Tag Archive for 'John’s gospel'

Lent 3 March 27, 2011

Exodus 17:1-7                                                                     

John 4:5-42                                                                            

Once there lived a great master of the Zen tradition of Buddhism. He was called, as was the practice with such masters, by the name of the village in which he lived, Joshu. In this village there was by legend a great stone bridge, the greatest in all of China. Now this master lived to the age of 120 and was renowned as a teacher. Monks travelled from all over to meet and train with him.

Once, late in his life, perhaps after 70 years of honing his knowledge and skill, a young monk came to meet him: The young monk said, “I have long heard of the great stone bridge of Joshu, but now I am here and I don’t see the stone bridge, I see only a single-log bridge.” The young monk was thinking, you see,  that he had heard all his life of this great spiritual master Joshu, and here he had come this long way and found only a frail old man.

Joshu looked at the young man and replied, “You don’t see the stone bridge; you see only a single-log bridge.” The young monk repeated, “What is the great stone bridge of Joshu?” And Joshu answered, “Horses cross, donkeys cross.”

Zen Buddhism is full of such stories, the point of which is to shake loose people’s ways of thinking, their ways of looking at life, so that they may achieve spiritual insight. There is a legend that Jesus and the Buddha met, and while historically there is certainly nothing to that, the Jesus we meet in St. John’s gospel can remind us of Zen stories like that of the great stone bridge of Joshu. The story of Nicodemus that we heard last week: Jesus talking about being “born from above.” The story this morning of the Samaritan woman at the well: Jesus offering her living water. These are like Zen stories, offered to shake us loose so that we may attain deeper spiritual insight. Continue reading ‘Lent 3 March 27, 2011’

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’

Epiphany 2 January 17, 2010

Isaiah 62:1-5                                                                       

I Corinthians 12:1-11                                                        

John 2:1-11

 It is said that the purpose of a sermon or homily is to relate the readings from Holy Scripture to our lives and the world around us. As the theologian Karl Barth said, the preacher goes into the pulpit with the Bible in one hand and the daily newspaper in the other. My usual technique in doing this is to start with the daily newspaper, with our lives, our situations – an incident, a person, a situation we all know about or can relate to. We aren’t very familiar with the Bible, we don’t most of us read it at home, and to start with it always seems to me to turn people off.

But St. John’s gospel is hard to preach on that way. It doesn’t have neat little parables, interesting characters, “morals” or “messages” that can easily be related to everyday life. St. John’s is a mystical gospel. It was written late, by the only disciple of Jesus who did not meet a martyr’s death but lived into extreme old age, reflecting and meditating and polishing his thoughts about the Lord he had known and who loved him especially. John’s gospel is poetic, symbolic, every word heavy with meaning, often coded meaning. Continue reading ‘Epiphany 2 January 17, 2010’