Posts filed under ‘Theology’

Doubt, Uncertainty and Belief

A sermon on John 20:19-31 preached at Trinity Episcopal Church, Hamburg New York , on the Second Sunday in Easter, April 7th 2013.

I am a bit of a doubter.  Actually that’s a lie.  I am a big doubter.  If this were an Doubter’s Anonymous meeting, I’d probably say “Hi, my name is Blane and I’m a doubter.”   There are some things that I just have a hard time believing in.  And there are other things in my life that, if I hadn’t experienced them for myself – seen them with my own eyes, witnessed them for myself – I would never have believed them if someone else had told me it were so. (more…)


May 19, 2011 at 3:29 am 1 comment

Bishop Margot Käßmann: A lesson on dealing with personal guilt

By Roon Lewald

Late one February night, a young German traffic cop spotted a black Phaeton luxury limousine turning right against the red light at an intersection near a night-life district in Hanover. Flagging the sleek vehicle to a stop, he confronted the woman driver, sniffed her breath and handed her his breathalyzer. The recorded blood alcohol level was around 1 %, well over the legal limit. A blood test at the local precinct registered a considerably higher value of 1.54 %, beyond the 1.5 % level at which motorists are legally considered incapable of driving.

On the following Monday, the mass-circulation Bild Zeitung tabloid broke the news that state attorneys were investigating a criminal charge of drunken driving against Margot Käßmann, the Lutheran Evangelical Church (EKD) state bishop of Lower Saxony and the first woman ever to become president of the governing council of Germany’s main Protestant church. (more…)

April 3, 2010 at 6:01 am 3 comments

Seeing and Believing

A sermon preached on Mark 10:42-52 in The Chapel of the Good Shepherd at The General Theological Seminary on Friday October 2nd 2009

Listen here

“Take heart!  Get up!  Jesus is calling you!”[1]

Bible characters get the strangest nicknames.  As a graduate from Methodist,  Anglican and Mormon Sunday Schools, I feel particularly qualified to make such a sweeping generalization!  In an effort to impress on my young mind the core life-lessons of the Bible, a long series of earnest and well-meaning teachers have left indelible fingerprints on the associations I immediately make in my mind when I hear the name of a particular Bible character.  “What one thing,” my teachers surely must have asked themselves while preparing the Sunday School lesson, “What ONE thing can I impress on these young minds about the character in today’s lesson? (more…)

October 3, 2009 at 1:08 am 3 comments

Crossing over – to the “other side”

CalmA sermon on Mark 4:35-41 preached at the Cathedral Church of Saint Mark, Salt Lake City, Utah, on the Third Sunday after Pentecost, June 21st 2009

It is Jesus’ idea, Mark tells us, to cross the lake to the other side as night is falling.  After a long day of teaching on the lake shore, a small flotilla is crossing the Sea of Galilee when there is a sudden, violent, unexpected storm.  If you were going to be in a storm on that particular lake, you’d want to have the likes of  Peter, Andrew, James and John on board.   They had grown up around water; they made their living on this lake. (more…)

July 2, 2009 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

“Baptismal Covenant” in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer

Evan Daniel, in his classic 1892 historical commentary on theBaptism Book of Common Prayer, argues that a Prayer Book is not only a liturgical manual, but the “. . . fullest statement of the teaching of the Church . . . [bringing] before us the . . . great articles of the Christian faith.”   In this post I explore the liturgical Rite that best exemplifies one of the major theological emphases of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (BCP): Holy Baptism as “. . . full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church”  comparing the 1979 BCP with its 1928 predecessor, and identifying continuities and discontinuities between these two Prayer Books.  In doing so I demonstrate how the theologies of the 1928 and 1979 Prayer Books concerning Baptism stand in stark contrast to each other, and how the tensions created by liturgical and theological innovations in the 1979 BCP continue to inform the debate around what happens at Baptism, and whether or not Baptism is a preparatory Rite for Confirmation and reception at the Eucharist, or the sole Rite for full membership in the Church. (more…)

February 14, 2009 at 10:22 pm 4 comments

Prayers for Barack Obama: Lowery, Warren and Robinson

For an archive of Inaugural prayers since 1937 (when the practice began) click here.

By Rev. Joseph Echols Lowery,  Benediction at  President Barack Obama’s inauguration, January 20th 2009.

Rev. Joseph Echols Lowery

Rev. Joseph Echols Lowery

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.

By Rev. Rick Warren, invocation at  President Barack Obama’s inauguration, January 20th 2009.

Pastor Rick Warren

Pastor Rick Warren

Let us pray.

Almighty God, our father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you; it all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your story.

The Scripture tells us “Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, we celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African-American president of the United States.

We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership.

And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in Heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, Oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all.

May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus (hay-SOOS), who taught us to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.


By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Bishop Gene Robinson

Bishop Gene Robinson

“O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will:

Bless us with tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger at discrimination at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and the world which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack as he assumes the office of President of the United States:

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him colour-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking far too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


January 19, 2009 at 3:58 am Leave a comment

The Nicene Creed: how it became the way it is in the 1979 Prayer Book

For a discussion of Rublev’s icon, click here. The Nicene Creed, our catholic confession of faith, appears as a unified document that carefully outlines our faith in a Triune God: One God in three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Like most doctrinal statements, however, the Nicene Creed was not written in one sitting, nor was it written in a vacuum. This essay will describe the doctrine of God as three persons in Trinity using the framework of the historical contexts of the Ecumenical Councils of Nicea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451), explaining the reasons for convoking each Council and the basic theological decisions of these Councils. In short, we will explore how the Nicene Creed got to be the way it is today in the 1979 Prayer Book. (more…)

June 16, 2008 at 7:05 am 2 comments

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