On Good Shepherd Sunday, we pray Psalm 23 in several different ways, through music and words, spoken and sung. This beloved psalm informs every lesson this morning, culminating in the promises of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who never lets us go. Blessings pour out like oil, balm of gladness.
For people who live by the sea, and know the lives of fishermen, this morning’s Gospel story, Jesus’ resurrection appearance on a beach, is tangible in its telling. Some of us know what it is to fish all night, figuratively and literally, only to come up empty. For many of us, Jesus’ direction to throw out the net on the other side comes as a welcome surprise for us, just as it was for those disciples so long ago. Later, Jesus will prepare a breakfast for them, a meal of fish and bread, and the disciples gather round, as we do, too, a campfire on the beach fragrant with the early morning catch. Jesus’ loving conversation with Peter changes the course of his life, from fisherman to apostle of mercy.
When Jesus appears among the frightened disciples on the evening of the first Easter, he breathes the Holy Spirit upon them, empowering them for the future, breathing peace, breathing life. Thomas, when he hears what happened that evening, asks for assurance. He wants to see the Risen Christ for himself, and touch Jesus’ wounds. The story of Thomas, in turn, touches many of us deeply–his need, his bewilderment, his joy, his faith. Below is this week’s sermon–we consider what it means to live as Easter people, redeemed of our wounds, which through faith have become signs of resurrection.
Below is the sermon from March 13. The text is Mary of Bethany’s gesture of love and sorrow, as she bathes Jesus’ feet. We used this text also at our healing service in Holy Week, washing each other’s hands first, and then anointing them with oil, as a sign of being healed and being healers in the world.
We had an experiment this morning–maybe not on the scale of some congregational experiments, but a small one, and it worked. It was St. Lucia’s day, as well as the Third Sunday in Advent, Gaudete–Rejoice Sunday. We had a St. Lucia procession, a first, at least in my time. Eva DiLascio sang the song in Swedish for us–the Sunday School girls wore green crowns, and, St. Lucia wore hers as well. Eva’s voice was heavenly, and the girls were, too. We are glad for the light of Advent, for the light of faith, and turn toward rejoicing. Below is today’s sermon.
The second week-end in Advent was full of activity here–we celebrated the Annual Christmas Fair on Saturday, December 5th, with great success. Three days ahead, bakers, craft-makers, greens and wreath makers, all filled the Undercroft. Dave Stowell was on hand to make his marvelous fish chowder, and Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful. It seemed that every church on Cape Ann held its Christmas Fair on the 5th. One could circle the Cape sampling goodies from every denomination, but we are pretty sure we had the best Nisu, as we baked it ourselves, thanks to Mary Jane Morrill’s baking workshop. By Sunday, Dec.6th we had returned to Advent; the church cleaned to spotlessness by the many helpers, most of the Christmas decorations taken back down to return for the greening of the church on Dec. 19th. Thank you to all who helped make it a wonderful day, and especially to Suzanne Maki and Carol Gray, the organizers.
During the sermon-time, we experimented with silence, welcoming all that we could feel and hear into our midst, but most especially, the presence of Christ.
This morning, during Sunday School, we made our Advent Wreaths, and held a Godly Play session. We are all excited by this season, because of the joyful expectation it brings with it. Below is this morning’s sermon.