Sermons

The Sunday of the Passion: The Liturgy of the Palms, Procession through Times Square & Solemn Mass, by the Rector

In Luke, when Jesus is nailed and raised on the cross between two wrongdoers. The three are naked, beaten, bleeding, and in great and terrible pain.[1] Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[2] Jesus had nothing to say to the rulers who came “to the place named Skull”[3] to see him suffering—who said, “He saved others; let him save himself, if this is the Messiah of God.”[4]

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The Third Sunday in Lent, Solemn Mass, by the Rector

Occasionally a story that carries a memory of Jesus’ ordinary humanity finds its way into our gospel narratives. Today’s lesson begins with people bringing news to Jesus—in other words, telling Jesus something he doesn’t already know. Pilate has killed some Galileans while they were sacrificing animals, that is, while worshiping God in the temple. It’s not gentle news, and neither is the news Jesus already knows of the tower in Jerusalem that collapsed and killed. Sin and evil, and also unexpected tragedy are part of the reality of human life.

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The Second Sunday in Lent, Solemn Evensong, by the Rector

Apart from God’s prophets, Joseph is one of the few major figures in the narratives of the Hebrew Scriptures whose life is marked by faithfulness and suffering, but not by any great evil. It’s easy for me to forget that Moses murdered a man;[1] I usually do remember that David had a man murdered so he could have the man’s wife for himself[2]—and in the narrative, the woman who becomes the mother of King Solomon raises no objection. Our readings omit too often stories of God requiring the deaths of people of all ages. In the New Testament, God will require the death of only one.

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The First Sunday in Lent, Solemn Mass, by the Rector

When it comes to the accounts of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, I vote for Mark over Matthew and Luke. Mark simply says, “In those days Jesus . . . was baptized by John . . . And when he came up out of the water . . . he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him . . . and a voice . . . from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’ The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.”[1]

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The First Day of Lent: Ash Wednesday, Sung Mass, by the Rector

The twelfth-century Jewish teacher and writer Abraham Ibn Ezra is credited with being the first scholar to suggest that the book of Isaiah, from which our first lesson is taken today, was written in two different periods of time—before and after the exile of the Hebrew people to Babylon.[1] Modern scholars now divide the book into three sections—the first before the exile, the second after the return, and a third and final period when the restored Jewish community was learning again how to be faithful to God in their homeland. And it is from this third period that we hear Third Isaiah—as the one or more writers of this final section are known—write about the kind of fasting God desires his people to perform.

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The Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Said Mass, by the Rector

In Luke, Jesus often describes unfaithfulness to God by speaking about how money and possessions shape a person’s relationship to others, and thus to God. Think of the rich man who lived so well and the poor man Lazarus who survived on the scraps of food that fell from that rich man’s table;[1] think of Jesus’ mother’s words, “[God] has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”[2] But in Luke, the faithfulness that matters is how one believes and lives out the good news that the kingdom, the dominion, of God is within us[3] and that God has called us to live out life in this dominion within in the community of faith.[4]

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The Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Solemn Mass, by the Reverend Dr. Matthew Daniel Jacobson

I have two friends in Rome who I refer to as San Rocco and the dog. Iconography of San Rocco almost always shows him with the dog that tradition tells us helped nourish the saint back to health. And, this became a Roman expression for two people who are always found together —like my friends Nuccia and Loredana.[1] In case you were wondering, I let them decide between themselves who should be Rocco and who should be the dog. They are good friends that teach in the same school, co-author books, and always seem to be found together.

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The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Solemn Evensong, by the Rector

Some of you may know the collection of stories from The New Yorker by the late Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel.[1] Mitchell was a writer for The New Yorker magazine from 1938 until he died in 1996. He suffered from writer’s block and published little after 1964.[2] I read this collection when it came out in paperback while serving a congregation in Indiana—never imagining I would come to live and work in the heart of Manhattan.

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The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Solemn Mass, by the Rector

On the past two Sundays we have heard the story of Jesus’ attempted ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth, where he had grown up and where he and his family were known.[1] At first, the people who heard him were astonished at his teaching in a good way, but that changed when they remembered who they thought he was: “Joseph’s son.”[2] The evangelist tells us the people then tried to throw him off the brow of a hill. Instead, Jesus made his way to Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, which Luke alone in the New Testament calls by another of its names, the Lake of Gennesaret. There Jesus heals by casting out demons who know who he is.[3] And there in Simon’s house, he heals Simons’ mother-in-law by rebuking a fever.[4]

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The Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Said Mass, by the Rector

Christians in Egypt celebrated a feast of Jesus’ Epiphany in the late second or early third century. It celebrated both Jesus’ birth and his baptism.[1] As the celebration spread, it picked up the story from John of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee.[2]
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The Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, Solemn Mass, by the Rector

Matthew’s wise men are better described as magi, probably astrologers, men whose profession was to study and interpret the movement of stars and planets in the heavens.[1] Matthew ignores the “generally negative view” of the Hebrew Scriptures to astrology, sorcery, or mediums.[2] The star in Matthew leads the magi to Jerusalem, where scripture will reveal where the king of the Jews, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, has been born. God himself leads the magi to Jerusalem, to Bethlehem, and later on a safe journey to their own country.[3]

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