Believing Is Seeing

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter (11 April 2010)

by Sherman Hesselgrave

Readings:  Acts 5:27-32     Psalm 150      Revelation 1:4-8     John 20:19-31

O breaking and entering God:
There is no place we can hide from your presence,
no deadbolt strong enough to keep you from slipping into our midst,
no barricade too high for your Spirit to surmount;
may your Risen Christ steal into our hearts, our imaginations, and empower us to take your message of healing and forgiveness and grace to a broken world.  Amen.

That prayer was inspired both by today’s gospel reading and by a New Yorker cover that has graced the wall of my office for many years—a Charles Addams drawing for a Valentine’s Day issue that depicts the interior of an apartment whose entry door has a deadbolt lock, a sliding bolt, a chain, and a security bar planted at an angle into the floor.  The man who lives there is staring down at a white envelope with a large red heart on it that someone has slipped beneath the barricaded entrance of his secure world.  Ready or not, grace happens.

During the season of Easter, the 50 days between last week and the Feast of Pentecost, we will hear numerous stories of God’s grace breaking into human experience.  Every year on the Sunday after Easter we read the account of the risen Christ appearing to the disciples, who are hiding behind locked doors, fearful that the same authorities who killed Jesus will hunt them down as well.  Running and hiding is a defense mechanism that has served the human race well.  I can still visualize the swashbuckler in some black and white movie from my childhood declaring: “He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.”  But to live perpetually holed up in fear is not why God put us here.

Thomas, the disciple who missed Jesus’ first resurrection appearance to the cowering disciples, has earned the moniker, Doubting Thomas, for telling his fellows that unless he saw the mark of the nails in Jesus’ hands, and put his finger in the mark of the nails and his hand in Jesus’ side, he would not believe.  It is rather unfair to wag a finger at Thomas for his reaction, because, in the end, we have to acknowledge that without doubt, faith is meaningless.  Or, as Frederick Buechner remarked, “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith.”1  That is one of the things we can take away from the story of Thomas.

Another is that Jesus gives Thomas what he needs to reassure him of the truth.  As disciples who missed out on Jesus’ appearance on Easter Sunday evening, all of us are in the same position as Thomas was.  The reassurance we are given, though, is not through touching the marks of the nails or the wound in the side.  For us, the real presence of Christ is found in the Eucharist, and when we “take and eat” the bread and wine we are literally touching the One who said “do this to remember me.”  “O taste and see how gracious is Yahweh.”2

Which leads to the third thing we can take away from the encounter of Thomas and the Risen One, namely, that believing is seeing.  What humans believe has always shaped what we see.  The names for planets and constellations come from a pre-Copernican belief system about the universe in which people would look at the night sky and see movements and patterns that led them conclude they were observing the activities of gods and goddesses.  Xenophobic beliefs lead people to see those different from themselves as worthy of all sorts of horrors.  But if we trust God the way Jesus taught us to trust God, our faith opens our eyes to see things with the corrective lenses that Jesus left behind for us, and when we need an adjustment, the Holy Spirit acts as divine optometrist.

Huston Smith, the great scholar of world religions, claims that Christianity’s unique and most significant contribution is the concept of forgiveness.  When we look around at the state of human civilization, we see unending cycles of violence: you hit me, I hit you back.  Jesus knew forgiveness is the only way to break the pattern.
Rowan Williams, from the time he served as a parish priest, wrote: “There is no hope of understanding the Resurrection outside the process of renewing humanity in forgiveness. We are all agreed that the empty tomb proves nothing.  We need to add that no amount of apparitions, however well authenticated, would mean anything either, apart from the testimony of forgiven lives communicating forgiveness.”3  For Thomas and the other disciples, the “resurrection was an experience of forgiveness. The disciples had all abandoned Jesus, becoming complicit with his murderers. The fact that the resurrection was happening to them was an experience of forgiveness for them.”4

In the early centuries of the Christian church, the season of Easter was a period of introducing the newly baptized to the sacred mysteries—particularly the Eucharist, from which the baptismal candidates had been excluded until their baptism at the Easter Vigil.  There is even a fancy Greek word for this practice: mystagogia.  The baptismal covenant is the articulation of Christian identity, and mystagogy is the process of looking deeper into what it means to be on this journey.  For example, what does it mean to “live eucharistically?”  We are taught that the four-fold action of the Eucharist comes from Jesus and the miracle of the loaves where he took the offered loaves, blessed them, broke them, and gave them.

