Recently I was thinking about the limitations of a particular family member – blind spots that make seeing things from another person’s perspective impossible. Blind spots/limitations are modern speak for sin!
Here’s a story that describes sin in a different way:
”A man crying from the depths of hell is pleading for release. When asked the good he’s done in his life, all he can remember is that while walking in the woods one day he saw a spider and didn’t kill it.
At once, the thin slivery thread of the spider web is let down to him in hell. Grasping eagerly at this rope of hope he’s lifted out of his misery. His fellow sufferers – seeing him about to escape – clutch his garment and his feet. Amazingly all begin to be lifted up together. READ MORE: Pentecost 6_4_17 L_HARRINGTON
“Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43). By now, many of you have heard me say a number of times that it is always interesting to pay attention to anything you may have forgotten was in a biblical text, whether you’re studying it privately, hearing it in church, or preparing to preach on it. Our lesson from Acts this morning is quite a familiar one; it is a summary description of life in the earliest days of the church in Jerusalem. The teaching of the disciples and table fellowship – an early manifestation of the eucharist – are at the center of it all. All things are held in common; possessions and goods are sold and proceeds distributed to all as need requires. We know it is very early still because this community still spends “much time together in the temple” (2:46b), indicating that its Jewish identity is still clear. And “day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (2:47); we have the sense of incredible dynamism and excitement as the new movement grows quickly. READ MORE: May 7 2017 Sermon
Here we are on the most important day of the Christian year. It is the day upon which our faith depends – without a resurrected Jesus, the uniqueness of our theological claims is lost. We believe that a Jewish man, Jesus of Nazareth, who preached, taught, and healed for about three years, mostly in Galilee, a little over two thousand years ago, rose from the dead on the third day after he was put to death on a cross. In this rising from the dead he was revealed to be the Son of God, our Savior, who promises us that we now share in this resurrection. We look to him for guidance and direction in every aspect of our lives, and worship him as our Lord and king. READ MORE: April 16 2017 Charles Mayer Sermon
Mo. Cooper’s Message on March 12, 2017
The Prayer for Quiet Confidence:
O God of peace, you have taught us that in returning and rest, we shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be our strength. By the might of your Spirit, lift us we pray to you presence where we may be still and know that you are God.
This morning we are told the story of a night visit. The worthy Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin (the exclusive Pharisee Court) comes to see Jesus, a talked about itinerant preacher.
Now Nicodemus comes to Jesus late at night – perhaps because he is cautious and does not want to be seen visiting this unknown and untested Rabbi, or perhaps he comes under cover of darkness because traditionally Rabbis conferred on the law late at night when no one would disturb their exchange of thought. READ MORE: Mo Cooper’s Message on 3-12-2017
“SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH PROVES JESUS TO BE RIGHT!!”
February 19, 2017 (Epiphany 7), Matthew 5: 38-48
The Rev. J. Cooper Conway, Priest-in-Charge
This morning, I have a headline for you. It reads:
“Scientific Research Proves Jesus to Be Right!”
So what do I mean? This morning, we hear a continuing part of the Sermon on the Mount. In this section, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, ‘Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also’.” Now in the first section of this quote, Jesus is referring to something known as the lex talionis or the law of retribution. It is the oldest law known to humanity and is found first in the Hammurabi Code, which is dated more than 2,000 years before the birth of Christ. The lex talionis (it is believed) was first proclaimed to put an end to blood feuds because, before the “eye for an eye” standard was set, if one member of a family was injured by an attack, the rest of his kin would go out and wreak vengeance on the attacker and any other member of his clan they could lay hands on. And so this earliest law effectively put an end to that escalating violence by saying “if you have been injured, then your attacker should be similarly injured—and that puts an end to it.” The law was logical and (for the most part) effective. READ MORE: Epiphany 7 2_19 Trinity Conway
The late psychiatrist and spiritual director Gerald May took the position in his book Addiction and Grace that there is a God-sized hole in each of us that we often try to fill with other things. This, he says, is the essence of what is going on in all addiction. With humility, gentleness, and wisdom, May takes the position that all humans are subject to addiction. Not one of us has not looked towards things other than God to try to satisfy our longing for spiritual nourishment and comfort. “Alcohol and drugs,” he writes, “are simply more obvious and tragic addictions than others have” (p. 11). He lists dozens of substances, behaviors, and objects that can become addictions: anger, approval, being nice, being right, causes, psychotherapy, revenge, sports – the list consumes two full pages (pp. 38-39). The popular Christian writer Sean Gladding puts the matter very succinctly; he asks, “What do you reach for when you don’t like the way you feel?” READ MORE March 5 2017 Mayer Sermon
Good morning… Here we are, the Second Sunday after the Epiphany. The preparation for Christmas is over! It had been going on for months in stores, online, in our heads! And now the holiday has past. Now we analyze, “How did it go?” was there enough food, did everyone get along, was the tree beautiful? Whatever the answers, we move on… We take down the decorations and put away the accumulated stuff. Hopefully our minds will find quiet, and then the real work of Christmas begins.
