Thursday, April 26, 2007

IPOD Shuffle 1:35 CDT

It's gray, it's cold, therefore listening to music is the only option.

1. Something You Got, Davell Crawford, A Celebration of New Orleans
2. The Sun Doesn't Like You, Norah Jones (who I am seeing in June), Not too Late
3. Alakati Owo, Los Hombres Calientes, Vol. 5 Carnival
4. Melena, Los Hombres Calientes, Vol. 5 Carnival
5. Das Wohltempierte Klavier, Book 1: Fugue in E Dur, BWV 854, Daniel Barenboim, Bach Well Tempered Clavier Book 1
6. Macha, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Bubblehouse - EP
7. Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13 - "Pathetique": II. Adagio Cantabile, Rudolf Serkin -- Piano, Beethoven: Sonatas for Piano No. 1
8. It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got That Swing), Dizzy Gillespie & Stan Getz, Diz and Getz
9. Das Wohltempierte Klavier, Book 1: Prelude in A Dur, BWV 864, Daniel Barenboim
10. Whoopin' Blues, Nicholas Payton, Gumbo Nouveau


The rules, for bloggers who want to play:

Get your ipod or media-player of choice, select your whole music collection, set the thing to shuffle (i.e., randomized playback), then post the first ten songs that come out. No cheating, no matter how stupid it makes you feel!

Idea originally from Fr. Jim Tucker of Dappled Things

Death Sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


One of the outstanding, loving, caring, beautiful parishioners of my parish is leaving the hospital today to go home and die. She is too young, too kind, too caring for this to be just. She didn't deserve this battle with cancer. She didn't deserve this pain. And she sure as hell didn't deserve to die this soon.

I know that she didn't deserve the gracious love of God that surrounded her hospital bed this morning. We can't earn or deserve that either. But Grace is little comfort today. It is at most a mustard seed of faith...I hope it is enough!

God's Peace,

Friday, April 20, 2007

New Picture for Profile

Friday Five

From the RevGals the Friday Five is...

Tell us about five people, places, or things that have brought surprising, healing joy into your life.

1. The Eucharist
2. Camp Mowana
3. Music (Especially: Bach Prelude in C major from the Well Tempered Clavier Bk. 1, Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain album, and lately the choral music of Eric Whitacre.
4. Preaching
5. Jodie Emerson

Bonus: the scene of both Joy and Pain, but mostly Joy...The General Theological Seminary

God's Peace,

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Which Church Father are You?

A fun little quiz that is not the most reliable personality test you could take, but at least it is quick! I came up as St. Jerome!

You’re St. Jerome!

You’re a passionate Christian, fiercely devoted to Jesus Christ and his Church. You are willing to labor long hours in the Lord’s vineyard, and you have little patience with those who are less willing or able to work as you do. Your passions often carry you into temptation zones of wrath, lust, and pride.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

Sermon for 2nd Sunday Easter, Year C

So I ended up not using the script I wrote for this sermon. What I wrote felt contrived an wanted to be more 'natural', whatever that means. Any I post the script knowing that it is not exactly what I said, but I think the gist of what I wanted to say is in here somewhere.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

I speak in the name of the Speaker, the Word, and the Breath. Amen!

Good Morning! I wish to take a moment and thank yall for being here today. As Wynton Marsalis once titled one of his albums, it is a distinct pleasure to have you here, “in this house on this morning.” See there are many names for this particular Sunday, this particular feast of our Lord’s resurrection, in our Christian calendar. The official name is the Second Sunday of Easter; the second Sunday in the great fifty days of Easter, the fifty days that are considered the Sabbath of the year. But, beyond the official name there are some colloquial expressions used to name this Sunday that exist in Episcopal culture. First, this day is commonly known as Low Sunday, a two fold reference to attendance and adornment. See for a lot of people this is a Sunday off. It is a Sunday where low attendance is expected. After the family has visited, after the ham has been eaten, the eggs hunted, the house cleaned for the arrival of company and then re-cleaned post company, after the new suits, dresses, hats, and gloves purchased for Easter Sunday have been laundered and stored, and, indeed after the piety of lent, with its self-denial and discipline, a Sunday to sleep in sounds good. So, simply because you are here today, simply because you didn’t take this weekend off, I rejoice.

