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Sermons from the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer
15 minutes | Feb 27, 2022
The Glory in Front of You - The Rev. Philip DeVaul
...before Jesus knocked him off, his horse made him blind, gave him his sight back and woke him up to the reality of God and his life. We might say, oh, he used to be Jewish and now he's Christian. But what Paul's really struggling with is he used to be kind of awful to other people and now he's trying to center his life on love. He used to believe that it was okay to hate and marginalize and even harm other people for believing the wrong thing. And he believed there was nothing more important than following the rules. And if we could all just get it together and follow the rules and have a pure religion and a pure culture and a pure society, if we could just do that, then maybe we'd see God's glory. This is how Paul thought. And he's just been knocked down by the truth. The truth of Jesus Christ, which is that love is here and now found, present in the people around. And so he's struggling with that. He's struggling with his own past... We were just trying to get to the end, of this pandemic. And now we're in the midst of really doing our best simply to pray and hope that we're not about to enter into a war. This is a scary time and a hard time to be a person. And I did not get any degrees in geopolitics and no matter how much time I spend on the internet, I seem still not to be. So, I'm not going to try to solve all that with a couple of nice words about how if we just loved each other, we could get along because I love a lot of people and it doesn't mean we all get along. I will say this. I was raised during the cold war and I was raised to believe certain things about our enemies. I was raised to think of them in less than human. And if you are paying attention to all that's going on in Russia and Ukraine, one of the things that you can be aware of is that these Russian soldiers are being told things about Ukrainians that are not true about who they are as people, when we hide ourselves, unveil ourselves from the truth of who one another is, and we don't pay attention to the glory and the beauty in one another's humanity, everything breaks down.
14 minutes | Feb 20, 2022
Something New - The Rev. Philip DeVaul
Paul invites his church into thinking about the resurrection as something completely different. He doesn't say you go into the ground broken and are raised up fixed. He says, you go into the ground, a seed, like one that is planted. And when you're raised up, it's like something new, a new life, a new growth that is blossoming into being. He compares this as Jesus did in his ministry. He compares this understanding of death and resurrection, not to something being broken down and then put back together not to something that was needed to be fixed and is finally fixed. Paul and Jesus, both described death and resurrection as a seed, going into the ground and being transformed into a plant. Something that was becomes something new. Still has that essence of what was carried within the seed, just like you and I will bear the souls that have become immortal by the power of God. But to try to conceive of what we will be when we are raised up again. It's sort of like a seed, trying to understand what it'll look like after it comes back out of the ground, something completely new, something completely different is happening.
17 minutes | Feb 13, 2022
Extremist for Love - The Rev. Philip DeVaul
We talk about Martin Luther King Jr. now, as if it's obvious. He's this beloved figure that everyone points to. In fact, whenever there is strife in our time, we point to him, especially white people, point to him and say, why can't it be more like him. Except when he was doing what he was doing, guess what they called him? A radical and an extremist. You may be familiar with the letter from Birmingham Jail that he wrote while in jail for protesting peacefully. You may not know that that letter was a response, much like all the great Epistles we read on Sundays, like Paul's letter is a response to his congregation in Corinth. Dr. King's letter was a response to a group of clergy in Alabama. Six clergy people signed that letter, two of them, Episcopal bishops. And they said, look, we're with you on principle, but let's not be unreasonable, shall we? The letter that they wrote was called, 'A Call for Unity'. I want to call for unity. I want us to be united. I want us to be on the same page. I don't want to be considered extreme. I'm scared of some of the extreme things we've seen happening in this country, they terrified me. But I'm convicted by the reality that people like us have so often been extreme about being reasonable and moderate and not been willing to be extremists for Jesus. And I don't mean going out and harming people in Jesus name. I mean, the way Dr. King said, if you want to call me an extremist, call me an extremist for love. May love be the truth of my life. And may it change the way that I live.
14 minutes | Feb 6, 2022
Cooperating with Grace at the Crossroads - The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer
Listen to Dr. Mark Jefferson of the Virginia Theological Seminary deliver part 4 of a 4 part series on Sunday, February 6, at Church of the Redeemer. This sermon is part of Rev. Dr. Mark Jefferson's 200 sermon series to commemorate the 200th anniversary of VTS.