About ten years ago my friend and spiritual mentor, Renata, sent me a Christmas card with the following quote from Meister Eckhart, a 14th century mystic of the Dominican Order. He said, “Today we celebrate the birth of God’s Son in time. It is always happening. And yet, if it does not occur in me, how could it help me?” READ MORE: Julie Gross Homily ..1_15_17
One need only engage in a quick overview of the subcultures within the 1st Century Roman Church to know that multiculturalism is nothing new. Consider this: When Paul wrote his epistle to the Roman Church, he was writing to a community that he did not found and which in fact he had never visited. The Roman Church was founded by missionaries from Jerusalem, who were Jews who still adhered to Jewish Law, alongside their faith in Christ; some members of the Roman Church were Jewish Christians like these. Some Roman Gentiles converted by the Jerusalem missionaries would themselves have embraced Jewish Law along with Christian faith. The Roman Church also included both Jewish and Gentile Christians who, like many of those Paul had personally evangelized, no longer followed Jewish Law. So just within the Roman Church we have at least four very different subcultures. READ MORE Mayer Dec. 4 2016 sermon
Sermon on November 13th, 2016, Rev. J. Cooper Conway
One last time – relax and have a drink with me.
One last time – let’s take a break tonight
And then we’ll teach ‘em how to say good bye
We’ll teach ‘em how to say good bye – you and I.
That’s a little tune from the show “Hamilton” by Lin Manuel Miranda. Washington sings it to his protégé Hamilton while he is breaking the news that he will be stepping down from the presidency after only two terms.
Of course Hamilton thinks Washington is mad. He’s still strong. He’s still well regarded.
But Washington knows better – a precedent must be set; the good of the nation cannot rest on any individual —the nation itself must be strong to endure. This “good bye” message is part of our nation’s DNA.
In this morning’s Gospel, Luke gives us a scene where people are wandering around the temple admiring its beauty. But Jesus brings them up short when he says “The time is coming when every stone in that building will wind up in a heap of rubble.” READ MORE: J-Cooper-Conway-11-13-2016
NOV. 5, 2016, Bishop Dietsche Speaks at the Diocesan Convention
SUN., NOV. 6, 2016/25 Pentecost/All Saints Sunday, Charles D. Mayer
In 2nd Thessalonians, the epistle from which we read today, something fascinating is going on. Paul had only very recently written his first
letter to this same community, and it seems he quickly wrote again to correct a mistaken impression based on that first letter: “As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here” (or, in another possible translation, “that the day of the Lord is impending”). Apparently, some significant faction within the community expected Jesus to return at any time. No, Paul says; he reminds his readers that there must first be a struggle with evil, the details of which his readers know. God’s will and purposes have not finished unfolding; as the New Oxford Annotated Bible says, the letter “prepares the church for a period of continued life in the world” (NT p. 296). READ MORE: mayer-nov-6-2016-sermon
SUN. OCT. 23, 2016: (C-Pr 25: Luke 18.9-14), Bishop Allen K. Shin, Bishop Suffragan, at Trinity Episcopal Church, Ossining, NY
In last Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus admonished the disciples to “pray always and not lose heart” and ended with a question—“And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Today’s Gospel story is in a way his answer to that question and he does it with a parable as he does. In this parable Jesus compares two characters of very different social backgrounds—a Pharisee and a tax collector—in their piety and prayer life.
