Got Wheat?

July 20, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 11 – RCL Year A
Genesis 28:10-19a; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

In today’s gospel we have another parable from Jesus to the crowds, and as Matthew seems kind enough to do, we also have an explanation of the symbols in the parable, shared only with the disciples… and us, it seems.

Like the sower and the seeds parable we heard last Sunday, Jesus continues to use farming imagery familiar to his audience. But in this parable the seeds no longer represent the spreading of God’s word. Instead we have two kinds of seeds. The seeds of wheat are the good seeds sown by the Master. The other seeds are weeds, sown at night by the enemy. We are told that the good seeds represent the children of the kingdom, while the weeds represent the children of the evil one, sown by the devil.

Now, some might look at this text and conclude that one’s goodness or evilness is predetermined – that when we come into this world, we are either cast as a seed of wheat or as a weed, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I don’t believe that this is how things work. And, for the purpose of Matthew’s gospel, this parable is more likely about Jesus’ hope to expand God’s kingdom in the world.

Through this parable, Jesus is beckoning the crowd to be WHEAT… that is, to hear his message about God and live into God’s call to love others. The alternative is to fall under the influence of those who act contrary to God’s message of love; those who focus on, or get distracted by, worldly things.

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A few words from Jesus, CEO

October 27, 2013

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 25 – Year C RCL

Joel 2:23-32, 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18, Luke 18:9-14

As many of you know, before attending seminary, I spent twenty years in the banking industry. During my last job there, I was the Business Manager for the Commercial Middle Market of the Southwest Region, working closely with the CEO of that Market. About once a quarter we’d carve out a week or two to travel to each city in our region to touch base. Each day we’d hop on a Southwest Airlines flight (“the company plane”) and head to San Antonio, or Dallas, or El Paso… you get the picture.

David, my boss, liked to use every minute possible to prepare for these meetings. He wanted them to be productive, personal and motivating. So after boarding the plane each morning around 7:00 a.m., David, the finance guy, and I would sit together, pull out a stack of spreadsheets, and begin identifying the talking points for that day’s discussion.

Since most people on the plane just want to get one more hour of sleep before reaching their destination, it’s not surprising that we were greeted with scowls from nearby passengers, but David was oblivious to that. He had a message to deliver, and he wanted to be ready. The comfort of those around him was of no concern.

During those trips, day after day over the course of the week or two, David would share his vision for the business, adding market-specific nuance to fit their needs, but the overall theme was consistent.

I think the writer of Luke’s gospel would have fit well into this corporate communication model. There’s a repetitious theme that runs through the stories, with slight variations based on the audience, not unlike David’s market visits. As I started thinking more about this, I wondered what it might look like if Jesus had crafted and delivered his message in a similar way. Read the rest of this entry »

Digging for Life

March 3, 2013

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Sermon on Luke 13:1-9, given while serving as seminarian

Lent 3 – Year C (RCL) 

Exodus 3:1-15, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 & Luke 13:1-9

Some of you may remember the movie Julia. The film is based on a true story that traces the lifelong relationship between playwright Lillian Hellman, who is played by Jane Fonda, and her friend Julia, played by Vanessa Redgrave.

Although the film was released in the late 1970’s, I didn’t actually see it until many years later, when I was in my 20’s. What I especially connected with in the movie was the stark contrast between Lillie and Julia. Their personalities and world-perspectives were completely different from each other. Elements of those differences reminded me of the contrast between me and my best friend at the time.

Julia was a visionary and consummate risk-taker. When she reached college-age, she left the U.S., traveling to Vienna to study with the likes of Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein. While there, she was compelled to a live a life that confronted the injustices she saw in the world around her. I remember, that as I watched the movie, Julia’s strength and conviction reminded me of my best friend. Although she didn’t move overseas after college, she left our hometown of Houston, and forged a less conventional path. She was not constrained by what others thought, but instead blazed the trail her heart defined.

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