A bunch of years ago, I had a mystagogical moment that opened my eyes to a deeper understanding of living eucharistically.  I was the celebrant and the gifts had been brought to the altar: gifts of bread and wine, and the financial offerings.  As I held the alms basin in my hands I looked down and on top was a five dollar bill on which had been stamped in bold purple block letters: LESBIAN MONEY.  It was a conservative town, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone had decided to do some consciousness raising by annotating their currency.  Just as we place the bread and wine on the altar—fruit of the earth and the work of human hands—to be taken, blessed, broken, and shared, our financial offerings—symbols of our life and labour—are also taken, blessed, broken, and shared.  As I looked at that bill I suddenly imagined every bill and envelope sitting there with a unique stamp on it: RETIRED SCHOOLTEACHER MONEY, PHARMACIST MONEY, NURSE MONEY, UNDEREMPLOYED SINGLE MOM MONEY…you get the idea.  St Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, appealed to them to “offer their bodies as a living sacrifice,” or as a modern interpreter has rendered it: “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”5  What a contrast from the what’s-in-it-for-me view seen through the eyes of the marketplace.

Last time I preached I mentioned the new Holy Trinity mission statement, which now appears on the front cover of our Sunday bulletin.  A self-described agnostic who read the sermon online told me that he was deeply impressed that our mission statement includes this language, and hence, people like him:

We foster lay leadership, include the doubter and the marginalized, and challenge oppression wherever it may be found.

Wherever we are on our spiritual journey, God invites us to take the risk of observing life through the lens of our faith, evaluating with the mind of Christ, and responding with the empowerment and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

As we encircle the altar today, taste and see that God is gracious, touch the Risen Christ in the gifts of bread and wine and in one another, and may all our doubts lead us ever deeper into the mystery that is God.


1 Wishful Thinking, (1973), p. 20

2 Psalm 34:8

3 Resurrection, (1982), p. 118

4 From Paul Nuechterlein’s notes of Gil Bailie’s lectures on the Gospel of John.

5 Romans 12:1 (The Message)

Bulletin – Sunday March 14 – Lent 4

Lent 4: March 14, 2010

Incumbent: The Rev’d  Sherman  Hesselgrave
Music Director: Becca Whitla     Coordinator: Nola Crewe
Celebrant: Bill Whitla
Homilist: Sherman Hesselgrave – “The God Who Won’t Let Go”

Welcome to the Church of the Holy Trinity.  We are delighted to have you with us this morning. Holy Trinity is an accessible, active, vibrant, justice-seeking, queer-positive community in the heart of downtown Toronto. We try to use language in our worship which includes us all, and we encourage the extensive participation of each person in the worship and life of the Church. At the Peace we move about freely, greeting one another. During the offertory hymn we will move to create a circle around the altar for the Prayers of the People.  All are welcome to share in the Eucharist as they feel comfortable. To help you know Holy Trinity better, and to help you navigate through this service, be sure you have one of the handouts, Welcome to the Church of the Holy Trinity. A special welcome Newcomers!!!! Please fill out the Newcomers Form which will let us know how to reach you.

10 Trinity Square
Tor, Ont, M5G 1B1
Tel:(416) 598-4521
We gather in our pews for the morning welcome
✜ Welcome
✜ Opening Meditation: Meditation  by Nicholas Choveaux
✜ Opening hymn: (All rise, in body or spirit):

This Day God Gives Me

✜ Greeting:
All: May the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

✜ The Collect for Purity
All: All loving God to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden.  Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily praise your holy name; through Christ our Saviour. Amen.

One:     For the absolution and remission of our sins and offenses, let us pray to God.             Silence
One:     God in your mercy:
All:     Hear our prayer.
One:     We are a forgiven people: God’s spirit is free among us.
All:     Thanks be to God.
✜ The Exchange of Peace:
It is our custom to move about to exchange the peace. Please be mindful that it is flu season. Concerns about flu mean some people are uncomfortable shaking hands and/or hugging.  A smile and nod, or the sign of peace “V” are other suggested alternatives.
One:     The Peace of Christ be always with you:
All:     And also with you.

