Sermons

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday Afternoon Bird Photo: Osprey


The osprey is a raptor, and also known as the fish eagle. We have a lot of osprey around here, particularly down at the beach, but also along the river.

If you watched the BBC production of Ford Madox Ford's trilogy Parade's End, one of the characters, Sylvia Tietjens, the manipulative, cruel, and stunningly unfaithful wife of the hero of the series, sees an osprey flying high over the seaside cliffs and is mesmerized. What is this bird, she asks, that flies so high and puts the other birds into a torment? She wishes to be such a bird.

Nonetheless, the osprey is a beautiful and interesting creature, even if it is beloved by an odious (fictional) woman. I really do love watching them fish.

















 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon Bird Photo: Bad Hair Day


This cedar waxwing turned its head just as a gust of wind came by. 
It kind of looks like Beaker from the Muppet Show now.

Happy Tuesday!







Morning Canticle: Glory to You




Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers; * 
    you are worthy of praise; glory to you. 
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name; * 
    we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.


Glory to you in the splendor of you temple; * 
    on the throne of your majesty, glory to you. 
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim; * 
    we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.


Glory to you, beholding the depths; * 
    in the high vault of heaven, glory to you. 
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; * 
    we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.







Monday, July 28, 2014

Now the Day is Over....



My new pond. At the University of Richmond, about a mile from my house, easy walking distance. It also has ducks and geese. :-)







Morning Canticle: Song of the Redeemed



O ruler of the universe, Lord God,
great deeds are they that you have done, *
    surpassing human understanding.
Your ways are ways of righteousness and truth, *
O King of all the ages.

Who can fail to do you homage, Lord,
and sing the praises of your Name? *
    for you only are the Holy One.
All nations will draw near and fall down before you, *
    because your just and holy works have been revealed.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.




















Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fishing Again



I'm moving my mom's stuff the next few days and pretty much offline. Enjoy this picture of laughing gulls fishing behind the ferry before a storm comes up. I miss the ferry.












Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon Bird Photo


Tern came up empty after this dive into the surf. Better luck next time.








Collect for St Mary Magdalene





Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

There's lots of good stuff to read about Mary Magdalene. Here's why I put up a picture of the red egg.

And here's more about her from the Satucket site about saints.  



Monday, July 21, 2014

Night Prayer





Keep watch, dear Lord,
with those who work,
or watch,
or weep this night,
and give your angels charge
over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, Lord Christ;
give rest to the weary,
bless the dying,
soothe the suffering,
pity the afflicted,
shield the joyous;
and all
for your love's sake.

Amen.


Visual Morning Prayer



How many are your works, Lord!
    In wisdom you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures. 
 (Psalm 104:24)








Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Wheat and the Weeds


In the parable of the wheat and the weeds, we are confronted with several uncomfortable realities.

First, good and evil exist in the world side by side.

Second, even though we may be uneasy with the whole concept, evil clearly exists and is both complex and powerful.

Third, the good often get damaged when someone tries to root out the bad.

These are realities we have seen with our own eyes or at least in the news this very week.  They point to the most basic "Why" questions we and all generations before us have asked.  Why is there evil in the world?  If God's reign is near, and the world is already being made new, then why are there tanks rolling and planes being shot down and rockets and rocks and bloody bodies laid out?

Why are there people being bombed out of their homes and dying on the streets? Why are there so many children traveling thousands of miles alone?

We have seen it; the kingdom is not completely come.  

And yet, today in the Gospel, Jesus calls us to trust that in the end, evil will be defeated and the good will remain. He warns that in trying to root out evil, the good will likely be damaged.

And we have seen that, too, the streams of women and children, displaced, and so many refugees not only here but all over the world, their homes destroyed or their lives in danger. We’ve seen the heartbreaking and graphic pictures of the dead and their loved ones almost out of their minds with grief. We’ve been reminded again that innocents were abused by those who were supposed to honor them.
And Jesus asks us to trust that all will be well, that God is going to make things right in the end? It sticks like a craw in my throat. Is he asking me to sit idly by? To say, these are not my problems?

It is helpful at this point to identify the lens through which Matthew and the people who would have heard this parable were looking. Matthew’s community was in conflict with the established synagogue and may have been a displaced group of people themselves who suffered from being marginalized if not outright kicked out. 

This parable is unique to Matthew, and I think that understanding that community’s experience helps us see why this one was so important to them. Those who have been uprooted by others (in their passion to be right and to exclude or punish those with whom they set themselves against) suffer. 

