C.S. Lewis summed up a very Anglican perspective of the Virgin Mary in the preface to Mere Christianity (it’s a bit wordy and a bit heady): “There is no controversy between Christians which needs to be so delicately touched as this [that is, the question of Blessed Virgin Mary]. The Roman Catholic beliefs on that subject are held not only with the ordinary fervour that attaches to all sincere religious belief, but (very naturally) with the peculiar and, as it were, chivalrous sensibility that a man feels when the honour of his mother or his beloved is at stake. It is very difficult so to dissent from them that you will not appear to them a cad as well as a heretic. And contrariwise, the opposed Protestant beliefs on this subject call forth feelings which go down to the very roots of all Monotheism whatever. To radical Protestants Continue reading “Sermon: Saint Mary the Virgin”
Image text: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam is the Latin motto of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), and means “For the greater glory of God.”
Born in 1491, Ignatius began his life as a privileged young man. In his autobiography he writes, “Up to his twenty-sixth year, he was a man given over to the vanities of the world and special delight in the exercise of arms with a great and vain desire of winning glory.” That great desire for glory nearly cost him his life as he was severely injured in the battle of Pamplona in 1521. It was during this time of healing that he had a great spiritual awakening and understood that his life must be dedicated to the work of Jesus. No longer would he be a knight in the battles of the world, but would become Christ’s knight, in the battle for souls. Continue reading “Sermon: Ignatius of Loyola”
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)”
Born into a destitute family in 1542, John of the Cross knew what it meant to rely solely on God. Later he would join the Carmelite order and later come in to contact with another great mystic, Teresa of Avila. Teresa had a desire to reform the order and recruited John to help, but when the monks in his monastery discovered what he was up to, they kidnapped him, locked him in cell, and beat him three times a week for nine months, until he was able to escape. For many, that would have driven them from God, but for John, it drove him closer, so that he understood that we should seek to separate ourselves from everything – both good and evil – so that we might find union with God.
In the Ascent of Mt. Carmel, John writes, “The soul that is attached to anything however much good there may be in it, will not arrive at the liberty of divine union. For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for, until the cord be broken the bird cannot fly.” Continue reading “Sermon: John of the Cross”
Thibideaux took his pet duck to the veterinary clinic, and laid its limp body on the table. The doctor pulled out his stethoscope, listened to the duck’s chest for a moment, then shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry, but your duck has died.”
“What?” Thibideaux screamed, “You haven’t even done any tests! I want another opinion.”
The vet left the room and returned in a few moments with a Labrador retriever. The retriever sniffed the duck on the table carefully from head to toe. Finally, the retriever shook its head and barked once. The Vet shook his head and said, “Not looking good.”
Next, the vet took the Labrador away and returned a few minutes later with an old gray cat, which also sniffed carefully over the duck on the table before shaking its head and saying, “Meow.”
“Nope,” said the vet. “This here duck is dead.” Then he handed Thibideaux a bill for $600. Thibideaux shook the bill at the vet. “$600! Just to tell me my duck is dead?! That’s outrageous!” Continue reading “Sermon: Advent 1 RCL A- “Waiting””
Along the Northeast coast of England, was the kingdom of Bernicia. It changed hands several times between Christian and pagan kings, but in 633 it was conquered by Oswald who was a devout Christian. Having the desire to spread the Good News throughout his kingdom, Oswald sent to Iona for a Bishop. The abbot of Iona agreed and sent to Oswald a bishop named Corman. He failed and returned to Iona, declaring, the “English have no manners; they behave like savages.”
So concerned was the abbot that he convened a synod of the monks. After hearing Corman’s report, one of the monks said to him, “I think, brother, that you may have been to severe for such ignorant listeners, and that you should have led them on more gently, giving them first the milk of religion before its meat.” Agreeing with him, the abbot sent that priest, Aidan, back to Bernicia where he engaged in the work of God among these savage English and was quite successful. His story was recorded for us by the Venerable Bede. Continue reading “Sermon: Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne”
For those with email notification: I’m just learning to do this, so if you see this more than once, please forgive. Thanks.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
We are laying down our lives, but it is not for love. It is for hate. It is for pride. It is for fear. It is for…. But it is not for love.
I am not so naïve as to think, “All we need is love.” We live in a fallen world, so not all have the capacity or even the desire to love, but for those who do… love. Not some happy clappy Valentine’s Day card love, but the kind of love that causes your soul to ache. The kind of love that has faith. The kind of radical love that brings you to lay down your life for another.
Please note: You do not get to choose who you will and will not love! Love.
Go and DO likewise.