Martin L. Smith

Martin L. Smith, an Episcopal priest, is an author, preacher, and retreat leader. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Posts By This Author

Christ Walks In Our Shoes

by Martin L. Smith 08-08-2018
Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle B

IN RECENT YEARS there was a popular religious meme with the question, “What would Jesus do?” But it has faded as these trends usually do. One of its weaknesses was that it seemed to invite us to supply the additional qualification “if he were alive today and in our shoes.” This month provides a great opportunity to explore in preaching and reflection the magnificent but neglected theme of Christ the Intercessor, found in the readings from the letter to the Hebrews. The question here is: “What is Jesus doing since he is alive forever?”

The answer is that, in total solidarity with us all as fellow human beings, the Risen Christ is representing and offering to the Holy One all that we are undergoing and struggling with and needing. “He holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (7:24-25). Christ was and is “in our shoes” as struggling human beings.

It is not as if Christ prays instead of us so that we don’t have to. Rather our sense of his total sympathy for our human vulnerability and weakness removes our inhibitions and encourages us to offer them to God, knowing that the Living Christ is identifying with our prayers and making them his very own. What riches we discover when learn from scripture what praying “in the name of Christ” actually means!

Caught Up in Love

by Martin L. Smith 07-02-2018
Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle B.

THIS MONTH WE HEAR ABOUT God’s alluring wisdom, personified as the ultimate hostess, who invites us to a banquet in her glorious home with its seven pillars. The passage from Proverbs 9 always reminds me of an unforgettable moment in Lawrence of Arabia’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Once when he was in the desert, taking water from a spring, Lawrence saw coming toward him “a grey-bearded, ragged man, with a hewn face of great power and weariness.” When this man drew near the spring, he shut his eyes and then groaned aloud, “The love is from God; and of God; and toward God.”

This pronouncement would be a perfect summation of the “mystical core of the gospel,” worth holding in our hearts as we hear about Jesus as the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Other scriptures will speak of the endemic folly that disconnects people from this love, of the new patterns of behavior that stem from embracing the saving love of God that reaches into our predicament to liberate us through Christ. It can remind us that the complaining pitilessly recorded in the Exodus narratives and the hostile reception to Jesus’ claim to be the authentic food and drink from God really stem from our fear of true intimacy with God, fear of becoming caught up in the love that is of God and returns to God with and in Christ.

[ August 5 ]
A Satanic Cloud

Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15; Psalm 78:23-29; Ephesian 4:1-6; John 6:24-35

THE TENDENCY OF churches to make our worship “lite” in the summer becomes harder to justify this Sunday. We worship under the cloud of the anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945, the horror that ushered in our nuclear age. We have gotten used to our “sane” leaders coolly considering the conditions in which they would unleash weapons that could make our—God’s—earth uninhabitable. Ours is a self-imposed wilderness exile in which, for those who are brave enough to look up, this lurid, satanic pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night continually looms ahead, drawing us toward self-destruction.

Becoming Fluent in the Language of Hope

by Martin L. Smith 10-02-2013

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C

Texts of Terror and Wealth

by Martin L. Smith 08-15-2013

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C

The Church of the Long Haul

by Martin L. Smith 08-02-2013

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C

The View from the Bleachers

by Martin L. Smith 07-01-2013

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C.

Soaking in the Word of God

by Martin L. Smith 06-05-2013

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C.

'Greater Works Than Mine'

by Martin L. Smith 05-11-2013

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C

Growing Up Trinitarian

by Martin L. Smith 04-04-2013

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C

Fifty Days of Grace

by Martin L. Smith 03-14-2013

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle C

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