Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Sermons and Reflections

Gathered at the River – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 13 JAN 2019

Listen to today’s sermon – Gathered at the River

LESSONS:

First Lesson         Isaiah 42:1-9

Psalm                    Psalm 89:20-29

Second Lesson    Acts 10:34-38

Gospel                  Luke 3:15-22

COLLECT: Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit, that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Receiving the Promise – Reflection for 13 JAN 2019 (Isaiah 42:1-9)

Isaiah speaks to a people in exile about one who is to come. The one who will restore the glory of God to the people of God. The one who will bring justice. The people return from exile with great expectation. They wait. They work. They pray. Some are faithful. Some are not. They see empires rise and fall. Still they wait. For over five hundred years, they wait.  

Jesus arrives on the scene in fulfillment of the prophecy to establish justice among the nations, to be a light not only to Israel but to all people, to open the eyes of the blind, and free those in prison. The waiting people will not receive Him. Their idea of justice is one of privilege and power for themselves rather than the rule of God. They are offended when sinners are healed rather than punished. They are offended that God’s glory is greater than the tribes of Israel.

We are a people who wait. We proclaim that we believe in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God who died and rose again, who ascended into heaven in glory. We proclaim our confidence that He will come again to judge the living and the dead. We wait for Christ to return and establish the justice of the Kingdom of God. We wait in hope but we do not wait idly or alone. 

The same Spirit which was in Christ is now in us. By baptism, we are adopted as sons and daughters of God. Through Christ, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, and like Christ, we are sent into the world to do good and heal those who are oppressed. 

Too often, I am like the crowds who though waiting for Jesus refuse to recognize and receive Him. I only want the light of God for the people I think deserve it. I only want healing and redemption for people that are mostly like me. I only want to hear truth if it agrees with my own feelings and desires. I want glory for my church, my tribe, my state, my country. I want a special blessing that gives glory to me. 

Through Isaiah, God, the Creator of heaven and earth proclaims, “I am the LORD, that is my name, my glory I give to no other.” Too often, I mistake my own desires for God’s will. I vainly ascribe God’s name and glory to an idol of my own making. Like Israel, I look for a savior of my own choosing rather than the Messiah anointed by God.

Part of our waiting is receiving God’s promise of salvation. Receiving the light even when it illuminates the parts of ourselves we would rather hide. Receiving sight even when we see where we are in error. Proclaiming freedom to those who are oppressed even if we think they deserve punishment.  

Isaiah proclaims, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen in whom my soul delights.” As we behold Christ, will we receive Him?

An Amazing Encounter – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 6 January 2019

Listen to today’s sermon – An Amazing Encounter

LESSONS:

First Lesson            Isaiah 60:1-9

Psalm                       Psalm 72:1-11

Second Lesson       Ephesians 3:1-13

Gospel                     Matthew 2:1-12

COLLECT: O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Our Light Has Come- Reflection on Epiphany 2019

I need to hear the Gospel. That’s right even priests need to hear the Gospel…often…daily…several times a day. It’s not that I fall into doubt or disbelief. I don’t often have theological crises on major doctrinal issues that shake the foundation of my faith. I simply forget that there is Good News for today.

Too often the business and chaos of daily life threatens to overwhelm my awareness of Jesus, Immanuel, God With Us. I can compartmentalize my day into prayer times with God and the rest of the day struggling on my own. I can get caught up in unmet expectations, incomplete tasks, and other disappointments. I need to hear the Gospel.

Isaiah speaks to a people who needed Good News. Judah had returned with great hope to Jerusalem from exile. They hoped and expected an immediate return to glory. They met a city in ruins, a temple destroyed, and a puppet government in a backwater province of the Persian empire. They desperately needed Good News. 

Isaiah cries out “Arise, shine, your light has come and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” The prophet sees and proclaims the manifestation of the eternal in the present. He sees the loving kindness of God in the bleakness of trial and the light of God in the overwhelming darkness. In much the same way, the Magi see the eternal glory of Christ manifest in a baby born to a poor couple in a backwater province of the Roman empire. The Magi heard the Gospel. 

This 60th chapter of Isaiah has come into our liturgical heritage as a canticle for use in Morning Prayer between the first and second reading (See below). This is one of my favorite canticles because I hear the Gospel when I say it. I find it impossible to remain distracted by the worries of today when I proclaim “Arise, Shine.” My tasks and troubles seem much smaller as Isaiah proclaims to me the eternal glory of God becoming manifest in the world.