✜ Collect for the Day: God of the covenant, you call us to be fruitful servants within creation and to offer our lives as the foundation of your realm. We lay before you the desires of our hearts, that we may be transformed by their fulfilment. AMEN.

✜ The Hebrew Scripture: Joshua 5:9-12    Reader: Anne Grasham

after the reading
Reader:     Hear what the Spirit says to God’s people
All:     Thanks be to God

✜ Psalm 32    A Hymn, adapted, Ian Sowton

HAPPY are those whose sins are mercifully set aside,
the ones whose transgression is forgiven;
2 those who have no iniquity reckoned against them,
and in whose spirit there lurks no deceit.

3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away
to the sound of my groaning all day long.
4 For your hand was heavy on me day and night;
my strength dried up as if by heat of summer.

5 Then finally I admitted my sin to you,
and stopped trying to conceal my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgression to God,”
and you blotted out the guilt of my sin.

6 Then let all the faithful offer up their prayers,
so the floodwaters of distress will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place, preserving me from trouble;
you surround me with glad shouts of deliverance.

8 I will teach you, instructing you in the right way;
I will guide you with my counselling eye.
9 Do not be clueless, like some horse or mule
that requires bit and bridle so as not to stray.

10 The wicked are subject to all sorts of torment,
but steadfast love encircles those who trust in God.
11 Rejoice in your Creator, O justice lovers, be glad –
sound out! enjoy your happiness, all you of upright heart.

✜ Epistle: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21    Reader: Alan Gasser

Reader:      A Reading from . . .
Reader:      Hear what the Spirit says to the Churches
All:     Thanks be to God        Silence

✜ Hymn: “Healer of Our Every Ill”    #619
All rise, in body or spirit for the hymn and Gospel.

✜ Holy Gospel: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32     Reader: Carole Clark
Reader:     May God be with you    All: And also with you
Reader:      The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Luke
All:    Glory to Christ our Saviour
after the reading
Reader:     The Gospel of Christ     All: Praise to Christ our Saviour

✜ Homily: “The God Who Won’t Let Go” Sherman Hesselgrave

We gather in a circle around the altar to share the gifts of bread
and wine and other offerings, the symbols of our common life.  All
are welcome. You may also remain seated and, if you wish, communion will be brought to you. Financial offerings will also be received.  You may also join the many who give by Pre-authorized Donation; simply request a PAD form from today’s Coordinator.

✜ Offertory Hymn: “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”    #333

✜Prayers of the People
In the Anglican Cycle we remember for The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean; in the Diocesan Cycle: Crosslink Housing and Support Services and the San Esteban congregation here at Holy Trinity. The community now offers its prayers, both spoken and unspoken. Please keep your prayers brief.

✜ The Great Thanksgiving (see orange book)
Presider: Bill Whitla
Please do not dip the bread into the wine. The bread and wine will be passed around the circle, but if you prefer you may receive at the gluten-free station at the altar.

✜The Saviour’s Prayer O God, our Mother and Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your reign come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.

✜ Communion Anthem: Here is Bread

Glory to God: Glory to God, whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God, from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus, for ever and ever. AMEN.
✜Closing Hymn: “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”    #670
✜Dismissal:    p. 36 in the green booklet
✜Postlude:  Rondeau from Te Deum by Marc-Antoine Charpentier
(Josh Grossman, Trumpet)
Please join us after the service at the back of the church for soup.
March 14, 2010

Please note: On Sunday mornings, if you have any concerns related to personal safety, please speak with our Incumbent Sherman Hesselgrave, Nola Crewe, our curate or the caretaker on duty.

◆Assistive Hearing Devices are available at the rear of the church. This is an infrared system which works best if you face towards the front of the church.
◆Please help us keep tidy by picking up bulletins and hymn books after the service and returning them to the carts at the entrances of the church. Thanks
◆Prayers: Please feel free to light a candle at the chancel steps, or phone Sherman Hesselgrave with your special prayer requests.
◆Join Holy Trinity’s e-mail list! Contact Alison Kemper at:
◆Scent Free Zone: Please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne, after-shave and highly scented personal hygiene products.
◆Personal Belongings should be kept with you at all times. Sadly, we cannot ensure their safety.  Members, please help newcomers and visitors keep track of their belongings.

