A Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, Tallassee, Alabama
St. Dunstan’s, the Episcopal Church at Auburn University
Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost + Year C
First Lesson: II Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
Second Lesson: Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Gospel: Luke 9:51-62

✠ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

13501598_501635960044541_8042420613759108362_nGreetings to you from the Diocese of Northwest Texas; our bishop, the Right Reverend Scott Mayer; and the people of the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, Texas, where I serve as curate, which is just a fancy word for “baby priest.” It’s an honor to be with you today, and I’d like to thank Father Wells for inviting me to preach this morning.

I’ve known Father Wells and his family for almost thirteen years now. When we first met, I was a junior at Auburn University, studying to become a choral music teacher. I had never even heard of the Episcopal Church before I was invited to sing in the student choir at St. Dunstan’s, where my girlfriend and future wife, Chelsea, and I were welcomed with open arms and cared for in a way that we had never felt from a community. At St. Dunstan’s, we learned what it felt like to be loved and accepted for who we were, and it’s that same kind of love and acceptance that we try to bring into our own ministries today. Continue reading

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A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
Abilene, Texas
Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost + Year C
First Lesson: I Kings 21:1-10, 15-21a
Psalm 5:1-8
Second Lesson: Galatians 2:15-21
Gospel: Luke 7:36-8:3

✠ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Rubens-Feast_of_Simon_the_Pharisee

Feast in the House of Simon the Pharisee by Rubens, c. 1618

I’m a huge fan of the author, Brené Brown. Now, if you have never heard of Brené, you should know from the very beginning that she is a native Texan, and she is an Episcopalian. So, of course, she has to know what she is talking about! Brené and her family live in the Houston area where she works as a professor at the University of Houston. Perhaps the most important thing that you should know about Brené is that she has spent a significant amount of her life and career as a researcher and storyteller. Her research has led her to collect data and conduct interviews in the areas of vulnerability, courage, shame, and authenticity. You might recognize her name from one of the books that she has written or from her appearances on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Or, perhaps you have seen one of the videos floating around on YouTube featuring one of her TED Talks. She is a remarkable public speaker and writer, and she has inspired countless people with her healing and uplifting words of encouragement.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené offers readers a helpful way to think about shame and how it has the power to prevent us from cultivating deep, meaningful relationships with other people and to make us doubt our sense of worth. She writes, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” In other words, shame is what we feel when we attach our self-worth to the things that we do or the things that happen to us in our lives. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Third Sunday after Pentecost

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
Abilene, Texas
Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Third Sunday after Pentecost + Year C
First Lesson: I Kings 17:8-16
Psalm 146
Second Lesson: Galatians 1:11-24
Gospel: Luke 7:11-17

✠ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

0515-Orange-landingNext Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood, and as I reflect on the year that has passed, I’m reminded of something that one of my former rectors once told me as I was discerning a call to ordained ministry, a memory that has stuck with me to this day. One day, as we were having a discussion in her office about what it means to be a priest in Christ’s Church, she pointed to a wooden crucifix hanging on the wall and shared with me something that a former priest of hers once told her. She said, “to be a priest, you have to be willing to ‘look good on wood.’”

Now, I will admit that, at first, I was a bit confused. “Look good on wood?” I thought. “What in the world is she talking about?” It was only after a few moments that I began to understand. She was saying that, to be a priest, you have to be willing to go to the cross with Jesus, to lay down your life so that others may come to know the love of God. Continue reading