Sermons from the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer
Rector's Blog: Checking Boxes| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Rector's Blog: Checking Boxes
The point of our commandments, the point of the Great Commandment of God, is that we will live in love with our God and with our neighbor. That our hearts will be set outward towards those around us. That is the commandment of God. That our lives will be devoted not simply to following a set of rules so we can say we’re good people. But that our lives might be devoted to one another, fully and totally, that we might give ourselves sacrificially to one another. And that by giving ourselves to one another, give ourselves to God.
Wooing God| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
"The message of God is: You are loved, act like it! Stop acting like you need to prove you’re lovable. You’re loved. You all are still trying to woo God and prove to God you’re worth it and God’s already died for you. It’s done. Stop acting like you’ve got to win God over. You’ve got God in your corner. You are deep in the heart of God. And you’re still thinking that you’re going on your first date. It’s done. You belong. Now what?"
A True Fast| The Rev. Melanie W. J. Slane
A True Fast
"A true fast, a real fast, a fast that is acceptable to God, is a fast that requires you both to give up something and to take on something. We often separate these things: “I’m giving up chocolate and I’m going to take on reading.” A real fast requires both: giving up and taking on. Not either/or. For when we give from a place of deep gratitude, we give of ourselves and when we take up a cause that is good for the other, we have to relinquish our own self interests."
Generational Anxiety| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
For a bunch of people across different age groups wondering, “do I matter yet?” or “do I matter now?” or “do I matter, still?” that is a profoundly scary thing to feel and to wonder. And what Jesus does in this Gospel, and what Jesus does in our lives, is that he imbues every single one of us, whatever stage and age we are, with this sense of our importance to God and to this world. Whatever age we are, we have something to give to this world and we shouldn’t be scared that we don’t matter.
Where Is the God of Justice?| The Rev. Mitchell Bojarski
Where Is the God of Justice?
It’s easy for us to believe we don’t need purification. And it can be tempting for me to cry out, “Where is the God of justice?” when I see injustice around me. And then I’m reminded from Malachi, that I’m part of the injustice in this world.
Confronted with God's Presence| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Confronted with God's Presence
The inevitability of God’s presence, God’s love, and God’s redeeming power is palpable in the story. So, when we get to the point where Jesus shows up to the disciples and says, “Follow me,” yeah, sure, they have a choice, but it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like part of the inevitability. When they are confronted with the reality of God’s presence, what else are they going to say but “yes, yes, I’m in”.
To Start a Movement| The Rev. Mitchell Bojarski
To Start a Movement
Jesus walks to Capernaum to start his ministry. Why in the world would he go there? It’s an amazing thing he does, he goes to the middle of nowhere to start a movement that will change the world. Part of the reason why he goes there, is that Jesus’ message is for the whole world.
Captives of Our Own Culture| The Rt. Rev. Martin G. Townsend
Captives of Our Own Culture
We, surrounded as we are by prosperity, do not comfortably see ourselves as captives of our culture, estranged from our true home in God. But that is what Isaiah invites. He is calling both the discouraged faithful and those who have been assimilated into Babylonian culture back to a center that will hold.
Sitting Around Drinking Wine| The Rev. Melanie W. J. Slane
Sitting Around Drinking Wine
It’s the greatest book ever written and I’m so glad that we get to read it together, here in our book club. People may look at us and think we are just sitting around talking, but we are actually being transformed. So that we, in turn, can help transform the world. Onlookers might think that we are just living in a fantasy world. Some alternate reality. Some dream of what could be. But we are experiencing the divine nature of God in our midst.
Born for Something New| The Rev. Melanie W. J. Slane
Born for Something New
In baptism, we are asking that our old self, our born self, our human self be set aside. That some of the things that are just inherent to our human nature, we let those things die. So that we can choose a new life, a blessed life, a life that blesses others. A life that goes out into the world in witness to the love that Jesus shared with us. A self-sacrificing love, a love that gives everything for the love of the world.
Make God's Presence Obvious| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Make God's Presence Obvious
Jesus cares about participating with John in John’s work of blessing, and this shifts everything. It becomes about a mutual, relational act. And in that mutual, relational act, God’s presence and the Glory of God working in the world in Jesus Christ is revealed to us, is manifest, is obvious.
