Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Sermons and Reflections

Called – Reflection for 19 JAN 2020

   It may surprise some of you to know that I overthink things at times. I want to know the end before beginning and all the possibilities in between. If I am not careful, I can overcomplicate even the simplest task and over analyze the tiniest observation. I can become absolutely paralyzed when I consider what God has called me to do. Fortunately, our readings today call me back to simplicity.

   Isaiah reminds me that even as I look around and think that all of my labor is in vain, it is God at work and not me. It is God who formed me. It is God who empowered and directed me. It is God who is working through me. It is not my faithfulness but His that accomplishes the purpose of the Kingdom of God. It is not my light but His that illumines the world. I am relieved that I do not have to solve great problems or do mighty works to be used by God. I simply follow as a servant walking in the Light.

   Paul reminds me that we are called not only as individuals but as a church. It is in community that we are enriched and empowered. It is through the community of the church that we are not lacking in any gift. It is in this community that we encounter Grace and embody the Truth of Christ. 

   Our collect invites us to consider the magnitude and the simplicity of our call. We pray that having come together and encountered Christ as the Word made Flesh, as the Body and the Blood, and as the Body of Christ gathered, we may fulfill our call to show the light of Christ in our lives so that those around us may encounter His love in us.

   I invite you to prayerfully consider how God is calling you. How are you being filled with Light? Who among those you know is dwelling in darkness? How might you carry the Light of Christ to them? 

What Are You Seeking? Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 19 JAN 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon – What Are You Seeking?

LESSONS:

First Lesson Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm Psalm 40:1-10

Second Lesson 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Gospel John 1:29-42

COLLECT: Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Conversation, Commotion, and Commentary – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 12 JAN 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon for the Second Sunday in Epiphany, The Baptism of Our Lord – Conversation, Commotion, and Commentary

LESSONS:

First Lesson Isaiah 42:1-9

Psalm Psalm 89:1-29

Second Lesson Acts 10:34-48

Gospel Matthew 3:13-17

COLLECT: Eternal Father, at the baptism of Jesus you revealed him to be your Son, and your Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove: Grant that we, who are born again by water and the Spirit, may be faithful as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Your Light Has Come – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church Epiphany 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon – Your Light Has Come

LESSONS:

First Lesson Isaiah 60:1-9

Psalm Psalm 72

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 for ever.  Amen.

A Year in my Library – Reflection on a Reading Year

As we prepared to close one year and begin a new one, I took some time to look back through my calendar and recall the events of the year. Some things seem like yesterday and some like ancient history. I also took the time to look through my library and recall the books that I read this year. Some were drudgery, some were academic, and some were true gems. I would like to share the gems with you.

Perhaps my favorite book of the year was Becoming an Ordinary Mystic by Albert Haase. Fr. Haase does an excellent job of integrating the time honored spiritual traditions with the contemporary conversation on mindfullness and the self. His approach is thoroughly Christ centered without being tied to a specific school of Christian theology. All of this in an approachable and engaging writing style.

I also found Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through the Book of Common Prayer by David deSilva to be an excellent devotional. In forty-five reflections, deSilva walks through the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist and the liturgies for marriage and burial. The 5-8 page reflections take some space, both temporal and spiritual, to absorb. I appreciated not being tied to a calendar like many daily or weekly devotional books so that I could pick this book up when I made the space to savor it. 

We were able to go to the Anglican Church in North America annual conference in June and discovered two more favorites there. James Bryan Smith was a keynote speaker and his book The Good and Beautiful God provides a fantastic introduction to spiritual self-care. The abbreviated prayer book Pray Daily from Christ Church Plano (https://www.christchurchplano.org/pray) has become a staple of our family rhythm of prayer.

Moving a bit more to the academic side but still very accessible to non-theologians looking for a fresh look on Scripture, I found Amy Jill Levine’s books on Passion Week (Entering the Passion of Jesus), Advent (Light of the World), and the parables (Short Stories by Jesus) well researched, well written, and refreshing. Dr. Levine is a New Testament Scholar and devoutly Jewish. She provides a perspective of Jesus and those who heard him within their context as first century Jews.

Other good books from my reading year include The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner, Mansions of the Heart by R. Thomas Ashbrook, and The Anglican Way by Thomas McKenzie.

Blessings in the coming year and happy reading!

