Fishing Without Bait and Kingdom Hospitality

Sermon by The Reverend Christian Baron, Co-Rector, July 2, 2017, Pentecost 4, Proper 8, Year A, Matthew 10:40-42

“Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple– truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… Amen.

Good morning.

It is good to be back with you today. Were you able to make it last week for church? Did you get to hear Fr. Zachariah? Did you get a chance to speak with him and his family? What did he preach about? What did you learn about them and from them?

Pause…

Wonderful… What a blessing to have them… The bad side of having him fill-in for us when we are gone is that I never get to hear him preach or hear him say the Eucharistic prayer.

But I’ve known Zachariah for many years.

We worked together in the social work world about 10 years ago.
We worked with young men who were refugees and looking for safety from war and violence and oppression.

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Hospitality, Hope, Compassion, and Discipleship

Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, June 18, 2017, Pentecost 2, Proper 6, Year A, Matthew 9:35-10:8-23

“As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

When Christian & I were first married, we lived in a small townhouse in Marquette for a while. It was long before we had little ones to occupy our days and nights, so often after work, we would stop by the movie rental store and pick out a show to watch after dinner.

I recall one night when we were done watching one of these movies, we went upstairs to go to bed when both of us heard a noise.

It was a noise that caused both of us to feel a sense of adrenaline flow through our veins. Our lizard brain indicators were lighting up and someone had to go investigate.

I guess I lost the coin toss because down the stairs I began. As I slowly descended I had one eye on the front door and one scanning the room below.

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Trinity Sunday, June 11, 2017: What Craigslist Can Teach Us About The Trinity?

Sermon by The Reverend Christian Baron, Co-Rector, June 11, 2017, Trinity Sunday, Year A, Matthew 28:16-20

“When they saw him,”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…

Friday was the last day of school for most of the kids around here. It was the last day of school for my kids anyway… Last day to set our alarms to get up for school. Last day of making our lunches the night before… Last day of picking out our clothes beforehand… Last day… And because of that, our family was able to travel to the center of the state to get a chicken coop. It was all very exciting because when you buy something on Craigslist and make an agreement over the phone before you’ve seen the actual product, you never really know what you might find at the end of a long trip.  

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Day of Pentecost, June 4, 2017: Receive the Holy Spirit, Church

Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, June 4, 2017, Day of Pentecost (Whitsunday), Year A, John 20:19-28

“When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen

Yesterday we gathered, as a diocese, in this space, to welcome to the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement individuals from Muskegon to Petoskey who came to make their adult commitment to this communion.

We heard lessons that attempted to frame what Pentecost has meant and means for us, today. The bishop preached about the meaning of the word Yahweh-Breath/Spirit and that the Hebrew people believed that God’s name cannot be spoken, not because it’s forbidden, but because Yahweh is the very breath we breathe.

And the action we take together when we are here is the breathing in of that spirit. While the sending out into the world to love and serve is the exhale.

It was a beautiful service. It was an honor to host. And even though we didn’t have any confirmands from here, we had a bunch of people who helped pull it off, and the Bishop wishes to convey his gratitude for our hospitality. So, thank you, St. Philip’s, for being the kind of place that opens its doors not only to our local people but for our brothers & sisters from around the Diocese.

The people who gathered here yesterday were making a particular commitment to God, the Church, and the world. Our catechism teaches that Confirmation is a sacrament, an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace. It is the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop.

The Church teaches that what is required of those to be confirmed is that they have been baptized, are sufficiently instructed in the Christian Faith, are penitent for their sins, and are ready to affirm their confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t hear many people talk about that much these days. “Penitent”, “confession”, “laying on of hands”…even baptism. What do all these words mean? Why do we still do them, after all these years?

It’s one of the quirky parts of being an Episcopalian. We still practice these ancient rites that connect us to the Acts of the Apostles, the Teachings of Christ, the one holy and apostolic faith.

Apostolic Faith.

How many of you know what Apostolic means? Just a show of hands, don’t be shy.

