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Mother’s Day 2017

Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, near here in Chinatown on Pacific Avenue, I was a latchkey kid. This meant I went straight home after school and stayed there until Mom came home from work. This also meant I spent time watching a lot of TV. Not surprisingly, my understanding of American (i.e., Caucasian)

Easter Sunday 2017

One of the things that endeared me to my husband Don, when we first started dating over 25 years ago, was that he loved to read newspapers and cut out articles to share. I thought I was the only weird one who did that—at least among my circle of family and friends. You know, in

Shoring our lives with scripture, reason, religious tradition, and wisdom

In my sermon I talked about how Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, which withstood a great earthquake in 1923. I explained how the foundation of our lives need to be as agile and strong, as we shore ourselves up with scripture, reason, religious tradition, wisdom gained from personal experience, and prayer.

Good News/Bad News in the Beatitudes

Audio recording by Ryoko Kobayashi from Reverend Debbie Low’s sermon on January 29, 2017.


 The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! When I looked at the readings for today, what popped out of both the Gospel and the reading from Acts was the word: Witness. In both cases, the importance of being witnesses was brought forward. It is named as a function: You are to be witnesses,

Receive the Holy Spirit and Forgive

4-12-15 Second Sunday of Easter The Lord is Risen! The Lord is risen indeed! This is a very confusing time, in our readings, and in our own day. Thomas is a good reminder of that. I love Thomas. A lot of people look down on Thomas, and they use this story to say, “you are

The Story

The Mystery of Easter In the beginning, the baby was born. God chose Mary to be the Mother of God. The Word was born a wordless child. Mother Mary and Father Joseph held the baby close. The kept the baby warm. They gave the baby everything the baby needed to grow. The baby grew and

Palm Sunday and the Reign of God

  Here it is, Palm Sunday We bless palms, we wave them around, and then we hear the terrible story that is the center of the Christian faith. Jesus, the chosen one, the saving one, Jesus was tortured and killed. How do we make sense of this? Here is the simple answer: We don’t. Palm

Written on the Heart

  I was reading some Kenneth Bailey, the Biblical interpreter that I like so very much, and he used a wonderful saying that shows immediately how important the context, that is, the social environment is. The saying is this: I’m mad about my flat. What does it mean? In one context, it means I’m angry

This is the Judgment

I have to start out by saying that when read these lessons, I wanted to scream. Well no, what I really wanted to do was to throw things. These lessons drive me crazy! I don’t want to preach on these lessons! I don’t like these lessons! Why do I have to preach on these lessons?

God’s Provision

  This is a set of lessons that invite us to look at the concept of God’s provision. So I invite you to think about where God has provided for you. Where have things come together, where has someone loved you, where have things turned out, and perhaps even now you can look back and

A Holy Lent

 Lent 1 The greatest hindrance to growing in our understanding of life, faith, Jesus, the World and the World to come is our present understanding of life, faith, Jesus, the World and the World to come. It’s hard to learn what we think we already know. And that may be our greatest problem: We don’t

Got Transfiguration?

Last Sunday of Epiphany and Scout Sunday So this morning we have two rather spooky stories. The first one comes to us from the Hebrew Scriptures, and it is the story of Elisha and Elijah. Elijah knows he is going to die, today – and Elisha also knows this is going to happen. They are

Got Transfiguration?

Last Sunday of Epiphany and Scout Sunday So this morning we have two rather spooky stories. The first one comes to us from the Hebrew Scriptures, and it is the story of Elisha and Elijah. Elijah knows he is going to die, today – and Elisha also knows this is going to happen. They are

The Kingdom of God has come near you

  We are now in the Gospel of Mark. Our calendar is broken up into a three year cycle, so if you look at the funny little calendar we have that tells us which day should have which color, it also tells us which readings we have for the day, and those readings are coded

Come and See!

  The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. What do you think? Does that not sound like today? Are we used to hearing prophets stand up and say “The Word of the Lord!” and have people take them seriously enough to want to harm them? I’m afraid now

Into what were you baptized?

