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A Funeral Homily for Ron Allison

A Funeral Homily for Ron Allison Today we gather to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of our dear brother Ron. At the reception afterwards we’ll have a chance to share stories of about this beloved character, but for now I want to look through the glass of Ron’s life to see how it might open onto the mystery of God, and our walk of Christian discipleship. He has a lot to teach us. Our Gospel passage for today speaks of there being “many mansions in my Father’s house.” One way to use that image in our understanding of who and how God is for, with, and ahead of us, is to hear it as a statement of unconditional belovedness for all of God’s children—indeed for the entire created order. If there is one thing you can say about Ron, it’s that he was unique. A true character. With his ever-dapper sartorial flair (he was the only 77 year-old I know who could pull of Converse and skinny jeans), his Anglophilic preoccupations (particularly with anything pertaining to Her Majesty the Queen),…

Year C Proper 24--Pray Always and Do Not Lose Heart

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Year C, Proper 24 The Very Reverend Tyler Doherty, Dean & Rector I’ve been thinking recently about our journey with Jeremiah these past few weeks. He’s told us the story of impending invasion by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and the exile of people of Israel into Babylon. Last week, we heard something rather astounding—that even in exile the people of Judah are to build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat what they produce; to take wives and have sons and daughters; to seek the welfare of the city where they now live; and perhaps most astonishingly to pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in the welfare of the city they will find their own welfare. This is pretty earth-shattering stuff. What God is saying through Jeremiah is that even in a time of exile, when the Temple has been destroyed and they are prisoners in a foreign land, the people of Israel are called to be the same cov…

Year C, Proper 23: Living from Gratitude and Thanksgiving--Stop, Turn, & Praise

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Proper 23, Year C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector
In his reflection on the psalms as he was exploring his newfound faith, C.S. Lewis remarked on the connection between gratitude and personal well-being. “I noticed how the humblest and at the same time most balanced minds praised most: while the cranks, the misfits, and malcontents praised least. Praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.” In our Gospel for today, we have in Luke’s account of the ten lepers a powerful testimony to place of gratitude, gratefulness, thanksgiving, and praise in the Christian life. The story is a simple one. Jesus heads into uncharted territory as boundary-crossing love. The region between Samaria and Galilee should set off red flags for us. Observant Jews steered clear of Samaria and Samaritans. They were a despised group—culturally inferior, theologically inferior, and their liturgy wasn’t up to snuff either. So Jesus, the e…

Year C, Proper 22: Jeremiah and Greta--Bringing Our Whole Selves to Worship

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Year C, Proper 22 The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty Dean & Rector
I’ve been thinking these past couple weeks of 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg’s address to the United Nations about climate change. Her “How dare you!” has been ringing in my ears since that Friday a couple weeks ago in New York. After years and years of scientists making arguments that appealed to reason that had very little effect except to make their hearers wring their hands, it was Greta’s impassioned plea, her voice shaking with rage, tears of anger in her eyes, that seems to have (at least momentarily) awakened a sluggish global bureaucracy to the urgency of the problem we face. When you think it about, Greta is not too different from the prophet Jeremiah who was accused of being a rather gloomy fellow, prone to hyperbole, a little too strident for polite company. But Greta and Jeremiah know something we too often forget—that grief and sorrow named, wailed, …

Proper 19, Year C: Getting Lost, Least, Last, and Left Behind

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Year C, Proper 20 The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector The other day, I was asking our youngest to put her clothes in the laundry hamper in the daily madness we call getting ready for school at our house. Rinsing out massacred bowls of frosted miniwheats, I recited the mantra I’ve said a thousand times before between gulps of my black coffee, “Clare, it’s time for school. Do your hair. Brush your teeth. Feed the guinea pigs, and put your undies in the dirty laundry.” Usually, the response is a cheerful little chirp, “Ok, Dad!” But this morning was different. This morning I got a scowl, a foot stomp, and then to my surprise a phrase I’d never heard before, “Get lost, Dad!” Her sisters burst into a fit of conspiratorial tittering. Now we had a little discussion about whether that was the best way to respond, but on the drive in to school I was musing about that phrase, “Get lost.” I started to wonder if there wasn’t a pr…

Proper 18, Year C: Empty Your Cup

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. mark Year C, Proper 18 The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean and Rector Empty Your Cup I was thinking this week of those lines from Paul’s Letter to Philemon where he sends Onesimus the former slave back to Philemon no longer as a slave, but as a brother, as his very own heart. It put me in mind of those lines in John’s Gospel—“I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends” (15:15). What difference does it make if we consider ourselves, no longer servants, but friends of Jesus? It’s so easy for the religious life to turn into a dull, grudging, mechanical performance of duty and obligation. We’ve got the checklist of boxes to check and dutifully perform all the right tasks and chores. On the outside we’re doing all the right things, but on the inside we’re dried up like a milkweed husk in October after its loosed it seed. There’s really two places we can come from in life—love or fear. And duty and obligation often…

Year C Proper 16: Who's Bent Over in Our Midst?

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Proper 16, Year C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector In Jesus’ time, illness was never just illness. Illness was seen as punishment for sin. Society didn’t look for ways to make people better but blamed them for their illness and ostracized them. There were the healthy, upright, goodies, and the sick, bent-over baddies—a clear line of division between who’s in and who’s out. If one’s illness weren’t enough to bend you over, the weight of this societal judgement upon the sick person certainly would be. It’s not too different from our current time really—just think of the stigma attached mental illness and addiction. Depression is seen as a character flaw, as being prone to vapors, or just being low-energy and feeling sorry for yourself. Addiction is seen as a moral failing rather than having a biological basis as a disease. This is slowly changing thanks to the courageous sharing of stories by people who live with me…