Furthermore, I am grateful that you are here because there is another name this Sunday. It is also known, along with Trinity Sunday, as International-Associates-Get-to-Preach Sunday. See, many a Rector is on vacation this Sunday, and even if they aren’t I guarantee you across this nation of ours, and maybe even around God’s great earth, any church that has an associate and uses the lectionary, the associate in the pulpit this morning. Furthermore, since we always read this gospel about Doubting Thomas the Sunday after Easter, Associate clergy have an intimate knowledge of this scripture.

Through the convenience of the internet, I keep in contact with many of seminary classmates, most of which are associates and are preaching on this text this morning. We corresponded a bit this week about preaching on Thomas, and as we conversed and I read, prayed, and re-read the scripture it dawned on me that our focus was misplaced. While we were drilling a hole in good ol’ Thomas we were forgetting Jesus. So I read the Gospel again, this time paying particular focus on Jesus and I noticed two things.

First the Resurrected Jesus, the one who is Risen, is scarred. Jesus is raised from the grave still bearing the marks of his execution. Early in this passage he shows his hands and side to 10 of the apostles, and then later he has Thomas touch his hands and side. At first glance, we might think these details are placed in the story as identification markers, proof to the disciples that the one who appears in their midst really is Jesus, the one who was crucified, the one who is risen. But I think there is more to it than that. I think there is an implicit message in the scars of the resurrected Jesus that our existence, this creation matters.

See, there have been times in Christian thinking and practice where it has become vogue to think that this life didn’t matter. That our time together was simply something to be endure until the next life, that the physical should be ignored for the sake of the spiritual. This thinking has led to some horrible actions. In some cases it has led people to believe that their bodies needed not be cared for or worse should be damaged as an act of faith. This thinking also has led some to think that we need not care for the environment that God’s creation is here for us to consume and use up completely with ne’er a thought on our way to the next existence.

Jesus, the risen one, the scarred one, stands in opposition to this line of thinking and its harmful byproducts. If Jesus carries his scars to through death to the risen life, then what happens to us in this life is important because we will carry it to the risen life. We should care for ourselves, each other, and this creation because it is the raw material for the next creation.

The second thing I noticed, is that there is forgiveness in this passage. Jesus was not just betrayed by Judas, not just denied by Peter. Indeed, all the apostles abandoned him in his neediest hour. But, yet Jesus appears among them and says “Peace be with you.” Despite their betrayal, despite their abandonment on him, despite their sin, Jesus says “Peace be with you” and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Now it is a good thing this creation matters and good thing that God forgives, because this is the only world we can get to know God in and we are all sinful people in need of forgiveness. So, I am glad you here today. I rejoice that we have come together because this world is where God acts we proclaim it here “in this house, on this morning.” In our celebration of the Eucharist and Baptism we proclaim God’s action and forgiveness in the simple things of life. As Litrugical Theologian Louis Weil says, “The sacraments reveal that the physical world, far from being evil, is the domain of God’s activity. The most common things in human life—a bath, food and drink, a human touch—can serve as the instruments of an encounter with God.”
So, thank God you are here. I rejoice in inviting you to this table, this altar of God. Come experience the risen scarred, know his forgiveness, and Peace be with you!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Five

Another edition of the Friday Five as originated from RevGalBlogPals. Enjoy!

1. Are you a regular patron of dentists' offices? Or, do you go

b) every few years or so, whether you need it or not,

2. Whatever became of your wisdom teeth?

Still in my head, but probably going to be removed in the next year or so.

3. Favorite thing to eat that's BAAAAAD for your teeth.

M&Ms!!!!!! I am addict.

4. Ever had oral surgery? Commiserate with me.

No, but it is looming!

