“Perhaps that’s the question that Jesus gives to the crowd: ‘What are you carrying? How’s that working for you?’ And tucked within it is an invitation to carry the cross. Perhaps Jesus knows that we, as humans, don’t have a choice about carrying things. But maybe we do have a choice about what we carry.”
“Idolatry isn’t as hot a topic for us today as it was in Jeremiah’s time. I doubt that very many of us in this room have been tempted more than once a twice, for example, to sacrifice a bull before a statue of the god Baal. But the problem with idolatry isn’t really a problem of how you worship; it’s a problem of what you worship, what it is that you consider to be most worthy. And in that sense, I do think that there are idols that we worship in our society today.”
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“First sermons are a little bit like first dates. Here I am: I want to do well. I want to come off as ‘just right’ – just funny enough, just insightful enough, wise but not lacking in spontaneity. There you are. Wanting to appear a healthy, fun-loving group of people with whom a young rector would love to spend years. But just as I was preparing for a crisp, polished sermon, just as I was hoping for a pleasant and straightforward message of God’s love – here comes Jesus interrupting it all: ‘I came to bring fire upon the earth; I didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword of division.’”
“I love baseball. I really love baseball. If I had been better at it, we wouldn’t be having this conversation together, today, in all probability. I was a catcher, albeit not a very gifted one. Many umpires tend to say things such as ‘I call them as I see them,’ or ‘They are what they are.’ My favorite umpire of all time, however, had a more existential view on balls and strikes. ‘They ain’t nothing until I call them.’ Which leads us to today’s gospel. We are, none of us, anything until we are called, and hear the call.”
“Asteroid 2019 OK passed us by without leaving a mark, and we’re all here today to tell the tale. But it does sharpen the point of today’s parable: This very night our lives could be demanded of us, and the things we have prepared won’t be ours anymore. When an asteroid comes and crashes into the earth, it doesn’t matter if you’re rich in possessions. What you really need is to be ‘rich toward God.’ So then—what does it mean to be rich toward God?”
“It can be helpful, sometimes, when something swerves in front of our prayers and knocks us out of cruise control. Take today’s gospel reading: ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread.’ The Lord’s Prayer. But wait a second. Wait a second. Jesus: did you just say the Lord’s Prayer wrong?“
“The lawyer recites the commandment to ‘love your neighbor’ and asks, ‘Then who’s my neighbor?’ But Jesus also answers the question, ‘What is love?’ Love is to see someone in pain and to be ‘moved with pity.’ But love doesn’t stop there. Love goes to that person, tends to that person, pays for that person’s care. Love follows up with that person. And love demands that others care for that person.“
“Just who does Jesus think he is? I don’t mean that question in the way my late mother asked me a similar question, usually offered up with the entirety of my name: ‘Just who do you think you are, David Kimball Urion?’ No, I mean that question literally: who does Jesus think he is, and just when does he come to know that?“
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“You might be surprised to hear me say this, but the Trinity is the most interesting, the most illuminating, and some would say the only worthwhile thing about Christianity. And yet the doctrine of the Trinity is the most boring, the most opaque, and many would say the most stultifying thing about Christianity. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t deny that the First, Second, and Third persons of the Trinity are coequal, coeternal, and consubstantial, and that ‘we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance,’ but… it’s not what gets me out of bed in the morning.”
“It would not have made a lick of difference if one disciple alone in his room, maybe with a candle or some burning sage, was suddenly filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in another language. The sudden ability to speak another language would not have been a foundational moment for Christianity. That moment depended on diverse people gathering together in one place and actively seeking God. Nowadays, we call that situation ‘church.’”
“Within just months of the resurrection, this joyous victory parade has taken a surprise turn. Jesus, who has seemingly returned to lead his disciples as they transform the world, who appears to have conquered death itself to reign as king over all creation, goes away. He leaves behind a movement of disciples who, far from being dismayed that they’re losing Jesus a second time over, are instead emboldened and invigorated, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit as they continue to proclaim in every time and place: ‘The Lord is King.’ So what on earth is going on?“
“If we are genuinely Spirit-filled, we will live in keeping with God’s purposes for this world. This means that we have to determine God’s purposes for this world. And how do we do that? We do it right here. As John put it in today’s gospel: ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.‘ (John 14:23)“
“If we think about it much at all, the Book of Revelation gives us some pause and discomfort as well-behaved, reserved, decorous Anglicans. Filled with strange images and stories, it’s all a bit too hallucinatory to be entirely comfortable for us. This, it would seem, is the stuff of holy rollers and snake handlers. So how on earth—or heaven, for that matter—are we to understand this book and its messages?”
Kate’s sermon charged us all to follow our recently-confirmed students’ example: “Explore your faith. Don’t let faith be just a creed that you mutter on Sunday. Keep learning. Keep challenging your clergy with interesting questions. Ask your friends and family about their faith. And if you find a question you can’t answer, keep looking.”