Offered by Father Matthew Dallman for the Parish of Tazewell County, on the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 9, Year A), 2017.
Today’s Lesson from the Book of Zechariah is a perfect example of the kind of Scripture the first Christians of the early Church would have used to understand who Jesus of Nazareth truly was. I have spoken previously about the practice of “mystagogy”—of being led into the mysteries of God, of revisiting our experiences to find in them a still greater depth and significance—and the prophet Zechariah provided the early Church, and provides us, with just that kind of opportunity. To do mystagogy is not merely to look at words on the biblical page, and not merely to think about a superficial reading, but rather mystagogy is to enter into the space evoked by the scriptural words. It is deep listening with all of our human faculties, listening for resonances with other parts of the Bible, with our Liturgy, and with our own experiences. Read more “Homily: “On Resting in God””
Offered by the Rev. Matthew C. Dallman for the Parish of Tazewell County on the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2016, Year A.
I hope not too many of you were thrown by the inclusion of our first hymn on this, the fourth and final Sunday of Advent. If you were, let me say a couple things. First, it is perfectly understandable to have been thrown. As a child and particularly a teenager, I would have wondered what is going on to sing this obviously Christmas hymn at church before Christmas Eve. Not a theological objection, but an objection along the lines of the “church’s national anthem”—but that’s the way we have always done it.
Secondly, if in singing this hymn you are brought into the spirit of Christmas—well, there are much worse things to be brought into, and with Christmas a week away, I do not suspect this feeling is out of line in the eyes of God. After all, we are surrounded by reminders of Christmas everywhere we look in Tazewell County and elsewhere, everywhere we listen in grocery and department stores.
Read more “Homily: “Advent and Acceptance””
Offered by the Rev. Matthew C. Dallman for the Parish of Tazewell County on the Third Sunday of Advent 2016, Year A.
In my homily for the Second Sunday of Advent, to all of you I said the following words:
“Let us continue to seek harmony with each other through prayer. For when we do so, God will send forth to us His increase. The increase of the harvest is completely up to God—he will send new disciples not when we think we are ready for them, but only when God decides—when He judges—that we are ready to receive new disciples, when we show the fruits of our prayer and harmony.”
I said those words last Sunday, and I repeat them again this morning, and I probably will repeat them again in the future, because they reflect accurately the Gospel as the Church has received it from Jesus Christ. The theology of those words is derived primarily from the 10th chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke, when he appointed the Seventy for mission, “two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come.” And when he appointed them, Jesus said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
Jesus sends us out as lambs in the midst of wolves. We are lambs by virtue of our baptism, being incorporated into Him, the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We are lambs because we hear the voice of our shepherd, we hear Christ’s speech, we hear His voice. And hearing His voice, we are filled with joy—the real joy, against which all other joys are secondary. This joy protects us, it shields us, for it is the shield of faith. This joy is our breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of our salvation, the sword of the Spirit. This joy is true peace.
Read more “Homily: “Advent and Joy””
Offered by the Rev. Matthew C. Dallman for the Parish of Tazewell County on the Second Sunday of Advent 2016, Year A.
What does it mean that God will judge? We hear from Isaiah the words, “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.” Judgment is also described by Saint Matthew from the words of Saint John the Baptist: “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” What’s more, our Collect from last Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, has these words: “He shall come again in His glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead.” And of course those words are carried into two important and authoritative statements of the Catholic faith, first into the Apostles’ Creed and later, historically speaking, incorporated into the Nicene Creed, and point to, and thereby express, what is called the doctrine of God’s judgement. And so we have yet another layer for our Advent prayer and reflection—the intersection of the Bible and creedal doctrine with liturgical season.
So what are we talking about when we are talking about the doctrine of God’s judgment? And how does the doctrine of God’s judgment relate, and even enlighten, the themes of the season of Advent — of Expectation in Week 1, Hope in Week 2, Joy in Week 3, and Acceptance in Week 4? And how can we speak of such a doctrine of judgment — apparently which involves winnowing, clearing, gathering and burning — when our God’s very nature is Charity, whose very nature is to give Himself to His creation completely and genuinely?
Read more “Homily: “Advent and Hope””
Offered by the Rev. Matthew C. Dallman for the Parish of Tazewell County on the First Sunday of Advent 2016, Year A.
In this first week of Advent, the sense of expectation grows. Although the weather outside can often be frightful, nonetheless this is for the most part a season of warmth, for Christmas and all its wonderful remembrances is just around the corner. We are expecting a visit from Jesus—a particular kind of visit, where he visits us in His humility, as the long proclaimed and hoped for Messiah, as a child. Imagine the feelings, two thousand years ago, of Blessed Mary, now in her eighth month of pregnancy—how she was pondering the real meaning of the words announced to her by the Angel Gabriel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” Pondering, and feeling this baby, the Son of God, in all the glory of the eighth month of pregnancy.
And there is a second visit that we expect, but expect in a different way. That is the visit of Christ in His Second Coming in the Last Day—His coming in glory. In this visit he comes to judge both the living and the dead.
And yet in our Collect, we ask God to give us the grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. And so we expect a third coming of Christ—a coming in our hearts—to cast darkness out of our hearts, that the armor of light might shield our hearts. For with our hearts filled with this coming of Jesus, our hearts filled with light and protected with light, all of which comes from God, we are filled with Hope, and we may by His grace rise to the life immortal.
Read more “Homily: “Advent and Expectation””