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Finding God at Arby's: Reflections on Doubting Thomas

Finding God at Arby’s: Reflections on Doubting Thomas

This sermon was delivered this past Sunday in Charlottesville, by Sam Bush.

This is a very exciting time for the church. It’s one week after Easter. The lilies are still up, the altar is in full splendor. We are living in the aftermath of Jesus’ resurrection. And today we see how the resurrection immediately plays out in the lives of his disciples. Jesus stands among them and everyone is shocked and then they rejoice. I picture it like the end of a movie — there’s a montage of all of them laughing, maybe messing up each other’s hair, or playing a…

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Pithy Preachers Proclaiming Perplexing Epigrams: On Preaching, the Pulpit, & Thomas Guthrie's Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints

Pithy Preachers Proclaiming Perplexing Epigrams: On Preaching, the Pulpit, & Thomas Guthrie’s Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints

This piece was written by Brad J. Gray.

It’s a turn of phrase that I’ve seen around the Internet and various other places in the past, but only recently has it been actually uttered to my face. I wouldn’t have thought much of it but it was said twice in a few short days and it got me to thinking about how prevalent the sentiment is despite its inherent falsehood and treachery. I am, of course, referring to the oft-quoted statement, “God helps those who help themselves.” No doubt you’ve heard this expression before, more than likely from a well-meaning person….

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What to Wear at Easter: A Sermon on the Resurrection

What to Wear at Easter: A Sermon on the Resurrection

This sermon was delivered yesterday by Paul Walker, Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville. Happy Easter, everyone!

Welcome to Easter Day at Christ Church! Whether you are here every week or just once a year, Easter is THE day to come to church. The news we have to tell just doesn’t get any better than this.

Which is why the church is adorned with lilies and the choir is dressed up with brass. It’s also why you probably spent at least a little extra time thinking about what to wear on Easter Day. Easter stokes the urge, or remnant of the…

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The Very Intersection of Love and Death: An Ash Wednesday Sermon

The Very Intersection of Love and Death: An Ash Wednesday Sermon

Grateful to share this Ash Wednesday sermon, by our friend Sam Bush:

Well, in a beautiful twist of irony, this is the first time since 1945 that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day have coincided. It’s such a bad pairing for a hybrid holiday that it makes you wonder if someone screwed up. The ultimate day of fasting — the day we are reminded that we are sinners and that we are going to die — on the same day we give each other cute cards and chocolate? Thanks a lot, Ash Wednesday. Thanks for spoiling our Valentine’s Day party.

At first glance,…

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"He Reads Well"

“He Reads Well”

I was both thrilled and intimidated when my church asked me — then a 29 year old college minister — to become their interim pastor. While I loved to preach, I was nervous about having to prepare practically every Sunday. I treated those sermon manuscripts like so many of the doctoral seminar papers I was producing during that crazed period of life — composed on an Apple Macintosh and printed out on a dot-matrix printer mere minutes before the sermon was “due.” I would step gingerly toward the pulpit with my Bible and still-warm sheaf of 8.5 x 11 pages,…

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Jesus Comes Aboard the Ship of Fools: A Sermon for Charlottesville

Jesus Comes Aboard the Ship of Fools: A Sermon for Charlottesville

The following incredibly powerful and comforting sermon was delivered yesterday by Paul Walker, Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville (next door to the rallies from this past weekend).

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the…

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The Bible in One Hand, the Novel in the Other

The Bible in One Hand, the Novel in the Other

Call it a nerd’s dream-come-true. A few months before I attended their three week summer seminar called “Imaginative Reading for Creative Preaching,” Calvin College mailed me a rather large box filled with all manner of books — novels, poetry, short stories, journalism, biography, and children’s literature. Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath was bunking next to Gilead, which was sleeping atop a Robert Frost anthology of poems. I did my best to read as many of the books as I could before my family and I trekked to Grand Rapids for a sabbatical. My fellow seminar participants and I then spent…

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Hungry for Religion

Hungry for Religion

As the Church turns its attention to a certain supper, we thought we’d post the closing sermon from the most recent issue (Food and Drink) of The Mockingbird.

