From Grief to Thanksgiving

Homily for Sunday, October 9, 2016
Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost
Luke 17:11-19

“’Were not ten made clean?  But the other nine, where are they?”

christThis morning, I’m going to preach two homilies.  First, I want to speak to today’s Gospel text, and then I want to say a word about the Blessing of the Animals that we are about to do.

We preachers can easily turn this morning’s gospel – the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers –  into a pedantic reminder of the importance of saying “thank you.”  When we do, our homilies often come across as lengthier, maybe slightly more refined, versions of what our mother told us when we were kids:  “Remember to say ‘Thank you.’”  More creative preachers might point out that the leper was a Samaritan – an outcast – and say something about Luke’s concern for the marginalized.

I have preached both of those sermons, and I want to do something different this morning. Continue reading

Only Servants Doing Our Duty

Homily preached by the Rev. James La Macchia
Trinity Parish of Newton Centre
October 2, 2016
The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 22C

Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Psalm 37:1-10
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Luke 17:5-10

My Friends:

mustard_plant_bangladeshAlmost twenty years ago during the first of my twelve subsequent visits to the Land of the Holy One, I was very eager to collect anything that I might share with the students in my Heirs of Abraham course to make the Bible come alive for them.  So, when we came upon a field of blooming mustard plants, I took some of their almost microscopic seeds to show my students.  Unfortunately, there was no way for me take home a mulberry tree because such trees grow to a very large and bushy height in Galilee.  Besides, I would never have made it through US Customs hauling a mulberry tree along with my luggage.  While Jesus’ disciples would have immediately caught this morning’s contrasting images drawn from their familiar world, we must rely upon the flora and fauna more common to us in these parts.  So, in your mind’s eye this morning, picture a pumpkin seed beside a giant oak in full bloom for comparison. Continue reading

Praying with Scripture – Entering the Story

Sermon for Sunday, October 5, 2014
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20


This morning, I’m going to preach two sermons.  The second will be very brief and about the Blessing of the Animals.  The first, likewise somewhat brief, will really be about prayer – specifically, the kind of prayer with scripture called “entering the story” – but it will look a lot like a sermon about time, especially our sense of time and God’s sense of time.

Moses with the Ten Commandments by Rembrandt

And I want to approach this “entering the story” kind of prayer through some of the commentary that has been written in the Jewish tradition about today’s lesson from Exodus, what we call “the Ten Commandments, but which in the Jewish tradition is called the “standing at Sinai.” (Remember that the people were standing at Mount Sinai when God, high above on the mountain, gave the commandments to Moses.)  Some of the Jewish commentary on Israel’s “standing at Sinai” I find quite wonderful and creative.  Continue reading