Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC

1st Sunday in Lent
Genesis 9:8-17; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15

Listen here:

Some asked me to share here the specific suggestions I offered in my sermon. This is far from an exhaustive list. Be creative. Do what you can. Baby Steps still move us forward. Moving together with others makes the journey richer. God’s speed…

BABY STEP 1: Be an educated VOTER in 2018 and beyond

Next: Call your elected officials, even if you know they don’t agree with you, and ask them to:

  • Designate funds to CDC for gun violence research.
  • Reinstate the regulation that makes it harder for people with mental illness to purchase a gun.
  • Create gun licensing similar to that for cars – competency tests, clear title transfers, insurance, etc.
  • Limit or Ban the purchase of assault style weapons and magazines by civilians.

If you need motivation:

Aaron Feis, 37, Assistant Football Coach and Security Guard;

He died while using his body to shield students from bullets as the gunman opened fire.

Scott Beigel, 35, Geography Teacher and Cross Country Coach;

He was shot and killed when he unlocked his classroom to allow students to take refuge from the gunman.

Christopher Hixon, 49, Athletic Director, Wrestling Coach & Security Specialist

Hixon came from a military family and served in the U.S. Navy. He was killed while patrolling the school’s campus.


Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

She wanted to become a lawyer and professional soccer player, and played on the Parkland Soccer Club

Martin Anguiano, 14

His older brother described him as “a very funny kid, outgoing and sometimes really quiet.”

Nicholas Dworet, 17

He was a swimmer, committed to the University of Indianapolis. He dreamed of making the Olympic Swim team.

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

She was a dancer who was described by her father as the “life of the party.”

Luke Hoyer, 15

He was described by his grandparents as a “good kid” who “never got in trouble.”

Cara Loughran, 14 

She was a beach-lover and dancer.

Gina Montalto, 14      

She was a member of the winter guard and the school’s state-champion marching band. “A kind spirit with a keen sense of humor.”

Joaquin Oliver, 17

He was a hip hop and sports lover who became a naturalized American citizen in January 2017, after moving from Venezuela at the age of 3.

Alaina Petty, 14

She was described as “a vibrant and determined young woman, loved by all who knew her. Alaina loved to serve.”

Meadow Pollack, 18

She was the youngest in her family and enjoyed spending time with them. She had planned on attending Lynn University in Boca Raton.

Helena Ramsay, 17

She was described as “a smart, kind hearted, and thoughtful person… with a relentless motivation towards her academic studies…”

Alexander Schachter, 14              

He played the trombone and baritone in the Douglas’ marching band. Described as “A sweetheart of a kid!”

Carmen Schentrup, 16                  

She was named one of the National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists in the county. She was also a gifted piano student.

Peter Wang, 15

He was a member of the JROTC. He was last seen wearing his uniform and holding the door open so that people could escape. He had planned on celebrating the Chinese New Year with his family.


Gospel Text:

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”


Sean Rossman, ‘We’re children. You guys are the adults’: Shooting survivor, 17, calls out lawmakers, USA Today Network, USA TODAY Published 1:05 p.m. ET Feb. 15, 2018.

Walter Morris, “Students call for change, stricter gun laws in wake of Parkland shooting,” WSVN-TVSunbeam Television Corp, February 16, 2018

Jonathan Sperling, “Florida school shooting: These are the 17 victims,” NBC News Website, Feb 17 2018, 9:59 am ET.

Resurrected Hope

April 30, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14a,36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35

This Sunday I got a bit out of my comfort zone and preached without a manuscript. A couple of years ago, a parishioner of my church encouraged me to do this, but my anxiety has been an impediment. Then, this past Tuesday I had a bit of time with my bishop, Rob Wright. In our carefree conversation about this Sunday’s gospel text from Luke, he asked, “Are you going to preach from a manuscript?” I said I was and he challenged me not to. Nudged might be a better word. He didn’t push hard, but he assured me that “you’ve got this.” My wife, Alice also bolstered my confidence. I talk about scripture passages and sermon ideas with her all the time, off the cuff, so she knows I can do it. So I decided that I’d give it a try.

Now, to be clear, preaching without a manuscript isn’t the same thing as preaching extemporaneously, which is with little preparation. I did prepare. But as someone who has always relied heavily on my carefully crafted, tightly worded, sermon in print in front of me, to instead walk into church on Sunday morning with no paper in hand, no saved document to pull up on a screen, it was odd. To move out from behind the pulpit, standing at the top of the chancel steps, with nothing between me and the congregation, I was exposed.

Photo by Bruce Halliburton, 2014.

My only safety net was the Bible given to me by that same bishop on the day of my ordination. It sat on the altar rail, just a few feet away, providing assurance that if I needed to, I could turn to the text, or peek at the squirreled away 4×6 inch index card with bullet points tucked inside.

The safety net was not necessary. As expected, the Holy Spirit had my back as I shared God’s word and the story of resurrected hope found in Luke’s Easter message.The audio file isn’t as crisp as I’d like, but thanks to iPhone technology and recording apps, I captured it and share it with you here.

Happy Easter! Go try something new!



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.”


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.


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 »

A Pilgrim’s Lens

October 2, 2016

img_5578Last July I had the honor to lead a group of eleven teenagers and four fantastic leaders to South Ireland for a Pilgrimage. I’ve intentionally waited to share much about this trip, wanting the Pilgrims to be the first to tell their story to the Christ Church congregation, which they did on October 2nd.

So, now, I’m sharing some of my reflections. They come in two forms – a photo-slideshow (link below) and a few of my daily journal entries – my personal reflections. The over-arching sentiment was captured on Day 2 with this side note:

What a ridiculous privilege it is to get to do this for a living. #worththewait 

Read the rest of this entry »

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