        Read Genesis 1:1-5, Acts 19:1-7, Mark 1:4-11 ( Into what were you baptized (see the Acts passage)? What kind of a question is this? First we have to ask this: What does baptism mean? When we look at these passages, we need first to get some background. The obvious focus for the second two

Incarnation – the Reason for the Season

  The prophet Zechariah reminds us (Zech 4:10), we should not “despise the day of small things,” because God does some of his best work with small beginnings and impossible situations. There are a lot of people we consider “heroes” in the Bible, but when we go back and really look at these folks, we

I’ll Ride With You

Sometimes people ask me how long it takes to write a sermon. I start by looking at the lessons early in the week, sometimes the week before. Then, those lessons sit in the back of my mind, waiting for something to grab onto. Many times, Sue and I talk through what seems relevant. The first

Listen to God

  Look at our lessons, the one from the Hebrew Scriptures (2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16), and the one from the Gospels (Luke 1: 26-38). In both of them, people who had reasonable expectations of what they should do next are totally astonished by God coming forward front and center and saying “no!” you will do

The Highway of our God

Here are the first words of Mark’s Gospel, chapter 1, verse 1: The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the

Advent 1

Advent 1, Nov 30, Thanksgiving Weekend, 2014 This morning I want to start off with having us look carefully at the Collect for the Day: Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your

Good Goats

The sheep and the goats. The great judgment day. This set of passages has been used with great effect over the centuries. It is a way of frightening people into supposed salvation. It drives me crazy! It starts out with the premise that there will be a time, we do not know exactly when, but

Unimaginable Talent

Our gospel today puts the parable of the talents out here for us to look at. I don’t know about you, but on the face of it, I don’t like this parable. I particularly don’t like the ending, which seems unjust. So I went looking in my favorite commentator, Kenneth Bailey, to see what he

Where is Your Attention?

  The underlying theme for today is “pay attention!” We have two good stories, one about Joshua challenging the people of Israel to choose life, and the other is Jesus, the second Joshua, telling people that if they want to choose life, they need to prepare for it. So looking at the first story, Joshua

To Be Blessed on All Saints

All Saints 2014 In the last two or three days, folks have celebrated Hallowe’en, All Saints’ Day, La Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, and maybe All Souls’ Day. These holidays all grapple with death; they provide us with various opportunities to examine our own responses to death; the death of others

Be the Mirror

Moses dies – he gets to see the land God has promised to the people, but does not enter it, and neither does his brother Aaron. Why? They disobeyed a direct order from God. In the Hebrew Scriptures, from the Book of Numbers, Chapter 20, we read: In the first month all the people of

Action Counts!

So the thought of the day is this: action counts. Starting with the gospel lesson, we have a situation that would have been unthinkable – but that is precisely the kind of situation that Jesus loves to set up. There is a wedding, the son of a king. This was a big deal, and being

Power and Authority

As I read and re-read this Gospel passage, the word that pops for me is authority, which is a word which is related to power. One way of looking at authority is to do a power analysis, looking at who has the power. One of the things Jesus does over and over is to change

Not Fair!!

I want to start with the Gospel lesson this morning, and then go back to Moses and the Israelites. Jesus gives them a story that is hard to stomach. There is this wealthy man, and he goes out to the place where the day laborers wait for work, and he hires a bunch to come

Forgive – Again?

Our annual clergy retreat is one of the ways in which our diocesan community ensures that clergy remain faithful and fresh on our Christian journeys, so that we can be good companions to you on yours. This past week, almost 130 priests and deacons from the Diocese of California gathered at the Bishop’s Ranch to

No Walls?

