Monthly Archives: March 2013

Standing Risen in Baptismal Waters, Easter 2013

The lessons for the Easter Vigil can be found by clicking here. I worked most closely with Romans 6:3-11.

“Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

Listen: Easter 2013

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How Incarnation Ends, a sermon for Good Friday 3-29-13

The lessons can be found by clicking here. I preached on Incarnation and Crucifixion.Robyn's Sermons

How did we think the Incarnation was going to end?

(The quote is from Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion: A Contemporary Theodicy by Wendy Farley, pg 34)

Listen: Good Friday, 2013

Categories: Holy Week, Lent, Sermon | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Exposed Feet, a sermon for Maundy Thursday 3-24-13

Robyns SermonsThe lessons can be found by clicking here. I worked most closely with John 13:1-17, 31b-35.

This was an ecumenical service with the Methodist congregation who shares their building with us.

The oddity of foot washing, with a little Thrilling Adventure Hour and a lot of Jesus.

Listen: Maundy Thursday, 2013

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SR The Glory of Jesus Christ, Palm Sunday 2013

Link:The Glory of Jesus Christ

Summary of what I was saying and why:
Palm Sunday is the beginning of the challenge of Holy Week preaching. The texts and liturgies almost do preach themselves and yet I do feel a need to voice where I believe my community is amongst the texts.
Palm and Passion Sunday is harder for me as a priest than I remember it being as a parishioner. I feel the disconnect between the triumphal entry and the crucifixion end more. This year I found myself getting caught up in the Christology of Paul’s hymn in Philippians and used that to frame a very short sermon.

This sermon, in this style, would not exist without this discipline. I’m never entirely sure if I like a sermon until about six months after I preached it. But I am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone.

Theology: Christology
Jesus Count: moderate
Good News: Jesus is not done.

What did I change on my feet?
I rearranged things a bit.
What didn’t work/what did I miss?
I’m not sure the rearranging worked. As I’d written it the bulk of the middle was structured around “the glory is a prelude to the work Jesus is to be about/ the glory is because of the work Jesus has done.” It lost some of the nod towards poetry but I think it still worked as sermon.
I also moved the “Jesus is not done” line. I think that was an improvement.
What did work?
I liked this for Palm Sunday. It is an odd day.

Other sermons I liked:

Bishop Rickel on Palm Sunday setting the stage for the week and our lives.

Bishop Fisher onone of the scary concepts of the Church: commitment.

And it is Holy Week so a lot of sermons aren’t up and my time is limited. Three sermons and services in the next three days! Which probably means a round-up next week.

(Don’t see your sermon or a sermon you liked? Maybe I don’t know about it. Leave me a comment with a link and I’ll take a look.)

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More than Jesus is Awesome

I am a Christian. I am not always sure if it is okay to call myself one.

A week ago Marcus Mumford, whose music I enjoy, had an interview published in Rolling Stone where he said,

“I don’t really like that [the word Christian]… I wouldn’t call myself a Christian. I think the word just conjures up all these religious images that I don’t really like. I have my personal views about the person of Jesus and who he was. Like, you ask a Muslim and they’ll say, ‘Jesus was awesome’ – …. I’ve kind of separated myself from the culture of Christianity.”

A lot of other Christians, many of whom also enjoy Mumford & Sons’ music, had a reaction. What did it mean for Christians to listen to this music, laden with Christian imagery and theology, if Mr Mumford does not identify with Christianity. Honestly, I think I shrugged. I like the music; it’s a quote that is going to sell magazines; and there’s not a lot of music I like. Well, there’s not a lot of music which isn’t in the Hymnal and has lyrics that I like.

Then The Rev. Lillian Daniel, whom I greatly admire and several of whose books sit on my shelves, responded. Writing at Relevant, a platform aimed at Christian Millennials, she told us It’s OK to Call Yourself a Christian.

And I couldn’t just shrug anymore.

I was one of those college students who identified as a Christian and hated it when the convert-the-campus-with-giant-signs-and-yelling people visited. Because I knew that’s what a lot of my classmates thought Christian meant. Their two week stint made my 52 week-in-and-week-out life harder for four years. (Then I went to seminary. None of my friends was surprised.)

I have been an ordained member of The Episcopal Church for five years this May. I know that Reverend Daniel speaks the truth when she says that part of the challenge of being the Church is that Jesus left people in charge of it. We are, all of us, imperfect creatures, who come with baggage and blind spots.

Some of that we are called to love. And it can take a lot of love. People can be very challenging.

Sometimes the Church, the people and what the people have made institutional and systemic in the Church, is worse than the pointy elbows and knees or missed emails and ignored communicationof being human. Sometimes the Church is predatory, neglectful, and abusive.

A recent post on Episcopal Cafe about clergy being forced out of their positions prompted quieter murmurings other places about how little discussion happened on that post. No one came forward to say it had happened to them. Few examples were given. Fewer remedies were really offered. I worry it is because every victim who read this was too scared to speak openly. A week long discussion in concert with a three day synchroblog about spiritual abuse had me emotionally exhausted and angry by day two. But I know that far more frequently these voices are silent or are whispered in places no where near the local Church.

Reverend Daniel summarized the Church with,

“Because you might actually bump into humanity [in the Church]. You might hit up against something you disagree with. You might have to listen to music you don’t like. You might get asked to share your stuff. You might learn from a tradition far older than you, and realize how small you are standing before such a legacy. You might even be asked to worship something other than yourself.”

All of that I can easily own as part of the Church. I love when the Church, the Body of Jesus, gathers for our best times and for our worst times. I know that we are important for all of the in-between or awkward times too.

I don’t think that’s the hard part. I don’t know of any evidence that the ‘nones’ are anti-community, they just are persuaded that the Church’s community isn’t right for them.

