Trembling Before a Righteous Judge

A Homily for the Third Week of Advent

Text: St. John 8:12-20

Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, the Righteous Judge. Amen.

Growing up, I loved seeing the rather gruesome carvings that decorate the facades of many large European churches. Weird little kid that I was, one of my favorite themes was the Final Judgment: Christ sits enthroned, orb and scepter in hand, looking out at all who dare to come to the cathedral, as angels escort the Faithful into paradise and (here’s the part I really liked), the condemned are taken to places of torment, skeletons with pitchforks prod cauldrons full of sinners, and all manner of infernal punishments play out in stone. The sculptures are nothing if not vividly haunting.

These carvings capture a key turn in this evening’s readings:

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God’s Restoring Judgment

A Homily for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost

Text: Isaiah 25:1-9

Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who prepares a feast for us. Amen.

It’s been sort of like living out Murphy’s Law this year, hasn’t it? If it can go wrong, it probably has. I won’t belabor the point because I think we’re all pretty much tired of 2020’s parade of horribles at this point, but let’s just consider the natural disasters: a string of tornadoes that destroyed one of our companion churches in Nashville, wild fires running the length of the Pacific coast that have sent smoke across the entire lower 48, a hurricane season so active that we’ve run out of names (and then some), a derecho that leveled buildings and destroyed crops across ten states, all of this in the midst of a pandemic the likes of which we haven’t seen in over a century.

(Any one of these would make for a far-fetched action movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a body-builder-turned-scientist racing against time. All of them at once can only be described with a sigh and a bitter remark about what else 2020 might have in store.)

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