We seek straightforward connection between actions and consequences. Turns out it’s complicated.

Sermons and audio

Parable of the Fig Tree Lent 3CI’m not able to post a sermon this week. I’m at the House of Bishop’s meeting and I don’t have access to the resources I need to be able to film a sermon and then post something. But I’m delighted that one of my favorite preachers/writers, The Rev. Canon Andrew Gerns, a colleague of mine from when I served in Bethlehem PA, has posted a wonderful sermon on this weekend’s texts. I’ve posted his writings many times before and bless him for coming to our rescue this weekend.

The Gospel reading describes Jesus’ teaching on the relationship between human sinfulness and suffering. Spoiler alert; it’s complicated. Humans want to see meaning and connection in our experience. It’s hardwired into our language loving, story seeking brains. And that’s a wonderful gift for us as we learn language or express ourselves in metaphor. But it can trip us up when we seek a connection between two things that might not be connected. (Scientists struggle with this frequently.)

Here’s a bit from Andrew’s sermon “Bad News Travels Fast”:

Some Christians like to have God be the one behind every circumstance and every event…the cosmic manager (or puppeteer, some will sneer). Others understand God as the one who makes the clock, winds it, and walks away. That’s because we humans are binary. We like things to be either one or zero. Yankees or Red Sox. Ford or Chevy. One way or the other. Our brains cannot wrap themselves around too much contradiction. 

But instead of living in an either/or, one or zero world, I believe we live in a universe of concurrent realities. This ought not to surprise us. After all, we know Jesus to be fully human and fully God. Christians know that God is Trinity of three distinct persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit– who contain the fullness of the one God without diluting the personhood of the three. When we say the creed or close a collect, we acknowledge in shorthand that the nature of God is a unity of concurrent realities. 

And it is true in nature, too. Physics tells us that concurrent realities are part and parcel of the
created order: light is at once a wave and a particle. Today we live in a world that at once makes use of Newtonian and quantum mechanics—Newton shows us how to launch and keep things in orbit, drive your car, or play ping pong, while quantum theory helps us scan our groceries and makes our GPS and cell phones work.

And just as concurrent realities live in the physical world and in the person of God, they are part and parcel of the mystery of living. 

Do take a moment to follow the first link above and read the texts appointed for this third Sunday in Lent. And then read Andrew’s sermon. And then give yourself time to reflect. There’s a lot to unpack in what he’s written. You might start by reflecting on ways you’ve sought correlation between your own actions and your experiences. Maybe what you think is true isn’t as true as you’ve imagined. (And that’s likely true in good ways and in hard ways.)

And then join me in this prayer:

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

God bless you this week.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...