Sermons from the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer
We're Here to Wrestle| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
We're Here to Wrestle
"Your struggle, your wrestling, it’s not going away. And I’m sorry about that. I wish it was, genuinely. That is not the story we have. The story we have is of a faith where instead of God erasing our struggle, God blesses us in our struggle. Our church has begun this Becoming Beloved Community work, which is a long-term commitment to racial justice, healing and reconciliation. What is that but a wrestling? That’s not separate from who we are, that struggle is a part of who we are. Identifying it and acknowledging it is a blessing. We are a church who insists on the blessing."
Holy People, Holy Things| The Rev. Mitchell Bojarski
Holy People, Holy Things
"When we come to church and we listen for what we expect to hear we miss some of the most important stuff. We miss this kind of stuff because we come to church and we hear what we think we are supposed to hear: some nice pious stories about holy people doing holy things. We miss that wrestling with God is a holy thing that holy people do."
This Love Reality| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
This Love Reality
"We want God to come back and give new life to something that hasn’t fully died, so we can continue to say that we believe in love and justice. But at the same time, worship worthiness, our own and others, and make our whole God about us being useful, us being enough, us being worthy. Jesus is trying to put that to death completely. This love reality is not about your worthiness. It’s not about your usefulness. Those are our concepts. We attach worthiness and usefulness to love, not God."
Increase our Faith| The Rev. Melanie W. J. Slane
Increase our Faith
"What the heck, Jesus? Miracles performed by mere humans? From a mustard seed? Masters and slaves? The propagation of destructive self-hate that we have become so accustomed to? The Gospel lesson for today is a suitcase over the weight limit in a heap of baggage that we carry as individuals and as the church."
Eternity Now| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
"This is not how we’re meant to live. We are not meant to live waiting for some other time, later on down the line, when we can finally start to recognize the humanity of others. When we can finally start to love right. When we can finally start to be loved. Eternity is now."
Facebook, Money, and Hell| The Rev. Melanie W. J. Slane
Facebook, Money, and Hell
"Today we are talking about Facebook and hell and money. But aren’t we really talking about the Gospel? What is the truth that can be gleaned from all of this? We have a role and we have a chance to lessen the gap between us, make Jesus known in all the world and to witness in truth and love the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
A Scoundrel Saves the Day| The Rev. Gary Lubin
A Scoundrel Saves the Day
"In response to losing life as he knows it, the steward is reborn becoming an agent of reconciliation, renewal, and new life. His actions bring about successful closure, for the books of course, but also healing relationships. The master is really pleased to be looking so good and those debtors have got to be happy for they have been forgiven much. Here is a salvific irony: a scoundrel saves the day. Debits transform into credits."
Accountability and Grace| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Accountability and Grace
"Jesus’s ridiculous parable today is, as usual with Jesus, about accountability and grace. This guy is being held accountable and he’s finding some grace. And the disciples, we, are being held accountable for our own self-righteous behavior and for our own ability to not only want people to do the right thing, but to do it for exactly the right reasons and those reasons are the reasons I choose. We do this. And then we are being shown grace, because there is a powerful grace in Jesus telling us to lighten up."
Lost & Found| The Rev. Melanie W. J. Slane
Lost & Found
"The fear that was in their hearts, it just melted away and nothing but joy remained as I received a lecture about not running off, ever, ever, ever again. […] I didn’t really understand a word that they said. I didn’t even believe that I’d really been lost. But I certainly did feel the joy of being found. I must have known before that day I was truly loved and valued. But being found, after being lost, that’s a feeling you don’t forget."
It's Not About Me. Or Is It?| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
It's Not About Me. Or Is It?
"The story that we hear today is not about you. Think about the story that Jesus tells. When he starts the story, ‘which one of you having a hundred sheep and having lost one of them,’ who is Jesus getting you to connect to? One of the lost sheep? One of the 99? No. He’s putting you in God’s shoes. This is a parable that absolutely acknowledges how lost we can be. And absolutely pushes us to recognize how self-righteous we can be. But in the end this parable is not about us, this parable is about God."
If You Care| The Rev. Mitchell Bojarski
If You Care
"As we talk about Becoming Beloved Community, it becomes incumbent upon us to be like Onesimus. To go into the world and say, ‘I know that I’ve wronged you, I know that I’ve benefited from injustice. How can we be in relationship again? How can we find a way to be brothers and sisters again?’"
The Only Way Forward| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
The Only Way Forward
"The insistence of the Gospel is that our shared history has made us one. Now the only way forward is sharing life together. James Baldwin says that for the American, the world is white no longer and it will never be white again. And he doesn’t mean, I say to a room of mostly white people – including myself, he doesn’t mean anything threatening to us and our whiteness. He means that the cost has been counted like Jesus says. That the cost has been counted. That we belong to one another."
Sharing What We Have| The Rev. Joyce Keeshin
Sharing What We Have
"Sharing a meal and offering a hand are things we can do in the moments of our lives, if we don’t keep focused inward, if we don’t keep focused on our needs, our importance, our independence. If we can let go of that and instead focus on the others who come are way, then we can share what we have and in so doing, share Christ’s love."
Greater, Greatest, Best| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Greater, Greatest, Best
"When we make our home in God, when we place our hearts back in the makers hands, when in Jesus’ name we recognize our belovedness and our belongingness, we get out of that whole game of greater, greatest, best. And that kind of pride is destroyed. When we make ourselves about loving and being loved, when we do that work, that is the humility that God is talking about."
Now Is The Time| The Rev. Melanie W. J. Slane
Now Is The Time
"What is Sabbath, after all, but a culmination of the two greatest commandments, love God and love neighbor? If now’s not a good time, I don’t know when we’ll get around to it. I really don’t. And that’s what Jesus says to the Pharisees today. If now’s not a good time, this woman has been suffering for years and years. If now’s not a good time, I don’t know when we’re going to get around to it."
What If I . . . ?| The Rev. Mitchell Bojarski
What If I . . . ?
"We like to think of The Episcopal Church as being on the vanguard of progressive, forward-thinking kind of movements. But a time not so long ago some leaders of The Episcopal Church were opposing things like desegregation and civil rights. After the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested for civil disobedience and while he sat in a Birmingham, Alabama jail, a bunch of religious leaders wrote him a letter. They said, 'Listen, we’re on your side. We get it. We’re hip to the cause, but we don’t think now is the right time. You’re stirring up more trouble than you’re solving.' And the Episcopal Bishops of Alabama, along with Episcopal priests in Alabama signed that letter. Dr. King wrote back to say that 'Now is always the right time for the truth.'"
Belief Is Not an Escape| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Belief Is Not an Escape
"Belief in God and belief in the power of love is not for us an escape from suffering and is not for us an exit from real life. Belief in the power of love and the presence of God and belief in the transformative reality of Jesus Christ, his life and death and resurrection, does not get us a chance to opt out of reality. For the Christian, that’s our beginning, our genesis."
Treasure in Your Heart| The Rev. Joyce Keeshin
Treasure in Your Heart
"I think the real message here is to not let our stuff, or our concern about accumulating stuff, get in the way of our relationship with God. Those words come where Jesus says, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. If we let our stuff be our treasure, if we let our accumulation, if we let our success, if we let all of those worldly things be our treasure, then that gets in the way of our relationship with God."