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Rev. James E. Boline
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13th Sunday After Pentecost

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from our most merciful God, from the compassionate Christ, and from the holy and life-giving Spirit.  Amen.

This is a KYRIE ELEISON kind of day, this September 11th, ten years later.  Our worship had barely begun this morning before we prayed the ancient Latin liturgical words now translated into our common language:  Lord, have mercy.

“In peace, let us pray to the Lord.”  In peace, not in strife.  In peace, not in retribution.  In peace, not in hatred.    KYRIE ELEISON.  Lord, have mercy.   God knows the strife, retribution, and hatred that remain in our hearts.

“For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.”  The peace from above, not the peace from below or within.  There can be no peace within us without the peace from above us – the peace that is beyond us, the peace that is bigger than us.  The peace we have within us is limited, even as we are limited & finite.  The peace from above saves us.  KYRIE ELEISON.  God knows the peace we try to replicate and find within is not lasting.

“For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.”  For the peace of the whole world, we pray, not just for some of it, not just “God bless the USA.”  For the peace of Afghanistan and Pakistan, for the peace of Libya and Egypt, for the peace of Somalia and the Sudan.  This is not a day for being praying patriots, rather it is a day for being world citizens asking God’s mercy for all nations, for all peoples, tribes, and tongues.  For the unity of all, not just for us here.   And as for the well-being of the church of God, I think we can be even-more expansive than our liturgy dictates.  This is a day to pray for the well-being of Islam, for the well-being of Judaism, of Buddhism, of Hinduism – for the wellness of all people of faith and all the religions of the world.  KYRIE ELEISON.  God knows the smallness of our nationalistic flag-waving and our myopic Christocentric lenses.  In the words of Dr. Maher Hathout, the president of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California at last evening’s interfaith service on the steps of City Hall in downtown L.A.: “God does not belong to a religion.  All religions belong to God.”

“For this holy house, and for all who offer here their worship and praise, let us pray to the Lord.”   You know the motto, “Think globally, act locally.”  Peace begins in our house.  Yes, we also pray for all holy houses but – for us — peace begins right here and right now in this holy house.  Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with us, here and now, where this worship then segues into service in the world.  KYRIE ELEISON.  God knows the fingers we point at others and their religion or our-perceived lack thereof.

And finally, “Help, save, comfort, and defend us gracious Lord.”  Us being all of us, the whole human race, not just us who are praying this prayer right now, but those for whom we are praying the words.  Help all of us, save all of us, comfort all of us, defend all of us, gracious Lord.  KYRIE ELEISON.  God knows our tendency to keep to ourselves and keep it to ourselves, to hoard the gift of grace.

This is a KYRIE ELEISON day, and it is also a day – to which all our scriptures point – for praying “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”

From Joseph who, in today’s first reading, was pushed beyond his limits to forgive his brothers who had thrown him in a pit and left him for dead, only to be sold into slavery in Egypt.  When asked for his mercy, Joseph told his lying, deceitful, and fearful brothers, “Do not be afraid!  Am I in the place of God?  Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good.”

“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”

God knows how much we enjoy putting ourselves in God’s place as judge.  And God knows how quickly we forget that God is, in the words of this morning’s prayer of the day, a “merciful judge” and “the inexhaustible fountain of forgiveness.”

The God described in today’s psalm is, quite frankly, beyond belief.  Summed up in the psalm refrain we sang, “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness,” that’s only where it begins.  The psalmist is reminding him/herself, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all God’s benefits” and begins to list them:  #1 at the top of the list:  forgives all your sins, heals all your diseases, redeems your life from the grave, crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, satisfies your desires with good things, renews your youth like an eagles’s, provides justice for the oppressed, does not deal with us according to our sins, does not repay us according to our iniquities (which, translated, means no paybacks, no retribution), and then here it comes, full circle with benefit #1:  “as far as the east is from the west, so far have you removed our transgressions from us.”

