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Christmas Day: Coffee beans, Cornfields, Czechoslovakia--Seeing Christ in All Things

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 …

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 3, Year B--John, Mary, and Pointing to the Light

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Canticle 15; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8,19-28 The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in One of my favorite professors in seminary was the Episcopal priest Katherine Sonderegger. A former English professor, bespectacled, with salt and pepper hair and with a knack for making even John Calvin seem like a good idea, she’s both a brilliant systematic theologian and the most gifted, and challenging preacher I’ve ever heard. Blessed with a photographic memory, she delivers extemporaneous sermons without a single hitch in perfectly ordered, almost Elizabethan, prose. Try complimenting Dr. Sonderegger on the best sermon you’ve ever heard in your life and all you’ll get is—“They are beautiful texts. What a privilege to preach them.” That’s why I told her in jest one day that she should change her name to John the Baptist. “Perhaps we all should,” she replied. I got out while I was ahead, or at least before I got lap…

Advent 1 Year B: Bilbo Baggins, Bird-watching, and the Gift of Just Being

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37 The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in-Charge
Back in my hometown of Toronto, there’s a place that has become a noted wildlife refuge right in the heart of city. Each year, the migrating Monarch butterflies bivouac there for a day or two before continuing their journey southward all the way to Mexico. There are some 316 species of birds. Coyotes, skunks, foxes, porcupines, Mississauga Rattlers… all in the shadow of that glorified antennae featuring terrible food at 1,150 ft.—the CN tower.             But the Leslie Street spit didn’t start out as a nature refuge. It began as a breakwater—more of an excuse to dump tons of unwanted concrete and steel into the lake. In the 50s, Toronto, like lots of other big cities was growing fast, and the problem of what to do with all the old building materials torn down to make room for the new loomed large. The breakwater seeme…

Christ the King, Year A

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Christ the King, Year A: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46 The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in-Charge
“It Depends What You Mean By ‘King’”
Kings and kingdoms. Most of us, especially here in the United States, have a rather ambiguous relationship with kings and kingdoms. Recall that Samuel Seabury, the first Bishop of the Episcopal Church, was consecrated in Scotland because he would not swear an oath of allegiance to the Crown, which was part of the rite in the Church of England. As students of history, we associate kings and their kingdoms with capricious despots who wield their power and authority with whimsical nonchalance leaving a bloody wake of victims in their path. Even dear Plato’s republic is not exempt—those sketchy poets, the ones who might imagine something Plato never thought of and sing a new song that no one has ever heard, are banished from the kingdom. And that’s how most ki…

Making Hamburger Out of Sacred Cows—Straight Talk on Saints and Saintliness

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark All Saints—Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12 The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in-Charge Making Hamburger Out of Sacred Cows—Straight Talk on Saints and Saintliness I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear talk about saints and holiness, I start to get a little itchy. My preciousness detector starts registers off the charts and I’m filled with an almost insatiable urge to make hamburger out of sacred cows. A lot of my aversion comes, I’m quite certain, from a misunderstanding of what saintliness and holiness actually looks like. Especially in a culture as moralistic, perfectionistic and Puritanical as our own, it’s easy to think that saintliness and holiness are all about speaking in hushed tones, gliding across the floor with implacable calm, and plastering a beatific smile (professionally whitened, of course) across our faces. And indeed, if that’s what saintliness is, if that’s what holiness i…

A Twinkling Mystery--A Sermon for All Souls

A Meditation Delivered at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark All Souls: Wisdom 3:1-9 Psalm 130; Isaiah 25:6-9;1 Corinthians 15:50-58; John 5:24-27 The Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Priest-in-Charge If you ever travel to Mt. Athos—the monastic republic studded with monasteries and hermitages on a rocky island off the shores of Greece—you’ll be confronted with what might at first be a shocking sight. Somewhere in every monastery, usually not even tucked too far out of view, is a pile of bones. After the monks die they are buried in their habits under a heavy slab of slate and then dug up after three or four years. The flesh having decayed, the smaller bones are placed with their confreres in metal-lidded ossuary and the skulls arranged in a kind of charnel house. Why on earth would they do such a thing? It all seems a little morbid, doesn’t it? Especially if you hear the abbot making jokes about the imperishable nature of polyester socks as they are wont to do! One of the purposes of All Souls i…