Last Monday we took our first steps back into worshipping in the building. Fifteen people gathered for a simple service of Holy Eucharist in the Muriel Moore Chapel, and in my homily, I spoke about the Japanese art of Kintsugi—literally translated as “golden joinery.” Kintsugi is the process of mending broken pottery with glue and a gold dusted lacquer. Rather than trying to hide the brokenness and the cracks, Kintsugi embraces them as part of the whole. The result is a work of art that is created with elements of the past and has a new beauty forged from the experiences of the present.
This past week, on Wednesday the 29th, was the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. It was the patron feast of my former parish, St. Michael’s on the Upper West Side, but it may not be a feast day you’ve ever thought much about. Focusing on angels may not seem useful in these current times when there are so many pressing issues in our world that need our attention….
In our Calendar of Saints yesterday we remembered Anna Ellison Butler Alexander, the first African American female Deacon in the Episcopal Church. Anna was born to former slaves in 1865. She was the youngest of eleven children and spent her life and ministry in Georgia….
Sunday’s Gospel is about the landowner who hired workers for his vineyard early in the morning and then additional workers throughout the day. When it came time to pay the workers, those that began early in the morning and suffered through the hot sun, expected to be paid more than those who were hired later in the day, but they were paid the same and grumbled.
Jesus challenges us to see things in a new way. His teaching stretches our minds and our hearts. He wants us to weigh things on the scales of heavenly worth instead of earthly value. To understand this parable, we need to know why Jesus told it….
Even though this year is quite a bit different than usual, the cycle of the natural seasons continues as summer begins to turn into fall. And the cycle of human seasons continues too, if in a modified way, as the more relaxed month of August shifts to the back-to-work...
Allowing stuff to grow up around your life and if not tended too, stuff will choke out the things God is trying to do in your life.
Sunday’s Gospel the parable of the “Mustard Seed” pertains to our faith in Christ.
This short and to the point parable by Jesus to the crowd that had been following Him, He says, “the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.” So what is Jesus telling us about faith?
First, Jesus meant that faith as it concerns Him was based on the reality of His deity, based upon the truth of His promises, and His record of being faithful to His people….
These are uncertain times. There is so much that we don’t know about the virus that has caused the pandemic. We don’t know the full health impact on individuals, communities, and our health system, and we don’t know the full financial and economic impact either. We have hopes that the recent and continuing protests will finally mean that some action will be taken to address police brutality and to enact antiracist policies and structures in our country — but we don’t know yet what that may look like. And the election season is beginning to heat up. We can work to get our favorite candidates elected, but we have no idea yet what changes to our political landscape November will bring.
With every day that passes, it seems more clear that we don’t know much about what lies ahead! For those of us who like to be in control, or at least like to think that we are in control (!), these are very trying, frustrating, and even scary times. But perhaps there is a spiritual lesson we can learn now, one that is harder to learn when things are going well for us. And that is that even when things are good, we are not really in control of much in our lives! Especially in our complicated world, we are dependent on each other and especially on God….
It has always surprised me that the assigned Gospel reading for July 4 is Matthew 5:43-48, which includes Jesus saying this: You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. This commission doesn’t seem to fit with fireworks and triumphant march music. On a day when we commemorate victorious nationalism, it seems odd that the church wants us to focus on love and prayer.
…What Jesus is telling us to do in Sunday’s gospel from Matthew is similar to the famous Golden Rule – “Do unto others.” A cup of cold water is a gift that everyone can give because it is the smallest of gifts. Even this, the smallest of gifts, is precious to the person receiving it, because it sometimes is the gift of life….
At the risk of treading on our Director of Music Tim Pyper’s territory, I thought I’d extend the feeling of Trinity Sunday (which we celebrated this past Sunday), by inviting us all to spend a little time with the wonderful hymn “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” (or “I Bind Unto Myself Today”). It is based on a poem said to have been written by St. Patrick, and it describes sources of strength we can prayerfully draw on for support, including two sources I preached about on Sunday: the power of the Trinity as the three-in-one God united in love and the presence of Christ who is always with us.