Sermon, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Easthampton, MA, October 16th, 2016

Johnnie was a high school friend of mine.  He was a class ahead of me, which meant that he could drive on our double dates.  We played on the same baseball team in the summer, but it was in the winter that we got a different perspective on one another.

You see, Johnnie was a high school wrestler, and I played basketball.  Truth to tell, he was a much better wrestler than I was a basketball player, but the point is that the wrestling team and the basketball team shared the same gym space for practice.  Of course, the basketball team used the gym’s basketball court, while the wresting team pulled out their mats and placed them in front of the rolled up stands.  The bold, black sideline that marked the side-out of the basketball court separated the two teams, but we could see and hear each other as we went through the rigors of our respective practices. …


Continue reading


What’s In a Name


E-mail, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Easthampton, MA, October 13th, 2016

I am a bit embarrassed to admit what I learned two days ago, as I was saying my prayers, using the Daily Office as a resource.  (I invite you to use “Mission St. Clare” on your electronic device for this purpose.  Having it on a phone is extremely convenient.)  For on the Christian calendar, October 11 (this past Tuesday) is dedicated to “Philip the Evangelist.”  As I read the site’s commemoration of Philip, it was made clear to me that the October 11th’s Philip refers to one of the seven original “deacons” whom the Twelve Apostles appointed to oversee the care of the widows and orphans in the infant church.  (See Acts 6).  Yet, Philip the Apostle (one of the Twelve disciples who is mentioned in Acts 1:13 and in several places in John’s gospel) is commemorated on May 1st.  I hadn’t put all this together before.  Throughout history, these two names have often been confused, and in the “St. Clare” commemoration of “Philip the Evangelist” the thought was raised: What if both the deacon and the apostle were the same guy?


Continue reading “What’s In a Name”

The Attitude of Gratitude

Sermon, St. Philip’s Epsicopal Church Easthampton, MA, October 9th, 2016
It was a powerful transition time in my life.  College is supposed to be like that; or at least I think it is.  I was away from “home” for the first time in my life, an eight-hour drive away, to a region of the country I had never experienced before, at a time when civil rights and war issues were ripping us apart. …

Continue reading “The Attitude of Gratitude”

Forward Motion for St. Philip’s

E-mail, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Easthampton, MA- October 6th, 2016

This past Tuesday [October 4] was the day on the Christian liturgical calendar that honors the life and ministry of Francis of Assisi.  There are many touchstone points for me about Francis’ life.  I think one of the most sobering comes from the book, written by George Will in 1982, on the 800th anniversary of the birth of Francis.  Paraphrasing Will’s insight, the underlying point embodied by Francis is that in the practicality of the world, how ironic is it that no one remembers the names of those twelfth century “headline makers,” or his critics or the impact of their lives 800 years later.  Yet, both believers and non-believers do honor this strange, “impractical” man who embraced the simplicity of poverty and found the riches of God’s life in following the Christ. …

Continue reading “Forward Motion for St. Philip’s”

Exercising Faith

Sermon , St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Easthampton, MA- October 2nd,  2016
I find that the old words of the purported Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times,” echoes personally with a haunting and troublesome reality.  Living in these times of ours, the daily news of strife and violence and death raise up an unwanted sense of worry within me, which then spawns a gnawing and fruitless desire on my part to have some sense of control, some sense of stability in what frequently feels like sailing on a roiling sea.

Continue reading “Exercising Faith”

Michaelmas and Fall Term for St. Philip’s

E-mail , St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Easthampton, MA- September 25th, 2016
In many of the world’s English speaking educational systems, September 29th marks the beginning of the fall academic term.  It is called “Michaelmas” term, after this day’s liturgical calendar dedication to “St. Michael and All Angels.”  “St. Michael and All Angels” refers to the four “archangels” mentioned in scripture, Michael being the foremost angelic figure, being mentioned four times: twice in the Book of Daniel, where he is represented as the helper of the Chosen People; once in the Epistle of Jude, where he contends with the devil over the body of Moses; and once in the Revelation of John, where Michael does combat with the dragon. …

Seeing Ourselves

Sermon, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Easthampton, MA- September 25th, 2016
From the time that my English teacher showed my classmates and me the poem, I have been struck deeply by the refrain of Scottish poet, Robert Burns’ biting poem: To A Louse: On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet – in Church.  The impact of the poem’s words were so profound that this refrain has been a part of my memory bank ever since.  Although I cannot replicate the lyrical Highlands’s accent of Burns’ words, the refrain goes like this:…

Continue reading “Seeing Ourselves”

Harvest Time | A New Year

I am taken aback by the fact that we are nearing the end of September.  Baseball season is coming to an end in terms of its regular season.  The sun’s afternoon light casts those long shadows, harbingers of shorter days.  The foliage is turning, and the leaves are falling.  Autumn is officially here; and things change from focusing on growing to harvesting what was grown.  Fall is my favorite time of the year.  There just is a special feeling about this transitional season.  While spring is exciting and most welcome, in autumn the earth is still warm from the summer sun but the air is clean, hinting at a crispness.  Autumn is an experience like biting into a crisp apple… Continue reading “Harvest Time | A New Year”

The Sting | The Spirituality of Shrewdness

It was Chicago, September 1936.  A young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teamed up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker.  Of course, this is the story line of the 1973 movie, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.  “The Sting” is a throwback “caper film,” involving a complicated plot in which two grifters (a word that refers to a person who swindles others) con a mob boss of his ill-gotten gains.  The story ends – happily – with Newman and Redford pulling off their scam and getting safely out of town before the hoodwinking is discovered. … Continue reading “The Sting | The Spirituality of Shrewdness”

Sights and Sounds, of Importance

One of the things I value about the church’s liturgical tradition is how time is focused by the liturgical calendar.  Saints days and holy occasions as well as seasons of the Spirit punctuate our experience of time, giving our calendars a reference and texture that is larger than our own plans and deadlines.  One example of this came yesterday. In the church’s calendar, yesterday, September 14, was identified as “Holy Cross Day.”  Being so familiar to us, the reality and meaning of the cross seems frequently to be something that we give a passing nod to.  All of expect there to be a cross in church.  Some of us even wear a cross as a reminder of our identity as followers of the Christ; but when we are pressed to unpack its significance, what do we come up with?  When was the last time you talked about the cross? Continue reading “Sights and Sounds, of Importance”