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one”… Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse…

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The Ash Wednesday Immortality Bus

The Ash Wednesday Immortality Bus

There was a dark horse in this year’s presidential campaign that you missed. And what a shame! This gentleman really promised to turn things around, in ways no one else was talking about. And I know several of us really liked the idea of bringing in a Washington “outsider,” someone who wasn’t going to go by the same old Washington rhetoric. Someone with something new to say, someone with answers to the questions no one had the guts to ask. Well, this guy had them. He wasn’t caught up in the same issues every other politician talks about, and I…

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David Brooks Addresses the (Ecclesial) Cubs

Last Sunday, David Brooks gave a remarkable sermon (or talk) at the National Cathedral in DC. There’s a lot of wonderful stuff in here, addressing both our “moment”–the attenuation, the loneliness, the over-politicization, the blandness of religion, the emotional avoidance–but more than that as well. If you stick with it til the end (and you can get past some of the agency language), you may even find he follows a bit of a familiar scheme, ht TB:

Martin Luther King, Jr: “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart”

The following is an excerpt from the conclusion to MLK’s 1959 sermon, “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart.”

8f582_MLK-Home-thumb-400xauto-29178[1]I am thankful that we worship a God who is both tough minded and tenderhearted.  If God were only tough minded, he would be a cold, passionless despot sitting in some far-off Heaven “contemplating all,” as Tennyson puts it in “The Palace of Art.”  He would be Aristotle’s “unmoved mover,” self-knowing but not other-loving.  But if God were only tenderhearted, he would be too soft and sentimental to function when things go wrong and incapable of controlling what he has made.  He would be like H. G. Well’s loveable God in God, the Invisible King, who is strongly desirous of making a good world but finds himself helpless before the surging powers of evil.  God is neither hardhearted nor soft minded.  He is tough minded enough to transcend the world; he is tenderhearted enough to live in it.  He does not leave us alone in our agonies and struggles.  He seeks us in dark places and suffers with us and for us in our tragic prodigality.

At times we need to know that the Lord is a God of justice. When slumbering giants of injustice emerge in the Earth, we need to know that there is a God of power who can cut them down like the grass and leave them withering like the Greek herb. When our most tireless efforts fail to stop the surging sweep of oppression, we need to know that in this universe is a God whose matchless strength is a fit contrast to the sordid weakness of man. But there are also times when we need to know that God possesses love and mercy. When we are staggered by the chilly winds of adversity and battered by the raging storms of disappointment and when through our folly and sin we stray into some destructive far country and are frustrated because of a strange feeling of homesickness, we need to know that there is Someone who loves us, cares for us, understands us, and will give us another chance. When days grow dark and nights grow dreary, we can be thankful that our God combines in his nature a creative synthesis of love and justice that will lead us through life’s dark valleys and into sunlit pathways of hope and fulfillment.

The Most Necessary Conversion (in Advent)

In response to several requests, here’s the wonderful quotation Scott read at the end of the most recent Mockingcast, taken from Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa second Advent sermon in 2008 to the Pontifical household:

linusThis is the most necessary conversion for those who have already followed Christ and have lived at his service in the Church. An altogether special conversion, which does not consist in abandoning what is evil, but, in a certain sense, in abandoning what is good! Namely, in detaching oneself from everything that one has done…

This emptying of one’s hands and pockets of every pretension, in a spirit of poverty and humility, is the best way to prepare for Christmas. We are reminded of it by a delightful Christmas legend that I would like to mention again. It narrates that among the shepherds that ran on Christmas night to adore the Child there was one who was so poor that he had nothing to offer and was very ashamed. Reaching the grotto, all competed to offer their gifts. Mary did not know what to do to receive them all, having to hold the Child in her arms. Then, seeing the shepherd with his hands free, she entrusted Jesus to him. To have empty hands was his fortune and, on another plane, will also be ours.