Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Sermon on John 20:19-31 given while serving as Deacon & Seminarian

Second Sunday in Easter – Year C RCL 

Acts 5:27-32, Revelation 1:4-8 & John 20:19-31

Last week, Ceci began her Easter sermon not with the joy of the resurrection, but first, she invited us to imagine the despair and confusion the disciples must have felt that first Easter morning. Although it’s impossible for us to fully imagine their feelings, participation in Holy Week allowed us to try…

Palm Sunday began with the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, with palm branches and hosannas. Yet, moments later, it quickly shifted to the Passion story, where we ourselves took part in the taunting cries of “Crucify Him!” On Maundy Thursday we remembered Jesus as servant, and then, followed his example by washing one another’s feet. In this act we embodied God’s message that we are to love one another. But then the tone shifted as the lights dimmed and the altar was stripped bare, like Jesus himself before his own crucifixion. On Friday we endured the three-hour vigil at the foot of the cross. Then that night, through a dramatic presentation, we were brought face-to-face with the agonizing walk and excruciating death of Jesus, ending with his burial in the tomb. On Saturday, we mourned.

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Christ Church Episcopal – Norcross, GA
Given while serving as seminarian.

4th Sunday after the Epiphany – Year A (RCL) – Micah 6:1-8, Psalm 15, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Matthew 5:1-12

How did that make you feel? This is the question Ceci often poses to me in our one-on-one sessions when I share an experience that I’ve had.

Working in banking for 20+ years this question didn’t come up much.

As I thought about it more, it didn’t really come up in my family life either. We’re mostly a “Left brain” bunch, where reason and logic jump in and take center stage. We THINK about things a lot, but we don’t probe into how we FEEL about things… or at least we don’t spend much time giving it a voice.

So, the first few times Ceci asked “How did that make you feel?” she had to follow that up with “Glad, Sad, Mad, or Afraid?” Now, there are lots of other feelings, but this at least pointed me in the right direction.

When we look at today’s gospel reading Jesus talks about feeling “blessed,” that is Happy, or even better “Fortunate” about certain situations in our lives, and we might find it a little surprising…

The passage starts with Jesus seeing the crowd, and then going up and sitting down on the mountain-side. The disciples we’ve been hearing about for the last few weeks, having let go of their fishing nets to follow his call, gather around and Jesus begins to teach them.

His words surely caught the disciples off guard as he looked toward the crowd, and then said… Read the rest of this entry »

Active Waiting

November 28, 2010

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Sermon on Matthew 24:36-44, given while serving as seminarian.

First Sunday of Advent – Year A (RCL) – Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I had a great day with my family in Houston, and because one Thanksgiving meal is never enough, I had a second one with friends in Galveston on Thursday evening. As you can imagine, by nightfall my pillow was calling my name.

And as I went to sleep on Thursday night, powerful winds were rattling the windows, foretelling a dramatic change ahead. Throughout the night I could hear the howling winds as they continued to shake the windows and the eighty degree temperatures of Thanksgiving Day in Texas were replaced by chilly morning air and a cold soaking rain. A change of season was at hand.

Unlike Atlanta, where the vibrant orange and red leaves have been ushering in the seasonal change for several weeks, in southeast Texas there aren’t many visual signs of a change in season. The trees stay green most of the year, and if leaves are going to fall, they seem to do so overnight.

The visible change of seasons I’ve experienced since moving to Atlanta last January remind me of my college days in Ohio. I had forgotten just how much I love to see the visual diversity of God’s creation.

Like the variations in the seasons of nature, with icy snow, blooming flowers, scorching sun and falling leaves, the liturgical calendar also has different moods and theological emphases. These are revealed not only in the colors used at the altar and in the vestments, but also in the scriptural readings, the hymns we sing, and our prayer routine. Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

This is my first sermon at Christ Church where I serve as a seminarian while pursuing a Master of Divinity at Candler School of Theology, Emory.

Revised Common Lectionary – Year C, Proper 25 (Joel 2:23-32, Psalm 65, 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18, Luke 18:9-14)

Growing up in Houston, Texas during the days of the Southwest Conference formed my reference-point for college football. The Orange and White of UT referred to the University of Texas Longhorns, not the Tennessee Volunteers. The “big rivalry” was between the Longhorns and the Aggies of Texas A&M – this was the game that families planned their Thanksgiving meal around.

And then there was Rice University… perhaps the Southwest Conference’s equivalent to Vanderbilt. But with both my mom and dad having gone to Rice during in the 1950’s, when the Rice Owls were a winning football team, the belief each year that Rice would prevail over Texas was instilled in me, and all my siblings, and continues to be espoused by my father even now.

The Southwest Conference disbanded almost fifteen years ago, and even though the teams have moved into various other conferences, the rivalry between the Owls, Aggies, and Longhorns are part of the Texas vernacular. Anyone who’s spent any time in Texas knows what an Aggie joke is and has a frame of reference for the stereotypes attached to each of these schools.

Now, for many of you, when I say “Roll Tide” you attach an image to it… it’s okay, the confessional prayer is just a few minutes away. But for me, having moved to Atlanta just this past January, this is my first SEC Season, and I have little frame of reference for it, or at least not the specifics…

I absolutely “get” the importance. It’s hard to miss. Just drive through any neighborhood and you’ll see a household’s loyalty announced with a banner flying from their front porch. But the rivalry between the Yellow jackets’ and the Bulldogs’ doesn’t motivate me in any way… at least not yet. Read the rest of this entry »

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