Monthly Archive for April, 2010

Easter 4 April 25, 2010

Acts 9:36-43                                                                        

Revelation 7:9-17                                                                             

John 10:22-30

Sheep metaphors aren’t what immediately come to my own mind when I think about my life, but mulling over this passage from John’s gospel, I realize that a lost sheep is exactly what I feel like a lot of the time as a priest in the Church today. And what Jesus in the gospel has to say to me is welcome comfort. So maybe it is for you too.

We live in a hard time to be committed Christians, faithful Church members. The climate of the culture is against us. We have dozens of other claims on our time. In coming to church on Sunday, most of you are choosing not to do something else – particularly if you bring your kids, because sports and dance and sleepovers pay no attention to Sunday being church time. You may also very well be leaving your spouse or children at home, because in many families not everyone is a church-goer. Continue reading ‘Easter 4 April 25, 2010’

Easter 3 April 18, 2010

Acts 9:1-6                                                                            

Revelation 5:11-14                                                            

John 21:1-19

If we were one of those churches that put our sermon title out on its sign board, or even had sermon titles, the title for this morning might be A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Happiness. I don’t mean happiness in some shallow, sugar-high way. What we’re about is way too serious for that. We could say “on the Way to Heaven,” but that sounds too focused on the hereafter. By happiness I mean what we seek most deeply and ultimately in life: fulfillment, salvation, purpose, peace, healing, forgiveness. There are lots of words we use for it, but they all point to the same thing, so let’s call it happiness. Deep happiness. It’s what we all want, in our hearts. What lies behind the struggles of our lives.

“Come and see,” Jesus said to people. The people were those who noticed him, heard about his message, about the mighty acts and signs he was performing. The people who saw in him something different, something that indicated that he might lead them on the way to this deep happiness. “Who are you?” they would ask. “What is your secret? Tell us so we can have it too.” And always Jesus would say to these people, “Come and see.” Continue reading ‘Easter 3 April 18, 2010’

Easter 2 April 11, 2010

Acts 5:27-32                                                                        

Revelation 1:4-8                                                                 

John 20:19-31

Most of the year, talking about Jesus and the readings we have from the Bible Sunday by Sunday is easy. It’s more a matter of what not to say, of focus, from all the rich possibilities – the insights, the applications to our lives, the challenges and the consolations. But then along comes Easter.

Easter is different – radically so. Here is not just Jesus the great teacher, the inspiring example of how to live. Here is no story from ordinary life. The Resurrection is radically discontinuous from everything else. People don’t just rise from the dead. We don’t know what to make of it. Believe it – and if so, what does that mean for our lives? Or disbelieve it – write it off as just a beautiful story, a metaphor for springtime though less tangible than the Easter bunny? Yes, Easter is a challenge to us. Continue reading ‘Easter 2 April 11, 2010’

Easter Day April 4, 2010

Acts 10:34-43                                                                     

1 Corinthians 15:19-26                                                     

Luke 24:1-12

 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. – Luke 24:11

One cold February morning a young man, just 18, woke up in his bed. It was a Sunday and in the distance a church bell was ringing. The young man sat there a moment, then he said to himself quite suddenly, unexpectedly, “I do believe in God and I’m going to do something about it.” And he got up and went to church.

This was a decision he made. He had not been at all sure about God, whether he believed, who or what God was, what God – if there were a God – might have to do with his life. He was far from home, you see, at college, on his own really for the first time. He was being challenged by teachers to think for himself, to make up his mind. “You can’t just go through life in neutral,” one young instructor had said to his class. “You must decide, you must own what you decide, and you must be prepared to defend it and live it out in your life.”

 So he went to church, that February morning. And he has never looked back. And it has made all the difference. That young man stands before you this Easter morning. Continue reading ‘Easter Day April 4, 2010’

Good Friday April 2, 2010

John  18:1-19:42                                                                

 

 For the message about the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18

Words of St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians; not a reading appointed for this day, but one surely that sums up what Good Friday is about:  the “message of the Cross . . . the power of God to those of us who are being saved.”

But how “the power of God”? We don’t often stop to ask ourselves that question. When I posed it a couple of weeks ago during a discussion of Paul’s teaching in the time after breakfast, there was a lot of awkward silence. What does the crucifixion of Jesus, symbolized by the Cross, mean to people like you and me today?

Volumes have been and are being written in answer to that question. But what I want to do tonight is to try to answer it in personal terms, in terms of what the death of Jesus means to me. It may not mean the same to you, and it need not, but perhaps my “testimony” will spur you to reflect on its meaning in your life. Continue reading ‘Good Friday April 2, 2010’

Maundy (Holy) Thursday April 1, 2010

Exodus 12:1-14                                                                     

1 Corinthians 11:23-26                                                        

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

I’m embarrassed, really, looking back at myself as I was entering seminary. I was living proof of the old saying that God doesn’t call the equipped, God equips the called. I was kind of a religious prig. I was all excited that after a mere three years of education I would get to be called father, wear a black suit, and be regarded by everyone as holier than them. And especially I would get to celebrate Mass, where I would say the magic words of Jesus, “This is my body; this is my blood,” and the bread and wine would be transformed in Christ himself, his Body and his Blood. What power – power passed down to me through millennia of bishops laying on hands, power that ordinary people didn’t have. Continue reading ‘Maundy (Holy) Thursday April 1, 2010’