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Our lavishly grace-filled Lord

"We had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found." Luke 15:31-32 Our Gospel for this Sunday is the parable from Luke that is generally known as "The Parable of the Prodigal Son." And for the longest time, I associated prodigal only with the son in the tale. You know the story. A certain son asks for his inheritance from his father, because his father has not (we suppose) died quickly enough to suit the son's ambitions. Father gives said son money. The prodigal son leaves for faraway places and spends his inheritance very quickly on roulette wheels, slot machines, at the track, and in more fleshly pursuits. Soon, the

Third Sunday in Lent

Here is that concept of repentance. If our Baptismal promises are to be believed, we all are in need of repentance. We sometimes take this the wrong way, and become immediately defensive, but Jesus didn’t come among us as God incarnate, for nothing. We are sinners, we are broken, and we often struggle to find our way in the world. But we are, which I find a comfort, all in the same boat, all in need of redemption, all longing, like the Psalmist today, for what Jesus has to offer. The modern world and the present–day church often, in my view, struggles to articulate the nature of Christ’s Gospel: that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son – a sacrifice – so that all who believe in

Where we are going

For here we have no lasting city but we seek the city which is to come. Hebrews 13:14, RSV The Benedictines, monks who practice the holy life in the "way of St. Benedict," have a vast series of rules handed down to them from the Saint himself. We think of rules and restrictions or boundaries come to mind. The Rule of Life as Benedictines practice it, is about a way of life that conducts us, organizes us, and guides us into closer relationship with God. The rules of life can be the ways and means that allow the Holy Spirit to move a person of faith to shape their life into an arc that bends towards God. There is a Benedictine rule that I came across this week, as a continued to use Pilgrim Ro

Second Sunday in Lent

Genesis 15:1–12,17–18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17–4:1; Luke 13:31–35 We were tremendously blessed this past Thursday to have The Rev. Dr. Kathy Grieb amongst us. And she led us powerfully through Luke’s Gospel, particularly calling part of it The Journey Motif. And I began thinking, as I sometimes do, of journey themes in our lives. We have the Lenten journey, which we are currently in, that pilgrimage we began on Ash Wednesday that will carry us through the Great Easter Vigil. And on this journey, we may be trying to discover new ways of being church, fresh ways of being in relationship with God, and reflecting on how we are challenged in that relationship. We are also on a life journey, wh

Learning to know ourselves

“We can learn to know ourselves and do what we can – namely, surrender our will and fulfill God’s will in us.” St. Teresa of Avila St. Teresa is one of the most alluring and venerated saints of the Catholic tradition (ours holds her to be a saint, as well). She was an incredible writer, reformer of the Carmelite Order (nuns), and (since 1970) a “Doctor of the Church.” But perhaps she should be best known for her humility. She asks us, in our own lives, to emulate Christ who “humbled himself…and was obedient even to death, death of a Cross” Philippians 4. Humility is a difficult concept for us that we sometimes confuse with self-doubt, self-hatred, unworthiness, and generally being down on w

First Sunday in Lent

Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13 My father is a pretty patient guy, and always has been, even when we were little. But my older brother Mark always tested his resolve to be patient. He was the instigator of many a donnybrook which often happened in the car, while we were driving to my grandparents’ house on Sunday. Mark would slap, needle, eyeball, do anything in his power to get you going. He knew everyone’s pressure points. I should say that he is my close and dearest friend now that we have put some distance between us and those halcyon days of youth. I remember us being at the beach one summer, our one week of summer vacation every year that my father

The fast that God would chose....

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to break the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free …. remove their yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil…then your light shall rise in the darkness and the gloom be like noonday.” (Isaiah 58: 1-12, edited mightily). Isaiah’s words from Ash Wednesday set a tone for a Lent that is not primarily about giving something up, rather putting something on. Isaiah’s sweeping indictment of gestures of repentance (putting on sackcloth and placing ashes on one’s head) without real transformation is/was meaningless. Isaiah says that it is much more important to break the bonds that hold us in bo

Last Sunday after the Epiphany

Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a] The notion that it is Christ’s grace and mercy that dissolves the shadowy veil that would hide us from God is one so powerful, so unique, so complete that it still takes my breath away. The saving grace of Jesus Christ strips away all that would blind us to God’s love and desire for oneness with us and delivers us back to God. The veil that would separate us from God, ourselves, and each other takes many shapes in our contemporary world but it has always been thus. Anger, bitterness, fear (our old familiar “friend”), illness, isolation, self-righteousness…so much can veil our hearts from the true goodness of God and ma