Soon after I started coming to an Episcopal Church, I had to know what this word meant. I thought it had something to do with the Apostles, but that was the extent of my curiosity, up until this point.

Well, The Episcopal Church has a published document that comes out each year that is a directory of all of the ordained clergy in our communion. And the Bishops all have these numbers by their name, along with three other bishop’s names which are called their “consecrating bishops”, one of which is either the Presiding Bishop or another Bishop appointed by the Presiding Bishop.
Now, this is all important because it connects us to the ancient custom of passing down the faith.

Apostolic Faith means that we can trace each of our bishops in TEC all the way back to Peter. Through the laying on of hands by a bishop, the bishop they had hands laid upon by, etc. etc. we are able to trace our faith lineage all the way back to the Apostles. That’s why these Episcopate services are so special. It’s a relationship with our ancient, Catholic faith, which means universal across time and continent.

The Bishop likes to call confirmation, “lay-ordination.” It’s the marking of time and formal commitment to these vows that we claim shape who we are as a body of believers. That’s why you’ll often notice tears in the candidate’s eyes and the eyes of their sponsors and congregation.

They are holy tears, evidence of the Holy Spirit, breathing on her people…new life…new hope…resurrection!

These rituals we do, to mark time, they are meant to tap into our deep memory, a memory that pre-exists our physical life span…that day so long ago, of Pentecost, as told in Acts 2: 1-21 that we just heard, a few minutes ago.

That story of what it was like when the disciples were huddled in that tiny dark room waiting for this Advocate to come whom Jesus promised he would send.

It had been 10 days since they watched their Lord ascend into heaven before their very eyes before they saw Elijah and Moses with him.

So much had happened, and yet so much had still not changed.

The Romans, who killed Jesus, were still occupying their land. They still feared to even show their faces. Where was this promised Advocate?

And then it happened. There came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages.”

Because it was during a large festival, once again, people from all over were gathered and heard this noise and believed these disciples to be drunk. But Peter, being the “rock” he was, reassured the crowd that they couldn’t be drunk, for it was only 9 o’clock in the morning!

What a fantastic story we tell!

I was thankful to be witness to these folks, yesterday, have the experience of the ancient apostolic faith laying hands upon their head and shoulders, that they had the opportunity to feel the weight of the commitment they made, that they had the opportunity to experience the Holy Spirit breathing upon them to send them out into the world to love and serve!

I was thankful to hear these amazing new Episcopalians take in what the gift of the Holy Spirit means for us, today, as they had the bishop’s hands laid upon their head and recited the vows of our baptism before the cloud of witnesses in their own voice.

The Church is a gift, friends, a gift to help bring about God’s mission in the world; to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ, as she prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.

Know that if you haven’t been confirmed or received and think that you may want to…heck if you haven’t been baptized and think that you may want to…we’ll be holding another class this fall for the preparation of the All Saints’ Confirmation. So speak to Fr. Christian or me with your questions and wonderings, we’d be honored to explore this with you in community!

“When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Amen.

 

The Advocate Helps Us Find Joy

Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, May 21, 2017, Easter 6, Year A, John 14:15-21

 

“They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

In the name of God + Amen. Please be seated.

Good morning!

This past week went by fast. Really fast. Partly because, lately, it feels like every week flies by, but this week, especially because Christian & I, were leaving Thursday for a conference in Ann Arbor.

Whenever we go out of town it throws the routines, habits, and “normalcy” of our day-to-day life into a frenzy. We shlep our beloved kiddos off to one of the grandparents and hope we packed the right clothing….and their toothbrush.

We shlep our beloved dog, Daisy, off to someone and hope she plays nice at her new friend’s house.

We have to pack our own belongings…and remember our toothbrush.

Needless to say, not much is easy about it, even though the rewards for us all far outweigh the challenges. The kids get quality time with their grandma and grandpa, Daisy gets time at a different house, we get to take a deep breath.

It’s good, very good, but it DOES throw our day-to-day into a bit of confusion, for a time.

