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Showing posts from July, 2019

Proper 12, Year C: "Lord Teach us to Pray."

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Proper 12, Year C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector “Lord, teach us to pray” I remember when I was in Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to meet with one of my spiritual heroes—Fr. Martin Laird, an Augustinian friar and teacher of prayer. He had just published his beautiful little book Into the Silent Land, which was earning high praise from the likes of then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Desmond Tutu. My rector and I took him to lunch with the idea that we would try to convince him to lead a retreat at our parish, and as we sat on the patio of the Philadelphia Cricket Club waiting for our meal and sipping Sweet Tea, we got to talking about (what else) the desert fathers and mothers. We were talking about the intimate relationships between some of the shadowy figures in Christian spirituality—like how Evagrius of Pontus was actually John Cassian’s teacher in the way of prayer. I was struck, at the tim…

Proper 11, Year C: Why do we Welcome?

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Proper 11, Year C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean and Rector We’ve all seen the sign on every Episcopal Church which reads, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You,” and it’s a noble impulse to want to become a more welcoming community. But where does the impulse to welcome come from? Is it just part of being nice, good people who do the right thing, or is there something in the very character of God with us, for us, and ahead of us that draws into welcoming? The American theologian Stanley Hauerwas, son of a Texas bricklayer, was asked what he learned in Sunday school. He replied in that alto Dallas drawl of his, “Jesus was nice and we should be nice too.” Hauerwas’s point was not that there is anything wrong with being nice (as Jerry Seinfeld would say), but that being nice doesn’t quite capture the drama, the adventure, the grand sweep and the stunning scope of the Christian life, the life of discipleship, the life of being mad…

Proper 9, Year C: True Encounter and the Ease of Being

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Proper 9, Year C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector
This past week I we got a knock on the door shortly before dinner. Tired, and perhaps a little grumpy, I opened the door to see a lawncare salesperson, clipboard in hand, beaming his 10,000 watt smile my way. Momentarily snow-blind, I lowered my sunglasses from off my forehead, “Can I help you?” “You mean how I can help you!” “Excuse me?” “You mean I how can help you!” “Right. I mean how can you help me.” “Let me ask you this, sir... and those are some funky glasses by the way… do like spiders?” “Do I like spiders?” “Yes, you know those hairy eight-legged creatures of the arachnid family.” “Spiders…” “Because, sir, you have a lot of them. A sea of them, even, on your front lawn and I can help with that. For a one-time payment of…” We’ve all been there, right? The fawning obsequiousness of the door-to-door salesman whose ingenuousness is matched only by his flattery. It mak…

Proper 8, Year C--The Undeceiving of Elijah

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Proper 8, Year C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty One of the difficulties with the lectionary is that we can sometimes get so peppered with the various stories and narratives—chopped up into consumable chunks appropriate for Sundays—that we can forget the broader, over-all themes that recur again and again. It was George Bernard Shaw, who after reading a book of Japanese haiku, likened it to the experience of being “pecked to death by a bunch of chickens.” Sometimes our experience of scripture can feel like that too. This story from the Old Testament. Peck. These verses from a psalm. Peck. This passage from Paul. Peck. This story from one of the Gospels. Peck. Pretty soon we’re leaking oil and calling for a medic. Is there a doctor in the house? So today I want to tease out one of the major themes we see recurring in Holy Scripture—in both the Hebrew bible and New Testament. It’s the theme of the undoing of violence, of Godly weaning…

Proper 7, Year C--Going to the Opposite Shore

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Proper 7, Year C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector Reading Galatians this week, I was struck by Paul’s immortal lines, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” We’ve heard this before, and the risk is to piously nod our collective heads and miss the real import of message, and the radical transformation that has taken place in Paul’s life that gives birth to such a pronouncement. I was thinking back to Paul’s self-description of his life before his encounter with the living Christ on the road to Damascus. In his Letter to the Philippians he writes, “If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteous…

Trinity Sunday, Year C: The Story of the Trinity--The Shape Our Lives Take

A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark Trinity Sunday, Year C The Very Reverend Tyler B. Doherty, Dean & Rector
Human beings are storied people—we make sense of ourselves through the stories we tell about ourselves, about each other, and about God. Some stories, like “I’m not enough” or “I’m unlovable” have crippling effects that turn us in on our ourselves. We can spend years of lives walking around in a haze of shame and guilt, feeling like we’re always a day late and dollar short. Other stories, like the story God in Christ through the Holy Spirit reveals to us, have the power of freeing us from the shackles of our shame and fear, of not being enough. In Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism by John in the River Jordan, for instance, we hear that the heavens are ripped open and Holy Spirit descends like a dove upon Jesus. The Greek is σχίζω the same root as our English word “schizophrenic.” When God speaks those words of belovedness—“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you …