Proper 24, Year A, Church of Our Saviour, Gallatin

Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” (Matt. 22:17).

In our Gospel reading today, the religious authorities set a trap for Jesus. Our Gospel uses a rare word, appearing in the New Testament only here; a word drawn from the pursuit of prey, the craft of the hunter: to “trap” or to “snare.” It’s the sort of thing, I suspect, that usually gets called a … Read more

Proper 23, Year A, St. Bede’s Church, Manchester

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son” (Matt. 22:1).

One of the plans that got sidelined by the Pandemic was the wedding of my nephew, which was scheduled for last month in Montana. My nephew is the first of the grandchildren to get married, so you can imagine it was supposed to be a great family event. The upshot of the Coronavirus was that … Read more

Proper 22, Year A, St. Michael’s Church, Cookeville

And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.  I will make it a waste…” (Is. 5:5-6).

This week’s news stories included one about wildfires in Northern California, burning through the wine country of the Napa Valley. (By the way, tuning into the news these days requires spiritual fortitude, … Read more

Proper 21, Year A, St. Paul’s Church, Murfreesboro

A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went” (Matt. 21:28-29).

Our Gospel today uses a word that is unique to Matthew: the Greek word that is translated “change of mind.” In the story Jesus tells, there are two sons who are approached by their father to work in the vineyard. The … Read more

Proper 21, Year A, St. Ann’s Church, Nashville

Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” (Ezek. 18:31).

If there ever was a time for new beginnings, that time is now. Americans, and the world at large, are waiting for a vaccine for the Coronavirus, marking time and attempting in the meantime to mitigate the impact of the virus on our societies. Never has “meantime” been so excruciating; … Read more

Proper 20, Year A, Church of the Holy Cross, Murfreesboro

You have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat” (Matt. 20:12).

I had an email exchange with a colleague the other day that caused me to think; that made Jesus’ words in our Gospel today leap out from the page. I was in touch about a project we were both involved in; and after responding to that, my colleague told me about some of the … Read more

Proper 19, Year A, Church of St. Joseph of Arimathea

I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you” (Gen. 50:17).

To use an over-used word, the family of the patriarch Jacob was famously dysfunctional. Jacob had many wives and they had many sons, among them Joseph, who was so annoying and so despised by his siblings that, instead of murdering him, they sold him into slavery. There’s a back story to Jacob too: he got his … Read more

Proper 18, Year A, Calvary Church, Cumberland Furnace & St. James’ Church, Dickson

So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me” (Ezek. 33:7).

In the ancient world, the “lookout” had an important role, to keep watch over the city and to spy out who or what was coming. The crucial role of the sentinel was to alert the people to the approaching enemy, to sound the alarm in … Read more

Proper 17, Year A, St. James’ Church, Sewanee

You are a stumbling block to me” (Matt. 16:23).

“Stumbling block” is a vivid metaphor: it’s something in the way, something you trip over, something that causes you to fall. Anybody who’s ever tripped over his own slippers in the dark will know what a “stumbling block” is. Of course, it’s much worse when the slippers are someone else’s. That’s a bit closer to what Jesus is talking about in our Gospel today.

The idea … Read more

Feast of St. Bartholomew, Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville

We have become a spectacle to the world” (1 Cor. 4:9).

Our reading this evening invites us into the world of the first followers of Jesus; the world of St. Bartholomew (whose festival we celebrate today) and of the other apostles as well. The invitation comes through two words used by St. Paul in our reading: in our translation, the words “exhibited” and the word “spectacle.” Here’s the text: For I think that God has exhibited … Read more