In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ. Glory Forever. For those who came to vigil yesterday evening, we heard for the first time what might be called the theme song of Great Lent. If you were not there to hear it, perhaps the choir might sing it during communion. Today marks the opening of the book of the Lenten Triodion, which literally means the book of the three odes. It’s theme song also speaks of an opening:
Open to me the doors of repentance, O Life-giver, For my spirit rises early to pray towards thy holy temple. Bearing the temple of my body all defiled; But in Thy compassion, purify me by the loving kindness of Thy mercy.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Beloved in the Lord, This sermon was not an easy one for me to write this week. This always happens to me as we approach the Doors of Repentance, Holy and Great Lent. I am filled with so many lofty ideas about what it would take to fix the world, but that isn’t the point, is it? Lent is an invitation to fix what’s inside of me, and I don’t know about you, but I would far rather be doing something else. But this morning’s Gospel insists that our hearts can be found wherever we find the things we most desire or treasure. And when those desires are fixed on worldly things and not on eternity, our hearts will be restless until they find their rest in God. Continue reading →
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Beloved in the Lord, “One Lord, one faith, and one Baptism,” has led us all to the, “… unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,” as it says in this morning’s epistle proscribed for the Sunday after Theophany, the Feast of Our Lord’s Baptism which we celebrated last Friday. Look around yourself this morning to behold the evidence of this unexpected unity. Because of Our Lord’s Baptism, He sanctifies human nature and makes possible a community of people from so many unexpected places. As St. Paul says in his first epistle to the Corinthians, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (I Cor. 1:26-29) Which of these despised categories did we once belong before Baptism, separate from one another by the caste system of worldliness, and now look and behold, “How good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity.” (Psalm 133:1) Continue reading →
Heard the Hymn of Cassiani last night in church and today on a wonderful youtube mix. What a profound expression of repentance and grace. May he who rose from the dead, Christ our True God, grant us the same grace, mercy, and forgiveness as we near the day of his most glorious resurrection from the dead:
Monday, November 15/28, 2016
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church
It has been a New Year’s resolution of my oldest daughter since she saw her first show three years ago: To act and sing in a production of New Life Fine Arts out of Concord, MA. What she saw in Ebezener Scrooge: A Christmas Carol sparked her imagination while deepening her understanding of this literary character’s repentance. Now that three of us have been blessed to be chosen as cast members in this year’s production, it has allowed us an even more intimate acquaintance with NLFA’s uniquely spiritual approach to musical theatre. Continue reading →
In 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 →
Sounding 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:
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.
“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…
On this Clean Tuesday of the first week of Great & Holy Lent, I would like to share with you three things that have helped me in the work of repentance. The first two are quotes from my favorite writers, both of which make me choke up whenever I remember them. The last is a sermon I delivered a few years back on the liturgical anniversary of this day. It speaks mostly of the Canon of St. Andrew which the Church gives us as an aid for compunction. Continue reading →