Lent 3, Year B, RCL
4 March 2018
About a week or so ago, I happened to look at my phone and saw a little baseball icon in the notifications ribbon. When I tapped it, I discovered that the Royals had won a Spring Training game against the LA Dodgers in Surprise, Arizona. I said, “It can’t be Spring Training already! It’s February!”
Well, it may have been February, but Spring Training has definitely arrived. Along with other signs of the change in season: a ponderous lift of the temperature, an appearance of the sun like a magnificent athlete yawning his way luxuriously out into the open morning…and, of course, for us in the church — Lent.
Every year when Lent arrives it catches me with an oh-wait-I-wasn’t-ready sort of feeling. Picking reading material, planning special disciplines — when it comes to the point I often have to hurry to get my Lenten game on, even if I’d given it some thought. And because there are infinite ways to approach the specific disciplines of Lent, it’s easy to get bewildered and lose sight of why we undertake prayer, fasting, and almsgiving for forty days before Easter. So, let’s talk about those three disciplines in the context of today’s readings. Continue reading “Lisa’s Sermon: Surprise, Arizona”
Proper 29, Year A, RCL (Christ the King)
26 November 2017
Every so often, when I feel like I need a shot of energy for my day, I look up a good action movie scene on Youtube — like the parkour scene from Casino Royale, for example. Daniel Craig as James Bond is chasing this bomber guy through a construction site, jumping off cranes, plowing through drywall, swinging down scaffolding, spreading havoc in their wake. Can you imagine trying to work with James Bond in the vicinity? But explosions and chaos and flying bullets is James Bond’s job. My job, fortunately, does not involve any parkour or car chases or hails of bullets; but it is nice to live vicariously for about seven minutes while I’m answering emails.
It’s nice because, despite being so perilous and chaotic, an action chase scene seems simple, almost lighthearted. There’s a massive disruption of business as usual, but that disruption is for the greater good, and it doesn’t upset the ultimate balance of the world around. Indeed, disruptions like this are often meant to restore that balance in some way. Somebody is going to save the day. Continue reading “Lisa’s Sermon: Allegiance”
Feast of Francis of Assisi
1 Oct 2017
So it turns out that Francis of Assisi didn’t actually write the “Prayer of Saint Francis.”
The prayer that begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…” did not appear anywhere until shortly before World War I. At one point it was circulated on a prayer card with St. Francis on the front of it, and so it quickly grew to be associated with the saint. There’s a saying very similar to this prayer, collected from one of Francis’s close companions, Giles of Assisi:
Blessed is he who loves and does not therefore desire to be loved;
Blessed is he who fears and does not therefore desire to be feared;
Blessed is he who serves and does not therefore desire to be served;
Blessed is he who behaves well toward others and does not desire that others behave well toward him;
And because these are great things, the foolish do not rise to them.
(I checked Twitter to see if that would fit in 140 characters…alas, it doesn’t. But if you happen to be one of those whom Twitter has given the new experimental double-character limit, you’re in luck. It’s 233 characters and you can even fit in the author’s name. I’m just saying, if you happen to have this privilege, here’s an opportunity to use it for good.)
(As our Presiding Bishop likes to say, Oh, I’m gonna get in trouble now.) Continue reading “Sermon: The Instruments of Peace”
The Quarry of Love
27 August 2017
Proper 16, Year A, RCL
Not far from where I live is the Thomas Hart Benton house, which is now a curated state monument, his studio preserved exactly as he left it so that people may observe the last snapshot of a great artist at work. But although the neighborhood is full of signs pointing to the location, it’s hard to pick the house out from its surroundings, because its natural state is so similar to the nature of many other houses around it. “Built of native limestone,” the tour blurbs say, which, when you look at other houses in the neighborhood, seems like ironic understatement: you wonder if there’s any native material but limestone in Kansas City. Some houses are made of stones so undressed that they look as if they had been dug straight out of the ground and plastered into place; some even have retaining walls in front with stones studded along the top like crenellations. “Welp, we’ve got all these rocks, might as well make a front gate out of ‘em too,” you can imagine the masons saying.
These houses look sturdier than their brick neighbors, like extensions of the earth on which the whole city is planted; as if nothing could shake them. They look immovable, cemented permanently into place. Continue reading “Sermon: The Quarry of Love”
Save the People
20 August 2017
Proper 15, Year A, RCL
There’s a scene that opens the movie version of Godspell that, the first time I saw it, smacked me with a shock of longing. It’s New York City in the early 1970s. The sun is beating down on the streets, winking off the surfaces of moving vehicles, lying like a visible pelt on the deep crowds of pedestrians as they walk to the daily round of their destinations. It’s business as usual. Continue reading “Sermon: Save the People”