A Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost + September 17, 2017

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost + Proper 19A
First Lesson: Genesis 50:15-21
Psalm 103:8-13
Second Lesson: Romans 14:1-12
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

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.

4388395205_d91fae7771_oMy wife, Chelsea, and I were engaged to be married almost twelve years ago. I was living and working in Savannah, Georgia, at the time, and Chelsea was visiting me from Auburn, where she was still hard at work earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

In the several months that followed our engagement, I began traveling to Auburn more frequently so that Chelsea and I could meet with our priest, Father Wells, who agreed not only to marry us at St. Dunstan’s, which is where Chelsea and I discovered the Episcopal Church, but also to prepare us for marriage through a series of premarital conversations. You may not know this, but in the Episcopal Church, any couple who wants to be married must participate in these types of conversations with their priest. So, we spent some time with Father Wells in the months leading up to our wedding talking about important topics, such as finances, family history, and whether or not we wanted to have children. We talked about the wedding ceremony itself and the significance of the liturgy that we use for marriage. But, perhaps the most important thing that we talked about in our premarital conversations was conflict and how each of us deals with conflict when we have a disagreement about something. Continue reading

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A Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost + September 3, 2017

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost + Proper 17A
First Lesson: Jeremiah 15:15-21
Psalm 26:1-8
Second Lesson: Romans 12:9-21
Gospel: Matthew 16:21-28

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.

hurricane-harvey-rescue-3-ap-jt-170827_4x3_992For the past several days, I’ve been shocked by the images and reports coming out of south Texas and Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Stories of families having to evacuate their homes because of the rising flood waters. Stories of first responders trying to rescue those who are trapped in their homes. Stories of complete strangers coming in from other parts of the country to assist those in need.

I have dear friends in the Houston area. Many are fellow priests who have been impacted by the flooding as well. They’ve been on Facebook posting updates, pictures, and live videos, letting us know what’s happening and what we can do to help. One friend, in particular, posted a video a few days ago explaining the strange mix of emotions that his parishioners are feeling right now. Naturally, some are very angry and frustrated about what’s happened. Some are simply happy that their homes were spared. Others are remorseful because they know families who have lost so much. I would imagine that many people right now, including people in other parts of the country who may have family members and friends who have been impacted by the storm, are experiencing that same confusing mix of anger, joy, and remorse. 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 Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany

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

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany + Year A
First Lesson: Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-12
Second Lesson: I Corinthians 1:1-9
Gospel: John 1:29-42 

+ 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.

Sarah and I in front of the Camp McDowell sign.Back in November, during our visit with the search committee here in Chelsea, I was invited to go downtown to Carpenter House for a visit with Bishop Kee. It’s customary in the Episcopal Church for anyone who’s going through a rector search process to meet with the Bishop of the diocese before he or she is called to serve at a parish. So, Bill Wheeler and I headed downtown for some time with the Bishop. We went into his office, and one of the very first things that the Bishop told me in our conversation was that the Diocese of Alabama is a “relational diocese.” What I’m sure he was trying to convey was that, probably more than anything, the people who make up this diocese value relationships. There is a culture of hospitality here and an expectation that, whoever you are or wherever you come from, you will be welcome in this diocese, and from what I’ve seen, that is certainly the case here at St. Catherine’s.

“We are a relational diocese.” These were some of the first words out of Bishop Kee’s mouth. So, I know that they’re important to him. When he said that, my first thought was, “Yeah, Bishop, I know that. This is the diocese that brought me into the Episcopal Church. This is the diocese that continues to support campus ministry and ministry to young adults- ministries that have been monumental in my life in more ways than I can count. This is the diocese where I first began my journey toward the priesthood.” So, I knew what he meant when he described our diocese as being relational, but I was thankful for the Bishop’s words. I was thankful that he took time to express his excitement and enthusiasm for our diocese. I was thankful for his reminder that the people here value not just friendship but companionship, something that can only be found when we live and grow together in community. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Sunday after All Saints’ Day

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
Abilene, Texas
Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Sunday after All Saint’s Day + Year C
First Lesson: Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Psalm 149
Second Lesson: Ephesians 1:11-23
Gospel: Luke 6:20-31

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

hamiltonFor a little over a year now, the world of musical theater has been shaken up and given new life by what some people are calling one of the greatest musicals ever written. Of course, I’m talking about the Tony Award-winning musical, Hamilton, written and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the musical, Hamilton chronicles the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of our country, the first Secretary of the Treasury, and the creator of our banking system. The narrative begins with Hamilton’s arrival in the British colonies only a few years before the start of the Revolutionary War and spans his entire life, culminating in that famous duel between himself and Aaron Burr.

