Not My Jesus

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 19B)
First Lesson: Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 116:1-8
Second Lesson: James 3:1-12
Gospel: Mark 8:27-38

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1397498704000-homeless-jesusImagine, for a moment, that you’re taking a walk through what appears to be a pretty nice, suburban neighborhood. You’re walking down a sidewalk lined with tall, luscious trees and beautifully landscaped front yards. Judging from the appearance of the homes in this neighborhood and the people who live here, it’s probably made up of mostly middle to upper-middle class families. There’s no trash on the ground anywhere, and you imagine that it would be a grave sin to even consider going more than a couple of weeks without cutting the grass. The appearance of this neighborhood is well maintained, and the residents want to keep it that way.

After a few blocks of walking, you come to what appears to be a church in the middle of this pristine neighborhood. The church, like the neighborhood in which it resides, is beautiful. The front yard is immaculate, enclosed with red brick columns and a black, wrought iron fence. You imagine that it must take a lot of work to maintain such a lovely appearance. Upon further investigation, you discover that this church is an Episcopal Church, and as you continue walking by, you witness a very shocking sight, indeed- something quite unexpected. From a short distance, you see what appears to be a homeless person, covered up with a long blanket and sleeping on a park bench next to the church. You ask yourself, “How could there be a homeless person sleeping here in the middle of this perfect neighborhood?” “How did they get here?” Despite your initial shock, you decide to move a little closer to see if there’s any way you can help. Maybe he or she needs help with food or money to purchase a bus ticket. Continue reading

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A Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 17B) + September 2, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 17B)
First Lesson: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
Psalm 15
Second Lesson: James 1:17-27
Gospel: Mark:7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

29178019315_00a54ac467_b
I have a confession to make.

Some of you know this about me already, but others may not. So, here goes.

My name is Father Eric, and I’m an Auburn fan. It’s true. I bleed orange and blue.

Some people become Auburn fans later in life, but not me. This was something I was born into. You’ve heard the term, “cradle Episcopalian”? Well, I’m a “cradle” Tigers fan. I even have evidence to prove it- a commemorative Coke bottle from 1983 when Auburn won the SEC Championship.

Yesterday was the first football game of the season. Every time I watch the Tigers play, I’m reminded of how much I love Auburn and how deeply connected I am to the town and the university. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 16B) + August 26, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 16B)
First Lesson: Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18
Psalm 34:15-22
Second Lesson: Ephesians 6:10-20
Gospel: John 6:56-69

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

tumblr_n1ofcjZ4KV1sanzo7o1_1280Have you ever noticed how some people use the phrase, “No offense,” right before they say something really offensive?

Do you know what I’m talking about?

For example, let’s say someone walked up to me one morning after church and said, “No offense, Father Eric, but that wasn’t your best sermon.” I would be very offended by that! Just because that person said, “No offense,” right before criticizing me doesn’t mean that I would be any less offended. By the way, that’s never happened to me, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything!

Has this ever happened to you? Has anyone ever come up to you and said, “No offense, but…” Fill in the blank. Or, perhaps, you were the one who said it to someone else. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 14B) + August 12, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 14B)
First Lesson: 1 Kings 19:4-8
Psalm 34:1-8
Second Lesson: Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Gospel: John 6:35, 41-51

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

36450723_10160563180005022_128994029860814848_oThere’s a relatively new group within the Episcopal Church that calls itself, “Episcopal Evangelists.” They have a very active presence on Facebook. Anyone is welcome to join, but as you might’ve guessed, the primary purpose of this group is to serve as a means of support and creativity for those in the Episcopal Church who feel particularly called to the ministry of evangelism.

