Saturday, December 25, 2010

Becoming All Flame

“The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid…I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people.”                                   —Luke 2:10

Two phrases dominate the Christmas story—“good news” and “great joy.” Listen to them carefully. Good news. Great joy. These phrases describe the core, the very heart, of our Christmas celebration. Even more wonderfully, these words spoken by the angels of heaven to the salt of the earth, are addressed quite directly to you and me.

Do not be afraid. Really. You have absolutely nothing to fear. Don’t you know? Whether you understand it or not, the very core of your being is infinitely good, and believe it or not, your life at its center is unimaginable joy. This is reality. This is the “dignity of human nature” described in the collects for Christmas and celebrated during this holy season.[1] This is our life. Divine life is already among us. Divine love lives within us. For in Christ we awaken, as Simeon the New Theologian wrote centuries ago,  and “all our body, all over, every most hidden part of it, is realized in joy as Him and he makes us utterly real.”[2]

There is a story of that comes from the hermits who lived in solitude in the deserts of Egypt during the fourth century. Brother Lot, it seems, went to a wise and elderly monk, Brother Joseph, and said “Father, as far as I can I say my prayers throughout the day. I fast from time to time. I pray and I...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Making the Connection: Look...Here...

“The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God.’’
—John 1:35

The gospels, it would seem, give us two rather different images of John the Baptist.

There is the John the Baptist found in the synoptic gospels. He is the lone voice crying out in the wilderness to make straight the way of divine life in this world. This John the Baptist is a solitary figure who stands outside the walls of the city and apparently outside the boundaries of worldly convention. He is oddly dressed and exists, we are told, on a diet of locusts and wild honey—a diet whose precise nature still apparently confounds some scholars. This John is not known for his reserve. His is a voice of confrontation and provocation. “You brood of vipers,” he says to the crowds, “who warned you to flee the wrath that is to come.” This John is one who calls the multitudes to repentance.  He challenges those who would listen to move...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Resurrection: What do you want?

Here’s a statistic I encountered recently. Did you know that only about seventy percent of church-going Americans understand that Easter is a religious holiday? Amazing, isn’t it? But even more curiously, did you know that only about forty-five percent of church-goers will identify Easter as a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection? How about that? The numbers come from a reputable research group using appropriate survey methodologies, and the maximum sampling error they say represents only about a three percent margin.[1] But still it is really a bit startling—particularly to those of us who are rather immersed in the religious life of the Church—to think that only a minority of the community of the faithful actually understand that Easter is about the resurrection.

I am sure, of course, that those statistics are not likely to apply to this particular congregation. But even as I wish you all a very happy and holy Easter this morning, and without wanting to cause any offense, I do want to be sure that we are all on the same page. So let me just say it. Today, this Easter Day, we celebrate an absolute miracle. We claim a divine gift. We name the deepest reality of life itself....