Leadership: Today, Tomorrow and Always
Some of us in this room remember the grainy black and white movies of the 1950s that showed aliens arriving on earth. In the movie, little green men (They were all men. There were no little green women) would find an Earthling and said, “Take me to your leader.” By the way, we know they were green because someone in the movie would refer to them as such. Anyway, what is interesting about that demand, “Take me to your leader,” is the idea that there was one leader on earth who could speak for all the earth’s inhabitants. That there was a leader in charge of everything and who governed all our lives. Someone the alien life forms could negotiate with or tell that we were about to be invaded. Well you and I know that there never was such a person. However, given that we are about to, in less than a week, have new leaders in our country who are responsible for our nation’s welfare and because we as a congregation are about to begin the search for our new leader, it seems to be the right time to ask ourselves what leadership means to us. (more…)
Today is the first Sunday of Epiphany – a new season for the new year. This is a season marked by light in the darkness and a sense of new starts for all of us.
As we hear the biblical stories unfold this new year once again, we will hear about people who make new starts. They will have strengths, and flaws, courage and cowardice, and often a mix of both. (more…)
Feast of the Epiphany
“Arise, shine; for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!”
Have you seen the stars lately?
It is cloudy tonight. But not all stars are in the sky. Sometimes the stars are inside us. (more…)
Christmas Day 2016
Blessings this Christmas morning!
And blessings on this, the paternal feast day of our parish. Our name is the Church of the Incarnation, and that makes Christmas our parish feast day.
But before we get there, I begin not with the story of shepherds in the field, or magi following a star, or a baby in manger.
I want to start at the end of the story – Easter – because Easter is actually the beginning of the Christmas story. (more…)
Christmas Eve 2016
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” — Isaiah 9:2
Blessings this Christmas night!
We gather tonight, as many have in ages past, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God, walking among us as the Incarnate Word Made Flesh, as the traditional language proclaims this.
Our parish name is the Church of the Incarnation, and that also makes Christmas our paternal feast day. Happy birthday Church of the Incarnation! (more…)
Each Sunday of Advent has a nickname. Last Sunday was called “Joy Sunday,” and we lit a pink candle in the Advent wreath.
This Sunday should be called “Courage Sunday.” (more…)
Welcome to the time in-between, the time of waiting, the time of not yet. Welcome to Advent.
We have entered a new year on the Church calendar, and we have left behind what the church calls “ordinary” time.
Today we enter a season of expectation awaiting the celebration of the birth of Christ into the world – the time before Christmas. The time of not yet. (more…)
I have much to be thankful for today, beginning with each of you. Thank you for being here, for sharing with in this journey of faith that brings us together here in this sacred place.
All of us have much to be thankful for, beginning with this gift of life from God we share, this privilege to walk the earth with each other.
As my grandmother used to say, let’s count our blessings. (more…)
Christ the King Sunday
I want to begin by acknowledging that in the wake of the current election, many of you are feeling raw, fatigued, or anxious, or all of that. This is a fact we need to acknowledge up front. This would have been true no matter whoever won.
I do not propose to rehash the election. The results are what they are. We do need time to get over this, so let’s be gentle with each other.
I said this before the election, and I will say this again: we already have a messiah. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. (more…)
Do the Right Thing
I am beginning this sermon with a prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
All Saints Sunday
Today we mark the feast of All Saints Sunday, combined with another feast day on the Christian calendar, the commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.
These are ancient feast days, going back to the very early church when it was truly one.
While we probably have an intuitive idea of what is a “saint,” I thought we should pause for a few moments to talk about why we remember the saints – and all the departed – on this Sunday.
First, all of the great religions of the world have saints. In Judaism they are called “tzadik,” in Islam “wali,” in Hinduism “rishi,” and in Buddhism “arhat.” (more…)
When was the last time you climbed a tree? For some of you, maybe that was a long time ago.
I’d like you to climb a tree with me this morning – figuratively – and imagine the scene as it unfolds in Luke’s gospel you just heard. Let us set the scene.
Last week, you may recall, Jesus told a hypothetical story about two men at worship.
One is a very pious man who misses the point of worship – that would be God – and the other is a tax collector who has hit rock bottom and prays for God’s mercy.
Today in the gospel lesson, we go from the hypothetical to the real. (more…)
This morning we hear this tale of two men at worship in the Temple. It might as well be in a church, but of course, there is no church yet.
As Jesus describes this in his parable, the first man, a Pharisee, does everything right.
He prays, he gives generously, he volunteers, he leads a good life. He is every pastor’s dream candidate for the Vestry.
Then we have this other man, a tax collector. He’s messed up a lot of things in life. He keeps to himself.
Something inside him brought him here. (more…)
I want to tell you a story:[i]
Once there was a man, and he was walking down a street. Through no fault of his own, he fell into a hole, and he could not get out. It was dark in the hole, and very deep, and the man waited and waited for help.
Eventually, he looked up and he saw a police officer.
“Officer, officer, please help me get out the hole!”
But the officer said, sorry, I am on my way to an emergency,” and wrote on a piece of paper and threw it in the hole.
“Call 911, they’ll get you out of the hole.”
But the guy in the hole had no phone. (more…)
A long, long time ago – 835 years ago to be exact – lived a young man whose inner light shined beyond his own time, and into ours.
His name was Giovanni Francesco Bernardone, born in Italy to a wealthy family in the year 1181.
His mother was French, and his father a rich Italian merchant. Giovanni grew up in Assisi, Italy.
As a young man, he was popular with his friends. He served in the military, was a prisoner of war for a year, and when freed, he looked forward to a life of ease and wealth. But he fell ill, nearly died and remained in a delirium for weeks.
When he woke up, he noticed God’s blessings all around him – and he felt an intense pull to give of himself so that others could to notice their blessings.
He is better known to us as Saint Francis of Assisi, and today we mark his feast day. (more…)
If someone asks you, “What do you see?” you probably can answer pretty easily.
Even if you your eyesight is weak or gone, you can probably describe what you can touch, taste, smell and hear.
Using all your senses is seeing in the widest possible meaning.
But what is it you don’t see?
Not an easy question to answer, is it?
You don’t know what you don’t see.
What are you missing that is right in front of you? (more…)
Imagine an autumn evening long ago in the Holy City of Jerusalem:
It is still hot this time of year in Jerusalem. Not many venture outside until the sun is low in the sky, and the cool Mediterranean breeze from the northwest begins to blow across the rooftops.
A few people begin to gather upstairs in one of the houses in the center of Jerusalem.
They find themselves in a big open room upstairs next to a wide veranda with a spectacular view of the Jerusalem skyline and the streets below. All the windows are large and open letting the cool air in.
Jesus and his followers gather in this upstairs room for supper like they do every night. (more…)
I am struck by the beautiful greeting in Paul’s letter to Philemon: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith towards the Lord Jesus.” The letter starts with a wish for grace and peace and goes on to let Philemon know that he is being prayed for and that Paul is grateful for him because of who he is, a man of faith.