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St. Anastasius of Sinai

On April 20, Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine tradition honor Saint Anastasius of Sinai, a seventh-century monk and priest known for his scriptural commentaries and defenses of Church teaching. The Roman Catholic Church has traditionally celebrated St. Anastasius on the following day, April 21, though this memorial is not widely celebrated in modern times. The Eastern Orthodox churches, meanwhile, commemorate him on the same date as their Eastern Catholic counterparts. Even within the Eastern Christian tradition, St. Anastasius' legacy has been somewhat obscured by the renown of other authors. In his own era, however, the Sianite's writings were acclaimed as the work of a “new Moses.� At least one of his works, the “Hodegos� (or “Guide�), remained in use within the Greek Church for many centuries. No extensive biography of Anastasius exists, and it is unclear whether he was born in Egypt (as some traditional accounts relate) or in Cyprus. His date of birth is also unknown. In his own writings, Anastasius speaks of being captivated by the proclamation of the Gospel during church services, and being awestruck by Christ's Eucharistic presence as a young man. He eventually made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and took up residence as a monk on Mount Sinai in Egypt around the middle of the seventh century. He eventually became the abbot of St. Catherine's Monastery. Anastasius' life was outwardly uneventful in most respects, though he did leave his monastic cell to defend the Church's teachings against heresy and error. He met or learned about many holy men in the course of his travels, and described their lives in writings that survive to this day. Among Anastasius' doctrinal opponents were the monophysites, who were in error regarding Jesus' divine and human natures; and the monothelites, who professed a related error regarding Christ's human and divine wills. Though he was not the most important opponent of either heresy, Anastasius' contributions earned him a place among the Church Fathers in the Eastern tradition. The monk of Sinai also defended the Christian faith against Jewish objections. In one of his major works, the “Commentary on the Six Days of Creation� (or “Hexaemeron�), he explained how the first three chapters of Genesis predicted and prefigured the coming of Jesus Christ. Other surviving writings by the saint include his homilies, and a series of “Questions and Answers� addressing pastoral matters. St. Anastasius is said to have lived to an old age, and attained to great holiness through prayer and asceticism, by the time of his death sometime after the year 700. Some confusion has resulted from the conjunction of his Eastern feast day, April 20, with that of another saint who was also named Anastasius and associated with Mount Sinai. But this other St. Anastasius, though celebrated on the same date, lived earlier and led the Church of Antioch.

The Impossible Made Real – A Sermon On John 20:19-31

I suspect we all live with our own version of what is and what isn’t possible. And most of the time we live our life based on what we consider to be possible. We consider the range of possibilities and then we make a decision, choose a direction for our life, take our next step, all within the boundaries of what is possible. But what if the impossible can be made real? What if the impossible really does happen? What if the impossible is possible? 

The Two Questions Of Easter – An Easter Sermon On Mark 16:1-8

Easter is not just something from the past to be looked at and celebrated. It is the lens through which we are to see everything. It’s a life to be lived. Getting Jesus out of the tomb is not the ultimate goal of Easter. Easter is about our new life. That means that today is not the end of the story. It’s the beginning. The most important part of Easter is not what happens today. What matters most about Easter is what we do tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. 

What Have You Laid In The Tomb? – A Holy Saturday Sermon On John 19:38-42

“They laid Jesus there,” in the tomb (John 19:42). At one level that’s a literal-historical statement of what happened next. At another level it’s about you and me. We’ve all come to the tomb. We’ve laid in the tomb our family and friends, loves, hopes, dreams, relationships, parts of our selves and our lives. I wonder, what have you laid in the tomb this Holy Week? This past year? 

Struggling With The Cross – A Good Friday Sermon On John 18:1-19:42

Before I talk about Good Friday I want to talk about Bad Friday. That’s the Friday that I struggle with. Don’t you? How are we to make sense of an all powerful, can do anything, kind of God who seemingly chooses to do nothing? That’s the Bad Friday question.

Returning The Colt – A Palm Sunday Sermon On Mark 11:1-11

Mark's is the only gospel that says Jesus entered the temple, looked around, and left. So why did Jesus leave the temple and go to Bethany? The gospel tells us why. Jesus left the temple "as it was already late" (Mark 11:11). So that got me to wondering. What if this is about something more than just the time of day? What if Jesus is late getting somewhere or doing something?

The Secret To Life – A Sermon On John 12:20-33

Seeing Jesus isn’t a spectator sport. It is a way to be followed, a truth to be embodied, a life to be lived. It's being a grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies so that it might bear much fruit. That's where we see him. It's the letting go, the emptying, the leaving behind, and the dying that makes space for new life to arise.

The Snaky Places of Life – A Sermon On Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-21

The serpent that bites and kills and is also the serpent that heals and give life. That doesn't make sense but what if that's really how it is?  What if the snaky places are not so much places to escape but places from which soul-medicine arises? Can opposites really coincide in that way?

Interrupting Business As Usual – A Sermon On John 2:13-22

I don't think this story is simply about Jesus getting angry. Jesus got angry. I get angry. It's ok to get angry. That misses the point. There’s more to this story than that. And I don't think it's about the animals or the moneychangers being in the temple. Jesus surely had to have known they were there. He grew up as a faithful Jew going to the temple. He didn't show up this day and say, "Wow! There are animals and moneychangers here. I didn't know this. This is wrong." The animals and moneychangers had always been there. That's how the system worked. It was business as usual for them to be there.

The Conflicting Snapshots Of Our Lives – A Sermon On Mark 8:31-38

We've known times in our lives when we felt unprepared for what we were facing. We looked down the road at what was coming and we didn't like what we saw. We wanted to cry out, "No. This isn't happening. This cannot be. This must not be." Haven't there been times when you felt scared, unprepared for, or overwhelmed by life? Haven't there been times when you just didn't want to face what life was bringing you? Haven't there been times when you just didn't know whether your faith was up to the demands of life? Love my enemy? Forgive not once, not seven times, but seventy times seven? Turn the other cheek when the first one is still red and stinging?