Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Easter Vigil

Grace Church in New York / The Easter Vigil / April 8, 2023

Genesis 1:1-2:4a / Matthew 28:1-10

This is the night! This is the night when we tell the stories of salvation, the stories of our journeying from one place to another, the stories of transitions: from the void to creation, from slavery to freedom, from death to life, from the dark, to our handheld flames, to the bright light and flowers and joyful music of Easter. This is the night!

It is also the night for the four newest members of the household of God: Thomas, Marigold, Brandon, and Gene, who were baptized into the death of Jesus Christ and made new in his resurrection.

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Willpower and Ash Wednesday

Grace Church in New York / Ash Wednesday / February 22, 2023

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 

Do you know the characters Frog and Toad? They’re from children’s books from the 1970s written by Arnold Lobel. Each book tells five short fables about the friends Frog and Toad. One of them is called “Cookies.”

In the story, Toad makes some cookies. He shares them with Frog and they both eat a lot of cookies. “We have to stop eating these so we won’t get sick,” says Frog. “We need willpower!”

Toad hides the cookies, but with every place Toad hides them–even up where you can’t reach–or however he tries to protect them–tying them up with string–Frog can still get to them. “We can use a ladder,” he says! And eats some more cookies. “We can use scissors to cut the string,” he says! And eats some more cookies.

“What we have to do,” Frog decides, “is put the cookies outside.” When he does this, the birds come and eat them.

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The Treasure Shelf

Grace Church in New York / The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost / August 11, 2019 / Audio

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34 

When I moved in with my now wife Caitlin, it was a merging of aesthetic styles. Her style being clean and mine being … cluttered. Messy. In fact, we took a relationship test as part of our preparation for marriage and the number one thing it told us to do was hire outside help for the cleaning, so that Caitlin would not live in constant resentment of me.

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The Myth of Aloneness

Grace Church in New York / The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost / August 4, 2019 / Audio

“And I will say to my soul, ` Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” Luke 12:19 

I have a confession to make to you today; there is nothing I enjoy more than relaxing, eating, drinking, and being merry. The prospect of those things being absolutely secure for many years would make my soul very well, indeed. So perhaps you, like I, can relate to the “rich fool” Jesus tells us about today, who only wants to make sure that he can do all of those fun things in his retirement. And my further confession is that of those four fun things—relaxing, eating, drinking, and being merry—I hold eating above all the rest. Sure, I love to relax and I’ll take a drink at the end of a long day, but there is nothing that makes me merrier than a good meal. Continue reading

Paul Joseph Lane (1961-2018)

Burial of the Dead and Holy Eucharist / Saturday, June 23, 2018, 2pm

St. Luke in the Fields, NYC / Scripture: Isaiah 25:6-9 / John 11:21-27

Like most of you here today, I would rather not be here at St. Luke in the Fields on Pride weekend, laying our brother Paul to rest. I would rather see Paul tomorrow, corralling all of us Episcopalians around a float that declares to the world: “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You,” a message from the core of who Paul was and is to us still: whoever you are, wherever you are from, whatever you believe, whoever and however you love–you are welcome here, you are invited to the table of this feast of life. It feels completely unfair that Paul won’t be there tomorrow, spreading that love that was his life’s work, that he won’t be here next year, or for years and years to come, marching with us, feasting with us, celebrating with us. Continue reading

Jonah’s Terrible Sermon

Preached on January 21, 2018 at All Saints’ Church, Brooklyn at Evening Prayer, 5pm

Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

The Old Testament story this evening is a very brief snippet of the story of Jonah, or as it is popularly known, Jonah and the whale. But if you know anything about bible scholars, the kind who like to tell you that what you learned in Sunday School was wrong, then you know it wasn’t a whale, it’s really a Big Fish. 

This passage is just a tiny little part of the story, and it includes what I think might be the worst sermon in all of the bible. Jonah preaches to the people of Nineveh: Jonah’s big sermon in the center of the city is not quite as eloquent as Jesus’s famous sermons on the mount or the plain, Jonah’s sermon is just, in a strangled voice: “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” That’s it. That’s all it takes for the whole city to be convinced, to repent, to do what God wants for them. Continue reading

Look up! Look around!

3rd week after Epiphany

Sunday, January 22, 2017

St. Lydia’s Dinner Church / Brooklyn, NY

“Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

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Do Not Lose Heart! Gender & Winning & Jesus

Credit: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Credit: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 24

Sunday, October 16, 2016 / Year C

All Saints’ Episcopal Church / Brooklyn, NY

When I was 12 years old, I was selected to be in an oratory competition. This was kind of a big deal and it was hosted at the local rotary club. The challenge was to write an essay on a specific topic and then deliver it as a speech, and compete against other local sixth graders.

Here’s what I remember: I remember working very hard on my essay and practicing my speech over and over again. I remember going to the event on a school night and I remember that I was wearing shoes with a small heel that were very uncomfortable. I remember feeling uncomfortable in my body in the way that 12 year-old girls are specifically prone to feeling.

I remember the boy who won, and I remember his speech, which was all about, as he called it, “nucular war.” In my memory, he was pacing back and forth telling us that in the future, we would all be engaged in “nucular war,” and we would have to live in special shelters and a new kind of human would evolve.

And I remember thinking, how did that win this competition???? Continue reading

Is Jesus telling us to Hate? And what Colin Kaepernick shows us.

Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 18

Sunday, September 4, 2016 / Year C

All Saints’ Episcopal Church / Brooklyn, NY

I have two younger brothers who are both in their 20s. And one of those brothers, my middle brother William, has always been the black sheep of the family. Not at all in a troublesome way but more like: we all like to go to bed late and sleep in, but Will likes to get up early. We all like to eat elaborate meals and fancy foods–Will is a picky eater who likes the basics. And we all like movies and TV and reading novels, but Will likes sports.

Growing up, in the Fall and Winter seasons, Will would want to race home from church to watch football. He would yell at us: “What kind of American family are you??? On a Sunday, YOU WATCH FOOTBALL!!!!!”

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Leaving the Mountaintop

Epiphany Last, Year C

February 7, 2016

St. Thomas, Newark, DE

Good morning, St. Thomas! I am so thrilled to be here this morning, and I would like to thank Father Paul for lending me this pulpit. I guess the first thing to know about me is that Father Paul knew me when I was 14 years old — more than half my life ago — and still asked me to come preach to you all this morning, so he is a good and trusting man, and sees potential in teenagers who are  … I’ll say precocious.

I actually knew about St. Thomas before Father Paul even got here because my older cousin was a student at the University of Delaware. She is someone who would self-identify as “not into church,” but once she told my “very into church” mother that she would come to dinner here on Wednesday nights when she was feeling low and she would always leave feeling better. She said, “I’m still not a church person, Aunt Nancy, but I’m glad that it’s there.” So I have known for a long time that you are a very welcoming church and thank you for having me today.

Let’s talk about Moses. I am having so much fun picturing Moses this morning, trudging down that steep mountain lugging two tablets. And he doesn’t even know it, but the skin on his face is shining. It’s shining so intensely that it’s scaring his friends. And his face is shining this way because he had been talking with God.

I think we’re all familiar with the idea of having a “certain glow.” Sometimes you can tell if people are drinking enough water and taking care of themselves, because they have a bit of extra shine to them. “Oh, you’re positively glowing,” is something you maybe don’t hear as often as I’d like.

But have you ever, in all your days, been glowing this intensely?
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