A Necessary Journey

August 18, 2017

I’m at a time of transition. In preparation for the next page in my vocational journal, between packing boxes, and embarking on an interstate move, I carved out time to steal away, up a mountain, to pray. A cabin amid the treetops of north Georgia, near water, and mid-week calm. A Quiet Retreat for restoration and renewal.

Yet, in light of the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the intention of this time shifted in me. It became, instead, a “DisQuieting Retreat. A time to discern my response to the reality of escalating racial unrest in our time.

It can’t be denied – the demonstrations and violence by white supremacists carrying torches, shouting slurs, and inciting fear, even bodily harm and death, make denial impossible and reprehensible.

So what am I, a person of privilege, to do?

What am I, a follower of Jesus, to do?

What I am, a teacher, preacher, and pastor, to do?

First, I have to embrace the truth that I have my own work to do, to better understand the reality at hand, and what has caused it. So, I took a few books with me for this time of learning. Books I’ve been accumulating, but not reading. Books written by folks who look different than me; who’ve lived a different experience than I have; who reveal more clearly the impact of privilege and White American’s obliviousness to it.

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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.

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What’s in a Name?

January 15, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
Isaiah 49:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42

(Gospel Text provided below)

How many of you, either now or at some point in your life, have had a nickname? I’m not talking so much about shortened names, like being called Jimmy instead of James, but more like Ronald Reagan being called “the Gipper” or Margaret Thatcher, “The Iron Lady”.
When I was growing up, my brother used to call both me and my sister “Twin.” It made things easier, especially during front-yard football games. And while my nickname was short-lived, some span a lifetime.

As we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., this weekend, I was curious if he had a nickname. Thanks to Google, I quickly learned that when King was born, he was named Michael, not Martin. When King was 5 years old, his father, a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Atlanta, took a trip to Germany. He was so inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther, that when he returned, he not only changed his own name to Martin, but his son’s, too.[i]nickname-collage

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Follow that Star!

January 6, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The Feast of the Epiphany
Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

(Gospel Text provided below)
img_0008-2I am, what is often referred to in church-circles, a cradle-Episcopalian, which means I’ve spent my whole life connected to the liturgical cycle of this particular Christian denomination. Through the decades of my life, except for the “new” Prayer Book, adopted when I was young, and the shift from purple to blue as the color for Advent, things haven’t changed very much.

I remember, as a child, looking forward to The Epiphany service with great anticipation. I loved astronomy, so the emphasis on the bright star and the three wise men, sometimes called astronomers, surely contributed to my love for this day. And the atmosphere at church was very different from our usual Sunday morning worship.

On Sundays, the sanctuary was full of light and activity. By contrast, Epiphany usually fell in the middle of the week, and was always an evening service. We’d enter a dimly lit Nave, the darkness amplified by wintery skies, and muted stained-glass windows. We held individual candles – the ones with those little cardboard circles around them, intended to keep the wax from dripping on our hands. The goal – don’t catch anything on fire, especially your sister’s hair.sjd-epiphany

The procession began with the familiar hymn

We Three Kings of Orient are bearing gifts, we traverse afar…

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