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Showing posts from November, 2012

Mind the Gap

This post originally appeared here as "Second-Class Baptism" on 22 November 2012.           In the fall of 2005, I was an exchange student from Yale Divinity School to Westcott House, a member of the Cambridge Theological Federation in Cambridge, England. It was quite an awakening for this Lutheran. Despite knowledge of some of the rifts in the Episcopal Church (USA), I had very little awareness or comprehension of the major theological divides in the Church of England. In the wake of the recent decision (11/20/12) by the General Synod of the Church of England not to ordain women as bishops, I have recalled learning about those divides, specifically through a speech I heard that semester.              During my time in Cambridge, I went to an event sponsored by Women and the Church (WATCH) to hear speakers arguing for the ordination of women as bishops. One speaker, whose name is lost to my memory, gave a carefully constructed and passionate speech abou

Hemmed in Thanksgiving (Sermon 11/18)

Isaiah 6:1-8             There are many details in this story that can be distracting. Who was King Uzziah? What exactly does a seraph look like?   Why is Isaiah’s call to be a prophet happening six chapters in, instead of in chapter 1? All of these are good questions, but not ultimately what this short passage is about.             Isaiah is in the holy of holies, inside the innermost part of the temple. He is a having a vision or an experience, where the shapes on the Ark of the Covenant are slowly transformed until they are no longer carvings, but are revealing to him the activity that happens around the throne of God.             When Isaiah says, “Woe is me…” This is not a Charlie Brown-kick-the-dirt kind of grousing. It’s a gulp of terror. To see God, in Hebrew Scriptures, is to know that you are about to die. No one sees the face of God and lives. Isaiah has nothing to offer; yet what happens next isn’t based on what he can bring. It’s based on what

Grace: Motivator or Excuse? (Sermon 11/11)

Jonah 1, 3-4             I do not love the last line of the hymn “O Zion, Haste”: “Let known whom he has ransomed fail to greet him/ through your neglect, unfit to see his face.” That makes me itchy all over, in part because I think salvation is not my job. I don’t save people. Jesus has saved people. Isn’t that the point of grace? That it’s available to all people and we don’t work for it.             Yet what is grace, saving grace, costly grace, grace that comes from death and resurrection, if I don’t know about it? What does it mean to me? Furthermore, what does it mean to the person who knows, but doesn’t think it is worth talking about every day? What does it mean to the person who knows about grace, who believes grace is amazing and true, but not quite amazing and true enough to risk anything for it? What does grace mean to the person who loves benefitting from it, but not enough to take a message of grace to people who ache for grace, people in a place

Election Day Prayer: Recessional

Recessional God of our fathers, known of old,       Lord of our far-flung battle-line,    Beneath whose awful Hand we hold    Dominion over palm and pine— Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,    Lest we forget—lest we forget! The tumult and the shouting dies;    The Captains and the Kings depart:    Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,    An humble and a contrite heart. Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,    Lest we forget—lest we forget! Far-called, our navies melt away;    On dune and headland sinks the fire:    Lo, all our pomp of yesterday    Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!    Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,    Lest we forget—lest we forget! If, drunk with sight of power, we loose       Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,    Such boastings as the Gentiles use,    Or lesser breeds without the Law— Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget! For he

Around the Edges (All Saints Sermon)

1 Kings 17:1-16             A famous theologian once said, “You should preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” That can be tough, because then in one hand I have stories of droughts and floods, wars and struggles between ruling parties, unexpected deaths, people struggling to make ends meet, and people longing for justice… and is that the hand that holds the newspaper or the Bible? Sometimes, it can be hard to tell one from the other without looking carefully and remembering what each one is supposed to do. The newspaper shows us a world that longs for God’s kingdom to come or has forgotten its promise. The Bible reminds us of the promise and shows us God’s actions through history, so that we have a foundation on which to base our hope in and expectation of God’s future actions.             If the Bible were like other history books, today’s reading would be about Ahab’s reaction to the prophet Elijah. We would have a detailed account

Sunday Prayer: All Saints

A reading from the Wisdom of Solomon (3:1-9)   But the souls of the righteous are  in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.  In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster,  and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace.  For though in the sight of others they were punished, their hope is full of immortality.  Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;  like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt-offering he accepted them.  In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble.  They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever.  Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones, and he watches over his elect.

A Statement of Faith for All Saints Day

We believe in God, who brings creation out of chaos, healing out of brokenness, light out of darkness, and life out of death. We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son and our Lord. Jesus came into the world for teaching, for healing, for reconciliation, and to announce the reign of God’s kingdom. Though his work was opposed, even unto death, the Word of Life could not be silenced. He was resurrected for the sake of all, including we who are gathered here. We await his return in glory and we continually look for his presence in this life. We trust this expectation is not in vain.   We believe in the Holy Spirit, giver of the gifts of community, communion, and consolation. The Spirit preserves our hearts in the midst of things we cannot understand and connects us to the cloud of faithful witnesses, who are our encouragement. The Spirit shapes us as God’s people and gives us faith and courage to respond to the gifts of mercy, grace, and healing until we