A Sermon for All Saints’ Sunday

Sunday, November 7, 2021

By: David H. May, Rector

 

Today we are celebrating the great feast of All Saints on this All Saints Sunday. It is the day we remember all those who have gone before us in the faith of the Church. They are people – our mothers and fathers, our husbands and wives, our children and our friends – who were so deeply a part of our lives and made us into who we are today. And they are people we didn’t know, but know about and draw strength from their example. And they are people stretching back generations, millennia even, whom no living soul remembers at all. But God does. Every one of them.

And in Christ, we belong to them, and they belong to us still, in the great Communion of Saints. And the story of each of their lives, and our lives, whether great or small, known or unknown, are a part of the great story of God’s loving purposes to heal the world and make the whole creation new again.

Know this, dear friends, you in your life, we in our lives together – on this great All Saints Sunday – know that we, that you are a part of much greater life. We belong to a family of faith that goes far beyond this day or the circumstances of this day or this year or this decade or this era. Remember, that all of our sisters and brothers, great and small, who have gone before us, crowd in beside us in a great cloud of witnesses to encourage us in our lives, to cheer us on; they are beside us now to strengthen us to bear forward the cause of Christ and his Kingdom in our own day.

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A Sermon for the Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, October 24, 2021

By: David H. May, Rector

 

These brief few verses from the gospel reading this morning occupy a ‘place of honor’ in Mark’s telling of the story of Jesus. This small story of the restoration of sight to a blind man is the last thing we hear of Jesus before he enters Jerusalem for what will be his very the last time. Mark wants this story to be in our minds on our way to the cross with Jesus. So I want to try to take us inside this little story and hear why Mark might’ve given it such a place of prominence.

We begin on the west side of Jericho along the road leading to Jerusalem, where beggars line the streets. It is a golden time of the year, because today the road is teeming with religious pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover—it’s like Christmas time with a Salvation Army kettle and bell clanging on every corner. This time of the year, people with their hearts turned towards the things of God may be easier pickings than at other times of the year.

Lining the road are clusters and knots of people who this world sees as good for nothing other than begging. Sorry to say that, but that’s just the way it is. Blind men, blind women. People with missing limbs. Paralyzed. Drunks. And mixed in, thieves and robbers preying on the beggars or gullible travelers. It’s a dangerous place. Jesus knew that well enough, and chose this stretch of road for the setting of his famous story about the Good Samaritan.

A gaggle of beggars are squatted on the dusty roadside like a pack of crows. Legs crossed, dark cloaks wrapped around creating a fabric alms plate in their laps to catch tossed coins. They might as well be crows for all anybody notices that they have human faces.

In among the crowing beggars is a man with a name we know now. Probably no one there did. No one there is too concerned about names. They are beggars, not real people. But now we know, this man was old Timaeus’ son. Bar-Timaeus, the son of his father. A father’s son. Maybe, long ago, his father walked home from the fields with his small son’s hand in his hand after a days work. But that’s long ago. A faded memory. Who knows where the father is now. Dead, or just dead to the son. Bartimeus, now spends his days crowing like a grackle, his small hands replaced by claws scrabbling for left-overs.

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A Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, October 10, 2021

By: David H. May, Rector

 

“…for God all things are possible.”

The young man who comes to Jesus today is one of the most beguiling and attractive characters in all of the Gospels. His wealth could easily have led to pursue a less noble life than the one he describes. He’s a good man who has learned the commandments of God and lived by them since he was a youth. There’s nothing about him that sounds like a stick in the mud moralist – you know the kind of person who is overly interested in the speck in your eye while blissfully indifferent to the log in their own eye. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity when he says he has kept the commandments faithfully since he was a boy. He certainly doesn’t strike Jesus as a self-righteous braggart. No, Jesus looks at him—a young man, just coming into his own as a person wanting to set his compass to point him towards that which is of most, towards those things which will abide, eternal things. And Jesus looks on him and loves him. The Lord didn’t use words, but whoever was there and remembered what happened that day and passed on the memory saw it in the Lord’s face—he loved him. And no words were needed.

But the young man’s first question to Jesus—what must I do to inherit eternal life?—shows that he is on the wrong path. An inheritance—money, property, your name even—con only be given. You can’t do anything to force an inheritance. You can’t force your mother to re-write her will so that you will inherit her wedding ring and your sister will not. Oh, I suppose one could contrive a scheme to set that in motion. But supposing you succeeded? It would never be a freely given gift, a blessing, an inheritance. How could that wedding ring every really sparkle on your finger after acquiring it that way?

An inheritance is a gift given: a legacy of loving loyalty.

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A Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Sunday, October 3, 2021

By: Amelia McDaniel, Lay Associate for Christian Formation

 

“Good Lord, Amelia. This is biblical.” That was my aunt’s text to me.

It was a Sunday night, and I was sitting at the emergency vet with our then 12-year-old yellow lab, Ruth, and two very tearful children. An hour earlier we had all been sitting in the living room when she was suddenly unable to stand. If you are a dog person you know this is the stuff that strikes fear in your heart. My aunt is a dog person and I had texted her knowing that she’d understand.

The Sunday before had been begun a week of unbearable sadness. We were together in the same living room when I had to tell my children that their father had died. Ruth had dutifully nudged and loved on each one of us as we sat there together. And now we were tearfully nudging and loving on her. Willing this problem to be fixable. Praying that this would not be the night to say goodbye too.

Looking into the faces of my terrified children, running the scenarios of how this could all play out in my head, feeling the sorrow heap upon sorrow, it did feel a bit “biblical” as my aunt had suggested. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I got down and whispered into my sweet dog’s ear, “Not tonight. No ma’am. Not tonight.”

Of course, my aunt was referring to Job whose story we begin in the lectionary today. Job, the blameless and upright man who feared God, who suffered mightily in the course of his biblical narrative. He is a Scriptural symbol and even secular code word for suffering, and I would guess that we are all familiar enough with his story.

Thankfully Ruth pulled out of that night and bless her she’s still with us today. And I can say with certainty that we definitely don’t deserve her because she is as blameless and upright a creature in this Kingdom as Job.

Job loses everything, his family, his home, his livelihood as the story unfolds. Job’s suffering is deeply relatable to us all, whether we’d like to own up to it or not. Job did not escape tragedy and losses through his good behavior or even the goodness of his heart. There was no way for Job to manifest good fortune for himself by changing his attitude or meditating or giving money to some cause.

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