Leaving the Ninety-nine

September 11, 2016

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
17th Sunday After Pentecost – Proper 19
 4:11-12, 22-28; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10

(Gospel Text provided below)

lost-found-woohooToday we hear the familiar parables about the lost sheep and the lost coin. In Sunday School lessons and discussion groups our conversation usually focuses on the experience of being lost and being found. We ask questions like, “Describe a time when you were lost or separated from a family member?” or “What feelings did you experience when you were found after being lost?” Or perhaps the focus is on one’s assurance that someone cares enough about them to actually look for them.

This is a very understandable inclination. We can identify with the lost sheep because sometimes we feel lost ourselves. We want a God who will come and look for us, who won’t give up on us when we go astray. And, when we are found, we like the idea that God rejoices and celebrates our return! WooHoo!!

And while all of that is well and good, and these are comforting messages, I’m not sure that’s really what these parables in Luke’s gospel are getting at. When we look at the parable and its context more closely, we see that it isn’t a story about the lost sheep or lost coin. Like most stories in the gospels, it’s actually a story about Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

6th Sunday of Easter – RCL Year A
Acts 17:22-31; 1 Peter 3:13-22 ; John 14:15-21

A few months ago, TJ, a member of the J2A Youth group, approached me after Sunday school to ask if I could help her with a school paper. She had to write her perspective on the Creation stories found in Genesis in light of the scientific evidence of Evolution. She assured me that outside resources were allowed, including priests, so I was happy to help.

When she called later that day, I shared with TJ how I have reconciled these two ways of seeing God’s Creation of the world and humanity. As a life-long Episcopalian, my formation has been under-girded by what is sometimes called the “three-legged stool” of Anglican Theology: Scripture, Tradition and Reason. So, as new knowledge is revealed, reason is used alongside Scripture, and plays a part in our understanding of God and God’s relationship to the world.

After sharing my perspective, TJ asked if I had any outside resources that might be helpful for additional evaluation. At first I couldn’t think of anything, but then, I remembered a Newsweek article I read in the late 80’s that intrigued me – it was called “The Search for Adam and Eve.” What’s more amazing is that I was pretty sure I had a copy of it, and after a few minutes digging through boxes in the garage, though a Google search would’ve been faster, I found it for her to use. 

The article talked about a study conducted by microbiologists at Berkeley and Emory who were exploring the origin of the modern human race. The authors acknowledge the risk of using the biblical names of Adam and Eve in the title – but how else are you going to sell magazines, right? The opening paragraph says in part: 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 »

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