Still We Rise!

June 1, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

7th Sunday of Easter – RCL Year A
Acts 1:6-14; 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11; John 17:1-11

photo (8)“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” This Henry David Thoreau quote confronts me each time I open the refrigerator door. It sits as a framed, limited edition work of art, created by my niece, Kayanne. The card arrived in my mailbox four years ago announcing that she would be graduating from college with a degree in Graphic Design.

Although I’ve never asked, I’d like to think that Kayanne’s connection with this quote may have been partially inspired by a time she and I spent together just four years earlier, at the time of her high school graduation. As a graduation present, I got tickets for Kayanne and me to hear Dr. Maya Angelou when she came to Houston. Angelou had been a favorite of my older sister, Kathy, Kayanne’s mom, who had died a couple of years earlier. So, sharing this experience with Kayanne was one way of bringing her mom into the celebration with us.

During the evening we were captivated by the inspiring and poignant words of Angelou. Her message was optimistic while she encouraged each of us to share our unique gifts with the world. She attributed each person’s unique strengths to their ability to rise above the struggles in life, and she assured us that “each of us has the power to change someone’s life,” saying, “Sometimes if you just speak to someone it can change their whole day.” (1) Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

2nd Sunday of Easter – RCL Year A
Acts 2:14a, 22-32; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

On the morning of Good Friday I headed into Atlanta to participate in the Annual Ecumenical Good Friday Pilgrimage. Although the walk was to begin at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, near City Hall, I knew I needed to be here, at Christ Church, shortly after the walk was over, so, the perpetual planner that I am, I decided to park near the finishing point, at the Martin Luther King Center, and walk about a mile to the starting point.

http://jeffsdailypicture.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html

jeffsdailypicture.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive

After finding a place to park, I made my way up Edgewood Ave. on foot. At 8:30 in the morning, the sidewalks were mostly empty, but I did encounter a few folks as I walked toward town.

In my clericals, I was an unexpected sight to one man who stopped me along the way. He was working on a demolition project and told me about his struggles with a co-worker, perhaps with the hope that I might provide words of guidance to resolve his conflict. We talked for a few minutes, which I’m not sure was so helpful, but perhaps encouraging, and then I was back on my way.

A few blocks later I approached an intersection where three men stood, waiting for the light to change. One of them was drinking from an aluminum can wrapped in a small paper-bag. As he turned and saw me, he smiled what seemed a self-conscious smile. Yet when it was returned with a smile of my own, and a “Good morning” greeting, he relaxed a bit, and then asked expectantly, “Is God Good?”

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Both Shepherd and Lamb

April 18, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Good Friday, April 18, 2014 – Year A

Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Hebrews 10:16-25, John 18:1-19:42

If you were here this past Sunday, you heard me explain that these narratives about Jesus’ death are called “The Passion” because the Latin root of the word is passio, which means suffering.

Throughout the Passion narrative from Matthew read on Sunday, we got a sense of the suffering Jesus endured, yet today’s account from John is quite different. In John’s gospel Jesus is the one directing the course of action, from beginning to end, and this is reflected in the Passion story, as well.

In today’s reading, after Judas brought the soldiers and temple police into the garden where Jesus was, instead of Judas kissing Jesus on the cheek, as told in Matthew’s version, here we have Jesus stepping forward on his own. He asks the soldiers who is it they seek, and when they say “Jesus of Nazareth” Jesus responds, without hesitation, “I am he.” Read the rest of this entry »

Rebirth of Understanding

March 16, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The Second Sunday in Lent – Year A RCL

Genesis 12:1-4a; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

Nicodemus at NightIn today’s gospel we hear the familiar story of Nicodemus, a leader in the Jewish tradition; a Pharisee. During the night, under the cover of darkness, Nicodemus comes to Jesus. Having seen the signs that Jesus has done, he affirms that Jesus must be a teacher who comes from God, because surely these signs wouldn’t be possible without God’s presence.

And instead of accepting this affirmation from Nicodemus, it says, “Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’”

Nicodemus is confused by this. He likes things to be straight-forward. He’s used to abiding by the letter of the law, carrying out the commandments that God has set forth. So now, he hears Jesus saying that one has to be “born from above” and Nicodemus’ literal nature responds in a literal way: “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”

But Jesus isn’t talking about an earthly birth, one based in flesh, but instead, he talks of being born of the Spirit. Being born into the person God calls us to be; not the image that the world has for us.

So what is this rebirth? What does it look like?

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