30 November 2014
First Sunday of Advent
Advent 1B (RCL)
Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

The First Sunday of Advent is always important for a parish named Church of the Advent. We always observe the day as our festal day, though the tone of the season is anticipatory rather than celebratory. Year B is always the most difficult year to celebrate this day as a feast: Oh, that you would tear open the heavens and come down. This is a cry of desperation, not a cry of celebration. “In those days, after that suffering” is not a text to encourage joy. Continue reading “Hoping”


23 November 2014
Last Sunday after Pentecost
The Reign of Christ
Proper 29A (RCL)
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46

The parable of the sheep and goats is another passage from Matthew’s Gospel we’ve heard so many times, that we almost can’t hear it anymore. Like the beatitudes, we hear it with centuries of sentiment behind it. “Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you have done it unto me.” we pat ourselves on the back for giving canned good to the food pantry, toys for the children and coats to the homeless. I don’t think that is why Matthew is telling the story. The parable is about recognition and failure to recognize: both sheep and goats ask, “When did we see you?” Continue reading “Inasmuch”

Fear or hope?

16 November 2014
Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 28A (RCL)
Judges 4:1-7
Psalm 123
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Matthew 25:14-30

This is another one of those parables no one likes: the master, who is God if we read this allegorically, turns out to be a mean guy. The poor slave who buried the talent in the ground gets thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. To which we say, “The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Christ.” Matthew’s Gospel has a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth — there must have been some conflict which necessitated drawing the boundaries of the community very tightly. The parable of the tenants and the vineyard, the parable of the wedding feast and the parable of the bridesmaids all make a distinction between who is in and who is out. Again, the parable of the talents makes the same point.

But here, the judgment really happens before the master returns. Continue reading “Fear or hope?”

Shine a light

9 November 2014
Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 27A (RCL)
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
Psalm 78:1-7
1 Thessalonians 413-18
Matthew 25:1-13

Paul’s first letter to the Church at Thessalonika is the first written evidence we have of a person named Jesus claimed as Lord by a small band of misfits in the Roman Empire. Paul probably wrote the letter around the year 50. On other evidence, we can assume Jesus died around the year 30. This letter then gives us the state of reflection on the person of Jesus twenty years after his death. Clearly Paul taught and the Thessalonians believed that this Jesus would “come back” after his death, in some apocalyptic scenario that involved the summons of an archangel and the trumpet of God. Already, by 50, people were wondering why this return was so long delayed. Many who had believed had died before seeing the parousia, the official visit of Jesus as Lord (that’s what parousia means).

Paul uses the euphemism of “falling asleep” for death. Continue reading “Shine a light”