We have work to do.

Second Sunday of Advent, Proper 2B, December 10, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 40:1-11 Cry out!

2 Peter 3:8-15a Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.

Mark 1:1-8 He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.


O God of the prophets, may we have the wisdom, the strength, and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth – come when it may and cost what it will.

Every year our branch of Christianity gives us a new year – a new advent –a new season for longing, to hear and respond to lessons of prophetic wisdom and calls for repentance writ large. These calls are not for personal repentance (that’s for the season of Lent). It’s fairly easy for people like us to understand our individual sins. (Not so easy to repent, but easy to identify.) It’s much harder in our culture for people like us to identify collective or institutional or structural sin, especially when so many of us benefit from it. Advent’s prophets are calling not for individual repentance, but for national repentance, for corporate repentance, and for ecclesiastical – that is Church — repentance. It seems to me that it doesn’t matter what your political perspective or affiliation is, we can probably agree that institutions – nations, corporations, and organizations are failing to care for people with dignity and respect. We are in a period of deep disintegration and the need for repentance, for turning around toward God, or Love, seems more pressing than ever.
Continue reading

My liberation is bound with yours.

Last Sunday after Pentecost, Christ the King, Proper 29A, November 26, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will [safeguard].
Ephesians 1:15-23 So that with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.
Matthew 25:31-46 Just as you did it to the least of these…you did it to me.

O God of endings and new beginnings, grant us the wisdom, the strength and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

Today we mark the end of the liturgical calendar year for Christians. This is our New Year’s Eve day – a time for reflection and review, for celebration, and for renewed hope for the future.  Our year end coincides this year with Thanksgiving weekend, and I hope you’ve all found reasons to be thankful. But if this week has been particularly hard, and you haven’t found a reason yet, I hope you will find it this morning in this place!  I am so thankful that you are here.
Continue reading

The Mystery of God’s Justice

Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 28, November 19, 2017; The Rev. Dr. Cameron E. Partridge

It’s a privilege to be with you here at Emmanuel Church. Thank you very much, Pam, for the invitation to preach and to all of you for welcoming me this morning. I enjoyed getting to collaborate with you on the Boston-Cambridge Mission Hub when I served as Campus Minister for Episcopal students at Boston University, and I’m glad that being in town for the American Academy of Religion / Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting has finally given me the opportunity to worship with you on a Sunday morning. Continue reading

It’s a miracle!

Sunday in the Octave of the Feast of All Saints’, November 5, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L Werntz

Revelation 7:9-17 These are they who have come out of the great ordeal.
1 John 3:1-3 See what love [God] has given us.

Matthew 5:1-12 Blessed… .blessed… .blessed.

O God of all saints, grant us the strength, the wisdom and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

From time to time I feel the need to confess things to you, that you probably already know, but I still want to say them. Today I have two such confessions. First, I am a Church geek. I love the Bible, warts and all. I especially love Jesus, although I don’t always understand him, and he often takes me where I do not wish to go. I love the feasts and fasts of our liturgical calendar, especially All Saints’ Day. I love singing hymns and sharing bread and wine when we gather for worship. I also love vestry meetings and annual parish meetings, and overly full Diocesan Conventions like the one we had yesterday at our Cathedral on Tremont Street. In spite of the energy it exacts from this introvert, I love the wide and wild assortment of folks that come together to lead the church in the most crazy, messy, democratic way. I love budget deliberations. I love raising money for and spending money on things that matter, things that promote the well-being of our common life. I love resolution debates about our affirmations of and aspirations for the common good. I love people who express their incredulity, saying to me, “budget and resolution debates? Really, Pam?” Really.
Continue reading

The Great Emergence

Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 25A, 500th Anniversary of Protestant Reformation, October 29, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Deuteronomy 34:1-12 I have let you see it with your eyes.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 Entrusted with the message of the Gospel.

