The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost – The Rev. Samuel J. Smith

The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 20c): September 22, 2013

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1; Psalm 79:1-9; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 16:1-13

Preacher: The Rev. Samuel J. Smith, Assistant Priest, St. Michael’s Church

Do we possess our money, or does our money possess us?

Recently scientists at the University of California conducted an experiment that hoped to measure how money affects psychosocial behavior. Two subjects played a Monopoly game that only one of them had a chance of winning. One of the players was made “rich.” He got $2,000 from the Monopoly bank at the start of the game and received $200 each time he passed Go. The second player was given much less. He began with only $1,000 and collected only $100 for passing Go. To move around the board, the first player rolled two dice, while the other player could roll only one, slowing his progress around the board. The students played under the watchful eye of two video cameras, while down the hall researchers recorded the subjects’ every facial twitch and hand gesture.


The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost – The Rev. Samuel J. Smith

The Rev. Samuel J. Smith

The Rev. Samuel J. Smith

The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 18c): September 8, 2013

Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33

Preacher: The Rev. Samuel J. Smith, Assistant Priest, St. Michael’s Church

Well, here we go again.  Jesus is up to his usual devices, saying things that surprise and puzzle us. Speaking to the crowd following him on the road to Jerusalem, Jesus makes bold demands. “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” and then, as if that weren’t enough to shake us up, at the end of the passage he says, “None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.” (more…)

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Christopher Ashley

Chris Ashley

Christopher Ashley

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 1, 2013

Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1, 10-16; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14

Preacher: Christopher Ashley, St. Michael’s Parishioner and Doctoral Candidate in Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary


“You will be honored in the presence of all.”

I sometimes think that, if Jesus hadn’t been the Messiah, he might have been a wedding and event planner. Think about it: He has a serious flair for the dramatic entrance. He can wine and dine a crowd on a budget like nobody’s business. And, in this morning’s gospel, we see he has a strong, unique concept of seating charts. (more…)

The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost – The Rev. Samuel J. Smith

The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 15c): August 18, 2013

Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:1-2, 8-18; Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12:49-56

Preacher: The Rev. Samuel J. Smith, Assistant Priest, St. Michael’s Church


Just who is this Jesus in today’s gospel? Where did the familiar benevolent and caring Jesus go? This is the Prince of Peace; the Word which is Love. How do we reconcile that Jesus with the Jesus of this morning’s gospel?

Over the centuries scholars have provided all kinds of explanations for these verses. Some remind us that Luke is writing for a specific community at a specific time in history, and that he is working to “produce a story of Jesus that makes sense of his community’s present experience.”[i]  Issues of wealth and poverty, the delay of Jesus’ return, concerns about the orderly transition of apostolic authority, among others, preoccupy the people Luke is trying to reach; so he provides the words of Jesus that would most deeply speak to this audience. (more…)

The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost – Jennie Talley

The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost : August 11, 2013

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16; Luke 12:32-40

Preacher: Jennie Talley, Summer Seminarian Intern at St. Michael’s Church and Senior M. Div. student at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church. 


All too often our world seems so full of fear and anxiety. There is a continuous onslaught of breaking bad news: terrorist threats, economic and climate woes, social injustice, health concerns, hunger and starvation, too much poverty and death.  So Jesus’ words to us, his disciples, are soothing, and they feel more necessary than ever: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” God’s entire kingdom. What a gift! But perhaps this promise is sometimes too hard to believe. Even though we are prayerful Christians, perhaps sometimes it is hard to see God in our tumultuous world. Sometimes we find it difficult to remember that God just didn’t create the whole thing and flee. Indeed, a few of us at times become functional atheists, having only so much confidence that God is present and attentive to our lives. We often operate in a bubble of self-sufficiency and sometimes act as if everything depends on our figuring out a situation and making something happen within our own human constructs, within the world we can see. And we forget God’s presence in all of it. I’ve been known to do this when I first sit down to write a sermon and it happened again just this week, as a matter of fact. But when the struggle becomes too great, and it always does, I’m then reminded to call upon God for help. (more…)

The Eleventh Sunday of Pentecost – The Rev. Richard S. Kemmler

The Eleventh Sunday of Pentecost: August 4, 2013

Hosea 11:1-11; Ps 107:1-9; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21

Preacher: The Rev. Richard S. Kemmler


            In response to a rather abrupt question from a man in the crowd around Jesus that day, I can imagine that Jesus might have first looked at him with a slight smile of indulgence on his face before replying:  “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you.”  And then, turning to speak to all those gathered around him, he uttered these dire sounding words: “Take care!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then, in his usual way, Jesus followed up with a parable, the parable that we have just heard this morning. (more…)

The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost – The Rev. Samuel J. Smith

The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 9c): July 28, 2013

Hosea 1:2-10; Psalm 85; Colossians 2:6-19; Luke 11:1-13

Preacher: The Rev. Samuel J. Smith, Assistant Priest, St. Michael’s Church, New York, NY


“Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1) What a good question. Don’t you wish you could have been there to hear the answer yourself? I have always found prayer to be mysterious. And I guess that you, like me, have asked more than once, “am I doing this right?” (more…)