Generosity: All Day Long

September 24, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 20, Year A
Jonah 3:10-4:11; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

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How’s everybody doing?

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a rough few weeks for me. I’m not talking about my start here at Church of the Servant and the move to Wilmington. That’s going great, unpacked boxes notwithstanding. I did finally take some time to go through the wonderful “gifts of Wilmington” y’all so generously left for me and Alice. We appreciate your kindness and your welcome!

The rough part has been all the images of destruction from the one-after-another natural disasters hitting our shores, as well as our neighbors in the Caribbean and Mexico. While the winds, waves, and tremors have caused havoc, taken lives, and left so many without power or shelter, the images relayed day after day on our tv’s and mobile devices have done their own share of beating-down our psyches.

And if that’s not enough, we have the anxiety producing rhetoric of world leaders threatening to destroy one another, a resurgence of unrest and racial tensions in St. Louis, and the very real fear of young Hispanic Dreamers whose future is now unclear with the repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. It’s no surprise that tears welled-up in my eyes time and again as I watched the news this week. It’s just so much. Too much to take-in sometimes.  Read the rest of this entry »

Pulling Together

September 10, 2017

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC
Proper 18, Year A
Exodus 12:1-14; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20

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One of the things I love about the Episcopal Church is our use of the 3-year lectionary. Each Sunday it provides the scripture readings that will be heard across all Episcopal churches and the preacher, ideally, is supposed to preach on one or more of these texts. It keeps us in line, I guess.

What I’ve found remarkable is how often, when something momentous happens in our world, that at least one of the passages seems to fit perfectly. Like after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in 2012 – it was during Lent, Year B – and John’s gospel lesson included the verse “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” What an amazing invitation to preach about not letting this one soul die in vain, but for his death to serve a greater purpose for change.

Or after the horrific event in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine were shot during their Bible study at a Black church in June of 2015. The gospel lesson was the story of the frantic disciples and a sleeping Jesus on a boat in a storm. Most versions of this story have the disciples waking Jesus so he could save them, but the lectionary provided for that Sunday, had Mark’s version of the story. This is the one where the disciples cry out, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” echoing the current-day frustration of our Black brothers and sisters, asking their White neighbors to wake up to what’s going on around them. 

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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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The Face of Change

August 6, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Feast of the Transfiguration
Exodus 34:29-35; 2 Peter 1:13-21; Luke 9:28-36

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This past Monday my parents and I visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. [Check that off my Atlanta bucket list!] It’s interesting to see what’s chosen to depict someone’s life. In the childhood section, among other household items, one display box held a pair of crystal salt and pepper shakers. This seemed an odd contrast to the images, on the opposite wall, of little Jimmy’s playmates, the African American children of peanut-farm workers.

An exhibit highlighting the Camp David Peace Accords revealed the careful and persistent mediation Carter provided to guide the unlikely peace agreement between the leaders of Egypt and Israel. I wondered if he didn’t first develop these negotiation skills at his family dinner table. You see, his father was a staunch segregationist, while his mother, a trained nurse, didn’t hesitate to cross segregation lines in the 1920s to provide health care counseling to poor African American women. Navigating the complexity of diverse views, even within our own families, continues still. So, while Carter inherited the infamous peanut farm from his father, he undoubtedly adopted the social consciousness of his mother.  Read the rest of this entry »

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