The Prayer Book notes that this canticle is particularly appropriate for the season of Epiphany. If, like me, you need to hear the Gospel in your life, perhaps praying this canticle each morning through Epiphany might be a way to hear Good News.

Arise! Shine! Our light has come. Let all people come to the light.

 

Surge, illuminare
   Arise, shine, for your light has come

Isaiah 60:1-3, 11a, 14c, 18-19

Arise, shine, for your light has come, *
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.

For behold, darkness covers the land; *
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.

But over you the Lord will rise, *
and his glory will appear upon you.

Nations will stream to your light, *
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.

Your gates will always be open; *
by day or night they will never be shut.

They will call you, The City of the Lord, *
the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Violence will no more be heard in your land, *
ruin or destruction within your borders.

You will call your walls, Salvation, *
and all your portals, Praise.

The sun will no more be your light by day; *
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.

The Lord will be your everlasting light, *
and your God will be your glory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

The Word Became Flesh – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 30 DEC 2018

Listen to today’s sermon – The Word Became Flesh

LESSONS:

First Lesson           Isaiah 61:10-62:5

Psalm                      Psalm 147:13-21

Second Lesson      Galatians 3:23-4:7

Gospel                    John 1:1-18

COLLECT: Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Magnificat-Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 4th Sunday in Advent 2018

Listen to today’s sermon – Magnificat

LESSONS:

First Lesson          Micah 5:2-5a

Psalm                     Psalm 80:1-7

Second Lesson     Hebrews 10:1-10

Gospel                    Luke 1:39-56

COLLECT: Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Fourth Week of Advent – Prayer of Praise

Over the past few weeks, we have looked at different prayers during Advent – the prayers of intercession, lament, and silence. Each of these types of prayer take us outside of our own circumstances and invite us to see things from a different perspective, a Kingdom perspective. This week, we will look at the prayer of praise from a Kingdom perspective.

It is generally fairly easy to praise God when things are going exceptionally well. We can even usually remember to offer thanksgiving when things are pretty normal. The difficulty comes in praising God when things are not going well. 

If we are honest with ourselves, we judge God’s praiseworthiness by our own feelings and circumstances. From a Kingdom perspective, God is worthy of our praise not because of what He does for us but because of who He is. Sometimes, it requires the discipline of praise to give us this perspective. 

The Magnificat provides a form for this discipline. Luke records this prayer of Mary as she “went with haste” into the hill country of Judea to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Because we know the rest of the story, we can easily forget the danger and despair of Mary’s circumstances. Unwed and pregnant, Mary faces danger that Joseph could have her killed or with mercy “dismiss her quietly” (Matthew 1:19) which did not offer prospects any better for a woman in first century Judea or Galilee. The angel’s words that Mary was favored by the Lord must have seemed very distant from the circumstances in which Mary found herself. Yet, as Elizabeth hails her as blessed among women, Mary responds with this beautiful song of praise that we repeat at the end of each day as a canticle in Evening Prayer. 

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For he has regarded
the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from now on,
all generations will call me blessed.
For he that is mighty has magnified me,
and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on those who fear him,
throughout all generations.
He has shown the strength of his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has brought down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the humble and meek.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He, remembering his mercy, has helped his servant Israel,
as he promised to our fathers, Abraham and his seed forever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

I invite you to spend some time with this prayer of praise this week. Perhaps, you might pray this prayer at the end of each day between now and Christmas. Allow the stress, excitement, disappointment, and anticipation of this busy time of the year fall away into a Kingdom perspective that does not discount or cover over the trials of our current circumstances but reminds us of the power and promise of God within those very circumstances.

Just as we often judge God’s worthiness of our praise by our own feelings and circumstances, we also often judge our own worthiness of God’s love based on our feelings, actions, and circumstances. The discipline of praise reorders our judgements to align with the Kingdom perspective. God is worthy of our praise because of who He is and we are worthy of His love because of who He is. Indeed, let my soul magnify the Lord!

