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Chair of Saint Peter

The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter celebrates the papacy and St. Peter as the first bishop of Rome. St. Peter's original name was Simon. He was married with children and was living and working in Capernaum as a fisherman when Jesus called him to be one of the Twelve Apostles.Jesus bestowed to Peter a special place among the Apostles. He was one of the three who were with Christ on special occasions, such as the Transfiguration of Christ and the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemani. He was the only Apostle to whom Christ appeared on the first day after the Resurrection. Peter, in turn, often spoke on behalf of the Apostles.When Jesus asked the Apostles: "Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?"Simon replied: "Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God.�And Jesus said: "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood have not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to you: That you are Peter [Cephas, a rock], and upon this rock [Cephas] I will build my Church [ekklesian], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven". (Mt 16:13-20)In saying this Jesus made St. Peter the head of the entire community of believers and placed the spiritual guidance of the faithful in St. Peter’s hands.However, St. Peter was not without faults. He was rash and reproached often by Christ. He had fallen asleep in the Garden of Gethsemani instead of praying, as Jesus had asked him to do. He also denied knowing Jesus three times after Christ’s arrest.Peter delivered the first public sermon after the Pentecost and won a large number of converts. He also performed many miracles and defended the freedom of the Apostles to preach the Gospels. He preached in Jerusalem, Judaea, and as far north as Syria.He was arrested in Jerusalem under Herod Agrippa I, but miraculously escaped execution. He left Jerusalem and eventually went to Rome, where he preached during the last portion of his life. He was crucified there, head downwards, as he had desired to suffer, saying that he did not deserve to die as Christ had died.The date of St. Peter's death is not clear. Historians estimate he was executed between the years 64 and 68. His remains now rest beneath the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The Beautiful Risk – A Wedding Sermon

Those are not demands we make on each other. They are gifts we offer each other. And with a true gift there is no holding back. It’s all or nothing. If there is a measure of your marriage, it is love, and the only measure of love is love without measure (St. Augustine). So you must always keep your ears and heart open to the urging and wooing of each other. It just might be the urging and wooing of God. Because if “God is love” (1 John 4:8) then the wooing of love is the wooing of God. 

Desire Beyond Desire – A Sermon On Luke 5:1-11

On the surface it would be easy to hear today’s story (Luke 5:1-11) as one in which Jesus fulfills the desires of Peter and the others; the desire to catch fish, the desire to be successful, the desire to make a living. I don’t think that’s a correct reading of this story. I don’t think that’s what happened. I think there is more to this than fish, success, and making a living. Here’s why I say that. What did they do with the fish, their success, the money they would have made at the market, once they got back to shore? “They left everything and followed [Jesus].” They walked away. Those were not the end of the story but the beginning of the story. Their initial desires took them to the lake but it was a “desire beyond desire” that called them beyond the lake. 

The One Thing We All Have In Common – A Sermon On Luke 4:21-30

The people in the synagogue were looking forward to some hometown privilege. They see themselves as special and they are ticked off when they realize that Jesus won’t play to their presumed privilege and that they are being passed over. That’s what enrages them. They are raging mad about being passed over. And I can’t help but wonder if we might not be the hometown crowd, if we somehow see ourselves as Jesus’ favorites. I can’t help but wonder if we don’t also assume some privileged status when it comes to Jesus, as if he always chooses (or should choose) our side, our church, our party, our country. And I can’t help but wonder if we’re not also in danger of being passed over.

Where And With Whom Will You Stand? – A Sermon On Luke 4:14-21

How far will I go for this gospel I claim to love and follow? What am I willing to do and what am I not? I struggle and wrestle with these questions every day.  Because here’s what I see in the world and read in the life of Jesus. Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, the gospel asks us to make a choice, to take a stand, that will inconvenience us, be contrary to our self-interest, or put us in conflict and even opposition with others, ourselves, our family, our country, our religion.

Water Does Not Turn Into Wine – A Sermon On John 2:1-11

I don’t know if Jesus literally and physically turned water into wine. But then I don’t think that’s the point of today’s gospel. I don’t think this gospel is ultimately about turning water into wine. It’s about calling forth life where there is none. It’s about transformation. It’s about living a new life.

With You I Am Well Pleased – A Sermon On Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

The question is never, “Do I get a yes? Am I the son or daughter of God, the Beloved, with whom God is well pleased?” That’s a given, the gift of God. It’s the insistence of God in each of our lives. The only question is whether we can discern that gift in the conditions and circumstances of our lives. We are always discerning God’s insistence in our lives, to hear God’s call and claim on us. We are always listening for the yes to which we can answer yes.

God Insists – An Epiphany Sermon On Matthew 2:1-12

Whatever God’s insisting for you might be, whatever the “it” is in your life, “it” is God desiring, maybe even needing, to be seen, known, experienced by you. Epiphany happens at the intersection of God’s insistence and our response, and it requires both. A star that is not seen and followed is just another luminous ball of gas. A journey that has no guiding star is just another road trip. You and I give existence to God’s insistence through our actions, our words, our lives. 

Blessing Chalk For An Epiphany House Blessing

There is a tradition of blessing homes on the Feast of the Epiphany and during the weeks that follow. One way of doing this is to use blessed chalk to mark the doorway as follows: Marking the doorway to one’s home is rooted in the Old Testament. Holy Scripture reminds us that God has at times commanded his people to mark their doors. The Israelites …

Epiphany House Blessing Using Chalk

The Church has a custom of blessing homes on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6) and the weeks following. Family and friends gather to ask God’s blessing on their homes and those who live in or visit the home. It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations, our work and play, our …