For All the Saints

Homily for Sunday, November 4, 2018
All Saints’

OrdoCalendarIt is easy to forget, when we are here on Sundays, that the Church’s calendar is quite busy during the week.  And when I say that the Church’s calendar is busy during the week, I don’t mean our mid-week meetings or Wednesday evening services, or all the activity with the Food Pantry and Birthday Wishes.  When I say that the Church’s calendar is quite busy during the week, I mean that the Church’s liturgical “Kalendar” is filled with the commemorations of saints.  For example, this week Tuesday is the feast day of William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury during the war.  Wednesday is the feast day of Willibrord, an 8th century missionary and the first Archbishop of Utrecht in the Netherlands.  Saturday is the feast day of Leo the Great, a fifth century Pope best known for his concise statement of Christ being two Natures in one Person.  And—if you really get into it—you can go online and google “Episcopal saints calendar” and explore those saints whose commemorations have been proposed but who yet await official approval.  On that list are all of the above commemorations plus… Lili_uokalaniThursday is the commemoration of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, a Carmelite nun and mystic from the turn of the last century, and Friday is of Louise DeKoven Brown, an early 20th century American philanthropist, social reformer and suffragist.  Save for tomorrow, every day this week is the feast day of a saint; indeed, of the 30 days in November, 25 are saints’ days.  (November has some great saints: Lili’uokalani, the Last Monarch of Hawaii; St. Herman of Alaska, a Russian Orthodox monk and missionary to Alaska; the writer C.S. Lewis, and also Sojourner Truth.)  These and other saints give witness to the many ways in which the Spirit manifests the life of Christ in the Church’s members. Continue reading

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Consecration Sunday

Sermon given by the Rev. Skip Windsor
Pentecost XXIII
Mark 10:46–52
October 28, 2018

Come Holy Spirit, come. Come as the wind and cleanse. Come as the fire and burn. Convert and consecrate our lives to our great good and your great glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Skip WindsorIt is a pleasure to be with you this morning and I would like to thank your rector, Todd, for the invitation to be your preacher today on this your Consecration Sunday.

This Sunday comes in the midst of stewardship season recalling for me the words of a clergy colleague who started his stewardship sermon to the congregation with some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that they had all the money they needed to operate the church.  The bad news was it was in their pockets! Continue reading

Pay attention!

Homily for Sunday, April 1, 2018
Easter Day
John 20:1–18

empty_tomb-Saint_James_the_Greater_Catholic_Church_(Concord,_North_Carolina)Long before John crafted his resurrection story—an 18 verse masterpiece that includes an empty tomb, a missing body, a foot race, angelic messengers, a woman weeping, a case of mistaken identity and a joyful reunion—the Holy Trinity was wondering how to best script and cast the resurrection story. Continue reading

Crushing Disappointment

Homily for March 29, 2018
Maundy Thursday

Next to the blackboard in the Latin classroom at Newton South is a poster with the quote that some say is the most beautiful in all of Latin: “Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit”, which means: “Perhaps one day the memory of even these things will bring pleasure.”  The quote, from Vergil’s Aeneid, is delivered aboard ship by Aeneas to his companions after a series of crushing disappointments: the long and tragic war with the Greeks, the death of Aeneas’ wife as she and Aeneas fled Troy, leaving their homeland, arduous sea journeys, the failed founding of not one but two cities, plagues, the jealousies and intrigues of the gods, and finally—the circumstance that led to Aeneas delivering his famous line—as they drew near to Italy so that Aeneas might found Rome in accordance with a prophecy, jealous Juno sent a devastating storm that sank some of the fleet and drove the survivors away from the coast:  “Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit,” said Aeneas then to his companions.  “Perhaps one day the memory of even these things will bring pleasure.”

Mount Feake CemeteryAs I consider Jesus at the institution of the Eucharist, which we remember this evening, I can’t help but think of all that had happened to Jesus to this point in his life.  Though at first Jesus had high hopes for his ministry and for making converts and for establishing the Kingdom of God, by this time on that Thursday evening long ago, it would have been difficult not to see his mission as a failure.  Gone were the crowds that had followed.  He had established no kingdom.  The religious authorities were closing in to arrest him.  One of his inner circle would soon betray him.  Another would deny knowing him, not once but three times.  The rest would desert him in his moment of need, and…  Jesus intuits, he knows, that he would soon die the painful and humiliating death of a criminal on a cross.  Imagine the crushing disappointment Jesus must have felt this evening… Continue reading

Finding the real Jesus

Homily for Christmas Eve, 2017

Nativity stained glass-Calvary Episcopal Church, Summit, New JerseyWhat do you need to be done with in your relationship with Jesus Christ?  Let me say that again: “What do you need to be done with in your relationship with Jesus Christ?”

And we all have a relationship with Jesus Christ!  Just as there is no such thing as a non-response to an invitation—even not responding to an invitation is a form of response—so there is no one who does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Because Jesus invites all of us to draw closer; we all have a relationship with Jesus Christ!

It may seem odd on Christmas Eve to consider what we need to be done with in our relationship with Jesus Christ, a day when we celebrate beginnings and Jesus’ entering in to human life.  But perhaps Christmas is just the occasion to ask ourselves what we need to be done with in our relationship with Jesus Christ, for—if we are to take in the new life offered to us in Jesus—we first need to make room for that life. Continue reading

Treasures of the Church

Homily for Sunday, November 5, 2017
All Saints’ Sunday

all-saints-2887463_960_720Today, All Saints’ Sunday, is our annual reminder that in the Church’s calendar the rest of the week, Monday through Saturday, is filled with saints’ days.  In the Church’s calendar nearly every other day is a saint’s feast day.  Tomorrow, for example, we remember William Temple, a 20th century Archbishop of Canterbury; on Tuesday we honor Willibrord, an 8th century Bishop of Utrecht; on Friday it’s Leo the Great, a famous 5th century Bishop of Rome; and Saturday it’s Martin, a 4th century Bishop of Tours.

Many of us may be unaware of the riches in our saints’ calendar.  Yet the saints are a treasure of the Church.  St. Lawrence, a deacon martyred in 3rd century Rome, when the persecuting authorities arrived and demanded to be shown the Church’s treasures, gathered before them the poor:  “HERE are the Church’s treasures!”  Similarly, the Church’s saints are treasures of the Church! Continue reading

Metamorphosis

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Saint John’s Church,Newtonville
August 6, 2017
The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm 99
2 Peter 1:13-21
Luke 9:28-36

 

transfiguration-1442

The Transfiguration, by Fra Angelico, 1442

My friends:  Of the many “signs and wonders” reported in the canonical Gospels, the story of the Jesus’ “Transfiguration,” recounted by Saint Luke in today’s Gospel, is probably the one most outside our ordinary human experience.  Our imaginations can at least grasp changing water into wine; walking on water; healing the sick; even raising the dead.  But what in the world are we to make of this strange and curious event on the height of Mount Tabor in first-century Galilee?  The New Testament Greek word for “transfiguration” is “metamorphosis,” a visible change in the outward appearance of a body, and its morphing into something else.  Continue reading