Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Sermons and Reflections

The Uncomfortable Now – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 15 OCT 2017

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Morgan’s watercolor images of Isaiah 25:1-9. On the left are the bricks falling down and on the right God building the city back.

Today’s Sermon – The Uncomfortable Now

LESSONS:

First Lesson              Isaiah 25:1-9

Psalm                         Psalm 23

Second Lesson         Philippians 4:4-13

Gospel                       Matthew 22:1-14

COLLECT: God, our refuge and strength, true source of all godliness: Graciously hear the devout prayers of your Church, and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who sits at your right hand to intercede for us, and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns in everlasting glory. Amen.

You’re Invited! – Reflection for 15 October 2017

Wedding Feast of the LambWhen I get an invitation to an event or party, I generally have two questions, “Do I want to go?” and “What will I wear?”

If I don’t really want to go, I will search for an excuse or try to create a conflict in my schedule so that I have an out, much like the first group invited by the king in our Gospel parable. While I would love to say that invitations from God are different, in all honesty, I still ask do I really want to. When God invites me to a time of quiet and prayer, I often find other more important things to do. When God invites me to share His love with someone, I often remain busy with whatever “important” task I have chosen for myself. When God invites me to worship, my body may be present but my heart and my mind may be too filled with the worry, anger, betrayal, unforgiveness, and the troubles of the week. William Willamon notes that the key to ministry is recognizing interruptions as divine appointments.

The question of what to wear may seem a bit silly, but after 20+ years wearing a uniform and not having to make this decision, the options are daunting. Clerics or street clothes? Tie or no tie? Jacket or no jacket? The beautiful part of today’s parable is that the king provides the clothing for the guests. The only one that is dressed poorly is the one who chooses to remain clothed in his own clothes rather than the clothes provided by the king. We have the opportunity to be clothed in the mercy of Christ. Too often, I choose to remain in the garments of pride, judgement, and self-righteousness.

As the King invites you today to the wedding feast of the Lamb, the question remains, “Do you want to go?” and “What will you wear?”

Tending the Vineyard – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 8 OCT 2017

vineyard-grapes-home-slideshowToday’s Sermon – Tending the Vineyard

LESSONS:

First Lesson         Isaiah 5:1-7

Psalm                    Psalm 80

Second Lesson    Philippians 3:14-21

Gospel                  Matthew 21:33-44

COLLECT: Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in continual godliness; that through your protection it may be free from all adversities, and devotedly serve you in good works, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

A Time for Lament – Reflection for 8 October 2017

The events of the past several weeks have left me raw and unsettled. Like the Psalmist, I desire to be restored, but as much as I would like to accomplish this restoration on my own, I am also aware of my limitations. At times like this, the practice of lament seems the best way for me to hand things over to God, and so I offer you this lament in the hope that it may help you to offer your struggles and disappointment to God.frontpage1400x700Sepia

Why are you distant, O Lord

Why do you hide your face
You promise freedom and we are trapped
You promise healing and we are broken
You promise peace and we are killed
You promise love and mercy and
we are surrounded by hate and violence

You have allowed your people who are called by your name
to be deceived
A small, narrow truth overcomes Love
A small, narrow love overcomes Truth
Shouting overwhelms listening
Name calling replaces reconciliation
Anger and fear defy Peace

Why are you distant, O Lord
Why do you hide your face
You have blinded our eyes
You have sealed our ears
You have hardened our hearts
You have sharpened our tongues

We have tried to heal ourselves
We have tried to conceal our hurt
We have tried to earn your grace
We have tried to manufacture your mercy

Yet we remain apart from your grace
There is no health in us
We are trapped and only you can free us
Only you, O Lord, can heal us

Your ways are wise
Your promises sure
You are near, let us see you
You speak, let us hear you
Soften our hearts that we may love
Loose our tongues that we may praise

Blessed be the Lord
Who made heaven and earth
All creation sings your praise
We join our voices in that song
Praise the Lord, O my heart,
Praise the Lord

A Mirror Before Us – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 1 October 2017

IMG_3224Today’s Sermon – A Mirror Before Us

LESSONS:

First Lesson          Ezekiel 18:1-4;25-32

Psalm                     Psalm 25

Second Lesson     Philippians 2:1-13

Gospel                    Matthew 21:28-32

COLLECT: Merciful Lord, grant to your faithful people pardon and peace; that by your grace we may be cleansed from all our sins and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

No Way… No…NO… NO!… OK

two_sons_detail_2I see no reason for me to go to church, my inner three year old insists. There is nothing there for me and I don’t like those people. They all act like they are happy to see me. I am not going, as my three year old goes into his tantrum. I am steadfast in my determination of staying home and not giving up what personal time I can scrounge for myself. You see, my three year old acts up a lot, especially when it comes to being around a number of people, then my wife speaks and my three year old wants to win the argument, but has to admit that after I get to the event or church I have a good time. I then feel good about myself as I did what was right, even though I refused to go in the beginning.

My cousin is different he will say yes to anything, as it relieves him of having to say no, all he does is not show up. He does not even give himself a chance to experience positive encounters and to develop a sense of community. Of course he is the first to complain that people don’t pull together anymore. He smiles to your face and then forgets you, making you believe that there is a relationship.

