Do you not care?

June 21, 2015

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The 4th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 7 
Samuel 17:32-49; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41

Last week was Sandwich Sunday, so after the 8:00 am service, a bunch of folks gathered in the Parish Hall with loaves of bread, peanut butter & jelly and ham & cheese ready to get to work. As usual, there was the obligatory search for the plastic gloves… my Achilles heel. We had enough to get everyone started, but I decided I’d run up to Target and get a full box and some more bread.

As I was headed back to church I sat at the traffic light and thought to myself, “I love this job.” In my twenty years in banking I know there were times when I liked what I was doing, and certainly who I was working with. I know I was good at my job, but I’m not sure I could ever truthfully say “I love this job.”

I continued to hold onto that feeling of love for this job as the new work-week began. On Monday, I popped in on Mary and her team of helpers at the Norcross Co-op Vacation Bible School. Then headed over to the church with Rita and Ken to map out the new Four-square and Basketball design on the back parking lot. The love continued as I made final adjustments to the Celtic liturgy, not to mention the fun of the Vestry meeting on Monday night!

On Tuesday, my love continued in the midst of conversations about an updated sound system planned for the sanctuary, followed by productive staff and warden’s meetings. And these feeling of love carried over to Wednesday, even as I hauled water hoses under the blazing sun to get things ready for a Wild & Wacky night with the kids.

I went to bed Wednesday night weary from a physically challenging day – earning over 13,000 steps for my effort – and the payoff was an evening filled with smiling kids and teens pelting each other with water balloons and careening across a three-lane slip and slide. I mean, what’s NOT to love about this job! Read the rest of this entry »

Who are we?

June 18, 2015

As I awoke this morning I learned about the shooting that killed 9 people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC last night. Although there are many other things on my to-do list for the day, I couldn’t get my mind off this tragic event. As I sat with Facebook in front of me, I posted these words:

Surreace Cox, of North Charleston, S.C., holds a sign during a prayer vigil down the street from the Emanuel AME Church early Thursday, June 18, 2015, following a shooting Wednesday night in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

AP Photo/David Goldman

There are so many things about the shootings in Charleston last night that are troubling, infuriating, heartbreaking…demoralizing. This kind of hate is learned behavior, which means someone, many I’m afraid, are still teaching it. It’s a perpetuation of learned ignorance that is reprehensible! There are many who don’t want to talk about these types of issues.


AP Photo/David Goldman

There are many who don’t want to talk about these types of issues. They see these acts of violence as isolated incidents that don’t reflect the broader reality. They want to hold onto the belief that “we have come so far.” But, to look at this incident and not see how far yet we still have to go, is to walk around in denial. Hate breeds hate; fear breeds fear… and it’s not what we are called to as having been made in God’s image.

Today we pray and mourn, but, if tomorrow we do not act, then who are we?


Shortly after posting this, I turned on the news and learned that they had caught the suspect: Dylann Storm Roof, a 21 year old white man. Dylann-Roof-351x254Twenty-one – a time in life when one’s convictions are untouchable and impulse control is weak. Yet, it seems there may have been points along the way when these convictions could have been assuaged. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Parables?

June 14, 2015

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The 3rd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 6 
Samuel 15:34-16:13; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34

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

We begin our staff meeting each week with the Morning Devotional in the Prayer Book. As part of this, we read the gospel passage for the upcoming Sunday and share our thoughts about it. This past Tuesday, after hearing the gospel lesson you just heard, the question was raised: “Why did Jesus teach in parables, anyway?”

It’s a legitimate question. Even the disciples ask it. But the response found in scripture might surprise you. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus replies:

To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that

‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,

and may indeed listen, but not understand;

so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’” (Mk 4:11b-12)


I thought the whole purpose of the gospels was to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah; to share the good news of Christ in the world; to open the doors for all to come and embrace the love and forgiveness of God, made manifest through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Speaks Near the Treasury, by James Tissot

Jesus Speaks Near the Treasury, by James Tissot

So, why are the teachings given in such a way that’s confusing; in parables? What’s the point? In this age of immediate gratification, where information is available, literally at your fingertips, thanks to the iPhone, doesn’t this parable-approach risk losing the audience?

How are we supposed to interpret these parables? Even when we do, how do we know if we got it RIGHT? Isn’t that the goal, after all, to be RIGHT! To have THE ANSWER to how God works and what God wants from us? Just tell me plainly what I must do, and then I can decide if I’m willing to or not. Opt-in or opt-out. Just give me the facts, please!! Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

This is an article written for the church’s monthly newsletter, the Communique, published in June, 2015. 

In early May the J2A Pilgrims (the 8th & 9th grade Youth Group) headed to Birmingham, Alabama for their Urban Adventure. The weekend’s purpose is to immerse the teens in an unfamiliar urban area and have them find their way to various locations, by foot and mass transit, without smartphones or internet assistance. It’s a weekend intended to prepare them for their Pilgrimage next summer when they’ll be in unfamiliar lands and work together to find their way.

To spice things up, the group is divided into two teams and they compete to get to all the locations and finish first. We added an Amazing Race component, so they had to gather a piece of information at each destination – like the number of birds in a specific statue.   The adults are only there to make sure they don’t get into trouble, but not to help navigate, so the teams must work together and find their way together.

Before the trip, I decided to pick a song that could unite us. I thumbed through an old music book my mom had given me years ago and came across “They Will Know We are Christians by our Love.” It would be easy to teach, and I hoped it would temper the competition somewhat by reminding them that in the midst of a strange place, we’re setting an example of what it is to be Christian. In hindsight, it also connected with each phase of our weekend together – I call that the Holy Spirit!

Read the rest of this entry »

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