Jesus Is Already There

Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit
Alabaster, Alabama
The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 16C)
August 25, 2019

Isaiah 58:9b-14
Psalm 103:1-8
Hebrews 12:18-29
Luke 13:10-17

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

bigstock-hands-begging-on-a-brown-backg-80780228I’m a huge fan of Brené Brown. If you’ve never heard of Brené, do yourself a favor. Go home, and look her up on the internet. You’ll come to discover that Brené is a well-known author and public speaker. An added bonus is that she also happens to be an Episcopalian, but you may not find that by doing a simple, Google search. Brené and her family live in Texas 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’s written or from her appearances on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Or, perhaps you’ve seen one of the videos floating around on YouTube featuring one of her TED Talks. I haven’t seen it yet, but most recently, she did a one-hour special on Netflix entitled “The Call to Courage.” She’s remarkably tuned in to so many of the destructive feelings that we, as a society, suffer from on a daily basis- feelings like shame, fear, and insecurity- and she’s inspired countless people with her healing and uplifting words of encouragement. Continue reading

The Marvelous Peace of God

Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit
Alabaster, Alabama
The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 15C)
August 18, 2019

Jeremiah 23:23-29
Psalm 82
Hebrews 11:29-12:2
Luke 12:49-56

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

180809-ex-kkk-ken-parker-se-258p__a48b812e269efc7d61718185d9635057.nbcnews-fp-1200-630In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus says to the crowd, “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

This doesn’t sound like something Jesus would say, does it?

To me, it sounds more like something we might hear from the villain in a movie or television show. It certainly doesn’t sound like the Jesus I know, the one whom we often refer to as “Prince of Peace.” After all, this is the same Jesus who came to live and die as one of us to show us how to love each other as God loves us, the same Jesus who came to restore God’s creation and open for us the way to everlasting life. This is the same Jesus who said to his disciples after he was raised from the dead, “Peace be with you.” The Gospels are filled with many examples of Jesus and his message of peace. So, the last thing we would expect to hear in our Gospel lesson for today is that Jesus has come to bring division to the earth. It just doesn’t fit with what we know to be true about who Jesus is and what he came to do during his time on earth. Continue reading

The Witness of the Martyrs

Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit
Alabaster, Alabama
The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 14C)
August 11, 2019

Genesis 15:1-6
Psalm 33:12-22
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
Luke 12:32-40

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

68318842_1089277887947009_6900374056382496768_nIn April of 1965, a seminarian from the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts, published an article in The New Hampshire Churchman, the official magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. In the article, the seminarian wrote about his journey south into the black belt, describing in painful detail the types of atrocities that he and other activists experienced and worked to overcome during the Civil Rights Movement, acts of violence and oppression that good people endured simply because of the color of their skin.

His journey brought him to Selma, Alabama, the site of  “Bloody Sunday” and the beginning of that five-day, fifty-four mile march along US Highway 80, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the capital steps in Montgomery. During his time in Selma, the seminarian encountered racism and bigotry at its worst, even from parishioners and clergy at the local Episcopal church. At the end of his article, the seminarian wrote, “Our life in Selma is filled with ambiguity, and in that we share with men everywhere. We are beginning to see as we never saw before that we are truly in the world and yet ultimately not of it. For through the bramble bush of doubt and fear and supposed success we are groping our way to the realization that above all else, we are called to be saints. That is the mission of the Church everywhere. And in this Selma, Alabama is like all the world: it needs the life and witness of militant saints.” Continue reading