We who know how far east is from west:  East LA from West LA, east coast from west coast, the Western world as we know it from our sisters and brothers in the East: Asia & the Middle East, we who know the vastness of that distance, are given a picture in the psalm of the distance God puts between us and our wrongdoing, our iniquities, our sin.

It’s the same distance Jesus describes in today’s Gospel parable about the king who forgives his slave a great debt.  Just one talent in the ancient world was worth 15 years’ wages of a slave laborer.  This slave owed the king 10,000 talents, in other words: 150,000 years, hyperbole, a humanly-impossible sum for a slave to repay.  But all was forgiven as the story goes:  the vastness of the amount owed was obliterated.  As far as the east is from the west, so far did the king remove the slave’s infinite debt from him.  And yet, when that slave encountered his fellow slave who owed him 100 denarii – 100 days of wages – the slave who had been exorbitantly forgiven refused, in turn, to forgive his fellow slave, perhaps even a friend, the smallest debt.

We get the picture.  There is no end to obligation to forgive.  Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

On this weekend as cry Kyrie Eleison on the world in which we now find ourselves living, 10 years after the towers fell, after the Pentagon burst into flames and after a field outside Shanksville, PA became the place of impact for United Flt. 93, we recall the courage of those “first responders” – including those on the planes whose stories are known to us and others whose stories are only known to God and the others who perished.  Their attempts at responding to the terror were with blatant acts of counter-terror: acts of self-less love of neighbor, acts of resistance to the crimes being perpetrated upon Creator and creation, acts of fierce compassion which sent them into the dust and debris, into chaos and wreckage, into fear and flame.

Their acts of response mirror the God who is for us and who is always the “first responder” of forgiveness in our lives.   The God who sees us and knows us and weeps with us and for us.  The God who in the Crucified One cries, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Father George Rutler, a Roman Catholic priest in New York City, was called to New York City Hall ten years ago today, to minister to the first responders.  He says:

The firemen were being lined up in front of the City Hall. And then they began coming asking me for blessing and for absolution. There were so many, I couldn’t hear individual confessions, so I was giving absolution to the men. I remember saying to one that I’m sure he’d be safe but when he got home to go to — I was giving him absolution — when he got back home, to go to his parish and make a regular confession. These men knew what they were getting involved in. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be going to confession.

Sisters and brothers, before we can even utter a single word, before our breaking hearts can cry yet another Kyrie Eleison, before we are even aware of our need for absolution, God, the first-responder of forgiveness, welcomes us all, whether we know or know not what we do.  And bathed in the light of that forgiveness, God sends us forth into the world to respond in blessing, in compassion, in hope, and with peace-filled acts of resistance.

The words of St. Paul to the Romans in today’s second reading are often spoken at the gravesides of our beloved dead but are spoken to us today who live and move and have our being in this post 9/11 world:

“We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and living.”

Even as our Kyries this day are endless, so all-the-more is the mercy, the kindness, and forgiveness of God on this broken and beloved world.

We cry out our Kyries – our “Lord, have mercy(s)” – only to find that our most merciful God already has.

Amen.

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15th Sunday After Pentecost

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Well, Jesus confirms in today’s Gospel from St Luke what we many of us suspected all along: “Focus on the Family” has it all wrong. Not because they are arch-opponents of same-gender marriage, abortion rights, and PG-13 movies. Not because they are pro-traditional marriage, pro-life, and pro-Sarah Palin, but because, well, their focus is on the family. The nuclear family.

What Jesus says in today’s Gospel text corroborates what he says in other places in Luke’s Gospel, and it doesn’t sound like a soundbite from the “Focus on the Family” website. “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”

The kind of “family values” Jesus espouses in today’s Gospel follows what he says a couple of chapters earlier (12: 51-53) where he puts forth, “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

And just a few chapters after today’s reading, in Luke 18, Jesus tells the disciples after they had reminded him they had indeed left their homes and families behind and had followed him, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

These are not the words of Jesus which we see decoupaged, cross-stitched, or otherwise-framed and hung above the hearths and fireplace mantles of Christian homes. These are not words of Jesus which we hear and can glibly or easily explain away. Nor are these not words we can lightly gloss over. Jesus uses the H-word. So what in the “H” is he getting at?

