Resurrected Hope

April 30, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14a,36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35

This Sunday I got a bit out of my comfort zone and preached without a manuscript. A couple of years ago, a parishioner of my church encouraged me to do this, but my anxiety has been an impediment. Then, this past Tuesday I had a bit of time with my bishop, Rob Wright. In our carefree conversation about this Sunday’s gospel text from Luke, he asked, “Are you going to preach from a manuscript?” I said I was and he challenged me not to. Nudged might be a better word. He didn’t push hard, but he assured me that “you’ve got this.” My wife, Alice also bolstered my confidence. I talk about scripture passages and sermon ideas with her all the time, off the cuff, so she knows I can do it. So I decided that I’d give it a try.

Now, to be clear, preaching without a manuscript isn’t the same thing as preaching extemporaneously, which is with little preparation. I did prepare. But as someone who has always relied heavily on my carefully crafted, tightly worded, sermon in print in front of me, to instead walk into church on Sunday morning with no paper in hand, no saved document to pull up on a screen, it was odd. To move out from behind the pulpit, standing at the top of the chancel steps, with nothing between me and the congregation, I was exposed.

Photo by Bruce Halliburton, 2014.

My only safety net was the Bible given to me by that same bishop on the day of my ordination. It sat on the altar rail, just a few feet away, providing assurance that if I needed to, I could turn to the text, or peek at the squirreled away 4×6 inch index card with bullet points tucked inside.

The safety net was not necessary. As expected, the Holy Spirit had my back as I shared God’s word and the story of resurrected hope found in Luke’s Easter message.The audio file isn’t as crisp as I’d like, but thanks to iPhone technology and recording apps, I captured it and share it with you here.

Happy Easter! Go try something new!

 

 

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

2nd Sunday of Easter – RCL Year A
Acts 2:14a, 22-32; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

On the morning of Good Friday I headed into Atlanta to participate in the Annual Ecumenical Good Friday Pilgrimage. Although the walk was to begin at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, near City Hall, I knew I needed to be here, at Christ Church, shortly after the walk was over, so, the perpetual planner that I am, I decided to park near the finishing point, at the Martin Luther King Center, and walk about a mile to the starting point.

http://jeffsdailypicture.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html

jeffsdailypicture.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive

After finding a place to park, I made my way up Edgewood Ave. on foot. At 8:30 in the morning, the sidewalks were mostly empty, but I did encounter a few folks as I walked toward town.

In my clericals, I was an unexpected sight to one man who stopped me along the way. He was working on a demolition project and told me about his struggles with a co-worker, perhaps with the hope that I might provide words of guidance to resolve his conflict. We talked for a few minutes, which I’m not sure was so helpful, but perhaps encouraging, and then I was back on my way.

A few blocks later I approached an intersection where three men stood, waiting for the light to change. One of them was drinking from an aluminum can wrapped in a small paper-bag. As he turned and saw me, he smiled what seemed a self-conscious smile. Yet when it was returned with a smile of my own, and a “Good morning” greeting, he relaxed a bit, and then asked expectantly, “Is God Good?”

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A few words from Jesus, CEO

October 27, 2013

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 25 – Year C RCL

Joel 2:23-32, 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18, Luke 18:9-14

As many of you know, before attending seminary, I spent twenty years in the banking industry. During my last job there, I was the Business Manager for the Commercial Middle Market of the Southwest Region, working closely with the CEO of that Market. About once a quarter we’d carve out a week or two to travel to each city in our region to touch base. Each day we’d hop on a Southwest Airlines flight (“the company plane”) and head to San Antonio, or Dallas, or El Paso… you get the picture.

David, my boss, liked to use every minute possible to prepare for these meetings. He wanted them to be productive, personal and motivating. So after boarding the plane each morning around 7:00 a.m., David, the finance guy, and I would sit together, pull out a stack of spreadsheets, and begin identifying the talking points for that day’s discussion.

Since most people on the plane just want to get one more hour of sleep before reaching their destination, it’s not surprising that we were greeted with scowls from nearby passengers, but David was oblivious to that. He had a message to deliver, and he wanted to be ready. The comfort of those around him was of no concern.

During those trips, day after day over the course of the week or two, David would share his vision for the business, adding market-specific nuance to fit their needs, but the overall theme was consistent.

I think the writer of Luke’s gospel would have fit well into this corporate communication model. There’s a repetitious theme that runs through the stories, with slight variations based on the audience, not unlike David’s market visits. As I started thinking more about this, I wondered what it might look like if Jesus had crafted and delivered his message in a similar way. 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! 

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