Sermons

Joe and Amy recently gave the Arrington Lecture at the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee Tennessee. Their lecture, Why Can’t We Be Friends?

The Rev. Richardson Libby

March 19, 2017 The Third Sunday in Lent “Infinite Love”

Good Morning. I want to start this morning with a story about William Dixon. He lived many years ago in a small village in England. He was quiet and lonely. His wife had died a number of years ago and his son had also died a few years later. He could often be seen sitting by his window, watching the world go by and smiling at the happy faces of the villagers as they passed. One day he looked out and saw his neighbor’s house on fire. Other neighbors were already gathering, scrambling for water. Dixon ran out just as an elderly woman was pulled from the flames. “Who else is inside?” someone shouted. “My little grandson” she gasped. “Upstairs—trapped”. The people groaned because everyone could see that the stairwell was fully involved by the flames. No one was going to get up or get down those stairs. Dixon went around to the other side and saw an iron drainage pipe running up the wall. Taking hold of it he pulled himself up to the window, he found the terrified boy, scooped him up and scrambled back to the ground. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. William Bell, MD, BCC

March 12, 2017 The Second Sunday in Lent “New Birth”

Jesus answers Nicodemus, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, Unless someone is born of water and spirit, That one is not able to enter into the Kingdom of God.”  In the name of God. Amen.  My new granddaughter, Charlie, has scheduled her birth.  On May 7, she is due to have her only physical birth.  This is a good thing, a wonderful thing, this physical birth.  Although she may not agree at the time.  I imagine her now, in the wet, dark, warmth of the womb.  Hearing a variety of familiar sounds.  The ba-bump, ba-bump of Mom’s heartbeat.  The wooshes and grumblings of Mom’s intestines.  She’s safe, secure, swimming about.  Pushing off from one firm rubbery wall, and bumping her head on the other wall.  It is getting a bit crowded inside her womb, but, it is known, safe, sustaining. No need to breathe, or eat, or poop.  Come May 7, that will change.  The womb will painfully force Charlie into our world.  Light not dark, cool not warm, very noisy and alien.  And Charlie will breathe and shriek and fear.  Her physical life in this world of light and darkness begins.  DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Joseph S. Pagano, PhD

March 5, 2017 First Sunday in Lent “Temptations”

In the 1930s, the two greatest American theologians of the 20th century, Reinhold Niebuhr and H Richard Niebuhr, who also happened to be brothers, had a bit of a family fight.  Reinhold had just published his influential book Moral Man and Immoral Society, and in it he spoke of religion as a power for social transformation.  Brother H Richard objected.  Here’s what he wrote in a private correspondence: “You think of religion as a power – dangerous sometimes, helpful sometimes . . . I think [this view of religion as useful] is thoroughly bad.  It is a first-aid to hypocrisy . . . It worships the God whose qualities are ‘the human qualities raised to the nth degree,’ and I don’t expect as much help from religion as you do.”  What H Richard is saying is that if you think of religion primarily in terms of something that is useful for advancing certain human interests it’s only a matter of time before it becomes corrupted or coopted.  Human beings are notoriously prone to self-interest and small mindedness and worse, and if religion is simply a tool, it will end up being used for self-interest and small-mindedness and worse.  The history of the twentieth century demonstrates that H Richard saw things more clearly than Reinhold. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. William Bell, MD, BCC

February 26, 2017 Last Sunday After the Epiphany “Glory to Glory”

Behold the light of God’s countenance. Be strengthened to bear your cross, Be transformed into God’s likeness, from glory to glory. In the Name of God. Amen.  So Jo Marie and I had a bucket list experience this month.  A naturalist-led expedition to the Galapagos Islands.  600 miles from anywhere, on the equator.  The place key to Darwin’s theory of evolution, Which is the organizing principle behind all biological science.  Galapagos has animal species found only on these islands.  Tropical penguins, marine iguanas, unimaginable finches.  And land tortoises bigger than Carolene’s smart car.  Galapagos enchants us with its wonders. And dominates our imagination.  But it is also a hot, bleak, arid, and hostile place—truly desert islands.  And the diversity of unique species reflects, the severe competition on any living thing to survive there. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Amy E. Richter, PhD

February 19, 2017 Seventh Sunday After the Epiphany “The Image in the Temple”

I think it’s fair to say, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sets a really high bar.  But St. Paul tells us we have a high calling—high enough to attain to Jesus’ high standards.