15 minutes | Feb 6, 2022
Confession at the Crossroads - Guest Speaker
Listen to Dr. Mark Jefferson of the Virginia Theological Seminary deliver part 2 of a 4 part series on Sunday, February 6, at Church of the Redeemer. This sermon is part of Rev. Dr. Mark Jefferson's 200 sermon series to commemorate the 200th anniversary of VTS.
13 minutes | Feb 6, 2022
Crisis at the Crossroads - Guest Speaker
Listen to Dr. Mark Jefferson of the Virginia Theological Seminary deliver part 3 of a 4 part series on Sunday, February 6, at Church of the Redeemer. This sermon is part of Rev. Dr. Mark Jefferson's 200 sermon series to commemorate the 200th anniversary of VTS.
15 minutes | Feb 6, 2022
Conjunction at the Crossroads - Guest Speaker
Listen to Dr. Mark Jefferson of the Virginia Theological Seminary deliver part 1 of a 4 part series on Sunday, February 6, at Church of the Redeemer. This sermon is part of Rev. Dr. Mark Jefferson's 200 sermon series to commemorate the 200th anniversary of VTS.
20 minutes | Jan 30, 2022
Unusual Times - The Rev. Joyce Keeshin
These continue to be unusual times. Times that disrupt our complacency and routine, even beyond the pandemic, which may be the greatest disruptor of all...We find disruption in the Gospel reading today from Luke when Jesus is at the synagogue. And he tells the people present that today the scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. Those were the ending words on last week's reading of the Gospel, and they are the starting words here this week...the words that follow enraged the crowd. Jesus' presence has been something that they marvel at. Didn't they know him? Didn't they know his parents? And then his words that a prophet gets without honor in his own hometown, that puts it in a whole different place. And pretty soon they're trying to drive him out of the town over the cliff, total disruption. I can imagine that synagogue was a buzz for weeks and weeks if not months to come.
17 minutes | Jan 23, 2022
Crisis and Belonging - The Rev. Philip DeVaul
"The truth of the Gospel as expressed by Paul is that God is already present and working and active in our lives. And the way that we act as if that's true, is by acknowledging our belonging and the belonging of those around us. We belong to each other. What's the most important piece in a puzzle? A lot of us have been doing puzzles during the pandemic. I've been doing a lot of them. What's the most important piece? The one that's missing, right? Isn't that it? It doesn't matter if it's on the edge, or in the center, or over here, or an eye or a flower. It doesn't matter if you've got the whole puzzle going and a piece is missing how do you feel? Infuriated, incomplete, frustrated. This isn't right! We belong to each other completely and totally."
16 minutes | Jan 16, 2022
Spiritual Gifts - The Rev. Melanie W. J. Slane
"Why do I feel so restless in the world? Why do I feel like I need to know everything? Who's that soup for anyways? Why do I feel called to preach the gospel of love to God's gathered people week after week? Some Sunday mornings I think I'd like to just sit and do a jigsaw puzzle and drink coffee, not worry about things, not worry about kids who don't have a place to call home, or the woman I met outside in the cold yesterday whose belly was empty. Sometimes I really want not to care so much. I want not to hunger and thirst for righteousness, but that's not who God made me to be. That's not who I am. God made me to be the kind of person who asks for a cup of soup, not one who's content with its contents being left to spoil. For better or for worse, the holy spirit gives us each a spiritual gift, a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, living expressions of God's grace and goodness toward humanity. God gives us each these gifts so that we may in turn, share them with others."
