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 »

Active Waiting

November 28, 2010

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Sermon on Matthew 24:36-44, given while serving as seminarian.

First Sunday of Advent – Year A (RCL) – Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I had a great day with my family in Houston, and because one Thanksgiving meal is never enough, I had a second one with friends in Galveston on Thursday evening. As you can imagine, by nightfall my pillow was calling my name.

And as I went to sleep on Thursday night, powerful winds were rattling the windows, foretelling a dramatic change ahead. Throughout the night I could hear the howling winds as they continued to shake the windows and the eighty degree temperatures of Thanksgiving Day in Texas were replaced by chilly morning air and a cold soaking rain. A change of season was at hand.

Unlike Atlanta, where the vibrant orange and red leaves have been ushering in the seasonal change for several weeks, in southeast Texas there aren’t many visual signs of a change in season. The trees stay green most of the year, and if leaves are going to fall, they seem to do so overnight.

The visible change of seasons I’ve experienced since moving to Atlanta last January remind me of my college days in Ohio. I had forgotten just how much I love to see the visual diversity of God’s creation.

Like the variations in the seasons of nature, with icy snow, blooming flowers, scorching sun and falling leaves, the liturgical calendar also has different moods and theological emphases. These are revealed not only in the colors used at the altar and in the vestments, but also in the scriptural readings, the hymns we sing, and our prayer routine. Read the rest of this entry »

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