In last Sunday’s Gospel, we heard Jesus challenge his dinner host to consider throwing a dinner party next time at which the guests would be those who could never possibly return the favor. “When you give a banquet,” Jesus instructs, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” He was painting a picture — with words of a parable - of how life is in the topsy-turvy, inside-out and outside-in, upside-down and right-side up world wherever Jesus is the focus and at the center: the weak are really the strong, the outsiders are really the insiders, the losers are really the winners, the rejects are really the accepted, and the outcasts are really included, and — now — those who hate their most precious family — are truly his disciples.

While this text may sound like fairly good news to the ears of wayward teens convinced that their parents are miserable creatures and worthy of being disowned for their lack of understanding and most utter lack of coolness, Jesus’ words — though harsh to our hearing and difficult to digest — are actually setting us up quite nicely for what we are about to witness as a community of faith in a few moments.

For yes, we will indeed be “focused on a family” — the Wimer family of Heidi, Ken, and little Jonah Pascal who is being brought to the waters of holy baptism this day. And what Heidi and Ken are bringing their beloved son Jonah to experience at these waters are in obedience to Jesus’ fierce words to all of us today: “whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

The shadow of the cross falls across these waters and that shadow permeates them to the very core of their primordial element. The ritual language we will use to describe this action is in the very first paragraph of the baptismal liturgy, printed on the ivory-colored insert in the morning bulletin. In those introductory words of presentation, we hear words like “new life” - which means something old — an “old life” - is departing; we hear words like the power of sin being “put to death” — implying an execution of sorts; we hear words like “holy flood” which imply a deluge or a drowning of that which is alive but is destined for death in these waters; we hear words like “raised with Jesus Christ to new life” which mean something will be put down, only to be lifted up to newness.

What kind of a thing is this?! For loving Christian parents to do such a thing to their sweet little boy: to bring their baby son for such a drowning, for such a watery burial, for such a death? It seems foreign to our ears, but they have hated their life and that of their beloved son enough to bring him to these burial waters where he is put to death and raised to new life in his Savior, Jesus the Lover of Jonah’s soul.

As the words indicate at the top of the page, although Jonah was born just six short months ago on March 7 of this year, today Jonah will experience a rebirth into a whole new world: the world of Jesus and his love: a love which calls him to a new family beyond his nuclear family of his parents, grandparents, and godparents and into the family of Jesus — who tells us that those who carry crosses are his real family of followers: the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, the oppressed, the marginalized, the misunderstood, the rejected, the different.

Jonah will begin to understand this by being surrounded today by the different and peculiar likes of us — his sisters and brothers in Jesus. As we mark him with the cross of Jesus, we are reminded that that cross marks all of us — it is our death and it is our life.

We hate it and we love it, this corss.

These are hard words.

Carrying the cross is a hard life. Suffering with those who suffer isn’t exactly the glory road.

But beyond the cross, Jesus waits with just one more surprise. For Jonah, for Heidi, for Ken, for you.

Don’t you just love it?

And don’t you just hate it?

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14th Sunday After Pentecost

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Being at the table together matters. 

In our homes, we most-of-the-time enjoy family meals around tables. At work, we conduct meetings and get business done around tables. In school, we learn together and have discussions around tables. And in our houses of worship, we gather to pray around tables, to hear God’s Word around them, are in touch with the holy, feasting on fellowship, and to receiving nourishment from the bread and wine of Christ’s body and blood — all as we gather around a table.

Tables and meals and eating and banquets are never mentioned more in any other Gospel than in the Gospel of St. Luke. In Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus teaching from a table like when he taught the disciples about who was the greatest, pointing to the table server as the example of being the greatest in his scheme, in Jesus’ new order of things (ch. 22: 24-30).