There has been much angst expressed on FB about our lessons for today! First we have the Hebrew Scriptures giving the synopsis of the Passover meal, where it comes from and what it entails and why it is so important. Then the conclusion of the theological treatise of Romans, Paul’s crowning accomplishment in writing, which

Radical Hospitality

I want us to look carefully at the Romans passage. If you have been listening to or reading my sermons for any length of time, you know that normally I focus on the Gospel reading. But what struck me this week was this: Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what

Holding the Light

  This has been a hard week. It started out for me with seeing the picture of the Cathedral in Nagasaki that was destroyed, full of people, and reading that the picture was important because the remains of the Cathedral had quickly been removed and replaced. But people do remember. And it was terribly wrong

Watching the Weather

Our Hebrew Scripture reading starts off: This is the story of the family of Jacob. So first, a language lesson: have you ever wondered why St. James is Santiago in Spanish? I did, so I started looking. If you pull “Santiago” apart, you get “Sant,” which is the “Saint” part, and “Iago.” In linguistics, we

Blessed and Broken

I want us to listen carefully to the prayer appointed for this morning: Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness. Cleanse and defend us, because we cannot continue in safety without your help,

Gaza, the Warsaw Ghetto, and Tim’s Cafe

Once upon a time there was a country named Poland, and a lot of people lived there. Some of them were Christians and some of them were Jewish, and they mostly got along, and mostly just ignored each other. Then things changed, and the Christians that were in charge decided that Jews were responsible for

God Don’t Hate the Muslims

  I read, all the time. I read books, I read articles, I have been reading rather incessantly since I was about 5 years old. We all get our information one way or another. I get a lot of mine from reading. Another reason for my reading is inspiration. One of the things I read

Receive the Holy Spirit

  There are a whole variety of readings one can pick for today. You may or may not know that each week we have the readings for each particular Sunday laid out for us in a document called the Lectionary. Lection means reading, like “lector” means reader. It comes from the Latin, lectio. Lectio Divina

Looking up, for what?

  When we read the story in Acts about Jesus leaving the apostles for the last time, there are some interesting details. One is that he left them physically. Another is that this copies another prophet’s leaving, the prophet who people have referenced Jesus to a lot – Elijah, who is often referred to as

We are all one

  In today’s gospel, we hear a small piece of the sections where Jesus talks in circles about everything being one. When I first encountered this kind of speech, I basically rolled my eyes. I don’t remember hearing much of this part of the Gospel of John growing up, so it was not really until

I AM The Way

This first part of this gospel reading, the first four sentences, is one that I choose often for funerals. In the prayer book, there are several suggestions for funerals, and this is probably my favorite. The next part of the reading used to just drive me crazy, because it has been and is still used

Accepting Forgiveness

One of the reasons we have such a long “Season OF Easter” is that there is too much to grasp in the story of Easter on just one Sunday. It is a huge story, and it is the defining story for us as Christians. In our Gospel reading today we have one of the pieces

Thomas Gets the Holy Spirit – Do We?

This Sunday is usually called “Doubting Thomas” Sunday, because of our Gospel reading. Good old Thomas! He is called faithless, because he wants to see things for himself.

Extreme New Life

In South Africa during the time of apartheid when the black community was really beginning to revolt, there was a black man who was a double agent, he was working for the white government. He insinuated himself into a group of seven young black men who wanted to fight against the government, and he taught

Take Time

Palm Sunday is a very strange day. We start out in a joyful mood. Jesus is riding into Jerusalem, and everyone is singing and dancing and happy that the Messiah has come. Surely now everything will change.

Blind Man

This story about the blind man and Jesus is just classic. It would be a comedy, except it is so painful. Why do I say that? Well, let’s look at what happens: There is this blind man, and not just any old blind man, this guy has been blind since birth. That makes him “really”

The Thirsty Woman

This morning’s long gospel reading is about the woman at the well. It is a fascinating story, so let’s look at it very closely. Here are some of the elements to pay attention to: Jesus came to a Samaritan city, Jacob’s well was there, It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water.

