With Arms Wide Open

December 20, 2015

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The 4th Sunday in Advent 
Micah 5:2-5a; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-55

(Gospel text is provided at the bottom of this post)

photo 1 - cropThree years ago I preached on this same passage from Luke’s gospel. I had just been ordained to the Transitional Diaconate a week earlier, and was back in Houston for Christmas break. I had been invited to serve as Deacon – for the first time – at St. Andrew’s, the parish that helped me on my vocational journey. I was a bit nervous and also thrilled to finally be doing what God had called me to do.

That day three years ago had begun three years before that. That’s when I made the decision to leave all that was familiar; to leave mother and father, brother and sisters and the rest of my family and friends. I left places of comfort, including the parish of St. Andrews, to embark on a new thing, in an unfamiliar place, where “what’s next” couldn’t be fully grasped.

St. Andrew's Episcopal

St. Andrew’s Episcopal

So, to return to a familiar place after being ordained, surrounded by loved ones, those who supported me from afar, and to serve at that familiar altar – it was pretty surreal. I’m guessing Gretchen has some of these same feelings today, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for her.

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Connecting with the Cross

August 31, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 17 – RCL Year A
Exodus 3:1-15; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28

For three of the last four weeks, the gospel lesson has featured Peter in a significant way. Peter is one of those guys in the Bible that seems especially real to me. He’s a fisherman. A man’s man, if you will. He’s willing to take risks, like stepping out of a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, to walk toward Jesus. But he also gets scared.

When he finds himself doing something he didn’t think he could do, like walk on water, a strong wind distracts and scares him and he starts to sink. Even though he surely knows how to swim, he shows his humanity by crying out for help in a moment of panic, “Jesus, save me!” And immediately, Jesus reaches out his hand to help Peter back into the boat.IMG_4235

This is a story I wish I could see on YouTube. Not for the walking on water part, although that would be really cool, but to see the expression on Jesus’ face as he helps Peter into the boat. My hope is that there’s a playful gleam in his eye as he teases Peter, saying “you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Like the smile and shrug we give a close friend whose exuberance for life always gets them into things a little over their head.

And last week we see Peter in a different light. Jesus is asking the disciples “Who do people say that I am?” and then he asks them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, once again the eager one, steps up and proclaims, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” There’s no hesitation; just pure confidence. Read the rest of this entry »

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