Sermon May 1, 2022 – Easter III

Come, Have Breakfast 

Happy Easter!

              This morning we’re back in Galilee where the story began.  Peter announces that he is going fishing and the other disciples join him.  According to John the Evangelist, this is the third appearance of the Risen Christ. Here, on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus not only gives physical reassurance that he lives indeed; he brings actual sustenance to their wavering lives.

              During this appearance, which possibly a final editor has appended to John’s Gospel, we observe a group of disciples who are still in need of guidance and encouragement in their coming mission. Perhaps they have gone fishing again to allow themselves time to reflect on all that has occurred.

              The guidance comes. Once more the Risen Lord appears to them, but with no announcement or ceremony. And evidently a Resurrected body is not so easily identified.

              He asks them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” And they have to answer, “No.” But after following his advice to cast their net on the right side of the boat, they find it traps so many fish that they are unable to haul them all in (v. 6). Obedience leads to amazing — near miraculous—results. Fish overflowing.

              During this appearance, Jesus prepares a meal for his beloved friends. As Donald S. Armentrout, long-time professor of Church History at Sewannee, has written: “In this sense, Jesus is not only the Great High Priest, but he is the Head Chef or Cook. While we may set the table, he is truly the Host.”

              We see here a picture also of Eucharist — a feeding and an ongoing sustenance necessary to the Christian life. Participating in the Eucharist is basic to our continuing in Jesus’ fellowship. In the light of this generosity, we learn to see our attention to its enactment not as a duty or obligation, but rather as a gift. Just as the Lord was made known to the disciples in this breakfast, so is he made manifest to us in the Eucharistic meal.

              In this experience, we know that, through the Holy Spirit, he gives us the power to believe the nearly unthinkable and to do the impossible: to witness convincingly to the world that Christ lives, the Savior of all people.

              Theologian Robert Hoch puts it this way. “It is almost as if by deciding to follow Jesus, we return to our true selves, beloved of God. Our lives imitate Christ’s life, our joys Christ’s joy, our heartaches Christ’s heartache.”

              For us, the Risen Savior comes to us, many times in a manner we do not recognize, and invites us to a task that may seem outrageous.  More importantly, he invites us to his table saying, “Come, have breakfast.

Happy Easter!


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Sermon, April 17, 2022 – Easter Sunday

“Christ is risen, alleluia! He is risen indeed, alleluia!”

          Happy Easter!

          Today, we begin a fifty-day celebration of Jesus’ resurrection – the Queen of Feasts.  Seven short weeks that will carry us from an empty tomb to the rushing mighty wind of Pentecost.  This is the heart of our life together as Christians.  It is what gives meaning to everything we do.  The Church’s life, its work, its mission, and its proclamation is wrapped up in this one event.

          Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tells us,

                     “Easter comes out ringing in terms that we all hear if we seek to hear it, that the soul of man is immortal. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we have fit testimony that this earthly life is not the end, that death is just something of a turn in the road, that life moves down a continual moving river, and that death is just a little turn in the river, that this earthly life is merely an embryonic prelude to a new awakening, that death is not a period which ends this great sentence of life but a comma that punctuates it to loftier significance. That is what it says. That is the meaning of Easter. That is the question that Easter answers — that death is not the end.”[i]

          The word of our Lord’s Resurrection is always a new word for us and to us. Wherever we are in our own story, we need the liberating pronouncement of forgiveness and resurrection again and again. The ancient word that Jesus has been raised from the dead is something we need to hear anew. The darkness of Good Friday, and the silence at the beginning of the Easter Vigil, indicate to us a beginning, a space that is dedicated to be filled with the light of Christ. We look to the Paschal Candle as the beacon that both draws us and sends us on our way rejoicing.

          The Resurrection of Jesus introduces a new day, a new creation, a turn in the story — but the remembrance of all that has brought us to this place is still with us. As we adjust to the glorious flow of God’s acts, we realize that we still live in two worlds, and that there are many around us to whom the story has not yet been revealed in its fullness.

          In this morning’s Psalm we sing, “On this day the Lord has acted; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24).  Our faith teaches us that on this day, the power of death was finally and eternally conquered.  This means that we can stand next to an open grave ready to receive our loved one’s remains and not go stark raving mad.  It also means that we can look our own mortality in the eye and not give in to hopelessness and despair.

          This is the Good News we proclaim.  The resurrection is the driving force behind the Church’s life and work.

          There is always work to be done, good news to be shared, again and again. The Church today proclaims the new — that is also our legacy—and seeks for yet more fruitful ways to integrate this “ending” into the life of a world that desperately seeks resolution.

          “You broke the reign of death, O Lord, and you have made life shine forth again, alleluia!”


[i] Martin Luther King, Jr., in a sermon, “Questions That Easter Answers,” at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama (4/21/1957).


Sermon, December 12, 2021 – Advent III


Happy “Brood of Vipers” Sunday!  Every year on the Third Sunday of Advent we hear John the Baptist call us a “brood of vipers fleeing the wrath to come. (Matthew 3: 7 – 12; Mark 1: 2 – 8; Luke 3: 7 – 9).  Only Luke adds the admonitions to groups that were considered outsiders from the Jewish community of the time.

This is in sharp contrast to the liturgical emphasis for today.  Today is “Gaudete” Sunday, or “Rose” Sunday – many congregations in the Anglo-Catholic traditions will wear Rose (not pink) vestments.  The term “Gaudete” comes from the Introit of the Latin Mass meaning “Rejoice, O daughters of Jerusalem.”  It signals a lightening of our Advent disciplines in order to focus on St. Paul’s instruction for us to rejoice always.  At the same time, we pray for our Lord to come among us and stir up in us the fire of His love.  We light the Rose-colored candle to give further emphasis on today’s importance.

We are called to live a life grounded in joy.  This is not a giddy feeling that comes when something extraordinarily good happens.  Rather, it is a deep abiding presence that sustains us no matter what happens – good, bad, or in the midst of a brood of vipers.  This joy is ours as a gift given to us in our baptism and is one of the signs of being marked and sealed as Christ’s own forever.

The church in Philippi was a source of joy for Paul, of all the congregations he started they were the ones who got it right.  So here he is in a dark, dank Roman jail filled with joy when he remembers the Philippian people and their faithfulness to the Gospel of our Lord.  What does Paul do, he encourages them to remain joyful and to allow their joy to permeate every part of their lives.  In this life of rejoicing, Paul adds another gift to the mix – God’s peace which passes our understanding.  A peace that will guard our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God in and through Jesus the Christ.

This enables us to trust and not be afraid, even in the midst of this we cannot understand.  So, too, we on this Third Sunday of Advent are called to sing for joy, to celebrate the ways in which God has delivered us, is delivering us now, and will deliver in the future, until there is true peace, shalom, wholeness on earth and goodwill throughout the entire creation.  Isaiah reminds us that we shall draw water from the springs of salvation (healing).  If the Lord of love is ruling how can we not sing for joy.