The Parable of the Lost Sons

A sermon by Dr. John E. (Jay) Phelan:
Any first century Jew who heard a story that began, “A man had two sons . . . would think, Uh oh. Any story starting this way will only lead to trouble. The Torah is simply full of sibling rivalry. Consider the case of the first siblings—Cain and his younger brother Abel. Here we find not only the first murder, but the first worship war. Cain is infuriated that for some reason his way of worship is deemed inferior to that of Abel and kills him, When God confronts him, he responds with a line that is with us to this day: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The human family does not get off to a very good start. But it continues.

A Deepening Faith, or Recalling Our God Consciousness

What does it mean to fight for freedom? What does it mean to struggle against oppression? For Black people, descendants of Africans who were enslaved, that struggle for freedom has often coincided with our faith in something bigger than ourselves, our faith in the Divine creator of the universe. Against all odds, we have relied on the power of the Divine to help pull us through no matter how bleak the situation we were in may have been.

Frederick Douglass Homily

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey later changed his name to Douglass after claiming his freedom. He was a great orator, writer, abolitionist, minister and statesman. Even after the civil war ended and the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, he continued to fight for human rights and equality, including women’s rights.

Sermon for Feast Day for Florence Li Tim-Oi

I was truly humbled to be asked to be with you today to share some reflections on the Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi, the first woman ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion. Some of you may be familiar with her story, and many of you may not. She’s a bit of a personal hero for me for a number of reasons that I’d be grateful to share with you.

The Word in the Words

Author Annie Dillard in perhaps her most famous essay tells the story of a man named Larry living on one of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington. According to Dillard, Larry was attempting to teach a stone to talk. Larry’s futile efforts, she suggests, are the result of the silences we moderns live with. There was a time when the world was full of voices. Gods and goddesses spoke from sacred caves and through shamans and prophets, prophetesses and crones.

Garrison and Stewart: Resistance and Renewal

A Sermon by Jay Phelan, Intern for Holy Orders on December 3, 2021 for St. John’s the Evangelist Episcopal Church, Saint Paul, MN. By the 1830s the fledgling American republic was a growing economic, political and military power. It had survived a war with Great Britain, experienced a spiritual awakening now called “The Second Great […]

Light and Heavy

Light and Heavy, a Sermon by Jay Phelan A Sermon by Jay Phelan, Intern for Holy Orders on October 31st, 2021 for St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, Saint Paul, MN. According to the rabbis there are 613 commandments in Torah. Now that is quite a bit to remember and raises a number of questions. […]

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