Homily for Sunday, February 26, 2017
Last Sunday After the Epiphany
“Fun Home,” the heartbreaker / tear-jerker Broadway musical that recently closed, is a detective story of sorts about a lesbian cartoonist trying to understand her recently-deceased father and, by extension, herself. “Fun Home” won five Tony awards in 2015, including Best Book of a Musical for the playwright, Lisa Kron. In just a moment, I will tell what Ms. Kron said upon receiving her award, but it might make more sense if I first say something about the musical.
While “Fun Home” is a coming out story of a daughter who comes to terms with her sexuality, and while “Fun Home” is a coming of age story about a daughter trying to understand her father’s death, a suicide, “Fun Home” is bigger than a coming out or coming of age story. As New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley says, “Fun Home” has a universal appeal that “comes from its awareness of… that element of the unknowable that exists in all of us… [and] how we never fully know even those closest to us.” Continue reading →
Origen of Alexandria, writing in the early 3rd century about today’s gospel lesson, says the reason Jesus was transfigured only before Peter, James and John – and not before the other disciples – was that only Peter, James and John had the capacity to behold Jesus transfigured. According to Origen, Jesus shows himself to different people differently, depending on their capacity to see him. Origen writes:
The Word has different forms as he appears to each, as is expedient for the beholder. [The Word] is manifested to no one beyond the capacity of the beholder… It is possible for Jesus to be transfigured before some… but before others not to be transfigured.
I imagine your initial response to Origen’s words is not dissimilar to mine: “Great. Where does that leave me? Am I one of those who gets to go up the mountain, or am I one of those who has to stay down below?” Continue reading →
Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty. – From the Collect for the Feast of the Transfiguration
It’s not that good works are over-rated, but sometimes our focus on doing good works can lead us to forget that, sometimes, Jesus simply desires that we just be with him. It’s easy to think that being a Christian is about working and accomplishing and doing good for Jesus, and it’s easy to overlook the fact that maybe, sometimes – or maybe even a lot of the time – Jesus wants us simply just to be with him, and – as today’s Collect says – to just “by faith behold the King in his beauty.” Continue reading →
This morning’s sermon is about our comforting and consoling Jesus. So often we think of Jesus as one who comforts and consoles us – and he does! But this morning I am going to preach about our comforting and consoling Jesus, which can be a fruitful step in our spiritual life. But I don’t want to begin there. I want to begin, rather, with Edward Albee and his play, “Three Tall Women.”
About twenty years ago I went with a group of brothers from the monastery to a production of Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women.” “Three Tall Women” is a story about one woman, really, who is in her early 90’s and lying in a coma. In her coma Albee imagines her arguing with her 52 year-old self and her 26 year-old self about what was the happiest, or peak, time of her life. Here, the 52 year-old self weighs in:
What I like most about being where I am – and fifty is a peak – is that there’s a lot I don’t have to go through anymore, and that doesn’t mean closing down – for me, at any rate. It opens up whole vistas – of decline, of obsolescence, peculiarity, but really interesting! Standing up here right on top of the middle of it has to be the happiest time. I mean, it’s the only time you get a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree view in all directions. Wow! What a view! Continue reading →