A Lenten Mitzvah

March 12, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The 2nd Sunday in Lent
Genesis 12:1-4a; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

(Gospel Text provided below)

Thursday a week ago I received a Facebook message from a former co-worker. In it, and the ensuing phone conversation, I learned that one of the sons of a close friend in Houston had died. Jonathan was twenty-seven. His death was tragic.

Since the family is Jewish, I knew the funeral would be quick, so within an hour I had a plane ticket and began rearranging my schedule for the weekend. I landed in Houston by mid-morning on Friday, and arrived at the graveside by 2pm. Standing in the bright sunlight, feeling the cool spring breeze, I held tightly to the yarmulke I received fourteen years earlier at Jonathan, and his twin sister, Robin’s, b’nai mitzvah.

After reflections about Jonathan’s life were shared by the rabbi, we recited Psalm 23 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thou art with me. We were then all invited to help shovel dirt on the plain-wood coffin that had been lowered into the ground – I went for the big shovel. By 3pm, Jonathan was laid to rest, entombed by the earth and sealed with the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Trinity Sunday 
Isaiah 6:1-8; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17

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

 

So, here we are – it’s Trinity Sunday. The day we celebrate and attempt to get some kind of understanding of the Three-in-oneness of God. This understanding of God is what differentiates us as Christians. It’s a unique understanding, and was a difficult and controversial concept for early Christians.

You see, central to the Hebrew tradition was a belief in one God. At the time of Jesus, this was unique to the Jews. They were in the midst of the Gentiles, who worshiped many gods. The Greeks and Romans had different gods, each having dominion over different parts of the world: Zeus, Poseidon and Hades; and numerous other gods and goddesses that people believed in and worshiped.

So, what set the Hebrew people apart was their devotion to One God who created and was God of ALL things. The first commandment makes it clear: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of bondage. You shall have no other gods but me.”

But something happened when Jesus came into the world. Our understanding of God changed. Jesus was an incarnation of the divine. And with this incarnation, the understanding of the oneness of God had to shift.

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: