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

Listen here, or read below:

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 »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
5th Sunday of Easter
Acts 7:55-60; John 14:1-14

 

Rules of the Road

February 12, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The 6th Sunday after Epiphany
Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37

(Gospel Text provided below)

Most summers when I was a kid my family would pack up the station wagon and head off on a road trip. Sometimes we went to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, other times to see our cousins in Springfield, Ohio. From Houston, it usually took two days of driving to reach our destination, and with five kids and two adults, it was a very full car.

road-tripNow anyone who’s traveled in a station wagon, similar to traveling on a crowded airplane, there are “preferred seats.” As you’d expect, the window seats were first choice. And while sitting in the way-back wasn’t great, especially when the seat faced backwards (whose idea was that?) – even the way-back ranked higher than the dreaded middle seat. But the best seat was the one we called the seat-apart. It’s the one that gets pulled forward to let others into the way-back. What made it so popular was the little split that clearly designated where your seat began and where it ended. All the other seats left room for seat creep, followed by the emphatic complaint: “Mom, she’s touching me!”

Now, my mom’s a big fan of being fair – or at least trying to be fair. So, realizing she had five young children traveling in a very confined space for hour after hour, she came up with a rotation strategy. Every time we stopped for a meal or to get gas, us kids would rotate seats. This way everyone had time in the dreaded middle seat, in the way-back, and in the coveted seat-apart. She put this plan – these rules – in place, with the hope of creating harmony for our long journey together. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: