Archives for the month of: May, 2011

El Camino - The Way - Spain 2009

A Sermon preached on the Fifth Sunday of Easter 2011

To listen to my entire sermon:

“I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Whenever Christians are buried, these familiar words from the 14th chapter of John’s Gospel are often proclaimed.   In fact, I read them just yesterday at the bedside of long-time cathedral member, Ann Austin, who died of pneumonia, surrounded by her beloved and devoted husband Tom, children and grandchildren.

These words proclaim that Jesus is our way to our God.  They assure us that we have a place in the divine eternity, and they comfort us that everything will be all right.  Thus, they are precisely the words that many of us need to hear at the death of a loved one.   Yesterday, as we prepared to disconnect life support from a woman of extraordinary faith and deep spirituality, I needed to remind not only her family, but also myself, that God had prepared a place for Ann where her long struggle with illness would be over, where in my heart I believed she would be reunited with those who had gone before, and where in ways that I can’t begin to explain, she would meet the Risen Christ.

“I am the way, the truth and the life” resides at the heart of Christian faith.  It has inspired much beautiful art and music, including George Herbert’s poem “The Call” set to the piercing melody of Ralph Vaughn Williams, a hymn sung at many an ordination and wedding.

But there’s a problem, and it’s the second half of the 6th verse:  “No one comes to the Father except through me.”  The question I pose today is can we, rather should we, proclaim these exclusive words in public worship, especially at a funeral where there are always strangers and often people of different faiths?

Should we, as followers of Jesus, assert publicly or even privately that we believe him to be the only way to the Holy One, to God who is Father, Mother and Creator of us all?  If we can’t make exclusive claims about the way to God, what can we say about the salvation of our souls and the truth of our Gospel?  These questions are important to raise and to wrestle with in the context of the post-Holocaust world of continued cultic, ethnic, racial and religious hatred, divisiveness, judgment and destruction.

Before considering these questions, however, I want to honor the text itself, and in doing so, to examine for a few minutes the context and meaning of this portion of the Fourth Gospel, and this verse in particular.  Continuing what we began on Palm Sunday, I invite us to read this passage of our sacred story “against the grain.” Read the rest of this entry »

In her hands by Tracey Lind

Episcopal Relief and Development Network Gathering

Evensong – Trinity Cathedral – May 7, 2011

Episcopal Relief and Development had its national network gathering at Trinity Cathedral and Commons last weekend.  I preached at the closing evensong and was asked to post my homily. My texts were:  Exodus 17: 1-16 and Luke 4:1-13 – stories about Moses and Jesus in the wilderness  So here it is, reconstructed from my notes. Read the rest of this entry »

Heart of Jesus - New Mexico, 2011 - Tracey Lind

Loving and Living Deeply from the Heart of God

The Third Sunday of Easter 2011, Trinity Cathedral

To listen to my entire sermon:

Create in us clean hearts O God, and renew a right spirit within us.

In this morning’s scripture text, we are instructed to practice our faith by loving and living deeply from the heart. This commendation comes from the First Letter of Peter (1:22), a message that was presumably written by an early Christian leader, sometime around the last part of the first century, and was circulated among Christian communities in Asia Minor.  Addressed to new converts, the newly baptized, “strangers in a strange land” as they were called, this ancient letter was considered a guide to early Christian living.

The author of 1st Peter beckons the reader to be attentive to all the paradox, ambiguity and mystery of the Christian story, and then to get busy living faithfully in the world.  At its core, the message invites us to be an Easter people, empowered and enlivened by the resurrection – the good news that death is not ultimate and that evil does not have the final work.  We are urged to live as Jesus taught and lived, loving one another deeply from the heart.

Jesus lived deeply from the intersection God and humanity with a heart so big that it could contain all the pain and all joy of the world.  In his preaching, teaching, healing and table companionship, Jesus demonstrated deep heart love.

Hanging from the cross on Calvary, he bore his heart for all who had eyes to see.  I like those images of the crucifixion where Jesus is hanging on a cross with his heart exposed, because I believe this is what happened at the crucifixion.  The heart of God was exposed for all of humanity as Christ embraced our broken and vulnerable world.  And when the disciples met the Risen Christ in the garden, on the road to Emmaus, in the Upper Room, and on the beach at Galilee, God opened their hearts deeply.

What does it mean to live and love deeply from the heart as 1st Peter encourages us to do?   Read the rest of this entry »