And the community believed its response was not to fight back, not to repay evil for evil, but to persevere, to hold on, until the end, when God would make things right. That was what Jesus did, after all. And God raised him and made things right.

Further, this is not all Jesus has to say about God making things right, not only in the end but in the present. During the next weeks we will hear and see more from Jesus about how God cares for us now, giving us blessed and necessary sanctuary and providing for us lavishly, feeding us from his own hand, more than we can even imagine. 

So you will want to stay tuned for that and remember that no one story paints the whole picture.

It also is helpful to look back to the beginning of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew. The very first words he spoke to all the people in his ministry was what we call the Beatitudes. 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the merciful, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are those who are persecuted. Blessed are the peacemakers.

And so I simply don’t believe that Jesus asks us to do nothing in the face of evil. I believe he calls us to be peacemakers. To be merciful to those who are suffering. I believe he calls us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. 

Those things are not “doing nothing” but in fact call for daily and difficult action - not just feeling merciful but acting in the world in ways that extend God’s mercy to those who suffer. Not just being in favor of peace but taking actions that broker peace, which by definition must be actions that do not mix us up in evildoing. Not just pitying the meek but standing up for them because we hunger and thirst for righteousness. 
Yesterday, we baptized five beautiful babies in this building, and I was struck by how much we actually talk about evil in the promises the parents and godparents made on behalf of those babies. I asked them to renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God. I asked them to renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God. I asked them to renounce sinful desires that draw them from the love of God.

And then I asked them to affirm that they accept Jesus as their savior and put their whole trust in his grace and love and promise to follow and obey him.

That’s pretty heavy stuff to say while you’re standing up in front of God and everybody holding a squirmy baby all dressed up in baptismal finery and about to have your picture taken.

And not only that, but the rest of us stood up, too, and affirmed that we would persevere in resisting evil and whenever we fall into sin would repent and return to the Lord.

And if we can actually do that, not just say that, well, that’s certainly not “doing nothing.” And I highly recommend it.

But first things first. We cannot persevere in resisting evil, we cannot comfort those who mourn, we cannot be true peacemakers if we do not trust that in the end, it is not us but God who brings salvation and it is God who makes things right. We are no match for that complex power which corrupts and destroys and we cannot save ourselves. 

The world is so very broken.

Our hope is in God and our strength comes from our mighty and gracious Lord who not only will wipe away every tear but also burn away every sin, the sins that live within us (the sins that live within me) and the sins of the world. 

We cannot hold up the hope the world so desperately needs if we do not believe it ourselves.

And so, the lesson from today is aimed first and foremost at encouraging us to trust that God will sort things out, to remember that God is always working to bring good out of evil, to know that we risk getting hopelessly entangled with evil ourselves when we take it upon ourselves to uproot what we think are the weeds. (See, for example: the Crusades, the Inquisition, Japanese internment camps, kicking people out of the family for so-called purity reasons)

And so we affirm that God is love, and hope for what we do not yet see, and wait for it with eager longing, because this is what God has promised and what only God can do.


Collect for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost







Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.







Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Morning Video: Car Park



I love the little shorts from Birdbox studio. Here's a guy in a parking lot (or, car park as our friends in the UK call them) getting carried away with himself. Don't be like this guy today when you're out doing your Saturday shopping!









Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Afternoon Wildlife Break



Here's the bunny that hangs out in my yard most evenings, enjoying the clover. I may have put a carrot out for him, too. 

Enjoy your Friday!






Morning Psalm


Protonotary warbler





In you, Lord, have I taken refuge.  (Ps 31:1a)









Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday Afternoon Bird Photo



Such determination! This female ruby throated hummingbird (too bad they named it after the male, since obviously this female does not have a ruby throat) seems to be very focused on slaking her thirst at the sugar water feeder.






Morning Prayer of Self-Dedication



Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to thee, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly thine, utterly dedicated unto thee; and then use us, we pray thee, as thou wilt, and always to thy glory and the welfare of thy people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

(BCP 832)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Raindrops on Roses


So aware of how dry some places are this time of year. We could use some rain, for sure. Here's a throwback to earlier in the spring when we got a good soaking rain.










Morning Prayer for the Future of the Human Race



O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 828)







Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon Baby Duck Photo


Here's the little Pekin duckling at the pond. Took this photo on my last day there. By now it's probably full grown already!














