The Foolishness of Preaching

Preached my first sermon yesterday as a Deacon at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Allston, MA. So pleased that the text for the day is the same one a friend of mine used to preach the best sermon I have ever heard. Memory eternal to Don Connors, preacher to the elderly and friend of lost souls.

Sunday, July 17/30, 2017
Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Matthew 14:14-22

areopagusIn the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever. Beloved in the Lord,

You will not remember the words I preach to you today. You will not remember them any more than the senior citizens remembered these words from St. Paul when they were preached to them in a nursing home by a man who preached the best sermon I have ever heard. And what was his text? It was the same as it is for us this morning- the foolishness of preaching. For his question to that elderly audience is the same one I ask of you this morning. What good is it for me to stand here before you and preach a message that will so soon be forgotten? After all, as St. Paul says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…” and later in the same chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, he calls his own preaching foolishness. Continue reading

Agents of Reconciliation

I am re-posting this excellent article from my boss, The Rev. Todd Miller, Rector of Trinity Parish in Newton Centre. It is based on a sermon he preached shortly after the Presidential Election of 2016, after which so many were struck with fear over the possible uprising of old hatreds.

st-peter-and-st-paul-2In the Episcopal Church’s Catechism, the stated mission of the Church “is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ (The Book of Common Prayer, p 855).  In Eucharistic Prayer A – the form of the Eucharistic prayers used most often at Trinity – we give thanks to God that God “sent Jesus Christ… to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all” (BCP, p 362).

Our Christian faith is about “restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ;” we Christians, following the example of Jesus, are called to be agents of reconciliation.  Our country, sharply divided over the recent election and in transition to a new administration, is counting on us Christians to live into our identity and to be agents of reconciliation. Continue reading

Honest Doubt that Leads to Deeper Faith

Thomas Sunday, April 19, 2015
Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church
Webster, MA by Fr. Luke Veronis

Re-posted here with permission. I love Fr. Luke’s distinctions of the various kinds of doubt.

thomas-sunday-largeChristos Anesti! Christ is Risen! As Orthodox Christians, we not only proclaim this fact, but emphasize that Christ’s Resurrection is the very cornerstone of Christianity. Our faith isn’t first and foremost about “Do’s and Don’ts,” about some moralistic standards. No, our faith is first and foremost about Christ victoriously rising from the dead, and destroying death itself! We’re talking about the ultimate victory of good over evil, of life over death, of Christ over Satan.

St. Paul put it most bluntly, when he states that if the resurrection isn’t true, then our faith is meaningless. If the resurrection is a fairy tale, then we Christians are the greatest fools of all, because we believe in a lie. If Christ is not risen, then we are all dead in our sins. The Apostle Paul goes on to say, if Christ is not risen, then instead of trying to live a disciplined, Christ-centered life of love, we should just eat, drink and be happy.  Just enjoy the moment and the day, for there is nothing after death! Continue reading

Almost Holy Week…

A beautiful summary of the martyrs desire to die with Christ and the unbelievable fact that they do so out of giddy desire, not out of dour duty. Also, a wonderful summary of patristic wisdom on the subject. Enjoy!

Trinity Newton Homilies

Sermon for Sunday, March 22, 2015
Lent 5B 

              Mosaic Christ Crucified, 12 Century

I think we all know what’s coming. I think we know what Jesus means when he says in today’s Gospel lesson, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” I think we know, too, what the author of the letter to the Hebrews means when he says that Jesus is a high priest who “suffered” and was “made perfect.”   I think we all know that next Sunday is Palm Sunday and the week following is Holy Week. I think we all know what’s coming; we all know that Jesus’ Passion and death are just around the corner.

If I’m not mistaken, there seems to be a certain giddiness in today’s readings.   Notice, for example, the triumphant tone in the letter to the Hebrews: Jesus has “been…

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Joy in Secret Places

December 25/January 7, 2014
Nativity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God in the Flesh
A.K.A. Old School Christmas

Matthew 2:1-12

Several years ago for seminary, I composed the following sermon for a class on the exegesis of the Gospel of St. Matthew. I share it here with all in honor of the Old Style celebration of Christmas. Stay tuned also for an announcement of our Best of the Best in 2014. Happy Christmas to all and blessed and Happy New Year! Continue reading

Having That One Back Again

831987Sounding at least one last note of repentance for this beloved season of Advent before we ramp up to the festivities of Christmas. My boss has done it again with this sermon from a few weeks ago. He did not directly intend this resonance, but I had a phrase from the confession at Anglican Morning Prayer drumming through my head the entire time:

CONFESSION

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

It seems like this phrase from sports is a wonderful and contemporary rephrasing of an old idea of “leaving undone those things we ought to have done.” May this nostalgia for righteousness inspire our upcoming celebrations of the Lord’s birth in our frail human flesh.

Trinity Newton Homilies

Sermon for Sunday, December 7, 2014
Advent 2B
Isaiah 40:1-11

“I’d love to have that one back again.”  Serious sports fans who watch the post-game interviews will have heard the phrase.  Pitchers who let a pitch hang too long so that it was hit for a game-winning home run will say it:  “I wish I could have that one back again.”  Quarterbacks who under-throw the ball and have it intercepted on the final, losing drive of the game will say it:  “I’d love to have that one back again.”  Golfers who miss an easy putt that costs them the tournament will say it, too:  “I wish I could have that one back again.”

I bet all of us have had times in our life when we would love “to have that one back again.”  Maybe it was something we said or something we did.  And even though we said it…

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Healing the Trauma of Sin

Love this post about the importance of healing from the trauma of sin written by my boss. It is a very Orthodox reflection emphasizing sin’s destructiveness to God’s likeness within us; how it isn’t just about disobeying the rules. Very good for Lent!

Trinity Newton Homilies

Sermon for Sunday, March 9, 2014; First Sunday in Lent
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7Romans 5:12-19Matthew 4:1-11Psalm 32
Listen here online:

This morning I’m not going to talk so much about sin as I am going to talk about talking about sin.   So often, sin is something we don’t talk about – at least not much – which is a loss because the “grammar” and “vocabulary” surrounding sin contain great capacity for healing.

But I don’t want to begin there.  First, I want to go back to November 11, last Veterans’ Day.  Last Veterans’ Day, NPR told the stories of several different veterans from several different wars.  Though all the stories moved me, the one that touched me most was the story of Coast Guard veteran Joe Williams, who was part of “Operation Tiger,” a dress rehearsal off the coast of England for the Normandy…

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