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August 14, 2011 – 9th Sunday after Pentecost

by The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Psalm 67; Matthew 15:21-28

“Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” –Matthew 15:28

One of the memorable people of my growing up years was my Aunt Amanda.  Born in England about the year 1880, she came as a young person to this country to work in the textile mills of Massachusetts.  I used to visit her often as a little boy when I went with my parents to stay with family members in New Bedford before and during World War II.  I will never forget a conversation we had one day walking home from an early Sunday morning communion service at St. Martin’s Church there.  It was sometime in the Spring of 1940.  Hitler’s success in defeating the Allies led to a siege of England, and the Luftwaffe, the Nazis air force, was devastating English cities.  Amanda’s roots were at Coventry, the center of which was totally destroyed by the bombing, and she had lost family members in the blitz.  Continue reading ‘August 14, 2011 – 9th Sunday after Pentecost’

August 7, 2011 – 8th Sunday after Pentecost

by The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

I Kings 19:9-18; Psalm 29; Matthew 14:22-33

“Don’t worry.  It’s me.  Don’t be afraid.” –Matthew 14:30

One morning in August a few years ago, I stood looking out our front door when all at once there came a great roar — it reminded me of the engine of a Boeing 747 — and I watched a violent wind twist the trunk of a towering willow tree at the corner of the yard, perhaps a foot in diameter, and snap it off as if it were no bigger than a matchstick.  And another time, a similar storm overrode all the surge protectors in our house, blew out the modem on Roberta’s computer and the sensors which control our garage door openers.  These were convincing reminders that we are children of Mother Nature, though they amounted to minor and local interruptions of our routine, were soon repaired as one of the prices we learn to live within a complex world.  Continue reading ‘August 7, 2011 – 8th Sunday after Pentecost’

July 24, 2011 – 6th Sunday after Pentecost

by The Rev. Darrell Huddleston

1 Kngs. 3:5-12; Ps. 119:129-136; Rom. 8:26-39; Mt. 13:31-33, 44-52

In our gospel lesson, Jesus bombards us with one parable after another, all starting with the phrase, “The Kingdom of heaven is like…”    …a mustard seed and yeast, a buried treasure and a pearl of great price and a fish dragnet.  Two twined images and a solitary concluding one carrying the theme of hiddenness and searching.   The Kingdom is hidden and is something to be discovered.

Perhaps a better phrase for ‘kingdom’ is ‘reign of God’ as the former implies that it might be a place, or only some ideal that will only be known in the future, certainly not in our sordid mess of a world.  The ‘reign of God’, Jesus tells us, can be discovered in the here and now.  Continue reading ‘July 24, 2011 – 6th Sunday after Pentecost’

July 17, 2011 – 5th Sunday of Pentecost

The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

Genesis 28:10-19a; Psalm 139:1-12,23-24; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place –and

I did not know it!”  And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place!  It is none

other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

The cases of great figures cut down to size function as civic morality tales because, however good most people are most of the time, temptation is universal. Lust, greed, ambition, envy, fear – choose one. Or three. Every human must navigate the triple labyrinth of animal impulse, rational awareness, and moral choice. No one is immune from the recognition to which St. Paul came: “For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7: 19) It takes nothing away from the gravity of criminal acts, or the unacceptability of the exploitation by the powerful of the weak, to see in the courtroom contest between truth and deceit a process that implicates observers as well as antagonists. Continue reading ‘July 17, 2011 – 5th Sunday of Pentecost’

July 10, 2011 – 4th Sunday of Pentecost

by The Rev. Darrell Huddleston

Gen.  25:19-24; Ps. 65:9-14; Rm. 8:1-11; Mt. 13:1-9, 18-23

This is one of those parables of Jesus that preaches itself.  The Parable of the Sower:  The Soil, the Seed, and the Sower.  Three parts to it and all related.  The Greek word parable (παραβολn, ‘parabole’) means “something cast beside” something else in order to explain or clarify it. The great NT scholar C. H. Dodd said, “…the parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.” (Parables of the Kingdom, p. 5)

The dictionary defines parable as “A simple tale told to illustrate a moral truth.” But Jesus’ parables are not simple, moralistic tales, but complex, profound stories.  There is mystery to them; there is a depth, an open-endedness, which makes us see something new when we read them over and over. Continue reading ‘July 10, 2011 – 4th Sunday of Pentecost’

July 31, 2011 – 7th Sunday after Pentecost

by Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

Isaiah 55:1-5; Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21; Matthew 14:13-21

When he came ashore and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them. –Matthew 14:14

Let me begin by stretching our imaginations.  Today’s Gospel is one of the most familiar in the New Testament.  It is the only story of its kind recounted in all four Gospels, the feeding of a vast number of people:  Matthew and Mark each say 5000 men.  We are told that they are in a wilderness place, somewhere near the Lake of Galilee.  There are no interstates to get there, and no traffic jams.  Maybe you rode a donkey, most likely you walked, and if you came from as far away as Jerusalem because you were attracted to go hear Jesus preach, that might have been a journey of several days.

