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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Philocrites in the pulpit: King's Chapel, Dec. 13.

I'll be preaching at the midweek worship service at King's Chapel in downtown Boston on Wednesday, December 13, at 12:15 as part of the church's Advent preaching series. King's Chapel, if you're unfamiliar with it, is a liberal Christian church in the Unitarian Universalist Association that started out, way back in 1686, as the first Anglican church in New England; it became independent and unitarian in the 1780s, but has continued to use the Book of Common Prayer in its own distinctive way ever since. Holy Communion will be offered during the 40-minute service.

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 5 December 2006 at 10:00 PM

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6 comments:

fausto:

December 7, 2006 04:49 PM | Permalink for this comment

So how'd it go? What did you preach?

Philocrites:

December 7, 2006 04:52 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'll hold onto your question until next Wednesday, the 13th, because that's, um, when I'm scheduled to preach. (I like to give people a head's up.) Thanks for your support!

fausto:

December 8, 2006 06:00 AM | Permalink for this comment

Oops. I had the wrong Wednesday! (blush)

fausto:

December 15, 2006 07:04 AM | Permalink for this comment

So how'd it go? What did you preach?

Philocrites:

December 19, 2006 09:38 PM | Permalink for this comment

Fausto, I preached on "Give thanks in all circumstances," a verse from the daily lectionary passage from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 — one of the very oldest texts in the New Testament and one clearly concerned with the end times. (Which is why 1 Thessalonians is read during Advent.) Although I don't think my short homily was one of my better sermons, I talked about the following themes:

I often find that parts of the Bible that strike me as most unfamiliar and incomprehensible — like the expectation that the world is about to end and that Jesus will be right back — are often mixed in with passages that I've either come to love or that strike me as extremely illuminating and close to home. It's the shock of self-recognition in the midst of alien stories and worldviews that keeps me engaged with the Bible.

Everything in 1 Thessalonians, for example, seems unfamiliar to me and from a very different world until I get to chapter 5 and find Paul's advice to the apocalyptic Thessalonian church on how to live in the meantime. That passage happens to be the basis for the congregational benediction used today in the First Parish in Concord, Mass., — see bottom of this page — an ethic that continues to resonate among Unitarian Universalists. So my sermon was rooted in the surprise that part of the religious experience and teaching of people whose vision of the world seems so unlike my own nevertheless speaks to me. And, although I didn't say this so explicitly, that capacity for sympathy for people unlike me is central to my faith.

The other thing I talked about was that those earliest end-times Christians, trying to figure out how to love their Lord while they awaited his imminent return, came up with two practices that have turned out to be vehicles of the holy spirit ever since. Learning to "give thanks in all circumstances" and embodying that gratitude in a thanksgiving meal — in the eucharist — are two practices from the earliest church that have proven spiritually sustaining and community-forming ever since, binding Christians to Jesus and to each other. And through those practices, I find myself in communion even with those first-century folks whose lives I can barely imagine and whose worldview seems foreign to me. And I'm grateful for that.

That's the thumbnail version of my sermon. Thanks for asking!

fausto:

December 19, 2006 10:26 PM | Permalink for this comment

Philo, thanks for answering. Sorry I wasn't able to hear it live, but it sounds like you drew some good stuff out of the passage even if you don't consider it your best work.

Of course, that you didn't feel at the top of your game probably shouldn't be a surprise, given that any UU trying to riff on I Thess 5 has some big shoes to fill.



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