18 minutes | Jan 9, 2022
God's Beloved - Guest Speaker
Friends, we have yearnings ourselves, not entirely unlike those in Jesus' own heart. And I'm here to tell you that we do well to pay attention to them and to honor them. What Jesus does with those yearnings however unclear they might have been, can become our way also. Because you see, we are children of God, also. We are the beloved. Jesus has been these things from before time and forever. We are God's children by adoption. But no less God's children, because of that fact. We enter into the household of God explicitly from the time of our baptism. Was 30 odd years on into Jesus' life that he went into the murky waters of the Jordan river and there discovered a truth about himself that had been there all along. There was never a moment when he was not God's beloved. But that truth becomes clear in that moment and it shapes his life from that day forward and all the wondrous things that he said and did flowed out of this knowing, this being, this realization. I am God's child, The beloved. You know, it really does help to know who you are. Baptism makes clear who we are in our own lives. We've always been beloved by God. Baptism simply puts it out publicly. Lays it bare out in the open for us to realize, and for everyone else to see. We are beloved by God. And oh yes, we are also lawyers and doctors and teachers and baseball players. But, first of all, we are beloved by God.
14 minutes | Jan 6, 2022
In Praise of Darkness - The Rev. Philip DeVaul
I'm not saying I want it to always be dark. I'm just saying we have this thing where we think dark is bad and light is good, but dark is an essential part of our lives. It cannot be sunshine all the time. And while we know this in our hearts, we still rebel against the very simple reality of the darkness. We rebel against dark thoughts. We shy away from the things that are anything other than joyful and kind and easy for us to grasp. Today is the feast of the Epiphany. And as I said at the announcements, Epiphany is another Greek word for revelation. And what we say is being revealed to us. All of us, all of humanity is God's abiding presence with us in Jesus Christ. That God is with us. And whereas on Christmas day we recognize God's presence and a little baby, on Epiphany the symbol of God's abiding presence is a star. And while stars are light. And that ancient cosmology, the stars are not the main things that give light. They point to things. They indicate things they're beautiful to study and to admire, but we would not be able to see the stars unless we were allowed to be in darkness. The wise folks who find Jesus and who recognize the sovereignty, the royalty, that is found in this child, the presence of the divine; they would not be able to find Jesus had it not been for the darkness. What were they going to follow in the daytime? The darkness was essential for their ability to see God's presence. And while we are able to see God's presence very readily in the warmth and the joy, I think if we're honest, every single one of us has found God and been found by God in the darkness of our lives.
18 minutes | Jan 2, 2022
Inevitable Salvation - The Rev. Philip DeVaul
"There's this idea of inevitability in the train that comes right? Because it's on tracks. We know where it's coming from, and the destination is already set by the tracks. There's this Gospel language of God's power and God's deliverance as something that is inevitable. It's on a track it's moving forward. God is in the world doing the work. And what can you do when the train comes by? Well, you can get on or not. But you're not the conductor and you're not the train. You're a passenger in this life. How does it threaten us, God's presence? And the inevitability of God's work when it takes us out of the driver's seat? How are we threatened by God's presence when it decenters us? Makes us not the center of everything. How does it give us hope? How does it give us relief in peace, even as we're threatened and discomforted? How wonderful is it to know that the salvation of the world is not on your shoulders? It's something that's happening, and you're being invited to participate."
19 minutes | Dec 30, 2021
God Incarnate - The Rev. Gary Lubin
A lot of times, you know, we assume that God is somewhere up there, that we need to figure out how to get up there to find God. Like, you know, we're going to be able to do that, right? Is it too good to be true that God made a giant leap reaching out for humanity by coming down here to be with us? That Jesus is real star stuff, just like us, a body of flesh and blood embodied alive incarnated? Or would we rather fantasize about something other worldly, you know, like something out there, like the force? Which by the way, is only accessible to Jedi's. But not so with Jesus, because the eminent person, Jesus, is how God relates to all of us one-on-one and in community... John tells us that everything came into being through the word Jesus, who is full of grace and truth. Now in the early church, the word was understood to be the creative power of God, in action. Wisdom and compassion in action. All flesh (Incarnate) is an opportunity to be in a conversation with the Word. Like, you know, to speak, speak to love, speak truth to power, acting creatively. We're so much into that, you know? Our baptism signifies our intent to love and to do love in community. But acting out of fear instead causes scandal in our little corner of the universe, in our neighborhood. Really unnecessary, unjustified, self-imposed suffering. And Christmas is a time that I get so joyful that God so cares about this little speck of us. It's also a time to celebrate rebirth and new beginnings, like to prepare ourselves for incarnation, incarnation standing in front of us. To be the incarnation. To see Jesus in ourselves and to see Jesus in others and the other, to be present and to give our presence.
