Monthly Archive for July, 2010

Pentecost 9 July 25, 2010

Genesis 18:16-33                                                                               

Luke 11:1-13                                                                       

 “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Two of our time’s greatest spiritual leaders, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have announced that they will be withdrawing from the public scene. They want, each of them says, more time and space to pray. As Archbishop Tutu says, he’s been spending too much time in airports and hotels – like us, busy with the busyness of our busy world. The Dalai Lama explained that he needs to prepare for his death. I feel that need myself, as I look towards retirement. And of all the regrets I have about our ministry together, the greatest is that we’ve spent so little time on prayer.

So how good that this morning we listen to Jesus, teaching us about prayer. What is prayer? At its broadest sense, it is simply living in conscious communion with God. This can be talking with God, as in the readings this morning, or simply being silent and still and open before God. The readings are short, but really they tell us all we need to know about this essential element of the spiritual life. So let us listen! Continue reading ‘Pentecost 9 July 25, 2010’

Weare Patriotic Celebration Photo Album

"Queen Alice" waves from the seat of Thom Thomas's 1964 Cadillac.

"Queen Alice" waves from the seat of Thom Thomas's 1964 Cadillac.

At the other end of the age spectrum, Joel also enjoyed a ride in the parade.

At the other end of the age spectrum, Joel also enjoyed a ride in the parade.

Will Townsend's flag-decked truck carried riders on an old church pew.

Will Townsend's flag-decked truck carried riders on an old church pew.

Fr. John wore an Uncle Sam hat complete with patriotic dreadlocks.

Fr. John wore an Uncle Sam hat complete with patriotic dreadlocks.

Terry Knowles and Kathleen Kenyon rode in style in Eric Peterson's convertible.

Terry Knowles and Kathleen Kenyon rode in style in Eric Peterson's convertible.

Brianna was in charge of the pole flying the Holy Spirit dove at the head of the line.

Brianna was in charge of the pole flying the Holy Spirit dove at the head of the line.

Kathleen Kenyon offered face painting at our booth after the parade.

Kathleen Kenyon offered face painting at our booth after the parade.

Hunter, Aidan and Brooke kept step with Fr. John and their grandmother, Diane Beland.

Hunter, Aidan and Brooke kept step with Fr. John and their grandmother, Diane Beland.

Annabelle decorates her T-shirt with garden designs for the parade.

Annabelle decorates her T-shirt with garden designs for the parade.

Jorja had the biggest bloom in God's garden.

Jorja had the biggest bloom in God's garden.

Mr. Brown wasn't the only one with his tongue hanging out by the end of the march.

Mr. Brown wasn't the only one with his tongue hanging out by the end of the march.

Tired marchers hitch a ride back to their cars at parade's end.

Tired marchers hitch a ride back to their cars at parade's end.

Yvette Desmarais and Anne McCausland try to move baked goodies in the afternoon heat.

Yvette Desmarais and Anne McCausland try to move baked goodies in the afternoon heat.

Pentcost 8 July 18, 2010

Genesis 18:1-10                                                                  

Luke 10:38-42                                                                     

We’re standing in the sacristy there at St. Michael’s, Barrington, Illinois – me, the curate just out of seminary, the rector, and the visiting bishop – just about to go in to begin the liturgy. “Bill,” says the bishop to the rector, “what did I preach about last time I was here?” (This would have been four years earlier.) I watch a look of panic cross the rector’s face. Sermons have a short shelf life in memory; four years could be four centuries. “I remember you told a story about a dog,” the rector replied, color returning to his face. “Ah,” said the bishop, returning to his brief case the sermon he had taken out and pulling forth another. It turned out he had three sermons that he preached, rotating them as he went his rounds.

So, a story about stories. Fr. McLean remembered nothing about the bishop’s sermon except the dog story he’d told. You may well remember nothing about this story except my story about the bishop’s sermon. Stories are what are most memorable because we humans are constructed by stories. It is through stories that we find the most fundamental meaning of who we are and what life and reality are all about. The Bible endures as a source of truth because it is above all a collection of stories. Continue reading ‘Pentcost 8 July 18, 2010’

Pentecost 7 July 11, 2010

Deuteronomy 30:9-14                                                       

Luke 10:25-37                                                                     

I think this may be a troubling sermon for you. At least it is for me. There’s a good guy and a bad guy in the gospel today. The good guy is the Samaritan of course, who stops by the side of the road and cares for the man who’s been left there for dead. We know this Samaritan well; this is one of Jesus’s most familiar parables. The bad guy is – not the priest or the Levite who pass the injured man by – no, the real bad guy is the lawyer whose question prompts Jesus to tell the parable.

Why is the lawyer bad? Because, Luke tells us, he “wanted to justify himself.” That is, he put himself forward, tried to assert his own cleverness, sought to cross-examine or test Jesus. He should simply have done what the good Samaritan did, which was to obey what he knew to be God’s law: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

So, what’s troubling about this? What’s troubling, I think, is that you and I are the lawyer, not the Samaritan. Putting ourself at the center, making ourselves the test of life – do I like such-and-such, does it make sense to me, does it withstand my test of self-interest – this is our default stance towards life. Maybe, if something meets our test, we go ahead and do what we should be doing according to God’s law. But often, I think, we’re just more interested in testing for ourselves and never get around to doing. And sometimes, of course, God fails our test and we don’t do his law at all. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 7 July 11, 2010’

Pentecost 6 July 4, 2010

Galatians 6:1-16                                                                 

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20                                                          

In the parish I served in St. Charles, Illinois, the custom was to begin meetings of the city council with prayer led by one of the local clergy. I was always asked to perform this duty at the meeting closest to Independence Day because, as the city clerk explained, “the Episcopal Church is so historic.” I never had the heart to tell her that although many, even most, of the Founding Fathers were Anglicans, the Episcopal clergy were mostly loyalists to the British Crown. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 6 July 4, 2010’