Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
4th Sunday of Easter  
Acts 9:36-43; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30; Psalm 23

Last Sunday we heard the story of the resurrected Jesus sharing some grilled fish on the sandy shore with his disciples. The interaction with Peter provides the ultimate commissioning of what Jesus’ followers are meant to do. They are to follow Jesus’ example. He has washed their feet, he has commanded them to love others as he has loved them, and in this story he concludes by three times asking Peter “Do you love me?” After the first reply of Yes!, Jesus then says: Feed my lambs. After the second reply, Jesus says: Tend my sheep. And, just for good measure, to the third Yes, Jesus replies: Feed my sheep.

In ancient times the role of the shepherd would have been understood by the hearers. For us, not so much. The closest experience I’ve had to tending sheep happened a couple of summers ago in Iona, Scotland on our J2A Pilgrimage.

sheep combinedIt was our first full day on the small island of Iona. After lunch our group of ten headed out to explore the island, toward the beach and unkempt “golf-course”. As we walked down the rugged road that ran between pastures and homes, we noticed a family in their yard up ahead. They, along with their border collie, were trying to herd their sheep into a corral. When they saw us approaching, they noticed our interest and asked if anyone would like to help. Piper and Shelby were all in and made haste into the yard. Sam Lyles, one of the leaders, stepped through the gate with camera in hand hoping to get some good shots, but quickly learned he, too, had been commissioned to help with the sheep. There was lots of running around, back and forth, flapping arms, yelling “Hah, hah!” and trying to get the sheep to go in a common direction – and I’ve got the video to prove it! It took a few tries, but they finally got it done! Success! Read the rest of this entry »

Hold onto Hope

March 25, 2016

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Good Friday 
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 10:16-25; John 18:1-19:42; Psalm 22

Today is a dark day. Even when the sun is beaming brightly outside, we draw the shades; we dim the lights; we wear dark clothing; we speak in hushed tones; we kneel before a stripped altar. It is the day of remembering Jesus on the cross. We consider our part in the drama that unfolded thousands of years ago.

576111_10200190424516062_2102912940_nWhen we journey through Holy Week, a week set-apart for remembering, even reenacting, some of the final acts of Jesus – washing the feet of his disciples, sharing the bread and wine at the table, walking the path of the cross to Calvary, and now, knelling at the foot of the cross – it’s easy, even natural, to get caught-up in the darkness of the day. Yet, it is called GOOD Friday for a reason. Although it may not seem like it to others looking in, it’s a day that holds in it great HOPE.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Palm Sunday – The Passion of Christ (Year A)

Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:36-27:66

We’ve finally arrived at Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday. While using the word “Passion” may seem unusual, the Latin root of this word is passio, which means “suffering.”

Palm Sunday is a sensory overload. When I attended Emmaus House Chapel, Claiborne Jones, the vicar, would say “It’s the day of the church year when we do everything that we don’t do any other time.” And there is some truth to that.

And you have to admit, the Passion story makes a powerful centerpiece. The dramatic reading of the Passion of Christ brings it more fully to life. Yet, as we heard it today, just now, we must understand its purpose on this day – which is to provide an Overture, if you will, for Holy Week.

gone-with-the-wind-1939

gone-with-the-wind-1939

The Overture is that musical score at the very beginning of a musical, before the curtain goes up or during the opening credits, that weaves together small portions of various songs that will be part of the overall story.

For those who have seen the musical before, when they hear the Overture it brings to mind the context of each of the songs, drawing the audience in, heightening their anticipation of what is to follow. But, it doesn’t capture the whole story – you still have to watch the scenes that follow to get the full experience.

Similarly, the Passion story of Palm Sunday is like an Overture. It’s an overview of the story – the story that we will be participating in more fully throughout Holy Week.

For much of Christian history Holy Week was a time when people went to church every day of the week. In more recent times, there would be more active participation at least during the Triduum – which are the three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Yet even participation in these three days occurs less and less often, crowded out by busy schedules.

Consequently, Passion Sunday becomes a sort of substitute for Holy Week. It’s a shame really. It’s like listening to the Overture of a musical and then leaving the theater – you miss so much.

So, today, I invite you to enter fully into Holy Week, particularly, the Triduum. It provides an opportunity to experience the Passion of Christ more fully, and in so doing, to prepare more completely for the miracle of the resurrection. Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 25 – Year C RCL

Haggai 1:15b-2:9, Psalm 145:1-5, 18-21, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, 16-18, Luke 20:27-38

This may be a bit unorthodox, but I have a confession to make to you today. For the past couple of months, something has changed in my life, and I want to get it out into the open, so here goes…

I’ve started listening to contemporary Christian music. I know… it’s a shock…

It all began quite innocently, really – shortly after I bought my new car in late August. You see, like most new cars these days, mine came with a trial subscription to Sirius XM radio. As I was flipping through the stations to program my favorite Country, Pop, and NPR stations, I came across Channel 63… The Message.

Although I’ve listened to Christian music from time to time over the years, it hasn’t been a main-stay of my music selection… but for some reason, a few weeks ago, I decided to save the station on one of the programmed buttons… just as a fall-back if nothing else worth listening to came on. Or at least that’s what I told myself.

Little did I know how much time I would spend listening to this Christian music. It caught me off-guard to find it to be so upbeat; so positive; so inspiring… so it kept drawing me back in.

Before I knew it, I was downloading Christian music to my iPad…

I’ve even been listening to it while I’m at work…

And, I really knew it was getting out of hand when I realized how it had permeated my subconscious. Read the rest of this entry »

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