Faithful and Scared| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Faithful and Scared
"There’s so much in our lives right now. Such a sense of dread and panic, such a sense of losing something of ourselves. Or maybe we have already lost it. Where is God in all of this? Where is Jesus? How will we find him and how are we supposed to be faithful when we are this scared? If we are scared and if we are panicking, does it mean that we have no faith? I love this story so much, because in the midst of the panic and the fear, which are so real to us, in the midst of Mary and Joseph’s uncertainty, […] Jesus is about his Father’s business."
Not Lost| The Rev. Joyce Keeshin
"We might feel like we don’t know the way. We don’t know the path. We don’t know what is asked of us. In those moments, we are not lost. We may feel lost or rudderless, but we are not lost. Mary and Joseph didn’t know where Jesus was, but Jesus was not lost. Jesus wasn’t with his parents but he was not lost. […] Jesus was in his father’s house and we are too."
Looking at How We Got Here| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Looking at How We Got Here
"It would be a lot more fun to do the work of racial justice, healing, and reconciliation if we could just ignore a bunch of things about ourselves. 'Oh no, we used to be all those things, but now we’re really interested in this. We have good intentions and we are good people, so work with us and this will be good.' Does that sound like a real understanding of ourselves? Do we think we are going to actually be able to engage honestly and authentically in the work of racial justice, healing and reconciliation without taking a look at how we got here?"
A Perfect Christmas| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
A Perfect Christmas
"When we seek to love one another and seek to live our lives for justice, for mercy and to share real, honest connection and relationship with one another, we’re not doing it so that God will show up. We are doing it because God is there. In Jesus Christ it is God who makes us able to love. Makes us able to love each other. Makes us able to love ourselves. Makes us able to love this world as it is and not as we’d have it be. It is God who is with us tonight, who gathers us together. It is God who is with us tonight and nourishes us with God's self. It is God who is with us tonight and sends us out into our imperfect lives and un-ideal situations (and still very messy homes). So that we can see God everywhere."
New Life| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
"God is bringing salvation. God is working in this world for change, for justice. That’s not a question to the prophet. That’s not a question for the angel. They believe that. The question they ask Ahaz, the question they ask Joseph, the question they ask us is not: “Do you believe God is working in the world?” or will he show up. The question for Ahaz, for Joseph, and for us is: “When God shows up, how will we participate in the work that God is doing?"
Excited for Christmas!| The Rev. Mitchell Bojarski
Excited for Christmas!
"This is how God chooses to show the people that he is in this with us. We weren’t getting it and so he tries another way. He offers himself as a baby with us. This baby Jesus is the present that is Christmas. It’s a gift for all of us to remember and to get excited about!"
Eyes for God's Kingdom| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Eyes for God's Kingdom
"When Jesus says there’s literally no one better than John on this earth, and by the way, the kingdom of heaven is filled with people who are just so much better than that, what it really does is it obliterates our whole idea of what is good, what’s great, what’s better, what’s best. It’s not that he’s trying to get you to be something you can’t be. It’s that he’s saying that whole idea of comparing yourself to others to figure out who is best doesn’t work. Can you imagine your life where you did not compare yourself to others? Or compared them to you?"
Divine Flexibility| The Rev. Gary Lubin
It is fortunate for us that Jesus did not come confined by preconceived expectations of judgment and wrath. Because there aren’t too many ways for an implacable God to respond to a misguided, stubborn self-determination. Imposing our own free will be done, puts God in a box, allowing now room for divine flexibility. We may just end up sentencing ourselves for everlasting life to some kind of self-made Kafkaesque prison, a hellish metamorphism with no exit. Fortunately, again, for us God fails to conform to popular expectations. Instead God surprises us. Jesus did not come to create an earthly empire. Jesus came to establish God’s reign.
Love and Repentance| The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Love and Repentance
"What John is not saying is, “you should feel shame, you should be ashamed of yourself, you should feel miserable and awful about yourself.” That’s not what he’s talking about. He is saying God is here. […] God is present, make a point of looking around and finding God. God is coming close to you and bringing God’s kingdom, which is to say, God’s reign of love and mercy into this world, and you are facing a direction, living a way that you are not able to see it."