Monthly Archives: November 2017

No Fear Allowed

The Rev. Noah Van Niel

Church of the Good Shepherd Waban, MA

November 19th, 2017

Pentecost    (Proper 28 A): Judges 4:1-7; Psalm 123; 1 Thess 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30

In search of spectacular inspiration this week, I went for a walk in the woods. I was expecting it to be a nice quiet walk, a time to stretch my mind and my legs so I could prepare for this squirrelmorning. But as I left the road behind I found a woods as distracting as the civilization I sought to escape. My meditative silence was ruined by the continual explosion of rustling leaves. And as I trained my eyes on the ground, through the brown decay, I caught sight of dozens of squirrels furiously digging, rustling, jumping, running, climbing their way all around the forest. They were not here for a contemplative constitutional. They were too busy frantically trying to store up as many acorns as possible for the winter–that it finally feels like is around the corner–settles in. And as I watched them collecting, digging, burying, it made me think about our poor little third servant in our parable this morning. Continue reading

Upside Down Saints

The Rev. Noah Van Niel

November 5th, 2017

St. John the Evangelist

All Saints’ (A): Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Earlier this year a YouTube video made the rounds in the churchy corners of the internet of an Eastern Orthodox priest in Georgia (the country) using a rather alarming technique to perform a baptism. He stood in front of a large font about waist high, took the baby (clothed only in a diaper; no fancy baptismal gowns here) and flipped him upside down, head-first into the water three times, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. No one in the video seemed too alarmed by this technique, and the babies were actually pretty amenable to it, but when I showed it to Melinda to ask if she thought I could baptize the babies this way today, she quickly put the kibosh on that idea. So parents, fear not, I won’t be flipping your baby upside down…but I have to warn you, Jesus just might. Continue reading

Unfinished Business

The Rev. Noah Van Niel

St. John the Evangelist

October 29th, 2017

Pentecost 21 (Proper 25 A): Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; 1 Thess 2:1-8; Matt 22:34-46

When I was younger one of my favorite movies was “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.” Do you know this movie? It’s about two dogs and a cat who through some mix up get separated from their family and have to travel across the entire country to find them. It was a live action movie with real animals playing the parts and actors doing their voicesHOMEWARD BOUND: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY, Benj Thall, Kim Greist, Kevin Chevalia, Robert Hays, 1993, (c)Buena Vista Pictures They had various adventures and close calls along that incredible journey and while I don’t remember all the details, the scene that still sticks in my mind is the last one. After weeks of traveling through the wilderness, the pets somehow find their way to their family’s home and they come running through the back yard for a jubilant reunion with their beloved owners. Heroic music swells, there are smiles and tears and hugs and big slobbery kisses and the credits begin to roll.

            That’s how it should have gone. That’s how it should have gone for Moses. Well, maybe not the slobbery kisses, but that’s the kind of Hollywood ending he deserved. But that’s not how it went down. Continue reading