Sunday, July 30, 2017

Living Into the Kingdom of God

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 12 (Year A)
Romans 8.26-39; Matthew 13.31-33, 44-52
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

[N.B. In the parables in Matthew, Jesus says “the Kingdom of Heaven is like . . .” In this sermon, I chose to use the term “Kingdom of God” instead of “Kingdom of Heaven.” While the terms are synonymous in the Gospels, I think “Kingdom of God” is more accurate, as it feels more expansive, including not just the Kingdom of Heaven but also the Kingdom of God here and now.]

We humans are a naturally curious breed. We inherently want to know that which is currently unknown, and what the future holds for us. This means that as people of faith, as those who believe in the Triune God, as those who follow the Risen Christ, we naturally set our sights on the promise of the Kingdom of God. We want to know what awaits us in the life to come. Of course, since none of us have experienced that directly, we have a hard time fathoming such an unknowable mystery. But that doesn’t stop our questioning. Thankfully, Jesus provides some insight. But since we do not have a frame of reference, Jesus must use common, everyday imagery to paint a picture of that which has been promised to us.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Embodying Thin Places

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 11 (Year A)
Genesis 28.10-19a; Romans 8.12-25; Matthew 13.24-30, 36-43
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

Jesus’ parable of wheat and weeds as being an allegory for good and bad in our midst should come as no surprise. One only has to look at the world around us to see that this is, sadly, the case. While we might like to think that it should be possible to easily identify good from bad, and therefore be able to separate out the bad so that the good may thrive, as do the Master’s servants in the parable, Jesus gives a realistic, albeit sobering, assessment. In theory, yes. But in actuality, this is not always the case.

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Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Yoke Jesus Offers

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 9 (Year A)
Romans 7.15-25a; Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11.28-30).

This well-known passage is at the same time comforting and maybe a little confusing. Comforting because many of us can relate to being weary and carrying heavy burdens – work, family obligations, health issues, relationship issues. Comforting because of Jesus’ promise of rest. But at the same time, it is a little cryptic. In order to obtain this promised rest, Jesus asks that we take on his yoke. How can taking on a yoke, an additional burden, bring rest? He says the yoke is easy, the burden is light. But how?

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Sunday, July 02, 2017

Hospitality as a Sacred, Holy Act

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 8 (Year A)
Matthew 10.40-42
St. Gregory’s, Long Beach

Jesus is preparing to send his disciples out on missionary work. The Gospel readings we have heard over the last few weeks comprise the preparatory instructions Jesus gives them before they depart. Today, he concludes his discourse on what the disciples can expect in their missionary work. Until now, Jesus’ words tend to imply potential hardships that the disciples will face. But today, the focus turns to the rewards to be expected.

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