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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Celebrating Saints

November 6, 2016

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
All Saints’ Day (transferred) – Year C
Daniel 7:1-3,15-18; Ephesians 1:11-23; Luke 6:20-31

(Gospel Text provided below)

I was lucky to get to know both of my Grandmothers as I was growing up. Both lived in Houston, both had ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, and both were named Mary. That may be where their similarities end.

My Grandmother Greenwood was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She moved to Houston after marrying my grandfather, who became a prominent neurosurgeon. The entry room of their grand two-story house was adorned with framed cross-stitch samplers made by the very daughters of those early colonial soldiers. She also had a Union Army uniform worn by her grandfather in the Civil War, along with three sabers and musket from that era. She was a collector of history and family heirlooms. She was an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, she always had a “Go Navy” bumper sticker on her car, and in addition to raising six children, she was active in the Episcopal church and volunteered for the Red Cross, among other things.

1963-christmas-group2Each Sunday after church we’d go to Grandma Greenwood’s house in our Sunday finest. We’d scamper upstairs to play games with our many cousins and if we were lucky, we’d be picked to help Grandpa wind the grandfather clock in the living room. When the food was ready, Grandma would call us to dinner, and we’d flock to the kitchen and take our places at the kid’s table. All my aunts and uncles gathered ‘round the large dining room table for a proper Sunday dinner, where white rice and sweet corn accompanied every meal, and Blue Bell ice cream brought it to an oh-so-sweet close. Read the rest of this entry »

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