Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Sermons and Reflections

Called to Mission – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 16 FEB 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon – Called to Mission

LESSONS:

First Lesson Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm Psalm 67

Second Lesson Acts 1:1-8

Gospel Matthew 9:35-38

COLLECT: O Lord, our heavenly Father, keep your household the Church continually in your true religion, that we who trust in the hope of your heavenly grace may always be defended by your mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.

Preparing for Lent – Cultivating Humility – Reflection for 16 FEB 2020

   God places us in community and gives gifts to the community through each one of us. One of my favorite definitions of humility is, “Taking up the right space in community.” A lack of humility may result either in taking up too much space and crowding others, or it may result in not taking up enough space and withholding your unique gifts from the community. In either case, the health of the community is impaired.

   As we prepare for Lent, I invite you to notice the groups in which you take part. Consider the community within your home, within your neighborhood, within your work, and within the parish. Consider also the community you keep with God through prayer, reading Scripture, and worship. 

   In what ways might you be taking up too much space? Is yours the only opinion that is heard? Are yours the only needs or desires that are considered? Do you insist on having your way?

   In what ways might you be taking up too little space? Does fear or distrust prevent you from offering your opinion or presenting you needs to the group? 

   As a Lenten devotion, I invite you to prayerfully consider one way in which you might move towards taking up the right space.

Preparing for Lent – Reflection for 9 FEB 2020

  This Sunday marks the beginning of the preparation for Lent. In some liturgical traditions, the liturgical color changes to purple and a preparatory version of Lenten disciplines might begin on this Septuagesima Sunday. While we will retain our green paraments until Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, it may be helpful to begin considering the ways we might prepare for Lent.

   For those of us who did not grow up in a tradition that celebrated Lent, this preparation may simply begin with considering the season of Lent. The Prayer Book describes Lent as, “a time of penitence, fasting, and prayer, in preparation for the great feast of the resurrection.” These Lenten disciplines prepare us to more fully experience the Joy of the Easter season, just as the reminder of our mortality in the ashes at the beginning of Lent prepare us to rejoice in the new and eternal life we celebrate in the Resurrection. Over the next three weeks, we will consider these disciplines of penitence, fasting, and prayer in the Sunday reflections, but I will broaden the terminology and opportunities by describing simplicity, humility, and piety.

   Those of us who have encountered the extended “voluntary” deprivation of training exercises or deployment have a keen understanding of the impact of the discipline of simplicity. Nothing makes you appreciate the simple pleasure of a hot shower, a home cooked meal, or a soft bed than several weeks or months without one. In much the same way, the discipline of simplicity tunes our senses to appreciate the blessing that is ever present in the small things of our everyday life. We might practice simplicity by traditional fasting on specific days or from certain foods during the Lenten season, or we might consider taking on the simplicity of a daily family meal without the interruption of phones or the distraction of television. We might consider embracing the simplicity of buying less or donating some of what we have to Christian Assistance Ministry or another charity. Or, perhaps there is another way in which you might intentionally and prayerfully exchange busyness for simplicity. 

   I invite you to prayerfully consider a practice of simplicity to begin this Lenten season.

A New Way of Being – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 9 FEB 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon – A New Way of Being

LESSONS:

First Lesson Habakkuk 3:1-19

Psalm Psalm 27

Second Lesson 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Gospel Matthew 5:11-20

COLLECT: O Lord, our heavenly Father, keep your household the Church continually in your true religion, that we who trust in the hope of your heavenly grace may always be defended by your mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.

Counting Blessings – Reflection for 2 FEB 2020

As Jesus begins his teaching to the disciples, he lists a series of blessings. The blessing of the kingdom of heaven on those who are poor in spirit, the blessing of comfort for those who mourn, the blessing of a rich inheritance for the meek, the blessing of righteousness for those who earnestly desire it, the blessing of mercy for those who are merciful, the blessing of the presence and intimacy with God for those who cultivate the purity of their own heart and peace among the people around them, and the blessing of eternal reward for those who are persecuted.

