Last week, some of you may remember, I ended my sermon by asking this question: Will we, in 2021, be different from and better than how we were in 2020?
There’s not much about the first ten days of 2021 that suggests we will. I think it’s still an open question and, I hope, still a possibility. But after the events of last Wednesday and the assault on our nation’s capitol I’m just not so sure we will be.
What do you do when your prayer is not answered, the budget doesn’t work out, expectations are not met? What do you do when your plan doesn’t come together, a relationship ends, or life is interrupted? What do you do when it’s a hard day and you just want to say no and run away?
The promise and risk of life come to us asking for a response. Jesus had decisions to make. And so do we. We make decisions everyday of our life; decisions and choices about what to do, who we want to be, how we want to live. We sometimes call them temptations. We feel torn and pulled between the promise and the risk. Temptations hold before us the illusion of promise without risk. But that’s not the way the wilderness works, and Jesus knows that.
With each decision we’re betting that the future will be better, not because it necessarily is, but because it might be. And that “might,” the possibility of a better future, of more life, is what gives us the strength, the faith, the hope, to risk a decision and remain open to the future, even when we don’t know how it will turn out. Continue reading Life Is Promise And Risk – A Sermon On Luke 4:1-13
The question is never, “Do I get a yes? Am I the son or daughter of God, the Beloved, with whom God is well pleased?” That’s a given, the gift of God. It’s the insistence of God in each of our lives. The only question is whether we can discern that gift in the conditions and circumstances of our lives.
“And do you come to me?” (From Matthew 3:13-17, Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, the First Sunday after the Epiphany) That’s the greeting Jesus receives from John. John almost seems surprised, taken aback, that Jesus has come to him. John has been in the wilderness preaching and baptizing. “Repent,” he says, “for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” The people of Jerusalem, … Continue reading He is Always Coming to Us – A Sermon on Matthew 3:13-17
A priest-friend of mine tells this story about a family he knows. It seems a young boy had been at home all day with his mother. He had been a terror all day long. With each incident the mother responded, “You just wait until your dad gets home.” Evening came and the dad got home from work. The mother began telling him about their son’s behavior. The dad looked at his son and before he could say anything the boy cried out, “You can’t touch me. I’ve been baptized!”
I wish it was that easy, that clear, that simple. I wish I could say to the sorrows and losses of my life, “You can’t touch me. I’ve been baptized!” I wish I could say to the struggles and difficulties of my life, “You can’t touch me. I’ve been baptized!” I wish I could say to the changes and chances of life, “You can’t touch me. I’ve been baptized!” But that is not how baptism seems to work.
Despite my baptism I have, like every one of you, suffered sorrows and losses of life, encountered difficulties and struggles, had to face the changes and chances of life I would rather have avoided. And despite his baptism that little boy in the story still went to time-out. And yet he speaks a deep truth. He is absolutely right; he is untouchable. At some level he knows that his existence, identity, and value are not limited to time and space; to the things he has done or left undone. He knows himself to be more than his biological existence. He knows himself as beloved. He knows the gift of baptism. Continue reading “A Sermon on Luke 3:15-17, 21-22: The Baptism of Jesus”
Seeing you, O Christ our God, drawing near to him in the river Jordan, John said Why are You who are without defilement come to your servant, O Lord? In whose name shall I baptize you? Of the Father? But you bear him in yourself. Of the Son? But you are yourself the Son made flesh. Of the Holy Spirit? But you know that from your own lips you give him … Continue reading In Whose Name Shall I Baptize You?