Abram went

  How is your Lent going so far? Are you finding yourself blessed, or harried? Joyful, or overwhelmed?When I look at the lessons for today, there are so many wonderful gifts for us there. There are questions for us to ponder, questions about what our orientation is, what is important, and not. First we read

But I say, love your enemies

  Let’s go over the lessons, and see what they say: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. This is important and we need to pay attention to it – be holy, God says, as I

Baptism – it’s not fire insurance

1-26-14 So let’s talk about baptism and eventually we’ll get back to the gospel. What is baptism? Well, first, it is a sacrament, which is: an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. We say that, it’s what is in the Prayer Book, but what does that mean? Baptism is one of

Behold, I am doing a new thing

  The Baptism of Jesus is one of the major feasts of the church, it is a “white” day, when we have the special white vestments and hangings out. Remember, “green” is everyday color, the other colors tell us something special is going on, and white is the most special! So what is going on

The Light of the World

  Add something good. Add something good. This was the big message from my tapping mentor for New Year’s Resolution time. Not, I’m going to be better about doing X, or even worse, I’m going to give up Y. No! Add something good to your life! What would that be for you? And what does

The Power of Love

  This whole December I have been looking at this “Jesus as baby” business. As my son Jeremy said, “we know he was not born in winter – the Christians simply appropriated an existing festival.” But then, he went on to say, “at the same time, there is good reason to have a major feast

Stepping into New Space

Today’s story is about genealogy, about right relationships, about fear, about faithfulness, and about naming. Let’s start with the genealogy. When we read Paul’s letter to the Romans, we see him saying that Jesus was born “according to the flesh” in the clan of David, that is, his parentage was from that clan. Back in

Are you the One? Intimacy and Stardust

 Isaiah 35:1-10   Matthew 11:2-11 Stir up your power, O Lord! This is the beginning of our Collect this morning, and remember, the Collect is where we collect our prayers as a group and talk to God. Stir up your power. The people around Jesus knew what it looked like when God had stirred up the

That Cliff Out There

Isaiah 11:1-10 Romans 15:4-13 Matthew 3:1-12   The readings for Advent were set up for looking for the second coming of Christ, not looking back at the first coming. This helps make sense when we might wonder why we are hearing about John the Baptist yelling at everyone to repent, when we think we are

Paying Attention

This is the first Sunday of Advent, the season of preparation before Christmas. Here’s an interesting thought: Christianity does not need Christmas. It needs Easter and Pentecost, but not Christmas. What happens if we look at Advent in the bigger picture of the church year, leading up to Easter, the pinnacle of our faith? So

Whose Perspective?

I have been pondering the terrible storm in the Philippines, and how to think about it. It is a matter of perspective, when we consider bad things, we need to think about the question of, from whose perspective do we consider this? Is it from our perspective? From God’s perspective? If we think about something

It gets better!

  The book of Haggai was written when the people were devastated. Once again, the kingdom of Israel had been overrun. Take courage! The prophet says that God is telling them, from the king on down, to not pay attention to the devastation, but rather to the promise of God. Then comes the clear promise:

A Different Path

  Daniel 7:1-3,15-18, Ephesians 1:11-23, Luke 6:20-31 These are the readings for the Feast of All Saints. For our Gospel lesson today, we have a reading that we usually see in two pieces. The first part we call the Sermon on the Mount, and the second part is the teaching about turning the other cheek

We have done those things

Friday and Saturday of this weekend, Oct 25-26, we had our Diocesan Convention. This is the time when the diocese gathers as a whole to discuss the business of the diocese, to worship together, and to make policy. All of these things interweave back and forth throughout our time together. Gordon Park-Li, Mary Vargas and

Be Persistent!

