Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Trinity Sunday 
Isaiah 6:1-8; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17

(Gospel text is provided at the bottom of this post)


So, here we are – it’s Trinity Sunday. The day we celebrate and attempt to get some kind of understanding of the Three-in-oneness of God. This understanding of God is what differentiates us as Christians. It’s a unique understanding, and was a difficult and controversial concept for early Christians.

You see, central to the Hebrew tradition was a belief in one God. At the time of Jesus, this was unique to the Jews. They were in the midst of the Gentiles, who worshiped many gods. The Greeks and Romans had different gods, each having dominion over different parts of the world: Zeus, Poseidon and Hades; and numerous other gods and goddesses that people believed in and worshiped.

So, what set the Hebrew people apart was their devotion to One God who created and was God of ALL things. The first commandment makes it clear: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of bondage. You shall have no other gods but me.”

But something happened when Jesus came into the world. Our understanding of God changed. Jesus was an incarnation of the divine. And with this incarnation, the understanding of the oneness of God had to shift.

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Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The Day of Pentecost 
Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

(Gospel text is provided at the bottom of this post)


Three years ago, as part of my seminary education, I was an intern chaplain at Grady Hospital. This Clinical Pastoral Education, as it’s called, or CPE, is a time to see what it’s like to be a hospital chaplain, and also a time to learn more about yourself, as a pastoral care giver.

NHS-hospital-ward-recepti-006The various floors and departments of the hospital are divvied up to the six chaplain interns, and my parish, if you will, was a couple of the surgical floors. Now, patients on surgical floors aren’t usually there for a long time. They’re given a room after surgery and stay just long enough to be ready to go home, or go to another rehab facility.

hospitalSo, as a chaplain on a surgical floor, I made a lot of cold-calls, popping in, introducing myself as a chaplain, and seeing if the patient or their family wanted to talk or pray. My hope for my ministry was to be one person from the hospital team that interacted with the patient without poking or prodding them. I wanted to be a presence for them in whatever way might helpful.

Sometimes my invitation was well received and other times, not so much. But, that’s the way it goes.

I remember one day in particular, near the beginning of the summer. The resident chaplain suggested I visit a patient who had actually been there for several weeks. I’ll call the patient Bill.

I learned from the other chaplain that Bill and his girlfriend had been riding together on Bill’s motorcycle. They were riding through Atlanta on their way back to New York after a vacation in Florida. They had a wreck and Bill’s hip was badly injured and his girlfriend – I’ll call her Sue – had extensive injuries including brain trauma. She was in the intensive care unit (ICU), and although Sue was still alive, after several weeks she still hadn’t regained consciousness.

They were in an unfamiliar city with family far away; in different rooms and on different floors of the hospital. Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The 7th Sunday of Easter 
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19

(Gospel text is provided at the bottom of this post)


we-are-christians-loveWe are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord

And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

This song has occupied my thoughts for the past several weeks. I chose it as the theme song for our Urban Adventure weekend earlier this month. And at the risk of making a shameless plug, you can find out more about how this song mirrored our experience that weekend when you read the cover story in the June Communiqué.

And even though that weekend is behind us, this song keeps coming to mind. It’s even managed to push out the ever-insistent refrain of “Uptown Funk,” though I’ll admit I’m working on some new lyrics for that: Christ Church Faith-you-up, Christ Church Faith-you-up. Say what? But, that’s for another time.

It’s not really surprising that the lyrics “We are one in the Spirit” and the refrain “They will know we are Christians by our love” continue to resonate with me. These same themes have been integral to our gospel lessons in recent weeks, and again today.

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Abide and Thrive

May 10, 2015

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The 6th Sunday of Easter 
Acts 10:44-48; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17

(Gospel text is provided at the bottom of this post)

During the first few Sundays of Easter we heard stories of encounters with the resurrected Jesus – outside the empty tomb; on the road to Emmaus; and in the upper room. Now, like a television show that gives us a “flashback scene” we’ve gone back in time, before the arrest and crucifixion. We’re getting a glimpse into what Jesus might have said to the disciples just before he was going to leave them. It’s a different picture of Jesus. Through these private conversations, we see a pastoral, caring and supportive Jesus – much different than the image of Jesus during his public ministry.

In his public ministry in John’s gospel, we have a Jesus that is compelling people to a new way of being. He’s turning over the tables in the temples to get them to re-claim their purpose; daring to break down barriers by talking with outsiders, like the Samaritan woman; exhibiting the spirit of God’s command of love for others by healing the blind man, even if it breaks the rules of tradition that tells them they can’t work on the Sabbath.

But now, we find Jesus secluded with his disciples; his inner circle. He knows what’s about to happen. He shifts from being their teacher, preacher and prophet, and is now focused on being their pastor. One of the last acts as a teacher was conveying the importance of servanthood. And now, as Jesus knows what lies ahead, he’s serves them even more, by preparing them for what’s coming next.

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