Healing in the Manger of the Heart

Homily for Sunday, January 1, 2017
Holy Name
Preached at St. John’s, Newtonville

circumcision-of-jesusIn the old Prayer Book today’s feast, the Feast of the Holy Name, was called the Feast of the Circumcision.   In the Roman church the first Sunday after Christmas is usually the Feast of the Holy Family.   The three are basically the same Feast with basically the same readings that provide further occasion to drive home messages of Incarnation: Jesus is one of us, Jesus is part of God’s plan for salvation, God placed Jesus within a particular people and within a particular family.   And it’s this last that I want to talk about this morning – families. Continue reading

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Agents of God’s Love

Sermon for Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Wednesday after the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Isaiah 10:5-7, 13b-16
Matthew 11:25-27

childFew things can be more upsetting to a child than acknowledging that his or her parent is not all-powerful and not all-knowing.  If something is awry in the parent’s life, it is not unusual for the child to blame him- or herself, then, rather than risk the parent seeming fallible and the child’s world falling apart.

In today’s text from Isaiah 10, Assyria is threatening the surrounding nations, including Israel.  Isaiah – like the child who does not want to risk the parents’ fallibility and the world falling apart – ascribes Assyria’s belligerence to God, saying that Assyria is “my rod in anger” and that “the club in their hands is my fury.”   It may be unsettling to think of God using a violent nation to serve God’s purposes, but in ascribing Assyria’s  belligerence to God, Isaiah preserves God’s omnipotence and omniscience, Isaiah preserves the order of the world. Continue reading

A New View of Christmas

childOver the swinging parapet of my arm
Your sentinel eyes lean gazing. Hugely alert
In the pale unfinished clay of your infant face,
They drink light from this candle on the tree.
Drinking, not pondering, each bright thing you see,
You make it yours without analysis
And, stopping down the aperture of thought
To a fine pinhole, you are filled with flame.

Give me for Christmas, then, your kind of seeing,
Not studying candles – angel, manger, star –
But staring as at a portrait, God’s I guess,
That shocks and holds the eye, till all my being,
Gathered, intent and still, as now you are,
Breathes out its wonder in a wordless yes.

— Bishop John V. Taylor (1914-2001)