Early sources state that St. Edward “was a young man of great devotion and excellent conduct. He was completely Orthodox, good and of holy life. Moreover, he loved above all things God and the Church. He was generous to the poor, a haven to the good, a champion of the Faith of Christ, a vessel full of every virtuous grace.” He was martyred for good old fashioned greed. Greed of power and greed of wealth.
Around 963 Edgar the Peaceable was King of England. Prior to the birth of his first son, he had a dream which was interpreted for him: “After your death the Church of God will be attacked. You will have two sons. The supporters of the second will kill the first, and while the second will rule on earth the first will rule in heaven.” The first son was Edward, but the queen died shortly after giving birth. Edgar married again and gave birth to the second son, Ethelred, and Ethelred’s mother had great ambitions for her son. Citing some technicalities in the birth of Edward, she claimed that her son should be heir to the thrown, which set off divisions throughout the kingdom. Continue reading “Sermon: Edward, King and Martyr”
In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery. “Your Majesty,” said Prior Richard, “do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.”
“I understand,” said Henry. “The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.”
“Then I will tell you what to do,” said Prior Richard. “Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.” When King Henry died, a statement was written: “The King learned to rule by being obedient.” Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 6 RCL A – “Called and Obedient””
I confess, I love reading Stephen King, enough so that when I’m not satisfied with other things that I’ve been reading, I’ll go pick up one of his books that I haven’t read for awhile and read it again. I also like reading about how he writes and what sparks the ideas for his stories and books. In several of these stories, he actually writes about a writer, and in the case of the short story, The Body (the movie Stand by Me is based on the story), he writes about Gordie LaChance, an author who is telling the story of when he was twelve. On writing, Gordie says, “The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish them – words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller, but for want of an understanding ear.” Continue reading “Sermon: The First Book of Common Prayer (1549)”
In The Wounded Healer, Henri Nouwen retells a tale from ancient India: Four royal brothers decided each to master a special ability. Time went by, and the brothers met to reveal what they had learned.
“I have mastered a science,” said the first, “by which I can take but a bone of some creature and create the flesh that goes with it.”
“I,” said the second, “know how to grow that creature’s skin and hair if there is flesh on its bones.”
The third said, “I am able to create its limbs if I have flesh, the skin, and the hair.”
“And I,” concluded the fourth, “know how to give life to that creature if its form is complete.” Continue reading “Sermon: The Day of Pentecost RCL A – “Drink Deeply””
I came across a brief study of the word preposterous. Pre is something we are familiar with, which means “before.” The Latin word posterous is a bit more tricky, but if you think of what you fall on when you slip on the ice, posterior (aka: the derrière), then you know that posterous has something to do with the backside. More accurately it means “coming after” or “that which comes after.” Therefore, preposterous means: that which comes before comes afterwards… backwards. We take it to mean absurd or silly.
Donald K. McKim, the former Dean of Memphis Theological Seminary, used the word preposterous in a perspective on Christianity. He wrote, “Now Christianity is a preposterous faith because it asks us actually to live backwards. Or, to put it another way, Christianity asks us to put some things before other things when more naturally, we’d choose to live the other way around. The faith calls us as followers of Jesus Christ to a new lifestyle, a new way of living. It asks us to hold new attitudes. In short, Christianity asks us to live in a way the world may judge to be absurd. Yet all the time, we are really only being truly preposterous.” Christianity asks us “to live backwards” lives that by the world’s standards are absurd, silly, foolish. Continue reading “Sermon: Visitation of the BVM (or “Enthusiastically Preposterous)”
God created the dog and said: ‘Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.’
The dog said: ‘That’s a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I’ll give you back the other ten?’
So God agreed.
God created the monkey and said: ‘Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I’ll give you a twenty-year life span.’
The monkey said: ‘Monkey tricks for twenty years? That’s a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?’
And God agreed. Continue reading “Sermon: Easter 7 RCL A – “Giving Glory””
For years a particular church had been growing. Folks from every walk of life were attending. The music was good, the coffee was good, they were adding to their numbers every week, but what was the best was the preaching. That preacher could take to the pulpit and the congregation was like putty. We he wanted them to cry, they bawled. When he wanted them to laugh, it was comedy central. When he wanted them to give, they couldn’t give enough. Word of this church made its way all the way to heaven, so Jesus decided that he would like to see it for himself. Choosing a Sunday at random he showed up. No one recognized him, but he remembered that the disciples had a hard enough time recognizing him after the resurrection also, so he wasn’t concerned. No one welcomed him, but my goodness, they were busy, so that was OK too. Intent on seeing it all, he made his way to the front pew and sat dead center (he stuck out there, as no one else was in the first several pews, preferring to gather towards the back). Continue reading “Sermon: Easter 6 RCL A – “Seek””
A young American engineer was sent to Ireland by his company to work in a new electronics plant. It was a two-year assignment that he had accepted because it would enable him to earn enough to marry his long-time girlfriend. She had a job near her home in Tennessee, and their plan was to pool their resources and put a down payment on a house when he returned. They corresponded often, but as the lonely weeks went by, she began expressing doubts that he was being true to her, exposed as he was to comely Irish lasses.
The young engineer wrote back, declaring with some passion that he was paying absolutely no attention to the local girls. “I admit,” he wrote, “that sometimes I’m tempted. But I fight it. I’m keeping myself for you.”
In the next mail, the engineer received a package. It contained a note from his girl and a harmonica. “I’m sending this to you,” she wrote, “so you can learn to play it and have something to take your mind off those girls.”
The engineer replied, “Thanks for the harmonica. I’m practicing on it every night and thinking of you.” Continue reading “Sermon: Easter 5 RCL A – “The Old Argument””
Dame Julian of Norwich (d.1416) is one of the most celebrated English mystics, and her collected writings, Revelations of Divine Love, form the first book written by a woman, to be published in English. It contains her sixteen “shewings” or visions/revelations. Continue reading “Sermon: Julian of Norwich”