Maximizing the Middle Ring

October 8, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 22, Year A
Isaiah 5:1-7; Philippians 3:4b-14; Matthew 21:33-46

Listen here, or read below:

As most of you know, September 10th was my first Sunday at Church of the Servant. It was a festive day, with worship returning to its school-year schedule, including the Family service and Sunday school for all ages. All that plus a beautiful reception of welcome, made it a truly joy-filled day!

During the week that followed, as I was catching up with Barbara on administrative stuff, she mentioned that she had created an “overflow” mail slot for me, since my other mail slot was already very full. I have to admit, I hadn’t even thought about having a mail slot, let alone that anything would be in it after just one week!

So a bit later, I decided I better go through it. Amid the non-profit newsletters, fundraiser promotions, and liturgical supply catalogues, was a small cream-colored envelope, addressed by hand to The Rev. Jody Greenwood – finally, something to me! I guessed it was probably a welcome note, yet when I opened the card, the salutation was to me and the Vestry – piquing my curiosity further. It turned out to be an apology letter from one of our youth (who will remain nameless). It seems that on my first Sunday, during all the excitement, one able-bodied teen took their enthusiasm to new heights, literally, and got on the roof. Read the rest of this entry »

A Questioning Authority

October 1, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 21, Year A
Ezekiel 18:1-4,25-32; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

Listen here, or read below:

Today’s gospel reading begins with Jesus in the temple. The chief priests and the elders came to him and asked, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Before we dive into that riveting question, let’s step back a minute.

Last we saw Jesus, he was on the road to Jerusalem, using parables to teach about the kingdom of heaven. Yet here we are today, with Jesus in Jerusalem teaching in the temple. Our lectionary has jumped over an important piece of the story. And it skipped a couple of our favorite scenes. We missed the Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem – disciples untying the donkey, the crowd waving branches and crying Hosannas as Jesus rides in. And then, even better, overturning the tables in the temple market. Jesus gets mad – we love that part!

Then it goes on to say, “The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them.” (Mt 21:14). And he begins teaching and the people are crying out, in the temple, “Hosanna to the son of David.”

The chief priests and scribes – those who are the ones in authority in the temple – see all this and wonder what the heck is going on. They’re angry and ask Jesus what he has to say for himself. And Jesus responds by quoting words of the prophets of old. “My house should be called a house of prayer” and “Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself.” And, as if that settles it, we’re told “He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.” Read the rest of this entry »

Generosity: All Day Long

September 24, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 20, Year A
Jonah 3:10-4:11; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

Listen here, or read below:

How’s everybody doing?

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a rough few weeks for me. I’m not talking about my start here at Church of the Servant and the move to Wilmington. That’s going great, unpacked boxes notwithstanding. I did finally take some time to go through the wonderful “gifts of Wilmington” y’all so generously left for me and Alice. We appreciate your kindness and your welcome!

The rough part has been all the images of destruction from the one-after-another natural disasters hitting our shores, as well as our neighbors in the Caribbean and Mexico. While the winds, waves, and tremors have caused havoc, taken lives, and left so many without power or shelter, the images relayed day after day on our tv’s and mobile devices have done their own share of beating-down our psyches.

And if that’s not enough, we have the anxiety producing rhetoric of world leaders threatening to destroy one another, a resurgence of unrest and racial tensions in St. Louis, and the very real fear of young Hispanic Dreamers whose future is now unclear with the repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. It’s no surprise that tears welled-up in my eyes time and again as I watched the news this week. It’s just so much. Too much to take-in sometimes.  Read the rest of this entry »

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 19, Year A
Exodus 14:19-31; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

Listen here, or read below:

As promised last week, this week’s gospel presents a lesson about forgiveness. Just a quick reminder: By the time Matthew’s gospel was written, the temple had been destroyed and the Hebrew people, as well as early Christians, had been driven out of Jerusalem. So Matthew’s gospel is intended to help this early Christian community stay faithful to God and to one another in an unfamiliar land.

In the preceding chapters, Jesus’ teachings have moved the bar on what it is to be faithful. In his estimation, the ten commandments didn’t go far enough. It’s not only those who murder that are liable to judgement, but those who are angry with others.  Not just those who commit adultery, but those who look with lust at another person. Jesus-followers were expected to not just love their neighbors, but to love their enemies, and to turn the other cheek.

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: