What is God’s

October 22, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 24, Year A
Isaiah 45:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22

Listen here, or read below:

 

Oh great, the scripture passage that tells us we should pay our taxes. Always a favorite! Of course, it might be more helpful if we hear it in April instead of October. And while this story is sometimes used in that way, it isn’t really about paying taxes.

The passage starts out by telling us what the Pharisees are up to. Remember, Jesus has been telling parables about the Kingdom of Heaven, and through these stories, illustrating how the Pharisees aren’t exactly living into the spirit of God’s law. So, now the Pharisees are trying to entrap Jesus by asking him a controversial question. They took the Herodians with them to witness Jesus’ answer. These are those in authority under King Herod, who governed the Hebrew people, and had a certain amount of independence even though the Roman Emperor had ultimate authority.

To keep this independence, Herod was expected to pay a tribute tax to Rome, which was collected from the Jews. So, with Herodians and Pharisees on the offensive, they began by trying to butter Jesus up a bit, saying:

“Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”

So these same Pharisees who were recently questioning by whose authority Jesus was teaching in the temple, are now addressing Jesus as “Teacher.” They’re saying he’s honest and teaches the truth of God. They go on to invite him to speak freely, reminding Jesus that he isn’t influenced by someone’s stature in society. He treats all people the same.

Don’t we see these same types of characters in every Disney movie ever made? We want to call out, “Don’t fall for it Jesus! They’re up to no good!”

Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
5th Sunday of Easter
Acts 7:55-60; John 14:1-14

 

The Gift of Lent

February 26, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The Last Sunday after Epiphany
Exodus 24:12-18; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

(Gospel Text provided below)

Today is the last Sunday before Lent… so live it up!

It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw on one of our family road-trips. By this time, we were in our teens, and headed to Idaho for a 6-day raft trip. One gift shop along the way had a t-shirt that read “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for tomorrow you may be in Utah.” If you’ll allow me Episcopal license, today that shirt might read: “Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for on Wednesday we begin Lent.”

eclectic-artwork

This presumes that Lent is a time of austerity and self-denial. Yet, as a teenager, I learned that Lent can also be a time to take things on. To make a commitment to do something you’ve been putting off, or to improve your well-being, or perhaps, to serve others in a more tangible way. This approach to Lent has been helpful for me, and was especially so during my first few months in Atlanta.

I came to Atlanta from Houston seven years ago to embark on a vocational transformation. I arrived in January with snow on the ground – did I mention I came from Houston? I’d left behind all that was familiar – my family, my friends, and a budding romance. So, while I was living into this new purpose for my life, it came with some losses, some sacrifices.

img_5078

I didn’t have a job, and wasn’t planning to get one before the start of seminary in August. I moved in January to get settled-in, and start getting to know the diocese I’d call home. As an introvert, though, it would’ve been easy to stay in the warmth of my house, with my dog and cat as constant companions. And as easy as that would’ve been, I knew it wouldn’t move me toward my purpose – to get to know the diocese that had welcomed me.

Fortunately, I received a gift just a few weeks after my move – the gift of Lent. That Lent became a season of taking things on.  Read the rest of this entry »

Rise Up!

January 29, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The 4th Sunday after Epiphany
Micah 6:1-8; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12

(Gospel Text provided below)

How about those Atlanta Falcons! It’s pretty exciting to see them headed to the Super Bowl. Now, I realize not everyone sitting here today is a football fan. And, even for those who are, I’d venture to guess that some of you may even be pulling for the Patriots in next week’s game. super-bowl-2017-top-five-upsets-of-all-timeThat’s okay. We’re Episcopalians. We don’t have to all like football, or even cheer for the same team. Our common life together isn’t grounded in football, or in loyalty to a specific team. Instead, it’s grounded in our shared belief in Jesus Christ. It’s grounded in prayer together as a community. It’s grounded in being sent-out together as the hands and feet of Christ in the world.

But before I get to that, let’s get back to the Falcons for just a minute. It’s been quite a season, that’s for sure. But like most successes in life, it didn’t just happen. Even more remarkable, it wasn’t just one or two stand-out players that got them where they are. It was a full team effort.

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: