Lifted high

Last one from Monday in Philly: St. Clement’s

“They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day … He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify … ” ~ Acts 39-40, 42

Reach high

Still processing some photos from my Monday am in Philly. I love the Philadelphia mural arts program. Even in the shadows, this one glows.

“Reach High and You Will Go Far,” Josh Sarantitis, 20th & Arch

A sermon for the fifth Sunday of Lent

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,”[1] Jesus says in this morning’s Gospel.

But what he says next doesn’t sound much like glory: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies … “[2]

In his public ministry Jesus has never hesitated to speak truth to power, and now it’s all catching up with him.

His hour has come. This is the crisis that will finally test him.

Will he stand firm?

And another question maybe even more important for us today: Will we?

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Where we came from

‘T’is the day when we remember:

Wearing “Erin go brah” pins to school. The boy soprano who sang “A little bit of heaven fell from out the sky one day” and made the nuns cry. Corned beef and cabbage for dinner. (Potatoes, too, but of course they were on the table every night.) Telling the story of great-grandfather who sailed away from Ireland and left his mother tearful on the dock.

It’s the day when all of us who have a drop of Irish blood in us remember where we came from. I think of the Burns family, and the Phelans and the Careys, who fled starvation in a place they loved, but which had nothing for them, and made something of themselves here in this nation of immigrants.

They left behind family members they would never see again, and brought family members over after they were settled, each new arrival standing on the backs of those who got here first. My great-grandfather Patrick Henry Burns was the head of a household that included a brother from Ireland and a brother-in-law from Germany in addition to his own wife and kids.

The micks joined the Germans and the Virginia planters on other branches on the family tree, chain migrants all, and I’m proud to say they helped make this nation great.

Shame on us if we forget.

A sermon for the third Sunday in Lent

It was just before 4 in the afternoon when someone noticed smoke rising from the red brick chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary, the Episcopal seminary in Alexandria, just south of Washington DC.

The date was October 22nd, 2010, and up until then it had been an ordinary fall day. But in that moment, everything changed.

They called 9-1-1 and the firefighters arrived almost immediately, but “very soon,” as the dean wrote in a letter to the community, “it was apparent that the chapel was already in flames.”[1]

No lives were lost, and through the efforts of those responders no other buildings were lost, but there wasn’t much the seminary community could do but stand and watch as their beloved chapel burned to the ground. Immanuel Chapel had been the spiritual heart of the institution since 1881, and the sense of loss that community experienced was devastating.

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