Homily for Sunday, April 23, 2017 Easter 2A
John 20:19-31 “Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God.’”
Today’s gospel lesson is the familiar story of “Doubting Thomas.” (Each year the Second Sunday of Easter uses this lesson, from the end of John.) As I said last Sunday, doubts are a normal and healthy part of faith. A healthy place to be is in tension with, on the one hand, the Bible’s stories and Church’s teachings about Jesus’ resurrection, and on the other hand our own doubts and skepticism about the resurrection. I compared navigating the tension between these to be akin to a ship navigating its way between rocks. The temptation is, when still off in the distance, to jump ship, as it were – or to try to convince our inner “captain” to turn around or to maybe incite a “mutiny” – rather than sail forward and risk the “rocks” of resurrection. But I noted that, if we sail forward and learn to navigate the “rocks,” we come to a place where we are not so much concerned about what “really” happened at Jesus’ resurrection, a place where we are not so much concerned either about what may be in our own future after we die, but a place rather in which we are focused on the “now.” And in this Easter “now” we discover that we can live fearless of death. Mot that we don’t fear death – I think the fear of death is normal, and I have a hunch that all healthy people have at least some fear of death – but a place in which we learn to live beyond our fears. And I suggested that it is in this “now” that Mary Magdalene lived, she who was not afraid to be present at the crucifixion or the tomb, and who – as soon as Jesus said her name – was brought back into the “now” such that she could notice – and savor and relish – the presence of the risen Christ. Continue reading →
Homily for Thursday, April 13, 2017
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Preached by the Rev. Todd Miller
When our former Bishop, Tom Shaw, was diagnosed with the brain tumor that would take his life, he said that his first reaction to the news was gratitude: “Thank you, God, for this extraordinary life that you’ve given me.”
Tom’s reaction to the news of his terminal condition reminds us that there is a very short distance between grief and gratitude. Most of us most of the time, when we are faced with a loss, tend to take the long road between the grief and gratitude – the road of shock, anger, denial, depression, and bargaining – before arriving at acceptance and maybe gratitude. But the distance between grief and gratitude is actually very close. Continue reading →
(Offertory for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, 1 May 2016)
Summer is passing, even as our climate here in Massachusetts clings to a pattern of dry yet humid weather that has dominated for much of the season. The sun tells the tale without ambiguity: this morning it rose after 6:00, and it will be dark by the time my child is tucked into bed this evening.
Autumn leads us into times of harvest and work, thanksgiving and celebration, new endeavors and a new year in many traditions. As we make our preparations, listen below for a memory of the preceding season in the church year, Easter. The anthem is the second of Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams (Trinity Parish’s choir returns for the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 18 September).
Sermon for Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Burial, James Spinks John 14:1-6
I find Jesus’ words comforting:
Do not let your hearts be troubled… I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go… I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.
To non-Christians – and maybe even to us Christians! – Jesus’ words might seem preposterous: “When we’re dead, we’re dead!” But our Christian faith is rooted in belief in resurrection. As we began our liturgy this afternoon:
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth. After my awaking, he will raise me up; and in my body I shall see God…Continue reading →
Because we do not always see these seeds growing, we need an interior certainty, a conviction that God is able to act in every situation, even amid apparent setbacks: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor4:7). This certainty is often called “a sense of mystery”. It involves knowing with certitude that all those who entrust themselves to God in love will bear good fruit (cf. Jn15:5). This fruitfulness is often invisible, elusive and unquantifiable. Continue reading →
We are not to think that God cannot, or will not answer any prayer because he seems to let it go by. Remember that every prayer, prayed in union with our Lord, has stirred the depths of the Divine heart, and is treasured there for an eternal response. Wait, and you will find the answer, if not in this present time, then on the eternal shores of paradise—the answer of peace! Our prayers go ringing on in the ear of God until they are accomplished in the gifts of eternity.
—Father Richard M. Benson,
founder of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist
“A capable wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels… She looks well to the ways of her household.”
Though this morning’s sermon is based on the famous “capable wife” text from Proverbs that we just heard, we’re not going to begin there. We’re going to begin rather with Vladimir Putin and an August 12 Op-Ed piece from the New York Times. In “What the West Gets Wrong About Russia,” writer Ivan Krastev argues that, in contrast to earlier Soviet policy that was at once enigmatic and strategic, today’s Kremlin is simply enigmatic:
Kremlin policy is fashioned rather like the music of a jazz group; its continuing improvisation is an attempt to survive the latest crisis… What runs the Kremlin today is not Mr. Putin’s will but his ambiguity… The Kremlin is populated not by mere survivors of the post-Soviet transition but by survivalists, people who think in terms of worst-case scenarios, who believe that the next disaster is just around the corner, who thrive on crises, who are addicted to extraordinary situations and no-rules politics.
Krastev goes on to argue that Russia is a personality-driven regime which has no vision other than Putin, no plan of succession after Putin, and whose politics are therefore unpredictable, and whose government is therefore weak and unstable.
I bring up this Op-Ed piece not to criticize Russia or to blow our own country’s horn – God knows we can be short-sighted. I bring up this piece to highlight by means of contrast the so-called “capable wife” of Proverbs. Continue reading →