Archives: Year B

Seeing God by Letting God See Us

We often think of “Bible times” being so drastically different from our own.

We imagine that people walked around in a world where miracles and wonders happened left, right and center.

You’re walking down the street and boom! There’s the parting of the Red Sea, there’s a coat of many colors, there’s a kid slaying a giant.

But the fact of the matter is, most folks in the ancient near East, and even most of the big heroes of the Bible, lived lives very much like our own.

They had to pay the rent on time, they had to get food on the table, maybe they didn’t like their bosses and they gossiped about their neighbors.

There weren’t miracles and revelations dropping out of the sky at all hours of the day.

Our reading from 1 Samuel today says so: “The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.”

That was true in the literal sense, but oh, what a richer and deeper resonance that can have for us as individuals and us as a church.

Do you feel like the word of the Lord is rare in your life? Continue reading

Why God Needs Small Churches

I’m going to say something that I know is going to shock you.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church is not the center of Christendom.

We are not Rome or Constantinople or Canterbury.

We’re not even Indianapolis

We’re not even Plainfield.

What are we?  We are a collection of faithful souls trying to find our way to doing God’s will.

We are the people who show up week after week believing that God has important work for us to do and offering ourselves to do it. Continue reading

The Gospel of John: Seduced by Unhelpful Poetry

Since 2014 seems to be a year of my reimagining my ideas around a lot of Biblical passages and Christian ideas, I thought I’d round out the year with preaching on what in the past has been one of my least favorite portions of scripture up to now, John’s prologue.

The first eighteen verses of the Gospel of John have summed up what for me has always been the problem with the entire Gospel of John. It’s too floaty, too esoteric, too obscure and abstract and idealized.

It’s poetry, yes, but it’s not particularly helpful poetry, and when I read the Bible, I’d like to gather some sort of concrete idea of what to do in my life on an everyday basis.

Even Jesus in the Gospel of John seems to float about three feet off the ground the whole time, aloof and distant and prone to giving long, repetitive speeches that create the same glaze over my eyes that I get when I read my IRS forms at tax time.

But the Holy Spirit is a sneaky and crafty adversary when it comes to my trying to dismiss entire portions of the canon of scripture. Continue reading

Ready or Not, Here He Comes

Well, folks, we’re out of time.

Christmas is a short three days away, and there is a rapidly closing window of time to accomplish whatever preparation you knew you had to take care of before December 24.

And I’m not just talking about the kind of preparation that immediately springs to mind.

I’m not just talking about the online last-minutes gift deals and the frantic rushing out for another roll of wrapping paper.

I’m not just talking about the dog eating the chocolate that was supposed to go in the stockings and the frantic rush to Kroger at 10 a.m. on December 24 to buy onion salt, cranberry sauce, a meat thermometer, and all the other once-a-year kitchen items you forgot to get to prepare food for your guests.

I’m letting you know that the window is also closing on the last opportunity for our spiritual preparation, which by the way is the original purpose of this entire holiday season.

We can be forgiven for perhaps forgetting from time to time—after all, the reminders to remember the “true spirit of Christmas” have become as trite as the twinkling lights and blaring songs about Rudolph and Frosty.

But today is our last Sabbath before Christmas. It’s time to pause, stop, and reflect on where we have been.

How did we arrive at the moment three days before our Savior’s birth?

What has been happening to you spiritually for the past four weeks?

What have you been doing to prepare a place to welcome the Christ Child within your life, your self, your mind, your heart?

How have you seen God at work in your life, leading you and guiding you toward the star in the East that grows stronger and brighter with each passing day? Continue reading

It Turns Out Advent Is Not All That Gentle or Tender

Sunday, December 7, 2014.

We expect today to be a pretty normal day, don’t we?

We expect to get up, think longingly of going to back to bed while drinking our coffee, hunt down some Kleenex to deal with the cold getting passed around, go to church, greet our friends, go home this afternoon, watch some Colts football, and call it a day.

A normal Sunday. Unremarkable, but satisfying.

Our world is stable beneath our feet.

A lot of Americans had similar expectations to ours on a Sunday, December 7 seventy-three years ago. They expected to wake up, go to church, spend time with their families, and call it a day.

Instead, their world exploded. Continue reading