Messy Transfiguration, February 2016

Robyns SermonsMorsels & Stories: I read from “Does God Have a Big Toe?”

Sermons: Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain for the Transfiguration.  Nothing was by accident.


The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked mostly closely with Luke 9:28–36, (37–43).


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Called and Blessed

  The blessing oil drips off my hands, running onto the page as I write, and Scripture’s lines about oil dripping off of Aaron’s beard run through my head. I remember how I remind others that anointing with oil was a kingly act, that our baptism anointing ties us to the apostles, prophets, priests, and kings of our faith, stretching back to Moses and Aaron. And my hands seem small.Today these are the hands which blessed a dying woman and offer comfort which seemed to little to her family.
Last week these hands stapled, copied, changed toner, and moved chairs and tables. Next week they will light fire to turn palms into ashes, press the ashes into people’s foreheads, alto help us remember “you are dust and to dust you will return.

These are hands that pet my dog, cook, caress my husband, clean, sort laundry, and cart books around with me.

Hands that weekly raise bread and wine as I pray, hope, expect them to turn into Christ’s body and blood.

These are my hands, running over with the blessing of an Archbishop, drenched in the work God has called me to.

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God is patient and kind, January 2016

Robyns SermonsStories and Morsels: We talked about Church and why I love Annual Meetings.

Sermon: God is patient.  God is kind.  A sermon on the impossibility of the “wedding” passage.  Plus a behind the scenes story from my wedding.

The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with 1 Cor 13.


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A New Old Thing, January 2016

Robyns SermonsMorsels and Stories: I talked about the prayers in the back of the Book of Alternative Services, especially the prayers for the Church.  I offered prayer books if people didn’t have one at home and invited people to pray for our Annual Meeting next week.  I also mentioned The Collect Call.

The Sermon:  Jesus gets up in the middle of his home synagogue and does a new thing and an old thing.

The readings can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Luke 4:14-21.



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“The Same Spirit” January 2016

Robyns SermonsWe had a baptism!  So Morsels & Stories got rolled up in that and wasn’t recorded.

I preached on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, a passage that has stuck with me since Confirmation, and my poor decorating decisions.

The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with 1 Cor 12:1-11.




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Word and Light, Christmas Eve 2015

Robyns SermonsMerry Christmas!

The Gospel on Christmas Eve was John 1:1-14.  It can be found (along with all the other possible readings) by clicking here.



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Like it always was, Blue Christmas 2015

Robyns SermonsSt Peter’s holds a Blue Christmas service for those who find the holiday season difficult.  This was the sermon I preached.





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Prophesying Enough, Advent 3 2015

Robyns SermonsStories and Morsels: I read “Burning Brightly” from A Spy on Noah’s Ark.

Sermon: John the Baptist, Marie Kondo (who’s name I may have butchered, sorry), and the Paris agreement about carbon emissions all have something in common.  How do we know it’s enough?

The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Luke 3:7-18.


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Repentance Ping Pong, Advent 2 2015

Robyns SermonsStories and Morsels: I used the liturgical calendar wheel, to talk about the new liturgical year we just started.  (Similar to the one that appears here if I’ve internetted correctly.)

Sermon:  Repentance I talk about how repentance can be more like ping pong than an easy decision.

The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Luke 3:1-6.




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There is a balm in Galilee

There is a balm in Galilee. 

Or at least that’s what I’m looking and hoping for, a balm in Galilee. 

The better known Balm of Gilead is only mentioned a few times in scripture and always as something with extraordinary healing properties, rare, and valuable.  The idea was later adopted and incorporated into an African American Spiritual.  “There is a balm in Gilead/to heal the sin sick soul.”

I’d take the balm of Gilead.  I’ve a chronic condition, or few, that it’d be nice to treat for the last time.  But the balm I’m looking and hoping for in Galilee, especially in Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s metaphorical Galilee, is not the mythical or magical balm of Gilead.   

I want the balm that will help the church, my well loved church, see me as a priest with chronic health issues, not as a problem to be fixed with doctors notes or only spoken of in hushed tones among trusted confidantes or endlessly suspect (“she says she has migraines, but who really knows” or worse “how can she pretend to do this demanding job if she’s in as much pain as she says”). 

It’s only been in the last year that I’ve found the courage to risk telling people I didn’t already trust about my chronic health issues.  My suspicion was well learned.  My health issues preceded my ordination and it was mentors and leaders I’d both trusted and been required to trust with my still new realities that advised me in my first job search not to mention the brain surgeries or the migraines, or suggested a doctors note certifying that I could work, and (in the same conversation) assured me that any congregation which rejected me for these reasons wasn’t worth working for.

That was a long time, several jobs, and many blogs posts ago.  And the church hasn’t changed.  I know I’ve lost jobs for alluding to my health conditions and I prefer not to think about those who may have seen the same sentences and just never responded.  I’ve received various advice from colleagues and congregants about my migraines, little of which my doctor agreed with.  And I’ve learned that I’m not alone.   

Along with friends who also live with chronic health conditions, more and less formal collegial groups who live with chronic health conditions, and friends who know how to listen, I’ve done my research and reading. 50% North Americans live with a chronic health condition, many of which we cannot see and society and the church prefer we not talk about.  Half of us. I am so far from alone.

The balm I want Galilee to hold is not a cure for me.  It is a road to Damascus falling away of the scales for my Church.  Stop pretending I’m not here.  Stop talking as though only old people were sick or in pain.  See me, hear me.  Find a way to hold both my gifts and my pain.  More concretely

  • Unlearn cliches.  (Some examples here)
  • See people not diagnoses.
  • Don’t offer treatment advice unless asked.  Not even that thing that was a miracle for your aunt/cousin/self.
  • Respect their language choices.  Some people use disability, some chronic illness.  I’ve opted for chronic health condition here.
  • Make one change every year to make your church more accessible.  Here are 50 ideas. 
  • Stop preaching in Jesus’ healing as psychological or community wholeness.  It was, but scripture says people were healed.  Some of us would love to have our pain relieved and it hasn’t happened even after, in many cases, sincere faith and years of prayer.
  • Get serious about the health benefits you provide your employees.  Copays for doctor visits, medications, limited sick days, plans that only cover the ER if you are admitted to the hospital are some of the barriers to people taking care of themselves. 
  • Stock some Empathy Cards and send those.
  • Chronic illness is long term and one day at a time.  There are good, bad, and in between days.  Trust people to judge their ability that day.
  • Educate your parishioners.  That can be serious or silly. 

Most of us live with, care for, or love someone with a chronic health condition.  May Galilee be a place where the Church can be healed of it’s blindness and ableism; a place where all of God’s children are encouraged to participate in the ways that best suit them.

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