Sunday, November 27, 2016

"Are You Ready?"

First Sunday of Advent (Year A)
Isaiah 2.1-5; Romans 13.11-14; Matthew 24.36-44
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

Are you ready? When you hear those words this time of year, particularly in the period after Thanksgiving, with X shopping days until Christmas (by the way, there are only 27 more shopping days before Christmas) – most of us think, “are you ready for Christmas?” But no, I don’t mean “are you ready for Christmas?” I mean, “Are you ready for Advent?”

What’s the difference, you may ask. After all, Advent is the season before Christmas. The time to prepare for Christmas. Isn’t it? As my seminary New Testament professor would have responded, “it’s more complicated than that.”

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Revisiting Christ the King

Last Sunday of Pentecost – Christ the King (Year C)
Jeremiah 23.1-6; Colossians 1.11-20; Luke 23.33-43
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. Now, admittedly, many of us today have a hard time with the concept of a king, for a variety of reasons. At one time, monarchial rule was certainly the norm, with virtually all nations being ruled by a king or equivalent. However, now there are only 26 monarchs in the world, ruling only about eight percent of the world’s population. So the notion of kingship has become the exception rather than the rule. And then there is the general perception of the nature of kingship. At one time, virtually all monarchs ruled with absolute authority. Again, that has changed. Today, most monarchs are mere figureheads with limited power. There are only five absolute monarchs in the world, ruling less than 0.2 percent of the world’s population. So again, this notion is definitely the exception. Given all of this, the concept of king, particularly an absolute, all-powerful monarch, is a thing of the past.

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Living Through What is Temporary without Losing Sight of What is Eternal"

26th Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 28 (Year C)
Isaiah 65.17-25; 2 Thessalonians 3.6-13; Luke 21.5-19
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

Despite being a Christian my entire life, despite being ordained for ten years, I never cease to be amazed how Scripture speaks to us right where we are in our own contemporary lives. Our Sunday readings are dictated by an established lectionary, with designated readings for each Sunday of the year, arranged in a three year cycle. And even in the fixed nature of the readings, there are times in our common life when the words that are appointed for a particular day seem to have been specifically selected to address the particular situation or circumstances in which we find ourselves – as individuals, as a worshiping community, as a society.

So it is today. Even in the contradictory images from our Scripture readings – in the very contradictions themselves – we find a word to us to help guide us through what many may consider difficult times. Just as these same words guided their original audiences – Isaiah speaking to the people as they prepare to return to Israel from exile in Babylon, and Luke’s gospel speaking to the newly formed church at the beginning of the Christian era – through the difficult times they faced in their common lives.

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Sunday, November 06, 2016

Journey of Saints

All Saints’ Sunday
Ephesians 1.11-23; Luke 6.20-31
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

What comes to mind when you think of “saints”?

[pause for answers from congregation]

These are all good answers. Now, let’s bring it all together.

On the calendar, we actually have a three day period dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and all faithful departed believers. These are Halloween, All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2). These three days are collectively known as Allhallowtide. While secular society focuses primarily on Halloween, the church primarily focuses on All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day. On All Saints’ Day, we remember those whom we typically think of as saints, those who have been canonized, or specifically declared a saints, by the Church. These include the likes of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Patrick, and the newest saint on the calendar, St. Teresa of Calcutta, also known as Mother Teresa. On All Souls Day (also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed), we remember all the “regular” folks who have died. We specifically remember our own loved ones who have entered into eternal life.

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