Now, I haven’t seen the show. Relatively speaking, not many people have. It’s very hard to get tickets, and the show has only played so far in New York City and Chicago. But, if you listen to the cast recording of Hamilton, you’ll quickly notice that it’s very unique and unlike any other musical that you might have heard. The story is told not only through dialogue but also through a stylistic combination of hip-hop and rap and various other styles of music, making it accessible and entertaining to a wide variety of people. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
Abilene, Texas
Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost + Proper 25C
First Lesson: Joel 2:23-32
Psalm 65
Second Lesson: II Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Gospel: Luke 18:9-14

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

Campaign 2016 DebateFor several months now, we’ve been in the midst of a very heated and often divisive conversation about who is most fit to lead our country as the next president. Some may argue that it’s the most controversial election cycle that our country has ever seen, and if you’ve been watching the debates, you’d probably agree with that assessment.

For months, the media has been filled with news stories concerning the latest scandals, and time and again, we’ve witnessed campaign rallies turn into spectacles of protest and outrage. Both of the leading candidates for president have clearly expressed their contempt for one another, and what’s worse is that this contempt has spread to their supporters as well. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of this as I’m sure so many of us have. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
Abilene, Texas
Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost + Proper 21C
First Lesson: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
Second Lesson: I Timothy 6:6-19
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

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

curry-michael-outdoors

The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry

Last week, I came across a new video featuring our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry. In the video, Bishop Curry talks about the Jesus Movement. Now, this should come as no surprise to those of you who have heard our Presiding Bishop speak or deliver a sermon. He loves to talk about the Jesus Movement! In fact, the phrase has become so popular among Episcopalians, it’s even showing up on our merchandise. You, too, can buy a bumper sticker that says, “We are the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement.”

But what, exactly, is the Jesus Movement? In the video, Bishop Curry paints us a picture by reflecting on a pivotal moment in our celebration of the Eucharist. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
Abilene, Texas
Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost + Proper 17C
First Lesson: Jeremiah 2:4-13
Psalm 81:1, 10-16
Second Lesson: Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14

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

Olympic-Flag-with-RingsWell, if you’re like me, you probably spent at least some of your free time this month watching the excitement unfold in Brazil during the Summer Olympics.

I, for one, am thankful for the Olympics this year for providing us with something to talk about other than politics or news of the most recent terrorist attack – an event that not only celebrates diversity but one that also reminds us that, despite our differences, we are all connected at the deepest level through our common humanity. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
Abilene, Texas
Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost + Proper 15C
First Lesson: Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:1-2, 8-18
Second Lesson: Hebrews 11:29-12:2
Gospel: Luke 12:49-56

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

m-5733Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

In 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. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest
Abilene, Texas
Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost + Year C
First Lesson: II Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
Second Lesson: Galatians 6:1-16
Gospel: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

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

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Quote above the main entrance to the Immanuel Chapel at Virginia Seminary.

It is a tradition at the Virginia Theological Seminary that every spring, on the evening before commencement, the graduating seniors are recognized and commissioned in a liturgy called the Service for the Mission of the Church.

As you might imagine, one of the purposes of having such a service is to send forth those who have come to seminary to be formed for ordained ministry, but actually, what I love most about this service is that there is no mention of ordination at any point during the liturgy. On the contrary, the Service for the Mission of the Church focuses on the ministry of all baptized Christians and the mission to which we are called – to “Go ye into all the World and Preach the Gospel.” You can find these iconic words from the Gospel of Mark printed above the main doorway of the chapel at the seminary, serving as a reminder to those who enter that all who are baptized into the Body of Christ are sent forth and commissioned to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus by word and example. Continue reading