2010 Sermons

Day of Pentecost May 23, 2010

Acts 2:1-21                                                                          

Romans 8:14-17                                                                

John 14:8-17, 25-27

Our celebration of the Day of Pentecost at Holy Cross today is one of our periodic “Come With Joy” Sundays. Six or eight times a year we do these, incorporating elements of art and drama into the liturgy, playing a little loose with the order of some of the parts of the service, involving members of the congregation (especially teenagers and children), and opening the homily time to discussion. Like most clergy, I’m pretty much a law and order guy myself when it comes to liturgy, so I’m always a little anxious about these occasions, but almost without exception they’ve come off well. We just have to understand that we can worship God in many ways, not just the semi-monastic, cathedral-style worship that Anglicans have traditionally been accustomed to.


Pentecost 7, July 19, 2009

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

This past Friday night my wife’s office had a party. Over dessert I found myself talking with our hostess, a fascinating woman who was raised in the Congregational Church and converted to Judaism after her marriage to a Jewish man. She is the first convert to serve as president of her synagogue, a position of great honor.

Our talk turned to our children: were they continuing to practice the faith in which they had been raised? We agreed that this depended to a large extent on who they ended up marrying or living with. “Mixed marriages” – a Christian and a Jew for instance or, most commonly these days, a person with a religious background and a partner without – usually end up doing nothing about religious faith, for themselves or their children.

In twenty-some years, my hostess told me, their synagogue has had only one marriage, because even Reform Jewish rabbis usually will not officiate at mixed marriages – and all the other marriages of children of this synagogue in those twenty years had been to non-Jews. “This can’t continue,” Carol said, “or we will all die out. In this day and age, religions have to learn to reach out and engage with other religions or with people of no religion. They can’t just keep to themselves. They have to open up and change.” (Or at least that’s what I heard her saying!)

Which statement I want to use as a way into this morning’s topic, which is about the formation of Christians in a secular society — something that is called evangelization, a Greek word meaning the sharing of the Good News of God. Evangelization is of the very essence of Christianity. We exist as a religion because a tiny group of women and men, St. Peter, St. Paul and the other apostles (a word meaning “sent out”), went forth to spread the Good News they had encountered in Jesus Christ.

Believing and Belonging

Coming to Holy Cross with No Religious Background

What if you have no religious background at all? What if you’ve never stepped inside a church, or you’ve been only to a few weddings or funerals? You may have heard some terrible things about churches–that they ask you to believe “six impossible things before breakfast” as Alice Through the Looking Glass put it, that they’re full of self-righteous people or people who all have the same political beliefs, that they’ll try to get their hands on you and once they do they’ll never let you go. But maybe you’re also  intrigued by the idea of being part of a group of people who believe in a mysterious higher power they call God and who care about each other and about justice and peace in the world. Maybe you’d like to explore religion a little, but are just afraid that you’ll be lost in the strangeness of a worship service, make an utter fool of yourself by doing something wrong.

Well, you’re not alone. An increasing number of people in our society have no religious background. Interestingly, New Hampshire has (after Vermont) the highest percentage of people with no religious affiliation of any state in the U.S. And yet, a lot of people are searching. They sense that something is missing in their lives, in the lives of their families.


Easter 7 May 24, 2009

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26                                                           

1 John 5:9-13                                                                      

John 17:6-19


Our Christian religion is full of paradoxes. Indeed, we could almost say that the presence of paradox is our best indicator that we are in the presence of God. For instance: Jesus is truly and fully human, but at the same time truly and fully God. God is One, but at the same time Three. You and I are sinners, but also saved. And all that is just the beginning. All through our history, people have tried to rationalize or clarify away these paradoxes. To say that Jesus wasn’t fully human or wasn’t really divine. That God was not Trinity. That we are not really sinners or not surely saved. We call those attempted simplifications heresies. By eliminating the paradoxical element of our faith, they take the life out of it. There is something about the tension in paradox that is necessary, that is the heart of Christianity.


History and Basics of Anglican Worship

During May, we at Holy Cross will be engaged in a review of our liturgy, the way we worship. (The word liturgy comes from Greek meaning “work of the people.”) As an introduction to this project, I offer a very brief summary of the history and basics of worship in our Episcopal/Anglican tradition.


Easter 3 April 26, 2009

Acts 3:12-19                                                                        

1 John 3:1-7                                                                        

Luke 24:36b-48


It would have been very easy for the first followers of Jesus to have spoken of him simply as a great teacher, a holy man who exemplified everything we should be in our lives. That would have gone down more smoothly in their day, as it certainly does in ours, where many people believe just that. But this is not the Jesus to whom the earliest witnesses testify. They give us this risen Christ—a human being crucified, wounded in hands and feet and side, but a human being raised from the dead, a physical presence who ate physical food and whose physical body could be touched, particularly his wounds. A human being who was thus also the Son of God. This resurrection reality is what the first followers insisted upon, what they were persecuted and died for.