10:30 – festive contemporary Eucharist in inclusive language with music
2:00 – San Esteban misa en español – Spanish service with the community of San Esteban.
Wednesdays at 12:15pm brief spoken Eucharist with informal discussion of the day’s readings

Parish Groups and Committees
◆Worship Committee: Contact: Lee Creal: 416-466-4216
◆Refugee Committee: Contact Malcolm Savage: 416-421-7248
◆Congregational Care Committee: Contact: Sherman Hesselgrave
◆Property Committee: Contact: Jim Dolmage 416-531-26

Parish Activities and Announcements:
◆The Homeless Memorial is on the second Tuesday of every month at 12:00 outside the south doors of the church.
◆Please help keep our space looking sharp!! If your committee has a meeting or you are using the space for something else, please leave the space as it was when you started. Thank you very much.

◆Upcoming Services:
March 21 – Lent 5: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8

Announcements for the Bulletin: A great way to share information with the community!! Please get your announcement for the bulletin to Becca by Monday for the following Sunday – thanks!

Parking Notice: The church itself has no parking, but parking is available, free of charge, on Sundays between 10 am and 1 pm, in the new City Hall underground parking garage. If you park at new City Hall,  please remember to bring your parking chit and have it stamped at the church. Parking is also available in the parking garage at the Bell Trinity Building for a flat rate on Sundays of $5.00.   Parking is also available at the Eaton Centre.  We are wheelchair accessible at the south entrance of the church.

Lenten Book Study: The Work of the People: What We Do in Worship and Why (Marlea Gilbert, Christopher Grundy, Eric T. Myers, and Stephanie Perdew, published by The Alban Institute). It is a quick read, about 100 pages of text divided among four chapters, with discussion questions provided. There are four groups organized across the city or feel free to create your own group. Please speak with Sherman Hesselgrave if you’d like more details. He has copies of the book available for $16.
Hearing System: We regret that our hearing assistive system is not currently available for use.   It is undergoing repairs and we expect that it will be available again within a couple of weeks. We apologize for any inconvenience.

HT CHOIR – Hymnody of Earth
The Holy Trinity choir is hosting a special choral project with three choirs this spring: We will be performing Hymnody of Earth on Sat April 17 at 8pm on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day (April 22). The composer, Malcolm Dalglish, will be here. Please mark the date in your book!!
For info, contact: or 416-598-4521, ex 224

Massey College Presents:
An Arts Gala Benefit for Romero House
In collaboration with Holy Trinity, San Esteban and Romero House
Sunday, March 28 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20

The concert will feature classical, jazz and blue grass musicians from Massey College as well as the Echo Women’s Choir, the Toronto Morris Dancers, a special song for Oscar Romero. During intermission there will be a bake sale, a magician and an art sale (thanks to Fran Sowton)

For info:
See Becca Whitla for tickets

Volunteers Needed for Bakesale:
Holy Trinity will host an arts gala benefit for Romero House, a residence for refugees in Toronto’s west end, on Sunday March 28 at 7:30 p.m. Apart from ticket sales, there will be a number of other fund-raising activities at this event.  All proceeds will go to support the work of Romero House.

Holy Trinity and San Esteban have been asked to organize and run a bake sale at the intermission.  We need several volunteers to help during the actual sale, as well as donations of baked goods, and “finger food” that can be eaten without utensils, such as cookies, cupcakes, cheese and crackers, empanadas, and cut-up fruit and vegetables. Items from the bake sale will be sold by donation and all proceeds will go to Romero House. We are expecting 200-300 people to attend this event.

If you plan to donate food, or if you are available to help  at the bake sale, please contact Gail Holland at or 905-427-9668.

News from the Refugee Committee
We have been meeting with representatives of St. James Cathedral congregation and also members of St. Martin in the Fields. Together we have agreed to sponsor a refugee family from Iraq. This is the first time in recent years that the other congregations have sponsored refugees. We are quite excited about working together with these congregations. We will be sharing the costs as well as the excitement, fun and hard work that this involves.

You are invited to experience the Spring Equinox with the Labyrinth Community Network.
Walk to the beat of live medieval music and to the pulsing new vigour of our long heralded spring.

