OMG, What Have We Done?

Sermon for Sunday, December 6, 2015
The Second Sunday of Advent
Philippians 1:3-11

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you
will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6

win-cash_0Martin Smith, a former Superior of the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, tells the story of the day the monastery’s Finance Committee voted to give $100,000 to a church’s capital campaign (about 20 years ago).  Martin couldn’t sleep that night, so he went down to the kitchen to get a cup of warm milk and… discovered the other three members of the Finance Committee!  Martin says, “That’s how we knew we had given enough.”  When we give so much that it kept us up at night, “That’s how we knew we’ve given enough.”

“Martin’s maxim” is a good rule of thumb for charitable giving, and I want to talk about giving this morning.  But I want to talk about, not financial giving, but the kind of giving that our parish just did in making our merger possible. Continue reading

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Give Until It Feels Good

Sermon for Sunday, November 8, 2015
Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
I Kings 17:8-16

the_widow_of_zaraphathI find this morning’s Old Testament story gripping.  Imagine what it must have been like to be the Widow of Zarephath!  Imagine living during a sever drought.  Imagine her worry and anxiety about not having enough.   Imagine how she must have daily watched the level of meal in the jar and oil in the jug, wondering when her last day would be.  And she had a son!  Just imagine her anxiety and worry!

And imagine that last day when she went out to gather sticks to make one last fire to bake one last loaf from the last of the meal in the jar and the last of the oil in the jug. Elijah appeared, looking rough and wild… and hungry.  “He’s going to ask me for food,” I bet she thought.  Which he did.  She was ready with her polite but pointed response:

As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die. Continue reading

Do Not Go Away Sad

Sermon for Sunday, October 11, 2015
Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost
Mark 10:17-31

Preached at Bethany Convent, the Order of St. Anne, Arlington

I have Leviticus on my mind.  Now before you ask, “Father, are you OK?  Are you feeling alright?” please know that I have Leviticus on my mind because at my parish a group is reading the Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation, and this past week we discussed Leviticus.  It’s been a while since I’ve spent time in Leviticus, so I think I was able to come to it with a more-or-less fresh perspective.  What struck me most about Leviticus this last time through is that Leviticus is a book of imagination.  In Leviticus, the writer(s) imagines what it is like to be God and to be madly in love with human beings.   Leviticus imagines God desiring a relationship with us that is 1) continuous, 2) abiding, and 3) progressive.  Continuous, because Leviticus is filled with laws that help bring people to a continuous awareness of God in all aspects of life.   Abiding, because in Leviticus God wants to share life with us so much that God asks the people to carry the Tent of Meeting with them wherever they go.  And progressive, because God wants His relationship with us to become progressively more intimate, growing until God converses with us in our own “Holy of Holies,” as it were, in the innermost part of our “tent.” Continue reading

A Gift for Jesus

Adoration of the Magi by Murillo

Lord Jesus,
I give you my hands to do your work,
I give you my feet to go your way,
I give you my eyes to see as you do.
I give you my tongue to speak your words,
I give you my mind that you may think in me,
I give you my spirit that you may pray in me.
Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me, your Father, and all mankind.
I give you my whole self that you may grow in me, so that it is you, Lord Jesus, who live and work and pray in me. I hand over to your care, Lord, my soul and body, my mind and thoughts, my prayers and hopes, my health and work, my life and
my death, my parents and my family, my friends and my neighbours, my country and all men. Today and always.

by Lancelot Andrewes (1648)

Money

Sermon for Sunday, November 9, 2014
Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
“’We will serve the Lord!’”

 

I’ve already ‘fessed up in a previous sermon about my passion for manual typewriters, so it will not be news to most of us that I have a small collection of old typewriters.  But what I may not have said is that my collection might be much bigger, were it not for a timely intervention from my wife.  Let me start from the beginning…  My collection started when my mother gave me her Hermes 3000, which my grandfather gave her for a graduation present from high school in 1960.  The Swiss-made Hermes 3000 was a beautiful machine.   I was intoxicated by it’s heft and substance – this was no Mac Air! – by the touch of its keyboard – I loved the feel of machinery happening under my fingertips – by its wonderful clacking sound and the “Ding!” at the end of the row.   Oh, and the smell…  the rubber, the oil, the ink, and the faint but still discernible smell of my grandparents’ house.  I love that machine!  And one machine soon mushroomed into six or seven others.

As I said, I would have a bigger collection were it not for the timely intervention of my wife.  At the time, we were living in a small apartment in Santa Barbara, and we didn’t have space to store typewriters .  And we knew that moving would be in our future, given that I still needed to finish seminary, and we didn’t want to be moving hundreds of pounds of metal.  One day, looking over my shoulder as I perused eBay for the next machine, Ashley said to me, “Look, I know you love these typewriters, but collecting typewriters is not a practical hobby.  We don’t have the space, we’re moving soon, and you are spending way too much time and energy on this.  It’s like you don’t own the typewriters; they own you.” Continue reading