In terms of the socio-economic class, the Pharisees belonged to what we might consider today as the middle class, which was a rather small class in the ancient times. The Pharisees were not allowed to take the priestly function in the temple. So, they found themselves in the role of teaching and preaching in the synagogues. This meant that they had to be diligent students of the Torah and thus were well educated. They traced their heritage back to Moses and adhered closely to the laws of both the written and the oral traditions. Their piety and spirituality centered in righteousness and orthodox formalism according to the Torah. READ MORE: god-have-mercy-bishop-alan-shin
SUN., OCT. 16, 2016: Homily, Graham Gulian
In today’s reading from Jeremiah, the prophet speaks of a time when God will “write my law
upon your hearts”. I love this image. A writer writes his words carefully, knowing that once they have left his pen, they are forever outside of him. God promises to write his word on our hearts. What was once only his, is now ours as well. The word of God is written on our hearts. Of all places, our hearts. We can’t live without our hearts. He has written his love, his life on a place that we can never separate from. It’s as if the painter has chosen to make his first stroke at the very middle of the canvas, staking his claim that the painting will not be able to hide from him. More
SUN., OCT. 9, 2016: Your Faith Has Made You Well, The Rev. Chris Jones
For My Animal Brothers and Sisters and Their Human Families,
I had a doggy friend named Pucci – named for Puccini, the opera composer. He was the beautiful German shepherd family member of my friend’s Liz and John. He was the head of hospitality whenever you entered their Shakespeare theatre off Broadway in NYC. (He had a bit of Episcopalian in him, I think, because the theatre was housed in a space owned and rented out from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. Some of us know it as “Smoky Mary’s” for their love of Anglican ceremony and incense!) More
SUN., OCT. 2, 2016, PENTECOST 20: Increase Our Faith, Charles D. Mayer
Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel are difficult and disturbing, in more ways than one. He uses language about slavery that seems to suggest that he is not questioning it as a social norm. This by itself could be the subject of another sermon; for today, let it suffice that Jesus did recognize slavery as a norm – it was a norm – but he was certainly not endorsing it. It’s still a troubling metaphor, but Jesus’ point is not about slavery, but about faith. And what Jesus has to say about faith is difficult, too. More
SUN., SEPT. 25, 2016: Lazarus and the Rich Man, J. Cooper Conway
Life is short and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those with whom we travel. So, be quick to love. Make haste to be kind.
This morning in Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells the story of a rich man and a poor man. Both have died. Now, the poor man, who is named Lazarus (or “God is my hope”) is resting in the bosom of Abraham, while the rich man finds himself in Hades alone and suffering.
The rich one (of course) wants to be closer to Abraham. The rich one wants some of the comforts the poor man enjoys. But, it is not to be because, as Abraham explains, a chasm has been fixed between these two men, and now that they are dead, it is too late to repair it and bring them together. More
SUN., SEPT. 18, 2016: Homily on Luke 16: 1- 13, Julie Gross
Good morning! I have a question for you. How many here have difficulty understanding this parable? I have! What good can come out of the manager stealing from the master so many times? And Jesus says, “the rich man or master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.” Who is this master? What does he know that we do not? More
SUN., JUL. 17, 2016: A Reflection, Sue Monroe
Our gospel reading today is the well-worn story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10: 38-42.) We’ve heard it many times and it still bugs me.
Martha and Mary are old friends of Jesus, along with their brother Lazarus (whom Jesus later resurrects), and their relationship is the easy one of long acquaintance. Martha runs out to greet Jesus and sets to preparing for dinner. Mary sits down with Jesus to listen to him preach. Later in frustration, Martha goes out and rather petulantly asks Jesus to tell Mary to come in and help her. How many times have we seen that scenario play out? Over two millennia? More
SUN., APR. 3, 2016, Blessed Are Those Who Have Not Seen, Charles D. Mayer
“Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’”
“Have come to believe.” Jesus’ exact words are very important here. His challenge to Thomas is a gentle one, because it suggests that acquiring faith is a process – we come to believe. Jesus understand that once the resurrection appearances are over, no-one will have the experience of seeing Jesus in the way that the disciples had on that first Easter evening, or that Thomas did a week later. All future Christians, like us, were going to have to come to believe based on the testimony of Scripture and of other people of faith. Thomas has a bad reputation as the disciple who doubted until he actually saw for himself – the others had seen Jesus a week before. Once Jesus ascended, the rest of Christian history would rely on the experience of not seeing, yet believing. And all of us know that this is a process, which rarely happens in a linear way and includes periods of strong faith, but also periods of significant doubt. More
SAT.NOV. 14, 2015: But Some Doubted, Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls, 239 Diocesan Convention, The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
There was the sermon I had prepared to preach this morning. Then there was the sermon I thought about preaching this morning. And finally there is the sermon I now have with the events of last night very much weighing on my heart. It is a sermon that begins with a prayer that was, until last night, merely a patriotic flourish but this morning has become a prayer, much the way the words “God Bless America” took on their true meaning on September 11. The prayer is this. “Vive la France.” More