, no matter what it takes from you in the end. Find out just how much you have left and how to walk with it. Because your cross, if you have embraced it, becomes the Way.”

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sermon: B 15 Pentecost 18 Proper 9 September 2012

Prv 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Ps 125; Jms 2: 1-10, 14-17; MK &: 24-37

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice…  AMEN.

The Proverbs two-liners set my teeth as much on edge as do James with the Gospel. Our culture also bombards us with similar slogans, as absolute and hard to do. “The rich and poor have this in common: the Lord God made them all.” Duh. “What good is it if you say you have faith but not works? Can faith save you? If someone is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and you don’t supply their needs, what’s the good? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Duh.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Meditation: B 15 Pentecost 18 Proper 9 September 2012

James ends “Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”  Mark shows Jesus doing two distinctive works. Each is a dramatic story, but Jesus tells his followers to keep them a secret, but “they zealously proclaimed the cures.” Jesus does what James says, and we see what faith in action can look like. We find James challenging: “Can faith save you? If someone around you has a need, and yet you do not supply those needs, what’s the good of that?” It looks so obvious, heroic, and possible when Jesus acts decisively, but how do we act on some possible scale to address what James says to do. We can’t heal like Jesus, but somehow filling ordinary needs doesn’t feel to us like enough proof of faith. The charitable acts we do, just seem socially conditioned, so how do we demonstrate faith persuasively to ourselves, to God?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sermon: B 14 Pentecost 17 Proper 2 September 2012

Song 2:8-13; Ps 45: 1-2, 7-10; Jas 1: 17-27; MK 7: 1-23

This is the Day the Lord has made; let us give thanks for it, health and strength to work, minds to think, and hands to serve. AMEN.

“But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing” instructs James. Jesus replies to some accusing Pharisees, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” The struggle in these lessons is about hearing and doing, upholding religious traditions and doing what religion values doing. Goodness knows, Anglo-Catholic parishes, ones of “smells and bells” are accused of doing dead or passé forms, and not getting out there, rolling up our sleeves, and bringing about the reign of God.