a true epiphany is transformative

On Sunday, January 25, Bishop Steve Lane visited Trinity Episcopal Church in Saco. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

If I were asked to leave my home and family, I don’t think I could do it. But I’m not asked to leave. I’m asked to love. And not just the members of my family or my community, but all God’s children. I’m asked to love not only all of you, but all those folks whizzing by in their cars… and all those on the ski slopes… and all those in the Middle East… and everywhere else… immediately.

Read it all here.

Participation must undergird anticipation

Last Sunday, Advent 2, Bishop Lane preached, celebrated, visited, and baptized at St. George’s in York Harbor. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

Which I think is what John the Baptizer is saying about the coming of the Messiah. It is not enough for us simply to hope that God will come among us, to sit back and wait to be set free. Our anticipation must be undergirded by our participation. We must make room, clear a space – in our hearts, in our homes… and in our institutions and country. We’re invited to bulldoze that straight path.

The Good News, the hope we embrace, is that God is, in fact, coming; is, in fact, among us. God is coming without our invitation. And people are responding. In Ferguson, MO, a new generation of young, articulate black leaders, many of them women, committed to non-violent change is emerging. They are supported by the clergy of many churches and synagogues, including our own, who are present on the streets and in the protests to be, for police and demonstrators alike, the human face of God.

Read it all here.

God gives us to each other without asking our permission

Catching up on Bishop Lane’s recent sermons:

On November 16, he visited St. John’s in Bangor and had this, in part, to say in his sermon about the parable of the talents:

“…what do we think of God? Who is God? Is God loving and merciful, one who will take our best efforts and use them? Or is God fierce, demanding and punishing, waiting to judge our failures and our mistakes? How we perceive God may very well determine our willingness to invest ourselves in the work of the kingdom.”

Last Thursday, the congregations of Christ Church, Norway, and Trinity Lutheran, South Paris, gathered to celebrate the Rev. Nancy Moore coming to be their rector and pastor. In his sermon, Bishop Lane said:

“The first is to recognize that although, as you already know, Nancy is a gifted priest and pastor, this work is not primarily about her. This work is primarily about us and our claiming the ministry of Christ. Christianity has always been a lay movement, and it remains so today. While Nancy is called to preach and teach, to celebrate the sacraments, to support us with pastoral care, the work of Christ belongs to all of us. And rightly so – the kingdom of God requires all the gifts we bring. None of us is sufficient alone to do the work of Christ. All of us, bringing all our gifts, make up the Body of Christ and make the Body effective. Every person and every gift is needed. This service tonight is as much a commissioning of all of you, as it is of Nancy.”

And on Last Pentecost, November 23, Bishop Lane gathered with the people of St. Giles’ in Jefferson where he had some new words about the ancient parable of the sheep and the goats.

“There was a time, not so long ago, when we believed that the good people were all found in the Church offering charity to those in need. We were all sheep. Except that we were often quite unneighborly in many ways. We didn’t actually know the folks we helped, we weren’t in relationship with them. We weren’t very kind to other Christians – Baptists or Roman Catholics – with whom we differed over doctrines or spiritual practices. We weren’t even always nice to each other. Our churches were hard to break into. One had to learn the unwritten rules and conform to the expectations of the established members. One wonders how often Christ tried to join our churches only to be turned away.”

You may read the sermons all here.

Still Waiting

Today, Bishop Steve Lane visited the people of St. Michael’s in Auburn, where he preached and celebrated the Eucharist and confirmed and received new members. In his sermon, he talked about the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids. He had this, in part, to say:

I really want the world turned upside. I really want a new heaven and a new earth. I’m really waiting for justice to flow down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. And waiting for that, I need more than oil in my lamp.

Read it all here.

How do we bear the image of God?

