Solid Food for Social Justice

Homily for February 12, 2017
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
I Corinthians 3:1-9

“I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food.”

john_westerhoff_ce20Episcopal priest and theologian John Westerhoff, speaking about Christian formation, distinguishes between “nurture” and “conversion.”  So often when we Christians do formation – like teach prayer, or talk about the importance of regular worship, or teach about the sacraments – we tend to talk in terms of nurture – how church consoles us, for example, or how prayer helps us get through our day.  But nurture will take us only so far, says Westerhoff.  A mature Christian faith – if we are truly to be the “salt of the earth” and the “lights of the world” – requires conversion: a deep-down, thorough and systemic transformation of the inner person.

We’ll get back to conversion, but first I want to speak to our present social and political environment.  In the weeks since the inauguration, many have told me about the rallies they’ve attended, the letters they’ve sent or phone calls they’ve made, and the convictions they have regarding the environment or immigration or religious tolerance.  An activism has been awakened, and I see a care for our nation that I haven’t seen in my lifetime, a desire to make a difference. Continue reading

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Contemplatives in Action

Sermon for Sunday, June 19, 2016
Pentecost 5
Luke 8:26-39

ascetics-praying-in-cave-sketchThe text for the homily this morning is not so much today’s gospel text itself as it is the text around today’s gospel text.  In particular, Jesus’ rhythm of mission and prayer – Jesus going out on mission, then withdrawing to deserted places to pray – that Luke set up three chapters earlier, in chapter 5:

Many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases.  But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray. – Luke 5:15b-16

The context of today’s gospel is Jesus’ rhythm of going out on mission and then withdrawing to deserted places to pray; Jesus’ mission leads to prayer, Jesus’ prayer leads to mission.  Mission and prayer is the rhythm of Jesus’ ministry in Luke.

But I don’t want to begin there.  I want to begin rather with President George W. Bush’s “faith-based initiatives.” Continue reading