The Fifth Sunday in Lent — The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh

We Christians love our Protestant work ethic and we New Yorkers love to fall over ourselves competing for whose life is the busiest! Whose to-do list is the longest?

In our technologically savvy world, we no longer value space and time for transitions. We live in the immediate now and the what’s next. As beginnings and endings blur together…rest is needed more than ever in our society! We need practices that help us transition from one thing to the next – ways to contemplate and celebrate the movements of our days and lives so that we can be fully present to the joys and challenges God has in store for us.

One rich experience of rest was worshipping with the Romemu community at their weekly Jewish Shabbat service. Gathering on a Friday night, I was struck by how this beautiful ritual of prayer and fellowship freed me from the burdens of a long stressful work week. It gave me space to let things be — whatever was done or left undone — and to recognize it’s not all up to me. It’s not all about me!

What a wonderful way of resetting our expectations and remembering who we are and who God is.

Rest is not just a religious ritual or getting enough sleep. Rest can take many forms such as watching the sunset, taking a long nap on a rainy day, curling up with a good book, taking long hot shower, sipping a cup of tea with a friend, walking your dog through the park in springtime glory…

Rest is all these things and more. Whatever makes us stop and savor the graces and gifts of life. A practice of receiving the gift of God’s grace, peace and restoration.

Judas was resourceful, efficient, hard-working – he was a man-of-action. He had to be if he was Jesus’ treasurer! Can you imagine what it must’ve been like to be treasurer on Jesus’ vestry? Jesus trusted Judas with an incredible amount of responsibility and leadership — perhaps more than any other disciple. It must have been both exhilarating and exhausting to be in Judas’ shoes. Trying to balance budgets, pay bills and be a good steward of resources all for the glory of God on earth.

Why then does Judas, a faithful disciple turn thief?

Maybe he couldn’t resist the temptation. Or maybe he couldn’t deal with the pressures of discipleship and life on the road. Maybe he was drowning in debt or had a gambling addiction. Or maybe he wanted a raise. After all, he was the one counting the coins and paying the bills while the other disciples kicked back and had fun.

Whatever the reason, Judas stealing from the community is a clear sign that he trusted in his own resourcefulness rather than rely on God and his friends.

How often do we live out this same mentality — trusting in our own resourcefulness rather than God and community. How easy it is to think this way when we do not take the time to rest, reflect, renew.

I wonder if Judas had stopped and savored the meaning and joy of his life and work, would he have made different decisions?

Mary – the one who does not balance the budget; the one who doesn’t notice Martha needs help with the cooking and house chores; the one who pours a year’s worth of wages onto Jesus’ feet — this disciple understands the value of rest. While Judas is busy criticizing Mary for her excessive waste of valuable resources that could be spent on better causes, Mary offers Jesus an opportunity for rest.

Pouring a jar of pure nard upon his feet, Jesus is lost in the fragrance of flowers from the Himalayas — for a brief moment, Jesus forgets the trials ahead. He is able to stop and savor the fullness of life’s graces with friends and family.

Jesus who offers so much to others, Jesus who receives so little in his lifetime. Mary’s gift is all the more priceless.

Where in your life do you need to make time to stop and savor the graces? Where do you need rest, reflection and renewal so that you can be present to the joys and challenges ahead? How might you offer a gift of Sabbath rest to someone you know?

The Fourth Sunday in Lent — The Rev. Katharine Flexer

Kate Flexer headshot

The Rev. Katharine Flexer

The Fourth Sunday in Lent: March 31, 2019

Joshua 5:9-12  |  2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32  |  Psalm 32

Preacher: The Rev. Katharine Flexer, Rector of St. Michael’s Church

I’ve just come back from helping to clear out my parents’ home, the house they lived in for 53 years. They moved a month ago to a senior living place, and this last weekend my two brothers and I met at the house to gather things we each wanted to take. It was, as you can imagine, not an easy trip, old family dynamics mixing in with grief and sadness. So how interesting for me to have this parable of the Prodigal Son to work with today, with all of its family drama and complexity. (more…)

The Third Sunday in Lent — The Rev. Deacon Richard P. Limato

St. Michael's new deacon, Richard P. Limato

The Rev. Deacon Richard P. Limato

The Third Sunday in Lent: March 24, 2019

Exodus 3:1-15  |  1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9  |  Psalm 63:1-8

Preacher: The Rev. Richard P. Limato, Deacon of St. Michael’s Church

Have you ever found yourself wondering what God desires?