Saturday, March 20
12:00 Noon
Toronto Public Labyrinth
Trinity Square Park

Everyone welcome
Fully accessible
Free of charge

Services for Holy Week and Easter

Here is a listing of the special services for Holy Week and Easter.  If you are a visitor you may be interested in more information about our worship.

Sunday, March 28:

  • Palm Sunday: Procession with Palms, Retelling of the Passion, Eucharist.  A bi-lingual service with the San Esteban Community

Wednesday, March 31:

  • Eucharist, 12:15 pm

Thursday, April 1:

  • Maundy Thursday —  Prepared Supper at 6:30 PM in the Church integrated with the Maundy Thursday liturgy, stripping of the altar, and reservation of the sacrament in the Garden of Repose.  This is a bi-lingual service with the Community of San Esteban

Friday, April 2:

  • Good Friday: Good Friday liturgy, 10:30 am

Saturday, April 3:

  • The Great Vigil of Easter, 8 pm: Lighting of the New Fire, First Eucharist of Easter — Archbishop Michael Peers will be the Celebrant

Sunday, April 4:

  • Easter Sunday: 10:30 am Eucharist and Flowering of the Cross.  A bi-lingual service with the San Esteban Community

The God Who Won’t Let Go

Sermon preached by Sherman Hesselgrave on the fourth Sunday of Lent, March 14, 2010

Compassionate and generous God:

In Christ you have made us participants in your new
creation, where those who have been estranged and
alienated from you and from one another are brought
into the commonwealth of grace through the ministry
of reconciliation. Give us grace to be your
ambassadors of reconciliation wherever we may be.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son, or as I have come to call it, the Parable of the Compassionate Parent, is found only in the Gospel of Luke, and so, unlike many of the other parables of Jesus, we encounter it only once in the lectionary cycle. Three years ago, before Toronto was even a twinkle in my eye, I was scheduled to preach on this set of readings, and the new pastor at the Lutheran Church where I was working at the time recommended a book by Henri Nouwen with which I was not familiar: The Return of the Prodigal Son. The book was written after Nouwen had left his teaching position at Harvard and had come to Toronto to serve as Chaplain to the L’Arche community here. The catalyst for the book was Nouwen’s encounter with Rembrandt’s painting of the same name. The painting is large, like many of Rembrandt’s most famous works–eight and a half by nearly seven feet–and hangs in the Hermitage museum, once the Winter Palace of Russian emperors. Nouwen describes sitting with the painting for long hours, watching the changing light of the day animating the painting’s already dramatic chiaroscuro treatment of the subjects in the scene.

Rembrandt has taken license in his portrayal, for in the biblical narrative, the elder son does not witness the reunion of his younger brother with their father, but arrives on the scene when the party is in full swing. In staging the scene the way he does, Rembrandt reminds us of the confrontation that prompts Jesus to tell this parable: “All the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” The elder son, standing erect and wearing fine red robes also represents the scribes and pharisees, while the man seated nearby, beating his breast, represents the sinners Jesus welcomed and with whom he broke bread. This was one of the artist’s last paintings, having suffered tremendous losses: financial insolvency, five of his children and both of his wives had died. And yet he could create a work of such power and beauty.

One of New Testament scholar Walter Wink’s suggestions for “transforming Bible study” is to find ways to get inside a passage. For instance, in today’s parable, you might enter imaginatively into one or more of the biblical characters and experience them in either their historical setting or in a modern context. Anyone who has donned a costume in Christmas Story has an idea of what it is like to get inside a Bible story; but it is only by plumbing the depths of our imagination that we can begin to live a parable: experience the unspoken curse implicit in the younger son’s request: “I wish you were dead;” smell the ammonia of the pig sty, fume with the seething resentment of the elder son, feel the tears of joy and delight running down the cheeks of the compassionate parent. Who do we identify with in today’s parable? Henri Nouwen tells of explaining to a friend how strongly he had been able to identify with the younger son, whereupon Nouwen’s friend looked at him quite intently and said, “I wonder if you are not more like the elder son.” Nouwen writes: “With these words he opened a new space within me.”

