New Life is Always Possible

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Feast of the Resurrection: Easter Day
First Lesson: Acts 10:34-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Gospel: Luke 24:1-12

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.

notre-dame-crossThe heavenly messengers in our Gospel lesson for this morning said to the women at the tomb of Jesus, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

On Monday morning, the world watched in shock and bewilderment as the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris was engulfed in flames. A beautiful symbol of our Christian faith, ancient and revered, was suddenly taken from us without any warning. My immediate thought, after seeing the initial news reports was, “Oh, Lord, please don’t tell me someone did this on purpose.” After further investigation, it was reported that the fire was likely caused by a chemical reaction during the process of renovating and restoring the eight hundred year old cathedral.

Nine hours after the fire began, it was finally extinguished, and what remained of the cathedral was a smoldering shell of its former glory. The building had suffered colossal damage. The spire above the cathedral had collapsed. Parts of the roof and all of the wooden architecture on the inside of the church had been reduced to embers and ash. Continue reading

The Way of the Cross

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday
First Lesson: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 22:1-21
Second Lesson: Hebrews 10:16-25
Gospel: John 18:1-19:42

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.

E20B6481-6AA0-4A57-A05E-B8248AF5D382“So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.”

In a meditation on Good Friday, the Rev’d Martin Smith once wrote, “He was numbered with the transgressors, crucified between the thieves. We will not find him in our hearts except in the same company. For each Good Friday to be good the Spirit must take us by the hand and re-establish our contact with that inmost core of recalcitrant evil, enmity and impotence where we are sisters and brothers of the most depraved and lost. That is where Christ is, clasping them with his pierced hands.” Continue reading

Extravagant Love

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Fifth Sunday in Lent
First Lesson: Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126
Second Lesson: Philippians 3:4b-14
Gospel: John 12:1-8

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.

1351-f9d833c2-5563-44ea-b16c-3c1e08c3d081If you spend any time on Facebook, you might’ve come across a page called “Episcopal Church Memes.” A “meme,” in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, is basically an image or a video that’s shared with a lot of people on social media, usually referencing something they find humorous or entertaining. To give you an example, there’s this famous meme called “Grumpy Cat, “featuring a brown and white cat with squinty eyes and a frown on his face. “Grumpy Cat” says lots of funny things, such as, “I had fun once. It was awful.” Or, “If I had a dollar for every time I thought of you, I would be broke.” It never ceases to amaze me how creative people get with the memes they post on Facebook.

Most of the images posted on the “Episcopal Church Memes” page are harmless enough, but occasionally, there’s one that gets pretty controversial, one that stirs up lots of different emotions and opinions. Continue reading

A Wideness in God’s Mercy

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Fourth Sunday in Lent
First Lesson: Joshua 5:9-12
Psalm 32
Second Lesson: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Gospel: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-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.

300px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_ProjectOne of my absolute favorite hymns that we sing in the Episcopal Church is the one that we sang just a few moments ago before the reading of the Gospel, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” which was based on a poem by the nineteenth-century poet, Frederick William Faber. The hymn begins with the words, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea; there’s a kindness in his justice, which is more than liberty.” The hymn continues on and speaks of “welcome for the sinner” and “mercy with the Savior.” It speaks of “plentiful redemption” and “the goodness of the Lord.” The version of the hymn that we sing in our hymnal includes many of the stanzas from the original poem, but if you were to read the original, you would notice that the final two were left out.

If we were to sing them, it would sound something like this:

But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own. 

Was there ever kinder shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior who would have us
Come and gather at his feet? Continue reading