It Comes Down to This

November 26, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Christ the King Sunday, Year A
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46

Listen here:

 

Gospel Text: Read the rest of this entry »

Shining Light on Suicide

March 26, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The 4th Sunday in Lent
1 Samuel 16:1-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41; Psalm 23

When I was growing up my twin sister and I often had slumber parties to celebrate our birthday. One of these in particular stands out in my memory – the summer we turned 13.

After playing games and eating dinner and cake, it came time for lights-out, though that never meant eyes-closed. When the room got dark, the real stuff began, you know, ghost stories, séances, and in my day, the ever popular “light as a feather, stiff as a board.” This is when the whole group gathered around one willing party-goer who laid in the center, as we called upon spirits from beyond to assist us to lift her using only two fingers.

That year, in the wee hours of the morning, amid these mystical endeavors, the phone rang. One of our friends had a premonition that it was probably bad news… not really a stretch in hindsight, but at the time we gave her full creds as the enlightened one.

Sure enough, the next morning my parents called me and my siblings into their room. Their somber expressions caused me to wonder if my Grandma Caldwell had died. She was elderly and had already had several heart attacks. So, you can imagine my surprise when they shared that our cousin Carl was the one who had died. He was in training with the Air Force. His roommate had found him, seemingly asleep on the sofa, in their base-camp apartment. Carl was one day shy of his 19th birthday, and in two weeks he was supposed to get married. Read the rest of this entry »

Rise Up!

January 29, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The 4th Sunday after Epiphany
Micah 6:1-8; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12

(Gospel Text provided below)

How about those Atlanta Falcons! It’s pretty exciting to see them headed to the Super Bowl. Now, I realize not everyone sitting here today is a football fan. And, even for those who are, I’d venture to guess that some of you may even be pulling for the Patriots in next week’s game. super-bowl-2017-top-five-upsets-of-all-timeThat’s okay. We’re Episcopalians. We don’t have to all like football, or even cheer for the same team. Our common life together isn’t grounded in football, or in loyalty to a specific team. Instead, it’s grounded in our shared belief in Jesus Christ. It’s grounded in prayer together as a community. It’s grounded in being sent-out together as the hands and feet of Christ in the world.

But before I get to that, let’s get back to the Falcons for just a minute. It’s been quite a season, that’s for sure. But like most successes in life, it didn’t just happen. Even more remarkable, it wasn’t just one or two stand-out players that got them where they are. It was a full team effort.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
15th Sunday After Pentecost – Proper 17
Jeremiah
 2:4-13; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14

(Gospel Text provided below)

At the beginning of the summer, as we began our journey through Luke’s gospel, I said that if I had to pick a movie genre that best fit this gospel, it would be “supernatural.” Face it, the book is full of angels, healings, super-natural stuff, the whole bit. The gospel story on that day was about Jesus raising a man from the dead and it was told in only five verses.

I compared this matter-of-fact telling of the story to John’s elaborate gospel story about the raising of Lazarus. I explained that this difference in emphasis points to each author’s purpose for their gospel. John’s gospel is providing evidence in order to bring people to belief, or to reaffirm their belief, in Jesus as the Messiah. By contrast Luke’s telling isn’t intended to convert people, but instead, to shed a new light, a particular light, on Jesus’ message to an existing early Christian community.[i]

hungry-filledLuke provides an intentional message of salvation – a salvation that upends the status quo of his time. Jesus declares a ministry oriented to those without power.[ii] Where the lowly are raised up and the powerful brought down. Even more, Jesus is trying to remove those things that divide people, and restore those who have been excluded – the poor, the ill, the marginalized and the oppressed – and bring them back into the community.

At the risk of being a broken record, we see the same message from Jesus in today’s gospel lesson.   Read the rest of this entry »

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