Practicing Resurrection: Forgiveness – a sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter

Practicing Resurrection pastordawnOur first reading was the traditional gospel story for the Second Sunday of Easter in which we heard the story of Doubting Thomas for John 20:19-31. This was followed by a video in which Richard Holloway retells the story of Peter’s denial and the encounter between the resurrected Jesus and Peter. You can view the video here . This was followed by the gospel reading from John 21:15-20

Listen to the sermon here

It has been said that, “The shortest between a human being and truth is a story.” It has also been said that the greatest story ever told is the story of resurrection. Like all really good stories, the story of resurrection has been told over and over again as storytellers attempt to convey the truth. We have heard Easter’s story of resurrection so many times that you would think the truth of resurrection would be obvious to us all. Yet, we struggle to find truth in Easter’s familiar story. Some of us have been shaped by this particular story. Some of us have built our lives around the truth that others have reported to us about this story. Some of us have rejected this story and filed it with all the other idle tales in which we can find no truth. Some of us have moved on from this story convinced that there is no longer any truth to be found. Some of us love to hear this story because it takes us back to familiar truths that inspire a nostalgic sense of well-being. Some of us, are determined to wrestle with this story until it releases all the truth that it harbours in, with, and between the lines which calls us toward a new way of being that we long to embrace. I myself, I am a wrestler. Like Jacob of old, I wrestle with this familiar story determined to get from this ancient tale not just truth but an inkling of the Divine who dwells in, with, through, and beyond all of our stories.

The gospel storyteller who we know as John tells Easter’s resurrection story in a particular way, determined to reveal the truth that dwells in him and among the people with whom he dwelled. One of the things that we 21stcentury truth-seekers are particularly fond of is deconstructing stories. We love to take stories apart, dissecting every line, examining each and every detail, each and every word so as not to miss a single nuance of the author’s intent. We are also skilled in the imperfect art of attempting to place stories back into their historical context so that we can establish exactly what was going on in the first century lives of the story-teller and his listeners. We look to the historical context in the hope that we can determine the original meaning of the story. Convinced that history can tell us what the story-teller cannot, we wrestle with the facts, as best as we can determine them, so that we can be sure that the truth we thought we knew is more than just the summation of our mistaken interpretations.

Together, we have wrestled with Easter’s story of resurrection and together, I must say that we are pretty good wrestlers. We have deconstructed this story, we have applied the historical-critical method, we have approached it from all sorts of angles and employed the best 21stcentury scholars to aid us in our struggle to wrestle the truth from the piles and piles of dogma, which have been heaped upon it. But this morning, I’d like to approach Easter’s story of resurrection from the perspective, not of wrestlers determined to find the truth, but rather as people touched by the story itself. But even though we are not going to wrestle, like Jacob of old, we run the risk of being touched and even wounded by the truth as the Divine One is revealed and we are compelled by our wounds to walk in a different way. Continue reading

Doubt: Preaching on Hebrews 11:1-16

The Place Where We Are RightLooking over the readings for this coming Sunday and the subject of faith jumps out from the Hebrews reading (Hebrews 11:1-16) which begs questions about doubt.  I have read and blogged about Richard Holloway’s “Faith and Doubt” and Lesley Hazleton’s insistence that “Doubt is Essential to Faith” and both posts provide an interesting jumping off point. This little video of Richard Holloway on “Why doubt is a good thing” provides insights for preaching on doubt as the foundation of faith!!!

A Way to Understand the Resurrection – Richard Holloway

Peter Callesen's Papercut Resurrection

Peter Callesen’s Papercut Resurrection

Richard Holloway, the former Primate of the Scottish Episcopal Church, interprets the story of the resurrection not as an historical tale, but as our own story. Holloway has written of his longing for a humbled and broken church. His own humility and brokenness shines through this video as Holloway embodies his own longing.

