Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Good Friday Sermon

It has been my custom for many years to include at least one ancient sermon into my offerings for Lent.  This year I reworked a sermon by St. Augustine of Hippo that I preached on Good Friday.  I hope you find it useful...

The passion of our Lord Jesus gives us the confidence of eternal life. But it also gives us a lesson in the endurance of suffering.


With these two things, eternal life and endurance, is there anything which the hearts of the faithful may not conquer through the grace of God? For it was not enough that the Only Son of God, co-eternal from the beginning with the Father, should be born among us, as one of us, but he was even willing to die at the hands of those whom he created.

With this in mind, eternal life which God promises us for the future is great, but what God has already done for us in Christ is greater still. Who can doubt that he will give us his life, since he has already given us his death? And why should it be that we are so slow to believe that we will one day live with God? After all, a much more incredible thing has already happened…God has died for us.

For who is this Jesus unless he is that which, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God?” This Word became flesh and dwelt among us. As the Son of God, he was incapable of dying for us, and yet he chose to take on our nature. In doing so, he was able to experience our death in order that we might experience his life. He shared our humanity that one day we might share his divinity.

In this way, Christ entered into an exchange with us mortals. In this mutual sharing between us and Christ, he died for what was ours, that we might live for what was his. Because of this, rather than feeling shame when we look at his suffering on the Cross, we should with joy embrace the life which he offers. For by assuming the death he found within us, he promised to give us the life found within him.

Christ Jesus loved us so much, that what we deserved because of sin, he who was without sin, suffered on our behalf. Surely then, Christ who justifies sinners will give us what justice demands, and he whose promise is always faithful will give us the reward he has won.

So my sisters and brothers, let us proclaim without fear, and even more so, let us shout from the roof tops, that Jesus was crucified for us. Let us share this not trembling, but rejoicing, not with regret but with boosting. For as the Apostle Paul said, “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Snow on Ash Wednesday

The 11am Ash Wednesday liturgy has just ended and I am back in my office reflecting on how the day has gone thus far. The day began with a 7am liturgy. Next I drove the kids to school, and dropped my wife at her office. After I gave the dog his morning walk it was back at church to prepare and serve the 10am liturgy. Somewhere along the way I heard the news that the oldest member of my family, my great-aunt Louise, had died this morning. She was 94.

This is not the first time a family member has died on or near Ash Wednesday. Thirteen years ago my grandfather died in the early morning hours the day after Ash Wednesday. Both of these deaths force me into reflecting on my own mortality on this day of days.

As a professed and practicing Christian, this day reminds me over and again of the terminal nature of the human condition. Psalm 103, which is appointed for the day reads as such…

13 As a father cares for his children, *so does the LORD care for those who fear him.

14 For he himself knows whereof we are made; * he remembers that we are but dust.

15 Our days are like the grass; * we flourish like a flower of the field;

16 When the wind goes over it, it is gone, * and its place shall know it no more.

17 But the merciful goodness of the LORD endures for ever on those who fear him, *
     and his righteousness on children's children;

18 On those who keep his covenant * and remember his commandments and do them.

We remember our mortality on this day, not to sulk in self-pity or despair, but to be reminded that as fragile and vulnerable creatures we are always in need of the one who created us. We are always in need of His nurture, care, wisdom and assurance. As the beginning of the Psalm 103 reminds…

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, * and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, * and forget not all his benefits.

3 He forgives all your sins * and heals all your infirmities;

4 He redeems your life from the grave * and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;

5 He satisfies you with good things, * and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.

It’s been snowing for two hours now. And although I’d like it to be spring, I know we are still in winter, and surrounded by the signs of sleep and death. As Lent begins, I seen my mortal nature wrapped up in a radical dependency upon the mercy and grace of God. As the snow covers the ground, I hope God’s grace will cover me and all who share in this earthly pilgrimage. For where there is grace, there is hope. And where there is hope, there is life. Rest in peace, Louise, and rise in Glory.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How we preach the Good News

These difficulties notwithstanding, there might still be possibilities for sociology if the gospel which we preached retained its integrity as the sovereign will of God demanding and enabling the response of man in the totality of his being. But the disturbing fact is that in recent years the preaching of the Gospel has gone awry. How has this happened? We have reacted rightly from the pragmatist panacea type of apologetic: the "if only" preaching, which is not a gospel but a sort of insurance policy—"if only" you would repent and turn to God, then peace and security for mankind would be round the corner. Rightly reacting from this perversion of the Gospel we are now eager to say that God is to be proclaimed for God's own sake and his glory, without much mention of the sort of society which reflects God's glory. Again, we have reacted rightly from an over-liberalized evangel which appeals to reason and assumes that unconverted human reason can perceive divine truth without conversion of the heart. So, reacting alike from a false pragmatism and a false intellectualism, we have come back to the gospel which proclaims God in his own right and calls for moral decision and submission....