I imagine this is what Jesus’ disciples must have been experiencing when it came time for Jesus to prepare them for what their next week was going to look like. When Jesus will Ascend to the Father. He said, “On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

Now, when I slow down with that part. Right there. “In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.” I think about what his friends must have been experiencing, feeling, thinking.

I try to put on what the author of John seems to be attempting to show us in these words.

I come up with a lot of sadness, confusion, maybe even disbelief. I don’t come up with a lot of warm fuzzies, that’s for sure.

Just a few chapters ago, they witnessed their teacher, their friend, crucified and were hiding in a locked room from fear when Jesus appeared to them in the resurrection story we heard on Easter Day.

As they were beginning to learn what all this meant with Jesus eating and walking and drinking with them once again, I’m sure they weren’t thinking that he would leave again. Right?

I heard a quote this weekend by the writer, S.C Lourie, that I think gives voice to those moments when we are faced with the psychological effects that the Disciples were likely navigating.

She writes,

“Be confused, it’s where you begin to learn new things. Be broken, it’s where you begin to heal. Be frustrated, it’s where you start to make more authentic decisions. Be sad, because if we are brave enough we can hear our heart’s wisdom through it. Be whatever you are right now. No more hiding. You are worthy, always.” – S.C Lourie

At this conference we were at, in Ann Arbor, we talked a lot about wellness.

Financial Wellness, Spiritual wellness, Psychological Wellness, Physical Wellness. Being trained in Sociology, I was most fascinated by the psychology sessions. I geeked out when the presenter started quoting all these studies. It’s true. I love to read studies about human behavior and patterns.

One of the things that stuck with me so much though, was how the presenter framed psychological health. She said, “Psychological health is not the absence of psychological challenge…but the capacity for recovery and resilience–that ability to bounce back from life’s extraordinary challenges, and is grounded in positive connections.”

Connection is something that humans are hard-wired for. And when we experience disconnection, for any reason, our light is diminished. One of the most common ways we, as humans, experience disconnection is through shame. It makes us want to hide.

But the good news is humans have an amazing capacity for resilience. Part of our resilience is biological, about 20-30% according to some psychologists, but the rest can be learned! Because our brains have this crazy thing called “neuroplasticity” our brains can actually create new pathways for responses.

Practicing gratitude will actually retrain our brain pathways to love and joy!

Jesus told his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” The advocate who will help us find joy, experience love and belonging, aid us in becoming resilient from life’s challenges.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” -Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW.

I invite you to join me in taking up the practice of gratitude. I invite you to find a notepad to keep with you this week and write down the things that you bump into on your journey that you are grateful for. Maybe it’s for a moment of silence, or a good night’s rest, or a conversation with a good friend, or a surprise visit from someone you love. We have a lot to be grateful for, even when we are facing uncertainty, pain, and seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Gratitude is the pathway to Joy and love and belonging.

This place is a place for YOU to know that God loves you and you belong.

This is a place for us to live into our call to discipleship and be strengthened by our common practice and participation in the sacraments.

This is where we practice being our truest selves so we can have the courage to go be Christ to the world.

Take heart, St. Phililpites. You have the Spirit of Truth to guide you.  

“They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Amen.

Grilled Cheese and Resurrection

Sermon by The Reverend Christian Baron, Co-Rector, May 14, 2017, Easter 5, Year A, John 14:1-14

“if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

In the name of God the Father and Mother, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit… Amen…

Good morning.

Alleluia… The Lord is Risen… The Lord is Risen Indeed

Happy Easter. I trust you have been appropriately feasting. Don’t give up now… No diets… no fasting… you can do it… Keep that champagne flowing… keep your glasses filled with that sparkling grape juice. Buy an extra box of chocolate…. Sleep in a little longer than normal… Take a nap. We only have three more weeks until Pentecost. Lamb and Ham aren’t just for Easter Sunday… So get to Honor meats or your local butcher and get cracking. Feast… feast… feast…

When National or Sentimental Holidays coexist within the liturgical calendar, our task as preachers become a bit of a sticky situation. If we say too much about the particular holiday we may catch flack, if we say too little, we may catch flack. Either way, on Mother’s Day, I’ve come prepared with my flack-jacket.