Jesus used a table to scold the Pharisees about being clean on the inside, after they were offended when Jesus didn’t wash up (and therefore wasn’t clean on the outside) before sitting down at the table to have a meal with them (ch. 11: 37-41).

Jesus once used a highly evocative moment at a table to teach about receiving and welcoming outsiders, when he permitted a woman reputed to be one of the city’s “sinners” to come in during dinner and bathe his feet with her hair, with her tears, and — now wait just a minute - with her lips (ch. 7: 36-39)!

And of course, we know Jesus spent the last evening of his life around a table with his closest friends, enjoying a holy meal and relishing one another’s companionship. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, so often had he gathered around tables with all sorts of people from all walks of life that he himself had often been accused of being a glutton, a drunkard, and — horror of horrors — a friend of tax collectors and sinners!

Tables and banquets are once again a focus in today’s Gospel from Luke chapter 14. Jesus was having a Sabbath meal in the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, a religious group known for its self-righteous smugness and spiritual pride. So, Jesus senses it is time to teach a lesson about humility and inclusivity and seizes the opportunity — while at a table having a Sabbath day meal — to tell a parable about another kind of table — a table reserved for special guests at a wedding banquet.

The first part of Jesus’ parable is told for the sake of his fellow guests — other Pharisees — who St. Luke says “were watching [Jesus] closely. But truth be told, it was actually quite the other way around — because Jesus had been observing them and how they had all scrambled to find the best seats and places of honor at this sabbath meal table.

For Jesus, it’s an opportune moment for a lesson in how things really are at the table of God’s reign and rule in the world. Jesus is addressing the Pharisee or perhaps the “VIP wannabe” in all of us who might like to think we have earned ourselves a special place at the table because we — like the church lady in the Saturday Night Live sketch some years ago — might perceive ourselves to be just a little bit more “superior” to those we would relegate to the seats below us.

When we let God the Host do the seating, Jesus says that we will find that the less-VIP will be given places of honor and the more-VIP (the smug and prideful) will be “put in their place” by being relegated to the lower tables. And if that reminds you of our text from two weeks ago as we honored Mary the Mother of Our Lord, you are getting the picture. For indeed even as Mary sang, “God has shown strength with his arm and has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.”

Today, Jesus teaches us from the table: “…All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). And even Jesus practiced what he preached in this regard, for as St Paul records in his letter to the Philippians, Jesus - though he was in the form of God - did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him…”

The second part of Jesus’ parable from the table for the table is directed at his host. Already it’s a scandal, because Jesus the guest is telling his host how to behave. But Jesus, in true Jesus-form, even further turns everything upside down and calls the host to make his guest list look like a who’s who on the island of misfit toys: the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind — anybody who can’t reciprocate and return the favor and have you over as a guest at their table. “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you,” Jesus says, “for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” This is the Jesus of radical inclusiveness that makes much of us squirm, because somehow, someway, at God’s table, everyone is welcome and there is room for every last self-righteous (insert favorite 3-letter-acronym) including the likes of you and me.

Speaking of self-righteous SOBs, rather than using this as a bully pulpit to lambaste those who would seek to thwart religious freedom from Muslims in this country or the Glenn Beck types who this weekend have vulgarized the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, permit me to bring home the point by relating a much closer-to-ground-zero personal story from my own life of self-righteous smugness and spiritual pride / SOB-ness.

Last weekend was the one-year anniversary of the big vote our denomination, the ELCA, took at its churchwide assembly which reversed its exclusionary policies to now include lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered persons on the ministry rosters of the church — something many of us had been hoping for, praying for, and working toward for many many years.

Well, this past week the Lutherans who are staunchly opposed to that decision came together somewhere in the Midwest to establish a new Lutheran body: the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). As the news of NALC’s formation was breaking this past week, I couldn’t help it and made some snide remarks on my Facebook — wondering how long it would take before the NALC discovered, just like the Republican National Committee had this past week, that it had self-loathing gays among its ranks, and wondered what the NALC would do when they discovered that most of their church musicians were gay. An attempt at humor, yes, but a sinful one nonetheless and it felt good to post it.

