The Day of Pentecost

Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit
Alabaster, Alabama
The Day of Pentecost: Whitsunday
June 9, 2019

Genesis 11:1-9
Psalm 104:25-35, 37
Acts 2:1-21
John 14:8-17, 25-27

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

180519074936-bishop-curry-royal-wedding-exlarge-169“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.”

These are the words of the prophet Joel, spoken by Peter on the first Day of Pentecost.

As Episcopalians, we often describe the Day of Pentecost as the birthday of the Church. Some of us celebrate each year by wearing red to our worship services. Many parishes have festive parties and decorate their parish halls with red balloons and streamers. Some even have a birthday cake decorated with tongues of fire or doves representing the Holy Spirit. I think all of these are wonderful ways to celebrate such an important day in the life of the Church! After all, the Day of Pentecost is the last day of the Easter season and one of the seven principle feasts of the Church year, ranking right up there with Christmas and Easter. For our parish, this day is especially meaningful as we celebrate the feast of our namesake. We are the Church of the Holy Spirit, and we have a special responsibility to consider what that name means for our life in Christ and how we’re being called upon as a community of faith to serve our brothers and sisters. Continue reading

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The World is Waiting

Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit
Alabaster, Alabama
The Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday after the Ascension
June 2, 2019

Acts 16:16-34
Psalm 97
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
John 17:20-26

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

8e4c6fe2-c78c-43c3-9e57-74ddce31ab9aEarlier this week, I was having a conversation on the telephone with my priest from college. Some of you may know him. His name is Wells Warren, and up until last October, Father Wells was the priest and chaplain at St. Dunstan’s, the Episcopal campus ministry at Auburn University. He and his wife, Leigh, now live in Dillon, Montana, where Father Wells serves as the part-time priest at St. James Episcopal Church. I promise this isn’t the last time you’ll here Father Wells’s name. He’s been a close, personal friend and mentor to me for several years, and so much of who I am as a priest is because of his influence and encouragement.

In our conversation on Tuesday, we had a chance to catch up a bit, and one of the things I shared with him was my excitement about coming to Holy Spirit and beginning my time as your new rector. He shared my excitement and wished us many blessings as we begin our ministry together. Every time Father Wells and I share a conversation, he always ends our time by saying the same words. “Eric, I have such love and admiration for you and your family, and I’m so proud of the priest that you’ve become.” I have to admit that I’m at a loss for words every time he says that. I know deep in my heart that he means every word, but what I think Father Wells doesn’t fully realize is that I have the same love and admiration for him and what he’s done for me and my family in his ministry as a priest. I am who I am today because of his commitment to creating an environment of love and hospitality at St. Dunstan’s. I wouldn’t be standing here preaching to you this morning if it weren’t for his deep, abiding love for Jesus and the Episcopal Church. Continue reading

Choose Joy

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
The Fifth Sunday of Easter + Year C
May 19, 2019

Acts 11:1-18
Psalm 148
Revelation 21:1-6
John 13:31-35

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.

newbornbaby-parentHenri Nouwen once wrote, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.”

I’ve decided that joy is a spiritual discipline.

It’s not something that happens to us in an instant in the same way that we experience happiness.  Happiness comes and goes. We can be happy one minute and sad the next, and often, our degree of happiness depends on forces that are beyond our control. Continue reading

God is Always Near

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
The Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C)
May 12, 2019

Acts 9:36-43
Psalm 23
Revelation 7:9-17
John 10:22-30

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.

southern-grits-recipeSeveral years ago, before going to seminary, Chelsea and I were members of the Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Dothan, Alabama. One Sunday, our priest at the time, Mother Ede, preached a sermon that’s stuck with me for a long time. In her sermon, she shared with us a story that she had once heard from another priest. The story goes like this.

