Homily Recaps Christmas and Epiphany 2017

The Homily Recaps postings is on extended break until the summer…

The 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, January 22 – The Rev. Hannah Anderson was guest preacher this morning.

The 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, January 15 – What is our call to be Episcopalian, a mover and shaker in that more progressive Christianity our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is brazenly calling “The Jesus Movement?” What led us here? I recently heard a story from a colleague in a doctorate program I am enrolled in that defined call as “abandonment” – not in the form of forgetting the past, with all its traumas, but in embracing it. That is, a sense of abandonment to rise above the chaos and hurt from a childhood that contained too much of both was the fuel, the fire, that compelled my colleague to dig deeper into what could be done to transform life. Evelyn Underhill, infamous mid-20th century mystic, called the time between birth (the stable) and death (the garden) the opportunity to discover the rescuing power of God. Sam Portaro, whose recent work in the church centered on call, writes of having the courage to “cross the Jordan,” to not be afraid in getting a little muddy breaching a boundary. Everyone has a poignant story about a sense of their own call in this community, some including the horrifying, some not. Somehow, we find ourselves together in this place, keen on affecting change in our world, working with each other, working as they say “…in Christ…” as our way of answering “…the call…” I am nothing but humbled to hear these stories and be part of a community of the faithful who heard something, often something that is hard to explain, who have found the courage to cross the Jordan and seek their fortunes. 

The 1st Sunday after Epiphany, January 8 – The Rev. Peter Gomes, former chaplain at Harvard University, once wrote of the image of a small stone falling into the waters of a pond causing ripples that extend all the way to the edges, a wonderful way of symbolizing the influence of Christ in our world from humble beginnings to touching all of humankind. Such an image is perfect for the Epiphany season, where the great deeds of Christ are described, a season of particular symbolism. Contrast the Greek myth of Atlas struggling to carry the world on his shoulders, something akin to Psalm 29 where a great storm is described, and where peace reigns finally when it has blown over. Our worries and troubles are like that storm, us straining under the burdens of survival, desperately seeking shelter, and amazingly we find it in the courage and voice of a small child.

Christmas 1 – January 1, 2017 – no homily today – A special service of 9 Lessons & Carols

Christmas, December 24/25 – This year has been a banner year for hearing of darker days to come. Here, at the end of the year, is our turn to proclaim the sighting of light, and to spread the true news that all is not dire, that all is not doom and gloom in the world around us. To spread awareness that in pain and suffering there is also the presence of God in the persons watching out for you and caring for you and in your soul and heart if it can find a way to break forth, a presence of light and hope in the darkness. The awareness that despite all the news stories (true or untrue, shocking or suspect) we still live in a society and culture dominated by the pursuit of goodness, of life, of meaning, of the witness of freedom to pass down to our families and friends, for them to pass down after us. The awareness of determination, of resolve, of intention to not let go of this thing we find essential to life: LIBERATION…which comes to us as innocence – a child in the darkest days of the year…which is the message of that child as Christ the rest of the year, …which snarls and growls in our souls, all year, in everything we do, every action we undertake. The message of the Christ child is peace, goodwill, joy to the earth, but that message of peace comes with an edge. The edge is that we can’t take it for granted. There is no peace without liberation and there is no liberation without us working to keep it, to know it, to find a way to make others know it.