17 minutes | Dec 28, 2021
God in our Midst - The Rev. Joyce Keeshin
These times we are in continue to challenge us in many ways. We don't have the ease or false certainty that had been our place of comfort. What we once might have anticipated as a few weeks of inconvenience, then perhaps a few months, will soon be approaching two years. We have had so many very real losses, whatever our circumstances. And it's hard to see where this experience may go next. And we know, in our hearts, we know we will not come through this unchanged. And it's not only the pandemic that weighs on us, we also may have our own individual concerns and challenges. Concerns of health, concerns for loved ones, concerns for our livelihood, for our education... And we are living in the broader context of so many seemingly dysfunctional and divisive aspects of our world today. But the beauty many of us have shared and continue to share in these difficult times is the experience of God in our midst. The deep awareness of our love for each other. The recognition of the preciousness of time with loved ones and being together in community. We might have previously taken these things a little bit for granted, not in any negative sense, but in a sense that it was expected, it was part of our daily lives. It's not that we didn't appreciate each other, it was just that time seemed so available and at our discretion. We had our multitude of choices of timing and circumstances. The pandemic has disabused many of us, of that sense of control.
15 minutes | Dec 19, 2021
We can do this - The Rev. Melanie W. J. Slane
God gives to Mary and Elizabeth, something that they were each lacking. God gives to Mary and Elizabeth community and connection. God removes their isolation and helps them understand themselves more fully as part of something larger than their individual lives. Elizabeth pronounces blessings on Mary and the child in her womb, giving voice to the joy of knowing that the world will never be the same now that they're together. The world will never be the same. These women's actions turn the world upside down. Two marginalized, pregnant women carry the future of what God is doing in the world. The prophetic reality of God with us here on this earth to make the world look like what God intended it to look like. I can do this. You can do this. We can do this. The unimaginable joy in that space brings forth singing. They sing of the greatness of God. The one who changes I into We. The one who flips the script on the ways of the world of this false assertion that our individualistic efforts are all that counts? No, in her song, she smashes social hierarchy. The lowly are raised to places of honor and this bold and dangerous proclamation is made first by her and carried on forever in the life of the church. The bold and dangerous proclamation that she makes in the Magnificat is her song then and it is our song now. This story is not the sweet, buttoned-up version of birth that we are often presented in
17 minutes | Dec 12, 2021
Living into our baptismal covenant - The Rev. Joyce Keeshin
"To the tax collectors who asked the same question, he says, collect no more than the amount prescribed for you. And to the soldiers who ask He says, do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusations; be satisfied with your wages. In other words, John is responding share what you have, share what you have with those in need. Be fair in your business dealings. Be honest. Do not misuse your power. And John's guidance is not about some abstract concept or some religious discipline or some complex construct of laws. John's guidance is not about big gestures, the bold dramatic actions. It's guidance for folks in the crowd from different walks of life, for people like you and me. It's guidance to care for each other to act with fairness, justice, and honesty in all that we do. Sounds a lot like our baptismal covenant in many ways. John is giving the simplest examples of the actions, reflective of our commandments to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. John the Baptist urges us to shift our focus from it all being about us to, it's not all about us. It's not so important that we have stuff, it's what we do with it, it's how we share it. It's not so important that we have power, it's how we handle it. It's how we restrain ourselves. How we act ethically with it. It's important that our stories in our lives are not strictly about our lives, but about all the lives around us..."
