Humility Speaks

October 27, 2019

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC

Proper 25, Year C
Luke 18:9-14

Listen here:

Gospel Text:

Luke 18:9-14

Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, `God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, `God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Us and Them = Othering

October 23, 2016

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
23rd Sunday After Pentecost – Proper 25
Joel 2:23-32
; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

(Gospel Text provided below)

As I reflected on today’s parable, it brought to mind an unexpected Facebook interaction I had last month. Rest assured, it had NOTHING to do with the presidential campaign, so you can all breathe easy.

As you may know, on the 3rd Sunday of each month the young parishioners of Christ Church spend the first part of the 10:30 service over in the youth center, for Service & Prayer. During this time we begin with prayers of thanks, and then we make sandwiches to be taken to Emmaus House or one of the other food ministries in our diocese.

14341748_10208999235850840_1526923341_nThe 3rd Sunday in September was September 18th. That was the day we had the blended bi-lingual service. Consequently, we had even more youngsters at Service & Prayer that morning. To capture the moment, I took a few pictures as the kids were busily spreading peanut butter and jelly… a much messier undertaking than you might expect. That afternoon I sent the pictures to Robin Miller, who handles our Facebook page, so she could post them. I asked her to include this message:

Service & Prayer Sunday… Making sandwiches and trail mix for the homeless. Hands and hearts in action!

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A few words from Jesus, CEO

October 27, 2013

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Proper 25 – Year C RCL

Joel 2:23-32, 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18, Luke 18:9-14

As many of you know, before attending seminary, I spent twenty years in the banking industry. During my last job there, I was the Business Manager for the Commercial Middle Market of the Southwest Region, working closely with the CEO of that Market. About once a quarter we’d carve out a week or two to travel to each city in our region to touch base. Each day we’d hop on a Southwest Airlines flight (“the company plane”) and head to San Antonio, or Dallas, or El Paso… you get the picture.

David, my boss, liked to use every minute possible to prepare for these meetings. He wanted them to be productive, personal and motivating. So after boarding the plane each morning around 7:00 a.m., David, the finance guy, and I would sit together, pull out a stack of spreadsheets, and begin identifying the talking points for that day’s discussion.

Since most people on the plane just want to get one more hour of sleep before reaching their destination, it’s not surprising that we were greeted with scowls from nearby passengers, but David was oblivious to that. He had a message to deliver, and he wanted to be ready. The comfort of those around him was of no concern.

During those trips, day after day over the course of the week or two, David would share his vision for the business, adding market-specific nuance to fit their needs, but the overall theme was consistent.

I think the writer of Luke’s gospel would have fit well into this corporate communication model. There’s a repetitious theme that runs through the stories, with slight variations based on the audience, not unlike David’s market visits. As I started thinking more about this, I wondered what it might look like if Jesus had crafted and delivered his message in a similar way. 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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