I want to reflect on the last part of Jeremiah, the story in the Gospel, and the Lord’s Prayer. When we look at what Jeremiah has for us, we find a love-song from God to the people. God says, even though you have broken the covenant, over and over, I am going to remake the

Caring for the alien

  Yesterday I went to a demonstration. This was a demonstration to protest our appalling immigration situation. You probably know all of this, but until I was working at a church that had undocumented immigrants, I was not aware of how totally broken our system is at this point. The people I knew would gladly


This Gospel lesson in Luke (17) is ridiculous. I mean really! The house manager, or steward, has been cooking the books. The owner finds out, or at least he knows that things are fishy, and so tells the guy, tomorrow, there is an audit. The guy knows his time is up – so what does

The Persistent God

Look at the beginning of our Psalm for the day (Psalm 14), where it says: “Fools say in their hearts, there is no God.” When I was reading through the lessons for this morning, that sentence jumped out at me, and I remembered being a freshman in college in a “science class for non-science majors”

The Water of Life

  I want to lift up several pieces this morning for us to consider. First, from the Hebrew Scriptures: My people have committed two crimes: first, they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and dug wells, broken wells that can’t hold water (Jeremiah 2:13) and second from the writer of the letter to

Moral Monday

  Here we are, at the end of summer, the Festival is next week, and we have this very strange Gospel lesson! (Luke 12: 49-56) I have been meditating on it all week, it and the Epistle (Hebrews 11:29-12:2). The Epistle hammers in the concept of faith, and how important faith is in our life.

Can You Hear Me Knocking?

by Fr. Ricardo Avila, 8-11-13 Heb. 11:1-3, 8-16; Luke 12:32-40 I’d like to speak to you this morning about faith. And I hope I can speak to you from my heart, with as much honesty as possible. But I have to say right from the start: faith is messy and hard to talk about. Because

Not so random acts of kindness

Luke 12:13-21, Colossians 3:1-11 So! What’s going on with this story in the gospel? It is only found in Luke and in the Gospel of Thomas. Jesus tells a story after a man wants him to act as judge. Now that is one of the things a resident rabbi does, act as judge for the

Give us today our daily bread

Read Luke 11 – Common English Bible The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that has been in our prayer book since the beginning. We know there is an “old” version, and a “newer” version. We may even have seen the New Zealand version. But let us go back to the original in the Gospel. What


Our Gospel reading for today is a very short passage in Luke about Mary and Martha when Jesus comes to visit their house. As usual, I went and looked to see what Kenneth Bailey (Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes) had to say about this situation. He is very clear on several accounts. First, during the

The Good Samaritan – Our Plumb Line

  What if the Good Samaritan is the plumb line? That’s the punch line for today’s sermon, so we’ll just start with it. When we look at the story of Amos, it’s rather interesting. He comes in to the king’s town, makes prophetic statements that are not supportive of the king. It is immediately reported

O My Enemy! O My Love!

  Elijah, Jezebel and Ahab Jesus, the sinful woman, and Simon We have two stories here that both have “the great prophet,” a sinful woman, and a powerful man. That’s about all they have in common, at first glance. So let’s unpack these stories. Elijah is the great prophet. In the OT, when someone would

Who Holds Authority?

  Two powerful stories, stories about authority. In our first story, Elijah, the prophet, has been a thorn in the king’s side, and is outright hated by the queen. That would be Queen Jezebel. She seems to have had more power than her husband, she makes things happen. Not good things, mind you, but she

One, Holy and Undivided – Trinity of Love

  OK, so I have had a terrible time writing this sermon. Why? Because this is the Feast of the Trinity. This is the day we celebrate a doctrine, the only day in the Sunday calendar that we do that. It’s a very important doctrine, the one that essentially defines us as a distinct religion,

The Importance of an Apostrophe

  The message this morning is profound and rather simple. It has to do with an apostrophe. Here is the sentence: We are God’s. If you say it out loud, it is not clear whether you are saying “We are God’s” or “We are gods.” In the Hebrew Scriptures, we heard about the story of

Singing God’s Praises

Our story in the Acts of the Apostles this morning is a real “story.” Paul and friends have shown up in a Greek-speaking city. Paul, being well educated, spoke Greek fluently, as did anyone who was either educated or a merchant. A young slave woman who is psychic recognizes them for who they are, and

The Conversion of Peter

  This vision that Peter has – Peter, not Paul – is one of the most important passages in the New Testament. Why do I say that? Because it opens the door to the outside world. It is a very long story, starting before what we read today, and it goes into great detail. The

I will, with God’s help

Sitting before us today in stark contrast is baptism and Boston. That is to say, life and death. They are both about life and death. One of the things that I have heard over and over from Boston is about the people who ran towards the terror to help. Never mind what had happened or

Conversion: Peter or Paul?