Bishop Steve Lane visited with the people of St. George’s, Sanford, on Sunday, October 19. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

If, as Jesus tells us, everything belongs to God, and therefore we belong to God, if we are stamped with God’s image, how do we bear that image? Is our fidelity lived out in every context of our lives: in our homes, at our workplace, at school, in the military, at the ballot box, in traffic? Is the image we wear one we put on or take off as it’s convenient or is it with us 24/7? Do we wear the divine image when we come to church and worship, while we pay our Temple tax, and then do we leave it at the door as we head out to be parents and employees and consumers? How is the claim that God created us, redeemed us and walks with us lived out in our days?

Read it all here.

Give it all away: the unlikely business plan of God’s vineyard

On Sunday, October 5, Bishop Steve Lane visited the people of St. Matthew’s in Hallowell. In his [particularly fine] sermon he had this, in part, to say:

The economy of the kingdom of God is not about producing and keeping, but about producing and sharing. And God’s giving knows no limits. God gives everything – the produce, the work of our hands, and even God’s own son, God’s own self. Nothing is held back in God’s care for his vineyard.

and this,

I wish I had a crystal ball so that I could tell you the end of the story. But I don’t, and I can’t. What I do know is that God is faithful…God is inviting us into a relationship of trust and inviting us to be fruitful, for ourselves and for others. We can be sure that God will take what we do and give it away. And we can also be sure that God will love us and care for us no matter what.

Read it all here.

Forgiveness is the heart of the church

On Sunday, September 7, Bishop Lane visited the people of St. Dunstan’s, Ellsworth. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

The heart of the matter is that forgiveness is the heart of the church. We are a community, not because on our own we can achieve unity. We are a community because when two or three are gathered, Christ is in the midst of us. Christ gives us our unity, and our responsibility is simply to keep coming together. Our responsibility is to create an environment in which we can seek and offer forgiveness and keep coming together even when we can’t agree.

Read it all here.

Bridging the gap between saying and doing

baileyallsaintsOn Sunday, August 24, Bishop Steve Lane visited with the people of All Saints by the Sea, Bailey Island, at the far end of the Harpswell peninsula. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

“The difficulty for us is not in saying the words; it’s not in making our confession of faith. It’s in living out that confession in our daily lives.

So… who do I think Jesus is? I think Jesus is the presence of God among us. Jesus shows us not only that God loves us, but that God came to be with us and to be like us. There is nothing in human life that is unknown to God and nothing that God can not or will not face and transform. Jesus is the sign of God’s embrace of human life and the human condition. And more than that Jesus is the model and the goal of human life. Living the life of faith means to become more and more like Jesus, living our lives following his example, knowing that failure is forgiven and that, with God, all things are possible.

That’s my confession. Not perfect… there’s probably more to say. And I struggle with it. As Christians in every generation have struggled to live out their faith, so I struggle as well. I take some comfort that it has never been easy.”

Read it all here.

The hardening of our hearts is not an option

On Sunday, August 3, Bishop Steve Lane visited, preached, and celebrated with the people at Trinity Chapel, Kennebunk Beach. The passage in Matthew is the story of the feeding of the 5,000. He had, in part, this to say:

God was with the disciples on that day when all those people needed to be fed. And God is with us in a world that still needs desperately to be fed. For us, hardening our hearts is not an option. We are called to compassion. Despair is not an option. We are called to thanksgiving. And helplessness is not an option. We are called to action. Because God is with us, and despite all that the powers and principalities are doing, God will prevail.

Read it all here.

In the face of fear, God holds us while nudging us into the world

Last Sunday, Bishop Steve Lane visited the people of St. James’ in Old Town. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

I think what’s truly different about the time we’re living in is that folks are no longer looking to the church for solace and support in their lives. Either they don’t know about the church – that’s apparently true for nearly 70% of young adults – or they don’t trust large institutions, including the church – that’s true for almost everybody else. And so they aren’t coming to us. They aren’t looking for our red doors. They don’t see us as having answers for their lives.

Our response cannot be to give up. We need to meet folks where they are. We haven’t been relieved of our responsibility to bear good news. We’re still charged to bear the message. So we have to move out of our doors and meet folks in their lives, learn their language, create relationships with them in their spaces, and – from within those relationships – share what we know and love.

Read it all here.