Sermon: Proper 10 RCL A – “Imitate”

In 1915, the king of the silent movies was “The Tramp” – Charlie Chaplin. He wore his baggy pants, tight fitting jacket, bowler hat, oversize shoes and carried a cane. His pale skin and mustache were also a part of his trademark, but you could always tell it was him by his walk. He was so popular that communities began to have Charlie Chaplin lookalike contests, the goal to not only look like Chaplin, but to be one who had mastered, who could imitate that iconic walk.

San Francisco was one town that joined in the fun. They were line up around the block to participate. It worked by having several elimination rounds leading up to the finals. Many were cut in that first round, but finally the winner was named. Sounds like fun; however, what made it so comical was the fact that the real Charlie Chaplin had also entered the contest and had been eliminated before the final round.

It is reported, following the competition, that Chaplin was “tempted to give lessons in the Chaplin walk, out of pity as well as in the desire to see the thing done correctly.” Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 10 RCL A – “Imitate””

Sermon: St. Benedict of Nursia

In our reading to the Philippians, Paul said, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” So, if I was to ask you, how would you say that you are working out your salvation?

Some may have a pretty good plan, while others take the Hail Mary approach. Not the Hail Mary prayer, but the Hail Mary play in football, when you are at the end of the game and behind, so you make one last play and hope you come down with a score. I suspect most fall somewhere in-between, but it was Benedict of Nursia who worked out his salvation with a very specific Rule. You know it as the Rule of St. Benedict, which was written about the year 530 a.d. Continue reading “Sermon: St. Benedict of Nursia”

Sermon: Proper 7 RCL A – “Allegiance”

John Kenneth Galbraith was an economist and diplomat serving under four different presidents. In his book, Name-Dropping: From F.D.R. on, Galbraith speaks about the loyalty of Emily Gloria Wilson, his housekeeper of forty years. It had been a wearying day and he had an evening engagement, and had asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while he had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. It was President Lyndon Johnson calling from the White House. It was the president’s custom to make most of his own calls.

“Lyndon Johnson here. Get me Ken Galbraith. I want to talk to him.”

Emily responded, “He’s resting, Mr. President.”

“Well, get him up. I need to talk to him.”

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t. I work for him, not for you, Mr. President.” Continue reading “Sermon: Proper 7 RCL A – “Allegiance””

Sermon: Edward, King and Martyr

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”

Sermon: Proper 6 RCL A – “Called and Obedient”

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””

Sermon: The First Book of Common Prayer (1549)

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)”

Sermon: The Day of Pentecost RCL A – “Drink Deeply”

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””

Sermon: Visitation of the BVM (or “Enthusiastically Preposterous)

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)”

Sermon: Easter 7 RCL A – “Giving Glory”

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””