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.
Emmitt, though you are only four and a half months old you are never too young to hear the Beatitudes for the first time, and neither are the rest of us too old to hear them again for the first time. Today you are being immersed in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) as a way of being, a path to be followed, principles by which to guide your life. They describe the divine life, the life of Jesus. And whether that life exists in this world depends on you and the rest of us. We never accomplish the beatitudes as a task completed. Instead we strive, day by day, to live into them. Continue reading Here We Are – A Baptismal Sermon On the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:1-12
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?
Baptism doesn’t happen just in the font at the back of the church. We’ve been taught and come to believe there is only one baptism in the church. And I think that is right, but I want to put the emphasis on “in the church.” In the church there is only one baptism. In life we are baptized over and over and over again. Continue reading The Many Baptisms Of Life – A Sermon On Acts 8:26-40
Luke 7:11-17 Think about someone who was there for you at a critical moment in your life, one of those times when you just didn’t know how or if you would get through it. Who was there for you? Picture his or her face. Say their name out loud. Who was it? What was happening in your life at that time? What was that critical … Continue reading The Holy Work of Crossing Over – A Sermon on Luke 7:11-17
I remember someone saying to me many years ago, “I’ve had a bad decade. There are things I wish I could re-do. I’d make different choices. So many words I wish I hadn’t said. Relationships that I’d do differently.” It probably doesn’t take a lot of imagination to know what he means. It may not have been a decade but I suspect all of us … Continue reading Into What Then Were You Baptized? – A Sermon on Mark 4:1-11
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”
For most of us, I suspect, there are moments when the existential questions of life can no longer be answered, ignored, or denied by focusing on our careers, jobs, marriages, families, acquisitions, or accomplishments. Who am I? What is my purpose? What have I really accomplished? How will I be remembered? Will I even be remembered? Where is all this going and what’s it about?
Some will simply chalk it up to a mid-life crisis or the frustrations and difficulties of life. Others will try to reinvent themselves. In those moments we face our own mortality, the passing of time, and the limitations of this world. That we are finite, biological creatures with a beginning and an end, becomes more clear. These are “spiritual” moments par excellence. At the heart of these moments are our longing and yearning for life, not just life as we know it, more of the same, but a life we can scarcely imagine let alone obtain for ourselves.
The collect and readings for Easter may be found here. The following sermon is based on Mark 16:1-8. Several years ago a woman told me that her great-grandson asked why she had so many wrinkles on her hands. “I’m old,” she told him. “Do you know what happens when you get old,” he asked. “You die and they bury you in the ground.” Before she … Continue reading Life Unburied – A Sermon for Easter; Mark 16:1-8