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Showing posts from 2014
"Sharing God's Love"
December 25, 2014
By Bob Wadley
Well, here we are, Christmas Day!  Merry Christmas.  Have you ever wondered,  “How do we know Jesus was born on December 25?”  Well, actually, we don't.  Around the middle of the 4th century, the Bishop of Jerusalem asked the Bishop of Rome to determine the actual date of Christ's birth.  He wrote back that it was December 25, knowing that was an arbitrary date.  But his picking that date wasn't arbitrary, it was deliberate.  For centuries before Christ was born, the month of December had been a time of pagan festivals.  He thought that if people would celebrate Christ's birth at the same time, it would cause people to become more engaged in spiritual things and draw them away from their revelry.  It was a nice thought, but as we know, it has only been partially successful.  For many, Christmas is still like a pagan festival, not a celebration of the most important moment in all of history.
So many of …
Christmas Eve, Year A; December 24, 2015Episcopal Church of the Ascension The Power of The IncarnationThe Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess
I. Introduction. It is the best of times; it is the worst of times. So opens the introduction to Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Sydney Carton, one of the main characters of the novel, has hatched a clever plot to switch places with a condemned friend in 18th century revolutionary Paris. The city is in turmoil and by doing so he seals his own death. Carton asserted: “It is a far, far better thing than I have ever done before.” And as the story makes clear, this sacrifice is quite surprising becauseCarton was a self-absorbed, profligate man. What is it that allows Carton or any of us to transcend our own instinctive self-interest in order to make true sacrifices for others? Dickens’ answer, as evident in so many of his stories, including A Christmas Carol, is having an encounter with love that results in a willingn…

Comfort, O Comfort My People

The Rev. Amy Hodges Morehous Advent II, Year B December 7, 2014


Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.   (Isaiah 40:1-2)

Comfort my people, says your God. Comfort. It has been a hard few weeks, I think. Hard news close to home this week, with the school bus crash, and three lives lost too soon. We all want to live in a world where children are safe always, a world where they can grow into the promise they represent. If we've even glanced at the news, we've seen the social and civil unrest across the country these past two weeks. People across our country are hurt, and angry, and questioning. And those are all on top of the individual burdens we already carry - the worries about our children or our parents or our jobs or our money, the family stuff we all wade through at Thanksgiving, the many stages of gri…
We Give Because of What We Have Been GivenYear A; October 26, 2014 Episcopal Church of the Ascension The Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess
I. Introduction. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” These words are part of a prayer called “the SHEMA” found in Dt 6:4-9, which is prayed twice daily by all pious Jews. To the Shema Jesus added a passage from Lev (19.18): “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In the context of Hebrew understanding, “love” is an action verb. No only does one “feel” love, but one acts vigorously out of love. This kind of active love was described by Dr. Miroslov Volf here at Ascension two weeks ago as all about the giving and receiving of gifts. Such gift giving has been initiated by God in creation, personified in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ who became one of us, and exemplified by God’s sending the Holy Spirit to enliven us. As Miraslov Volf so eloquently writes, we give because God…
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The 13th Sunday after Pentecost September 7, 2014 Episcopal Church of the Ascension The Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess For the Ministry of the Church
Introduction. Today is Rally Day ~ the day we celebrate the re-gathering of our community as we enter into a new program year and leave summer vacations behind. We worship in two different places this morning ~ here at 8, and at Grace Point, our Diocesan Camp, at 10:30. In observance of this day, our lectionary readings come from the Book of Common Prayer in a section entitled “For Special Occasions.” These readings celebrate who we are, why we exist, and what we are to be about.
II. So who are we ~ this community that calls itself The Episcopal Church of the Ascension? My basic response is that we are a thriving community of believers situated here on the top of a hill, committed to be a place in which the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and enacted. We are Christ-followers, and as Paul tells us in Ephesians, Christ Jesus is our corne…
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The 13th Sunday after Pentecost September 7, 2014 Episcopal Church of the Ascension The Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess For the Ministry of the Church
Introduction. Today is Rally Day ~ the day we celebrate the re-gathering of our community as we enter into a new program year and leave summer vacations behind. We worship in two different places this morning ~ here at 8, and at Grace Point, our Diocesan Camp, at 10:30. In observance of this day, our lectionary readings come from the Book of Common Prayer in a section entitled “For Special Occasions.” These readings celebrate who we are, why we exist, and what we are to be about.
II. So who are we ~ this community that calls itself The Episcopal Church of the Ascension? My basic response is that we are a thriving community of believers situated here on the top of a hill, committed to be a place in which the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and enacted. We are Christ-followers, and as Paul tells us in Ephesians, Christ Jesus is our corne…
Persistence in the Face of High ImprobabilityAugust 17, 2014 Episcopal Church of the Ascension The Reverend Dr. Howard J. Hess Introduction. The un-named Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel reading was extraordinarily persistent. She broke through the protective circle of disciples surrounding Jesus and pleaded her case, even when Jesus’ initial reaction was not positive. Her determined persistence ~ acting on her faith ~ carried the day. The probability that she could convince Jesus to heal her daughter was very low, yet she persisted. She was a Gentile, a woman, and a person from a nation that had typically been in deep conflict with the Jews; yet she persisted. In writing this sermon, I reflected upon times in my own life when I have persisted in the face of what seemed like overwhelming negative odds. For example, when Peg and I were first married, we had difficulty in conceiving a child. Tests indicated that the underlying problem was mine, and we were told to give up hope. But with G…