Christmas Day For many years Canon Gatza has written a short Christmas Morning story based on the extensive collection of figures that are found in his family’s crêche.
C Advent 4 (23 December 2012) What do women in the Bible do? One of the right answers is that they sing. Canon Gatza reflects on these songs and their role in shaping a personal spirituality, offering an example for everyone who is nurturing their faith.
C Advent 3 ( 16 December 2012) Deacon Gail Landers reflects on the question asked of John the Baptist at the Jordan — “What must we do?”
C Advent 2 (9 December 2012) The central image of this sermon comes from a family story — and you know how those are! I heard a shorter version of it from my great aunt Annette, a longer version from my godmother, her niece, and this version may be longer still. Ultimately, I hope you too will see how John the Baptist is ultimately responsible for baking proper Christmas cookies!
C Advent 1 (2 December 2012) Christ curses the fig tree for not having fruit is a metaphor. The lesson is for us to be ready.
B Proper 29 (25 November 2012) Who are the creatures of Daniel’s vision? In the first bit Canon Gatza speculates on who or what might be contemporary analogs. The second bit explains why it is so appropriate to have a passage from the Passion Narrative of John’s Gospel read on Christ the King Sunday.
B Proper 28 (18 November 2012) Deacon Landers reflects on two births: that of Samuel after the long-suffering and prayers of his mother Hannah, and the birth-pangs that will accompany the passing of the world as we know it.
B Proper 27 (11 November 2012) Two widows, a couple of copper coins, and how to say yes to ministry and opportunity before even thinking about what barriers might lie in our way.
B Proper 26 (4 November 2012) The scribe asks Jesus which is the greatest commandment, but when he repeats Christ’s answer finds that he is not right, but not far from the correct response. Mark relates this to lunch specials or full choice menus and our daily life choices.
B Proper 25 (28 October 2012) A hymn from blind composer Fanny Crosby about Blind Bartimaeus leads to advice about how to deal with the anxiety that the world produces all around us.
B Proper 24 (21 October 2012) Deacons are the preeminent “servant leaders” of the Church. Here are our Deacon’s reflections on Jesus as one who came to serve, not to be served.
B Proper 23 (14 October 2012) Sadly, uncharitable thoughts do occasionally slip into a preacher’s mind as she or he prepares a text. So after a proper confession and apology, Canon Gatza considers whether it is harder to preach about the Rich Young Man or the Camel at the Eye of the Needle.
B Proper 22 (7 October 2012) Three “bits” from what Canon Gatza likens to the “stump speech” that Jesus might have offered as he traveled from village to village. They are about divorce, marriage and children. While talking about marriage, an assertion is made about the Hebrew words ish and ishah, usually translated “man” and “woman,” that properly deserves more unpacking. Look for that sometime in a newsletter column or on the “Bits” page.
B Proper 21 (30 September 2012) The Rev’d Canon Angela Shepherd was celebrant and preacher while Canon Gatza was away. We have asked for a copy of her sermon to post here and will do so as soon as we get it.
B Proper 20 (23 September 2012) Reminiscences from the Philadelphia radio scene in the 1960’s and 70’s about “My Father’s Son” leads through Arlo Guthrie to what Jesus might have meant when he used the phrase “the Son of Man.”
B Proper 19 (16 September 2012) You can find the Canon’s “bit” on St. Peter elsewhere on this website. But it is always helpful to imagine things in new ways. This sermon envisions Peter as speaking deliberately on behalf of the disciples, offering their answer to the question they knew was coming.
B Proper 18 (9 September 2012) Jesus goes off on a surprisingly long journey — to Tyre and then to the Decapolis on the other side of the Sea of Galilee — by himself. Despite how far he travels, word of his signs and wonders precedes him, despite his insistence thus far in Mark’s Gospel that people not speak of his deeds. Thinking about how good news travels, then and now, leads to the question, “Is there a Twitter account in our future?”
B Proper 17 (2 September 2012) Returning — after many weeks in the Gospel of John — to the Gospel of Mark, we hear Jesus engage in debate with Scribes and Pharisees this week. Jesus notices that they have piled on “human traditions” to the point of law they question, and so he rightly attempts to steer them to the core values at the heart of the issue.