   These blessings are undeniably desirable, but the circumstances that surround them are probably not high on our wish list. In fact, we often avoid them, deny them, or complain when we find ourselves in these circumstances. Sometimes we may even blame others or ourselves for the very circumstances in which we might encounter true blessing. I wonder how often we miss the blessing that God intends for us because we would rather avoid the circumstances that prepare us to receive the fullness of the gift. For example, when we refuse to mourn and cry out in lament, we also avoid the comfort of God in the depths of our sorrow. 

   What if instead we cultivated the habit of noticing blessing? This habit is much easier to develop when our circumstances are less uncomfortable. There are a number of practices that can open our eyes to blessings that we might miss in our normal, everyday circumstances. The practice of acknowledging and receiving the blessing of food with each meal is an easy place to start. The practice of a gratitude journal or other form of looking prayerfully at the day and seeing where we recognized the goodness of God. 

   Once we have become comfortable with these practices, we can add a level of difficulty and search for blessings in less desirable circumstances. We might see the blessing of a new day when the alarm goes off. We might see the blessing of family and community as we go about our chores. We might look back on the undesirable parts of our day and prayerfully ask God, “Where was your gift in this?”

   As we cultivate the habit of noticing our blessings in the good and bad of each day, when we find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances, poor in spirit, disappointed and discouraged, meek, hungry, mourning, mired in conflict and ugliness, we can begin to look for the gift that God has for us even in these times.

Keeping Score – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 2 FEB 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s Sermon – Keeping Score

LESSONS:

First Lesson Micah 6:1-8

Psalm Psalm 37:1-11

Second Lesson 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Gospel Matthew 5:1-12

COLLECT: O God, you know that we are set in the midst of many grave dangers, and because of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: Grant that your strength and protection may support us in all dangers and carry us through every temptation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand – Reflection for 26 JAN 2020

   Jesus begins his ministry with this message, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” What does Jesus mean by commanding us to repent. The Greek word metanoeo means to change our perception or our understanding, that is to have a different mind. This is not a simple “I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better.” This is an eye-opening, mind blowing experience that the reality of the world around me is different from what I previously understood. Repentance is to understand and perceive through the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven instead of the ways of the world.

   Repentance in this way is not a one and done point in time or a single decision, it is a daily discipline of seeing our current circumstances through Kingdom eyes rather than our earthly senses, it is to reference everything to God rather than to ourselves. The journey of the disciple is the journey of repentance.

   One of the ways that we walk this journey is to simply take the time to notice where we place our attention, where do we turn our senses for understanding. I like Albert Haase’s analogy to teaching a child to cross the street. We teach our children as they come to a street to stop, look, listen, and go. We can apply the same process to our spiritual walk. At intentional times during the day and at times when we begin to feel anxious, uncertain, or angry, we can stop, look, listen, and go. 

   First, we stop. We take a deep, prayerful breath, still our bodies, and quiet our minds. Then, we look for the presence of God. Instead of seeking to perceive and understand from the vantage point of self, we seek to see where the ever-present Spirit is moving, where the Kingdom of Heaven is being made manifest in our midst. Next, we listen for the voice of God revealing to us the will of God. Finally, we go and do what God has invited us to do as we participate in the work of the Kingdom.

   In this way repentance becomes not a mournful or sorrowful burden but a beautiful invitation filled with anticipation. Repentance becomes a joy filled turning from darkness to light and from death to life. The Kingdom of Heaven is indeed in our midst may we all turn our perception and understanding to this present glory.  

Are You Like Jesus? Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 26 JAN 2020

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon – Are You Like Jesus?

LESSONS:

First Lesson Amos 3:1-11

Psalm Psalm 139:1-16

Second Lesson 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Gospel Matthew 4:12-22

COLLECT: Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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.