Saturday, 24 November 2007 19:00
I grew up with a wonderful dog named "Buffer," a mix of collie, cocker spaniel, and who knows how many other breeds. Precisely at three every weekday afternoon, Buffer would settle himself at the end of our driveway, waiting for me to come home from school. When he saw me rounding the corner, he would jump up and race the length of our street to greet me. Even if everything else in my life was going wrong, at least I knew that my dog loved me. Buffer helped get me through adolescence.
Saturday, 10 November 2007 19:00
Back in the middle sixties, before I even thought of going to seminary, I trained to be a professional anthropologist. One summer, as part of that training, I did research in a small Colombian village called “Felidia,” located high in the Andes overlooking the city of Cali. This was before the days of the Cali Cartel—today no American could go there safely. The villagers welcomed me, for in those days the United States was still popular among Latin Americans, partly because they all venerated the memory of the recently assassinated John F. Kennedy. A knot of small children followed me everywhere I went. I mean everywhere—they even crowded around me whenever I tried to take a shower. “Nubes,” they called me, Spanish for “Clouds,” because—they said of me—“he’s so tall his head is in the clouds.” And they peppered me with non-stop questions about “Gringolandia,” their playful name for the United States, “Land of the Gringos.”
Saturday, 20 October 2007 19:00
How do we understand Scripture to be the authoritative Word of God? And how does our understanding lead to faith?
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Saturday, 13 October 2007 19:00
Sermon for Proper 23.
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Saturday, 06 October 2007 19:00
The Ninety-first Psalm is my favorite in the whole Psalter. I often pray its lines over someone who is dying: "Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your habitation, there shall no evil happen to you, neither shall any plague come nigh your dwelling, for he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways." Now there's something strange going on here. The person in the bed is dying, and I'm saying, "Neither shall any plague come nigh your dwelling." Either I'm crazy, or I'm using a different kind of language than the one we use everyday. I believe it's the latter.
Saturday, 15 September 2007 19:00
“Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow, and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.” “Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.” “Little Bo-peep has lost her sheep, she doesn’t know where to find them. Leave them alone, and they’ll come home, dragging their tails behind them.”
Saturday, 08 September 2007 19:00
Grace, mercy, and peace from God, our creator and sustainer, our lover and our beloved, God with us. Amen.
As I prepared for this, reading the lessons appointed for this day, I did find myself a bit daunted by the gospel reading. But, Augustine said that we cannot understand scripture unless we come to it prepared to be changed by it. With that in mind-the idea that if we want to understand what this passage is saying to us, then we'll have to be open to letting it do something to us-with that in mind, let me read it to you again, a little more loosely translated and a bit compressed.
Jesus said: "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, spouse and children, brothers and sisters-even life itself-cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Which of you, if you were planning to construct a big, expensive building, would not first sit down and figure out the cost, to see whether you can finish the project? What king, setting out to wage war, would not first sit down and think about whether he has any chance of winning? So, therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."
Saturday, 25 August 2007 19:00
The problem with the Church is that so often it protects us from Christianity. That's true in every denomination, but of course I can see it most clearly in our own. Let me give you an outrageous example. In some of our parishes, confirmation instruction focuses on imparting the special vocabulary of the Episcopal Church. Well-meaning adults, often clergy, teach candidates the differences between a pall, a paten, a pyx, and a purificator. Now let me confess one of my great failings to you. Despite having been ordained for nearly forty years, despite holding a doctorate in Anglican history, I've never quite gotten these distinctions straight-I always have to go into the sacristy and look at the altar guild's chart. Yet according to some of my colleagues, these differences are the very essence of the Episcopal Church.
Saturday, 11 August 2007 19:00
There once was a six-year-old girl named Ruby. This was nearly fifty years ago, and she was black, and her city was New Orleans, and the courts had ordered her to integrate an all-white elementary school. Each morning Ruby was led to school by a team of armed federal marshals. They formed a cocoon protecting her from hundreds of white protestors, people waving Ku Klux Klan flags, holding up child-sized coffins, and screaming four-letter insults at the little girl. A Harvard psychiatrist I know, Robert Coles, was in New Orleans at the time, and he became fascinated by Ruby. How could she stand it? he asked her over and over. What was she thinking about as she so calmly walked this gauntlet of hatred?
Saturday, 28 July 2007 19:00
Perhaps it’s just a modern legend, but it’s said that when “Gone with the Wind” opened in 1939, hundreds of movie-goers across the South fled their theatres upon hearing Rhett Butler’s parting words to Scarlett O’Hara, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Back then, in those more innocent days, the word “damn” was considered sufficient to scandalize many polite citizens.