B Proper 16 (26 August 2012) A nod to Stephen Langton, the 13th Century Archbishop of Canterbury who divided the books of the Bible into chapters for easier reference. It was his decision that John Chapter 6 — which we have been reading from these last five weeks! — should begin with the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand and end with a question.
B Proper 15 (19 August 2012) Deacon Gail Landers describes and illustrates a Biblical view of wisdom and the role of humility in finding it.
B Proper 14 (12 August 2012) So what were members of the audience thinking when Jesus said “I am the bread of life” that got them to arguing with each other?
B Proper 13 (5 August 2012) A “Phenomenology of Holy Communion” in three bits.
B Proper 10 (15 July 2012) An offering from Deacon Gail Landers.
B Proper 9 (8 July 2012) A reflection on how congregations like ours have been organized to do ministry, how that’s changing, and what light scripture brings to how we do things.
B Proper 8 (1 July 2012) As Jesus returns to Galilee after his excursion to the country of the Gerasenes he has the opportunity to heal two women. Emmanuel’s stained glass window of the healing of the woman with the hemorrhages features a delightful design element that can be seen in three of our Willett Studio windows, and which illustrates the point of this week’s sermon.
B Proper 7 (24 June 2012) Sometimes the story stands on its own! Instead of a sermon, Canon Gatza introduced the story of David and Goliath with a couple of remarks about its historical setting, including some speculation about the meanings of some of the elements. Then he just read the story, which in its fulness has much more to it than what you learned in Sunday School or VBS.
B Proper 6 (17 June 2012) A little musical humor begins this sermon, which picks up the story of Samuel as he is looking for a replacement for Saul as King. The song is “Older” from the album Mink Car by the band They Might Be Giants.
B Proper 5 (10 June 2012) How about a nod to Samuel’s sons, who probably weren’t bad sorts even if they didn’t follow in Samuel’s ways. A line from Carly Rae Jepsen’s blockbuster hit “Call Me Maybe” illuminates the bond between parent and child. You can link to the NPR interview referenced in the sermon here: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/09/154572891/call-me-maybe-behind-the-song-of-the-summer .
B Trinity Sunday (3 June 2012) We start with a brief comment about the choice of the Gospel Lesson about Nicodemus for Trinity Sunday, then look at how our stained glass windows portray the seraphim that are present with Isaiah in the Temple before unpacking Hymn 333 — with its “upside down” doxology and reflecting on what it means to look at things from an intentionally different perspective.
B Pentecost (27 May 2012) Canon Gatza’s Pentecost sermon begins with the description of a scene from the 1960’s film “Jason and the Argonauts.” (You can see the scene on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9c55SoI3aY.) After comparing that scene to the Valley of the Dry Bones vision from Ezekiel, the theme of breath and spirit leads to insights into the experience of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the urge to ministry that grows from that experience.
B Easter 7 (20 May 2012) Gail draws both from the Acts Lesson, where Matthias is chosen to complete the Apostles’ numbers, and from the poetry of John’s “High Priestly Prayer” to weave a classic “Social Gospel” sermon.
B Easter 6 (13 May 2012) On the heels of President Obama’s statement of his position on Marriage for Gay and Lesbian couples, a parishioner asked me for my opinion. As a candidate for bishop, I have been very clear of my support, not just for civil unions but for legal marriage for every couple who is duly prepared to receive such a sacrament. This is not a position I have always held, so an important point in this sermon is learning how to change my mind. (MG+)
Update: the number of comments about this sermon inspired me to figure out how to get an electronic copy of the 1992 Report of the Diocesan Task Force on Human Sexuality to post on this website. I wrote the report on old Lotus software, and do not know where the 5.25 inch floppy disc is that has the final copy. But God bless the technicians whose work we count on everyday! I was able to scan a hard copy of the original document to a .pdf file, and that is now posted below. The report is long, since it is a comprehensive theological examination of the issues around sexuality. As the compiler and chief editor of the document in 1992, there are some parts I would rewrite, for style rather than content. There is also much new data that I would have wanted included. Nevertheless, it stands up well and will, I hope, help those who don’t understand how those of us in the Judeo-Christian tradition can affirm the rights of Gay and Lesbian persons to express their God-given sexual orientation in faithful and holy ways.
B Easter 5 (6 May 2012) With our friend and colleague, The Rev’d Dr. Mary-Marguerite Kohn, lying close to death after the shooting at St. Peter’s, Ellicott City, this weekend, Canon Gatza looks to the scriptures for words of comfort and support. As is so often the case, this week’s lessons have much to offer.
