Tag Archives: Book of Common Prayer

Hurling Off Cliffs: A Sermon for Wonderers

All Saints’ Church / January 31, 2016

Evening Prayer / 5pm

Proper 13 / Year B

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany / Year C

Luke 4:21-30

Good and gracious God, you eclipse our best words, and still we know that you are with us. May our thoughts and prayers and rumblings tonight be holy in your sight. Amen.

Tonight I am thinking about following Jesus–what it means to follow Jesus.

The beauty of this evening prayer service is that everyone is welcome here, to talk along if you wish, or simply to listen, to let words fall over your ears and bodies. To come together, a group who wouldn’t be together in any other context. To look at each other. To look into each other’s eyes and not have to come up with anything to say. We give it all to you in a little bulletin to follow along.

A chance to sit in silence. When do we do that at other times in our lives?

Anyone can do this with us, no matter what you think about who God is, or even if there is a God, and no matter what you think about Jesus.

But I want to talk about Jesus today, and what it means to follow him. Whether we are far along that journey with him, or at the very beginning, or perhaps walking on a parallel path, or maybe a path that is about to cross, or even a path that has already crossed.

What does it mean to follow Jesus? Continue reading

Midwives in Ferguson (A Sermon for Proper 16A)

Proper 16 / August 24, 2014 / Year A

Exodus 1:8-2:10 , Psalm 124, Romans 12:1-8, Matthew 16:13-20

Preached: August 24, 2014, All Saints’ Church, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

I’m going to start this morning with a tiny little exercise; it shouldn’t take too long.

We’re going to start with a little bit of silence. Just a few moments where you don’t have to listen to anything, you don’t have to sing anything, you don’t have to rifle through any books, or leaflets, and you don’t have to listen to me talk at you.

I’ll ring a bell to bring us in and out of the silence–and during it, I have a few questions I want us to focus on:

I want you to think about whatever it is that is troubling you this morning.
What is tumbling around like a rock in your shoe, poking and prodding you?
What is making you uncomfortable?

What is frightening you?
What is making you mad?
What is making you feel useless? Hopeless?

In other words, what is weighing on you this morning?
What is weighing on your heart?

Let’s take two minutes to reflect on these things together.  Continue reading

Preparing Mansions (A Sermon for Advent 4A)

I’ll be preaching a version of this at my mother’s church this Sunday, but I was able to try it out first at Union last week as a final project for a guided reading. All statistics regarding homelessness come from this article, which I could not recommend more urgently.

Advent 4 / December 22, 2013 / Year A

Isaiah 7:10-16, Romans 1:1-7, Matthew 1:18-25, Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18

Preached: December 11, 2013, Lampman Chapel, Union Theological Seminary

In some lectionary churches, including my own, we start the service with a collect. It’s a prayer that calls us into worship, focusing our thoughts–preaching and worship professors at Union might call this stating our “intention.” In the Episcopal church, many of these collects were written by Thomas Cranmer, who wrote much of The Book of Common Prayer, but some of them come from older, ancient liturgies. The collect for this lectionary, which is not this Sunday but next Sunday, December 22, the fourth Sunday in Advent is this:

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Collects always follow that same format: a request, an intention, an invocation of a triune God. On this particular Sunday, I will be preaching at my Mom’s church in Westfield, MA. She’s the rector of an Episcopal church there, and so it will be she who reads this collect as we begin worshiping together. And then I will have the daunting task of preaching to her congregation. (And you all have the particular privilege of hearing my first attempt.)


The petition in this collect is a bit of a doozy. We are basically saying, “God, clean us out so that when Jesus comes he will “find in us a mansion prepared for himself.”” It’s reading week here at Union, I still have about 40 pages left to write, and I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to get it all done. Christmas is coming, kind of like a Mack truck and I don’t know about you, but I feel a bit like a deer in the headlights. I honestly cannot remember, for example, the last time I did any laundry.

So I’m sorry, God, but there are no mansions available. No mansions in this body.  Continue reading