I’m going to follow that excellent pageant with a quote—from a somewhat unexpected source, but that’s par for today, right? It’s from a book you may have read to some young person in your life, or that you may remember from your own childhood. The book is by Dr. Seuss, and the title is
One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.
This Sunday is commonly known as the Feast of Christ the King.
It stands at the end of the long season of Sundays after Pentecost
as a summing up of what we've learned about the ministry of Jesus the Christ, God’s anointed son, and as an introduction to the season of Advent. So much theological import comes together here that if this feast didn't exist,it would almost be necessary to invent it.
We gather together this evening to give thanks for and remember those we love but see no longer. Many of us eagerly anticipate a reunion “on the other side.” But what about those we didn’t particularly love? Or who didn’t love us? What about those we hope to never ever see again, alive or dead? Is it going to be an especially awkward family gathering? Do I have to talk to those people? Sit next to them at the banquet?
Is anybody else as tired as I am of this particular run of Matthean passages? Don't be too shocked—I don't mean I've suddenly developed an antipathy to the Good News or anything—but…this steady harangue about the effort it takes to be a good Christian. As much as it appeals to my latent works theology, I mean c'mon, enough is enough already!
Today’s story from Matthew is positioned directly after the one in which Jesus rampages through the temple and throws out the money-changers. Now, the religious authorities were making a huge personal profit from that exchange, so it should come as no surprise that when Jesus next shows up there the temple leaders ask him, "By what authority do you do these things?" Characteristically, the writer has Jesus sidestep that question and refuse to answer.
Someone once accused the 18th Century Scottish philosopher David Hume,
a noted agnostic, of being inconsistent because he regularly went to listen
to a conservative Presbyterian preacher.
Hume responded, “I don’t believe all that he says, but he does.
And once a week I like to hear a man who believes what he says.”
No doubt Hume had been hanging out with too many politicians.
There are three clergy—
a Lutheran, a Roman Catholic, and an Episcopalian,
—who all end up at the Pearly Gates at the same time.
It’s St. Peter’s day off, so Jesus is filling in
and administering the entrance exam.
“Don’t worry,” he says,
“There’s only one question and it’s really quite simple:
Who do you say that I am?”
Okay, let’s get down to it. Today we celebrate our name day feast as Saint Anne’s. Yes, I know that technically it’s a shared feast, the Feast of the Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But, y’know, we’re only named for one of them, so…
Back in the early years of this century, a Minnesota man who owned a general store made it a habit to offer a verse of scripture whenever anyone purchased something from him. The group of locals who sat around the store in this rural area enjoyed the exchanges, particularly whenever a purchase challenged the imagination—or the honesty—of the store owner.
As is often true on Gay Pride Sunday, we are smaller in numbers here at the church today. Many of our members are downtown marching in the pride parade. I’m glad, not only that Saint Anne’s will be well represented,but also that most people won’t hear this complete mish-mash of a gospel reading.