“Do you not know,” asks the Paul, “that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys that temple, God will destroy that person.  For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”  Because of Jesus Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God’s holy sanctuary isn’t a building, it’s a people.  You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Joseph S. Pagano, PhD

February 12, 2017 Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany “First Be Reconciled”

A few years ago a group in England had a contest to determine the funniest religious joke of all time.  The winning joke was by the comedian Emu Philips.  You may have heard it before.  I tell it this morning not just because it is pretty funny, but because, I think, it relates to our Epistle lesson. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Amy E. Richter, PhD

February 5, 2017 Annual Meeting, Rector’s Address

Dear Friends in Christ, Members and Staff of St. Anne’s Church, Chilton, our Bishop,

What a joy and privilege it is to stand in your midst and address you as rector of this parish church.  And how delightful to do this on at the Annual Meeting during the year of our 325th anniversary as a church, as a group of people gathered together in the presence of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, to worship, pray, give, share, proclaim, and be lights of the world in our generation.  DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. William Bell, MD, BCC

January 22, 2017 – Third Sunday After the Epiphany “God’s Deviant Marginals”

Jesus is the light who has come upon those who live in the dark and in the shadow of death. In the name of the God with us, the one who saves us. Amen.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  You guessed it—today’s sermon is a tale two empires. Rome’s Empire and God’s Empire.  And all of you get to choose one or the other.  This year I want all y’all to choose to be deviant marginals.  This year we follow the Gospel according to Matthew and to understand any prophet or theologian or storyteller, we need to know their context. Who they are, where and when they lived.  And the struggles and problems they faced.  So let’s use the work of Biblical scholar Warren Carter.  And our imagination, to reconstruct the world of Matthew. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Joseph S. Pagano, PhD

January 29, 2017 Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany “Blessed Are…”

In our Gospel lesson for today, we hear the beatitudes, the preamble to the Sermon on the Mount, those amazing, beautiful, essential words of Jesus that are at the very heart of the Christian faith, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted . . . Blessed are the meek . . . Blessed are the peacemakers. . . ”  Yet whenever we gather and hear the beatitudes proclaimed, I wonder what people think?  Maybe some think, “Wow, these are the most beautiful words I have ever heard.”  But maybe others think, “Yes, these are beautiful words, but like so many beautiful words, they are fanciful, they can’t really be followed in the real world.”  And maybe others are thinking, “Wow, these are beautiful words, and, oh my, they are another reminder of all the ways I fail to leave up to the high calling of being a disciple of Christ.” DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Amy E. Richter, PhD

January 8, 2017 The Baptism of our Lord “We’re With Him”

Today we celebrate the baptism of Jesus, when he was baptized, and the voice of God was heard to say, “This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well-pleased.”  Today we also celebrate baptisms, and remember and celebrate that we are baptized, when God says of us, You are my beloved child.  With you I am well-pleased.

Baptism is more than affirmation, though.  Baptism is blessing and power, blessing and power that comes from having a new identity, being with and in Christ.  DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Joseph S. Pagano, PhD

January 1, 2017 The Feast of the Holy Name “Holy Name”

Names can tell us a lot about a person’s character and the role they play in a story.  One of the pleasures of reading literature is discovering the meaning of characters’ names. Authors often give their characters names that tell us something important about who they are and about what they will do in the story. The great master of giving characters names is Charles Dickens. He gives us the policemen, Sharpeye and Quickear, the family physician, Dr. Pilkens, and the surgeon, Dr. Slasher. The Bigwig Family are the stateliest people in town, Mr. Bounderby is a self-made man and social climber, Abel Magwitch is an able magic witch who can transform a poor boy into a prince, and the Reverend Mechisedech Howler is a preacher of the ranting persuasion.  DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. William Bell, MD, BCC

December 25, 2016 Christmas “Dark Matter”

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. Amen.  No doubt all y’all were amazed by the events of last August.  Those headlines on August 25th, when scientists reported that the galaxy Dragonfly 44, has the same mass as our Milky Way Galaxy, but has no stars or apparent structure.  We cannot see it or directly detect it.  But scientists believe it is made entirely of dark matter.  So what is dark matter? No one knows. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Amy E. Richter, PhD

December 24, 2016 Christmas Eve “Do Not Be Afraid”

Do not be afraid.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be afraid. It’s repeated like a steady beat through the Bible.  As in the book of Deuteronomy:  The Lord will be with you; The Lord will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.  And the book of the prophet Isaiah:  Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. And the book of Daniel:  Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe.  Be strong and courageous.  Fear not.  Fear not.  Fear not.  A steady, strong pulse—words to live by, words to breathe by, words to set down burdens and pick up praise.  God gives reasons not to be afraid more than 365 times in the Bible, more than “one assurance for every day.”  Do not fear is God’s message for us, this day, our assurance for Christmas. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. William Bell, MD, BCC

December 18, 2016 Advent 4 “God’s Weakness”

So, I love babies. Real, live, huggable, messy, noisy babies.  And I’ve made sure all 3 of my children have first-rate cameras.  So that they can record the wonderfulness of my grandchildren.  And send me those pictures and videos on a frequent basis. I know my own genesis fairly well. And I’ve pointed out my Scot-Irish White Trash genealogy before. So I’ve been intrigued with my new grandson Henry. The first descendant of mine with olive skin and brown eyes.  His dad, Sammy, is born of Italian and Nicaraguan roots. Sammy’s family is matriarchal and Hispanic to the core. But Henry also has his own unique spirit. He looks out on the world with a gaze of concerned surprise. As if he’s saying, “Really, this is what the world has to offer?” And as he’s grown, Henry’s trained his parents well. They respond to his every cry and smile with lightning quickness. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Amy E. Richter, PhD

December 11, 2016 Advent 3 “Beyond our Expectations”

“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”  John the Baptist asks Jesus this question this week:  “Are you the one?”

