Sermons

Maundy Thursday, 2017

THE GOSPEL – John 13: 1-20; 31-35

So, Scout’s honor, I had this prepared before Fr. Steven Peay shared his mediation last Sunday. All I can say is, the fact that our prefaces are similar only means that he and I are apparently cut from the same cloth. I did not crib his notes. I may be many things, but I am not a crook.

Like Fr. Peay, I enjoy watching movies.

And, though he may have outgrown this, I still have a hard time dealing with the tension of suspense.

I still don’t like it. I close my eyes. I get up to pace. I walk out of the room.

andrew-grosso

Lent 5

Today’s gospel lesson tells a story, but the meaning of the story may not be immediately apparent. We may miss the meaning of this story because the story doesn’t follow the pattern we’re used to seeing in other stories. Normally, when we hear a story, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end, and where’s the meaning usually found? At the end. We see this pattern all the time: we read it in books, we see it in movies, we hear it in jokes, and we use it when we construct an argument. Point one, point two, point three: conclusion. This happened, then that happened, and then this happened, and they lived happily ever after.

Holding On and Letting Go

Back in the early 1970’s when I was called to a parish in the Diocese of Minnesota, my family and I moved into a home on the edge of a small lake. Half of our back yard swooped down at a 25% grade to the water. We brought with us from our Indiana farm property an industrial grade 17 horsepower riding mower to cut our considerably smaller new lawn. I loved that super-macho lawn mower. It somehow represented a durability and strength that all my previous, less noble riding mowers lacked.

S/W Ver: 9E.03.39R

Temptation

On Ash Wednesday I was tempted to start my homily by saying “Merry Christmas.” You know, as we pulled out of the driveway to come down here for the noon Mass I said “it looks more like Christmas than it did on Christmas.” Now, what do you think? Was that a short-term urge? Was it naughty? If I had done that, if I had said “Merry Christmas” on Ash Wednesday, would it have unsettled you?

Studio portrait of School of Information Studies faculty member Richard Smiraglia.

The End is the Beginning

We begin at the end of this story. God has already saved you. God has already saved all of us. Salvation is ours. There is no question about that. Not that there are no questions, of course. Human experience is full of questions. Some of the simplest and most important questions are those that we encounter daily:

Is this thing I am doing the right thing? It must be, because I am doing it … yes?

Or, no?

Studio portrait of School of Information Studies faculty member Richard Smiraglia.

Transfigured with God’s Love

I got a new driver’s license this week. Talk about transfiguration. You should see the photo they made, it has a picture of this old man; he kept getting in the way so eventually I just let him.

What does “transfiguration,” mean to you? I know, it is one of those Bible words. It is not something regular people think about. And yet, transfiguration is one of those human experiences that just does not have a good name. Like when my basil quit, and I tossed it out and tossed out the soil and put the pot away. (Not to worry, I will buy some more in spring.) But, it was a tiny thing, that changed many larger things. Like how I water the plants, how I relate to the herbs in my indoor garden, how I cook with the herbs cut from those plants, and on and on I could go, down to how I arrange things by those windows that get the early morning light from the lake. And my, how the sun comes in those windows.

Studio portrait of School of Information Studies faculty member Richard Smiraglia.

Holy and Perfect

I have been praying a lot lately. More than usual. Now,I know you have never seen me before, and you don’t know what sort of person I am, and especially you do not know what sort of priest I am. So just to move this along, let me say I am a pretty typical Episcopalian. My faith is strong and secure. Like most Episcopalians, I almost never talk about it, except of course when I preach.

But I pray regularly. As a young man, I learned to pray while I ran. Back in the day, I ran 4 miles a day. It was quite a prayer-time in those days. Now, I pray on the stationary cycle (I have arthritic knees, no more running). There is something about getting into the monotony of physical activity that frees my soul to talk with God; or better yet, just to listen for God. And these days, God and I have a lot to talk about. I bet you do too.

andrew-grosso

Epiphany 4

There’s a noticeable tension at the heart of this morning’s gospel, and understanding this tension is necessary if we want to experience the kind of blessedness Jesus describes.

Oftentimes, we read the Beatitudes as a kind of prescription for spiritual living: these are guidelines for those who want to be good, faithful, spiritual people.  When we approach the Beatitudes in this way, we end up abstracting them a bit, turning them into something like religious aphorisms.  Be humble; be temperate; be merciful; be pure in heart.  That sounds good, right?  Be nice to others, and they’ll be nice to you: that becomes the lesson of the Beatitudes when we treat them as principles for spiritual living.

andrew-grosso

Epiphany 3

Today’s gospel lesson makes a profound spiritual and theological point, but it’s one we’re likely to miss.  Unless we have some familiarity with the cultural and historical context of first-century Palestine, it’ll blow right by us.  And this spiritual and theological point is especially important for us, because it bears immediately on how we think of ourselves as followers or disciples of Jesus.

Christmas Day Sermon

Terry Zimmer

THE GOSPEL Luke 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.