A sermon preached at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Wilton, CT on the 4th Sunday of Easter, based on Acts 9:36-43.
There was a conference at Virginia Seminary this past Friday and Saturday called “Missional Voices.” It was a gathering of Episcopalians from around the church who have a vision of living into becoming a missional church again, much like the early church.
Missional ministry is defined by its advocates as:
“a Christian community that crosses boundaries to embody and participate in God’s mission – loving the world into wholeness – in all that we do: prayer, worship, preaching, teaching, loving service, and daily life.”
Listening to the conference being live streamed Friday, I heard details about a growing missional initiative called Laundry Love. Its founder, a former drug addict and homeless guy, named Christian Kassoff, was one of the presenters. Fully tattooed and pierced, he was nervous talking in front of an audience, but his demeanor calmed as he began to tell the story of Laundry Love.
Christian talked about his hard past and about his love/hate affair with organized Christianity. It was in living at the edges with others who are followers of Christ that he found wholeness, not in a church building. After finding sobriety, he met “T-Bone,” a homeless gentleman living in Ventura, California and regularly visited with him on the street. In one particular conversation, Christian asked, “T-Bone, how can I come alongside your life in a way that would matter?” T-Bone’s response was honest and practical. “If I had clean clothes I think people would treat me like a human being.” Continue reading Resurrection and Transformation→
Living God, burning wild and unconfined, you call us to a new being, free from the fear of death: take away the limits that bind our imagination and choke our compassion that we may feel your pleasure in all that brings us life; through Jesus Christ, risen and ascended. Amen. (Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare)
At any given point in time, I think all of us have one burning question we’d like to ask God. When we are infants, the question might be “Why strained peas? Why strained carrots?”
As we grow older, our God questions grow and change with us. Children’s questions about the world around them might include “Why is the sky blue?” “Do dogs go to heaven?” “Are angels boys or girls?”
As we approach adolescence, our questions change. Innocence is often lost and questions about life and death begin to appear. “Why does everyone hate me at school?” “Why do I look the way I do?” “Where are you God, and why do bad things happen?” Often, in our teens we begin to stop asking God questions; and by adulthood, we learn to figure out how the world works (supposedly) understanding there are scientific answers for many of the simpler questions we had asked earlier in our lives. Continue reading Burning Questions→
Today is often called Low Sunday, not because it is a particularly low point, but simply because of the contrast from the previous week of uniquely emotional and engaging liturgies. In some communities, it is also a Sunday with low attendance since everyone had their fill of coming to church last week. But that doesn’t seem to be the case today at St. Matthew’s!
Easter continues this Sunday (and every Sunday). Today we hear the two appearances of the Risen Lord before the disciples. After a Sunday of proclaiming this remarkable miracle of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the joy and proclamation and song that goes with it, now we get down to the hard question.
Do we really believe this?
Yesterday I joined my family for an excursion into the city to see The Book of Mormon on Broadway. I’m not sure sharing the plot here is quite appropriate, but it does involve the belief in something that is seemingly ridiculous – to me and probably to lots of other Christians. But many of these dancing and singing young men in pressed white shirts tucked neatly into trousers with non-descript neckties showed the passion one can have about one’s belief system. Continue reading What Do You Believe?→