I remember my preaching professor really drilling it home that Mother’s day is not a part of the lectionary calendar… “Don’t you dare let your sermon be about Mother’s day,” he said… “But don’t you dare leave it out either…”  With this being my first Mother’s Day among you, I hope to use this day as a lens through which we see the lessons from this morning, within their proper context of The Holy Eucharist… through the lens of Thanksgiving.

So I find it fitting that our gospel this morning came from the Johannine community, where it is believed that Jesus’ mother, Mary, was most likely living. Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Theotokos, or Mother of God…A mother who found herself in a socially-compromising position and yet was called to the task of caring for God until he could accept his own calling as the Son of God…

And so I think it is pretty fascinating to think about Mary and where she lived out her days after Jesus was gone. Also fittingly, the Gospel of John was written to comfort that community that was feeling abandoned, a people who had lost and suffered much.

It was written as a reminder to the people that the Divine had not abandoned them but that they were, in fact, God’s people and that Jesus would soon be sending the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.  

And as I slow down and contemplate the Mother of Jesus, I can’t help but think about my own mom. Her name is Nancy and she was most definitely not the mother of God.  I think she is here today, somewhere. Having raised me, I am planning on presenting her to the appropriate Church Council, to consider making her a living Saint.

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are memories of my mother or of other moms from my neighborhood feeding me. For the record, the dads did this too, but in my context, there was something special about the way that the moms did lunch.

This was especially true in the summertime or on Saturdays. As a child,  it seemed like wherever I was in the neighborhood when lunchtime came, a group of children would find their way into a house or on a porch for some kind of sustenance. But my mom’s lunches were always the best and everybody in the neighborhood knew it.

I think 95% of the time, my mom served grilled cheese. It always had a side of carrots or apple slices or canned pears immersed in sugary syrup. Occasionally she would make a mistake and put celery on our plates but would make up for it by putting some peanut butter next to it… We would eat quickly… and then go back to the task of play that was before us. They are good memories…

Moms, or at least the Moms in my neighborhood, know that children need to eat. Moms know that they have a unique role in the beginning of life to carry the God-given image-bearer in their wombs until it is time for them to meet the world. They know that they will likely be the primary caregiver of these little humans. That they are charged with creating an atmosphere where their children can learn and play and grow into the men and women, God is calling them to be.

I imagine that is likely how Mary thought about her role as Jesus’ mother. And so the pain that she likely felt at his death was probably overwhelming, to say the least.

But after the resurrection, at some point the disciples, including Mary, in the midst of their shock and joy, began to try to wrap their minds around this Paschal mystery that theologians have been writing about for 2000 years.

The gospel of John is definitely a particular theological work with its own theological slants. The other three gospels were so similar they call them the synoptic gospels. They most likely drew from one or two other sources, written down for their own specific communities. But the author of John had a very specific way that he wanted the reader to think about the meaning of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. A particular way to try to talk about the saving acts of God through Jesus.

In fact, the lectionary now has us going back in time… We are transported back to the portion in John called “the farewell discourse.” It is kind of smushed between the last supper and Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane.

The Resurrection definitely needs theological context. That’s why we have this reading in Easter. I suppose that’s what happens when a human being was dead and then is somehow, mysteriously, alive again. The disciples would have gone over and over again in their minds and in their conversations about things that Jesus had said and things he had done to try to grasp even a sliver of what it could possibly mean.

Remember the sermon from last week and the stories about Philip raising people from the dead. Resurrection is mind-blowing. It is not natural…  Humans need to make meaning of this sort of thing because it is the opposite of natural. We don’t know what to do with Resurrection.

And the author of John, definitely wants the reader to know that Jesus was connected to God. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you why that would be. There would have been plenty of folks who would have been quick to report this news differently. Plenty of people who genuinely and honestly could not believe in the resurrection.

