Listen to Him! A Sermon for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, 2017

 

We have come to end of the season after the Epiphany. It’s been a long season this year—this is the 8th Sunday, so Christmas, the birth of Jesus, the coming of the Magi, all of that is little more than a distant memory. Still, in this long season, we have been reflecting on all of the way in which God shows Godself to us, in Jesus Christ as well as in the glory of creation. The season always ends, in all three years of the lectionary cycle, with the story  we just heard, one of the gospels’ versions of the transfiguration. Continue reading

Being open to the strange: A Sermon for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, 2016

 

Corrie and I discovered streaming video last fall. We haven’t really watched network TV for fifteen years or so, but found ourselves needing something to help us unwind after stressful days. So we watched all of “Bing Bang Theory” over the fall. Then we turned to “How I met your Mother.” It got pretty lame but we stuck it out to the bitter end because we weren’t quite sure what else we might watch. Then, a couple of weeks ago, we came across “Mozart in the Jungle.” It’s a program produced by Amazon, available on streaming video. Set in the rarified environment of New York’s classical music scene, it chronicles the lives and world of the fictional New York Symphony, its hot-shot young conductor, the struggles of people trying to make careers in the fine arts, as well as the financial challenges of arts institutions in contemporary culture. Continue reading

A Hymn for the Feast of the Transfiguration and Hiroshima Day

Today is August 6. In the liturgical calendar, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, remembering when Jesus appeared with Moses and Elijah (Mk. 9:2-8). Today is also the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima. It’s a horrific confluence of commemorations as the gospels’ description of the event: Jesus’ face transfigured, his clothes dazzling white, and at the end, a cloud descending upon them, eerily mirrored by the power and devastation of the atomic blast. Here’s a hymn for the day, from Aelred-Seton Shanley, posted at Company of Voices:

  

Listen to Him! A Sermon for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany

Have you ever had an experience where in the middle of it, while you were enjoying it, you thought to yourself, Wow, if only this could last forever! What was happening then? Were you out in the middle of some adventure, climbing a mountain, or watching a glorious sunset? Were you laying on the beach, enjoying the beautiful weather as you escaped a Wisconsin February? Were you sitting around with family and friends, in a moment of intimacy and joy? Were you eating the meal of a lifetime, savoring combinations of tastes and exquisite preparation? Were you at a concert or visiting a cathedral or art museum? Continue reading

Transfiguration and War

August 6 is the Feast of the Transfiguration. It is also the 69th anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In fact, the connection between August 6, the Transfiguration, and war goes back to 1456, when Pope Callixtus III established that day for the Feast of the Transfiguration, in celebration of the victory of Hungarian forces led by John Hunyadi over the Turks which temporarily stopped the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe.

For those of us who grew up after World War II, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were frightening symbols of the power of atomic weapons and of the horrible destruction they could unleash. The unimaginable suffering of those who died and survived created indelible images that were balanced by the equally unimaginable suffering caused by the war that was ended by Japan’s surrender.

In the decades since August 6 1945, we witnessed continued war and suffering, but thankfully no more use of atomic weapons. This summer we commemorate not just Hiroshima but also the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. We witness wars and violence in Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, as well as in central Africa.

What is the message of the Transfiguration in the midst of all this violence, historical and current? On one level, the Transfiguration is about the mysterious appearance of Jesus Christ to his disciples in the radiance of his divinity, with a voice from heaven telling them, “This is my beloved Son.” Still, Jesus’ suffering and death, the cross, looms on the horizon of the Transfiguration, the Mount of Transfiguration foreshadows the mount of Calvary, as the collect for the day so beautifully expresses:

O God, who before the passion of your only­begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Get up! Do not be afraid! A Sermon for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany

I was struggling to figure out how to start my sermon this morning. I didn’t think the introduction worked very well at 8:00 so I went back upstairs between services and tried again. But it didn’t help; it still seemed flat. Then as I began to listen to the choir during the psalm chant, it came to me. The setting by Thomas Atwood is one of my favorites and as I listened, I was immediately transported back to Choral Evensong at All Saints’ Chapel in Sewanee, TN. I’ve come to love Anglican chant and a beautifully sung Choral Evensong is an opportunity for me to experience God’s beauty through music. As I listened to the choir this morning, I was reminded of the power and beauty of evensong, reminded of encountering God through music, and I was left wanting to hear more, to recapture those experiences of years ago. Continue reading

Listen to Him: A Sermon for the Last Sunday of Epiphany, 2013

February 10, 2013

Epiphany is a season during which we are invited to explore the ways in which God’s glory appears to us. This year, brief as it is, we have seen God’s glory in the Baptism of our Lord, in the miracle of Jesus Christ turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. Each year, on the last Sunday of Epiphany, we hear a different gospel version of the same story, Jesus’ transfiguration. It is a story that breaks in upon us, just as God’s glory breaks in upon us, and in its details, its eerie nature, and its resonances, it breaks in upon our sense of time and reality, and invites to look forward to the resurrection, and back to the Hebrew Bible, to Sinai and to the prophets. Continue reading