I suddenly saw myself in a completely new way. I saw my jealousy, my anger, my touchiness, doggedness and sullenness, and, most of all, my subtle self-righteousness. I saw how much of a complainer I was and how much of my thinking and feeling was ridden with resentment. For a time it became impossible to see how I could ever have thought of myself as the younger son. I was the elder son for sure, but just as lost as his younger brother, even though I had stayed “home” all my life.1

For most of the twenty-five years I have been a priest I have understood the father in the parable to be God, but reading Nouwen’s thoughts about the painting and parable three years ago “opened a new space within me.” When Jesus exhorts his disciples to “be compassionate as your [Heavenly] Father is compassionate,” 2 he lays down one of the most radical pieces of truth in the Gospel. The compassionate father in today’s parable is the embodiment of spiritual maturity. “No father or mother ever became father or mother without having been a son or daughter,” Nouwen writes, “but every
son or daughter has to consciously choose to step beyond their childhood and become father or mother for others. It is a hard and lonely step to take–especially in a period of history in which parenthood is so hard to live well–but it is a step that is essential for the fulfillment of the spiritual journey.”3

So what does this parable teach us about compassion? Nouwen sees three ways to compassion: grief, forgiveness, and generosity.

Grief,” he writes, “asks me to allow the sins of the world–my own included–to pierce my heart and make me shed tears, many tears, for them. There is no compassion without many tears. If they can’t be tears that stream from my eyes, they have to be at least tears that well up from my heart. When I consider the immense waywardness of God’s children, our lust, our greed, our violence, our anger, our resentment, and when I look at them through the eyes of God’s heart, I cannot but weep and cry out in grief:

Look, my soul, at the way one human being tries to inflict as much pain on another as possible; look at these people plotting to bring harm to their fellows; look at these parents molesting their children; look at this landowner exploiting his workers; look at the violated women, the misused men, the abandoned children. Look my soul, at the world; see the concentration camps, the prisons, the nursing homes, the hospitals, and hear the cries of the poor. 4

Forgiveness is the second way to compassion. Forgiveness allows us to step over–or climb over “the wall of arguments and angry feelings that [we] have erected between [ourselves] and all those whom [we] love but who so often do not return that love. It is a wall of fear of being used or hurt again. It is a wall of pride, and the desire to stay in control…. Grief allows me to see beyond my wall and realize the immense suffering that results from human lostness. It opens my heart to a genuine solidarity with my fellow humans. Forgiveness, [on the other hand,] is a way to step over the wall and welcome others into my heart without expecting anything in return.”5

The third way to compassion is generosity. “In the parable, the father not only gives his departing son everything he asks, but also showers him with gifts on his return. And to his elder son he says: ‘All I have is yours.’ There is nothing the father keeps for himself. He pours himself out for his [children]…. [H]e completely gives himself away without reserve.” 6

At our Annual Vestry a few weeks ago, we adopted a new mission statement for Holy Trinity:

The Church of the Holy Trinity is a community of people who seek to express
Christian faith through lives of integrity, justice and compassion. We foster lay
leadership, include the doubter and the marginalized, and challenge oppression
wherever it may be found.

A “community of people who seek to express Christian faith through lives of integrity, justice and compassion.” There it is, firmly embedded in the statement that describes who we say we are as a community. In his homily that day, Christopher Lind, one of our churchwardens spoke to us about building communities of wisdom, and today I stand before you talking about building a community of compassion. I’d say our heart is in the right place, but we have plenty of work yet to do. The most common complaint I hear about Holy Trinity–even from people who are members of the parish–is that, while we are very good at talking about being an inclusive community, there are more than a few people who don’t feel welcome here because somehow they don’t square with the Holy Trinity template.” The Parable of the Compassionate Parent wraps its arms around our circle this morning, and it won’t let go. The Christ who uttered these words to another circle of disciples who needed to grieve the brokenness of their own lives–the hurts that had been inflicted upon them and the wounds they had caused others; the Christ who showed them how to see over the barriers they had erected between one another and how to step over those walls by acts of forgiveness; and the Christ who emptied his own life for his friends is here with us today, and in a few minutes will dine once again with sinners–with you and with me.

1 Return of the Prodigal, p. 18
2 Luke 6:36
3 Return of the Prodigal, p.114
4 Return of the Prodigal, p.120-121
5 Return of the Prodigal, pp. 121-122
6 Return of the Prodigal, p.122

loving justice in the heart of our city