A Sermon for Maundy Thursday

Thursday, April 14, 2022

By: Amelia McDaniel, Lay Associate for Christian Formation

 

Texie Laing, a dear five year old member of this congregation, has single handedly made this year’s celebration of Lent a better one for me. This is not because she said something particularly sparkling or insightful or I saw her engage in some amazing act of kindness. Although she is sparkling, insightful and kind to be sure.

Texie has made Lent better for me because of her willingness to struggle. I like people who are honest about their struggles. In a culture of toxic positivity that I all too often participate in, being real about what hurts and confounds us is a gift.

Texie arrived in children’s chapel a few weeks ago with a furrowed brough. I wasn’t sure why. But, everybody is allowed furrowed brough days and I thought this might just be one of those days for Texie. David was telling the story of Moses and the burning bush to the children that morning. At some point I looked over and Texie had covered her ears with her hands. I wondered if it was David’s deep, booming voice that was causing her alarm, but he really wasn’t being that loud. But again, Texie is five, it was a furrowed brow day already, and I just assumed that was the problem.

It turns out that on the way to church that morning, Texie’s older brother Bo, had explained exactly what happened to Jesus, the part that happens on Good Friday. And that had sent Texie into a tailspin. By the time David got the part about Moses MURDERING AN EGPTIAN in his story Texie had enough of the awfulness for one day.

Throughout the rest of Lent I have watched Texie struggle with the story of Easter. And I love her for the honesty of her struggle.

Read more

A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Sunday, March 27, 2022

By: David May, Rector

 

I used to cross the Norris Bridge that connects the Middle Peninsula with the Northern Neck at White Stone all the time. Where the bridge goes across the Rappahannock River the water is a mile or more across. It’s hard to take a good look when you’re driving across the bridge, but even a quick glance is breathtaking. To the west, the river stays broad into the distance; to the east, the wide river flows out into the great Chesapeake Bay and beyond. If you were to trace the river west, (say you could fly just above the surface) it would still be broad – a mile across at least – as you reach the crossing at Tappahannock. Further west, as you go on, the river stays broad until it narrows suddenly just east of Port Royal near the fall line below Fredericksburg. At this point, the ocean tide ceases to influence the rise and fall of the river, and the water becomes entirely fresh for the first time. Traveling still further west, you arrive at a branching where the Rappahannock continues to the north while the Rapidan River flows off to the south. Into the hilly country still further west, the Rappahannock narrows more past Culpepper , and runs northwest til it plunges into the mountains south of Front Royal. Somewhere below Chester Gap, in the shadow of Mount Marshall’s 3,368 foot peak, the Rappahannock contracts from a hurrying river to a narrower stream, to a racing creek, til it arrives at its spring and source. In all, the river runs 184 miles, from a spring breaking out of the mountains, to the broad ocean-like mouth near the bridge at White Stone.

One day when I was stopped at the top of the bridge for roadwork perched 110 feet above the river’s surface, I had a funny thought. I thought, what if you could find your way to the source where the original spring breaks clear of the earth and begins to flows out…and what if a leaf dropped onto that fresh surface. (For all we know, that could’ve just happened!) Could that leaf make it all the way to the Bay? Seems unlikely doesn’t it. Too many obstacles along the way. It would just have to get lost somewhere along the way, rigtht?. But stranger things have happened. Consider this…

Read more

A Sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent

Sunday, March 13, 2022

By: David May, Rector

 

Out of the millions and millions of memories we must all have in us, there’s something miraculous about the way that some keep rising to the surface out of that ocean of experiences. Over the years, I’ve come to pay attention to the memories that – out of all those millions and millions – stay with you, that abide. We all have them. Some of them are painful, some joyously radiant, some just plain confusing. But whatever they are, the ones that stay with us, I think, are trying to tell us something about our lives. Memories that abide with us aren’t just in the past. Somehow, they’re still now.

One of mine is from a summer at the beach at Mattituck, Long Island. One morning, my dad said to me, ‘we’re going sailing this morning’. There was a little sunfish that came with the house that we could use. So, my dad dragged it to the water’s edge, put up the mast and the sail, clipped in the tiller and we pushed out onto the water through the small, lazy waves. The sail caught puffs of wind, and began to push us sideways. Then the sail swung around, and we got pushed sideways the other way. My father said, ‘oh, forgot to put in the centerboard.’ He picked up the slender, flat, smooth three-foot center board and said, ‘watch this!’ He pushed the centerboard down through the narrow slit of an opening in the cockpit and with a thunk as it locked into place, something magical happened. The little boat instantly got it’s footing, we stopped drifting sideways, the sail snapped taut with the wind, and the boat leaped ahead in a straight line. I am pretty sure we both went wow! When I think about it today, I still go wow!

Some memories like that aren’t just in the past. They’re also now, telling us something about our lives now.

Read more

A Sermon for the First Sunday in Lent

Sunday, March 6, 2022

By: Kilpy Singer, Director of Youth Ministries

 

Whenever you get married, people share lots of advice. One of the first pieces of advice my mom gave my husband was, “Now, you always need to have a snack with you in case Kilpy has a meltdown.” If Blake were here, he’d tell you that this was some truly sound advice. To keep my blood sugar regular, I need frequent snacks or else I become quite “hangry”, or the mix of hungry and angry.

So, knowing this about myself, my first thought when I read over our Gospel passage today was “Man, the Devil really knew what he was doing.” Jesus has just gone 40 days without any food and, understandably, might have been a bit hangry himself. Then, the devil shows up and pounds him with all sorts of challenging and enticing temptations.

I’d say that’s pretty smart timing. None of us are our best selves when we are starving. And not only was Jesus hungry for food, famished after weeks of fasting, but he must have been hungry in so many other ways.

He had just spent 40 days in the wilderness. Can you imagine? It may not have been a desert, but it would have certainly been deserted. Lonely. Isolating. Down right desolate and maybe even depressing.

Jesus, that truly human part of him, must have been hungry. And the Devil tries to take advantage, tempting him three times. Show your power, turn this stone to bread. Worship me and I’ll give you everything and more, all the glory you could ever want. Throw yourself down, and let God catch you, unless you don’t think He’ll show up.

Read more

A Sermon for Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, March 3, 2022

By: David H. May, Rector

 

 

The church in Corinth about drove Paul crazy. That congregation was divided into warring factions – bickertons – who all knew better than the other about the mystery of Jesus and his power. Each faction was certain that they – unlike the other factions – possessed the truth. Paul fired back – especially in his 2nd letter to them – that they had got it all wrong. Not their bickering and infighting and backbiting. That is to be expected of people even in the church. No, Paul, thundered at them, ‘I proclaim Christ and him crucified’ – and by that he means, the power of Jesus sacrificing love, love that led him to lay down his blameless life for those who bear much blame. The power of sacrificial love is the same power that gave birth to the sun and moon and stars and this good earth and you and me, and it is the only power than can save us from ourselves. The love of Jesus. So, ‘Be reconciled to God’ for Jesus’ sake.

Reconciliation, by the way, is the reunion of people who are separated from one another but are meant to be together. (We are in a new time when that seems all but impossible. The old chorus from fallen Eden is our daily food and drink: It’s your fault, no it’s your fault! You’re worse than me and besides you started it. No, you’re worse than me and you started it. It’s an endless, loveless, hopeless cycle that traps people inside it with a kind of centrifugal force, like the way a black hole in space spirals all matter – including light – into its dark mysterious annihilating depths.

Which, admittedly, is a pretty grim image. Am I saying there’s no way out?

Read more