In our first lesson for the day (Acts 9:1-20), we read about Paul’s encounter with the risen Lord and his response, and in the Gospel of John (21:1-19), we read a little about Peter’s response. In this one Sunday, we see the breadth of options and possibilities, and it is the very breadth of experience


Easter is a Paradox On March 27, 2013, Brother Curtis Almquist of the Society of St John the Evangelist posted this:   There is something about our suffering in life – what we would not have chosen but cannot avoid – when we say “yes” to God, when we show ourselves ready to bear our suffering

Palm Sunday – keep hold of the rope!

Palm Sunday What a roller coaster of a ride we go through in the readings today! It is just like life, don’t you think? One minute we are happy, the next minute something terrible happens. So here is the first big question for the day: What is your response to all of this? Another way

A man had two sons . . .

2 Cor 5:17-20 says: “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,

No Orphans!

In one of his latest posts, Bishop Charleston says: “In God’s house, there are no orphans.” He goes on, and then says again, “No orphans!” In writing to the Philippians, Paul says, “our citizenship is in heaven.” Why is this so important? What is it about citizenship, a national type of “parent” and parents, that

Lent – A Different Approach

If you have been around me any length of time, you probably know that I hold the practice of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in high regard. I try to use it in many places in my life, and encourage others to do the same. What makes AI different? It always looks and listens for the positive


Bible readings for today:  Exodus 34:29-35 &  Luke 9:28-36 On the last day that we celebrate the Epiphany, we use the lessons about the Transfiguration. I know these lessons well, because I was ordained on the Feast of the Transfiguration – thanks to the sense of humor that the bishop’s secretary had back in the early days of

Remember the Love

We just gave thanks for the new altar that graces our space, and then we read the very famous 1 Cor 13 passage on love. Reflecting on what I would say this morning, what came to me is simply this: It’s all about love. We have a new altar because of love, because of a

The Spirit of the Lord is upon us

Texts for this sermon: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, Luke 4:14-21 The people of God gathered to hear the word of the Lord. In our first reading, we hear that Ezra brought out the book of the law and when he opened the book, all of the people stood up, just

Water into wine? What’s your gift?

In John 2:1-11, Jesus and his friends are invited to a wedding in the neighborhood, his mother was friends with the mother of the groom, and they run out of wine. Unthinkable! This is a major social faux pas, and the mother of the groom is ready to kill her husband for not buying enough

Baptism, Take 2

Each year we celebrate the baptism of Jesus some time during the beginning of the new year. It is one of the traditional times for us to have baptism in the church, along with the Easter Vigil, Pentecost, All Saints, and whenever the bishop comes. Clearly, the baptism of Jesus is important, but why? Let

Christmas, Part II, The Word, Embodied

12-30-12 In the beginning was the Word. These very famous words start off the Gospel of John, and they are always read as one of the Christmas lessons, often on the 1st Sunday of Christmas. So what is going on here? We remember the last time we heard the words “In the beginning…” That was

Choose to Be the Light

What is a myth? A myth is a type of story that is meant to convey certain truths, not factual evidence. The Christmas story is a wonderful myth – but it is not magical. Like any great myth it tells a story that is both full of wonder and conveys certain truths which may shape

Recognizing our power and our powerlessness

There are many images this week: From the Collect – stir up your power, stir up your people, O Lord! From the Gospel – you brood of vipers! From the Epistle – praise always. And from the TV, last week, a whole warehouse of people burned to death because the owners locked the emergency exits,

The Great Story of Advent

Today we take a good look at the other people involved in the Advent timetable. We always think about Mary, of course, but there are other important people in this tableau. There are Zachariah and Elizabeth, and Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin, an old woman, and not just old, but barren. It would have been quite

The Beginning of Advent

This morning is the beginning of Advent, the beginning of the Church year, a time for new beginnings. There is much change in our world. We can be frightened or excited by this change, but an important part of beginnings is that there is waiting involved. Change generally does not just happen all at once.

