Fifth Sunday of the Epiphany
Today, I want to talk about the concept of church, but please don’t flee for the doors.
The word “church” is a common word. We use it to mean a number of things that are related, including the names of the building where you are sitting.
We also talk of “church” being a particular congregation in a particular place, like this one. (more…)
Fourth Sunday of the Epiphany
The psalm sings to us this morning:
“Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.” (Ps. 111)
The small village of Capernaum, featured in the gospel today, is on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, far from Jerusalem and the center of political power and religious authorities. (more…)
Third Sunday of the Epiphany
The story we hear this morning from the Gospel of Mark might be familiar to you, or at least the scene might be familiar to you if you have ever seen any Jesus movies. My favorite Jesus movie when I was a kid was “King of Kings” with Jeffrey Hunter, made in 1961.
In the movie, Jesus, in long flowing white robe with a brown tunic, walks along the beach pointing at fishermen tending their nets.
The fishermen instantly drop everything and walk after him, a dazed look in their eyes. Jesus gathers more disciples, and off they go with music building to a crescendo. (more…)
Second Sunday of the Epiphany
Gospel: John 1:43-51
I am reading a book called Ikigai: the Japanese secret to a long and happy life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. The authors interviewed the residents of a Japanese village that is known as a “Blue Zone” because it has the highest percentage of 100-year-olds in the world. A Blue Zone is a term used to describes the lifestyles and environments of the world’s longest-lived people. (Wikipedia). According to the authors, the Japanese believe that everyone has an Ikigai, a reason for living, and finding it is the key to a longer and happier life. (more…)
First Sunday of the Epiphany
As many of you know, before I became an Episcopal priest, I spent most of my adult life – a quarter-century to be exact – as a journalist.
I wrote for three California newspapers, ending my daily reporting career at The Sacramento Bee where I worked for 10 years.
If I ever write a memoir, I’ll title it “Deadline Priest.” (more…)
The Feast of the Epiphany
Now that you’ve met the wise men, let’s have a frank talk about them. Beware: This is a scary story.
The story of the wise men – the magi – generally comes down to two sentences in the Gospel of Matthew, the only place in the Bible where this story is told:
“On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (more…)
First Sunday after Christmas
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
This morning, I want to take you on a journey to the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This is a place I have not visited in many, many years, but it is still very dear to my heart and strong in my memory. (more…)
Christmas Day 2017
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
And so this great story begins again. (more…)
Christmas Eve 2017
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us, authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
The Bible is filled with many names and descriptions for God. Besides those you just heard from Isaiah, let me mention a few more, starting with the Hebrew: “E’lohim,” “Adonai” and “Yahweh,” which has been Germanized in some bibles to “Jehovah.” (more…)
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Her name in Hebrew is Miriam. She is very young, maybe 14 when she becomes pregnant.
In the society of her day, pregnancy that young is not unusual. Life expectancy is very short.
But Miriam’s pregnancy’s out of wedlock, and that is something else again – a scandal upon her parents. She is betrothed to Joseph, and worse, he is not the father. (more…)
Third Sunday of Advent
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; … —to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.”
Today belongs to the prophets of old, those crusty characters who fear nothing and no one, and tell the truth no matter the cost to themselves or the cost to everyone else around them. And, let’s be honest, they are typically on the downer side of life most of the time.
Few of us are called to be prophets, so relax. You don’t have to be like one too. But we are called to hear them. (more…)
First Sunday of Advent
“Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance and we shall be saved.”
— Psalm 80:7
As you have gathered by now, today is the first Sunday of Advent, the church season of waiting before the dawn of Christmas and the celebration of Jesus Christ coming into the world as a newborn innocent baby long, long ago. (more…)
Christ King Sunday
Every Sunday, we gather here in this sacred place, sometimes under “clouds and thick darkness” [Ezekiel 34:12], to tell the ancient story of the people of God and how, generation after generation, against all odds, they survived every hardship, every storms, every fire, every disaster, every calamity.
We tell the story of how, against all odds, generation after generation, they arrived in the promised lands of hope and healing, new life and salvation. By gathering here, Sunday after Sunday, we make this story of salvation our story, too. (more…)
Thanksgiving – 2017
Contrary to popular belief, Thanksgiving as an annual observance did not begin with the Pilgrims. They observed this only once.
Nor did Thanksgiving begin with George Washington. The national day of thanks he proclaimed after the War for Independence was observed only once.
Thanksgiving as we know it came long after. The annual day of thanks we now observe was begun in one of the darkest moments of our national life. (more…)
Gospel: Matthew 25: 14-30
The 1932 Presidential election was the first election held during the Great Depression, a worldwide economic downturn and a time of great fear (Encyclopedia Brittanica). Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address said, “This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.” (more…)
It is all about the lamps.
In today’s gospel lesson, we hear another of these puzzling parables that Jesus so likes to spring upon his followers. He tells about ten bridesmaids, or more accurately translated from the Greek, ten young maidens. (more…)
Almighty and Everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope and serenity.
Given these past few weeks and in the aftermath of the firestorm, I would like this morning to reflect on the power of serenity. Many people are familiar with Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” However, that is not the entire prayer. The full version of the prayer goes like this, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things, I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.” (more…)