This weekend, I preached at the Celebration of New Ministry for a friend and colleague instead of preaching at St. Mark’s. Here is the sermon I offered at the service on Saturday.
I’m so glad to be back at St. Ann’s worshiping with you today. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Adam Thomas. I’m the pastor of St. Mark’s Church in Mystic, and I was the priest-in-charge consultant here at St. Ann’s while you all were discerning the evolving nature of the parish’s relationship with the Rev. Anita Schell. That process began way back in pre-pandemic days of 2019 and continued doggedly through the scary and interminable months of the worst of the pandemic. And now here we are – four years on from Anita’s arrival – celebrating a new ministry.
If that sounds strange to you – celebrating a new ministry after the priest has been here longer than many priest-parish relationships last in the first place – if that sounds strange to you, then believe me, I’m right there with you. I had to puzzle out what I thought about it in order to write this sermon. And what I realized is that today we have the opportunity to celebrate two seemingly opposite realities, that, in the end, are both ways that we encounter God’s movement in this world. Our God is a both/and kind of God, and today we celebrate a both/and reality here at St. Ann’s.
Continue reading “New Ministry” →
Sermon for Sunday, September 26, 2021 || Proper 21B || Mark 9:38-50
I’m a lot like Harry Potter. Not magically, unfortunately. And I’m taller than him. And I’m not British, also unfortunate. But, but, but in one very important way, Harry Potter and I are the same. We both had to learn to accept the help of a loving community. If I look for a through line across the seven Harry Potter novels it is this. Harry tries to do everything alone because he doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt. He truly loves his friends. But his love for them keeps him from letting them be full members of the mission to take down Voldemort. Only when Harry finally lets his friends share fully in his mission do they stand a chance of succeeding. His love for them changes from a protective kind of love to a partnership kind of love. And they are all stronger when they work together.
Continue reading “Be-Loved” →
Sermon for Sunday, April 25, 2021 || Easter 4B || John 10:11-18
On Monday morning last week, the buds on the maple tree in front of my house appeared. They weren’t there last Sunday, and then – BOOM – there they were in all their potential glory. I knew they were coming in the vague sense that it was spring and that’s what happens to trees. But I hadn’t spared much thought as to when. And then, suddenly, there they were: skeletal sticks one day, green buds the next, like a quick costume change between scenes of a play.
At least that’s what I saw from my perspective. What about the tree’s perspective? What would we see if we imagined our way into that majestic maple? We would feel the slow return of warmth and sunlight that would get the sap moving again after the near dormant days of winter. We would explore deeper with our roots, seeking nutrients and water. We would spend weeks gathering and converting energy to power all the tiny interactions within our complex body to send forth those little green buds. Over the course of one night, the buds would slowly unfurl from the ends of their little flagpoles.
What looks to me like a spontaneous greening, the maple spent all winter preparing for. What looks to me sudden and surprising was for the maple slow and deliberate. What a difference our perspective makes.
Continue reading “Other Sheep” →
Sermon for Sunday, April 18, 2021 || Easter 3B || Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7
One of the challenges of growing as human beings is expecting perfection when we try something new simply because we are pretty good at something else. I thought I could pick up the violin because I’m a fairly good guitarist. Not so much. We humans do not like doing things we are bad at because our egos get in the way. The older we get, the more solidified becomes the subset of activities that we think we are good enough to engage in. Does that resonate with you? I can still play soccer because I’ve been playing it since I was a kid. But don’t expect me to pick up lacrosse any time soon. I don’t want to feel foolish when the ball stubbornly fails to stay in the little net for the hundredth time.
All right. So why am I talking about this? The innocuous music and sports examples are one thing. But we need to grow in so many ways so we don’t become static and stagnant – ways that we naturally resist because growth takes energy and focus. We need to keep growing in kindness and compassion so we outgrow selfishness and callousness. We need to keep growing in the desire to be of service to others while also understanding our own healthy boundaries and limits. We need to keep growing in all facets of our identity – as spouses, family members, friends, neighbors, citizens, and followers of Jesus.
Continue reading “What We Will Be” →