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Easter 7C: Maranatha--The Great Jailbreak

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Easter 7C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector In our reading from Acts this week we have a jailbreak—the freeing of Paul and Silas from the innermost cell where they’ve been stripped and beaten and had their feet fastened in stocks. Acts, in its typically cinematic way, is trying to remind us of something very simple—that the Christian life, the life of discipleship, is all about freedom, the freedom of life in Christ. This freedom is all-encompassing and includes freedom from all different kinds of things that keep us bound—images and stories about ourselves, others, and God, mechanically habitual ways of seeing and being that keep us trapped, unhealthy patterns of relationship. Prisons come in all shapes and sizes, and in a certain way you might say, “we are all doing time.” When we hear that around midnight, “there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the…

Feast of the Ascension--Celebration of a New Ministry: Who are You Looking at?

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Feast of the Ascension & Celebration of a New Ministry The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector At a recent meeting of the House of Bishops, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry asked how we can live in such a way that, “when folk look at Episcopalians, they longer see those that we celebrated for their power and their glory, but they see those who celebrate the glory and grandeur and goodness of God. How do we make that happen?” What a question! How do we make that happen? With a liturgy titled The Installation of a New Rector or the Celebration of a New Ministry, it’s easy to think that this is all about the person being installed, rather than one we call Lord, the one we follow tripping after down the way of love. On our altar at home—when it hasn’t been desecrated by a flying Barbie Mobile, a nerf gun dart, or a soccer ball—we have an icon of Christ Pantocrator flanked on one side by Rublev’s John the Baptist and by the …

Easter 6C--The Lamb on the Throne of the Heart & the Great Amen

A Sermon at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Easter 6C: Acts 16:9-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5; John 5:1-9 The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector
The Book of Revelation is an admittedly strange text that has been put to all sorts malicious uses. Picture the wild-eyed street corner preacher calling sinners to repent because the end is nigh from atop his soap box. Or the end of times predictions that roll around every few months that treat revelation as a calendar of events, a timeline, that can be deciphered with the right key. That’s what happens when you read poetry as if it were a math problem. It’s rather like going to the Symphony and leaving with what you think is a clear map for your financial future. It does a disservice to the music, and I daresay, to your financial future. So if Revelation is not a calendar of events, or a timeline, what is it? Well, the name of the book gives us a hint—it’s the Book of Revelation, not the Book of Revelations. It’s singu…

Easter 5C: Stepping through Doorway--Seeing with the Eye of Love

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Easter 5 C: Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35 The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector Each year during Eastertide we listen to the story of the Acts of the Apostles—the birth of the early Church. Acts is sometimes dismissed as a little too fantastical. There are mass conversions, people are raised from the dead, prison walls tumble down, and the Holy Spirit whisks Phillip away in a manner that would make any fan of Star Trek teleportation jealous. Amidst all the oddness, however, is a very import message for the Church to hear and live from if we are to grow into what it means to be an Easter people—a people who live without slavery to the fear of death, a people who live from abundance instead or scarcity, a people who know, name and proclaim God’s unconditional love for all of God’s creatures. In a very basic sense, Acts is a story of what it’s like to see with the eye of love—to ourselves as God…

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…