The Kingship of Christ

Today is Christ the King Sunday, also called the Last Sunday after Pentecost. Next week is the first Sunday of Advent. So today is a pivotal point in time. The season after Pentecost is the time when the readings focus on the life of the church, which includes us. The other half of the year

Are We Prepared For the End?

Two of our readings this morning stare us straight in the face with the message that the world is going to end, and we had best be ready. This kind of literature is called apocalyptic literature, and there is some of it in the Bible, and a lot of it in popular culture. Phyllis Tickle

Following God in a True Way

There are two stories here that the Prayer Book puts together and it makes a lot of sense. We have two widows, who are lifted up as the example of what it means to follow God in a true way. In case we don’t get it, Jesus points out what it means to act like

Learning From Those Who Have Gone Before

All Saints Day is one of the great feasts of the Church, like Christmas and Easter and Pentecost. Just like you know that where there is a group of Japanese people you will find Obon Festival, in all of the traditional Christian churches you will find All Saints, which includes Halloween, by the way. All

Who is Jesus, and why was he different?

I want to draw our attention to the passage from Hebrews this morning. You may remember that last week I said that this “letter” is a piece of theology, probably written by a woman, definitely not by St Paul. It was written to help people understand “about” Jesus, who and what he was, and why

Why is it that the rich will not come into God’s kingdom?

This morning’s lessons are hard for us. Amos thunders on about how the rich abuse the poor, and how God’s response to that is pretty graphic: “you will build houses but not live in them; you will plant vineyards but not eat from them.” The vineyards give us a clue – it takes 3 years

Do we pray expecting results?

Here’s what we have for today in short form: Moses is exhausted, he cannot meet the needs of the people. So he goes to God and tells God to just kill him now, he can’t keep going. God says gather the elders, so Moses does – and interesting, he “registers” them as elders, sounds like

The lesson of burying pain instead of confronting it

I heard an interesting story the other day. There was a traveler who came to a village to do some business, and as it was late, he found a place to spend the night. After he had gone to bed, he heard a strange soft shuffling noise. It kept up, so he decided to get

Facing Fear

The theme that popped up for me from this morning’s readings was fear. Fear is such a big demon. It sucks up everything it can to make it seem even bigger, like the unnamed spirit in Spirited Away, a wonderful movie if you don’t know it, that eats anything and everything, and everyone, for that

Doing. And, Believing.

[pullquoteright]“Be doers of the word!”[/pullquoteright]When I was beginning to engage in theological debate at the dinner table, which happened when I was a teenager, these words were guaranteed to get someone going. The classic response was: “justification by faith alone!” As a young person, I simply could not see what the problem was. I still

The Lord calls us to a life of love and joy

Aug 27 is the feast day for Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle. These men are responsible for bringing the good news of God to the deaf people of this country. It was not that long ago that people thought that deaf people were retarded, because they could not communicate well with hearing people. Because

Looking at the Eucharist

There are times when the preacher looks at the lessons in the lectionary, and then looks at them again, and then for a third time, and says out loud, “What am I going to preach on??” This would be one of those Sundays. So I want to take a few minutes to explain what a

Jesus is the bread of life

Jesus says: I am the bread of life. Paul says: When you live in Jesus, when you are part of the Body of Christ, you become part of that bread of life for others. One of the long-standing stories that helped form the Jewish people was the story about how God gave them bread in