A Sermon for the Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost + October 29, 2017

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

The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost + Proper 25A
First Lesson: Leviticus 19:1-2,15-18
Psalm 1
Second Lesson: I Thessalonians 2:1-8
Gospel: Matthew 22:34-46

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.

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Today is a monumental occasion in the life of our parish, a day that we’ll remember for years to come as the first time that we were presented with the master plan and conceptual drawings for the first phase of building our new worship space. This is an exciting time for St. Catherine’s! We are a young but growing parish, and with each passing day, we are becoming more and more known in the community as a church that exists, not for ourselves but to love and serve others. We are a church full of people who are committed to doing the work that God has called us to do in the building up of God’s Kingdom on earth. Looking forward to this day, I’ve been especially reminded of this over the past several weeks. At the beginning of the month, we had a service for the Blessing of the Animals to commemorate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, reminding us that we are stewards of God’s creation, called to care for the earth and all of God’s creatures. That same week, members of our parish volunteered their time and energy to go to Montevallo to help build a home for a family in need. On the third Saturday of this month, St. Catherine’s once again opened its doors to the members of our community in need of food through our Beans and Rice Pantry, and this past week, your Vestry held its monthly meeting, reminded me once again of how blessed we all are to have the support and leadership of such a dedicated group of people. Yes, this is an exciting time! There are so many exciting things that we’re already doing in our ministry together as a parish, and I believe that there are many more yet to come.

You may be surprised to discover that this month also marks an important anniversary for our parish. It was ten years ago, in October of 2007, that the first worship services were held at St. Catherine’s. Ten years is quite an achievement. Some of you have been here since the very beginning, and you know how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time. In many ways, today seems like the conclusion to one chapter and the beginning of another, and It seems especially appropriate that we remember and give thanks for this important milestone as we prepare to get our first glimpse at what God has in store for us in the future. Continue reading

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A Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost + October 22, 2017

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

The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost + Proper 24A
First Lesson: Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm 96:1-9
Second Lesson: I Thessalonians 1:1-10
Gospel: Matthew 22:15-22

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.

27763276440_431e46f37b_oAt my last church, where I served as the Curate (which, as some of you know, is just a fancy word for “baby priest”), I sometimes ruffled people’s feathers a bit in my preaching. I was fresh out of seminary and convinced that it was my job as a preacher to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ, regardless of who that might offend. Of course, it also didn’t hurt that I was the Curate and not the Rector, the one who is ultimately responsible for what is preached during church. It’s a lot easier to be controversial when you’re not the one in charge!

I had no problem bringing up stories from the news in my sermons, especially when I felt as though they needed to be addressed and talked about through a theological lens. Some people appreciated it, and some people didn’t. Some people thought that it was inappropriate for me to bring up certain topics in my preaching, especially when they thought that I was getting a little too political.
Continue reading

A Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost + October 15, 2017

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

The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost + Proper 23A
First Lesson: Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 23
Second Lesson: Philippians 4:1-9
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

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.

1399734941_820eb36338_oA few years ago, when I was in my second year of seminary, I had the opportunity to attend a weekend retreat with my fellow classmates at Rosyln, the Episcopal retreat center in Richmond, Virginia. It’s a beautiful place. While we were there, we were blessed to have with us a guest speaker, one of the bishops from the Diocese of Virginia, who was there to talk with us about the joys of ordained life and what we might expect as we prepared to move from lay ministry into ordained ministry. Bishop Ted Gulick was his name.

One of the highlights of our retreat was having the opportunity to spend some one on one time with the bishop, if we desired. So, of course, I took the time to meet with him and to ask him some questions, mostly having to do with his own experience as a priest and bishop and what he loved most about being ordained. Secretly, what I really needed from our conversation was to be inspired and to be reminded of why I was going through the process of being ordained in the first place. You see, as formative as it was, seminary often felt a bit isolated from the rest of the world as though we were living in our own little bubble, detached from everything else on the outside. So, I needed to be reminded in my conversation with Bishop Gulick of why I answered God’s call to become a priest. At that moment, I needed to be reminded of why I said “yes” to God’s call, and it wasn’t so that I could spend three years of my life in seminary, writing papers and taking exams. It was because I knew deep in my heart that becoming a priest was how God intended me to live my life. It was how God was calling me to use the gifts and talents that I’ve been given in order to serve others. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost + October 1, 2017

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost + Proper 21A
First Lesson: Ezekiel 18:1-4,25-32
Psalm 25:1-8
Second Lesson: Philippians 2:1-13
Gospel: Matthew 21:23-32

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.

humility-silhouette-kneeling-man-praying-man-prayer-the-trent-e1409473184717The week before last, Chelsea and I did something that we weren’t quite sure we could do. We successfully survived a week at Walt Disney World with our eight year old and five year old! Actually, we had a wonderful time, but the trip certainly wasn’t without its moments of frustration and difficulty. I call it a “trip” because that is exactly what it was- a trip, not a vacation. When I think of a vacation, I think of time set apart for rest and relaxation, and going to Disney World for a week is the exact opposite. Going to Disney World involves things like waking up before daybreak in order to get to the parks before the lines to the most popular attractions get too long. It involves walking for miles each day in the hot, Florida sun and waiting in long lines for what seems like an eternity in order to experience an attraction that lasts only a few minutes. It also involves long days and long nights only to wake up the next morning in order to do it all over again.

I could go on, but I won’t. You get the idea. Going to Disney World is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m pessimistic about these sorts of trips. I’m really not. In fact, I was probably the most excited member of our family when we first walked through the gates of the Magic Kingdom!  Continue reading