Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC

June Worship – Hearing Other Voices

This week Church of the Servant used our worship time to hear the voices of St. Stephen A.M.E. church, led by their Pastor, Rev. Thomas Nixon. When I asked Pastor Nixon how they’re doing virtual worship in the midst of COVID-19, he shared the evolution…

It started with a video recording of worship from the sanctuary, providing Rev. Nixon with the familiar pulpit, yet preaching to empty pews. When the A.M.E. Bishops directed their clergy to no longer use the sanctuary, he began recording video-sermons seated in front of his computer camera – not his style. The congregation let him know that it was more important that they hear him preach “as he is” than to see him in a way that didn’t ring-true. So they’ve been worshiping each Sunday by teleconference. No video, just real-time, real Pastor Nixon, worship. Here is the sermon portion of that worship from today. He draws on Exodus 1:8-14.

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC

Proper 16, Year B
Ephesians 6:10-20

Listen here:

Read the rest of this entry »

God with Mary; God with Us!

December 21, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Advent 4– RCL Year B
2 Samuel 7:1-11; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

Although the Advent wreath prayers today were focused on Joseph, the text from Luke’s gospel is centered on Mary; specifically, the visit that she received from God’s messenger, Gabriel.

From out of the blue Gabriel appears to Mary saying, “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Luke’s gospel gains immediate credibility for me when it tells us that Mary is confused by this greeting. Here she is, a young woman, probably in her early teens, most likely living a very ordinary life. As a girl, she wouldn’t have much influence on what would happen in her life. Her father had already decided who she would marry, which we know was Joseph.

From there, after their marriage, Mary would dutifully carry out the tasks of tending to the household. She doesn’t study or read scripture, but instead prepares the daily meals, carefully adhering to the dietary rules of the Jewish tradition. She makes sure that her husband’s needs are attended to, and there would certainly be an expectation that Mary would have children – hopefully male children, to carry on the family line.

And while all of these things are essential and good, they would not likely earn the greeting bestowed upon Mary this day, “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you.” So, Mary is perplexed. Read the rest of this entry »

A Flip of the Coin

October 19, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 24– RCL Year A
Exodus 33:12-23; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Matthew’s gospel is tough. It was written for a particular audience at a particular time in history. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have something to say to us today, but before we can attempt to understand how it might speak to us, we first have to do the work of understanding what it meant THEN, to THAT audience.

Most of us don’t take time for that kind of work. We hear today’s gospel and interpret it simply to mean that we should pay our taxes, give to Caesar what is Caesars’s, and get on with it. But, it’s not that simple. It’s Matthew’s gospel, so there’s work to do.

But, don’t be afraid, I’m here to help.

Matthew’s gospel is big on RULES and AUTHORITY.

We continually hear stories where the Pharisees challenge Jesus or his disciples about the Sabbath because they are healing people or taking corn from the fields and no one’s supposed to be working. And, a couple of weeks ago we heard the Pharisees asking Jesus, by whose authority John was baptizing people.

For all you rule-breakers out there, we like it when Jesus stirs things up! When he goes against the tradition and challenges the status quo.

And when we hear that the Pharisees are trying to trick Jesus with a question, we love it when Jesus turns the tables on them, and they are dumbfounded! Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: