I remember asking the what-to-do question in my teen age and early adult years as I thought about and made decisions. I asked it during my separation and after my divorce. I asked it after our son Brandon died. I’ve asked it after I said or did something that hurt another. I’ve asked it when I felt lost, overwhelmed, powerless, scared, or guilty. I’ve asked it when the pain of the world is palpable, when those I love and care about are hurting, when others are dealing with the hardships and the difficulty of life. What then should I do? Who and how do I want to be in this moment?
Does any of that sound familiar in your life? When have you asked the question? And what was going on? Continue reading It’s About Ordinary Life – An Advent Sermon On Luke 3:7-18
“There has never been a renewal of church life in western Christianity without a renewal of prayer and Religious Communities, in some form or another, often different.” – Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury, 7/5/13 In some ways the monastic has always stood as a counter-cultural symbol, a subversive immersed in what St. Benedict, in the Prologue to the Rule, called “a school for the Lord’s service.” The … Continue reading Episcopal Monastics, the Order of St. Helena
“Let me check my calendar and I’ll get back with you.” Coordinating calendars has become a regular routine for many, perhaps most, of us. We are scheduled people, busy people. Computers and phones buzz, beep, or ring reminding us of our schedule. They send texts and e-mails telling us where to go, when to be there, and what to do. For the most part things run … Continue reading Sacred Monotony, the Season after Pentecost
If you want to have a spiritual life you must unify your life. A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire. To unify your life unify your desires. To spiritualize your life, spiritualize your desires. To … Continue reading If You Want a Spiritual Life
If you seek after God with all your heart and all your strength, then the virtues of your soul and body will turn you into a mirror of the image of God within. You will be so merged in God, and God so merged in you, that each will endlessly repose in the other. Such are the riches of the gifts of the Spirit that … Continue reading Becoming an Icon of Divine Blessedness
“If only he hadn’t died.” “If only she hadn’t left.” If only I had made a different decision.” “If only I hadn’t said that.” “If only I had not done that.” “If only things were like they used to be.”
I suspect all of us have, at some time, lived an “if only” life. It could be about anything: our nation, our church, our society, our schools, our family, our marriage, our children, our selves. Ultimately, though it is about the past. We want to preserve what was and keep things the way they’ve always been. We want to undo what is and go back to what was. Sometimes the words “if only” betray our attachment to the past, our dislike of what is, or our fear of something new. Almost always they come from a place of sorrow and loss, regret, failure, or disappointment.
The illusion of “if only” wraps around our lives like grave clothes. We use it to try to bind up what has fallen apart, preserve what is decaying, and tie us to what has been lost. If you know the illusion of “if only” then you probably know Mary and her sister, Martha. Continue reading “Unbinding and Letting Go of the Past”
The collect and readings for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 23B, may be found here. The following sermon is based on Mark 10:17-31.
The man in today’s gospel has plenty of stuff but something is missing. His life is full but he is empty. Despite his acquisitions and accumulations he is searching for more. He’s acquired wealth but not the life he wants. There is an urgency about the man in today’s gospel. He doesn’t just go to Jesus. He runs to him and asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
He is looking for the life that only God can give. He’s heard about it since his youth. It’s the story told in scripture. It’s the life promised to his and our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It’s the life that drew the Israelites through the Red Sea and into the wilderness. Like those before him this man is seeking the promised land. Despite his wealth, being good, and doing all the right things he just can’t seem to get there.
I suspect most of us know what it is like to be the man in today’s gospel. There are moments in life when we sense that something is lacking. That inner restlessness, emptiness, and longing tell us there is something more.
We could each tell our own version of the man’s story. It might go something like this. Continue reading “Don’t Confuse Wealth with Life”
Theophan the Recluse was a Russian priest and bishop of the 19th century. In the latter half of his life he lived in solitude. Much of his life was spent writing and teaching about the life of prayer. In one of his homilies on prayer he offers the following: Let me recall a wise custom of the ancient Holy Fathers: when greeting each other, they … Continue reading How is your prayer?