Sermons

andrew-grosso

Easter 4 (A) Jn 10.1-10

We turn a bit of a corner today. We’re still in the middle of the Easter season, but the focus of our attention shifts a bit.

The last few weeks, we’ve heard stories about various appearances that the risen Lord made to his disciples after his resurrection. Two weeks ago, we heard the story of Thomas’s encounter with Jesus, and we heard Jesus’ words, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet who have come to believe.” Last week, we heard about two disciples who had an encounter with Jesus while travelling on the road to Emmaus. The point of these stories is to help clarify what the early church was trying to say about the resurrection of Jesus. The message of these stories is that, yes, he was raised from the dead, and, yes, we have seen him, and, yes, we know it’s hard to believe but here are the facts.

andrew-grosso

Easter 2 (A) Jn 20.19-31

Front and center in today’s gospel is the body of Jesus: we have two stories of two different appearances that Jesus made to his disciples following his resurrection, and both stories highlight the embodied nature of the risen Lord. But there are some very interesting and very significant subtleties at work here as well: what it means to be a body and how the experience of embodiment bears on the life of faith has changed. Before the cross, being a body meant one thing, but now after the cross being a body means something else.

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.