Most scholars believe that John was written or completed around the year 90. It was written much later than the actual events being written about. Most of the readers, would not have ever met Jesus nor would they have even been alive for the resurrection.

And remember, each of the four canonical gospels had their own influence and audience. Communities would most likely have had one of the gospels or portions of gospels that would influence their theology and the lens through which they viewed and re-remembered the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.

And, as you can imagine, there was a lot of conversation about the death of Jesus. Was Jesus just another martyred prophet? A failed teacher who was guilty of treason and insurrection? A rallying cry for those who opposed the Romans and hoped to overthrow the Roman oppression?

Well, for the Johannine community… the community that had John’s account… John’s gospel… they were definitely grappling with their place in history and in the life of God.

Remember that as you read John, that the community still very much considered themselves Jewish. They are a Jewish community who has been displaced after the destruction of the Temple, by the Romans, in the year 70.

Because Jews who followed Jesus had been kicked out of the Temple and the synagogue by the Jewish majority… by those in power, which left them with no place to practice Judaism… no place to worship… no place to fit…

They must have been hoping that at some point they would be let back into the Temple.

God’s very dwelling place.

The only place that God lived.

But when the Romans destroyed the Temple… the only Temple… they would have felt desperate… would have felt crushed. And after that destruction, the Johannine Community would have been thinking, we need a written account of what we remember… what we believe…

So why did the Johannine community feel compelled to write this down? Most scholars believe it was written in order to com-fort

a specific Jewish community who followed Jesus… Christian Jews.

Now I give all of this background because, I think, it is essential to understand this history if we want to avoid an anti-semitic or supersessionist interpretation.

In recent history, the Western world certainly has been guilty of this. Western Christians have often lumped ourselves in with the Johannine Community and “cast stones”… at the Jewish people as a whole. Which is NOT helpful and certainly not the way of the Jewish Jesus.

As we read John, we are invited to see God in the person of Jesus. To experience the indwelling of God made mortal.

The gospel, as you recall, begins with John’s prolog… in the beginning was the word… and the word was with God… and the Word was God…

As Episcopalians the theology of the Incarnation is essential… We see Jesus as the human manifestation of the Divine… and as followers of Jesus, you and I, we,  are therefore called to also offer our bodies… our Temples… as dwelling places for the Divine… We are to offer space for the Divine to fill us and to overflow through us.

And, fittingly, we come to the story of the stoning of Stephen in the Acts of the Apostles, the Protomartyr… the first of all martyrs. He was a deacon… placed in charge of distribution of donations to those in need. In carrying on the Kingdom of God which Jesus declared and died for. It is a part of our lessons for today because Stephen is an example of what it looks like for a follower of Jesus to be filled with the Divine. To really embrace the Kingdom of God.  He is an example of a true disciple. Two weeks in a row now, we have stories of martyrs, two stories of what happens when you not only experience the resurrection but embrace it.

This is a scary proposition to me.

It is scary because if I’m honest, I have a hard time seeing similarities between my life and the life of Stephen the Martyr and it makes me wonder, “what aspects of my life still need to be resurrected?” “What must I do to fully embrace the resurrection?”

But the beauty of this story is that it is a testimony to Resurrection in the life of Stephen.

Because of his faith, Stephen knew that death was not the last word. Death was not the end. Not even death could get in the way of the coming of the Kingdom of God.

I am not endorsing martyrdom… though I think the case can be made… but what I am advocating is that you and I… when we are at our best… as Christians… as Disciples of Jesus… as Episcopalians… we will live lives that will not compromise until Justice abounds in the lives of all of those around us… will not compromise until justice abounds specifically in the lives of the poor and the marginalized.

When we are at our best… that those around us will at times, feel like they need to put their hands over their ears because they are tired of hearing about a Kingdom that refuses to marginalize… about a kingdom that refuses to leave people behind…

And our hope is that they won’t stone us like Stephen… but that they too will pick up the torch which Jesus left behind… that they will also live into a reality where there is plenty.

Where there is more than plenty…

Because in God’s Kingdom, there is more than enough. There is more than enough and there is room for all to embrace that reality.

