Good morning St. Paul’s, and a joyful Gaudete Sunday to you all! This is one of two Sundays when wearing pink is liturgically appropriate, and for that we say, “Hallelujah!” We rejoice because after two weeks of Advent, a few weeks of cold weather, and a season of apocalyptic visions, we know that Christ is nigh.
Over Thanksgiving I had the privilege of being with my family in Flagstaff, Arizona, where my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew live. We spent a few days in a warmer area of the state, where we found ourselves on a hike to and through a slot canyon—this is a canyon of red rock made by ancient streams of water. Think the Grand Canyon but skinny. It’s the kind of formation one does not find too easily (especially in New England), and when you see one, you cannot help but climb through it to explore.
As you may know by now, those in my bloodline seem to have a sort of fascination with rock formations—mountains, crags, and caves, we love them all. And after numerous car trips across this continent, I can tell you that I much prefer geologic diversity to the flat, endless plains of Iowa or Nebraska. That’s why I am a little put off by John the Baptizer in this morning’s lesson from Luke.
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Small talk can be a struggle for me, moreso outside of the church. Once others find out what I “do,” they project all their baggage about clergy on me—the bad and the good. When I tell someone that I am a priest, I immediately have to begin dismantling all the baggage associated with priesthood by defining myself in the negative: “No, I’m not that kind of priest. No, I don’t take vows of celibacy. No, I don’t live in the church…but yes I’ve heard the one about the priest and the rabbi.” Continue reading “Who Are You, Really?”
When I travel home, I reenter a culture remarkably different from most of New England—certainly one different from Fairfield. My parents raised my brother and me in a suburb of Portland, Oregon—our nearest city was Vancouver, Washington which is famous for being confused with the much larger (but not quite as old) city in British Columbia.
Vancouver, Washington has another claim to fame, having been recently named the “most hipster” city in America. Movehub measured the density of vital hipster services like vegan restaurants and thrift stores to determine Vancouver’s level of hipsterness. Not only did Vancouver come out on top overall, but they rank second in microbreweries per capita, fifth for tattoo studios, and first for annually rising rent—all markers of hipsterness.
Despite my love for pour over coffee, I never feel I fully fit in when I return to the most hipster city in America. I’ve always suspected though that John the Baptist would. He strikes me as kind of a hipster—squeezing dates for honey, digging root vegetables out of the ground to eat, and wearing locally-sourced clothing and accessories. John is a hipster through-and-through.
Today is all about new beginnings. This morning we celebrate the beginning of Advent—and along with it the beginning of a new liturgical year. And as I begin this new calling as your rector, we rejoice together in the multitude of opportunities that lie ahead for us; we are in the beginning of a new chapter in the life of St. Paul’s. And I simply cannot think of a better way to begin this new relationship than to discuss Jesus’s apocalyptic vision for our world.
Mary’s song of praise to God—the Magnificat—is Luke’s answer to the modern Christmas hit Mary Did You Know?
Based on the Magnificat, yes, Mary knew, Elizabeth knew, their husbands Joseph and Zechariah knew. If the biblical account carries any weight, they knew; case closed.
However, if we step back from the biblical account, “Mary, did you know?” might not actually be that terrible of a question. Mary didn’t exactly instagram an image of the ultrasound, and she didn’t snapchat her contractions Continue reading “Fearless Feast of Fools”
Luke addresses his account of the life and times of Jesus the Christ to Theophilus, a lover of God—probably a generalized title. Luke’s apparent goal in writing this account is to present a crafted narrative of the birth, life, and death of Jesus and then cause us to ask ourselves, “What does this all mean?”