Reformation Sunday sermon, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Goffstown, NH

On Sunday, October 28, I preached at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Goffstown, NH. Many denominations call this day “Reformation Sunday,” is it is immediately before the anniversary of Martin Luther’s publication of the 95 Theses on October 31, 1517.

This sermon proclaims the Gospel found in Mark 10:46-52 (the healing of the blind beggar Bartimaeus) in the light of the reformation of the institutional church and the reformation of our selves, bringing our faith and our actions into alignment. This is possible through the grace of Jesus, whose divinity and sinlessness mean that he was the only one never in need of such reformation.

The reading of Mark 10:46-52 begins at the 20:41 mark and the sermon follows immediately after that:

Jonathan Daniels celebration service, Keene

On the Sunday closest to August 20, St. James Episcopal Church in Keene remembers the life and witness of Jonathan Myrick Daniels. He was a member of that congregation who went to study for ministry at Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge. In 1965, he responded to Martin Luther King’s call for clergy of all faiths to travel to Selma, Alabama and support the civil rights movement. Daniels did this, working to integrate the Episcopal parish of St. Paul’s in Selma.

In his work for integration and for voting rights, he was arrested with several others for organizing a demonstration against segregated stores. Following his release from jail, he and a young black woman named Ruby Sales tried to enter the nearby Cash Market to buy some sodas. There they were confronted by a white man named Tom Coleman who met them with a shotgun. Coleman shot Jonathan Daniels, who died instantly.

Daniels is often hailed as a modern martyr for Christian faith, alongside Martin Luther King, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maximilian Kolbe.

Rev. Jason Wells, our executive director, was invited to preach at this year’s Jonathan Daniels celebration in Keene on Sunday, August 19. Here are some of the prayers and the sermon used in that service:

Prayers of the People, including a Confession Prayer based on Birmingham segregation ordinances.

Audio of a sermon on Galatians 3:28, “For all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

Homily for Epiphany 4C on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

A homily on God’s love as the thing that changes us to grow and deepen in our spiritual lives.

St. Paul’s well-known hymn to love contains 15 verbs about what love does (or doesn’t do). Usually in English we translate them as adjectives or abstract ideas: “Love is patient, love is kind…” See the NRSV Bible translation of this passage for an example.

Here’s one way to translate this poem with active verbs in their place:

Love waits and sticks with you.
Love cares and cherishes and treasures.
Love envies not, blusters not, flatters not.

It does not degrade, ego-trip, aggravate or slander.

It does not cheer for injustice, but rallies around the truth.

Everything it protects.
Everything it believes.
Everything it hopes.
Everything it endures.

Love never falls apart.

How would you try to translate this passage to reflect St. Paul’s poem to an active love?

Homily for Advent 3C on Luke 3:7-18

Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Luke 3:9

In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:1-2

Homily for Advent 2C: “Do Not Be Afraid,” according to Luke 3:1-6

Verses quoted in my December 6 homily on Luke 3:1-6

  • “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard.” Luke 1:13 
  • “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30 
  • “Do not be afraid, [Simon,] from now on you will be catching men.” Luke 5:10
  • “Do not be afraid, [woman,] just have faith and she will be saved.” Luke 8:50
  • “Do not be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7
  • “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
  • “Do not be afraid, [shepherds,] for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

A Homily on the Centenary of Grace Church’s Dedication

1.

In 1653, construction began on Holy Trinity Chapel in Leicestershire, England. Sir Robert Shirley wanted to have a Church of England chapel built on his own estate there. What makes this church building so special is the period of history when it was built. In 1653, Oliver Cromwell had just begun his Protectorate. Under his leadership King Charles I and Archbishop William Laud were beheaded and many loyal to Charles or the Church of England fled for their lives in Scotland or Europe.

During this dangerous time, Anglican churches were demolished and turned to buildings for Puritan worship. However much we see our world changing, it’s hard to imagine living in a world where basic foundations are overturned, like the existence of a Supreme Court. Or to see the government literally tearing down churches of those who opposed its regime.
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