I grew up in an upper middle class to wealthy community in New York back in the 1950’s and even though we did not officially have an entrenched caste system like India, it was pretty clear who was considered part of the in crowd and who was an “outcaste.” There were very few African American families in town and as I recall almost all of us were either working class or somewhere between there and lower middle class. The civil rights movement was just beginning to take hold in other parts of the country however given the times it was still wiser in my community to keep your head down and accept the social role you were assigned when in the company of the folks who knew they were “all that and a bag of chips.”
A few years ago, Lori and I went on a pilgrimage here in California, traveling the length of the state to all 21 California missions founded by 18th century Spanish Franciscans.
As any California fourth grader can tell you, the first mission was founded in San Diego by Father Junipero Serra, and the last mission was founded right over the hill from here in Sonoma. (more…)
On a recent Wednesday morning, I joined an extraordinary circle of people sitting in the chancel up here: Our Anam Cara prayer group.
“Anam Cara,” by the way, is a Celtic phrase that means “soul friend.”
We chanted a psalm, and sat for a time in silent meditation and prayer.
There is something powerful about sitting in a circle with soul friends praying in silence. (more…)
This morning we are back on the road with Jesus and the disciples. Everyone is walking and talking all at the same time.
The story begins with two self-absorbed disciples, almost comically asking Jesus for the best seats in the house in heaven.
They are so wrapped up in their worries about the hereafter they are forgetting the here-and-now.
The story ends with Jesus talking about his own death as a “ransom for many.” He is already in the hereafter. (more…)
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him…”
Have you ever asked a question you just knew you shouldn’t ask? And when you did, you discovered you just volunteered for something?
In this morning’s gospel lesson, I can almost hear Peter slapping his forehead and groaning, “Oh, now what?” (more…)
I’ve been listening quite a bit lately to the modern French composer Olivier Messiaen. Messiaen was a devout Christian, a Roman Catholic, and was for over 50 years the organist at the Holy Trinity Church in Paris. Now, I warn you, if you run out and buy some of Messiaen’s music, you’re likely to find it jarring and off-putting at first. (more…)
I’d like you to remember that question. I’ll try to keep asking, to remind you and me. What if?
For the past several weeks, we’ve been hearing snippets from the biblical book we call the Letter of James. If you’re like me, you’ve listened during the reading, and maybe followed along on your service sheet insert, and then promptly forgotten what you had heard. (more…)
A couple of years ago, Lori and I traveled to Jerusalem with a group of friends from Northern California.
When we arrived in the Holy City we could immediately feel the tension on every corner.
Armed soldiers were everywhere, and the resentments and suspicions were etched on the faces of everyone we saw on the streets. (more…)
We were born with dreams, all of us.
Maybe you’ve forgotten some of your dreams. But think back.
You were born with dreams of joy and wonder. You were born with dreams that not even the sky could hold you down.
You were born with dreams of compassion for the world around you. (more…)
Stop right here.
Did we just hear Jesus calling a woman a “dog”?
Well, yes, we did.
Go back and look at this story from the Gospel of Mark. The story this morning is not easy to hear.
This woman was of a different tribe, a Gentile – a non-Jew – from Syrophoenicia, which is now modern Syria. Her people were idol worshippers. (more…)
Imagine this scene for a few moments:
Jesus and his followers are camping along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. They have been there for several days, and it is hot and their work is intense.
He tells many parables about seeds and small things that grow to big things, and how everyone should let their lights shine that others may see. (more…)
A few years ago, I went on a fishing trip with some buddies to Idaho. We spent a week exploring the streams and lakes around McCall, Idaho.
We caught a lot of fish, and some of us – like me – started to get a little overconfident.
One afternoon, we worked our way downstream along the Payette River, which winds through a wooded canyon and into a rocky gorge.
Somehow I ended up on the north side of the gorge while everyone else was on the south side of the gorge. (more…)
Thank you for bringing us home.
Please let me introduce you to Lori, my wife, my partner, my best friend.
We are thrilled to be back in our home territory of Northern California, and we are thrilled to be in this beautiful church.
We are thrilled to be with you.
To be here in Sonoma County is like a dream, and I am still pinching myself to make sure it real. (more…)
It is always good to be here, to have the honor of speaking to you and presiding at this altar, and today somehow I feel that especially. It seems a moment to reflect that it’s been a challenging, choppy time for Incarnation this past nine months or so, often painful and/or confusing for many of you, I know.
All of life is transition, but this last year it has been especially so, and we humans find change and transition and uncertainty stressful even though they are, fact, the norm. (more…)
It’s all too big for them. Its all too out of control. Whirlwinds. Surf, beating at the little boat. Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?
Now, really. What are they expecting him to do? Yes, they’ve witnessed some miraculous healing. Yes, they’ve seen him exorcise a demon. They’ve heard him teach and they’ve heard the confusing stories he tells. But now—just what are they expecting from him in the middle of a hurricane? (more…)
A New Creation
2 Corinthians 5:6-17 – “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
For me, an example and vibrant part of that new creation is the awareness that the person who is sitting in front of you, the one sitting behind you, and on either side of you, are potential healers. You are a potential healer, but you and they do not know that to be a fact. (more…)
Think about this: what were the first words God spoke to human beings in today’s episode of the great drama of our holy scriptures? What were those first words? Do you remember?
“Where are you?” God asks. “Where are you?”
These weren’t the first words God spoke to the human in the story. (more…)
Three Spheres of Religious Life
Trinity Sunday, Year B – Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and, I note, that we, too, like Nicodemus, may need the cover of darkness to safely approach God. Nicodemus is a Pharisee, zealously observing a tight, rule-based faith. But notwithstanding the discipline of his piety, down in his soul, his intuition tells him that Jesus holds a truth that he is seeking. (more…)