A Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter

Sunday, May 1, 2022

By: David May, Rector

 

When my sons were little, we used to go on walks in our neighborhood that took us beside an old, abandoned rock quarry that over the years had filled with water and become a little lake. Mostly, the surface of the water sparkled in the sunshine; if you looked, it was like a mirror reflecting the sky and clouds above and our faces when we peered over the edge. But as you went along the path, we’d pass beneath great oaks whose branches hung over the water and shaded the surface. We always stopped in those places because something magical happened. We’d get down on our haunches and stare into the water. But instead of just seeing our faces reflected on the surface, you could suddenly see, really see what was there through the clear water. All the way to the bottom. At one of our favorite spots, my sons would scream and point, ‘a fish! look! do you see it? a fish!’

The life we live even now in the resurrection of Jesus is something like that. It’s what we just prayed for in the Collect of the Day: give us eyes of faith to see Jesus in all his redeeming work. All the resurrection stories point towards that and have that quality – of not being able to see what is right in front of your eyes (usually Jesus!) and then suddenly seeing what is there, him, and what he is doing for us. Like Mary Magdalene when Jesus calls her by name, and she can see him. Or Thomas when Jesus shows him his wounded body, and he sees him. Like the disciples in Emmaus when Jesus takes bread and blesses and breaks it and they suddenly see that it is Jesus. Or today when Jesus calls out from the beach, ‘cast your nets on the other side’ and the water boils with thrashing fish as they pull the net to the surface where all night there had been nothing.

In fact, if we get down on our haunches and stare into this sacred story of resurrection, so much comes into view – our whole life with Jesus, all of life really, all the way down to the bottom. Take a look.

After the utterly mind-blowing, totally incomprehensible, life-changing, world-changing, creation-changing experiences of the first Easter morning, after seeing all the way to the depths of God’s very life, I just love what Peter decides he’s going to do. He says, ‘I’m going fishing’. And the others say, ‘we’ll go with you’. What else do you do when everything you thought was settled gets turned inside out and outside in? I think there are lots of ways that we too decide, ‘I’m going fishing’. I need a moment. I need to just stand on solid ground and get my bearings.

And so they do. And catch nothing all night long. Oh well. That’s what fishermen do too.

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A Sermon for Easter Sunday

Sunday, April 17, 2022

By: David May, Rector

 

Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Last night, the liturgy for the Great Vigil of Easter began in the parking lot. The service began by lighting the Christmas tree that had stood here in the church at Christmas time. At Christmas, that tree had been adorned with ornaments the children of the parish had made representing God’s Story: creation, the fall, Noah and the Flood, Abraham and Sarah hoping against hope for a baby, and Moses leading the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. We burned that tree last night that exploded into a roaring pillar of fire to kindle the first light of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and to light the new Paschal Candle burning right there.

It used to be odd, a novel thing to have church in the parking lot. But after the two plus years we’ve been through, it felt pretty normal. Remember, we celebrated Easter morning last year in that same parking lot with pods of people in lawn chairs inside squares we’d painted on the gravel so we could be spaced out safely.

At the Vigil service last we night, we were back in the parking lot again. But then we travelled behind the light of the new Paschal candle like the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness, like our own wanderings in the wilderness these past two plus years, along the sidewalk and beneath the bell tower and up the stairs into the dark narthex and travelling on into the dim nave and came together in this church in our pews, gathered around this Holy Table beneath that mighty Cross for Easter; like we are now.

Maybe we haven’t arrived at the actual Promised Land, but it’s pretty close – we’re finally home together on this Easter morning!

So before anything else – to be together like this for the first Easter morning in this church in three years, having travelled so far together to be here now, I want to say, ‘Thank You, God!’ You can say it too or you could just give this preacher and Amen!

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A Sermon for the Great Easter Vigil

Saturday, April 16, 2022

By: Kilpy Singer, Director of Youth Ministries

 

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be pleasing in your sight oh Lord, our Rock and Redeemer.

Darkness. Suffocating darkness. This is where we find the first witnesses of the resurrection, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. In a state of disbelief and confusion and darkness. Just hours before, he was crucified. They saw it themselves. They heard his cry. They saw his last breath. He was dead. Now, they’ve come to his tomb with spices to help with the stench, a practical but tender act of love. They approach, hoping to find some closure. But the stone is rolled away, and they look in, and all they see is darkness.

They’re looking around in the shadows of the empty tomb then at each other. They are in such shock from the events of the last several days and the soul-crushing outcome, and now, after all that, his body is missing. It’s gone. Stolen, maybe? What a perplexing, exhausting thing to have to deal with on top of the heavy weight of grief that they already carry.

It’s strange though, isn’t it, that they don’t connect the dots? We know what happens next, but they don’t see it. They had followed Jesus in his ministry and professed him to be Messiah, but the shock of his death seems to have distracted, if not totally paralyzed, them. “Why are they surprised? Don’t they remember?” Had the darkness of the last few days made them forget how Jesus said that he would die, that it wouldn’t be the end, or do they just not believe it anymore?

Darkness has a way of messing us up like that. It distorts reality, distracts us from what we once believed in or knew to be true. Have you ever had that experience when you find yourself awake, in the middle of the night, staring at the ceiling, believing things you never would in the light of day? “I’m pretty sure everyone in my life hates me, and I’m a complete failure, and life is meaningless.” Of course, it’s not true, but something about the shadows of night makes the mind bend in weird ways. Or have you gotten so deep into the news, a 24-hour reel of tragedy, the news of war, and of hatred, and of gun violence, and of environmental destruction, that you’ve confused it for the whole picture, and convinced yourself that there is nothing else? Nothing left?

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A Sermon for Good Friday

Friday, April 15, 2022

By: David May, Rector

 

So, I don’t want to think about it – the brokenness of this world, that’s happening right now. I don’t want to imagine it. But this is Good Friday – the one day out of all the rest when I think we should at least try to be honest – to the extent that we can; and put down every explanation and rationalization, every excuse and all the words of denial and avoidance I conjure up to try to make things make sense – like who’s at fault, like who’s to blame, who his guilty and who is innocent. None of those things holds water on Good Friday. It is the one day, at least, to take a deep breath and open our eyes and try to stay awake with Jesus.

Which is hard to do. It is hard to stop talking and stop thinking about all the things we talk about and think about to make sense of this broken, disordered world.

But I’ve noticed, over the years, that this ancient story we just heard about father Abraham has a kind of power to make all my words and excuses fall silent. It is a story not one of us would ever think up on our own. None of us would ever say such things about God and none of us would say such things about a father and a son. It is inconceivable, impossible. Only God could conceive and speak such a word; a word that is as irresolvable as flint and steel; a word that has the power to stop our mouths.

Hearing this story is like taking a sounding at sea. A sounding is when you drop a line from a boat and let it out til it hits the bottom so you know how deep the water is that you’re in. At first we let it out an arm length at a time thinking we will hit the bottom soon. When we don’t, we let it free fall for a while – the rope singing on the bulwark. But the weighted end finds no bottom. And we watch the coiled rope on the deck grow smaller and smaller til to our horror, the last length skitters over the edge and is lost in the depths. And we know that somewhere down there in the great fathomless depths in the black dark where no sunlight will ever come, it is still falling. There is no bottom to this. The only thing we can do, is fall silent, and watch the wind blow across the face of the deep.

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