I don’t know if “unlesses” is a real word but I am using it as a noun and the plural of unless.
We all have our “unlesses.” They’re about how and what we see. They are the restrictions, limitations, and conditions that shape and inform our relationships and understanding of each other, Jesus, and ourselves.
When was the last time you could not help but tell about something you saw, heard, or experienced? It was simply more than you could hold or contain and you just couldn’t keep it to yourself. You had to tell about it.
Before you answer, let me clarify what I am talking about and what I am not talking about. I’m not talking about a juicy scandal, scoop, or gossip. I’m not talking about what you heard or saw someone else say or do. And I’m not talking about simply recounting the events of your day. Continue reading Can I Get A Witness? – A Sermon On John 1:6-8, 19-28
Richard knew a “secret, a very simple secret.” He knew and trusted that “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, chapter xxi)
That is the secret that sustains us through our losses and gives hope on this day. It is the secret that makes life beautiful, relationships meaningful, and conversations extraordinary. It is the secret that lifts us up to see further and cleanses our eyes to see more clearly. It is the secret all our sacred scriptures try to teach us. It is a secret open to everyone and hidden from no one, but only those with eyes to see will understand it. Continue reading Seeing With The Eye Of The Heart – A Funeral Sermon on 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:9
Everything about Jesus, his life, his words, his actions, are a judgment on our lives and world. That judgment offers us the chance to see as he sees, to live as he lives, and to be as he is. His judgment, however, is not an adjudication for the purpose of punishment. Rather, it is a diagnosis for the purpose of healing and life. Jesus always casts his judgment with an eye toward change and transformation. Its purpose is to show us the way, the truth, and the life. Continue reading Seeing All There is to See – A Sermon on John 9:1-41
John 8:12. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’” When the sun sets and night comes, many people turn on the lights. When my wife and I leave home in the evening, she will say, “Let’s leave on a couple of lights to welcome … Continue reading The Light By Which We See
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus,” they said to Philip. It’s not an unusual request. I suspect most of us have said or thought it. Twice a week the children in our parish school sing, “Open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus.”
I wonder, however, if the visitors who came to Philip had any idea what they were asking. I wonder if we know what we are asking? It seems a simple enough request, but Jesus’ response is anything but simple. I don’t know what answer Philip and Andrew expected but I’ll bet they did not expect to hear about death. It is probably not the answer we expect or want when we ask to see Jesus, but it is the answer Jesus gives.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.”
Somehow death and seeing Jesus are intimately related. To see Jesus is more than looking at him. It is more than just believing the things he said and did. We follow Christ as participants not spectators. If we want to see Jesus then we must learn to die. To the degree we avoid and deny death, we refuse to see Jesus. Continue reading “Dying to See Jesus, A Sermon on John 12:20-36”
Let me tell you a little bit about Simeon, some things you may not know, some things that might surprise you.
Simeon is often identified as one of the seventy Hebrew scholars who translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek, what we know as the Septuagent. He surely was aware of Malachi’s prophecy, “The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.” Simeon, as St. Luke tells it, had also been promised that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Simeon has been waiting, anticipating, and preparing a long time for the fulfillment of that prophecy and promise. Not just years or even decades but centuries. Our sacred tradition says that Simeon was more than 270 years old when he received Jesus in his arms. It’s no surprise then that Christian iconography shows Simeon to be old and hunched over, as if the years of waiting weigh heavy upon him. But there’s more. Our tradition also says that Simeon was blind.
How can this be? Two hundred seventy years old? Blind? What could a 270 year old blind man possibly see? None of this makes sense. Blind men don’t see. So, do we deny the tradition and declare it to be untrue, just wrong? Do we discount Simeon’s own words, “My eyes have seen your salvation?” Continue reading “Blindness and Seeing, A Sermon on Luke 2:22-40”