Outside Normal Channels

From my sermon for the Second Sunday of Epiphany:

Part of what is going on in the story of old Eli and young Samuel is God choosing someone outside normal channels, an unexpected, unlikely one, a very young one, to do God’s work. Samuel will become Israel’s first great prophet. That God has not called Eli or his sons, but an inexperienced child calls into question some of our assumptions about who is truly qualified to be persons through whom God works. Samuel will become Israel’s first great prophet. That God has not called Eli or his sons, but an inexperienced child calls into question some of our assumptions about who is truly qualified to be persons through whom God works.  We too, can hear the loving voice of God, and find ourselves called to new ways of participation in the healing of the world.

Sermon can be found here.

Epiphany: The Magi Call Us Forward

The final day of Christmas, and we must move on. The Magi at Epiphany beckon us forward. They represent that part of us that yearns for understanding, for confidence and hope, for life as we sense it was meant to be.  They are willing to take some risk, to stretch their horizons, to take the next step of faith even though they are not given a clear-cut plan.

The Magi looked to a new horizon and eventually they found horizons that were not merely physical or geographical.  Their journey did not end with the experience of finding the child born a king but continued long after. T.S. Eliot captures this thought with the Magi reflecting, “We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation.”

As we journey into the year 2012 may our steps lead us to encounter the mystery of Christ in the ordinary and unlikely places of our lives.  Like the Magi, we can move beyond the well trodden paths of the ordinary and choose to pay attention to the sacred dimension of the world around us, to the hope that stirs within our own hearts, to the joy of making a small difference in the lives of others.

Ruth Haley Barton features this lovely poem on her website today.  It captures Epiphany with eloquence.

Beckoning God—
who called the rich to travel toward poverty,

the wise to embrace your folly,
and the powerful to know their own frailty;
who gave strangers
a sense of homecoming in an alien land
and to stargazers
true light and vision as they bowed to earth—
we lay ourselves open to your signs for us…

Rise within us, like a star,
And make us restless
Till we journey forth
To seek our rest in you.

Kate Compston, Bread of Tomorrow

A Sermon for The Feast of the Holy Name

“To utter the name Jesus is to make a statement of faith as well as to give voice to a prayer.  Jesus is our salvation, the One sent to redeem us, to keep us from falling away from the God who created us for a meaningful life. In the human life of Jesus, God shares our place, in the midst of our very brokenness, he offers us grace—the grace of unconditional love, forgiveness for our faults, the ability to see and embrace what truly matters.  And what matters is a life of communion with God and others, a life of care; of collaboration, and loving service.”

My sermon can be found here.