Sermon for Sunday, February 19, 2023 || Last Epiphany A || Matthew 17:1-9
Imagine with me the disciple Peter near the end of his life, reflecting back on that surprising journey up the mountain that we just heard in today’s Gospel reading. He’s speaking to a group of young followers of Jesus, who have just asked him to recall something about his days with Jesus and the other disciples.
Jesus knew I wasn’t a big fan of hiking. We walked everywhere, so why would I want to walk during my free time, too? I suppose that’s what growing up around boats does for you. Not a lot of places to walk around on a small fishing boat, and that’s just fine with me. But Jesus – Jesus loved to walk. He told me once he loved to walk because his mother walked all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem while he was still in her womb. And when he went hiking, he thought of her. But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today. How you all let me wander.
Jesus convinced me to go on a hike once with him, James, and John. They were fishermen too, but they liked hiking more than I did. I agreed because I never wanted to be too far from Jesus, no matter what we did. Less than a week earlier, he had told us what was going to happen to him, and I was dead set against letting anyone hurt him. So I went along as more of a bodyguard than a willing participant. Well, Jesus had quite the hike in mind. This wasn’t just a stroll by the seashore. We went straight up a mountain. My knees were killing me by the time we reached the top. The view was nice, but not worth the effort. And my knees still had to make it down again.
Continue reading “The Vision” →
Christmas Pageant 2022
This is the text of the Christmas Pageant I wrote for this year, which was performed by the children at the 10am service at St. Mark’s on December 18th.
Continue reading “A New Song” →
Sermon for Sunday, December 11, 2022 || Advent 4A || Matthew 1:18-25
Imagine with me a letter written by Joseph to his father on the night Joseph had the dream of the angel that today’s Gospel reading narrated.
Joseph, eldest son and protégé, to Jacob, my father, mentor, and confidant: Blessings and peace to you, my mother, and my brothers and sisters.
By the time you read this letter, I will have left home. I awoke in the still hours of the night to write it, and I imagine that when I leave, the sun will be many hours from rising. I hope someday you will welcome me back into this house. I know it will not be tomorrow or the next day. But someday, I hope.
Continue reading “Joseph’s Letter” →
Sermon for Sunday, February 6, 2022 || Epiphany 5C || Luke 5:1-11
Imagine with me the Apostle Peter, who is in Rome near the end of his life, thinking back on that day when he met Jesus by the lake of Gennesaret.
“He sounds like my kind of fellow,” I remember saying to a traveler at my stall, just days before I met Jesus in the flesh. The traveler was gossiping with the rest of my customers about the goings-on in his hometown of Nazareth. According to him, an angry mob nearly threw Jesus off a cliff for something he said in the synagogue. That was the first thing I heard about him. Like I said, my kind of fellow.
Continue reading “Catching People” →
Sermon for Sunday, January 17, 2021 || Epiphany 2B || John 1:43-51
Imagine with me the memories of the disciple Nathanael, thinking back to that fateful day when Philip invited him into Jesus’ circle.
This is a story about seeing. But first I need to tell you about my best friend Philip. Philip was always the one who was quick to believe. Every few months he would come to me way too excited about a new guru he had heard about or a get-rich-quick scheme or an investment opportunity. He always gave me the hard sell: You don’t know what you’re missing! How much money do you have! We can pool ours together and buy a full share! This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal! Well, Philip’s deals were more like once-in-a-fortnight deals, considering how often he fell for them.
Continue reading “I Saw You” →
Sermon for Sunday, April 19, 2020 || Easter 2A || John 20:19-31
Imagine with me the Apostle Peter, who is in Rome near the end of his life, talking to a friend about the day when Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples in the locked house.
I wish I could tell you that seeing the empty tomb was enough. I went inside the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there and the cloth that had covered his face folded up in a corner. Thinking back now, surely grave robbers wouldn’t’ve folded his burial garments while stealing his body. But in the semi-darkness of that early morning, I wasn’t thinking rationally. I wasn’t thinking at all. I was numb on the outside. I couldn’t see the sliver of hope the empty tomb brought.
Continue reading “Breathing on Statues (updated)” →
Sermon for Sunday, November 17, 2019 || Proper 28C || Luke 21:5-19
Imagine with me the words of the Apostle Peter, spoken to his young cellmate on the eve of Peter’s death in the city of Rome around the year 64 A.D.
I heard about the great fire that swept through Rome, and I knew immediately that the authorities would blame us Christians. That’s why I came here – to support the community I knew would face persecution. And now here I am, arrested for arson – this is my fourth arrest, by the way – and I wasn’t even here at the time of the blaze. But facts don’t matter to those in power. Only keeping their power matters to them.
Continue reading “I Will Give You Words” →
Sermon for Sunday, February 17, 2019 || Epiphany 6C || Luke 6:17-26
Imagine with me an entry from the journal of Caleb of Jerusalem, a fictional bystander in today’s Gospel story.
The pen shakes in my hand as I begin to write. The hairs on the back of my neck are still standing up. My heart is still pounding in my chest. Today I was healed. I was healed and I didn’t even know I was sick.
This is what happened. I was returning to Jerusalem from a business trip in Sepphoris. I recently purchased a new quarry in that region, and I needed to oversee operations for a few days. My business is booming even though I only have one customer—the Romans procure my stone like the land might run out it tomorrow.
I was returning to Jerusalem from Sepphoris when my caravan got caught up in a huge crowd of people. I lashed out with my whip trying to clear a path, but to no avail. So I stopped fighting the current of people and turned my mount eastward with the flow. The crowd was making for a smaller group of people picking their way down the mountainside. My curiosity whetted, I spurred my mount toward them. One man seemed to be getting the most attention as the mass of people pressed in. He moved through the crowd touching them one by one.
Continue reading “Curses and Blessings” →
Sermon for Sunday, September 16, 2018 || Proper 19B || Mark 8:27-38
Imagine with me today’s Gospel story as told me the perspective of the disciple Peter.
The coals in the cooking fire still smolder hours after the last log is cast on them. I awake in the pre-dawn chill and warm my fingers over the scant heat. Mine is the night’s last watch, and I mutter to myself about the pointlessness of posting a sentry. But our resident Zealot, the other Simon, has convinced the others about the need for vigilance. The foggy, half-light of dawn creeps through our camp, and I see movement coming through the scrub from the foothills. I’m about to wake the Zealot when I hear the tune of a psalm carried on the breeze, and then Jesus himself steps out of the mist. Under one arm, he has a load of sticks and twigs. Blowing gently on the embers, he rekindles the fire and sits down next to me. Continue reading “The True Messiah” →
Sermon for Sunday, March 18, 2018 || Lent 5B || John 12:20-33
Imagine with me the thoughts of Jesus that might have been swirling around in his head during the day of the Gospel passage I just read.
It finally happened. Word of our little movement has reached past the confines of our stomping grounds, past Jerusalem, past Galilee. Philip and Andrew brought some people from Greece to see me. From Greece! Imagine that. I did not set out to become a household name; my name is so common that you’d have to ask which Jesus someone was talking about. But our mission, our movement – that is less common. To be honest, I thought the movement had died last year after so many left me. They were looking for more miraculous signs, sure; but still, I pushed too hard. You’ll never know how it feels to have so much power at your fingertips, to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could compel people to stay if I so desired.
But above all else, I want people to be free, not to trade one empire for another. I yearn for everyone to choose the light, to walk in the light, for that is where Truth lives. And the truth will make you free.1 Continue reading “My Soul is Troubled” →