And so now, I invite you this week to examine your own lives.

As a testament to the Resurrection of Jesus, look for people in your circles, your own neighborhoods, that need to be fed.

And as an act of Revolution and Resistance and Resurrection… offer them… something to eat.

I mean that literally and figuratively…

Find an organization today that you can either physically feed hungry people… or an organization that you can pay for meals to be provided…

Go online and offer micro-loans to moms on Kiva. K-I-V-A.

Make a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development…

write a check to the Deacon’s Discretionary fund….

There are people who need the comfort of mother’s milk… and you and I can offer that, with our wallets, “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

And… or… identify someone that finds themselves in a place in life where they feel isolated and marginalized… someone who questions their own worth… that wonders where they fit in this world… a modern day member of the Johannine Community that needs to be reassured that they are loved and belong to the Creator of the Universe.

Those folks need mother’s milk too. They too, need to be comforted and need to be embraced by the reality of the radical inclusion of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And you and I can offer that milk to them around our dinner tables.

All of these actions can be resistance to all kingdoms that oppose the Kingdom of God.  These actions will be actions of restoration and healing…

of reconciliation, between God and humanity…

Your response to your own taste of God’s goodness…

And these actions, will literally and metaphorically, usher those who need it most, from death into life.

St. Philip’s, may we continue our legacy of advocating for the margins in the community and around the world…

Alleluia the Lord is Risen..

Amen.

 

Patronal Feast Day of St. Philip, Year A, May 7, 2017

Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, Easter 4 Patronal Feast Day of St. Philip, Year A, May 7, 2017, John 14:6-14

Good morning… Please be seated…

I want to preface today’s sermon with the prayer that my mentor, Fr. Mike Fedewa, prays before every sermon. It served and continues to serve as a framework for how I read the Gospel, how I read the news, how I shape the reason why I do what I do.

Let us pray.

Gracious God, help me to preach in a way that is good news to the poor, the weak the widow, the orphan and those who are most vulnerable. Help me to preach in a way that honors and respects those who will suffer and die today for your gospel. Help me to preach in a way that seeks not my glory, but yours, not the growth of this church, but the growth of your kingdom. Amen.

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The Kingdom of God Has Leveled the Playing Field: All Are Equal

Sermon by The Reverend Christian Baron, Co-Rector, April 30, 2017, Easter 3, Year A, Luke 24:13-35

“But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… Amen.

Alleluia. Christ is Risen.

“The Lord is Risen Indeed. Alleluia”

Good morning. I am so grateful to be in this place at this time. I was just reminding my kids yesterday, that we live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I love watching the trees turn from blossom to bloom. I’m excited for my first full summer up north. I’m not sure that I’ll ever grow tired of the sunrise and sunsets that meet us with each new day. New life is everywhere.

Now, I hate to disappoint you all, but I haven’t caught a fish since good Friday.

You should know, the main cause is the fact that Jodi and I have been sick since Holy Week.

I have mostly recovered, unfortunately… she’s still sick.

But that’s only part of the reason for my fish-lessness.

I did go fishing on the pier once this past week. But I’ve got to tell you I was “blanked”.

Zero fish.

Zero bites… that I know of.

I mention this because when I fish on the pier, or when I fish from shore, there are lots of chances to miss fish.

So, if you’ve never done it before, the fisherperson casts out, up to three lines. The sinker pulls the bait to the bottom, and then some floats in the bait, lift the bait back up off the ground a few feet. So the bait hopefully stays at the correct depth, while the fisherperson sits and waits for a fish to bite.

But there are so many scenarios that could keep that fish out of your freezer. Here are a few of them…

Maybe there are no fish in the area for whatever reason.

Maybe there are fish there, but they aren’t feeding.

Maybe they are feeding but not on the bait that you are fishing with.

Maybe your line is tangled and because you can’t see it underwater, you fish with it for 4 hours with no chance for a bite.

Maybe your bait is too old. Maybe your bait is too fresh…

Maybe your bait is floating too high… maybe it is down too low.

