There’s almost nothing quite so joyous in the life of a parish as ordaining a new priest, and then welcoming her to come abide with you. It’s such an abundant, such an overflowing sign of grace and new life that it always leaves me almost breathless.
William Sloane Coffin, once chaplain at Yale, asked a similar question to Jesus’ followers over the ages, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would you be convicted?” In other words, would the fruits, of your life bear any relationship to those of Jesus’?
If you want to understand what drove Jesus to such hyperbole about great millstones around our necks, self – amputation, and tearing out one of our eyes, just compare the wildly different world views in today’s two scripture texts.
I want to start out tonight with a confession. I hate shopping.
As I prepared for this sermon, reading today’s scripture passages, what struck me was how consistent the theme of all four readings were - hope - the message that death is not inherently the end.
At Yale, we’re in a place that loves to intellectualize everything it can get its hands on, and I’m no stranger to that impulse either. But this learning that Timothy has absolutely isn’t a major or program of study or concentration.
Since lepers were required by law to keep their distance, Jesus could have ignored them. But he knew they were the most visible symbol of his society’s all – pervasive tendency to decide people’s status based on what they looked like on the outside, rather than what they were actually like inside.
Jesus responds disdainfully, suggesting that the apostles lack faith even the size of a mustard seed. But this seemingly schoolyard diss is not that at all, but a deeper interpretation of what it means to believe.
Where are the places you get lost – the rabbit holes where you’re driven by fear, or greed, or lust? What are the times and places you need God most to come and find you?
For centuries, human beings have used our creative imaginations to envision life after death. The medieval poet Dante Alighieri saw hell as a highly ordered place, with specific levels and tortures for all of his favorite enemies.
I have long been told that college is a place to experiment, to try new things. So naturally, like any good Yalie, upon my matriculation to Yale University, I became a communist.
Gracious and merciful God, send your Spirit to walk with us through the world, in times of sorrow as in times of joy. Be with all who experience violence and preserve them, and welcome all those who have died into your everlasting kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.