The Cross is Life and Peace

Homily for Sunday, March 26, 2017
Lent 4A
John 9:1-41

Preached by Fr. Miller at Bethany Convent, the Order of St. Anne, Arlington, MA

I’ve heard it said that, in the East, “religion” is concerned with wisdom, and in the West, with sight.  This morning’s Gospel – the story of Jesus healing the man born blind – is clearly of the West and our concern with sight.

easter_vigil_mass_2015_163_op_760x508But I don’t want to begin with sight.  I want to begin rather with something we all experience, something that has on some level brought us here this morning, that has led us to be Christians, to “walk in the way of the cross” and to hope in resurrection.  That something is suffering.  And I want to look at suffering from the context of the early Church’s catechumenate, the process whereby candidates were prepared for Baptism.  For the most part, this year’s Lenten lectionary is the same lectionary that was used by the early Church during Lent for the preparation of candidates for Baptism at the Easter Vigil.  Candidates would have been in the catechumenate two or three years, and these final Sundays offered a final push of preparation for their Baptism.  Taken as a whole, these Scriptures present in a nutshell the process of awakening to fuller life, of experiencing “resurrection.”   To sum up:  The candidates would have gone from being in the “wilderness” and discovering that Jesus had a wilderness experience, too (Lent 1); to being in the dark with Jesus, as was Nicodemus (Lent 2); to being in the light with Jesus, as was the woman at the well (Lent 3); to being able to “see” with the man born blind (today); to experiencing resurrection, as did Lazarus (next week). Continue reading

Flooded With His Love

Sermon for Sunday, March 13, 2016
Lent 5C
John 12:1-8

Were there adults in our parish seeking Baptism, and if our parish had a fully-developed, two- to three-year catechumenate process to help them be prepare, today would be the last “normal” Sunday of preparation before entering Holy Week and before their Baptism at the Easter Vigil.  Today – after years of preparation – these men and women would be standing at the threshold of Baptism.

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Continue reading

Love and Calendars

Sermon for Sunday, September 13, 2015
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 8:27-38

“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.”

This morning’s sermon is a sermon about love, and also a sermon about calendars.  The two are closely connected, for loving takes time.

I want to begin with a brief interview that President Obama gave this past May.  This past May – in the midst of unrest over race relations in our country and grievances about excessive use of force by police on African Americans – President Obama held a round-table discussion with Hispanic and black students at Lehman College in the Bronx and asked them what could be done to help them reach their goals.  Afterward, in surprisingly candid remarks, President Obama told of his own upbringing and the opportunities he had been given, and said how the only difference between himself and many young men of color in our country was that he “grew up in an environment that was a little more forgiving.”  Then he said, “What it comes down to is this:  Do we love these kids?”

“Do we love these kids?”

What if we really did love “these kids?”  Would our country look different?  I’ll come back to this in just a bit, but first, let’s take a look at this morning’s gospel lesson. Continue reading

Surrounded By Love

Sermon for Sunday, May 17, 2015
Easter 7B
John 17:6-19

I remember the first time my parents met our kids.  Shaw was six, maybe eight, weeks old and was asleep.  My parents entered quietly, tiptoed up the stairs and gently opened the door.  Then – never mind that he was asleep – my mother couldn’t help herself.  She leaned over the crib and scooped him up.  It had been over twenty years since she’d held an infant with any regularity, but she hadn’t forgotten the moves; she held him like an old pro.  Olivia met my parents at their home.  They came out when we pulled in the driveway.  Ashley eased Olivia out of her car carrier and passed her to my mother, who held her close and futzed over her with grandmotherly cooing.  Since she’s my mother, I could see in her eyes and hear in her voice the love she had for my kids.  If infants could talk, I bet my kids would have said how wonderful it was to meet their grandparents, how much they loved being held, and how much they loved being loved. Continue reading

The Catechumenate in a Nutshell

Sermon for Sunday, May 3, 2015
Easter 5B
Acts 8:26-40
1 John 4:7-21

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Audrey and Bishop Gates

Yesterday one of Trinity’s members, Audrey, was Confirmed by Bishop Gates at the deanery service held at the Church of the Advent downtown.  It was a beautiful service and a wonderful day for Trinity.  And I’m going to get back to talking about Confirmation and the tools we used to help Audrey prepare – tools that are useful for all of us – but first I want to talk about Studebakers.

Every Tuesday I drive my son Shaw to Dorchester for a choir rehearsal at All Saints, Ashmont.  Almost every Tuesday, parked across the street from the church, is a 1963 Studebaker Lark.   When I first saw it, I was incredulous:  a Studebaker, parked right on the street in Dorchester!  Even though Studebakers ceased production shortly before I was born, I recognized it instantly as a Studebaker.  It has that Studebaker grill:  an open “mouth” canted ever so slightly forward and set between horizontal pairs of headlights.  The body is so “Studebaker:” a little too short in length for its height – but still dignified, not unlike a porkpie hat.  And then there is the slightly rounded and squished trunk – on the Lark, looking like the back half of a giant hamburger bun – that is so Studebaker-y.  Even though I hadn’t seen one in years, the moment I saw it, I knew it was a Studebaker.

(When I said, “Look, a Studebaker!”  Shaw said, “A what?”) Continue reading