Category Archives: From the Rector

Sermon–May 14, 2017

Sermon

Easter 5, May 14, 2017

William Bradbury

Acts 7:55-60, Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16, 1 Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14

I know some priests who when reading this gospel at funerals refuse to read the last line that says: “No one comes to the Father except through me”. They edit it out because of those Christians who have used this line as a cover for their arrogance and even violence against those who don’t believe exactly the same way they do. Continue reading

Sermon–May 7, 2017

Sermon

Easter 4, May 7, 2017

William Bradbury

Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10

Where is the place you feel loved and safe, where your soul is at peace? For me growing up, it was my grandparents’ house on Missionary Ridge, overlooking Chattanooga. That house became iconic in my dreams—in a dream I’ve often had, I’d dream I was exploring a walk-in attic and all of a sudden it would open up into this fantastic amphitheater under the stars. When I would wake up I’d feel such lightness and peace. That house was my place of green pastures and still waters, where I knew goodness and mercy would follow me all the days of my life. Continue reading

Sermon–April 23, 2017

Sermon

Easter 2, April 23, 2017

William Bradbury

Acts 2:14a,22-32, Psalm 16, 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31

Sometimes the translators just get it wrong: the word “doubt” is not used in this reading. Jesus is not telling Thomas not to doubt, because he knows doubt is always a part of faith. When C. S. Lewis was an atheist he said he had doubts about his beliefs, just as he had doubts when he became a Christian. The main thing to look at in our doubts is to make sure our doubts are changing because if our doubts never change it means we are not growing in our faith, which is to say, our faith has become a static system of beliefs rather than a living relationship with the ever-flowing Triune God. The KJV translates it this way: “Do not be faithless, but believing.”  These are the two choices we have: to have faith in God revealed by the Risen Christ or to have faith in something or someone else. Whatever we choose we will always have doubts. Continue reading

Sermon–Easter Day–April 16, 2017

Sermon

Easter Day, April 16, 2017

William Bradbury

Acts 10: 34-43, Psalm 118: 1-2,14-24, Colossians 3: 1-4, John 20: 1-18

Driving home the other day I was surprised that the lead story on NPR “All Things Considered” was not about the 59 cruise missiles we sent onto a runway in Syria, nor was it about the rising threat of North Korea. No, it was the story about the doctor being dragged out of his seat, then down the aisle, and off his United Flight. This thing went viral because we instantly knew how we’d feel if that were us. How else could you feel but terrible! But then a thought-experiment popped into my head: What if I’d been dragged off the plane, kicking and screaming, and the plane takes off without me, but then falls out of the sky at 30,000 feet and nothing’s left but small pieces? How would I feel then? Continue reading

Sermon–Good Friday–April 14, 2017

Sermon

Good Friday–April 14, 2017

William Bradbury

Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Hebrews 10:16-25, John 18:1-19:42, Psalm 22

The church, under the guidance of the Spirit, always proclaims on Good Friday the Passion of Jesus from John’s Gospel. On Palm Sunday we always read a passion account from Matthew, Mark, or Luke (last Sunday we performed Matthew’s passion), because in many ways these portray the passion of the Son of Man,  But on Good Friday the Church wants us to see the death of Jesus, as the Passion of the Son of God. Continue reading

Sermon–Maundy Thursday April 13, 2017

Sermon

Maundy Thursday, April 13, 2017

William Bradbury

Exodus 12:1-14, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Occasionally it is helpful for a person who feels stuck in a rut, to imagine she has all the money, time, health, and family support she needs and then to ponder deeply what exactly she wants to do with her life.  We are told the Father has given all things to Jesus—Jesus comes from God and he is going to God, so he can do whatever he desires—yet John tells us at precisely that moment he gets up from supper—his last supper—takes off his outer garments, ties a towel around himself, and begins washing the disciples’ feet. This makes no sense in our world! He could do anything and yet he washes feet, which includes the feet of Judas, who has not left yet to betray him. Continue reading

Sermon–Palm Sunday–April 9, 2017

    Sermon

Palm Sunday–Sunday of the Passion

April 9, 2017

William Bradbury

Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31, Philippians 2:5-11, Matthew’s Passion

We rehearse Jesus’ Way of the Cross, performing his last hours, because this is the Master Story that reveals that God is love for us. Jesus is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, God’s human image on earth, who takes the form of a servant, and becomes obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, as Paul puts it today in Philippians. This is the story Triune God writes. Rome is not in charge of these events. The religious leaders are not in charge, because God is in charge. Just as God is in charge at the Big Bang of the first creation billions of years ago, so too God is in charge at the birth of the New Creation Friday afternoon in Palestine 2000 years ago. Continue reading

Sermon–April 2, 2017

Sermon

Lent 5-Year A, April 2, 2017

William Bradbury

Ezekiel 37:1-14, Psalm 130, Romans 8:6-11, John 11:1-45

Last week we saw that the gospels were never meant to be read as dry history about what Jesus said and did in the past. John himself says he wrote his gospel so that the reader could have the same experience of Jesus as the community in which he lived many years after Jesus left the physical scene. That church never met Jesus of Nazareth, but they had a profound experience of the Risen Christ Jesus in the here and now. John wants us in 2017 to know the joy of being in communion with the Creator of the cosmos in and through Jesus the Christ, the Word made flesh, who has overcome sin and death and filled his people with the Spirit of Jesus. Continue reading

Sermon–March 26, 2017

Sermon

Lent 4—Year A, March 26, 2017

William Bradbury

1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41

The gospels were not written to provide us a journalistic account of Jesus of Nazareth: Which is to say they were not written by some so-called objective reporters from the Jerusalem Times who have no opinion one way or another about this man. Rather, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written by people living in faith communities that had been brought out of the darkness of the fear of death  into the marvelous light of community, courage, compassion, and new creation. John, in fact, tell us in chapter 20:31, “These were written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah,[b] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”They are not stories just about events that happened once a long, long, time ago, rather they are stories of encounters with the living Christ that keep on happening today for those in need of God’s light.  Continue reading

Sermon–March 19, 2017

Sermon

Lent 3—Year A, March 19, 2017

William Bradbury

Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42

Saint Paul makes a startling claim in Romans today. He claims repeatedly that God has come to us in Jesus Christ. This is a claim that undercuts all human religion because religion is always busy looking for a way to get to the divine. The Masai in Kenya, I’m told, will leave a cup of milk outside the hut at night in order to get the gods to come near their hut and thereby keep the wild animals away. When asked why not bring the cup into the hut so they can have the gods up close and personal, they say the gods are dangerous and need to be kept at arm’s length. This is religion: as my friend Gray Temple puts it: “religion is a human technology for the control of divinity.” (I first heard Gray speak on this and the passage from the Gospel in a talk called “Fellowship with the Father” back in the early 1980s. It can also be found in his excellent book The Molten Soul. I shall always be indebted to him for the grace I received from this talk, which is why I bring it up so often.) Continue reading