“Forgive and Forget: What a load of bollocks!” – a sermon on John 21:1-19

Practicing Resurrection pastordawnOur first reading was the traditional gospel story for the Second Sunday of Easter in which we heard the story of Doubting Thomas for John 20:19-31. This was followed by a video in which Richard Holloway retells the story of Peter’s denial and the encounter between the resurrected Jesus and Peter. You can view the video here . This was followed by the gospel reading from John 21:15-20 You can listen to the sermon here

It has been said that, “The shortest between a human being and truth is a story.” It has also been said that the greatest story ever told is the story of resurrection. Like all really good stories, the story of resurrection has been told over and over again as storytellers attempt to convey the truth. We have heard Easter’s story of resurrection so many times that you would think the truth of resurrection would be obvious to us all and yet we struggle to find truth in Easter’s familiar story. Some of us have been shaped by this particular story. Some of us have built our lives around the truth that others have reported to us about this story. Some of us have rejected this story and filed it with all the other idle tales in which we can find no truth. Some of us have moved on from this story convinced that there is no longer any truth to be found. Some of us love to hear this story because it takes us back to familiar truths that inspire a nostalgic sense of well-being. Some of us, are determined to wrestle with this story until it releases all the truth that it harbors in, with, and between the lines which call us toward a new way of being that we long to embrace.

I myself, I am a wrestler. Like Jacob of old, I wrestle with this familiar story determined to get from this ancient tale not just truth but an inkling of the Divine who dwells in, with, through, and beyond all of our stories. The gospel storyteller who we know as John tells Easter’s resurrection story in a particular way, determined to reveal the truth that dwells in him and among the people with whom he dwelled. One of the things that we 21st century truth-seekers are particular fond of is deconstructing stories. We love to take stories apart. Dissecting every line. Examining each and every detail, each and every word so as not to miss a single nuance of the author’s intent. We are also skilled in the imperfect art of attempting to place stories back into their historical context so that we can establish exactly what was going on in the first century lives of the story-teller and his listeners. We look to the historical context in the hope that we can determine the original meaning of the story. Convinced that history can tell us what the story-teller cannot we wrestle with the facts, as best as we can determine them, so that we can be sure that the truth we thought we knew is more than just the summation of our mistaken interpretations.

Together, we have wrestled with Easter’s story of resurrection and together, I must say that we are pretty good wrestlers. We have deconstructed this story, we have applied the historical-critical method, we have approached it from all sorts of angles and employed the best 21st century scholars to aid us in our struggle to wrestle the truth from the piles and piles of dogma, which have been heaped upon it. But this morning, I’d like to approach Easter’s story of resurrection from the perspective, not of wrestlers determined to find the truth, but rather as people touched by the story itself. But even though we are not going to wrestle, like Jacob of old, we run the risk of being touched and even wounded by the truth as the Divine One is revealed and we are compelled by our wounds to walk in a different way. Continue reading

Practicing Resurrection: Forgiveness – a sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter

Practicing Resurrection pastordawnOur first reading was the traditional gospel story for the Second Sunday of Easter in which we heard the story of Doubting Thomas for John 20:19-31. This was followed by a video in which Richard Holloway retells the story of Peter’s denial and the encounter between the resurrected Jesus and Peter. You can view the video here . This was followed by the gospel reading from John 21:15-20

Listen to the sermon here

A Way to Understand the Resurrection – Richard Holloway

Peter Callesen's Papercut Resurrection

Peter Callesen’s Papercut Resurrection

Richard Holloway, the former Primate of the Scottish Episcopal Church, interprets the story of the resurrection not as an historical tale, but as our own story. Holloway has written of his longing for a humbled and broken church. His own humility and brokenness shines through this video as Holloway embodies his own longing.