This is an excerpt from The Most Rev'd., and Rt. Hon. Michael Ramsey's address on faith and society given to the Church Union School of Sociology in 1955.  Note that Ramsey was Bishop of Durham at the time.

Thanks to Kendall Harmon for exciting my interest in this article. 

It should and can be read in it's entirety here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Liturgical prayer and the formation of the Christian

I often take the liturgy of the church for granted.  In the busy moments of everyday life, the daily office of prayer can become just one more hurdle to the end of a crazed day. 

Recently I've had to focus more than normal on just getting through the prayers.  And yet I know there is power in those prayers.  I know there is joy and peace to be found in the words spoken by millions of faithful people, day in and day out over the church's long history. 

One of the ways I am trying to revive my passion for prayer is through the deliberate reading of the Psalms.  Lately I have been using the daily cycle out of the Book of Common Prayer that allows the person to pray through the Psalms in a 30 day span of time.  Notice how I used the words "pray through," and not "read through."  There is a difference and there in might lie some of the trouble I've been encountering.

I gotten in the habit of viewing the daily office prayers as just another task in a busy day, and I've forgotten it is a moment when I encounter the living God who created heaven and earth.  I often find when I rush through the words I forget to listen to God as He tries to speak to me through those very same words, and most especially through the words of the Psalms.  They are the bible in miniature.

The Psalms appointed for the morning of the 20th day of the month are Psalms 102 and 103... 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, * and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, * and forget not all his benefits.

He forgives all your sins * and heals all your infirmities;
He redeems your life from the grave * and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;
He satisfies you with good things, * and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.
The LORD executes righteousness * and judgment for all who are oppressed.
He made his ways known to Moses * and his works to the children of Israel.
The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, * slow to anger and of great kindness.

It's something I have to work on a little.  But it doesn't worry me too much.  Like most people, there are ebbs and flows to my prayer life, and I am thankful in all of those moments I have the liturgy of the Church to keep me focused...even if I take it for granted...and even when I forget to listen to God speaking through those prayers.  But most especially, I am grateful in those moment when I do forget, for it is then that the prayers help me remember.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Doug Hahn to be next Bishop of Lexington

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I am thrilled and honored to be called to be the Seventh Bishop of Lexington. Kaye and our family share this excitement. I have long had love for the people of Kentucky, and over the last several months have grown especially fond of the people of the Diocese of Lexington — those inside and outside the Episcopal Church. I know that my passion for these people and my passion for God’s church will bring us a long and fruitful ministry together.

I am grateful to Kaye for her presence in this journey. She is my joy. I am grateful for the many people of the diocese who have invested heart and soul in this process; for Bishop Chilton’s steady care of the diocese; for the prayers of my Bishops and colleagues in the Diocese of Atlanta; and especially for the people of St. Thomas Church in Columbus, a people whose care for one another is deep, and whose courage and imagination always take them to new places of service in the world. I am also grateful to the other candidates for their commitment to the church. I am grateful to God, in whose service we all find our highest, truest and best selves.

May our years together be filled with mutual respect and affection, passion for God’s people and God’s earth, and great wonder at the mystery of Grace that surrounds us. May the world see Christ’s light among us, and in that light know that they, too, are part of God’s beloved community.

Christ’s Peace.
Doug Hahn+

Q & A, The Very Rev. Dr. Douglas Hahn from Episcopal Diocese of Lexington on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And then there were Six...

A nominee has been added by petition to the ballot for the next Bishop of the Diocese of Lexington....

The Rev'd. Dr. Bruce Boss, Rector, Church of the Nativity, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Check out all the profiles and videos here.

And continue to pray for those who will elect on August 18, 2012.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bishop Nominees announced

The nominees for the next Bishop of Lexington were announced this week.  They are...

The Rev. Ronald Abrams, Rector, St. James Parish, Wilmington, NC
The Very Rev. Dr. Douglas Hahn, Rector, St. Thomas, Columbus, GA
The Rt. Rev. Santosh Marray, Bishop Assisting, Diocese of East Carolina
The Rev. LaRae Rutenbar, Interim Rector, St. Peter’s, Rome, GA
The Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton, Rector, St. Augustine’s-in-the-Woods, Freeland, WA

A complete profile of each of the nominees can be found here.

The petition process for additional nominees will be open until June 5th.

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a bishop for this Diocese of Lexington, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.