Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, GA
Feast of the Holy Cross, September 14, 2011
2nd Year MDIV Student

Lectionary: Isaiah 45:21-25, Psalm 98, Galatians 6:14-18, John 12:31-36

A few weeks ago, on the first day of classes, Anglican Studies eagerly welcomed six more students to the program. As with any group, when new people join, there are always questions about how things work and what we do. On this particular day, knowing we would be leading Evensong & Eucharist that evening, we spent some time walking through the service.

It was only a year ago that I was going through the same thing – completely unfamiliar with sung Evensong – the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis – and having to learn it on the fly. There I was, considered one that was leading the service, yet I was wholly unsure of what I was doing at every turn.

Now lucky for us, this year’s newbies are good at asking questions. As we went through the liturgy someone asked “When do we make the sign of the cross?” which was quickly followed by “How do you make the sign of the cross?” These are good questions, and remind us that we all have different sensibilities and experiences with this particular gesture.

For many, the only time they see this gesture is when they are watching a baseball game and the batter makes the sign of the cross as he steps up to the plate. And even though this acknowledges the same strength and protection from God through Christ, the spitting and scratching that follows is not part of our routine… or at least not intentionally.

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Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Sermon on Matthew 18:15-20, given while serving as seminarian

Proper 18 – Year A (RCL) – Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 149, Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20

About 10 days ago, anticipating the arrival of Hurricane Irene, the Borowitz Report stated:

As Hurricane Irene prepared to batter the East Coast of the United States, federal disaster officials warned that Internet outages caused by the storm could force people to interact with other people for the first time in years.

News of the possible interpersonal interactions created panic up and down the coast as residents braced themselves for the horror of awkward silences and unwanted eye contact.

And as officials warned people in the hurricane zone to stay indoors, residents feared the worst: conversations with members of their immediate family.

At the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA chief Craig Fugate offered these words of advice for those who may be forced into direct contact with other human beings: “Be prepared. Write down possible topics to talk about in advance. Sports is a good one, and of course the weather. Remember, a conversation is basically a series of Facebook updates strung together.”

If you are an introvert like me, this might also be good advice on any given Sunday morning as you prepare to come to church. I used to negotiate where to sit to make sure I could slip out the side aisle before being caught in a face-to-face conversation with anyone. Or if I was brave enough to go to the Parish Hall for a cup of coffee after the service, I quickly found where the back stairs were, or in the case of Christ Church, the exit through the kitchen, so I could make my escape.

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