Morning Prayer for Rain




O God, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised to all those who seek thy kingdom and its righteousness all things necessary to sustain their life: Send us, we entreat thee, in this time of need, such moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to
our comfort and to thy honor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


(BCP 828)






Monday, July 14, 2014

Night Prayer



Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness;  through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(BCP 133)



Visual Morning Prayer





You water the mountains from your dwelling on high; the earth is fully satisfied by the fruit of your works.

(Psalm 104:13)


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Collect for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost



O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.










Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Morning Very Cool Travel Video



It's July - when many people are thinking about (or going on) vacation.

This is a very cool romp through Barcelona by Rob Whitworth. According to the article about it on Mashable:

The entire project took a total of 363 hours to complete: 78 hours for filming and 179 hours in post-production. Whitworth used a variety of lenses to capture the diverse shots with four Nikon DSLR cameras, which ate up 817 GB of hard drive space.
Enjoy!









Barcelona GO! from Rob Whitworth on Vimeo.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Afternoon Fishing Break


It's a great day at the beach! At least it was the day I took this photo.

May your Friday afternoon be wondrous.







Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursday Afternoon Dragonfly Photo


So here's a dragonfly. See the wings are at right angles to the body.

I find these guys endlessly interesting. How on earth do they fly with those unbelievably fine wings?

God's engineering is a mystery.













Visual Morning Prayer




You have brought us in safety to this new day....

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Blue Streak


This is a blue damselfly. 

You can tell the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly in that damselflies hold their wings back like this one, whereas the dragonfly holds its wings at right angles to the body.

(I had to look it up.)














Visual Morning Prayer: Where are you going?




Where is your path taking you today?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon Bird Photo


This is a juvenile brown headed cowbird. You can see it hasn't learned to wipe its mouth yet...









Visual Morning Prayer





Yonder is the great and wide sea with its living things too many to number, creatures both small and great.

There move the ships, and there is that Leviathan, which you have made for the sport of it.

(Psalm 104:26-27)

Monday, July 7, 2014

What's going on down there?


So I've been gone from the blog for a bit and also really not able to post much even when I wasn't officially away from the blog. 

This is partly due to "planned maintenance," i.e., I moved from Williamsburg to Richmond and I still don't have internet service at the new place, and I have a pretty intense and wonderful (but definitely intense) new job. 

And partly due to unplanned events, i.e., my mom was hospitalized and while she is now stable, she has decided it's time for her to move back to my home town. Long time readers of this blog will remember that I wrote a few posts back in 2010 when I moved my mom away from my hometown to Atlanta. Now she is going to go back. We all think she will be very happy.

I also have a family wedding coming up in August (my son is getting married)!

We also lost our lovely Miss Kitty. She disappeared a couple of weeks ago and is presumed to have been killed somehow.

So, lots going on with me that is keeping me away from the computer. Many of these are happy events, but as you know, even happy events can be stressful.

Meanwhile, enjoy this picture of a common tern hovering about 25 feet over the surf. It's looking for the little silver fish that they love and will dive straight down into the ocean to catch with those powerful orange bills. I love watching them work. It reminds me that God gives us what we need (in this case food, an environment for the food, and the means to acquire the food) for life.

When things get as pushed up as they are for me these days, that's a very good thing to remember.












Morning Canticle



Venite    
Psalm 95:1-7


Come, let us sing to the Lord; * 
   let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation. 
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving * 
   and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God, * 
   and a great King above all gods. 
In his hand are the caverns of the earth, * 
   and the heights of the hills are his also. 
The sea is his, for he made it, * 
   and his hands have molded the dry land.
Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, * 
   and kneel before the Lord our Maker. 
For he is our God, 
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. * 

   Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!








Sunday, July 6, 2014

Collect for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost





O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.








Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saturday Morning Music: The Stars and Stripes For Ever (duet)



For the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Julie Rozman and Chuck Stanley play Elizabeth and Raymond Chenault's "Stars and Stripes" for organ duet at Church by the Sea in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. May 2012.

The Chenaults are the long-time organists at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA, which is my home parish that sponsored me for ordination. Ms. Rozman and Mr. Stanley do a great job with their clever arrangement for two organists of this time-honored piece. It's a lot of fun to watch all the parts!

Enjoy your weekend!










Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(BCP 258)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thursday Afternoon Bird Photo


This is a juvenile bird of some kind, not sure what kind, just beginning to fly out of the nest and check out the area nearby. Love the feathers and details around the eyes. 









Good Morning Sunshine!



Blessings on your Thursday!





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