The Gift of Advent

December 10, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC

2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B
Isaiah 40:1-11; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8

Listen here:

 

Gospel Text: Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
7th Sunday of Easter

Acts 1:6-14
1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
John 17:1-11

Gospel Text:

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

”I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” (John 17:1-11)

 

Buddhist poem on Prayer to strengthen one’s mind

‘Let me not pray to be sheltered from danger,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
but for the patience to win my freedom.’

bengali poet – rabindranath tagore – 1916

 

 

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!

 

 

Greetings!

April 15, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Great Easter Vigil
Romans 6:3-11; Matthew 28:1-10

Greetings!

Yes, it’s great to be with you on this night of the Great Easter Vigil yet my salutation of “Greetings!” is more than just a word of welcome. I’m following the example of Jesus. In Matthew’s telling, this is the first word shared by the resurrected Christ. When I realized this, it surprised me!

It’s John’s resurrection story that usually comes to mind. In it Jesus speaks with compassion to Mary Magdalene as she weeps outside the empty tomb. She mistakes him for a gardener when he gently asks, “‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?” Then, calling her by name, “Mary!” she recognized him.

In Luke’s version, Jesus’ first words are shared with two unnamed disciples on the road to Emmaus. They’re discussing the recent events of Jesus arrest and death, and an unrecognized Jesus asks, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?road2emmausAfter they tell him, he proceeds to explain how obvious it is that all these things were necessary to fulfill what Moses and the prophets said about the Messiah. Even so, they still didn’t recognize him, that is, until he broke bread with them at dinner. This shared act caused their eyes to be opened to the risen Christ.

Mark’s gospel gives no words to Jesus at all. An angel at the empty tomb instructs the women to tell the others that Jesus has risen and that he’ll meet them in Galilee. But we’re told that these who were to share the good news went silent. It says: “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

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