Desmond Tutu shares this letter he’s written on God’s behalf. (more…)

The Second Sunday in Lent — The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh

The Second Sunday in Lent: March 17, 2019

Genesis 15:1-12,17-18  |  Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 13:31-35  |  Psalm 27

Preacher: The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh, Associate Rector of St. Michael’s Church

Throughout my ministry, I have had periods where I struggled to find time to pray. This was especially true when I was serving as a hospital chaplain. I was so busy with the business of providing pastoral care and praying with others that I forgot to leave time for me to pray with God. So that year during Lent, I decided to reboot my prayer life by spending the last 15 minutes of the day in silent prayer and reflection. I would go down to the chapel, often dragging my colleague with me as a prayer partner to hold me accountable and help me enter into that silence with God as I let the day’s events wash through me. (more…)

The First Sunday in Lent — The Rev. Katharine Flexer

Kate Flexer headshot

The Rev. Katharine Flexer

The First Sunday in Lent: March 10, 2019

Deuteronomy 26:1-11  |  Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13  |  Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16

Preacher: The Rev. Katharine Flexer, Rector of St. Michael’s Church

After his baptism, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

Is there a stranger sentence than this in Scripture? (more…)

Ash Wednesday — The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh

The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh

Ash Wednesday: March 6, 2019

Isaiah 58:1-12  |  2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
Matthew 6:1-6,16-21  |  Psalm 103 or 103:8-14

Preacher: The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh, Assistant Rector of St. Michael’s Church

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. These words on Ash Wednesday are a stark reminder of life’s flaws and the fragility. But these words also remind us of who we are, where we come from and to whom we shall return. (more…)

The Last Sunday in Epiphany — The Rev. David Rider

The Last Sunday in Epiphany: March 3, 2019

Exodus 34:29-35  |  2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]  |  Psalm 99

Preacher: The Rev. David Rider, Assisting Priest at St. Michael’s Church

Before we delve into today’s Scripture passage from Luke, I invite you to join me in an all-too-brief meditation (more…)

The Sixth Sunday in Epiphany — The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh

The Sixth Sunday in Epiphany: February 17, 2019

Jeremiah 17:5-10  |  1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Luke 6:17-26  |  Psalm 1

Preacher: The Rev. Leigh Mackintosh, Associate Rector of St. Michael’s Church

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, revile you, defame you…rejoice and leap for joy for surely your reward is great in heaven.” (Luke 6:20-23)

These blessings known as the Beatitudes are some of the most profound words in all of Scripture. No matter where you find yourself on the spiritual/religious spectrum, chances are your life has been formed and informed by Jesus’ ethical framework.   (more…)

The Fifth Sunday in Epiphany – The Rev. Katharine Flexer

Kate Flexer headshot

The Rev. Katharine Flexer

The Fifth Sunday in Epiphany, February 10th, 2019

Isaiah 6:1-8, [9-13]  |  1 Corinthians 15:1-11 

Luke 5:1-11   |  Psalm 138

Preacher: The Rev. Katharine Flexer, Rector of St. Michael’s Church

Ok, so I’ll admit this gospel story has always bothered me. It’s so untidy. I’m always after my kids to clean up after themselves, put away the stuff they were using, take that sweater back to their room. But in the gospel, Simon Peter and James and John drag in a whole lot of fish to shore and then walk away and leave it all, boats, nets, dead fish, everything. It’s so messy. What kind of Messiah lets them leave all that there for other people to deal with? I can just imagine Zebedee yelling after them, Boys! you come back here and clean up these fish!