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 »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA Sermon given as Deacon and Seminarian

Seventh Sunday in Easter – Year C RCL 

Acts 16:16-34, Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21 & John 17:20-26

Last Sunday morning, as Ceci and I were standing in the narthex, about to process in for the 8:00 o’clock service, as usual, Jeff began playing the opening hymn. After a few notes Ceci smiled and said, “This is my favorite hymn.”

I turned and looked at her, matching her smile with my own, I said playfully, “You know you say that all the time.” And, while that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, as someone who’s served with Ceci for the past several years, believe me when I tell you, she says it A LOT!

It’s not a judgment – it just points out the fact that singing is an important part of the Episcopal liturgy. WE SING. It’s one of the things that we love to do.

If you don’t believe me, take it from Garrison Keillor, the voice of NPR’s Prairie Home Companion. In an essay about Episcopalians, after sharing a list of ways people make fun of us, he said, “But nobody sings like them.” He shared this experience:

If you were to ask an audience in Des Moines, a relatively Episcopalianless place, to sing along on the chorus of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Episcopalians, they’d smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! ….And down the road!

I like that image! 

Read the rest of this entry »

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