Jesus came to all of us, those who say no and do what is correct and to those who say yes and omit themselves from any relationships that are valued.
Another way of saying all this is with what we have heard before, ‘the church is full of bigots, phony people, flawed people, people who don’t understand, smiles of emptiness and meaningless platitudes. All of this is true and so much more. Those imperfect people are the ones that God sent His Son to save, people like me. We all have feet of clay and shiver at the thought of our finiteness. Yet, if we do what is correct, proper, suit up and show up, drag the body hoping that the mind will follow, maybe, just maybe, we might have a chance at understanding the love that God has for His Creation, you and me. Who knows some day that concept of grace and mercy may actually sink into our lives so that we can live the lives that God has intended for us, from the very beginning. Jesus Christ came to restore the balance of creation, to bring us out of our sin, ourselves, into the grace and mercy of restoration with the Father. Reach out and let God touch you in spite of all the noise of society, and live, live eternally, now and in the life everlasting of God’s Kingdom.

Kingdom Longings – Reflection for 24 SEP 2017

daylrOne of my favorite ways to read the parable of Jesus is to prayerfully envision myself within the story. It always amazes me how the Holy Spirit can speak into my life through these times of sacred reading. As I approach the Gospel for this week as Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of the harvest workers in the vineyard, I am reminded of the many ways that I have seen myself in this parable.

I have seen myself as the vineyard owner and heard the Kingdom call to use my “ownership” and financial resources to provide work for others. As I live a Kingdom life and are formed in the image of Christ, is it more important to save or spend money for my own comfort or to provide employment to others?

I have seen myself often in the place of those who were hired early. I have been offended to see God’s grace poured out on those that I considered less deserving. I have even wasted considerable emotional and spiritual energy trying to convince myself and God of the undeserving nature of those hired last in a vain attempt to present myself as deserving of more. When I read and pray from this perspective with honesty and openness to the Holy Spirit, I am called to repentance, compassion, and love.

Recently, I was invited to read this passage from the perspective of the workers hired last. I was invited to stand waiting and wondering whether I would be able to return home with enough money to buy food or whether my family would go hungry again. I was invited to experience the increasing despair of the lengthening shadows with no sign of work, to experience the desperation at the end of the day with which I would accept a job with no promise of payment in the hope that I could bring home some scrap of food. I was invited to experience my own poverty of spirit, to consider the longings and desires of my heart that I stand and wait wondering if they will be met, desires for meaning, belonging, assurance, safety, love, rest, or whatever else I might long for. The things which only the shalom of God will provide.

I invite you to consider the joy and surprise of those hired last as they experience the grace of God fully meeting their need for the day. I invite you to come to His table and be filled.

Forgiven to infinity and Beyond – Reflection for 17 September 2017

Unmerciful_servant_punishedWow! What a story Jesus spins about the king and the servant. Forgiving the servant a huge amount of indebtedness. This is like having your mortgage company tell you your loan is paid in full and you have only taken the loan out last year. What a gift! This is really impressive, but the servant has to get greedy. It’s like an old saying ‘it’s ok to be piggish as you will only get fat, but if you get hoggish you will get slaughtered;. The servant got hoggish and could find no mercy in his heart after mercy and grace was shown to him. Slaughter time! Enough said about the servant, what about you and me?

I encounter all types of people who say they forgive others, just like the prayer, but hold onto something. I forgive you but…..and then there are conditions. Forgiveness does not come with conditions, well that is not exactly true, forgiveness begets forgiveness even when the person who is forgiven violates the relationship. Jesus spoils everything when he says forgiveness has no limits, seventy times seven, infinite forgiveness. That is a debt that garners mercy and grace in an ongoing relationship. Yeah, you don’t know how low a creature he is, she has done this to me before and I am not going to take it, and Jesus says forgiveness to infinity, and beyond (could not resist a little Star Trek).

It’s not right that I am forced to forgive him/her/them so many times, it’s not fair! Wash your mouth out with ‘Irish Spring’, how can you make that statement? Every Sunday we confess our sins to God Almighty, with the same words, and every Sunday we hear the pronunciation of God’s forgiveness upon us. How then can we possibly think that we are any different from the greedy servant in the story? Especially when I hear so often, “I can forgive them, but I can’t forgive myself”, who do you think you are? God! When we get self focused and forget that it is God’s Blessings we are enjoying, not our own efforts, because God is willing to forgive us for the same things time after time

Then let us accept God’s forgiveness and share that forgiveness towards those that we need to forgive. Christ paid for our wrongs with his life on the cross and then to make sure it would not have to be repeated over and over, he overcame death and lives ever more. He is Lord and we are his servants, bask in his grace and mercy of forgiveness.

My Own Prison – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 17 September 2017

5715033866_9a8d585379_bToday’s Sermon – My Own Prison

LESSONS:

First Lesson         Genesis 50:15-21

Psalm                    Psalm 103:1-14

Second Lesson     Romans 14:5-12

Gospel                   Matthew 18:21-35

COLLECT: O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

Not Just for Sunday – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on 10 SEP 2017

IMG_3224Today’s Sermon – Not Just for Sunday

LESSONS:

First Lesson         Ezekiel 33:1-11

Psalm                    Psalm 119:33-48

Second Lesson    Romans 12:9-21

Gospel                  Matthew 18:15-20

COLLECT: Lord God, grant your people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; that we may love you faithfully with all our heart and soul and mind and strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.