Be swift to love, make haste to be kind.

The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 17B, August 30, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
James 1:17-27 Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.

O generous God, 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.

This Sunday we turn back to the Gospel of Mark in our lectionary for the rest of the season of Pentecost in our liturgical year. [1] I’m tempted to dive in to this libelous text, to defend Pharisees and certainly to defend hand and dish washing, and also to deplore hypocrisy and all the evils that can come out from within our polluted hearts. I’m tempted to point out that this should be a troubling text for people like Episcopalians who cleave to traditions, sometimes at the expense of healing and feeding and freeing people who are ailing, undernourished and stuck in narrow places. Continue reading

It is I.

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12B, July 26, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

2 Samuel 11:1-15 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle…David [stayed home].
Ephesians 3:14-21 The power to comprehend…what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ.
John 6:1-21 Ego eimi mey phobeisthe.

O God of wonder, 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.

We have, for our edification this morning, two fantastic stories, so famous that you certainly don’t have to be a Christian to know them – stories of abundance out of scarcity in the loaves and fishes and of walking on water in some rough weather. The stories get larger and more profound with each iteration in the four Gospels. By the time that the Gospel of John was written, the hunger of the crowds and the threatening storm have become less problems to be solved by Jesus and more lessons to be taught by Jesus, who knew all along, according to John, what he was going to do to try to impress on his followers the meaning of the presence, the power, and the promise of God. The Gospel of John has the biggest fish story of all! Continue reading

What Difference It Makes

Trinity Sunday, Year B, May 31, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 6:1-8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!
Romans 8:12-17 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
John 3:1-17 How can anyone be born after having grown old?

O God incarnate, 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.

Last week I told you that the Feast of Pentecost is my favorite church holiday. It’s always followed by Trinity Sunday – not my favorite. It’s the only Sunday in the church year entirely devoted to a doctrine – that’s the good news I guess (that there’s only one). Even though it is the most beautiful of doctrines, I doubt if it’s possible (for me) to preach on Trinity Sunday without accidentally tripping over some orthodoxy and falling headlong into heresy. One option, I guess, is to just choose the alternative lessons for the first Sunday after Pentecost, or focus on the Feast of the Visitation, which falls on May 31 (and is the twelfth anniversary of when the Church named me a priest). The thing is, though, I love the Trinity hymns. I love St. Patrick’s Breastplate – the name of our processional hymn this morning. It’s frequently playing in my head. I love the hymn we will sing at the offertory – Holy Holy Holy – called Nicaea. In the hymnal of my childhood, it was number one in the book and in my heart. I still remember the time about thirty years ago when I first heard someone read Isaiah 6:1-8 in Hebrew, demonstrating the power of the poetry and the mystery – Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh. Continue reading

Mystery, Meaning, Risk & Relationship

Third Sunday of Easter, Year B, April 19, 2015; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Acts 3:12-19 You Israelites…
1 John 3:1-7 We should be called children of God and that is what we are.
Luke 24:36b-48 And the psalms must be fulfilled.

O God of hope, 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.

You probably know that the Gospel of John, for all of its beautiful love poetry and prose, is notoriously anti-Jewish or anti-Judean in its rhetoric about the death and resurrection of Jesus, written as if it were Jews and not Romans who were the threat to Jesus. In the Gospel of John is codified one side of a late first century argument about ways to move forward socially, politically and theologically in the precarious time after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. The writer of John places anti-Jewish words anachronistically in the mouths of Jesus and his friends who were, of course, all Jewish. Continue reading

Squinting

The First Sunday of Advent, 1B, November 30, 2014; The Rev. Pamela L. Werntz

Isaiah 64:1-9 Now consider, we are all your people.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 Grace to you and peace from God our [Author] and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mark 13:24-37 Keep alert…keep awake…and what I say to you I say to all: keep awake.

O God of new beginnings, 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 marks the beginning of a new church year. Thanksgiving to God was our last act of the year that is now past. Baptism is going to be our first act of the year to come. I love baptisms! Hadley and Piper Stuart have come to us to receive the sacrament of baptism, an official welcome to the family called Christian, in the branch called Episcopalian, and in doing that, Hadley and Piper are giving us all a reason to renew our own baptismal promises. What a blessing! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Advent. Continue reading