LETTING A SERMON SPEAK TO ME

“’…Woe to you Pharisees! for you love the best seat in the synagogues and salutations in the market places. Woe to you! for you are like graves which are not seen, and men walk over them without knowing it.’ One of the lawyers answered him, ‘Teacher, in saying this you reproach us also.’ And he said, ‘Woe to you lawyers also! for you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” (Lk 11: 43-46) Good for this lawyer! He heard the actions of “others” being reproached in a sermon, but recognized that he himself was reproachable, in these same ways. And for this insight, the Lord blesses him with a clarification, as to how he and his lo

PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING

“The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is clear/healthy (ἁπλοῦς), your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is evil/unhealthy (πονηρὸς), your body also is full of darkness. Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.” (Lk 11: 34-36) I believe I already reflected on this passage, at some point in the last few years, but it’s our Church’s reading for today, so here this goes.Our “eye” is our perception of things; the way we “see” ourselves, our lives, other things and others, includi

AN UNIMPRESSIBLE GENERATION

“When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.’” (Lk 11: 29-32) Why does Jesus call

“WITH YOUR SPIRIT”

“Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” (Gal 6: 18) Just as we often respond to a celebrating priest, “And with your spirit,” after he has blessed us at our church-services, so does St. Paul say to all of us, “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” Because all of us, both clergy and laity, while having different vocations, are given to share in One and the Same Spirit, as St. Paul writes: “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink (ἐποτίσθημεν) of one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12: 13) Whatever my state of mind is today, and whatever “mood” I may be in, with regard t

DON’T WORRY ABOUT APPEARANCES

“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” (Lk 8: 16-18) Don’t worry about appearances, my Lord tells me in this passage. Because if I truly “hear” His word, that is to say, if I let it light up my life, then it will also be a light for “those who enter” my “house.” And this is true, regardless of whether this is “known” or celebrated i

ST. PAUL’S GREETINGS

“Give my greetings to the brethren at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house (κατ᾽οἶκον αὐτῆς ἐκκλησίαν). And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, ‘See that you fulfil the ministry which you have received in the Lord.’ I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Col 4: 15-18) The final greetings at the end of St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, which are part of our Church’s reading for today, are very personal, and specific to the community for which they were written. And yet, we read these greetings, ye

HALLOWED BE THY NAME

“Now he was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.’ Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has com

HALLOWED BE THY NAME

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be (ἁγιασθήτω) Thy name…” (Mt 6: 9) It’s the first thing we “ask” for, in the Our Father; that God’s name “be hallowed.“ We’re saying, “Let it be” holy. But who is it that we are “asking,” to “let it be” this way? We are asking ourselves, while calling to God as our Witness, to let His “name,” – His “reputation” amongst us, if you will, – not to be tainted by our own projections upon Him, of our own shortcomings and issues (for example, our “daddy issues,” say, of a distant or absent or unreasonably-demanding or otherwise-abusive parent). Because God Himself does not need to be asked to do this, as He does not stand in

THE SIMPLER WAY

“While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, ‘Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.’ But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying. An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.’ John answered, ‘Master, we sa

BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt 5: 7) When I give others a break, I find that I get a break also. When I mercifully let go of certain demands and/or expectations I’ve been insisting on, with respect to others; demands and/or expectations that they cannot or will not meet at this point, for whatever reason, then I unburden myself of disappointment or resentment, and “obtain mercy.” Mercy, which is God’s way of being, is like a gust of wind that clears the air of all sorts of impurities, which blur my vision and impede the way forward in my relationships. Mercy frees us to move forward in God’s way, and in God’s time, which may not correspond to the time-frame or v

DO NOT PUT CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH

“For we are the (true) circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh. Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Phil 3: 3-8a) Once again, St. Paul

I AM THE DOOR

“I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not o

THE THINGS WE DO NOT KNOW

“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and took his place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.’ And Jesus answering said to him, ‘Simon, I h

THE THINGS WE DO NOT KNOW

“It is proper and right to hymn You, to bless You, to praise You, to give thanks to You, and to worship You in every place of Your dominion. For You, O God, are ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, existing forever, forever the same (ἀεὶ ὤν, ὡσαύτως ὤν), You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit. You brought us out of nothing into being, and when we had fallen away, You raised us up again. You left nothing undone until You had led us up to heaven and granted us Your kingdom, which is to come. For all these things, we thank You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit: for all things we know and do not know, for blessings manifest and hidden that have been b

THE GOSPEL & PROSPERITY

”When the men had come to him, they said, ’John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, Are you the Coming One (ὁ ἐρχόμενος), or do we look for (προσδοκῶμεν) another?’ And that very hour he healed many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind he gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of me.” (Lk 7: 20-23) Jesus Christ, “the Coming One,” was “coming” into the lives of many, and “healing” their afflictions and infirmities. So the

SPREADING GOOD NEWS, WITHOUT FEAR

”But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel (τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, of the good news), so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (Phil 1: 12-14) St. Paul’s decision to follow his “vocation” or “call,” to follow Christ, led the Apostle to much pain and isolation, even unto imprisonment and “chains.” As Carl Jung wrote about the whole messy business of following one’s “vocation,” which he considered an essential part of “the

GIVE, AND IT WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Lk 6: 37-38) …But I can’t give what I haven’t first received, from God. When I allow the “good” of God into my heart (like forgiveness, mercy, gratitude, humility, and so on), and then pass it on to others, I find it comes back to me. When I’m embracing gratitude, patience, humility, compassion, and perceiving the world in God’s light, I find that this light is reflected back onto me, as people,

GOD LETS US MAKE OUR OWN MISTAKES

“And Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.’” (Jn 12: 23-24) The whole mystery of physical resurrection, through which our Lord “restored” or “redeemed” our fallen humanity, was already revealed by our Creator in His creation, in the way He made plants grow from seeds, which need to “fall into the earth and die,” in order to come alive again to “bear much fruit.” We learn this in the very first chapter of the Bible, when God says, “’Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yiel

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