Matthew 22:34-46 No one was able to give him an answer…nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

O God of our Holy Scripture, grant us the wisdom, the strength and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

About a month ago, toward the end of my sermon, I said something that made the head of one of our beloved young children snap to attention. It’s not what I intended – I did want that response from the rest of you. So I’m going to start today with what I said last month, and if you’re near a young child, cover their ears, but the rest of you, listen up. “The truth is that the world is ending,” We can see that in the deterioration of the Church, social and economic systems stressed beyond the breaking point, financial corruption and abuses of power increasing the already yawning gap between rich and poor, widespread dissatisfaction and discontent resulting in violence. Nationalism on the rise; war and health crises threaten the well-being of the people. Improvements in communication and access to information just amplify and accelerate the process of disintegration because it’s impossible to control messages and figure out what is true.
Continue reading

The Temple in a Church: Celebrating 13 Years of Love and Friendship

Sunday, October 15, 2017; Rabbi Howard A. Berman

This morning, in my first sermon of both this new church program season, as well as our Jewish New Year,  5778,  I want to share some reflections on a very special shared milestone for all of us — of both Central Reform Temple and Emmanuel Church. The New Year, that we have just celebrated, is indeed a momentous one for all of us of the Temple, as we mark the 13th Anniversary of the Founding of our Congregation!   Just three weeks ago,  our celebration of Rosh Hashanah inaugurated what we are calling our Kehilat Mitzvah Year– an egalitarian Hebrew variant on the Bar and Bat Mitzvah 13th birthday tradition, which means “ A Community of the Commandments.” In this very symbolic way, we seek to frame and reaffirm many of our Temple’s core values as we celebrate this milestone. Continue reading

The Next Right Thing

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 22A, October 8, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 20:1-4,7-9, 12-20 Then God spoke all these words.
Philippians 2:1-13 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 21:33-46 Listen to another parable.

O God of grace, may we have the wisdom, the strength, and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth – come when it may and cost what it will.

Today is the Sunday that we formally begin our annual pledge stewardship campaign for 2018. This year, our theme is “Generosity on the Journey.” Letters have been sent from Nancy Coppelman and Liz Levin, asking you to begin to plan your financial commitment to this parish’s mission next year. While the amount that you pledge for next year is a very individual and personal decision, the fact of your pledge is a much-needed promise to support this community’s work for justice and peace, for healing and renewal. Your pledge is an indication that the ministry of this community matters greatly and that Emmanuel Church is worthy of your generous support. Pledge cards will be mailed to you in a few weeks. If you are not currently on our mailing list and would like to be, please fill out a pew card and put it in the offering plate or speak with me after the service. Pledge fulfillment provides nearly 100% of the cost of staff and programs at Emmanuel Church.
Continue reading

Turn around.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 21A, October 1, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 17:1-7 Is the Lord among us or not?
Philippians 2:1-13 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, …it is God who is at work in you”
Matthew 21:23-32 What do you think?…Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.

O God of mercy, may we have the wisdom, the strength, and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth – come when it may and cost what it will.

Between last week’s Gospel portion and this week’s Gospel portion, a lot has happened in the Gospel according to Matthew. Last week Jesus and his companions had left the Galilee and were drawing large crowds in the region of Judea beyond the Jordan River. After a whole lot of teaching about sincere discipleship and how to get along with one another in community, Jesus headed for Jerusalem, continuing to teach and to heal, moved with compassion, as he went.
Continue reading

Made by God

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 20A, September 24, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 16:2-15 In the evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Philippians 1:21-30 Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Matthew 20:1-16 Are you envious because I am generous?

O God of our priceless sacrament, grant us the wisdom, the strength and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

It is becoming something of a tradition to begin the Emmanuel Church cantata season with Anton Bruckner’s Locus Iste – this place was made by God, a priceless sacrament; it is without reproach. The Emmanuel Music choir always makes it sound to me like the piece was written for this worship space. Anticipating today, I had the words stuck in my head all week. Is it true? What does it mean that this place was made by God? What does it mean that it is a priceless sacrament, profoundly sacred? What does it mean that it is without reproach? Continue reading

Endless Mercy

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 19A, September 17, 2017; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Exodus 14:19-31 The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground.
Romans 14:1-12 Welcome.
Matthew 18:21-35 Have…mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?

O God of mercy, grant us the wisdom, the strength and the courage to seek always and everywhere after truth, come when it may, and cost what it will.

Did any of you see the pictures of the strong east wind that blew the water right out of Tampa Bay during Hurricane Irma? The opposite of a storm surge, Tampa Bay was emptied as the hurricane advanced north. For a few hours, parts of Tampa Bay were six feet below sea level and people could walk across the floor of the bay. Meteorologists speculate that the receding water saved Tampa, because by the time the eye of the hurricane arrived, the storm was weaker and the predicted storm surge just filled the bay back in rather than swamping the entire city. The water never came over the city’s barriers. Whatever the explanation, it was a miracle for the residents of Tampa. Continue reading