Monthly Archive for February, 2010

Ash Wednesday February 17, 2010

2 Corinthians 5:20b-21, 6:1-10                                       

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21                                                       

 Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

 We celebrate today two things that are difficult for us: sin and mortality. I remember being on the search committee for a new priest, back before I was ordained myself. We were going through resumes the bishop had sent us and we got to Fr. So-and-So’s. “Discard!” announced a woman on the committee immediately. “I went to a service at his church and he preached on sin.” Moral: don’t talk about sin if you want to get ahead, even in the Church, certainly not in the rest of life.

Mortality, too: who wants to talk about death, particularly their own? Obituaries always note how someone died after a “long struggle” or a “long battle” with whatever disease carried them off. Death is the enemy. Hospitals and hospices are partly places where we hide away the dying so they won’t spoil things for the living. We’ve come a long ways from our ancestors, who prayed in the Great Litany to be delivered from “dying suddenly and unprepared” and saw this life in terms of preparation for death. Continue reading ‘Ash Wednesday February 17, 2010’

Last Epiphany February 14, 2010

Exodus 34:29-35                                                                

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2                                                      

Luke 9:28-43

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing [on God’s glory]. — 2 Corinthians 3:12

This is one of the central themes in the New Testament, indeed in Christianity as a religion: that with Jesus Christ no longer is God veiled, a terrible presence before whom we can only cringe in fear, whom we  can only approach indirectly, through observing a code of complex rules and through the rituals of a sacred priesthood. No, our God is the God revealed in Jesus, a human being like ourselves. Jesus who knows our weakness, our doubts, our confusion, our sins. But Jesus who has saved us from ourselves, who loves us and calls us to be with him.

It is a very powerful idea. We make a mistake if we treat it as simply a contrast between Judaism and Christianity. The contrast between the veiled God and the transparent God runs through all religions. Continue reading ‘Last Epiphany February 14, 2010’