A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany + Year A
First Lesson: Micah 6:1-8
Psalm 15
Second Lesson: I Corinthians 1:18-31
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

+ Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak through 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.

SYRIAN REFUGEES USARecently, I finished reading a book called Tribe, by Sebastian Junger. This really was a wonderful book, one that I would highly recommend to anyone who’s interested in learning more about the importance of community, what draws people together and unifies them, and why people feel the need to belong to something greater than themselves.

In his book, the author writes about this in great detail and provides several examples throughout history, beginning with the American Indians who, over the course of about three hundred years, fought to hold onto the land that they and their ancestors had occupied for thousands of years. One thing that I found so interesting in the book is that, by the end of the nineteenth century and the height of the Industrial Revolution, a surprising number of Americans, mostly men, ended up leaving their own people to join Indian society. They adopted their clothing. They married them, and they even fought beside them. There was something that caused them to reject their own society in order to take on the Indian way of life, one that could be described as very simple but also very appealing. As tribes of Indians were overrun and eventually resettled, people in their communities were drawn together because of what they had to endure and because they depended on one another for their survival. Continue reading

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A Sermon for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany + Year A
First Lesson: Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1, 5-13
Second Lesson: I Corinthians 1:10-18
Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23

+ Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak through 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.

washington-national-cathedral-copyI have something that I’d like to share with you that I’ve been struggling with for the past couple of weeks, something about our beloved Episcopal Church. Really, it’s about a certain group of people within our church.

But, before I explain to you what I’ve been struggling with, let me first talk to you about why I love the Episcopal Church and about why our church is such a good fit for so many people. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany + Year A
First Lesson: Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-12
Second Lesson: I Corinthians 1:1-9
Gospel: John 1:29-42 

+ Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak through 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.

Sarah and I in front of the Camp McDowell sign.Back in November, during our visit with the search committee here in Chelsea, I was invited to go downtown to Carpenter House for a visit with Bishop Kee. It’s customary in the Episcopal Church for anyone who’s going through a rector search process to meet with the Bishop of the diocese before he or she is called to serve at a parish. So, Bill Wheeler and I headed downtown for some time with the Bishop. We went into his office, and one of the very first things that the Bishop told me in our conversation was that the Diocese of Alabama is a “relational diocese.” What I’m sure he was trying to convey was that, probably more than anything, the people who make up this diocese value relationships. There is a culture of hospitality here and an expectation that, whoever you are or wherever you come from, you will be welcome in this diocese, and from what I’ve seen, that is certainly the case here at St. Catherine’s.

“We are a relational diocese.” These were some of the first words out of Bishop Kee’s mouth. So, I know that they’re important to him. When he said that, my first thought was, “Yeah, Bishop, I know that. This is the diocese that brought me into the Episcopal Church. This is the diocese that continues to support campus ministry and ministry to young adults- ministries that have been monumental in my life in more ways than I can count. This is the diocese where I first began my journey toward the priesthood.” So, I knew what he meant when he described our diocese as being relational, but I was thankful for the Bishop’s words. I was thankful that he took time to express his excitement and enthusiasm for our diocese. I was thankful for his reminder that the people here value not just friendship but companionship, something that can only be found when we live and grow together in community. Continue reading

A Sermon for the First Sunday after the Epiphany

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, January 8, 2017

The First Sunday after the Epiphany + Year A
First Lesson: Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm 29
Second Lesson: Acts 10:34-43
Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17

+ Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak through 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.

fig-13I’d like to begin my sermon this morning by taking just a few moments to thank you all for the warmth and hospitality that you’ve shown toward me and my family over the last several weeks. When we first received the call to come to Chelsea in November, our first reaction pure joy! We were so excited to be called back home to Alabama. But, then we quickly realized that a lot needed to happen between the end of November and the beginning of January in order to get us here. Not to mention that it was only a few weeks before Christmas! As you can imagine, it was quite overwhelming at times, but what made it all worthwhile was knowing that we would soon be welcomed with open arms into our new home here at St. Catherine’s. We can’t thank you enough for all that you’ve done for us- everything from helping us move here to bringing us meals- you’ve gone above and beyond what we could’ve hoped for, and for that, we are truly grateful.

A little over thirty years ago, a council within the Anglican Communion began developing a statement that would eventually be used to express the Anglican Communion’s understanding of God’s mission in the world and the Church’s commitment to that mission. Over the course of six years, between 1984 and 1990, the council worked to develop what we now call the “Five Marks of Mission.” Continue reading