The Hospitality of Jesus

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
First Lesson: Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Gospel: John 2:1-11

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.

wine-2Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to help plan a wedding.

It takes a lot of work, doesn’t it? Chelsea and I have been married for almost thirteen years, and I still remember how stressful it was to plan all of the details for our big day- everything from the save-the-date cards to the reception after the ceremony. Ours was a relatively small affair. So, I can’t even begin to imagine how stressful it must be for those who choose to have larger, more elaborate weddings.

There are so many details to consider when planning a wedding. There’s the guest list, which might change at any moment. There’s the location for the rehearsal dinner, which of course has to be reserved months in advance. There’s the ceremony itself, which has to be beautiful and memorable but definitely not too long. There’s the photography session after the service, which may or may not be held outside depending on the weather. There’s the menu for the reception, which has to include food and drinks that everyone will enjoy. So many details and so many things that can go wrong at a moment’s notice. They say, “the devil is in the details,” and I think that’s right, especially when it comes to weddings. Continue reading

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Costly Grace

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, January 13, 2019

The First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of our Lord
First Lesson: Isaiah 43:1-7
Psalm 29
Second Lesson: Acts 8:14-17
Gospel: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

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.

why-was-jesus-baptizedToday is the first Sunday after the Epiphany. The seasons of Advent and Christmas have passed. We have the Feast of the Epiphany and once again heard the magnificent story of the three wise men from the East who travel to Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn King. Now the church is ready to once again hear the miraculous stories in which God’s grace was revealed to the world through his beloved son, Jesus Christ. This will be the focus of our lectionary readings from now until the end of this liturgical season, leading up to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

In all three years of our Sunday lectionary, the first Sunday after the Epiphany is when we remember the Baptism of our Lord by John the Baptizer at the River Jordan.  As we heard in today’s lesson from the Gospel of Luke, John says to crowd gathered at the river, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”The baptismal narrative in Luke’s Gospel concludes with a voice from heaven proclaiming to Jesus after his baptism, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Continue reading

A Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 16B) + August 26, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 16B)
First Lesson: Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18
Psalm 34:15-22
Second Lesson: Ephesians 6:10-20
Gospel: John 6:56-69

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.

tumblr_n1ofcjZ4KV1sanzo7o1_1280Have you ever noticed how some people use the phrase, “No offense,” right before they say something really offensive?

Do you know what I’m talking about?

For example, let’s say someone walked up to me one morning after church and said, “No offense, Father Eric, but that wasn’t your best sermon.” I would be very offended by that! Just because that person said, “No offense,” right before criticizing me doesn’t mean that I would be any less offended. By the way, that’s never happened to me, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything!

Has this ever happened to you? Has anyone ever come up to you and said, “No offense, but…” Fill in the blank. Or, perhaps, you were the one who said it to someone else. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 13B) + August 5, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 13B)
First Lesson: Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
Psalm 78:23-29
Second Lesson: Ephesians 4:1-16
Gospel: John 6:24-35

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.

38498635_465501407257457_6158961485893599232_n“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

“Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”

These words from our lesson from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians are powerful. They convey a sense of responsibility and urgency. They remind us that this life to which we’ve been called as followers of Jesus is built upon how we treat our brothers and sisters. The author uses some key words to describe this life, words like humility, gentleness, patience, love, and peace. 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 Good Friday + March 30, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday + Year B
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.

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 12.27.51 PM“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.”

The opening verses of Psalm 22 cut deeply, especially on this day.

They’re the words of someone in pain, of someone who has felt abandoned and forgotten.

They express feelings of great sadness and remorse.

They tap into the gut-wrenching story of Jesus’ final hours. In the Passion narratives from both Matthew and Mark, Jesus actually says these words out loud as he’s hanging on the cross. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Continue reading

A Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany + January 14, 2018

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
First Lesson: I Samuel 3:1-20
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17
Second Lesson: I Corinthians 6:12-20
Gospel: John 1:43-51

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.

26943567_1605250556232861_988909064_n“Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’”

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” I love this question that Nathanael asks Philip in today’s Gospel lesson soon after Philip tells him that he’s discovered the Messiah. To me, there’s something so human about it, something so relatable. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” This question makes me ponder the number of times in my life when I probably asked a similar question, a question based on my own skepticism or prejudice toward a particular person, place, or group of people before actually taking the time to get to know them. I think this is something that most of us wrestle with pretty frequently. We have preconceived notions about people that we don’t know and places that we’ve never been, and to our detriment, we let those preconceived ideas cloud our judgments and opinions. We let fear of the unknown control our thoughts and actions, and we let it get in the way of our ability to trust others and to love as Christ has called us to love. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
Abilene, Texas
Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Second Sunday of Advent + Year A
First Lesson: Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Second Lesson: Romans 15:4-13
Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12

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

baptistI love the season of Advent.

One of the things that I love most about this particular season is that we get to sing so many beautiful Advent hymns each week. The hymns of Advent have a lot to teach us about the importance of the season and why we spend four weeks preparing for the birth of our Savior and anticipating his return.

The popular Advent hymn, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” for example, speaks to the expectancy of the one who will come to dwell with us, the one who is “God with us.” Continue reading