Maximizing the Middle Ring

October 8, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 22, Year A
Isaiah 5:1-7; Philippians 3:4b-14; Matthew 21:33-46

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As most of you know, September 10th was my first Sunday at Church of the Servant. It was a festive day, with worship returning to its school-year schedule, including the Family service and Sunday school for all ages. All that plus a beautiful reception of welcome, made it a truly joy-filled day!

During the week that followed, as I was catching up with Barbara on administrative stuff, she mentioned that she had created an “overflow” mail slot for me, since my other mail slot was already very full. I have to admit, I hadn’t even thought about having a mail slot, let alone that anything would be in it after just one week!

So a bit later, I decided I better go through it. Amid the non-profit newsletters, fundraiser promotions, and liturgical supply catalogues, was a small cream-colored envelope, addressed by hand to The Rev. Jody Greenwood – finally, something to me! I guessed it was probably a welcome note, yet when I opened the card, the salutation was to me and the Vestry – piquing my curiosity further. It turned out to be an apology letter from one of our youth (who will remain nameless). It seems that on my first Sunday, during all the excitement, one able-bodied teen took their enthusiasm to new heights, literally, and got on the roof. Read the rest of this entry »

A Questioning Authority

October 1, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 21, Year A
Ezekiel 18:1-4,25-32; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

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Today’s gospel reading begins with Jesus in the temple. The chief priests and the elders came to him and asked, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Before we dive into that riveting question, let’s step back a minute.

Last we saw Jesus, he was on the road to Jerusalem, using parables to teach about the kingdom of heaven. Yet here we are today, with Jesus in Jerusalem teaching in the temple. Our lectionary has jumped over an important piece of the story. And it skipped a couple of our favorite scenes. We missed the Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem – disciples untying the donkey, the crowd waving branches and crying Hosannas as Jesus rides in. And then, even better, overturning the tables in the temple market. Jesus gets mad – we love that part!

Then it goes on to say, “The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them.” (Mt 21:14). And he begins teaching and the people are crying out, in the temple, “Hosanna to the son of David.”

The chief priests and scribes – those who are the ones in authority in the temple – see all this and wonder what the heck is going on. They’re angry and ask Jesus what he has to say for himself. And Jesus responds by quoting words of the prophets of old. “My house should be called a house of prayer” and “Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself.” And, as if that settles it, we’re told “He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.” Read the rest of this entry »

Bearing Fruit

July 23, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Proper 11 Year A 

Genesis 28:10-19a; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

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Gospel Text: 

Jesus put before the crowd another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!” (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43)

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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