On page 1 of her book on Advent, Rutledge says, “Advent is not simply a transitional season but in and of itself communicates a message of immense, even ultimate, importance. Of all the seasons of the church year, Advent most closely mirrors the daily lives of Christians and of the church, asks the most important ethical questions, presents the most accurate picture of the human condition, and above all, orients us to the future of the God who will come again.”
Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus has had opportunities to make shows of force and to claim and win the world around him as God’s by taking over and fighting a war. Instead he’s said “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Jesus has said, “Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you…Words matter.
Trade with the gifts God has given you. Bend your minds to holy learning, that you may escape the fretting moth of littleness of mind that would wear out your souls. Brace your wills to action, that they may not be the spoils of weak desires. Train your hearts and lips to song, which gives courage to the soul. Being buffeted by trials, learn to laugh. Being reproved, give thanks. Having failed, determine to succeed.
Dear Friends, I have not gotten an email that one of you bought a lottery ticket in Altadena, CA (and haven’t looked at who the actual winner is), so we will have to rely on tried and true methods for funding our next year: giving to God what is God’s as an act of spiritual discipline …
Especially on this All Saints Sunday, we can look to that cast of all-star saints who surely lived as Jesus wanted them to, reflecting on how feebly we struggle as they in glory shine. But as Sister Joyce Rupp writes, the saints are not only those people “who have been canonized by the church, but all people whose lives reflect the goodness of God. Saints are not perfect people. They have their faults, idiosyncrasies and weaknesses. They have their own struggles and difficulties. Even the canonized ones are noted to have been difficult to live with because of some unique mannerism.
It came to pass that Keanu Reeves went on a late-night talk show to promote a new movie. He bantered with the host. They told stories and made jokes. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. In the run up to the commercial break, the host made a sudden shift in conversation. “Keanu Reeves,” He said, “What happens after we die?” The crowd laughed.
The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews is the vicar of St. Hilda St. Patrick. This sermon was delivered on All Saints Day, November 1, 2022. The sermon was a response to Luke 6.20-31 and based on the manuscript below. O blest communion,fellowship divine,we feebly struggle,they in glory shine;yet all are one in thee,for all are thine.Alleluia! Alleluia! …
In a few short verses we are told that Zacchaeus had a conversion experience. Zacchaeus became a changed man. He moved from “just looking” to seeing–Jesus, himself, other people. He saw how he had hurt people and overlooked others. He vowed to repay those whom he had cheated and to give to the poor. He moved from being a taker to being a giver. And a big giver at that. Now that’s a conversion! It’s almost hard to believe.
Jesus was on the road to Jerusalem with his disciples, when he told them about their need to PRAY always and not to lose heart. In today’s story, Jesus continues trying to help us understand how to talk to God. By flipping the script and making the awful tax collector more humble than the righteous Pharisee, he wants to surprise us into understanding that our attitudes and motivations matter when we pray. Why?
Who’s here? We are. As we gather, seek transformation and are sent, we need to pray always and not lose heart. We don’t lose heart because we know we can just wear God down if we keep showing up. We don’t lose heart because it’ll all work out anyway with rose-colored glasses on.