A Homily for the Transfiguration of our Lord
Text: Exodus 34:29-35; St. Luke 9:28-36
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, the Transfigured Son, the Chosen One. Amen.
“It is good for us to be here.”
Have you ever seen so something so beautiful that it overpowered you and fascinated you to the point that you couldn’t pull yourself away? Maybe you were standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, watching the dawn break over the ocean, seeing the Rocky Mountains glow in the lays rays of the setting sun.
Or perhaps something very ordinary appeared more vibrant than ever before – a spring flower covered by a March snow, every last flake reflecting the sun’s brilliance. Maybe a flash of lightning illuminated your lawn in some new way. Or even more simply, it could have been the smile on your friends’ newborn child or looking up on a cloudless day to take sudden notice of just how blue the sky really is.
This is the sublime – a display so beautiful that it overpowers us, gives us a sense of just how big and intricate the cosmos really are, and holds us in place, demanding our attention. It’s so powerful want to fall on your knees, with our face on the ground, in sheer awe – and yet so transfixing you can’t take your eyes off the scene.
In these moments, you want to stay as long as you can, to let this moment overwhelm your senses, to take in every last ray of light, to remember every faint fragrance, to feel the gentle breeze, so that you can remember it all and escape back to that moment in the future.
Continue reading ““It Is Good for Us to Be Here””
A Homily for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
Text: I Corinthians 15:12-20
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who has risen victoriously and set us free. Amen.
We have spent the past several weeks discussing ministry – both Christ’s ministry in this world and our own call to ministry as members of the Body of Christ.
But what is this all for? Are we saved by Christ’s moral teachings, as though if we could perfectly follow him, we could earn our salvation? Are we saved by answering God’s call into ministry? Is it up to us?
Continue reading “First Fruits”
A Homily for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Text: St. Luke 5:1-11
Grace and peace to you from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who calls us to fish for people. Amen.
Let me tell you about the last time I went fishing. It was in 2002. My family was stationed at Ft. Stewart, down on the coast; the ponds on base were renowned for their massive channel catfish – weighing in around forty pounds, on the small end.
My grandpa, an avid fisherman, had just died, and we had taken a few of his rods and tackleboxes with us after the funeral. Mom and I decided to see if we could reel in one of these legendary fish – what an appropriate way to honor grandpa Ben’s memory. We loaded put the dog in the car alongside our gear, stopped by to get a fishing license, and headed out to one of the dozens of fishing ponds in the vast expanse of the training area.
We pulled up to the dock jutting out into the water and noticed something odd: about halfway down the pier, a large piece of iron grating stretched across the walkway, hanging off each side by about a foot, and stood at over six feet tall.
Continue reading “Fishing In Dangerous Waters”
A Homily for Candlemas
Text: St. Luke 2:22-40
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, the consolation of Israel. Amen.
Waiting for the birth of a child is such a terrifying and exhilarating time. Whether it’s your own child, or a relative, or a friend, the more you learn about the birth process, the more you learn about how things can go wrong. It’s been about five years since my friends started having kids, and I’ve sat with friends and family members through any number of complications – premature birth and stints in the NICU, emergency c-sections, post-partum complications, and sadly even miscarriages.
Continue reading “A Light to Reveal God to the Nations”
A Homily for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Text: St. Luke 4:21-30
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who has come to proclaim freedom to the captives. Amen.
The lectionary has dropped us today in the middle of a chapter and in the middle of a story already in progress. Think back with me to a few weeks ago. We read St. Luke’s account of Christ’s baptism where the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon our Lord in the form of a dove. And then – well, then Luke interrupted the story with a list of Jesus’ ancestors. But the next event, which starts our present chapter, follows closely on the heels of Christ’s baptism. “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” Jesus endures these demonic assaults, and Satan “departed from him until an opportune time.”
“Then,” as we read last week, Jesus, still “filled with the power of the Spirit” began teaching in the synagogues throughout Galilee. He entered the synagogue in Nazareth, his hometown, and read from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” He gave the scroll back to the attendant, sat down, and gave one of the world’s shortest sermons: “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
And this brings us up to date for today. How did the people react to such an odd sermon?
Continue reading “Bearing Witness”
A Homily for the Third Sunday after Epiphany
Texts: St. Luke 4:14-21
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who fulfills the Law and the Prophets. Amen.
