I heard from my friend Wilson the other day. Wilson*was a student at St Philip’s Theological College in Maseno, Kenya, when we brothers began teaching there six years ago. He was a talented student with a charismatic personality, and I’m sure he’s become a fine priest. Currently he serves several small rural churches in western Kenya. Like so many of the students who pass through St Philip’s, Wilson’s dream is to further his education by earning a Bachelor’s degree in theology. In Kenya, as in many places in the world, advanced degrees open the door to better-paying jobs and a more secure future for one’s family. (* Note: Wilson is not his real name.)
Wilson is proud man who finds it hard to admit that he and his family are suffering. He supports his wife and young children on a priest’s salary of $75.00 a month – or $2.50 a day. Even that amount is not guaranteed and depends on the ability of his congregations to raise sufficient funds each month. On such a meager salary, he has been unable to re-pay the fees for his training at St Philip’s, which he must do in order to apply for further education. His school debt is $730, an astronomical amount given his salary. In addition to time-consuming work for the church, Wilson and many of his fellow priests are part-time farmers who raise the food their families will eat. In fact, Wilson and his family are among the poorest people in their village. He told me once that some of the villagers ask how he can be poor if he serves a powerful God. Continue reading
1 Kings 3: 5-12; Psalm 119: 129-136; Romans 8: 26-39; Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52
Those of you who have heard me preach before may remember that one of my hobbies, indeed as my brothers in the community might say, one of my many hobbies, is genealogy. I love to wander cemeteries looking for the graves of long dead, and the not so long dead. I can be thoroughly content pouring over old census material looking for that elusive relative and I find a great deal of satisfaction in proving that the person listed in one census is the same listed in another 10 or 20 years later, ‘though thousands of miles, or whole countries apart. And while I am quite happy spending my holidays in graveyards and county archives, the task of the family historian has become an armchair hobby as I can pour over those records, and even wander cemeteries from the comfort of my chair and with the services of a good internet provider. One thing I have discovered, at least on my mother’s side of the family, is that I come from a long line of Methodists. Rare is the Anglican on that side of the family. Continue reading
At the close of the day’s events, the kids and counselors shared one of their camp songs, “We Can See That Peace is Coming.”
Elias Muqhar reads the Second Reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians
Noa Belhazel reads the First Reading, from the book of Genesis
Genesis 1:26-28/Psalm 67/1 Cor. 13; 1-13/Luke 10:25-37
A version of this sermon was preached July 17, 2011; twenty four Jewish, Muslim and Christian children from the Kids4Peace program (www.kids4peaceboston.org) were present. Visit www.SSJE.org/galleries to see pictures from the morning.
I’ll bet some of you, when your parents see you, some of them will say, “Oh, Samih/Ma’or/Nicholas–you look bigger!” Maybe they’ll be teasing you a little bit. Maybe you’ll be only this much taller. But in another way, you will all be bigger. Even if we can’t see it when we look at you. Maybe after these two weeks of Kids4Peace you’ll look exactly the same as you did before, but you are somehow bigger. That’s what I’d like to talk about: getting bigger.
The story we just heard is sometimes called “The Good Samaritan”. But I think we could also call it “The Big Samaritan”. Now the story doesn’t tell us if the Samaritan man is tall or wide. But it does tell how he took care of the man who was robbed and beaten. Why could we call it “The Big Samaritan”? What is big about this man? He has a big heart. Lev Gadol. Qalb kbiir. Or we might say he has a big soul. Nefesh gadol. Nafs kbiir. He has a big heart because he has compassion for someone who is suffering. Continue reading
Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” (Matthew 13:1-9)
My mother’s side of the family is Pennsylvania Dutch, Mennonite, and though I didn’t grow up on a farm, many of my Mennonite relatives were (and are) farmers. When I was young, it always fascinated me to spend time with them down in southern Illinois. And so my backdrop for hearing this story Jesus tells about the sower is from my own experience down on the farm. This parable of the sower which Jesus tells does not ring true to me. No farmer, no sower – whether it be with corn in Illinois, or apple trees in Massachusetts, or with grapes and figs in Israel/Palestine – no farmer, no sower would sow seeds like Jesus describes. I don’t think so. Continue reading
This weekday homily was preached at Emery House.
Yesterday ’s O.T. reading introduced us to the saga of Joseph and his brothers in Egypt. In today’s reading we come to the crucial moment of that story when Joseph “got back at his brothers” for selling him into slavery in Egypt. In a touching few moments he revealed himself to his brothers and showed them how their meanness in selling him into slavery in Egypt was turned by the grace and mercy of God into a way of salvation for all of them. Continue reading