Looking Around and Leaving Nothing Behind – A Palm Sunday Sermon on Mark 11:1-11

Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ (From the Palm Sunday gospel, Mark 11:1-11) Every time I read, hear, or say those words I can’t help but think of a saying you probably know. … Continue reading Looking Around and Leaving Nothing Behind – A Palm Sunday Sermon on Mark 11:1-11

Holy Week, Sermon, Holy Saturday, Great Saturday, Icon Harrowing of Hell, Descent into Hell

The Morning After – A Sermon for Holy Saturday

Jesus’ body has been taken down from the cross, received into the hands of his mother and friends. They have wrapped his body in their love and laid him in the tomb. The door of the tomb has been replaced by a great stone. (Matthew 27:57-66) This is not only a story about Jesus. It is a story about the deaths and losses of our lives. … Continue reading The Morning After – A Sermon for Holy Saturday

Good Friday, Sermon, Holy Week, Death, Crucifixion John 18:1-19:42

Hell Awaits – A Sermon for Good Friday, John 18:1-19:42

Last night we began taking our share with Jesus. We ate the last supper. We washed feet. We stripped the altar. We come here today much the same as we left here last night. The table of our last supper has been cleared and is empty. The water that washed our feet has dried and the basin is empty. The altar of our life has … Continue reading Hell Awaits – A Sermon for Good Friday, John 18:1-19:42

Maundy Thursday, Foot Washing, Holy Week, Matthew 13:1-17, 31-35, Sermon

Taking our Share with Jesus – A Sermon for Maundy Thursday on John 13:1-17, 31-35

I’ve now been here at St. Philip’s long enough that you probably know one of the things I emphasize in my teaching, preaching, and our life together is the movement from thinking to experience, the practice of living out of our hearts rather than our heads. My focus on this is as much for me as it is for you. I teach that because I … Continue reading Taking our Share with Jesus – A Sermon for Maundy Thursday on John 13:1-17, 31-35

Sunday of the Passion, Palm Sunday, Matthew 21:1-11, Matthew 27:11-54, Sermon, Holy Week, Triumphal Entry

Life-giving Turmoil – A Sermon for the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, Matthew 21:1-11

Today is known as the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday. (There are two gospel readings: Matthew 21:1-11 (the triumphal entry) and Matthew 27:11-54 (the passion)). I’ve been wondering and thinking though about a different name for this day. What if we renamed today “Turmoil Sunday?” Does that sound like the gospel to you? Did you show up today hoping or expecting Jesus to bring … Continue reading Life-giving Turmoil – A Sermon for the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, Matthew 21:1-11

In the Hell of Life, Holy Saturday

14th century manuscript illustrating the harrowing of hell
The Harrowing of Hell, 14th century (source)

“When one door closes another opens,” goes an old and popular saying. But what about that time in between, after one door closes but before another opens? What do we do then? As a friend of mine once said, “It’s hell when you are waiting in the hallway.” That’s where we are today. The door on Good Friday has closed. Jesus is dead. The door on Easter has not yet opened. The tomb is sealed and guarded. This is Holy Saturday, in-between time, tomb time.

Many, perhaps most, will not remember or celebrate this day, but, at some point, we all live this day. We all come to the Holy Saturday of our life, the hell of our life, and it always involves a death of some kind: the death of loved one, the death of a relationship, the death of a dream. Regardless of how it comes about someone or something has died and all the doors remain closed. Continue reading “In the Hell of Life, Holy Saturday”

The Crucifixion as Revelation and not Causation

Detail of wooden crucifix
Photo courtesy of Sr. Miriam Elizabeth, Order of St. Helena

So what does it all mean? What difference does the crucifixion make? Does God love us more because Jesus died on the cross? Are we somehow more acceptable, more tolerable, to God because Jesus suffered? Have we been brought closer to God because his son was executed by a Roman governor who gave in to fear and the shouts of those he governed?

I don’t believe that’s who God is, the way God acts, or how God loves. That is not why we call this day, this Friday, good. Continue reading “The Crucifixion as Revelation and not Causation”

A New Position and Role as Lover, John 13:1-17, 31-35

It’s not hard to imagine that after the supper fiasco in Bethany – Mary anointing Jesus’ feet, Judas’ outburst, and Jesus talking about his death – the disciples might have been looking forward to a quiet evening, just a regular supper, just some food and conversation. That’s how tonight’s supper began but that’s not how it will end.

Painting of Jesus washing Peter's feet
Source: Wikimedia Commons

This night would be different. It would not be like the supper at Bethany. This time it was their feet. This time it is Peter’s outburst. This time it is Jesus talking about and showing love. It was, however, another supper interrupted.

“During supper Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.”

Jesus is taking their relationship to the next level. They had been with each other for three years. Now they will become a part of each other. They had shared much over those three years, conversations, meals, experiences, prayer, time, life. Now they will take a share in Jesus and in each other. He in them. Them in him. They in each other. That’s how love is. Continue reading “A New Position and Role as Lover, John 13:1-17, 31-35”

“Lord, who is it?” A Sermon on John 13:21-32

He was the one they had waited for. They had grown up hearing stories of his coming. Then one day he showed up and chose them to be his friends and students, to follow and learn. He took them new places. He taught them new ideas and ways of living. He revealed God and showed them things they had never before seen. Water was turned into wine, a crippled man got up and walked, five thousand were fed with a few pieces of bread and a couple of fish. One day he walked on water. A blind was made to see and a dead man came back to life.

They believed in him. They followed him wherever he went. They spent all their time together. They walked together. They talked together. They ate together. They worshipped and prayed together. They lived together. They were a part of each others’ lives. Jesus wouldn’t have it any other way, then or now.

It was the perfect combination. Friendship, love, and intimacy. They are, I think, what we most long for. They are the ways of God and they show his presence in and among us. They are also the ground in which betrayal takes root. We can never betray one who has not first given and entrusted himself or herself into our hands and life, and Jesus knows that. “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” That Jesus can even be betrayed is proof of his love. Jesus has made his own betrayal possible not only with the disciples but in all times and in all places, even here, now, with us. Continue reading ““Lord, who is it?” A Sermon on John 13:21-32″