August 7, 2016 • Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
Text: Luke 12:34: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also..”
Preached by Rev. Mark Eddington, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Newtonville
You may have seen the news item this past week about a plane that crashed on landing in Dubai. In case you didn’t, let me start right off by saying that everyone on the plane actually managed to survive, although, very sadly, one of the firefighters who came out to battle the flames around the aircraft died.
What seems to have happened was that the landing gear on the aircraft did not deploy properly, with the result that the airplane landed right on its belly and skidded down the runway. The crew knew that something was amiss, and had warned all the passengers, and immediately after the aircraft came to a stop they quickly opened the doors and deployed the escape slides, and that’s why everyone on the airplane survived without so much as a single injury. Continue reading →
Almost four years after my father’s death, I still receive very vivid reminders of one of the central truths of both the human condition and the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “You can’t take anything with you” or—as a beloved friend once said shortly before his death, “I have never seen a hearse with a U-Haul attached to it.” As my mother and I continue to sort through so many of my father’s things, all carefully labeled, stored, and left behind—many of them for a future that never came—we have had a very sobering reminder that our only real legacy is our character and the good deeds that we have done or failed to do in our short time here on this earth. Our spirit is all that follows us into the “life of the world to come” as we await the final consummation of all things mortal at the “resurrection of the dead”, when “Christ is all and in all,” according to St. Paul. Even Jesus didn’t manage to leave this world without first dying, and, in this world of uncertainty, there is one thing of which I am quite sure: none of us gathered here this morning will manage to do so either. Continue reading →
Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
Perhaps it’s an example of clergy cynicism best left behind at those shadowing gatherings of the ordained that, like trips to the dentist, one endures, but never welcomes. Nonetheless, I will take the plunge this morning and share with you a remark that I have heard on several occasions at such events, especially when the sensitive subject of “average Sunday attendance” is raised for report or discussion. And the matter creeps into discussions frequently these days when so many other activities compete for our attention on Sunday mornings—to which Christian’s still refer, without even a hint of irony, as the “Lord’s Day”—in our increasingly secular, competitive, and consumerist culture. The remark is often made when clergy are bemoaning low attendance at Sunday services, and it usually goes something like this: “I wonder just how many people would come to Church on a Sunday morning if we advertised in the local press that each and every communicant would receive a one-hundred dollar bill at the altar rail. I’ll bet that attendance would skyrocket!” To which the more cynical among us—who shall, of course, remain nameless to protect the guilty—have been known to respond: “Why one-hundred dollars when fifty or twenty would likely do just as nicely!” Continue reading →
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 →