Still We Rise!

June 1, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

7th Sunday of Easter – RCL Year A
Acts 1:6-14; 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11; John 17:1-11

photo (8)“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” This Henry David Thoreau quote confronts me each time I open the refrigerator door. It sits as a framed, limited edition work of art, created by my niece, Kayanne. The card arrived in my mailbox four years ago announcing that she would be graduating from college with a degree in Graphic Design.

Although I’ve never asked, I’d like to think that Kayanne’s connection with this quote may have been partially inspired by a time she and I spent together just four years earlier, at the time of her high school graduation. As a graduation present, I got tickets for Kayanne and me to hear Dr. Maya Angelou when she came to Houston. Angelou had been a favorite of my older sister, Kathy, Kayanne’s mom, who had died a couple of years earlier. So, sharing this experience with Kayanne was one way of bringing her mom into the celebration with us.

During the evening we were captivated by the inspiring and poignant words of Angelou. Her message was optimistic while she encouraged each of us to share our unique gifts with the world. She attributed each person’s unique strengths to their ability to rise above the struggles in life, and she assured us that “each of us has the power to change someone’s life,” saying, “Sometimes if you just speak to someone it can change their whole day.” (1) 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 »

Emmaus House Episcopal Chapel, Atlanta, GA

7th Sunday of Easter – Year A (RCL) – Acts 1:6-14, Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36, 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11, John 17:1-11

For those who don’t know it, I have a twin sister whose name is Nancy. When we were seniors in high school, one of the biggest decisions we each had to make was what college we would go to.

Now, unlike some twins, neither Nancy nor I cared about going to the same school as each other, but as it turns out, we both wanted to go to the same school. We both wanted to go to Sewanee – in Tennessee. And we were both happy when we were each accepted. It wasn’t until later that we found out that this was a problem.

My parents knew that college was an important time to find your own way in the world – to discover who you are as an individual. Twins going to a small school on top of a mountain was not a good idea, and one afternoon in March of our senior year, my father said as much. So, since Nancy had chosen Sewanee first, it was incumbent upon me to find another place to go.

I knew if I stayed in Texas it would be very easy for me to fall back into the comfortable care of my youth-group friends and family spread out across southeast Texas. In light of this, going out-of-state seemed to be a better option.

After some direction from my mom, I settled on Wittenberg University, a small Lutheran liberal arts school in Springfield, Ohio. My uncle had worked there when I was very young so we spent many summer vacations with cousins running around the empty campus – this element of familiarity was a plus considering that I’d be so far from home, so Wittenberg was the choice.

In early September, the time had come to leave for school. My mom decided that it would be best for her to fly with me as opposed to me traveling alone. She realized that I wasn’t experienced enough to make that trip by myself… and she was right. Read the rest of this entry »

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