Two weeks ago, we read that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan. St. Luke doesn’t tell us much else about this; unlike Sts. Matthew and John’s longer descriptions, Luke gives us a scant three sentences before the Evangelist is off describing Jesus’ human lineage. Lest we think this was merely a momentary apparition, though, Luke picks up the story again by saying that Christ leaves the Jordan and enters the wilderness (we’ll read this in about six weeks when we get to Lent). This isn’t just a quick trip out to the desert but rather a time of wrestling with temptation and Satan. And Christ does not go alone – he is, as St. Luke puts it, “full of the Spirit.” Now, today, we pick up the story: Jesus, back from the wilderness, begins his public ministry “in the power of the Spirit.”
Christ’s entire ministry is infused by the presence of the Holy Spirit. And so it is that, in the synagogue, he takes the scroll and reads from the prophet Isaiah – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”
Continue reading “Scripture is Being Fulfilled”
A Homily for the Second Sunday after Epiphany
Texts: I Corinthians 12:1-11; St. John 2:1-11
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, who has called and equipped us for ministry. Amen.
Does anyone remember those WWJD? bracelets that were so popular in the 90s and 2000s? They came in a ton of different colors and, for most of my childhood, they were everywhere. Yes, we all wore them in youth group – and it became a point of pride to show how dirty yours was after years of church rafting trips and Christian rock concerts.
And who remembers what the letters WWJD stood for? “What would Jesus do?”
These bracelets – and later, t-shirts, bumper stickers, necklaces, signs, and hats were supposed to be both an outward witness, a way of starting conversations about the faith, and also a reminder to the wearer to follow Christ.
So…you’re at a wedding, and they run out of drinks. What’s your move? Well, “What would Jesus do?”
Turn water into wine! Someone want to give it a go?
Continue reading “What Would Jesus Do? What Can We Do?”
A Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord
Texts: Isaiah 43:1-7; St. Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, the Beloved, with whom the Father is well-pleased. Amen.
In his baptism, Christ’s divine identity is unambiguously revealed in glory.
What a scene it must have been – picture the heavens opening. What a sight it was to behold. What divine splendor was on display? What radiance poured forth? Hear that voice – loud, authoritative, rolling across the waters, and yet gentle, loving, and intimate. Do you see that dove? So ordinary and plain, like the ones for sell at the market back in town, but there’s something inherently different about it.
This is the first recorded act of Jesus’ adult life, before he begins calling disciples, teaching, or working wonders, before his confrontation with the powers and principalities. Here, at the very outset of his earthly ministry, this one thing is made clear: Jesus the Christ is the Son of God.
He’s not a creature like us, nor adopted by God as the Caesars claim to be. No, Christ is the eternally begotten Son, who existed before all things.
Continue reading “The Son, the Beloved”
A Homily for the Second Sunday of Christmas
Texts: Jeremiah 31:7-14; Ephesians 1:3-14: St. John 1:1-18
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, the Incarnate Word. Amen.
From before time and space, Christ is. The Only-Begotten Son of God is the One Through Whom All Things Are Made. Christ is the Word spoken by God to create the entire cosmos. And now, in the fullness of time, this same Word has descended from the right hand of the Father to become one of us.
The entirety of the Incarnation defies our attempt to understand it – that the Jesus is fully God and fully human? That the Son and the Father are both fully and entirely God – not two gods or different aspects of one God but two persons of a Blessed Trinity? That God would step down from the heavenly throne to become one of us? That this God, having already condescended to become human, would choose to live not in a palace in the heart of a major empire but as a common laborer among a conquered people?
Continue reading “Begotten from Before the Beginning”
A Homily for Christmas
Texts: St. Luke 2:1-20
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, born of the Virgin in Bethlehem. Amen.
We’ll sing Silent Night in a few minutes. It’s a beautiful song, but I’m not sure it’s the most historically accurate. Certainly the shepherds quaked at the sight of the heavenly hosts singing “Alleluia.” But if you’ve ever been present for a birth, you know that they are not silent or calm affairs. For that matter, they’re not the squeaky-clean events of Christmas cards and paintings. Where is the Christmas card with the Blessed Virgin Mary exhausted and sweating while Saint Joseph wipes away the vernix? Technology has come far enough that I should be able to buy a nativity set with a little speaker playing the newborn Christ’s hungry screams.
Continue reading “God Made Flesh, God Mad Vulnerable”