Bearing Fruit – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church the Third Sunday in Advent

Listen to today’s sermon – Bearing Fruit

LESSONS:

First Lesson          Zephaniah 3:14-20

Psalm                     Psalm 85

Second Lesson     Philippians 4:4-9

Gospel                   Luke 3:7-20

COLLECT: Lord Jesus Christ, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world, we may be found a people acceptable in your sight; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Third Week of Advent – Silence

For God Alone My Soul in Silence Waits – An Invitation to Listen for God in Silence

In all the hustle and bustle of this season, it is easy to lose perspective. Holiday planning, shopping, travel, and the myriad other things that vie for our attention can make the chaos overwhelming. We can easily forget the sovereignty and loving kindness of God. In this third week of Advent, I invite you to cultivate a practice of silence.

Silence is one of the most difficult practices to describe mainly because it is a practice that does not depend on our own efforts. Silence is a gift rather than an achievement. It is a grace and not an accomplishment. In truth, we never truly practice silence, we can only place ourselves in a posture to receive silence in God.

In a variety of places we catch sideways glimpses of silence in Scripture. Elijah encounters God in “the sound of sheer silence” (1Kings 19:11-13). The Psalmist entreats us to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Paul describes a “Peace which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Often we long to encounter this type of silence, stillness, and peace but do not know how.

I find Psalm 62 to be a practical guide and description of the invitation to rest in silence. The Psalm begins, “For God alone my soul in silence waits.” This tells us right away that silence is a practice not of the mind or of the emotions but rather of the soul. I know about thinking and feeling, but it is hard for me to wrap my understanding around “souling.” Our understanding of the soul comes from the very beginning of Scripture as God breathes life into the Man and the Man becomes a living soul (Gen 2:7). The soul is the very essence of our being. As we enter into silence, we wait in our being rather than in our doing.

The Psalm also describes the experience of silent prayer. We begin with the intention to wait in silence (v. 1-2) and are immediately confronted with the distractions of our circumstances and relationships (v. 3-4). We gently return to our intention (v. 5-6). We might meet distraction again or we might start to think about God rather than simply be in the presence of God (v. 7-8). Again, when we notice our thinking instead of our being, we return to our intention, “For God alone, my soul in silence waits.” 

The fruit of the practice of silence is also difficult to grasp for it is a fruit of the soul rather than the heart or the mind. It takes time to recognize the transformation of the soul in the presence of God, but ultimately, we come away with a different perspective (v. 9-12). We begin to see the smallness of our own strivings in comparison to the mighty working of God. We begin to see our existence through the power of God and his loving kindness. We begin to see the reward of our soul in God and not in our status among people.

While there are a number of ways to listen and wait for God in silence, I invite you to explore the following practice this week. First, find a time and a place in which you can be free of distraction for 15-20 minutes. Silence your phone, set a timer, and find a comfortable position. Now, invite yourself to notice God’s presence with the prayer, “For God alone my soul in silence waits.” Then wait. As you notice thoughts and feelings come up in you, simply thank God for these noticings and offer the thought or feeling to God. Return to waiting again with the prayer, “For God alone my soul in silence waits.” Repeat as often as necessary. When the timer goes off, simply thank God for the work He has done in this time of silence. Trust that God has been at work in this time, even if you are unaware. 

Psalm 62
1 For God alone my soul in silence waits; * 
from him comes my salvation.
2 He truly is my strength and my salvation; *
he is my defense, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.
3 How long will you assail a man to crush him, all of you together, *
as if you were a tottering wall or a broken fence?
4 Their plan is only to bring down the one whom God has exalted; *
their delight is in lies; they bless with their mouth, but curse with their heart.
5 Nevertheless, for God alone my soul in silence waits, * 
for my hope is in him.
6 He truly is my strength and my salvation; * 
he is my defense, so that I shall not fall.
7 In God is my help and my glory; *
he is the rock of my might, and in him is my trust.
8 O put your trust in him always, you people; *
pour out your hearts before him, for God is our hope.
9 As for the children of men, they are but a breath; *
the children of men are deceitful; upon the scales, they are altogether lighter than a breath.
10 O trust not in oppression; put not vain hopes in robbery; * 
if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.
11 One thing has God spoken; indeed, two things have I heard him say: *
that power belongs to our God;
12 And that you, O Lord, are merciful, *
for you reward everyone according to his work.

Making Straight the Way – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 9 DEC 2018

Listen to today’s sermon: Making Straight the Way

LESSONS:

First Lesson Malachi 3:1-5

Psalm Psalm 126

Second Lesson 1 Corinthians 4:8-21

Gospel Luke 3:1-6

COLLECT: Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your Holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.