The Feast of All Saints

Maggie Helwig

The Feast of All Saints and the Feast of All Souls are celebrated, in our church calendar, on successive days – very close together, and yet distinct. It is a distinction which wouldn’t have made any sense to the church in its earliest days, because in the very early church, the “saints” were all the members of the Christian community. We can see that usage in Paul’s letter today – the saints are all of us who are a part of that body which is the body of Christ, which is the church and all the world. We are sanctified, holy, not because we are very good or very special, but because we have been created and marked for holiness, a people who are to be remade, whose destiny is always to be growing into our fullness as part of the body, part of the life of God in Christ. Not saints because we are perfect or anything close to that, but because we have offered ourselves to a process of being endlessly transformed. Continue reading

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Surviving Famine

Jeffrey Metcalfe

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1 Kings 17:8-16

Psalm 30

Four dollars a pound.

Four dollars a pound, and you can barely cover your costs.

Four dollars a pound, and still, no one’s buying.

When we are dependent, as a community upon a single industry, four dollars a pound for lobster isn’t just the sign of a difficult season, it is the sign of a famine. Continue reading

We Cannot be Both Great and Good

A Sermon on the Feast of Pentecost

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Genesis 11:1-9; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:8-17, 25-27

It’s a story of pride. The belief that when humanity comes together, it can achieve anything.

It can build a tower to heaven.

It can make its own way to salvation.

It can become God.

The Tower of Babel is a story of pride, a story of how quickly pride in our abilities, our technology, our wealth, and our power can lead to idolatry. And how idolatry can leave us scattered, confused, and destroyed. Continue reading

The One You Are Waiting For

A Sermon on the Feast of the Ascension

the-ascension-1511Jeffrey Metcalfe

Acts 1: 1-11

Luke 24: 44-53

I’ve always found the Feast of the Ascension, the liturgical day we mark Jesus’ rising up to heaven, as a difficult day to get excited about.

Throughout advent, we waited in solidarity with the oppressed people of Israel to witness the birth of the Messiah, the birth of hope at Christmas.

Throughout Lent, we waited in solidarity with the crucified people of our world as Jesus conquers torture and death on the cross, and turns it into new life at Easter.

And now, after all that waiting, after all the drama of the events at Christmas and at Easter, Jesus explains he has to leave, and we have to keep on waiting. Continue reading

You Always Have the Poor with You

A Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Jeffrey Metcalfe

John 12:1-8

The words echoed through the ancient hall as the cardinal read out the result of the final vote:

“Habemus Papam.” In English, “we have a Pope.”

Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been elected as the new bishop of Rome.

We might expect that the other cardinals sitting next to Bergoglio would take this opportunity to congratulate him, to hide their own disappointment behind their smiles, perhaps even to put in a good word in for themselves before the white smoke signaled the bedlam of the crowds waiting below.

However, instead of speaking words of congratulations, the Cardinal beside Bergoglio turned to him and with a seriousness a smile cannot convey, spoke only these five words,  some of the first words the new Pope would hear:  “Do not forget the poor.” Continue reading

Where Your Treasure Is

An Ash Wednesday Sermon

Jeffrey Metcalfe

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

-Jesus Christ

It’s a true, but a challenging statement. Its true, because while we may not put our money where our mouth is, we do put our money where our hearts are. Its challenging because we need only look to where we put our treasure to find where we’ve placed our values. Indeed, as a country, as a church, and in our families, we need only look at our budgets to discover what we actually believe. Continue reading

A Sermon on Holy Innocents

Maggie Helwig

“And he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem, who were two years old or under” (Matthew 2:16).

We do not know, of course, if this was a historical incident. That’s a debate that’s not going to be settled. But I can easily treat it as historical because, if it did not happen at that exact time and place, it has happened a thousand other times. A routine atrocity in an unimportant country, recorded by almost no one; and if I named for you now Kraras or Fence of Legs or the Markale marketplace, these words would have no meaning for most or all of you, these small massacres in distant lands, as unremembered by the world in general as a slaughter of children in a corner of the empire was by the empire’s own chroniclers.

It is a part of the normal operations of power. But even worse, in this case, it is the direct result of the coming into the world of the Incarnate Word. Continue reading