The Face of Change

August 6, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
Feast of the Transfiguration
Exodus 34:29-35; 2 Peter 1:13-21; Luke 9:28-36

Listen here, or read below:

This past Monday my parents and I visited the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. [Check that off my Atlanta bucket list!] It’s interesting to see what’s chosen to depict someone’s life. In the childhood section, among other household items, one display box held a pair of crystal salt and pepper shakers. This seemed an odd contrast to the images, on the opposite wall, of little Jimmy’s playmates, the African American children of peanut-farm workers.

An exhibit highlighting the Camp David Peace Accords revealed the careful and persistent mediation Carter provided to guide the unlikely peace agreement between the leaders of Egypt and Israel. I wondered if he didn’t first develop these negotiation skills at his family dinner table. You see, his father was a staunch segregationist, while his mother, a trained nurse, didn’t hesitate to cross segregation lines in the 1920s to provide health care counseling to poor African American women. Navigating the complexity of diverse views, even within our own families, continues still. So, while Carter inherited the infamous peanut farm from his father, he undoubtedly adopted the social consciousness of his mother.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Gift of Lent

February 26, 2017

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA
The Last Sunday after Epiphany
Exodus 24:12-18; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

(Gospel Text provided below)

Today is the last Sunday before Lent… so live it up!

It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw on one of our family road-trips. By this time, we were in our teens, and headed to Idaho for a 6-day raft trip. One gift shop along the way had a t-shirt that read “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for tomorrow you may be in Utah.” If you’ll allow me Episcopal license, today that shirt might read: “Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for on Wednesday we begin Lent.”

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This presumes that Lent is a time of austerity and self-denial. Yet, as a teenager, I learned that Lent can also be a time to take things on. To make a commitment to do something you’ve been putting off, or to improve your well-being, or perhaps, to serve others in a more tangible way. This approach to Lent has been helpful for me, and was especially so during my first few months in Atlanta.

I came to Atlanta from Houston seven years ago to embark on a vocational transformation. I arrived in January with snow on the ground – did I mention I came from Houston? I’d left behind all that was familiar – my family, my friends, and a budding romance. So, while I was living into this new purpose for my life, it came with some losses, some sacrifices.

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I didn’t have a job, and wasn’t planning to get one before the start of seminary in August. I moved in January to get settled-in, and start getting to know the diocese I’d call home. As an introvert, though, it would’ve been easy to stay in the warmth of my house, with my dog and cat as constant companions. And as easy as that would’ve been, I knew it wouldn’t move me toward my purpose – to get to know the diocese that had welcomed me.

Fortunately, I received a gift just a few weeks after my move – the gift of Lent. That Lent became a season of taking things on.  Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

The Last Sunday after Epiphany – Year A RCL

Exodus 24:12-18, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Matthew 17:1-9

Peter, John and James go up the mountain with Jesus and Jesus is transfigured. His face beams like the sun and his clothes are dazzling white. In Luke’s version, this transfiguration occurs while Jesus is praying, but today’s reading from Matthew doesn’t provide any context for the change, it just happens.

And when it happens, and Elijah and Moses appear there with Jesus, this doesn’t seem to frighten the disciples in any way. Peter actually wants to set up camp for them. He offers to build three dwellings, one for each of them. This is a glorious event, and although he doesn’t fully understand what’s happening, Peter’s instinct, probably not unlike our own, is to hold onto it as long as he can!

It reminds me of a conversation I had with Bob Rea a few months ago. You never have to wonder if Bob is listening during a sermon because after the service he always shares some thought or insight about what he heard. It’s really quite refreshing, even if what he shares challenges me from time to time.

I had just preached a sermon, and in it I talked about the Sirius XM radio subscription that came with my new car. I confessed that I had found a Contemporary Christian music station that I actually liked, explaining how uplifting the music was for me.

After the service, Bob came up to me and conveyed a cautionary note – explaining quite seriously, that while this kind of music can be inspiring, it can also be quite addictive! If we listen to is all the time, it’s intoxicating in its own way, not unlike setting up tents on the mountain top. Read the rest of this entry »

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