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Showing posts from June, 2016

Irresponsible to be Silent

A sermon preached June 19, 2016 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal, Falls Church, Virginia
(“Dear Lord: Carry your word into the most protected parts of our hearts.”)
Today I don’t have a traditional sermon. I certainly don’t have a sermon about Father’s Day, but now that I’ve mentioned it, happy Father’s Day. Today, instead of a traditional sermon, I feel led to share some things that have been on my heart this past week.
I’ve been your Rector here since August of 2012. Those of you who have been here a long time know that my preaching style is almost always “expository,” a fancy word that simply means you take a passage of scripture, and having studied it during the week, you show – or expose – its meaning and relevance as best you can, and then you sit down, trusting Holy Spirit will be hard at work simultaneously translating for each of you what you need to hear on any given Sunday.
One of the implications of this style of preaching is I tend not to preach “to…

The Power of Words (and a top reason why people will go to church)

Greetings from Princeton Theological Seminary, where I'm attending the Frederick Buechner Writer's Workshop.

This is is part of my annual Continuing Education-Professional Development time, or what I would call time to "restock the overfished pond" -- time set aside to step back for a few days and renew, restore, and restock my thought-well.

One of the recurring themes at this year's conference is the power of words.

For example, the written word can time-travel: words written over 1,000 years ago still have the power to move us today. And through the written word, a writer can bi-locate, being present in someone's living room in Cincinnati at the same time that writer is present to a reader on a subway car in Tokyo.

Words also have power to bring about change. They can bring about tremendous psychological and social healing ("with malice toward none, with charity toward all...") and they can cause great psychological and social harm (and here I don…

The Grace That Scorches Us -- Jan Richardson

I ran across this prayer/poem a little bit after Pentecost Sunday, but hey, it's still the season of Pentecost, a season to take Holy Spirit seriously, so here goes. 

It's one of those poems that each time I re-read it, I get something new from it. 

THIS GRACE THAT SCORCHES US
A Blessing for Pentecost Day

Here’s one thing
you must understand
about this blessing:
it is not
for you alone.

It is stubborn
about this.
Do not even try
to lay hold of it
if you are by yourself,
thinking you can carry it
on your own.

To bear this blessing,
you must first take yourself
to a place where everyone
does not look like you
or think like you,
a place where they do not
believe precisely as you believe,
where their thoughts
and ideas and gestures
are not exact echoes
of your own.

Bring your sorrow.
Bring your grief.
Bring your fear.
Bring your weariness,
your pain,
your disgust at how broken
the world is,
how fractured,
how fragmented
by its fighting,
its wars,
its hungers,
its penchant for power…

Counter-training Manual for Yard Work, Part the First

In Which our Hero describes Various Perils of Seemingly Simple Tasks


Today is a day for catching up on yard work. 
Yard work is not my specialty. Except for the fact that it gives me an excuse to be out in the sunshine with a cigar and not feel guilty that I am just out in the sunshine with a cigar, yard work isn't my favorite activity, either. I find it frustrating.
Most of the reason I find it frustrating is that each time I do it, there's a real-life version of "There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza" going on in my life:
e:
You know: There's a hole in the bucket which needs mending, which needs straw to plug it, but the straw is too long, which means it needs cutting, which means you need an axe, but the axe is too dull which means it needs sharpening; but the stone to sharpen the axe is too dry, which means the stone needs wetting. 
Which means you need a bucket to wet the stone. 
But there's a hole in the bucket.
In today's real-lif…

How I combat political despair (and other forms of worry)

It is, to say the least, an odd and rancorous election season. (And to think it's only June, with nearly half a year to go until November elections.)

I'm not the only one noticing that there's a palpable sense of worry in the body politic. And given all the turmoil, polarization, and rancor in the political system, it's not surprising that some people are falling into a form of dread, and even despair.

I want to address that sense of political dread. But -- don't worry -- I'm not weighing in politically, here. In fact I want to remind everyone that at The Falls Church Episcopal, when we say "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" there is no asterisk after the "you" -- meaning ALL are welcome there: liberal and conservative, straight and gay, millionaires and homeless, life-long Christians and first-time-visitors-doubting-this-whole-religion-thing, newborn babies and octogenarians, and everyone in between each of those spectrums.

So while I'…