As the passage begins, Jesus has withdrawn by boat to a remote place — presumably to pray with his disciples.  Word comes to him that a crowd has assembled.  When he lands and sees the expectant crowd, he is filled with compassion, and he heals the sick.  Continue reading ‘July 31, 2011 – 7th Sunday after Pentecost’

Pentecost 3, July 3, 2011


The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

Deuteronomy 10:17-21; Psalm145; Matthew 5:43-48


Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

On this Independence Day weekend, I want to talk about our country and what faith says to our present situation as a nation and people.  We began our service today with an alternative to the usual organ prelude.  It was the first of several quotations from the writings of Thomas Jefferson set to music by the composer Randall Thompson, the beginning of a choral work written in 1933 to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Jefferson, one of the major contributors to the birth of our nation.   The composer deliberately set out to write a type of “public music” that would lift up the origins of the American struggle for independence.  In fact one of the early performances of  the work would be as a tribute to the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt after the latter’s death in the waning days of World War II in 1945.

Neither Jefferson nor various others of the signers of the Declaration of Independence released on July 4, 1776, were devout Christians, Continue reading ‘Pentecost 3, July 3, 2011’

Trinity Sunday, June 19, 2011

by The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell.  Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the saints greet you.  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

The Apostle Paul, to the Corinthian Church, 2 Cor. 13:11-13

Listening to several of our young people talk about their faith on recent Sundays, I have been reminded of my own growing up in a small parish in Massachusetts in the middle of the 20th century.  Like them, I was bit by bit caught up in the congregation, both its youth activities and the worship.  In those days, of course, we did not have opportunity to read lessons, or help administer communion.   And the leadership of worship did not include women or girls, except maybe to help the Altar Guild.  Somehow it rubbed off on me, and I not only became a committed Christian but found myself in seminary and later the rector of a small city parish in St. Louis, Missouri.

Today, there is a lot of concern about how fewer and fewer people in American society are practicing Christians.  Continue reading ‘Trinity Sunday, June 19, 2011’

June 26, 2011 – 2nd Sunday after Pentecost

by The Rev. Darrell Huddleston

Jer. 28:5-9; Ps. 89:1-4, 15-18; Rm. 6:12-23; Mt. 10:40-42

This is one of those Sundays when the gospel lesson has been isolated from its context.  Most Bible verses do not live in isolation.  There is context and the context for these three verses is the preceding thirty-five.  Chapter 10:5b-42 is of one piece and it is known as “The Missionary Discourse.

A brief summary of it:

Be alive and active in mission and spreading the “Good News.”

Don’t worry about material possessions.

Don’t worry what others think of you; in fact, you may be hated by others, even by your own family.

Loyalty to God in Christ comes first, even before family.

Don’t fear those who can kill the body, but the one who can kill body and soul.

Pick up the cross and follow Christ.

Trust in God.  If God cares even for the sparrows God will care for us.

Practice hospitality.  In receiving from you they receive Christ.

Let me read just the preceding six verses to give you a sense of what he said: Continue reading ‘June 26, 2011 – 2nd Sunday after Pentecost’

Day of Pentecost June 12, 2011

Acts 2:1-21

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

John 20:19-23

Locked rooms, doors locked for fear, fear of what’s out there, fear of the future. We all know them. We’ve all been there. Fourteen years ago, I made my way down the steep, crooked stairway of the old Holy Cross building. I was wounded, bruised by experiences in my last parish, uncertain whether I had a future in parish ministry. A kind warden at that last parish, an executive placement professional, had given me her company’s battery of outplacement tests and interviews. “Give it up,” she suggested. “Find something else to do.” Would a parish have me?

At the bottom of the steps a little group awaited: Terry Knowles, Peter Ashworth, Nancy Stehno, Laura Starr-Houghton, Diane Beland, two or three others. The vestry/search committee. They too were wounded, bruised. Bishop Theuner was about to shut Holy Cross down, lock the doors for the last time. “Give it up,” he’d said. Could they find a priest to serve them? Fear. Fear of what’s out there, fear of the future. Continue reading ‘Day of Pentecost June 12, 2011’