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.

Students:

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.”

Sources:

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. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/02/15/were-children-you-guys-adults-shooting-survivor-17-calls-out-lawmakers/341002002/

Walter Morris, “Students call for change, stricter gun laws in wake of Parkland shooting,” WSVN-TVSunbeam Television Corp, February 16, 2018 https://wsvn.com/news/local/students-call-for-change-stricter-gun-laws-in-wake-of-parkland-shooting/

Jonathan Sperling, “Florida school shooting: These are the 17 victims,” NBC News Website, Feb 17 2018, 9:59 am ET. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/florida-school-shooting-these-are-17-victims-n848706

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The 25th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 28 
1 Samuel 1:4-20; Hebrews 10:11-25; Mark 13:1-8

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

You may have heard me refer to Mark’s gospel as the “action adventure movie” of the New Testament. Jesus is constantly on the move, going from town to town. Folks gather ’round wherever he is and he heals them and casts out demons. Even when he tries to get off for some time to himself, they find him – his compassion compels him to respond to their needs.

But today, we’ve reached the part of Mark’s gospel that sounds more like Mad Max, Independence Day and Armageddon all rolled into one!

It all starts innocently enough. Up until now, Jesus and the disciples have been traveling around Galilee, in small towns and the countryside. They’ve now entered Jerusalem and Jesus has been teaching in the temple.

AncientJerusalemAs they leave the temple, the disciples marvel at the large buildings all around them – the grandness and permanence of this holy place. The place where the Hebrew people make pilgrimage for great feast days. The temple that held God’s presence.

But, as Jesus hears the disciples’ wonderment, instead of marveling along with them Jesus turns and informs them, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

When the disciples ask for details, the message gets even more grim: Read the rest of this entry »

Do you not care?

June 21, 2015

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The 4th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 7 
Samuel 17:32-49; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41

Last week was Sandwich Sunday, so after the 8:00 am service, a bunch of folks gathered in the Parish Hall with loaves of bread, peanut butter & jelly and ham & cheese ready to get to work. As usual, there was the obligatory search for the plastic gloves… my Achilles heel. We had enough to get everyone started, but I decided I’d run up to Target and get a full box and some more bread.

As I was headed back to church I sat at the traffic light and thought to myself, “I love this job.” In my twenty years in banking I know there were times when I liked what I was doing, and certainly who I was working with. I know I was good at my job, but I’m not sure I could ever truthfully say “I love this job.”

I continued to hold onto that feeling of love for this job as the new work-week began. On Monday, I popped in on Mary and her team of helpers at the Norcross Co-op Vacation Bible School. Then headed over to the church with Rita and Ken to map out the new Four-square and Basketball design on the back parking lot. The love continued as I made final adjustments to the Celtic liturgy, not to mention the fun of the Vestry meeting on Monday night!

On Tuesday, my love continued in the midst of conversations about an updated sound system planned for the sanctuary, followed by productive staff and warden’s meetings. And these feeling of love carried over to Wednesday, even as I hauled water hoses under the blazing sun to get things ready for a Wild & Wacky night with the kids.

I went to bed Wednesday night weary from a physically challenging day – earning over 13,000 steps for my effort – and the payoff was an evening filled with smiling kids and teens pelting each other with water balloons and careening across a three-lane slip and slide. I mean, what’s NOT to love about this job! Read the rest of this entry »

From Anguish to Alleluia!

August 17, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 15 – RCL Year A
Genesis 45:1-15; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Mt 15:21-28)

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been overwhelmed by the onslaught of tragic stories in the news. For the last several months there has been an increase of unrest, or at least that’s the way it feels. At first this seemed to be concentrated in the usual areas far away – the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Ukraine to name a few.

We’ve been hearing more and more about about the escalating attacks and death-counts in Gaza. Then, on July 17th we were stunned to learn that a commercial jetliner had been shot down over Ukraine, killing almost three hundred innocent victims. And all the while the Ebola virus has been spreading deeper and deeper across West Africa.

Immigration protesters on both sides of the debate staged rallies at a California Border Patrol station last week, in response to the child migrant crisis. Photo: Sandy Huffaker /Getty

And lest we think all the hardships are in far-off lands, we have our own issues to deal with. There are constant reminders of the young children seeking refuge in the U.S., fleeing their homeland due to violence and danger. This crisis has been met with mixed feelings and angry voices on both sides of the issue. Add to that the random shootings in offices and shopping malls, not to mention the endless bickering of a divided Congress, where finger-pointing rules the day. Read the rest of this entry »

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