Birdsong, Human Creativity, Richard Holloway and Richard Maybey

hollowayIf you are familiar with postings on this blog, you will know just how brilliant I think Richard Holloway is. If you don’t know about this amazing, iconoclastic, barmy former Anglican primate and self-described “agnostic Christian”,  you can begin reading about him here and here

Being Honest to God: Richard Holloway

hollowayHe was once the Primate of the Episcopal Church in Scotland but these days Richard Holloway describes himself as an agnostic Christian hungering after transcendency and preaching a gospel of uncertainty. His memoir “Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt” is a favourite of mine. In this video he explores being honest to God and understanding religion as an art form. Holloway’s words both challenge and comfort me as he plumbs the depths of our longing through the poiesis of ultimate meaning.

An Agnostic Christian Hungering After Transcendency and Preaching a Gospel of Uncertainty

imageHe was once the Primate of the Episcopal Church in Scotland but these days Richard Holloway describes himself as an agnostic Christian hungering after transcendency and preaching a gospel of uncertainty. The kind of religion that Holloway envisions includes theleaving alexandria sort of faith that bends toward inklings of transcendence in ways that exercise humility in loving ways. Holloway’s autobiography: Leaving Alexandria is as delightful a read as it is a challenge to the church to move beyond certainty to embrace doubt as the foundation of faith. Richard Holloway wears his soul as well as his heart upon his sleeve in this video. Enjoy!

Doubt: Preparing to Preach on Hebrews 11:1-16

The Place Where We Are RightLooking over the readings for this coming Sunday and the subject of faith jumps out from the Hebrews reading (Hebrews 11:1-16) which begs questions about doubt.  I recently read and blogged about Richard Holloway’s “Faith and Doubt” and Lesley Hazleton’s insistence that “Doubt is Essential to Faith” and both posts provide an interesting jumping off point. This little video of Richard Holloway on “Why doubt is a good thing” drives my thoughts toward preaching on doubt as the foundation of faith??? 

Questions that Arise from Being Human – Richard Holloway

human consciousnessRegular visitors to this blog will not be surprised to read that Richard Holloway has become one of my favourite theologians. I have blogged about his writings several times. In this video Holloway moves beyond spiritual autobiography and into the realm of evolutionary theology to explore the big questions about what it means to be human. 

Thoughts on Messiaen’s End of Time: The Nevertheless of Faith – Richard Holloway

Olivier+Messiaen+3Music opens us to all that lies within ourselves. I have always been fascinated by the powers of music in ritual. Of late I have been exploring the transformative powers of lament; a worship form that has fallen out of use. Alerted by a colleague to the music of Olivier Messiaen, I was immediately both disturbed and intrigued by his brilliant musical exploration of evil. I was relieved to find this video of Scottish theologian Richard Holloway’s thoughts on Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. Haunting, severe, beautiful, unnerving, and sublime the piece echo’s the horror perpetrated in the camps while shouting what Holloway calls the “nevertheless of faith”. 

Religion As A Work of Art – Richard Holloway

prodigalIf religion is to move beyond the supernatural, we must begin to see religion as a work of art. Richard Holloway, the former Primate of the Scottish Episcopal Church points to the power of story to explore human discontent as we crawl toward a better humanity. 

A Way to Understand the Resurrection – Richard Holloway

Peter Callesen's Papercut Resurrection

Peter Callesen’s Papercut Resurrection

Richard Holloway, the former Primate of the Scottish Episcopal Church, interprets the story of the resurrection not as an historical tale, but as our own story. Holloway has written of his longing for a humbled and broken church. His own humility and brokenness shines through this video as Holloway embodies his own longing.

Faith and Doubt: “a whisper will be heard” – Richard Holloway

hollowayI have just completed reading Richard Holloway’s “Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt”.  As someone who struggles to stay in the institutional church, I can hear the whispers of which this former Primate of the Scottish Episcopal Church writes. leaving alexandria

After a lifetime in the church, Holloway continues to respond to whispers, “The thing that keeps me religious is the possibility that there might be an ultimate purpose to the universe and it might, as certain rumours suggest in sacred texts, be unconditional love. And it seems to me to live as if that might be the case is not a bad way go be going; especially if it makes us kind to one another.” 

