Sunday, February 26, 2017

Being Transfigured By the Presence of the Holy

Last Sunday after the Epiphany (Year A) – Transfiguration
Matthew 17.1-9
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

For the last two months, we have made our journey through the season of Epiphany. Today we come to the end of that journey. This is the last Sunday before beginning a new journey – our Lenten journey. The journey in which we walk with Jesus as he turns his face toward Jerusalem and what awaits him there.

Throughout the season after Epiphany we have explored various ways Jesus is revealed as the Son of God. Today, we witness the Transfiguration – what is probably the most dramatic way, short of the Resurrection, that Jesus is revealed as Son of God, as God incarnate. As such, this is a proper ending to the season of Epiphany – the grand finale, if you will.

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Be Perfect, Be Holy

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany (Year A)
Leviticus 19.1-2, 9-18; 1 Corinthians 3.10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5.38-48
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect? Really?

You thought last week’s Gospel lesson was difficult to hear. Where Jesus reinterpreted “you shall not murder” to make anger equal to murder and “you shall not commit adultery” to make even impure thoughts equal to adultery. Things that are pretty near impossible for us mere mortals to live up to. And now he tells us that we are to be perfect like God. What is he thinking?

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Chose Life

Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany (Year A)
Deuteronomy 30.15-20; Matthew 5.21-37
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

Is it me, or is it getting a little warm in here? If you really listened to the Gospel reading – really listened to it – most of you, maybe all of you, are feeling a little heat.

In our Gospel for today, Jesus talks about not committing murder, not committing adultery, not getting divorced, and not swearing falsely. Most of these are pretty big offense in the eyes of Jewish Law. And some of them continue to be pretty big offenses in our own legal, as well as ethical and moral system. We still condemn murder. We still take a pretty hard stand against adultery. We still look disapprovingly at false oaths, broke promises, and outright lies. And divorce? Well, today we generally recognize that there are legitimate situations when divorce may be preferable to staying married. But divorce is still far from ideal.

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Sunday, February 05, 2017

"You ARE the Salt of the Earth"

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany (Year A)
Isaiah 58.1-9; Matthew 5.13-20
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

“You are the salt of the earth”

This has always been a little puzzling to me. For as long as I can remember, this phrase has conjured up images of deserts – areas that tend to be higher in salinity, due to higher rates of evaporation which leaves behind salt residues in the soil. Areas that are more inhospitable to life, particularly having detrimental effects on plant growth and crop yield, which itself can lead to soil erosion. Or the image of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt as punishment for looking back as Sodom and Gomorrah are being destroyed because of the wicked people who live there. What came to my mind was an image that I knew was the complete opposite of the point Jesus is trying to make about God’s people as being nurturing and life-giving.

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