Maybe you hook into a fish and the fish breaks your line.

Maybe you miss a 9-pound steelhead with the net and instead knock the hook right out of the mouth of the fish as your wife is trying to land a monster.

Maybe, maybe, maybe…

But there is one other reason a fisherperson may come home empty handed that is by far the most painful reason…

You stop paying attention for just a minute… you look up at the lines and you discover that you are in the middle of a bite or your rod is straight up indicating that you completely missed a bite.

Occasionally, you can make this mistake and you still get to the rod in time to set the hook.

But most of the time another fisherperson will let you know “Hey buddy… you got a fish on.”

This is absolutely humiliating.

To avoid this kind of mistake there are a few fishermen I know that use alarms or bells.

Some fisherpeople giggle at this idea. They consider this kind of technology to ruin the purity of the endeavor.

But, I am here to tell you, that bells and alarms have put many fish into the freezer for my family and for many of my friends.

But without those alarms or bells, the person fishing has to really be paying attention.

They have to really focus.

They must dial in all of their senses.

They must forget about the rain or the cold… forget about the sun… turn their phone off… keep conversations to a minimum… the first priority must be to watch those rods.

If not, it is a long walk back to the car.
With every tourist or pier walker asking you “How is the fishing”…

Or your spouse asking you, “How many fish did you catch.”

If you don’t pay attention, you will definitely miss the action. You will definitely miss what is happening all around you.

That’s the point of the gospel today isn’t it?

Earlier in the 24th chapter of Luke, some of Jesus’ disciples who were females, discovered the empty tomb and were visited by two angelic figures.

You know the story… they run back and tell the other disciples… who question the women.

In fact the text says, “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” It sounded like a fish-tale.

This whole aspect of the story is intended to elevate the disciples who could see the truth… the female disciples… and to poke at the men in whom the power of the patriarchal society rested.

The underlying message is that the Kingdom of God has leveled the playing field.

All are equal.

Societal wisdom is deconstructed and rebuilt with a new reality.

In fact, maybe the point of this pericope, the section about the empty tomb… is that those who hold less power and find themselves at a lower cultural status, are in a better position to notice the Resurrection and to be immersed in the Reign of God.

Maybe…

And so, skeptical disciples carry on, immersed in the truth of the tomb rather than the truth of the resurrection. They have chosen or are subject to, the reality of Good Friday over the reality of Easter Sunday. They have literally chosen death over life… They have chosen or maybe just remained in the only reality that they can comprehend.

After the women report the facts, Peter runs to the tomb to see for himself, and the rest of the disciples carry-on in literal disbelief of the resurrection.

And we still haven’t even touched the text for today.

The text says, that same day, two of his disciples were walking to a village called Emmaus. “Talking with each other about all these things that had happened.”

The text makes it apparent that those traveling to Emmaus have not been persuaded by the women about the resurrection. They are fully aware of the persistent reports from the disciples who were females, but would not… could not believe it.

In fact, they seem content to keep Jesus in the realm of teacher and prophet.

They have resolved that he was not the redeemer they had hoped for. Because, what kind of redeemer… what kind of Messiah… what kind of Lord could he have been,

if the authorities could torture… humiliate… shame and kill the one they had so much hope for.

It seems Jesus would just go down in the books as another prophet killed by his own people.

Another teacher killed because of his ideals.

And Jesus, who still has not be recognized says, “How could you be so foolish to think that Jesus would overthrow the system without suffering. How foolish to think that he would be able to accomplish anything without being put to death.”

And yet… they are still blind. They still cannot see that Jesus is present with them.

They cannot fathom resurrection… they cannot comprehend salvation and redemption coming from any other place other than through the sword… they cannot see reality… right in front of their faces… The stone has not been rolled away for them… They are still stuck in the tomb.

But… there is good news. They are curious enough about the truth and about life to beg Jesus to stay with them.

This is surprising to me because Jesus, a stranger to them, just called them fools.