I am afraid that people have heard the Church gathers for our best, our worst, and our awkward in-between times, and while they may like that, they also know they can find all of that somewhere else–without the abuse and the silence. I am afraid that they have stopped hearing us call for the Church to be Christian.

Christian means Christ-like.

Jesus is not just awesome. Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ. And Christian means we are to be like Christ. Or at least trying.

Which is the hardest thing, ever. Because we aren’t going to succeed. Not all of the time and not completely. And all of the people being Christians, trying to be Christ-like, don’t agree on what that means.

The very act of striving to be Christ-like changes us. It’s not about individualism vs community. It is about transformation and resurrection. It is about being willing to look at the worst and hardest parts of ourselves and our society trusting that Christ is looking with us and will be found in those places. It is about remembering that our God is greater than our worst sins–personal or institutional. It is about trying to be better than we are, or can be. It is about knowing that all of our work in this world is of the utmost importance and will fall short of the completely new thing Christ is working in and through us.

I think that message has gotten lost and muted in the midst of the baggage that comes with the word Christian.

Christian means more than Jesus is awesome. Christian means Christ-like. Being Christ-like means believing Easter is a verb, transformation is possible, and that we must have faith in what we cannot see.

I keep discovering that I’m not always OK with calling myself a Christian. Because Christian demands something of me. Not from the equally human people around me, but from from the Risen Savior who insists that I follow him.

But I am a Christian. And I keep trying.

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The Glory of Jesus Christ, a sermon for Palm Sunday 3-24-13

The lessons can be found by clicking here. I worked with Philippians 2:5-11, the ride into Jerusalem, and story of Jesus.

Glory is due to Jesus. Which is where we start today. And Jesus is not done.

Listen: Palm Sunday, 2013

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SR Expensive Misundstandings, Lent 5

Link: Expensive Misunderstandings

Summary of what I was saying and why:
Paul gets a bad reputation. At least when I hang out in liberal or cynical circles. That’s where I started.
Then I started thinking about Mary and the hidden story we don’t know about this nard. What did it cost her to anoint Jesus’s feet with that expensive feet?
What are the hidden sacrifices in all of our pews and pulpits? How do we honor those?

Theology: sacrifice
Jesus Count: moderate
Good News: we have all sacrificed for the sake of the Gospel

What did I change on my feet?
I rewrote the end of the sermon on my feet.
What didn’t work/what did I miss?
I didn’t try to write any modern stories into this sermon. I don’t know that I would go back and do that, I just know that I didn’t.
What did work?
It is important to care for each other and asking the question about the sacrifices we have made (and are making) to worship our God

Other sermons I liked:

Bishop Rickel preaches about how this is not Jesus letting us off the hook or a story of one person being better than the other but the need for both.

Priest Linman preaches about the importance of The Gospel of You (alongside the Gospels of Mary, Lazarus, and Judas).

Priest Giroux preaches on the inability to math love.

Priest Robertson preaches an imagery laden sermon I loved.

(Don’t see your sermon or a sermon you liked? Maybe I don’t know about it. Leave me a comment with a link and I’ll take a look.)

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Expensive Misunderstandings, a sermon for Lent 5, 3-17-13

The lessons can be found by clicking here. I worked with Philipians 3:4b-14 and John 12:1-8.

Robyns Sermons

Paul, who lists off his credentials this morning, is often misunderstood. I pull Mary’s story from the Gospel and the #humbrag from twitter in.

Listen: Lent 5, 2013

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Coming home again, a sermon for Lent 4 3-10-13

The lessons can be found by clicking here. I worked most closely with Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32.

Coming home again is hard.

(There will be a few moments of silence before the sermon begins. Thank you for your patience.)

Listen: Lent 4, 2013

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Cotton Candy Dreams

I remember being not that little and watching the concession-person at the carnival magically spin the cotton candy into a fluffy pink ball to carry as we went home. Well, at least as we started home. I don’t think the cotton candy ever made it all the way home.
Once I started eating my ball of fluffed sugar, I was committed. Spun sugar is very sensitive. Cotton candy doesn’t react well to pressure, water, being eaten, or touched.

Dreams are hard to hold.

I have dreams of a Church where I don’t have to worry about the budget as I help people. A Church that understands what it means to want “younger” priests. A Church where every building and activity are fully accessible to all people. Dreams of Bishops. Dreams of change. Dreams of Pentecost fire, which cannot be put out.

Of course, I live and work in the real world. A world where the bottom line is too often the bottom line. My Church defines “young” priests as those under 35. Change is terrifying. We don’t talk about disability. And I’d rather not talk about the news.

Dreams are hard to hold.

For the seconds (it never lasted for minutes) I was holding my cotton candy, this pink, fluffy, caloric nightmare was the epitome of the carnival. It held a power that lasted longer than the fluffy pink sugar. I remember the sensation of those moments every time I think of the carnival, every time I see the (lesser) bagged cotton candy somewhere.

Dreams are hard to hold.

Unlike the cotton candy I used to eat, I don’t hold my own dreams. I meet my dreams, not once a year at the carnival, but every time I read about God’s mountain being a house of prayer for all people (Isa 56:7), when I read “let no one look down on you because of your youth” (1 Tim 4:12) and remember how young the disciples were, when I read about Jesus not just healing the hemorrhaging woman but insisting on speaking with her (Luke 8:43-48).

Dreams are hard to hold.

I am a beloved child of God. I have learned that means I have been given, charged with, graced into dreams too big for me. Dreams I cannot hold. Dreams God has been offering us and we have been grasping towards for millennia.

This is why Episcopalians have learned to ground Christian life in promises made with God’s help.

This is why I pray.

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (BCP, 832)

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