Stories: Old and New

July 26, 2020

Church of the Servant, Wilmington, NC

8th Sunday after Pentecost – Year A
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Gospel text: Matthew 13:31-33,44-52 Read the rest of this entry »

Why Parables?

June 14, 2015

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The 3rd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 6 
Samuel 15:34-16:13; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Mark 4:26-34

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

We begin our staff meeting each week with the Morning Devotional in the Prayer Book. As part of this, we read the gospel passage for the upcoming Sunday and share our thoughts about it. This past Tuesday, after hearing the gospel lesson you just heard, the question was raised: “Why did Jesus teach in parables, anyway?”

It’s a legitimate question. Even the disciples ask it. But the response found in scripture might surprise you. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus replies:

To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that

‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,

and may indeed listen, but not understand;

so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’” (Mk 4:11b-12)

Say WHAT?

I thought the whole purpose of the gospels was to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah; to share the good news of Christ in the world; to open the doors for all to come and embrace the love and forgiveness of God, made manifest through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Speaks Near the Treasury, by James Tissot

Jesus Speaks Near the Treasury, by James Tissot

So, why are the teachings given in such a way that’s confusing; in parables? What’s the point? In this age of immediate gratification, where information is available, literally at your fingertips, thanks to the iPhone, doesn’t this parable-approach risk losing the audience?

How are we supposed to interpret these parables? Even when we do, how do we know if we got it RIGHT? Isn’t that the goal, after all, to be RIGHT! To have THE ANSWER to how God works and what God wants from us? Just tell me plainly what I must do, and then I can decide if I’m willing to or not. Opt-in or opt-out. Just give me the facts, please!! 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 »

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas.

As a member of this church, I was serving as the Coordinator of the Centennial Capital Campaign. Hurricane Ike had hit the Houston/Galveston area hard just a few weeks earlier and the financial meltdown from which we are still struggling to recover had just begun…

Revised Common Lectionary – Proper 23, Year A (Exodus 32:1-14, Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23, Philippians 4:1-9, Matthew 22:1-14)

Good Morning,

I would venture to guess that our rector, Barbara, is a very good fly fisherman, figuratively speaking, anyway.

She finds a quiet spot in the river,
chooses her bait carefully,
and then, ever so skillfully,
drops the “fly” right in front of the unsuspecting trout and reels it in.

For those who have been that Hooked Trout, you know what I’m talking about, but for the rest of you, let me explain…

A few months ago, when we began gearing up for the Centennial Capital Campaign, Barbara mentioned that “it might be good to have one or two members of the parish preach during the stewardship period – to provide another voice for the congregation to hear.”

This would be THE BAIT and I’m THE UNSUSPECTING TROUT.

I told her that she does a fabulous job preaching, and that NO ONE grows tired of hearing her speak, and FRANKLY the thought of taking that on was a bit scary,

But then I said that if she thought it would be good, I’d be willing to do it.

THE HOOK

But, I never heard another word about it. I certainly wasn’t going to bring it up, and was hoping the whole idea had come and gone…

and then, 2 weeks ago, she said “I really do think it would be good to have someone else speak. Perhaps you can do it on Loyalty Sunday”…

She REELED me in – Read the rest of this entry »

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