Sermon for Proper 14 C

Today’s Readings

The purpose of a sermon, I think, is to encourage an encounter with the Gospel – the good news of Jesus. So, I usually focus on the appointed Gospel reading. But encountering the Gospel is not just an encounter with a written record. In fact, it is never that. The Gospel is a living thing; our encounters are lively and intimate. Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John reliably point us in the direction of the good news. But they are guides along the path, not the destination; and they are not the only guides.

Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture Readings

In this morning’s gospel reading, Jesus is talking about possessions again, and about our relationship to them, which is usually reason enough to start feeling nervous, even though the surrounding context has Jesus repeatedly telling his disciples not to be anxious. I think if we listen carefully, we might be surprised by what Jesus is saying, and, perhaps as importantly, by what he is not saying.

A Little Kindness

While preparing to write our latest newsletter, I decided to review what had been happening in the world since the previous one, by scanning the headlines of news stories that had caught my attention during that period. This was admittedly not a scientifically rigorous process, but I found it difficult to escape the conclusion that quite a lot has been going wrong in quite a lot of different ways. This is perhaps hardly news, but it usually comes at me one day at a time, rather than all in a rush like that.

I wonder if it has something to do with the scale of modern life, with large systems that affect so much of our world and so many people all at once. The pandemic has served to highlight the inadequacies of our political and social structures to support the weakest and most vulnerable, but perhaps the scale of modern life also tends to amplify the effects of our worst impulses as exposed through corruption and violence and the destruction of our own environment.

I’ve been noticing again the ambivalent relationship Jesus seemed to have with crowds. While he had compassion for them, he also tended to speak to them in inscrutable parables and to withdraw from them when he could. He trusted himself to smaller numbers of disciples and mostly brought healing to people one at a time, in particular ways that were best suited to each individual. I think our humanity comes to life and is best expressed through relationship, and relationships are formed one at a time.

Personal blogs from the Brothers

Br Roger and Br Scott think that personal blogs should be fun. Br Daniel is on sabbatical for the next several months may want to have a place to post thoughts from being on sabbatical. So they asked the webmaster to create a space for their personal reflections. Br Scott in particular has had a personal blog for years. His well loved personal reflections will now find a new home and will integrate well with the content on this website.

Where to find these? In three places:

  1. They will display on the Blog summary page together with the other blogs such as the sermons held regularly at St. Ben’s.
  2. In the menu bar, they will display as subcategories under ‘Blogs’.
  3. In the sidebar (on desktop) just click your choice under ‘Categories’. On your phone the sidebar moves to the bottom. There you will find ‘Categories’ and will be able to select the personal blogs.

We hope that you will find these reflections enriching.

Sermon for Proper 11C

Readings for the day

This morning we meet Martha and Mary – two sisters who turn up in various Gospel stories along with their brother Lazarus. Or do they… Luke tells us only about Mary and Martha, the brother is unknown to Luke. And Luke doesn’t mention the name of the town… Some scholars think it could be Bethany, home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in John’s Gospel, but others are certain that it cannot possibly be Bethany. So, we cannot be sure if these are the same Martha and Mary we meet in John’s Gospel.

Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture Readings

This morning, we are invited to consider again what must surely be one of Jesus’ most familiar parables, one which allows us to imagine ourselves in the role of any of the characters. It is a very rich story, with many subtle aspects, and Jesus tells it in response to a question from a teacher of the Jewish law. It seems that the test the lawyer sets before Jesus is an opportunity for Jesus to prove himself, rather than being some sort of trap intended to undermine his authority. The interaction feels mutually respectful.

In reply to Jesus’ probing response to his initial question, the lawyer seems to say something quite innovative. He combines the two great laws of love into one law, saying effectively that you cannot love God without loving your neighbour, and vice versa. Jesus approves of this, but points out that the challenge is to actually do both, and that doing so is the way to fullness of life.

This just leaves the question of who qualifies as neighbour. Those listening to Jesus might have been taught to define their neighbour quite narrowly as one of those within the community of their kinship group, that is, those who were like them. Jesus challenges any such assumption with his parable involving an anonymous man, that is, any person.

Feast of saints Peter and Paul

(Readings for the feast)

Yesterday the Church observed the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. These are two interesting figures in Church history because they are so flawed… Peter, faithful disciple, denies he knows Jesus… not once, but three times. And Paul, also known as Saul, was one of the most enthusiastic persecutors of the Church – throwing folks in jail and worse, for being followers of Jesus.

These two are among the most flawed and destructive folks in the early Church. So, it makes sense that they share a feast day… but why are they honored at all, let alone with a major feast?