“Once upon a time, in the Deep South, a hungry man was having breakfast at a diner. A waitress took his order, and he asked for bacon and eggs with coffee. She brought the coffee right away, and then, a while later, came back with a heaping plate of food. He looked down, and–to his surprise–next to the bacon and eggs he’d ordered he also noticed a strange lump of runny, white porridge. ‘What’s this?’ he thought. When he spoke up to complain, the waitress shook her head and got a funny look on her face. ‘Honey,’ she said, ‘those is grits. You don’t order grits. Grits just comes.’” Continue reading

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

A Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter + April 15, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Third Sunday of Easter + Year B
First Lesson: Acts 3:12-19
Psalm 4
Second Lesson: 1 John 3:1-7
Gospel: Luke 24:36b-48

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.

30233065_1703511999740049_689957896_oIn Luke’s account of the resurrection story, the risen Jesus says to his disciples, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

“You are witnesses.”

Why do you think Jesus told his disciples this? It seems rather obvious, doesn’t it? Of course they’re witnesses. They’ve seen everything. They’ve traveled with Jesus since the very beginning of his ministry, through the best of times and worst of times. They’ve seen Jesus cure the sick and minister to the hopeless. They’ve heard his teachings and struggled to uncover their meanings. They’ve been his closest friends and allies. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter + April 8, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Second Sunday of Easter + Year B
First Lesson: Acts 4:32-35
Psalm 133
Second Lesson: 1 John 1:1-2:2
Gospel: John 20:19-31

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.

30125629_1695621980529051_1437411587_oToday’s lesson from the Gospel according to John picks up right where we left off last Sunday. In the evening on the day of resurrection, the risen Jesus mysteriously appears to his disciples for the first time.

Despite the doors of the house being locked where the disciples have gathered, Jesus appears. He says to his friends, “Peace be with you.” As evidence that he’s truly returned, Jesus shows them the mark of the nails in his hands and his side and he says to them once again, “Peace be with you.”

“Peace be with you.” These are comforting and familiar words to us as Episcopalians. I’m a little surprised that the disciples didn’t respond to Jesus, “And also with you.” Continue reading

A Sermon for the Feast of the Resurrection: Easter Day + April 1, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Feast of the Resurrection: Easter Day + Year B
First Lesson: Acts 10:34-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Gospel: John 20:1-18

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.

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 12.27.23 PM“I have seen the Lord!”

These are the first words spoken by Mary Magdalene to Jesus’ disciples soon after she discovers the risen Christ and runs to tell them all the wonderful news of what has happened.

“I have seen the Lord!”

You can imagine the excitement in her voice as she announces to the disciples that Jesus, their friend and master who was crucified, has indeed been raised from the dead.

But, if we back up a bit in our Gospel lesson for today, we know that Mary Magdalene doesn’t actually recognize Jesus at first. Rather, she sees and talks with a man who she assumes must be the gardener. Now, I don’t really know why she assumes that Jesus is the gardener. I doubt that Jesus is wearing a pair of overalls and a straw hat! All we know is that, when Mary turns from the two angels sitting in the empty tomb, she sees a man standing in the garden. The man asks Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Assuming that the gardener has done something with Jesus’ body, she says to him anxiously, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Mary’s love for Jesus is evident in the way that she cares for him, even in death. Continue reading

A Sermon for Easter Day

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Feast of the Resurrection: Easter Day
First Lesson: Acts 10:34-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Second Lesson: Colossians 3:1-4
Gospel: John 20:1-18

+ 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.

18010446_624775534397249_5296151517490218031_nAlleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

I don’t think that we can ever have too many “alleluias” on Easter morning. After all, we’ve come a long way through our forty-day journey through the season of Lent. We’ve traveled with Christ and his disciples to Jerusalem and witnessed betrayal and suffering as the crowd of people who initially welcomed him into the city with such excitement and enthusiasm quickly turned on Jesus, demanding for him to be put to death on a Roman cross.

So yes, it is time for us to once again announce to the world, with as much energy as we possibly can, the proclamation of our Lord’s resurrection, his glorious victory over sin and death. “Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!” Continue reading

A Homily for the Great Vigil of Easter

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
Abilene, Texas
Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Great Vigil of Easter + Year C
First Lesson: Romans 6:3-11
Gospel: Luke 24:1-12

“Let none fear death, for the death of the Saviour has set us free. Christ is risen and the demons have fallen. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice.” ✠ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Continue reading