When we heard John in the gospel lesson last Sunday, he had been so sure.  It was Jesus he pointed to and called out, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world;” Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus, the light of the world. This week, he’s not so sure:  Are you the one?  Or was I mistaken? DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Joseph S. Pagano, PhD

November 27, Advent 1 “Wake Up and Live”

When I was a kid, and when I did not want to wake up in time to catch the school-bus, my mother devised a very effective way to rouse me from sleep.  She did not knock on the door to my bedroom nor did she yell in to me that it was time to wake up and go to school.  No, my dear, sainted mother would walk into my room and she would put her hand over my mouth and then pinch my nostrils shut.  In a matter of seconds, this caused me to wake up, gasping for air. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Joanna White

November 24, Thanksgiving Day “Gratitude”

Some years ago my husband Sandy and I spent a lot of time at the research center of Georgetown University Hospital. On one of those days, I picked up lunch at the now closed Marvelous Market on Wisconsin Avenue.  As the clerk packed up my purchases, she put in a catering menu for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday.   The brochure depicted a smiling family around the table laden with all the traditional foods and a caption that stated in bold bright letters, “Give Thanks with Marvelous Markets.”  The problem was, no one was “giving thanks” for anything, they were eating.  Now, if eating actually is a symbol of giving thanks, I must be the most grateful person alive. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Amy E. Richter, PhD

November 20, 2016 Proper 29 “Christ is Our King”

Every year in the Church, the Sunday before Advent begins is Christ the King Sunday.  Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with it.  It’s not one of our best known holy days.  I can barely get a few Christmas cards out; I’m sure I’ll never get around to sending Christ the King greetings.  But maybe that’s too bad; maybe I should.  Because the message of Christ the King Sunday, of who Jesus is and what he does for us, the way of life he invites us into, is right up there, follows right along with our celebration of God become flesh at Christmas and Christ crucified and resurrected at Easter so we can have new life now. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. William Bell, MD, BCC

November 13, Proper 28 “Infinite Hope”

The Lord God says: Be glad and rejoice forever in what I’m creating, I’m creating Jerusalem as a joy and her people as a source of gladness.  In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.  I am a poor wayfaring stranger Travelling through this world of woe But there’s no sickness, toil or danger In that bright land to which I go I’m going there to see my loved ones Gone on before me, one by one, I’m just going over Jordan I’m just going over home I know dark clouds will gather ’round me I know my way is rough and steep But beauteous fields lie just before me Where God’s redeemed their vigil keep I’m going there to meet my Savior Dwell with Him nd never roam I’m just going over Jordan I’m just going to my home.  Our pilgrimage on this earth follows this path. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Joseph S. Pagano, PhD

October 30, Proper 26 “Zacchaeus the Big-Time Giver”

Adam Grant has a fascinating new book called Give and Take in which he characterizes the different ways people are oriented to giving and taking in their relationships with others.  Basically he says there are three types of people: Takers, at one end of the spectrum, Givers, at the other end of the spectrum, and Matchers, who are somewhere in the middle.  DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Amy E. Richter, PhD

October 23, 2016 Proper 25 “Let it Rain”

A prayer by Jacqueline Bergan and S Marie Schwann says, “Lord my God, when Your loved spilled over into creation You thought of me.  I am from love, of love, for love.”

What an awesome claim!  When God first created, God did it with us in mind.  In fact, the reason for creation itself was so God could create us in order to receive God’s love, to participate in God’s love, flourish in it, take joy in it.  We are no afterthoughts, no fortunate bystanders, no accidents.  God made us from love, of love, for love. DOWNLOAD PDF

The Rev. Joanna White

October 16, Proper 24 “Shared Pain as a Blessing”

I believe there is a theme that goes through the lessons we just heard; it’s struggle.  That exact word doesn’t appear precisely in in the writings.  Genesis uses “wrestled,” “prevailed” and “striven.”    Timothy favors “persistence,” “convince” “rebuke” and “encourage.”  For good measure he throws in “be sober” and “endure suffering” as an evangelist, which we all are by virtue of our participation in a religious community.  Moreover, we are to persevere/prevail/ strive… “in favorable or unfavorable times.”  Given the era in which it was written, the writer of Timothy’s experience would have been more familiar with “unfavorable” times. DOWNLOAD PDF