13 minutes | Dec 5, 2021
Already Here - The Rev. Philip DeVaul
I want to be clear, I don't actually have a problem with New Year's resolutions. I think they're great if they work for you and if they don't, that's also fine. Some of us, we're going to actually try to do things to make ourselves better and some of us are just going to be like, yeah, that's just not going to happen. I just want to say that this text is for you, because the presence of God that John the Baptist is proclaiming, is not actually about you, it's about God. It's not about you making it happen. At first, it sounds like that because he says prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight. And you're like, ah, good, I needed some duties. Thank you for giving me some clear concrete steps that I'll avoid. But then we start to think if I don't make the world exactly what it's supposed to be, God's not going to show up. We begin to think that it's on us to improve ourselves and improve this world or else this won't be the kind of world that Jesus wants any part of. Like, somehow, we have to make ourselves our hearts, our souls, our lives, our communities, perfect or else God will not love us. But we know the story of Jesus, right? Like when he shows up, does he show up and go, oh man, you guys have been preparing such a great way for me, thank you so much. And everyone's like, see the road we made it straight for you. Is that what happens or does Jesus show up into an absolute bloody mess? Jesus shows up into deeply complicated lives and impossible situations, into the uncertainty of occupied Israel in a place where everything is falling apart. That's where Jesus shows up. And the prophets tell us this, both John the Baptist, and Isaiah, whom he quotes. Every valley shall be filled in every mountain and hill shall be made low; we heard it in our reading from Baruch as well today. And guess who does the leveling out? Guess who makes things just in this world. You? No, God. Guess who is at work to make love apparent, manifest, obvious, clear in this world, God.
13 minutes | Nov 28, 2021
Why Wait? - The Rev. Melanie W. J. Slane
Why wait? I mean really, why wait? I saw a six-foot-tall statue of Santa Claus, all decked out in crushed red velvet and a bell encrusted cap before Halloween. We don't want to wait. Waiting makes us uncomfortable. And I don't know why, but for some reason, right around this time of year, we all revert to our toddler brain where we've got to have it right now. Not in two minutes right now. I mean, why would I wait for my groceries to be delivered in more than two hours when Amazon can do that for me? Waiting has always been uncomfortable for people and waiting in an age of instant gratification, well, that is almost unbearable. Our reading for today asks us to lean into that discomfort. To embrace the Advent of the present age to sit in the discomfort and chaos and mess and see that the thing we are waiting for is already here. The Gospel lesson that we hear this morning positions us perfectly in a place of waiting that we don't want to be in. We don't want to be there in the fear and confusion and distress. The end of the world as we know it? The sea is roaring, the heavens are shaking, and I don't know about you, but the whole thing is so overwhelming. I'd rather just be unconscious for the whole ordeal. Apocalypse? No thanks. Armageddon? Come again? No, I'll take that little, tiny baby wrapped up like a burrito with all those little animals around and angels singing Silent Night. While stars glimmer in the sky shooting to and fro, Is Jesus here yet? Is it Christmas? Can we get it on the road?
18 minutes | Nov 23, 2021
Pilate washes his hands, not Jesus - The Rev. Philip DeVaul
"If we are serious about following Jesus, we will become radicalized too. Dr. King spoke about this a lot, being a radical for love, a love warrior and this is essential. It's so dangerous to say our place is in heaven. Our citizenship is in heaven and our primary belonging is to God because Jesus is our Lord, not Caesar or Trump or Biden, but Jesus, the danger in that is that we have the capacity then to say, so really, I don't need to be involved with what happens here in this world. Politics doesn't matter. I love when people tell me that Christianity has nothing to do with politics, Jesus, they're telling me, has no opinion or place in what is happening in the world today. Do you believe that? Do you believe that Jesus has no place in how we live our lives in real time? Is Jesus just the abstract? The nice, pleasant chap that we pray to so that we can go to the right place when we die? Or is Jesus alive and living and working in this world for healing and reconciliation? Is Jesus inviting you and me as Christians to participate in the healing, in the reconciliation of this world? Jesus says this isn't my kingdom but then he doesn't just disappear and escape death. Right? This isn't my kingdom, good point, Pilate, I'm out, right? Pilate's the one who washes his hands, not Jesus. Jesus recognizes the disconnect between our world and the kingdom of God, and then stays, stays engaged, stays connected, dies even for us."
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