The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Us, Advent 2014

Robyns SermonsThe people of God have been telling Isaiah’s prophecy for a very long time.  Do we still believe it’s truth?


The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11.



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Resilient Trust

Just before my camp held our week for kids with an incarcerated parent, I read about Lincoln High School in Walla Walla WA, Principal Sporleder, and learned what ACE means. In 2007, Mr Sporleder came to what is now Lincoln High Scool as the new principal. A few years later he attended a Washignton State sponsored conference on ACEs which changed his methods and Lincoln High School.

Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACE,is a term arising from a late 90’s study of the correlation of childhood trauma and extreme stress and unhealthy behaviours in adults. The results showed that not only did childhood events such as sexual assault, verbal or physical abuse, domestic violence, or a parent’s incarceration, on average, dramatically and negatively affect adult life but that these were much more common racial and socio-economic demographics than we might think. A survey of an upper middle class, predominantly white, mostly high school graduated neighbourhood showed than about 1/3 of people had an ACE score of zero.

Which resonated with my own life and knowledge of those around me. My ACE score is about 3.5. And I had a good childhood. A good childhood isn’t protection from the vagaries of a world unconcerned with being fair or kind. Research shows that an ACE score of 4 or greater begins to greatly impact your future. Rates for depression, physician ailments, and risky behaviour increase. The higher your ACE score the lower your ability to be resilient is likely to be, stress and stressful situations have greater impact, and your conflict resolution skills less developed and less easy to access. The question Principal Sporleder and others are trying to answer is how, in the face of a population deeply affected by violence fear and trauma, to build resilience, how to restore the possibility of a bright and hopeful future?

The story of Lincoln High was intensely relevant to that week of camp. But in the months since then my subconscious has reminded me of it frequently. As a priest I’m given the benefit of the trust people extend to my office, and occasionally the recipient of the emotional damage the Church has created. It is a precious and precarious privilege. In a world where most people have deep seated reasons not to trust others or to trust very slowly, my priestly invitation into the hardest and most intimate parts of people’s lives has become even more precious. I am always aware of responsibility I accepted in my ordination to live into, to repair, and to stewardship that trust for those who follow me.

This fall Ferguson MO has become an example of brokenness, fear, and trauma. Broken trust because of racism, broken trust between a community and their police force, broken trust between society and our legal system. It has been reassuring to see Missouri clergy in the streets and rallies, calling for listening, calling for nonviolence. It has been encouraging to see others recognize and appreciate this.

The work being done with the ACE study show us that our society is already threatened by our traumatic experiences. The events in Ferguson this fall tell me we are already at crisis.

For my parish I wrote about Advent as a time when we see the need for tikkun olam, the healing of the world, as we hold up both the vision God has for our world and the realities of the world we live in. I am becoming convinced that we are all on the front lines and our first task is to model and teach resilience.

This was written for and will be posted on the blog of The Scholar Priest Society. (edited)

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God who Groks, Christ the King 2014

Robyns SermonsJudgment: harsh or based on understanding?

The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Matthew 25:31-46.


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Fear not Failure, November 2014

Robyns SermonsThe Parable of the Talents is a tough parable.  Which made me wonder where it reflected my life and what that might mean.

The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Matthew 25:14-30.


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Promising Love, Oct 2014

Robyns SermonsAs Christians we make promises we cannot keep.  Fortunately our God has more invested in love.


The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked with Joshua 24:1-3a,14-25.



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Linked Together, All Saint’s 2014

Robyns SermonsWe are surrounded by, linked to, a great cloud of witnesses.

This sermon had an activity.  I’ll post a picture of our saintly links on Tuesday.


The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I preached on the theology of All Saints more than any single reading.



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Love, October 2014

Robyns SermonsWhat is the most important thing?
An traditional question with a complicated answer.



The lessons can be found by clicking here. I worked most closely with Matthew 22:34-46.



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SR: Tech Failure Edition, October 2014

Link: Due to a technology failure, my sermon didn’t record.

Summary of what I was saying and why:
I love this passage because we’ve forgotten it’s a little funny. Give to God what is God’s? Well, everything. Including Ceasar. 
I talked a bit about the hidden challenge of the Pharisees–if we don’t pay taxes Rome will understand that as a rebellion. Then I spent some time with the truth that everything is God’s and Ceasar was made in God’s image. Which means that Jesus’s question to the Pharisees had a couple layers to it too. 
What then does this mean for us, who are made in God’s image? Are we giving to God what is God’s?

Theology: Creation and Stewardship
Jesus Count: High
Good News: We are made in God’s image and belong to God?

What did I change on my feet?
A lot. At the second service I tried to be more interactive and it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. My original plan was to spend more time on the idea of belonging and I didn’t start there as much as I’d thought about.
What didn’t work/what did I miss?
I missed recording it. :P 
I do think there’s unexplored potential with the idea of ‘who do you belong to?’ and this text. I could also have pulled more strongly on the Baptismal Covenant/Baptismal theology.
What did work?
I think pulling out some of the levels on which the questions were operating was important. This wasn’t an idle can we get him to say something stupid game, this was serious.
And I love reminding people that God loves us. God has always loved us.

Other sermons I liked:

Deacon Bright, Everything comes from God and everything belongs to God. There is no division between sacred and secular other than the ones we create.

Priest Halley, with a song, asking about the heart of the matter (and us).

Priest Lightcap, “Love God with everything you have, and Caesar can have his face back.”

(Here’s the list of people I usually listen to. Am I missing someone?)

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Promise and Command, Harvest Sunday 2014

Robyns SermonsFavourite Thanksgiving foods, worrying, and tables for sharing.


The lesson I worked most closely with was Matthew 6:25-33.  You can read it by clicking here.



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Vineyard Governing, October 2014

Robyns SermonsJust how is the beloved vineyard being governed, being taken care of?



The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Matthew 21:33-46.



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