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Baptism of Our Lord, Year C

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St Mark Baptism of the Lord, Year C The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in-Charge When I was in seminary, I served for three years as sacristan for the chapel. Basically, we were church rats in charge getting everything ready for each of the three services held each day—morning prayer, noon eucharist, and evening prayer. We’d set out the vestments, arrange the vessels on the credence table, make sure the bible was marked, the wicks of the candles trimmed. One day, I was puttering about the sacristy getting things set up when I noticed that we were out of Holy Water. We had this enormous glass pickle jar that we used to fill the font and it had run dry. I filled it back up and placed it on the counter for the celebrant of the noon Eucharist to bless when they arrived. Virginia Theological Seminary is an interesting place—you’ve got people who think that if you don’t sing the Eucharist it’s not a valid mass, and others who would object to even…

Feast of the Epiphany: Journeying with the Magi to the Creche OR Going Home by a Different Road

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Epiphany, Year C The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in-Charge
The Feast of the Epiphany represents, with the Baptism of Our Lord next Sunday, the climax of the season of Advent and Christmas, that time in which the world goes dark that we might focus ourselves, and pattern our lives after the One who is the Light of the World, the One in whom our peace, joy and happiness resides—Jesus Christ. In the season of Advent, the call is to let fall away all that is inessential, all that hinders the recognition of our essential goodness, our belovedness, our identity as unexpected insiders in the very life of God, sons and daughters of the Most High. All the various ways in which we’ve tried, through our social, cultural, educational, and even religious conditioning to seek for God through the power, possessions, and prestige are revealed, in the blazing glory of the Light of Christ to be poor substitutes for the gift of God’s very self to …

Christmas Day: Opening the Gift

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark. Christmas Day Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 1:1-14 The Reverend Tyler Doherty, Priest-in-Charge This Christmas morning, we don’t hear about the Shepherds, or the Magi, or the “No Vacancy” sign, or the visitation, or the Magnificat, or any of the things we’ve come to associate with Christmas. Instead, we are taken back, way back—before there even was a Bethlehem, and before there was even time itself. These opening lines of John’s Gospel are really a kind of recapitulation of the creation story; Genesis redux with the Christ as the logos, the Word, the ordering principle, providing the shape, the pattern, and the arc of how things hang together—“All things came into being through him.” Coffee beans, cornfields, Czechoslovakia—all things, John reminds us, mediate God’s presence to us. That we see Jesus in the manger—swaddled in cloth, packed in mud and straw, the tiny infant’s cry piercing the dumbstruck silence of that …

Christmas Eve: Christmassing: The Pilgrimage to the Manger of the Heart

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Christmas Eve—in Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20 The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in-Charge
Christmassing—The Pilgrimage to the Manger of the Heart
When we come to ponder in our hearts like Mary the Mystery of the Incarnation, we often get tricked into thinking that Christmas was something that happened a couple of thousand years ago. Of course, the human person of Jesus was born in a dusty little corner of Palestine to a marginalized and voiceless teenage girl whose pregnancy brought with it all the scorn and derision that unwed mothers still face today. But, if we think of the Incarnation as merely an historical event, something that happened long ago in a distant land, we miss the full import of its meaning. Christmas becomes the marking of an anniversary, or a celebration of “Jesus’ Birthday” that rolls around each year. We get lulled into thinking that all this—the hymns, the liturgy, the flowers, the candl…

Advent 4, Year C: Saying "Yes" to the Whole of Life

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Advent 4, Year C The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in-Charge
Mary has a special place in the Advent season. It’s a time when as the world speeds up and gets more and more frenetic, Mary’s stillness and silent presence serve as a reminder that it is in letting go and letting be that we make a little space in the manger of our hearts for Christ to be born in and through us. Mary is the model of true Christian discipleship, the supreme example of what it looks like to be surrendered to God and to become fruitful—even when on the face of it things seem impossible. Mary’s fiat, her “yes” to God—“Let it be with me according to your word” at the Annunciation—is the sign for us of the fundamental disposition of the Christian life. Our lives can be stubborn, persistent “noes” to the ever-present invitation to feast at the banquet of divine love. We can miss the daily annunciations that literally litter our lives—the opportunity to let go of…

Advent 3, Year C: "Repent!": Changing the Direction You Look for Happiness

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Advent 3, Year C The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in-Charge During the season of Advent, the world goes dark so that we might focus on the light—the light of Jesus Christ who is the unique disclosure in a human life of God’s unconditional love for each and every one of God’s children. The Christian faith is all about the divine light of God—revealing this light to God’s sons and daughters, teaching them what it might look like to live from that light, and encouraging them to become that light for others. One way to understand what God has been up to since the creation of the universe is as the patient, persistent, unflagging determination to transmit this light to God’s children no matter the cost. Everything God does from making Adam and Eve in the image and likeness, to calling Abram and Sarai out of comfortable retirement, to the revelation of the divine light in the great I AM to Moses at the burning bush, to the final sendin…

1 Advent, Year C: Entering the Darkness to See the Light--Of Light-Up Shoes, Friendship with God and Wittgenstein

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark 1 Advent, Year B The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in-Charge I’ve got three daughters, and the trouble with children, and specifically their blessed little feet, is that they grow—not like fig leaves, but like weeds. No sooner do you get them into one pair of shoes that fit than they have already outgrown them—to their great delight and our great despair. Not long ago, one of the little fashionistas returned home with the latest and greatest in running shoe design—light-up shoes. Jump up and down hard enough and the toes of the shoes are supposed to twinkle like Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Proudly showing off her recent purchase, my daughter promptly started stomping around the living room, jumping higher and higher. But it was all to no avail. There was no light. Were they broken? Defective? Designed for a five year-old with Michael Jordan-esque jumping ability? “Come here,” I said and ushered her into the bathroom. We shut th…