A day or two later, I had a response from a family member. A cousin. One of the most gracious and gentle-spirited and kind-hearted people I know. I knew I was in trouble when I saw the subject line of her email: intolerance and narrow-mindedness. My inner Pharisee had been busted, called on the carpet, and convicted for the act of inhospitality. I read her words: The put downs of others sense of faith, is exactly what you don’t want happening to you……it’s amazing how we perceive ourselves as enlightened and others as narrow minded. I don’t think the Lord is as threatened by differences as we are….but to malign others…..wwjd?

I wrote her back and said she probably had a point, told her I figured Jesus would probably save us all and would probably delete his status updates that were unkind and unwelcoming, and promised her I’d work on my rotten Christian attitude toward the NALC.

Being at the table together matters. Even if our sisters and brothers distance themselves from us and set up a card table in the other room. Christ calls us to keep setting the table and to expect, invite, and reserve a place for the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind: the working poor immigrant with or without “status”, those crippled by the Katrinas of life, the lame and those whose excuses for their ignorant behavior and attitudes are also, and the blind: those blind to their own prejudice and pride.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

In great love, God has set a cosmic table for every child of earth, bright with all the colors of grace, and bids us see the face of Jesus in all our fellow guests.

Being at the table together matters. So come, you who are poor, crippled, lame, and blind. And you who think you’re not.

Grace is served up again. And again.

 

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Mary, Mother of Our Lord

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

In 1526, Martin Luther wrote:

“Mary is the mother of Jesus and the mother of us all.
If Christ be ours … all that he has must be ours,
and his mother also must be ours.”

While our Roman, Orthodox, and Anglican sisters and brothers observe this day, August 15, as the feast (or observance) of the assumption of Mary, that is, that her body was literally taken up into heaven at the end of her life, Lutherans take time today not so much to observe a belief about Mary’s bodily transference to heaven as to give thanks for her place on earth, both as mother of Jesus and perhaps unexpectedly and mysteriously mother of us all.

In the companion volume to our hymnal, entitled Keeping Time, Lutheran liturgy scholars remind us that the church has always honored Mary with the Greek title theotokos, meaning God-bearer.  From Origen, one of the earliest of the church fathers, through the councils of Ephesus and Chalecedon, and through the writings of Martin Luther, the church has honored and continues to uphold Mary with this title — theotokos — bearer of God.

Even Mary’s song of praise from today’s Gospel text seems to hint at the fact that Mary knew that her role, her openness to the will of God, her bearing of the pre-natal Christ, her nuturing the infant Jesus, and her devotion to his earthly ministry, would result in — in her words — “from now on all generations will call me blessed.”

So today we take our place in line, in line with the generations, in the choir of all those who have called Mary blessed, honoring and uplifting her as the mother of our Lord.  We do not deify her, nor do we expect our prayers to travel to her Son’s ear more quickly through her.  But we give thanks this day for her life, and for the unique way in which her life revealed the presence of God incarnate.

As most of you are aware, I recently spent 10 days singing in England with the Choir of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Wilshire Blvd., as we traveled to 5 different cathedrals, singing in seven services over an eight-day span.  In all but one of the services, we sang the words of Mary’s song of praise, called the Magnificat, which has been a part of the church’s liturgy of evening prayer — or Evensong — for centuries.  We sang it in Christchurch Cathedral in Oxford, in Westminster Abbey in London, in Wells Cathedral, and in Canterbury Cathedral — the seat of the global Anglican communion, but probably the place where it resonated most was in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.  For there buried in the center aisle between the decantus and cantorus sides of the choir is none other than King Henry VIII along with his third wife Jane Seymour.   As we sang Mary’s words of radical reversal of power, “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones” (or, in the words of most musical settings “He has cast down the mighty from their seats”) and “he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts”, there lay Henry — once-so-very-powerful, once-so-very-mighty, once-so-very-proud — whose body now rests beneath the choir where Mary’s song has been sung daily over his remains / dead body since 1547. 