This past summer, as the Episcopal Church prepared for its 79thGeneral Convention in Austin, Texas, the “Episcopal Evangelists” were also hard at work. They were getting ready to spread the word at the convention that evangelism is important to Episcopalians, and one way they planned to accomplish this goal was by giving away these bright green “Episcopal Evangelist” bracelets to anyone who wanted it. The bracelets were meant to serve as conversation starters with the idea that someone in the public square might see it and ask questions about it. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 13B) + August 5, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 13B)
First Lesson: Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
Psalm 78:23-29
Second Lesson: Ephesians 4:1-16
Gospel: John 6:24-35

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

38498635_465501407257457_6158961485893599232_n“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

“Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”

These words from our lesson from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians are powerful. They convey a sense of responsibility and urgency. They remind us that this life to which we’ve been called as followers of Jesus is built upon how we treat our brothers and sisters. The author uses some key words to describe this life, words like humility, gentleness, patience, love, and peace. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 5B) + June 10, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 5B)
First Lesson: Genesis
Psalm 15
Second Lesson: Hebrews 12:1-2
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-40

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

34962783_1765311520226763_8694390567460667392_nSeveral years ago, there was a story in the news about a new trend floating around on the Internet. You might’ve heard about it at the time. It was called the “Blasphemy Challenge.” Did you ever hear about this? The “Blasphemy Challenge” encouraged atheists and other non-believers to record videos of themselves denying the existence of the Holy Sprit and uploading them to YouTube for the whole world to see. When I first heard about it, I was curious to hear what people were saying in their videos. So, I went online and watched some.

To be honest, they were really hard to sit through. They made me uncomfortable.

I was struck by how much pain and suffering the people in these videos must have had to take time out of their busy lives to tell the whole world that they renounced God and the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Feast of St. Catherine (Transferred) + June 3, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Feast of St. Catherine of Siena (Transferred)
First Lesson: Micah 6:6-8
Psalm 15
Second Lesson: Hebrews 12:1-2
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-40

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

34321059_1757782127646369_7588180409905577984_nWhen I first arrived at St. Catherine’s at the beginning of last year, one of the first things that caught my attention was this colorful greeting card posted on one of the bulletin boards next door in the Annex.

I later came to find out that it was a gift from our good friend, Judy Quick, who serves as a deacon in the Diocese of Alabama.

On the front of this greeting card was the following quote from Catherine of Siena, the patron saint of our parish: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Continue reading

A Sermon for the Day of Pentecost + May 20, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Day of Pentecost + Year B
First Lesson: Acts 2:1-21
Psalm 104:25-35, 37
Second Lesson: Romans 8:22-27
Gospel: John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

33021429_10160827458235393_1579711863644487680_n“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

These are the words of the prophet Joel, spoken by Peter on the Day of Pentecost.

Episcopalians often talk about how Pentecost is the day when we celebrate the birth of the Church. Some of us wear red to our worship services. We often have elaborate decorations and festive parties. Sometimes, we even have a birthday cake decorated with fiery flames or doves representing the Holy Spirit. All of that is wonderful, and I think we should definitely take the time to celebrate! After all, this is one of the seven principle feasts of the Church year. But, Pentecost is also a day for us to contemplate the importance of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, which Christ himself promised to send to his disciples after he ascended to the Father. This is the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in Jerusalem with tongues of fire, empowering them to carry out the mission of the Church. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter + May 13, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Seventh Sunday of Easter + Year B
First Lesson: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
Psalm 1
Second Lesson: 1 John 5:9-13
Gospel: John 17:6-9

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

32332166_1732015776889671_4793583441100668928_nWhen I was a child, I never dreamed that I would one day be a priest in the Episcopal Church. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know the word “Episcopal” existed until I was a junior at Auburn.

I went to school to study music education with the hope that I would one day get a great job teaching choral music to high school students and enjoy a long career as a choir director. When I made the decision to study music in college, I felt sure that it was the right path for me to take. Music had been such an important part of my life in junior high and high school, and being a choir director was something I knew I could do well, something I knew I would enjoy doing.  Continue reading

A Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter + April 15, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Third Sunday of Easter + Year B
First Lesson: Acts 3:12-19
Psalm 4
Second Lesson: 1 John 3:1-7
Gospel: Luke 24:36b-48

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

30233065_1703511999740049_689957896_oIn Luke’s account of the resurrection story, the risen Jesus says to his disciples, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

“You are witnesses.”

Why do you think Jesus told his disciples this? It seems rather obvious, doesn’t it? Of course they’re witnesses. They’ve seen everything. They’ve traveled with Jesus since the very beginning of his ministry, through the best of times and worst of times. They’ve seen Jesus cure the sick and minister to the hopeless. They’ve heard his teachings and struggled to uncover their meanings. They’ve been his closest friends and allies. Continue reading