B Easter 4 (29 April 2012) Recorder problem Solved! Here is Canon Gatza’s take on the Easter 4 lections. If you were hoping to hear something about the “Good Shepherd,” you will be a little disappointed. Instead, you will hear about holy places and the healing that can take place there.
B Easter 2 (15 April 2012) Deacon Gail Landers preached — sadly, the recorder was on the fritz! Here is the text of her sermon.
B Easter Sunday (8 April 2012) Only at Emmanuel Church would you hear a sermon comparing the late 19th Century Utopian visionary Koresh (Cyrus Reed Teed) and his prediction of his own resurrection with the Gospel story of the Resurrection of Jesus!
B Palm Sunday (1 April 2012) A little late-week inspiration (Thanks SermonBrainwave!) resulted in a combination of the Passion Gospel with a little of Canon Gatza’s commentary and some chanting to create a unique and homemade liturgical experience. Only one microphone, but you should be able to hear it all. Two Parts.
B Lent 5 (25 March 2012) After a nod to “Melchizedek, High Priest of Salem” (definitely the coolest name in the Bible) Canon Gatza looks at the seemingly odd answer Jesus gives to the simple request that some Greeks be allowed to meet Jesus, and how the encounter is both more profound and more inspiring than at first glance.
B Lent 4 (18 March 2012) Deacon Gail Landers has extensive experience teaching and working with women inmates at the Harford County Detention Center, just minutes from Emmanuel Church. She draws on that experience as she explains what it is like to journey through the wilderness with the Israelites on this special “Prison Ministry Sunday” offering.
B Lent 3 (11 March 2012): In the series of Covenants that form the heart of the Hebrew Scripture lessons this Lent, this Third Sunday lands on the greatest of all of them, the Covenant of the Law summarized in the 10 Commandments. After a quick “drive by” mention of the 10th, Canon Gatza compares and contrasts the Cleansing of the Temple episode in John verses that in the other three Gospels. This leads to a conclusion about we are already helping others to “start over” in our community.
B Lent 2 (4 March 2012): A bit of a reversal on last week’s sermon, with brief nod to the Gospel of Mark and Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” and a bit longer meditation on covenants in general and this third part of the covenant story of Abraham.
B Lent 1 (26 February 2012): It turns out that Satan only appears 14 times in the NRSV Hebrew Scriptures, 11 times in Job, once in 1 Chronicles and twice in Zechariah. To be sure there are reams of intertestamental, apocalyptic and mythological stories about Satan and the other characters Satan is often confused with or conflated with. But if you carefully circumscribe the canonical biblical account and draw the line directly from the OT Satan to Jesus meeting Satan in the wilderness in Mark’s Gospel, you can imagine an entirely different relationship between the two, one which illuminates the difference between temptation and testing. Part 2 of the sermon explores this possibility. Part 1 is a pretty typical “beginning of a new Liturgical Season” introduction to what folks can look forward to. The second part references a Rembrandt sketch … this one:
Ash Wednesday: The cliche is “Love the sinner but hate the sin.” The message of Ash Wednesday is much richer than that!
B Epiphany Last (19 February 2012) It is always daunting to preach about the Transfiguration with the magnificent Willet stained glass window above the high altar and hard to focus when the preacher’s fingers are throbbing after “subbing in” for the bass player for the Third Saturday Band that morning!
B Epiphany 6 (12 February 2012) Gail+ preaches about dolls and names and titles and the healings of both Naaman the Syrian and the leper who comes to Jesus at the end of Mark 1.
B Epiphany 5 (5 February 2012) Canon Gatza on the logistics and linguistics of healing in Mark 1.
B Epiphany 4 (29 January 2012) On Paul’s comments about meat offered to idols. This was offered to a combined service preceding the Annual Congregational Meeting.
B Epiphany 3 (22 January 2012) The Story of Jonah
The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (1 January 2012)
The Beginning of the Gospel of Mark (B Advent 2, 4 December 2011)
This one is about Esau from the Book of Genesis (A Proper 10, 10 July 2011)
This one is from the Sunday After the Ascension (5 June 2011)
The following three files make up one sermon on the End of the World (C Proper 28, 14 November 2010)