Connecting with the Cross

August 31, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 17 – RCL Year A
Exodus 3:1-15; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28

For three of the last four weeks, the gospel lesson has featured Peter in a significant way. Peter is one of those guys in the Bible that seems especially real to me. He’s a fisherman. A man’s man, if you will. He’s willing to take risks, like stepping out of a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, to walk toward Jesus. But he also gets scared.

When he finds himself doing something he didn’t think he could do, like walk on water, a strong wind distracts and scares him and he starts to sink. Even though he surely knows how to swim, he shows his humanity by crying out for help in a moment of panic, “Jesus, save me!” And immediately, Jesus reaches out his hand to help Peter back into the boat.IMG_4235

This is a story I wish I could see on YouTube. Not for the walking on water part, although that would be really cool, but to see the expression on Jesus’ face as he helps Peter into the boat. My hope is that there’s a playful gleam in his eye as he teases Peter, saying “you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Like the smile and shrug we give a close friend whose exuberance for life always gets them into things a little over their head.

And last week we see Peter in a different light. Jesus is asking the disciples “Who do people say that I am?” and then he asks them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, once again the eager one, steps up and proclaims, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” There’s no hesitation; just pure confidence. Read the rest of this entry »

From Anguish to Alleluia!

August 17, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 15 – RCL Year A
Genesis 45:1-15; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Mt 15:21-28)

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been overwhelmed by the onslaught of tragic stories in the news. For the last several months there has been an increase of unrest, or at least that’s the way it feels. At first this seemed to be concentrated in the usual areas far away – the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Ukraine to name a few.

We’ve been hearing more and more about about the escalating attacks and death-counts in Gaza. Then, on July 17th we were stunned to learn that a commercial jetliner had been shot down over Ukraine, killing almost three hundred innocent victims. And all the while the Ebola virus has been spreading deeper and deeper across West Africa.

Immigration protesters on both sides of the debate staged rallies at a California Border Patrol station last week, in response to the child migrant crisis. Photo: Sandy Huffaker /Getty

And lest we think all the hardships are in far-off lands, we have our own issues to deal with. There are constant reminders of the young children seeking refuge in the U.S., fleeing their homeland due to violence and danger. This crisis has been met with mixed feelings and angry voices on both sides of the issue. Add to that the random shootings in offices and shopping malls, not to mention the endless bickering of a divided Congress, where finger-pointing rules the day. Read the rest of this entry »

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