These disciples have been on quite a journey… honestly doing, I believe, the best that they can…

and…they hide after the crucifixion… they refuse to take the word of the women who have spoken with the angelic figures… they scramble to get out of town…. They are unable to recognize the man that they had spent so much time with as they walked together on the road to Emmaus…

And now… in the breaking of the bread… they can finally see reality for what it is.

They are finally flooded with understanding and wonder and amazement. They remember the last time that Jesus broke bread with them. As he served them… As he washed their feet…

It must have been a remarkable thing for those disciples to experience. My hope is that they were overwhelmed with gratitude and joy because their friend was once again with them. I hope that any shame was washed away by the joyful celebration of life over death. I wonder if that mystery and surprise of new life were enough to carry them forth as they changed the world forever.

I suspect that it was. Well, that and the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

What an incredible story. Even those who refused to or were not able to see resurrection when it was apparent, even those who ridiculously could not… would not acknowledge reality… even those stuck in the tomb… were able to experience the resurrected Jesus.

And that is still true, today. We can absolutely place ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually… where we can see new life. We can train ourselves to focus on life… we can put away all distractions and keep our eyes peeled. We can intentionally place bells and alarms all over our lives so that we don’t miss it… when resurrection happens.

In fact, if you are having a hard time seeing new life… If you are having a difficult time seeing Resurrection… A hard time seeing the presence of the divine in your life… the good news is that we can experience the very real presence of Christ…. Today… in just a few minutes. Soon, he will be made known to US…. in the breaking of the bread.

And the acolyte will even ring the bell to grab our attention so we don’t miss it.

And that will act as a catalyst for you and for me. On Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday… while we are at work and we hear a story from a co-worker… Ding ding… Sanctus bells.

Or when we hear a story from our children, grown or in elementary school, about some success or challenge overcome… ding ding… Sanctus Bells.

Or when we encounter that person in our lives that we find it difficult to be around… ding-ding… Sanctus Bells.

Resurrection is all around us, St Philip’s. New Life is here! My prayer for us this week is that we will not be kept from recognizing resurrection in our personal lives, in our common life, or in the world around us.

“Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.”

Amen.

 

Peace and Reconciliation

Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, April 23, 2017, Easter 2, Year A, John 20:19-31

“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

In the name of God: Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. Amen.

Good morning, St. Philip’s! Happy Easter!!!!!

I hope that your first week of feasting in this great 50 day season of Easter was productive and full of celebration, if not, no worries, you still have FIVE more weeks of Easter to get your feast on! I love it how our liturgical calendar sets us up with a 40 day Lenten fast followed by a 50-day Easter feast.

And that’s how all of the fasting seasons, the seasons of preparation, are set up. Fast then feast. Prepare then celebrate. Do then be.

Both require a lot of planning, a lot of work, a lot of time cultivating space within our hearts to receive the blessings of each day. But it’s good work to do. Holy work. Reconciling work.

This past week I indulged with a few episodes of my favorite podcast on the internet: On Being. Both episodes had something to do with relationships. Relationships with God and with one another, and really, relationship with all of the creation.

In one of the episodes from On being, Krista Tippett was talking with her guest Fr. Richard Rohr, about this notion of “Deep Time”.

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Easter Call to Mutual Relationship, April 16, 2017

Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, Easter Day, April 16, 2017, Year A, John 20:1-18

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

In the Name of God: Creator, Redeem, Sustainer. Amen.

Alleluia, Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! — He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia, Alleluia!

Good morning! It is Resurrection Sunday and it is good to be here with you today!

Holy Week was busy around here. Folks gathered for prayers, prepared the space for all of the activities, celebrated the traditional Holy Week Services known as the Triduum, ate dinners, fasted, and then last night at the The Great Vigil of Easter, we feasted. It has been a memorable week. A beautiful week to remember as our first Holy Week together.

And I reflected on all that transpired throughout this past week, I recalled a question I have from time to time. About what it is we do when we assemble here, week after week, year after year. And why we do weird things like “Coffee Hour” and Vestry meetings.

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