Questioning God – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 29 DEC 2019

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon for the Feast of the Holy Innocents – Questioning God

Listen to the Litany for the Holy Innocents

Collect: We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Lesson: Jeremiah 31:15-17

Psalm: Psalm 124

Second Lesson: Revelation 21:1-7

Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18

I’m Not Sure I Believe – Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Advent 2019

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon – I’m Not Sure I Believe

LESSONS:

First Lesson Isaiah 7:10-17

Psalm Psalm 24

Second Lesson Romans 1:1-7

Gospel Matthew 1:18-25

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.

Loving Yourself in Order to Love Others – Reflection for theFourth Sunday in Advent 2019

   We have looked at God’s love for us as an example of how to love God. Big order, but do able, and life giving and life changing. Now the toughest of all, loving yourself so you can love your neighbor in the same manner, so much so that it runs the danger of becoming trite. 

   Let’s look at what it means to love yourself. What if it does not mean to embrace self indulgent behavior? After all, that has little value in loving your neighbor. Ok, then what? Love is a verb. It is always action oriented. Looking at love through the liturgy of worship in the Word and the Sacrament, we see multiple times when we confess our sin acknowledging that we are unlovable, but God in His mercy and loving kindness has forgiven us, proclaiming that we are forgiven because God’s love is great than our sin. The action of this love is forgiveness and reconciliation in the presence of God. As we come to understand the role of our confession and the loving forgiveness of God. To love yourself requires accepting this forgiveness and the life changing transformation that accompanies it.

   Moreover, because we are loved be God, we are declared lovable, hard to believe, but true. It means we have value and worth. Grasping this concept is a moment of pure joy. Life has purpose, in spite of ourselves. At this point our life becomes not simply renewed but reborn as a new creation in Christ. There is no longer reason to listen to the lies of Satan that attempt to convince us that we must in some way make ourselves loveable, valuable, or worthy. To love ourselves therefore means to see ourselves as God sees us, as beloved. 

   It is only when we comprehend the love of God for us and learn to walk as the beloved that we can begin to love others in the same way. We can recognize that we are not called to make judgments of who has value or worth. Christ has already declared that on the Cross. We do not get to decide who can or can not be forgiven, just forgive. 

   In forgiving, we are not just living out God’s love for another, we are living in God’s love for us. Forgiveness of others is not for them, it is for you to be able to relive the burden of unlove on your soul, so that life can be restored to you. While we carry the burden of unforgiveness joy eludes us and the fullness of joy is always less. Thereby, robbing us of the Peace that only God Can grant to us. A peace that passes all understanding. You are precious to God and therefore forgiven. Christ died and was raised from the dead. He lives now so that all might be saved (healed, forgiven, made whole, loved). To love oneself is to love as God loves, therefore, we are able to love our neighbor as ourselves. 

   Two simple commands are the foundation of God’s people, Love God and Love People. Listen to the angels praising God and we join our voices, perfect in love, with theirs praising God for the love for us.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen. 

The Baptist’s Call – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 8 DEC 2019

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon – The Baptist’s Call

LESSONS:

First Lesson Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm Psalm 72

Second Lesson Romans 15:1-13

Gospel Matthew 3:1-12

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.

Love, Repentance, and Transformation – Reflection for 8 DEC 2019

   The love of God is a terrifying thought. What if God knew about the parts of me that I keep hidden from everyone, sometimes even myself? Would He still love me? Perhaps once I get everything about me fixed, I can stand in the love of God. Perhaps if I can do the things that make people like me, I can pretend that I am actually lovable. Maybe I can continue to hide, deny, or justify the things about me that I know deep down are broken. Maybe if I continually point out the faults of others, I won’t feel as bad about myself. Then, I will at least feel lovable by comparison.

   Do you ever tell yourself these lies? Do you ever hide from the love of God out of fear that deep down you are incapable of being loved?

   One truly terrifying part of the love of God is that He does know all of those things about us and declares His love for us in Christ. The call to repentance is a call to stop hiding, denying, justifying, and ignoring the brokenness within us. Instead, we are called to present all of ourselves, the “good” and the “bad” before God to be loved.

   Another terrifying part of the love of God is that in His love we find healing and transformation. Too often, we become comfortable and satisfied in our current state of misery. We have come to rely on our ability to conceal our pain and are unwilling to be healed. We have come to rely on the transient comfort of the lies we have constructed about ourselves, about the world, and even about God, the lies that give us the illusion that we are in control. Healing and transformation in the love of God threatens to disrupt our illusions so we turn away.

   In this season of Advent, I invite you to hear the Baptist’s call, “ Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” I invite you to encounter the terrifying love of God. I invite you to encounter yourself as beloved. I invite you to turn away from the lies and deceptions that keep you from experiencing the ever present love of God and be healed and transformed.