Searching for Intimacy with God

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
October 16, 2016
The Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 24C

Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 121
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Luke 18:1-8

My Friends:

8111420340_3eedc8bd24_bIt will come as no surprise to any who know me well that I am neither an athlete nor an ardent sports fan.  However, when I began my tenure as a teacher and chaplain at Saint Mark’s School twenty years ago, I felt obligated to attend all manner of athletic competitions, especially those involving any of my handful of student advisees.  And so, at the tender age of forty-five, I saw—believe it or not—my very first soccer, hockey, lacrosse, tennis, and wrestling matches.  This “brave new world” of athletic competition came to me as quite a revelation.  I can vividly recall my horror and alarm as I watched my first hockey and lacrosse games:  young men with sticks engaged in what appeared to be savage battle with one another.  The real eye-opener, however, came at my first wrestling match.  At first, I completely recoiled at the sight of wave after wave of grimacing young men apparently mauling and choking one another.  Yet, after that first shock of horror, I suddenly realized that in slow-motion, this fight might easily be misconstrued as a loving embrace.  In fact, all of these sports—but most especially wrestling—involved both struggle and intimacy:  the cornerstones of any significant and meaningful relationship. Continue reading

Ask and Receive

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Saint John’s Church/Newtonville
July 24, 2016
The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 12C

Genesis 18:20-32
Psalm 138
Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)
Luke 11:1-13

My Friends:

Arab Souk, Old City, Jerusalem, Israel.During my first of many trips to the Land of the Holy One, our guides gave us pilgrims a very welcome orientation to the unique customs and practices of the Middle East.  To alleviate our fears and to reduce our “culture shock,” they introduced us to the practices and protocols of the bazaar known as the suq in the Old City of Jerusalem.  And it was only then that I really grasped—for the first time—something of the meaning of this morning’s reading from the Hebrew Bible, together with a much deeper understanding of the whole life of prayer.

Our guides informed us that negotiation and bargaining are an integral part of doing business in the Middle East.  Shopkeepers and merchants of the bazaar expect you to bargain with them for a price lower than the one first quoted; in fact, they are deeply insulted if you don’t negotiate with them for that better price.  The price, we were told, is never the real issue.  In the Middle East, still a deeply traditional culture, bargaining establishes a personal relationship between the buyer and the seller in a society where relationships are everything. Continue reading

The Power of Praying for Others

Sermon for Sunday, October 19, 2014
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
I Thessalonians 1:1-10

“We always give thanks to God for all of you
and mention you in our prayers…”  I Thess 1:2a

As he does in today’s lesson from 1 Thessalonians, Paul begins several of his letters by mentioning his prayer for people:

For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers. – Romans 1:9

I thank God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you.  – Philippians 1:4

When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith towards the Lord Jesus. – Philemon 4

It seems that Paul is constantly praying for his converts and congregations.  Shortly, I will invite us to consider the role that praying for others – the kind of prayer called intercessory prayer – might play in our lives.  But first, I want to take a detour to Harry Potter. Continue reading