LISTEN.

May 20, 2018

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC

Pentecost Sunday, Year B
Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Listen here:

Gospel Text:

Jesus said to his disciples, ”When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Day of Pentecost
Genesis 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:8-17, 25-27

 

I’d like to see a show of hands… how many of you have a birthday that falls during the summer months? I have a summer birthday. It’s in late July.

Summer birthdays are different than school-year birthdays. If you were like me, your birthday parties probably had fewer school friends, who were scattered for the summer. Instead, you’d have kids from the neighborhood pool and family. When I was young, I always wanted a school-year birthday because it seemed like they got more attention. I contend this isn’t just true for our personal birthdays, but also for the birthday of the church.

That’s what today is after all – Pentecost Sunday! The Birthday of the Church.

imageNow, unlike our birthdays which fall on the same date each year, Pentecost falls on different days because it’s always 50 days after Easter and Easter moves around. This year Easter was pretty early, so while Pentecost is usually a summer-birthday-kind-of-day, this year it’s been upgraded to a school-year birthday! So instead of a lot of folks being scattered, we’re all here to celebrate together!

We’ve got our festive red outfits on, our flamed-ribbon-sticks in-hand, a dove flying in the procession, special music – the works! It’s quite a birthday celebration for the Church!

But why is Pentecost considered the birthday of the church?

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Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The Day of Pentecost 
Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

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

 

Three years ago, as part of my seminary education, I was an intern chaplain at Grady Hospital. This Clinical Pastoral Education, as it’s called, or CPE, is a time to see what it’s like to be a hospital chaplain, and also a time to learn more about yourself, as a pastoral care giver.

NHS-hospital-ward-recepti-006The various floors and departments of the hospital are divvied up to the six chaplain interns, and my parish, if you will, was a couple of the surgical floors. Now, patients on surgical floors aren’t usually there for a long time. They’re given a room after surgery and stay just long enough to be ready to go home, or go to another rehab facility.

hospitalSo, as a chaplain on a surgical floor, I made a lot of cold-calls, popping in, introducing myself as a chaplain, and seeing if the patient or their family wanted to talk or pray. My hope for my ministry was to be one person from the hospital team that interacted with the patient without poking or prodding them. I wanted to be a presence for them in whatever way might helpful.

Sometimes my invitation was well received and other times, not so much. But, that’s the way it goes.

I remember one day in particular, near the beginning of the summer. The resident chaplain suggested I visit a patient who had actually been there for several weeks. I’ll call the patient Bill.

I learned from the other chaplain that Bill and his girlfriend had been riding together on Bill’s motorcycle. They were riding through Atlanta on their way back to New York after a vacation in Florida. They had a wreck and Bill’s hip was badly injured and his girlfriend – I’ll call her Sue – had extensive injuries including brain trauma. She was in the intensive care unit (ICU), and although Sue was still alive, after several weeks she still hadn’t regained consciousness.

They were in an unfamiliar city with family far away; in different rooms and on different floors of the hospital. Read the rest of this entry »

Rebirth of Understanding

March 16, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The Second Sunday in Lent – Year A RCL

Genesis 12:1-4a; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

Nicodemus at NightIn today’s gospel we hear the familiar story of Nicodemus, a leader in the Jewish tradition; a Pharisee. During the night, under the cover of darkness, Nicodemus comes to Jesus. Having seen the signs that Jesus has done, he affirms that Jesus must be a teacher who comes from God, because surely these signs wouldn’t be possible without God’s presence.

And instead of accepting this affirmation from Nicodemus, it says, “Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’”

Nicodemus is confused by this. He likes things to be straight-forward. He’s used to abiding by the letter of the law, carrying out the commandments that God has set forth. So now, he hears Jesus saying that one has to be “born from above” and Nicodemus’ literal nature responds in a literal way: “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”

But Jesus isn’t talking about an earthly birth, one based in flesh, but instead, he talks of being born of the Spirit. Being born into the person God calls us to be; not the image that the world has for us.

So what is this rebirth? What does it look like?

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