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Easter 4C: Information vs Formation: Being Kept in Suspense as the Engine of Faith

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Fourth Sunday After Easter, Year C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector
Today’s Gospel highlights the nature of what it means to follow Jesus and the difference between having information about Jesus and being formed into his likeness, the crucial but oft overlooked difference between information and formation, between feeding our heads and opening our hearts. The people around Jesus, gathered for a joyous festival of light we know today as Hanukah are fed up. They want a straight answer for once. Are you the Messiah or not? “How long will you keep us in suspense?” What a question! The interesting thing, which I’ll tease out as we go along is that being kept in suspense without what John Keats calls, “irritable reaching after fact and reason,” is what keeps us faithful. “The opposite of faith, says Paul Tillich, “is not doubt, but certainty.” Like the people around Jesus, we want to have things figured out, pinned down…

Easter Vigil--The Great Unhorizoning

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Great Vigil of Easter: Romans 6:3-11 ; Psalm 114; Luke 24:1-12 The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector Assuming the Bishop or I don’t accidentally set ourselves alight at the kindling of the New Fire for the Easter Vigil, one of the most beautiful sights at the start of the liturgy is to see the new fire passing from the Paschal Candle and spreading neighbor to neighbor through the entire nave. The light of Christ passes through the midst of the congregation, leading us, guiding us, illuminating us with light in a recapitulation of the Exodus story in which God draws the Israelites up out of Egypt from bondage under Pharaoh, through the Red Sea, into the wilderness, and into freedom in the good and broad land, the land of milk and honey. That’s an important thing to notice—that God has really only been up to one thing since the foundation of the world: the fashioning for Himself of a people who know the freedom that is l…

Good Friday: No More of This! The End of Sacrifice

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Good Friday The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector
At the climax of the Passion according to St. John, we hear Jesus utter those words—“It is finished,” or “It is accomplished.” What it is that is finished and accomplished on this day we call Good Friday? How can it be that Jesus' humiliating and ignoble death—mocked and scourged beyond any human semblance—can in any way be “good?” In a culture of violence, how can contemplating the cross be anything but a tacit reproduction of the very violence we want so desperately to renounce? To answer these questions, we need to understand what it is that God has been up to from the foundation of the world. It has always been God’s deepest desire to create something that is completely other than Godself, that this creation might, through its use of free will and imagination, co-operating with grace, be united to its creator. God wants to fashion for himself a people who love ju…

Maundy Thursday: A Washed and Washing People

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Maundy Thursday: Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14; Psalm 116:1, 10-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35 The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector One of the main purposes of the Holy Week Triduum is to reveal to us, remind us, of the nature of the one we call Lord and strive to follow after. We remind ourselves who and how Jesus is, not so that we can acquire more information about him, but so that we can become more and more like him. The Christian life is a quite simply the movement into love, the accepting of our acceptance, putting on the mind of Christ that we might see with his eyes, hear with his ears, touch with his hands. The liturgy of Maundy Thursday is a powerful evocation of what love looks like when it comes into the world and who we, as God people gathered in this place, are called to be. One of the interesting things about the Maundy Thursday liturgy is the way we have two liturgical acts set one ag…

Palm Sunday: God on a Donkey, Herod on a Warhorse

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Palm Sunday, Year C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector When we ponder Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, it’s important to remember another kind of parade that happened on the other side of town: Herod’s entrance from his headquarters in Caesarea Philippi. That entrance is what you would expect from someone of Herod’s ranks and status. He enters on a warhorse with banners. Phalanxes of soldiers march in lock-step with their helmets, shields, and spear tips glinting in the sun, swords buckled to their belts. Herod comes in the name of Caesar, in the name of Roman Imperial power. High above the fray on his warhorse, flanked by chariots, Herod peers down on his subjects who know that if they don’t bend the knee, trouble is certainly coming. Now recall for yourselves, a very different kind of entrance that we just recapitulated at the start of the liturgy. In place of banners and trumpets, the crowd around Jesus wave…

Lent 5C: Prodigal People of a Prodigal God

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Lent 5C: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8 The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector Last week, in our reflection on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we looked at how one of the things the parable reveals to us is the Prodigal nature of God in Godself. It is Karl Barth who perhaps puts this most beautifully by showing us, reminding us, that if we see the Prodigal Son as Christ Himself on a journey into a Far Country, we get a glimpse of the lengths to which God will go to reconcile the human family, indeed all of creation itself, to Himself. If we read the parable Christologically, we see some very important things. God, in his Son, is willing to leave home—wants to leave the comfort and security of life with the Father—to go to the far country. God in Christ identifies with the very least of these—prostitutes and sinners—and even goes so far as to become ritually unclean (there is no more unclea…

A Meditation for Evensong: Beware the Yeast of the Pharisees & Herod: In the Boat with Jesus

A Meditation for Evensong: Mark 8: 11-21 The Cathedral Church of St. Mark The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector
When we encounter Jesus and the disciples in the boat, one of the first things to notice is how boats have the nasty habit of reminding us of our vulnerability, our exposure to what is risky and contingent in a world that’s impossible to control. Wind, waves, whales—they set before us everything that’s unmanageable. In a boat we are exposed to everything that won’t bend to our will, our desire to have things on our own terms. We come face-to-face with our weakness, our poverty, our dependence, our need, and vulnerability. Now in our culture, weakness, poverty, dependence, need and vulnerability—though true statements of the human condition—aren’t exactly high-prized attributes. Just think of the antonym for each of those words and you’ll start to see that they sound pretty much like what you learned from your teachers, parents, nation: power, wealth, independence…

Lent 4C: The Prodigal God

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Lent 4C: Joshua 5:9-12 Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector
One of the difficulties with Holy Scripture is that it often speaks of our relationship with God in human terms. It makes sense on one level because God is inherently relational—the very heart of the Holy Trinity reveals this to us. As human beings we quite naturally apply our how things work in our human relationships to our relationship with God and often end up with rather upside-down pictures of who and how God is for us. I remember, for instance, hearing a sermon preached about how the Father in the parable welcomed the Prodigal Son back, certainly, but when he gave him the credit card for the family business, there was a $500 limit! In Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians we find the words, “From now on, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point …