Posts tagged “Lent

Sermo Dei: Palm Sunday 2017

Posted on April 9th, 2017

It’s nice to talk about resurrection, but the words I speak at the time of death sometimes feel hollow. It’s all future-oriented, and while I believe it, we’re still left with the corpse. Someone has to call the funeral home, someone has to open the grave, and then there we are, looking down into the earth. Most of our life is so sanitary, and even at death, we farm out the dirty work to others. But there, when the casket descends, and you see off in the distance the men waiting to come and close the vault and cover it with dirt – for just a moment, you see and you know that our clean lives are a lie. Squirt the anti-bacterial fluid, rub…

Sermo Dei: The Inheritance (Vespers, Lent 3)

Posted on March 23rd, 2017

Bloomberg last week reported on a survey on trends with inheritances and expectations of heirs. More often, children are disappointed, because the amount inherited is less than anticipated. Undoubtedly the grandsons of Leona Helmsley were disappointed. She left $12 million to her dog Trouble, while leaving her two grandsons out of the will. Perhaps you’re hoping for an inheritance. You may imagine it would change your life. And if you got everything you were hoping for, and more – I’m sure it would change your life. But would that be for the better? The article notes what I’ve certainly observed – inheritances not only disappoint, but divide. Family members turn on each other. The younger son in tonight’s parable (Luke 15:11-32) couldn’t wait for…

Stations on the Road to Freedom: Action (2nd Lent Midweek 2015)

Posted on March 26th, 2015

Last week we heard the first station on what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called the Road to Freedom, Discipline: If you would find freedom, learn above all to discipline your senses and your soul. Be not led hither and thither by your desires and your members. Keep your spirit and your body chaste, wholly subject to you, and obediently seeking the goal that is set before you.  None can learn the secret of freedom, save by discipline. This week we take up the second station, Action: To do and dare–not what you would, but what is right. Never to hesitate over what is in your power, but boldly to grasp what lies before you. Not in the flight of fancy, but only in the deed there is freedom. Away…

Sermo Dei: Ash Wednesday 2015

Posted on March 11th, 2015

First of a four-part series on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Stations on the Road to Freedom.”   “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” That is H. Richard Niebuhr’s classic summary of liberal Christianity. The cross is prominent in our church – but the moderating, attenuating spirit is ever at work within us. I like my Christ with His cross, but I would like to be a Christian without crosses of my own. The Gospel of Jesus sets us free from the guilt of sin. Yet sin as a power still clings to us, inhering in our nature. The inclination to evil desires sometimes takes us by surprise, arising seemingly out…

Holy Saturday: Funeral for a Herring (corrected)

Posted on April 19th, 2014

From Francis Weiser’s Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs: An amusing custom is practiced in Poland on Holy Saturday. The boys of the villages “bury” the Lenten fare, herring and zur, in a mock funeral. The herring (a real one or a wooden image) is first executed by hanging, then a pot of zur is shattered against a rock or tree; finally the fish and the pieces of the pot are interred with glee. No longer will these tiresome dishes be eaten, at least not until next Lent.

Sermo Dei: Holy Thursday 2014

Posted on April 17th, 2014

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread and gave it to His disciples. And the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ immediately started an argument among themselves.   St. Luke tells us, “Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.” (Luke 22:24 NKJV) After this, they slept instead of praying. Then, they fought, Peter cutting off a man’s ear. Then they ran.   But first, they argued. About who was greatest.   John tells us that Satan entered the heart of Judas. But Judas was not the only one inspired by Satan that night. For Satan’s work is not only in things provocatively, spectacularly evil. Satan’s work is…

Sermo Dei: Passion Choral Vespers

Posted on April 9th, 2014

Most of life is a battle of wills. A boy wants to eat more candy, the father says, “You’ve had enough.” A girl wants to stay up late, the mother says, “Go to bed.” Self-discipline teaches us to restrain our will. We would prefer to read a book or watch television, but the homework must be done, so the wise person says, “I would be happier playing a video game right now, but I know that it will not lead to my happiness tomorrow.” That is good, but not yet how the Lord Jesus goes to His passion. We heard His simple prayer: “Not what I will, but what You will.” Does Jesus want to go to the cross? Not at all. Getting beaten…

Sermo Dei: Ash Wednesday 2014

Posted on April 8th, 2014

Jesus expects you to fast. “When you fast,” tonight’s Gospel says. When. It’s not optional. This is what disciples of Jesus do. In the same chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says, “When you give alms,” and, “When you pray.” These are things that Christians do. This season of Lent is called in German Fastenzeit – “fasting-time.” I read recently a very earnest and well-intentioned essay by a pastor that argued that fasting is bad for your spiritual life. He says it’s because it makes rules that are within our reach, which makes us legalists—people who think that God is pleased with us because of what we do. His other main point is that fasting confuses sin with something exterior to ourselves—that what comes into…