Richard Holloway’s vision of the church he longs for is a vision I too long for. As he ponders the question “Am I still a Christian?” Holloway insists,  “God has always been elusive in me. He’s always felt like an absence that felt like a presence. I was tantalized by God, that resonant absence again. The God that I was being told about, the God who was punishing my gay friends, the God who denounced me was cruel I and I couldn’t be part of that. And yet I am still tugged by the longing that had gotten me into this, the possibility of transcendence, that there is meaning and that the meaning might be a great pity, not a cruelty, but an absolute compassion, an absolute unconditional love, a love like the father of the prodigal in Luke’s great parable who runs to meet his broken son and doesn’t condemn and doesn’t even wait  for the confession before embracing him, and bringing him home. There is that God. That’s the God of Jesus….So I’m kind of in and yet out of the Christian Church. I want it to continue. But I want it humbled. I don’t want it cruel and bullying. I want it modest and serving. I want it to feel broken like the broken Jesus and not trying to sort people into very precise understandings of humanity. I want it to accept the totality of broken humanity. Most of us are broken in one way or another and we struggle with our own meaning, with our own integrity, and our own sinfulness. And the thing I found in Jesus and the thing you can still find in some churches is an understanding of that. ‘Come onto me all ye who travail and heavy laden and I will give you rest.’   So, I’m back. But I can’t proclaim. I can’t evangelize. I can’t say what this is the truth. I don’t know what the absolute truth is. But I still catch a glimpse of the tiny figure of Jesus on a distant seashore kindling a fire, a fire of compassion and kindness. And I’ve become increasingly allergic to religious certainties. They seem to me only to crucify people…”

For those of us who remain and for those who have joined the church alumni, Holloway’s story is a compelling whisper that speaks with the very compassion for which he and we long for. He may no longer be a bishop in the institution, but he remains a shepherd to those who long to catch a glimpse of the tiny figure of Jesus who continues to call the religious out from under the tables that clutter our temples.

Sudokos and Symphonies: Killing Time

leaving alexandriaI am enjoying a week off from work, with no agenda but to relax; a delicious luxury! Fortunately, it has been raining off and on for the past couple of days. The refreshing spring downpours mean that I can indulge myself by doing nothing in particular, without feeling like I out to go out and do something. Relaxing and I have been strangers of late and the ability to watch a movie before breakfast, read a novel with no redeeming social value what so ever, sip gin and tonic and discover new music is splendid indeed.  

Ever since I was a child one of my favourite forms of relaxation is to curl up with a good biography. So taking a break from Dan Brown’s latest thriller Inferno, I opened Richard Holloway’s auto-biography “Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt”. I am grateful to my colleague Brian for introducing me to this wise, passionate, Scottish bishop who describes himself as an agnostic Christian. Holloway is perhaps best known as the “barmy bishop” a name given to him by the press while he occupied the post of Bishop of Edinburgh and head of the Scottish Anglican Episcopal Church. Holloway resigned from the church in 2000 and has become a popular broadcaster, lecturer and writer.

Holloway is a gifted story teller and his autobiography reads like an intellectual search for a better way that takes the reader from the streets of Glasgow (Alexandria is a suburb of Glasgow) to the halls of ecclesiastical power whilst he ponders his own faith and doubts. Holloway’s humour is compelling! His honesty refreshing! His story reveals a struggle with the institutional church moves him to encourage those who are seeking meaning to raid what is good from the institution and move beyond its boundaries.    

Enjoy the short video teaser and let it wet your appetite for Holloway’s lecture “Sudokos and Symphonies: Killing Time” in which he argues for the value of play! I’m off to watch a BBC biopic on Stephen Hawking starring Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock Holmes fame! Let it rain!!!