Loving Like Jesus

April 13, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Maundy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Jesus is getting his affairs in order.

There’s no Garden of Gethsemane prayer of doubt in John’s telling of this story.

Jesus is clear about who he is, what he is doing, and what is coming next.

In the passage just ahead of today’s familiar story, it says:

Jesus cried aloud: ‘Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. (Jn 12:44-45)

What comes next is a demonstration of what “seeing him who sent me” looks like.

Jesus has had dinner with his disciples before, but he knows that his earthly life is drawing to a close. Words and signs have brought him so far, but he has a few more things to teach. Now he will give a tangible experience, an example of what it feels like to be embraced by God’s love. It’s important to remember that even Judas, the one who will betray Jesus, receives this example of love.

There’s no anxiety in this act. No haste.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. (Jn 13:3-5)

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What’s in a Name?

January 15, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
Isaiah 49:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42

(Gospel Text provided below)

How many of you, either now or at some point in your life, have had a nickname? I’m not talking so much about shortened names, like being called Jimmy instead of James, but more like Ronald Reagan being called “the Gipper” or Margaret Thatcher, “The Iron Lady”.
When I was growing up, my brother used to call both me and my sister “Twin.” It made things easier, especially during front-yard football games. And while my nickname was short-lived, some span a lifetime.

As we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., this weekend, I was curious if he had a nickname. Thanks to Google, I quickly learned that when King was born, he was named Michael, not Martin. When King was 5 years old, his father, a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Atlanta, took a trip to Germany. He was so inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther, that when he returned, he not only changed his own name to Martin, but his son’s, too.[i]nickname-collage

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Leaving the Ninety-nine

September 11, 2016

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
17th Sunday After Pentecost – Proper 19
Jeremiah
 4:11-12, 22-28; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10

(Gospel Text provided below)

lost-found-woohooToday we hear the familiar parables about the lost sheep and the lost coin. In Sunday School lessons and discussion groups our conversation usually focuses on the experience of being lost and being found. We ask questions like, “Describe a time when you were lost or separated from a family member?” or “What feelings did you experience when you were found after being lost?” Or perhaps the focus is on one’s assurance that someone cares enough about them to actually look for them.

This is a very understandable inclination. We can identify with the lost sheep because sometimes we feel lost ourselves. We want a God who will come and look for us, who won’t give up on us when we go astray. And, when we are found, we like the idea that God rejoices and celebrates our return! WooHoo!!

And while all of that is well and good, and these are comforting messages, I’m not sure that’s really what these parables in Luke’s gospel are getting at. When we look at the parable and its context more closely, we see that it isn’t a story about the lost sheep or lost coin. Like most stories in the gospels, it’s actually a story about Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »

The Cauldron’s Call

August 14, 2016

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
13th Sunday After Pentecost – Proper 15
Isaiah 5:1-7; Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12:49-56

(Gospel Text provided below)

This Sunday morning we find ourselves just past the midway-point of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. I grew up watching the Olympics, and have been watching more than my fair share this year. I can pretty much watch any event, but the one that has taken most of my attention so far, besides watching the amazing U.S. women’s gymnastics team, has been swimming.

Katie Ledecky at the age of nineteen is a swimming phenom. Her strength is long-distance races, and she holds the world-record in the 400, 800, and 1,500 meter freestyle. When she races, her goal isn’t to beat other swimmers. Her goal is to beat herself – to BEST herself. She keeps beating her own records, including this past Friday night in the 800, when she beat her own world record by almost 4 seconds – proving that she’s not content to just hold onto what she’s already accomplished.

Leah Smith, after finishing 2nd behind Ledecky in the Olympic Trials last June said, “I’ve never been able to see her feet before. That was exciting.” This has become the new measure of success when competing with Ledecky.[i] What’s more, Ledecky just goes about her business in a quiet and humble way. No grandstanding, just focused on doing what she is purposed to do.

Ledecky pic

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