Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 14:25-33

Four hundred years ago, in 1619, a woman named Angela set foot on land along the Virginia coast, near Point Comfort, in what we now call Hampton. Nineteen or so other Africans followed her, probably rowed ashore in one or two boats from a Dutch warship anchored nearby.Continue Reading

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 14:1, 7-14

It’s easy to be a good host, right? Just anticipate the guest’s every need and make sure there’s more than enough of whatever the guest could possibly want. And it’s even easier to be a good guest. Just say “No, thank you” to everything because you don’t want to put anyone to any bother.Continue Reading

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost Luke 13:10-17

For those of us of a certain age, it’s hard to encounter Psalm 103 without hearing that song from Godspell. Oh, bless the Lord, my soul; his praise to thee proclaim; and all that is within me join to bless his holy name.

Verse 8, where the reading concludes today, tells us: The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.Continue Reading

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 12:13-21

It’s not a pretty picture.

When death comes for the archbishop, in the novel by Willa Cather of that name, it claims him as it has claimed the other main character. Both Latour, “the tower,” and Vaillant, “the valiant,” have their lives come to an end. So does Buck Scales, the abusive innkeeper who tried and failed to murder them in their beds.Continue Reading

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 138

The Sunlit Meadow

The slow-motion run and embrace of people who love each other, usually across a broad sunlit meadow or sparkling beach, is such a cliché in the movies that The Muppet Movie made fun of it when it came out in 1979. One reason it’s a cliché, perhaps, is the mathematical formula that distance does not equal relationship, or rather, a relationship conducted at a distance is a much more complex and challenging organism than a relationship when you’re in the same space.Continue Reading

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 10:38-42

The impulse to punish by setting apart is a tale as old as time – and yes, you now have the Disney tune stuck in your heads. No charge. A documentary program on punishment notes that the very earliest practices involved a removal from the company of the community – separation and isolation.Continue Reading

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 10:25-37

The film Schindler’s List, from the novel by Thomas Kenneally, is a difficult movie to watch, to put it mildly. It is based on the truth of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who was an utter failure at living. With the exception of his wartime ownership of Deutsche Email Fabrik, which manufactured sturdy enamel cookware and mess kits – and he poured his fortune into it to keep it going – he failed at marriage, he failed at relationships, and he failed especially at business. After the war, his DEF enamelware factory failed.Continue Reading

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

The wealth of the nations. So that’s where that comes from: The Wealth of Nations, which Adam Smith had published in 1776 – and here in Isaiah chapter sixty-six we find the title. It is worth noting that the promise of prosperity and wealth is bound up with the exuberant and extravagant love of God for God’s beloved creatures – and, in this reading from Isaiah, images of the city of Jerusalem as a nursing mother.Continue Reading

Third Sunday after Pentecost Luke 9:51-62

Wrong on the Internet

You’ve seen the cartoon. My dad recently sent me a variation of it. In this version, a woman is lying in bed trying to sleep. Next to her, her husband, wide awake, says: “I can’t go to sleep… Someone is wrong on the Internet!”Continue Reading

Second Sunday of Pentecost Luke 8:26-39

Who. What. When. Where. Why. These are the so-called Five Ws, the first tools shared with any news reporter. They make a framework, a way into the story. And the Five Ws, which sounds almost like a Fifties singing group, must always be joined by the H: How.

When any one of us laments, when we mourn as a community, when one of us wrestles individually with bearing that which is unbearable, these are the questions that arise naturally out of our unspeakable grief.Continue Reading