Monthly Archive for September, 2009

Pentecost 16 September 20, 2009

Proverbs 31:10-31                                                              

James 3:13-18; 4:1-3, 7-8a                                                              

Mark 9:30-37

George Herbert is one of the greatest poets in the English language. He is also a saint in the Episcopal Church. He is honored as a saint not so much for his poetry, though most of it is religious, as for his life as an Anglican priest – a country parson, as he called himself. Born into one of England’s great noble families in 1593, Herbert withdrew from a life of political ambition and power to become the rector of a little country parish, not unlike Holy Cross. There he ministered and wrote his poetry until his untimely death at age 44. Herbert also wrote a book called The Country Parson, a guide for himself and others to the life a priest should live. In his book, he talks about prayer and preaching, about study, about keeping the church building clean and neat, about the ordering of the parson’s personal household.

And he devotes one chapter to “The Parson in Circuit.” Every weekday afternoon, Herbert says, the country parson should get on his horse and ride through a section of his parish, where he will find members of his flock, not dressed up and on their good behavior as on Sundays, but “naturally as they are, wallowing in the midst of their affairs.” And as he visits them, he is to commend them for what he finds good and reprove them where they need correction.

Herbert is careful to describe how this reproof part of the parson’s work is to be done, not arrogantly or abusively, but he is clear that it is to be done, without hesitation and in detail. A major part of the parson’s life, indeed a major part of the work of the Church in Herbert’s day, had to do with the practical moral formation of the people. It was expected and it was accepted, whether or not it was liked or paid attention to. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 16 September 20, 2009’

Holy Cross Day September 14, 2009

Numbers 21:4b-9                                                                               

1 Corinthians 1:18-24                                                       

John 3:13-17

I want us to reflect together this morning on two things: desire and commitment. We will find, I think, that our reflections lead us to a deeper understanding both of baptism and of the cross.

This last Friday I drove up to Tilton to meet a friend for lunch. It was also an opportunity for me to pick up some socks and undershorts at the outlet mall. There, parked next to me, was one of those huge excursion buses – from New Jersey, no less – which had driven all that way with a load of people to shop. A few of the shoppers were straggling back to the bus, bags of purchases in hand, looking exhausted. Looking lonely, too. Malls are full of people, but they are not communities. Continue reading ‘Holy Cross Day September 14, 2009’

Pentecost 14 September 6, 2009

James 2:1-17                                                                       

Mark 7:24-37                                                                      

Once upon a time the gospel this morning would have been heard simply as an account of two miracle healings, the daughter of a Gentile woman and a deaf man. Today we understand that while such stories are indeed about the miraculous power of Jesus as Son of God, they are signs or clues that tell us important things about the in-breaking of God’s kingdom – in Jesus’s time and ours. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 14 September 6, 2009’

Pentecost 13 August 30, 2009

James 1:17-27                                                                      

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23                                                      

Well, the school buses started rolling by this past week and the air turned crisp, so another summer is drawing to an end. No matter how long we’ve been out of school, fall is still somehow another beginning, isn’t it? It set me thinking of that old saying that wisdom is what remains after you’ve forgotten everything you learned in school. And I wonder if it isn’t true that holiness is what remains when we’ve forgotten everything we did in church? A thought, anyway.

It goes with our focus this morning, which is the last in our summer series on worship: “Being the Body of Christ in the World” – in other words, what happens after the service. We’ve received the Body and Blood of Christ into ourselves. We’ve “become what we are,” in those words of St. Augustine that we used for the title of this series. The whole point of our worship is now what comes afterwards, the formation of our lives in the world. There’s no point in liturgy, no point in prayer, if it doesn’t make a difference – the right kind of difference – in who we are and how we live in the world. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 13 August 30, 2009’