Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
10th Sunday After Pentecost – Proper 12
Luke 11:1-13

(Gospel Text provided below)

Today I’ll be sharing the pulpit with a couple folks who will be talking about Stewardship of Relationship. One is a member of Daughters of the King and the other is in the Order of St. Luke – both are prayer ministries at Christ Church. I don’t think the date was chosen based on the lectionary, so the fact that we’ve been provided with the quintessential gospel text for prayer gives some extra creds to the Holy Spirit!

And while prayer is certainly a way that we can be stewards of relationships with one another, it’s also a good way to be stewards of our relationship with God.

So with that in mind, what does this passage from Luke’s gospel tell us about prayer?

Prayer, in its simplest definition, is a way of connecting with God. Yet interestingly, the passage points out that it’s not instinctive. Prayer is actually a learned behavior. Even the disciples, these learners that are following Jesus, ask to be taught how to pray.

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Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Day of Pentecost
Genesis 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:8-17, 25-27

 

I’d like to see a show of hands… how many of you have a birthday that falls during the summer months? I have a summer birthday. It’s in late July.

Summer birthdays are different than school-year birthdays. If you were like me, your birthday parties probably had fewer school friends, who were scattered for the summer. Instead, you’d have kids from the neighborhood pool and family. When I was young, I always wanted a school-year birthday because it seemed like they got more attention. I contend this isn’t just true for our personal birthdays, but also for the birthday of the church.

That’s what today is after all – Pentecost Sunday! The Birthday of the Church.

imageNow, unlike our birthdays which fall on the same date each year, Pentecost falls on different days because it’s always 50 days after Easter and Easter moves around. This year Easter was pretty early, so while Pentecost is usually a summer-birthday-kind-of-day, this year it’s been upgraded to a school-year birthday! So instead of a lot of folks being scattered, we’re all here to celebrate together!

We’ve got our festive red outfits on, our flamed-ribbon-sticks in-hand, a dove flying in the procession, special music – the works! It’s quite a birthday celebration for the Church!

But why is Pentecost considered the birthday of the church?

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A New Thing?

January 31, 2016

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
4th Sunday after Epiphany 
Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30

(Gospel text is provided at the bottom of this post)

Although Lent hasn’t even started, it seems like today’s gospel has a Palm Sunday quality to it. passion-sundayWe begin Palm Sunday with a joyous entry, waving palm branches as we recall the Hosannas that welcomed Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. Yet, by the end of the Palm Sunday service we endure the taunts of “Crucify him, Crucify him” in the Passion story.

In today’s lesson I can hear the Hosannas as Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth. He goes into the synagogue, reads scripture, and asserts that it has been fulfilled. We’re told that “all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” Yet, by the end of the reading we hear that:

…all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill… so that they might hurl him off the cliff.

Palm Sunday, indeed! So what did Jesus say that was so disturbing? What turned their amazement into mutiny?

Well, let’s go back to last week’s gospel reading, which is where this all began. Jesus had been baptized, anointed by the Holy Spirit, tempted in the desert, and now “filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee.” He was teaching in synagogues and the buzz about Jesus had begun.

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Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The 13th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 16 
1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69

(Gospel text is provided at the bottom of this post)

I always know the school year has started when I see clusters of parents walking their young children to school. I grew up in a time when parents rarely walked their kids to school. We’d jump on our bikes and head off on our own. Even so, there were rules we were expected to follow to keep us safe along the way.

3-29-2008_006-VG on FenceI remember one time, my younger sister, Virginia, was later than usual getting home from school, and Mom was getting worried. When my sister finally made it home, amid the relief, my mom asked her why it took so long. It turns out that when Virginia came to a busy intersection on her way home, she remembered the rule my parents taught her – to not cross the street until there weren’t any cars. While that’s a good rule, it doesn’t always work so well. If memory serves, the next lesson Virginia learned was about how to use the Walk/Don’t Walk signs at busy intersections!

Rules are important. For children, they can help set boundaries and keep them safe. Yet, as we grow older, we begin to use our own judgment; perhaps test the boundaries of the rules. And, as our context changes, like standing at a busy intersection, some rules need to be replaced with a new way forward.

John’s gospel shows us Jesus as the one who provides this new way; he’s all about transformation from what WAS to what’s NEXT! Read the rest of this entry »

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