Some have called the Magnificat a “Christian manifesto” — a public declaration of God’s principles, policies, and intentions for the world in Christ.  To be sure, Mary is no wilting violet when it comes to signing-on as an active co-operative in these intentions.  While fully recognizing her own lowliness, humility, and weakness, at the same time she recognizes that this is precisely how God will save the world: through the lowliness, humility, and weakness of the child in her womb, and through the lowliness, humility, and weakness of a cross which is her son’s destiny. 

Mary’s song of praise points us to the unexpected and mysterious ways of God in the world.  Welling up from a profoundly personal encounter with the divine, her words reflect that first-person experience with the holy that catapults her right into God’s saving mission  — “my soul magnifies“, “my spirit rejoices” in “God my Savior.”  “All generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me.”

Mary’s words reveal that she is profoundly aware of and in touch with her sense of being chosen, and from that sense comes a pervasive joy.  “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” — she exclaims, not so much a celebration of her chosen-ness as a celebration and indeed a magnification/magnifying of the One who has chosen her. 

English writer and theologian G.K. Chesterton’s famous line comes to mind as we meditate on Mary this day:  “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”

God, who is madly in love with all creation, is seeking to enlist the lowly likes of us — any of us — who like Mary are willing to embody God’s compassion in Christ for the world, drawing all into God’s maternal embrace.

Our communal words of welcome to the newly baptized reveal that we all have a share in God’s radical and revolutionary mission in the world.  While the water is still fresh on the brow, we say to the newly baptized — no matter how young or passive at the moment:  “We welcome you into the body of Christ and into the mission we share: join us in giving thanks and praise to God and (here it comes) bearing God’s creative and redeeming word to all the world.”

May Mary, the theotokos, the God-bearer and the mother of our Lord and of us all, inspire us so to bear God’s unexpected and mysterious grace which ever-embraces and ever-loves and ever-heals the earth and all its creatures — from the greatest to the least. 

And with Mary, theotokos and mother of Jesus and of us all, may our religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.

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11th Sunday After Pentecost

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

A professor of mine at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN by the name of Gerhard Forde used to enjoy shocking his students with the notion of God’s grace by using stories and phrases with an attendant deadpan Norwegian humor (which may well be an oxymoron) accentuated by a complete and utter lack of expression on his face.

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Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

You may have heard the hub-bub caused this week by the chairman of BP, Karl-Henrik Svanberg of Sweden who, in expressing his regrets over the situation in the Gulf of Mexico, referred to the residents there as the “small people” for whom the oil giant is so very concerned.  While he later apologized for having been clumsy in choosing the wrong word (perhaps something got lost in translation from the Swedish) (which can so easily happen!), there were no words to reverse the damage that had already been done.  The “small people” of the Gulf — the taxpayers, the small-business owners, all those who depend upon the Gulf for their livelihood — responded in a big way — being certain Mr. Svanberg ate every letter of his misspoken words.

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The Holy Trinity

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

When American composer Leonard Bernstein gave his six famous Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard University in 1973, he mused, “When God said ‘Let there be light’ (”Y’hi orr”) I doubt God said it like he was ordering lunch. I’m sure God sang creation into being.”

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Day of Pentecost

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

I don’t remember a thing my pastor said in his sermon on my confirmation day. But that was way back in 1977 — 33 years ago — so cut me some slack. So what I say to you young men in white shirts, red ties, and khakis in the next few moments today, (Jack, James, Lars, Steven, and Kevin) I hope and pray you will remember for the foreseeable future at the very least. And to help you, I just happen to have these handy-dandy little green sheets! There just happened to be five of these sermon-notetaking sheets remaining in a pile on the table in the narthex, and since none of you actually made the minimum quota for taking notes over the past two years… why let them go to waste?!

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Fourth Sunday of Easter

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

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Easter Sunday

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Christ is risen – even if you haven’t been here since Christmas.  Or last Easter.   Alleluia?!  Alleluia!

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