What the Promise is For

February 22, 2015

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The 1st Sunday in Lent
Genesis 9:8-17; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15

Today’s Old Testament lesson is the very end of the story of Noah and the ark. Y’all remember Noah – he was a righteous person, chosen by God to build an ark. And, in spite of the ridicule he surely received from those around him, he built a HUGE floating barn, and then gathered up all the species of animals, two-by-two, and loaded them into the ark.

He must’ve looked like a fool, but for him, he was being obedient to God, even if it didn’t make much sense – that’s what made him righteous. Then, you remember what happens next, it started to rain… and it rained, and rained… and NOW who looked foolish? Not Noah!

He and his family boarded the ark with all the animals and the story says that it rained for 40 days and 40 nights until water covered the whole earth; as far as they could see. After the rain stopped, they floated around awhile as the water receded and the ark was finally resting on solid ground. Noah, his family and the animals were once again on dry land, and when it was all over God made a promise: Read the rest of this entry »

Seeing deeply

February 11, 2015

Candler School of Theology – Episcopal Studies Eucharist Service

Holy Women, Holy Men: Fanny Crosby, Hymnwriter, February 11

Isaiah 42:10-12; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 9:35-39 

Last week when I was on campus, Bishop Whitmore asked if I could come and lead worship here today. He said that y’all are using Holy Women, Holy Men and then simply said “Fanny Crosby, “Blessed Assurance.” I admitted to him that I don’t know much about hymnody, but he smiled and said, “Just look at the gospel, that’s all you need to focus on.” So, it was a go!

As I looked at the texts for the service, I noticed that the reading from John was the end of the healing of the man born blind. Then, the Old Testament also mentioned leading the blind out of darkness. And it hit me, oh yeah, Fanny Crosby was blind!

Yet, unlike the man in the gospel story, Fanny wasn’t born blind. But when she was only six weeks old, she had an infection. It was 1820, so medicine was quite different then. The local doctor couldn’t be found, but a stranger said he could help, it’s unclear whether he was a real doctor or not. He put hot poultices on Fanny’s eyes to kill the infection. It must have been excruciating. The good news is that the infection cleared up, but the scars on her eyes rendered her sightless for the rest of her life.

Fanny’s father died within a year, and her mother became a maid. Fanny’s Grandmother was her primary caretaker. A woman of strong faith, she was determined to raise Fanny just as any child. She believed that all children come into the world ready to learn, and Fanny’s grandmother taught her plenty![i] Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The 4th Sunday after Epiphany
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

As many of you know, I spent much of my life in banking – mostly on the operations side. One of my roles was managing projects to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our business – like making sure the car payment you sent in gets credited to your loan accurately, otherwise you’re gonna get a call from our collections department, and nobody wants that!

sixsigma2A process improvement method we adopted was called Six Sigma, which is rooted in statistics – now, stay with me. It was initially used by the manufacturing sector. As you can imagine there are lots of places in an assembly-line production, especially complex ones, that can cause the end-product to be defective.

baggage-claim-crowd2“Six Sigma” is an actual calculated measure that corresponds to 1 in every 300,000. So, as a productivity measure, to reach 6-sigma, it means there is only one defect in 300,000 opportunities. It’s an ambitious goal to only have one defect in that many attempts, but for that person who waited in line overnight for the latest iPhone, or the one standing at the baggage claim carousel, but not seeing their suitcase arrive, it’s the kind of goal we want Apple or Delta to have. Read the rest of this entry »

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