Sunday, April 24, 2016

A New Commandment

Fifth Sunday of Easter – Year C
Acts 11.1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21.1-6; John 13.31-35
Sunday, April 24, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

The Easter season is about how we are inheritors of new life through Christ’s resurrection. In the first part of the season, we focused on Jesus’ resurrection appearances to his disciples and how these experiences shaped their lives and reframed their ministry in the time following Jesus’ departure. These were the ones who knew Christ’s message firsthand and who were charged with spreading the Gospel. Now, they would spread an even greater message – that something new is happening. And that new thing is nothing short of new life.

Read more!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Voice of the Shepherd

Fourth Sunday of Easter – Year C
Acts 9.36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 9.9-17; John 10.22-30
Sunday, April 17, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

About 15 years ago, give or take, I was in a mall in Riverside a couple of weeks before Christmas. I had been so busy that I had to take a weekday off so I could do my Christmas shopping. This was before online shopping had become the favored means of commerce. I was in a women’s store looking for some things for my mother and my sister. There were obviously the store employees, as well as other shoppers in the store. As a result, there was the sounds of a number of voices. There was also the sound of Christmas music over the speakers, and a myriad of other sounds drifting in from other parts of the mall. All of this mixed together to create a sea of background noise with one single component almost indistinguishable from the rest. I was in the front corner of the store looking at some sweaters, trying to decide which ones to get for Mom and Lisa. All of a sudden, I noticed something vaguely familiar. At first it didn’t quite register, but there was something in that background noise that grabbed my attention. I whipped around in the general direction of the seemingly familiar sound. Sure enough, there in the back of the store, probably as far away as the doors of the narthex, I saw my mother talking to one of the clerks. My mother does not have a particularly loud voice. Yet, over all the other sounds and voices in the place, hers reached my ears and was recognized.

Read more!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Relationship with the Risen Christ

Third Sunday of Easter – Year C
Acts 9.1-6 (7-20); Psalm 30; Revelation 5.11-14; John 21.1-19
Sunday, April 10, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

I want you to think about your relationship with Jesus. When did he come into your life? How did he come into your life? How did he change your life?

Some people can name the exact date, time, and place when they first encountered Jesus or when they felt that he had changed their life in some substantial way. This is generally due to having a significant conversion experience resulting in them choosing to follow him in an intentional way. In some Christian movements, this is referred to as being “born again,” indicating a definite demarcation between an old way of life before Jesus, and a new life of faith in Christ. For some, this is a dramatic change.

For others, development of their relationship with Christ is far is more subtle. Sometimes it’s as if Jesus just slipped into their lives while they weren’t looking. Or maybe he was just always present, particularly for those who grew up in Christian families, where church and matters of faith were just part of normal life. There is no real defining moment separating life before knowing Christ and life in relationship with him. And there may not be a dramatic change in their lives as a result, since they have been slowly formed in the teachings of new life in Christ.

Read more!

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Doubt About Belonging

Second Sunday of Easter – Year C
Acts 5.27-32; Psalm 118.14-27; Revelation 1.4-8; John 20.19-31
Sunday, April 3, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

Without a doubt, the Resurrection of Christ is the single most important event in all of history. What happened at Easter, what we heard and celebrated last week at the Great Vigil on Saturday night and at the Easter Day service last Sunday, is way too big to be encompassed in just one day or even one week. It requires more time to fully fathom the breadth and the depth of what has happened event, more time to explore and question, to comprehend the magnitude of this single event. For that reason, the Church has defined Easter as not just one day, but as a “week of weeks” spanning seven Sundays. And with each passing week, we continue to look at Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, to glimpse more and more of this great mystery. And even then, that will not be enough. For in reality, it will take a lifetime, and beyond, to fully grasp.

Read more!