5. "I'd rather have a root canal than ___________"

another four years of Republican leadership in the White House."

Bonus: Does your dentist recommend Trident?
Don't know, I just had my first visit with my new dentist and he was to busy looking for procedures to do to charge me for.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Good Stuff!!!!!

Check out this op-ed piece from the U.K. regarding the release of the British Soldiers by the nation of Iran.

God's Peace,

Surprise, Surprise! I'm a music nerd!

Ran across this quiz over at Bob G+'s Blog Hypersync. To those that know me, you aren't surprised I came up a music nerd.

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Musician

Doo doo de doo waaaa doo de doo! (<-- That's you playing something.) Everyone appreciates the band/orchestra geeks and the pretty voices. Whether you sing in the choir, participate in a school/local band, or sit at home writing music, you contribute a joy to society that everyone can agree on. Yay! Welcome to actually doing something for poor, pathetic human souls. (Just kidding.)

Literature Nerd
Social Nerd
Drama Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

God's Peace,

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sermon for Easter Vigil 2007, Year C

Romans 6:3-11, Luke 24:1-10

“Do you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”

I speak with you in the Name of God the creator, Jesus the savior, and the Holy Spirit that makes all things new. Amen!

Were any of you shocked by our passage from Paul read just a few moments ago? I wasn’t either. It sounds like pretty typical churchy type stuff. Thoughts like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah baptized into death for new life…whoopty do preacher, it is Easter you’re supposed to say that,” might be running through your head. And, I don’t blame you if they are. When I was reading the passages this week in preparation for this sermon, I certainly flew by that first sentence of Paul’s. My hectic, day to day, what’s the next thing to get done, eyes just skimmed right over it with ne’er a thought at all. But something drew me back, and made me look again. Paul writes, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death;” not his kingdom, not his paradise, not his club, gang, or crew, not even into his family, but into his death.

Let us not breeze past this death, let us not euphemize this death with phrases like, “He passed on,” or “He was at rest,” or “He was no longer with us.” He died! The Christ, the savior of all was nailed to a tree and left to hang there until he suffocated, until his lungs filled with fluid and he literally drowned in mid-air.
We should not, indeed we cannot, overlook this death because death is our common denominator. Despite our desires to the contrary we will all die. Despite whatever advances in the practice of medicine might occur we will all die. Furthermore, death hurts. Be it our own or that of a loved one, death will always entail suffering; either the physical pain of the dying process, or the emotional grief that comes from losing one we love. Death, like love, hurts!

Let there be no doubt on this point, Jesus’ death was a human death, complete with suffering and mourning. He experienced agonizing pain. Those that loved him experienced bewilderment and grief.

But Jesus’ death was more than a human death. Jesus’ death was the ultimate act of solidarity on the part of God. Jesus lives into the name Emanuel, God with us, in the fullest sense when he experiences what we all experience: death. Jesus’ dying on a cross is a bold and clear message that God is with us in our darkest hours, in whatever depths of pain and suffering we might find ourselves, God is there with us.
The cross of Christ is also a conviction; a pronouncement that we reject the love of God. The violent shameful death of Jesus is a clear condemnation that a society based on domination can not handle a freely loving God; therefore that freely loving God must be destroyed. Now, we have no grounds to judge neither the ancient Romans nor the ancient Jewish leadership. For indeed we continue to kill Christ to this day. Jesus told us in Mathew 25 that when we serve the least of society we serve him. Consequently, the opposite is true as well. When we hate, we hate Christ. When we allow people to starve, we are starving Christ. When there is injustice in our laws, we are wrongly convicting Christ. When we fight wars, we kill Christ. Therefore the cross stands before us, a constant reminder of our inability to be what God intends for us, a reminder of our inability to accept the love of God, indeed the cross of Christ will always remind us of our sin.

At this point, you might be wondering if I have gotten my days confused. You might be thinking at this point, “Preacher, this sounds a whole lot like a Good Friday sermon instead of an Easter Sermon. Where’s the glory, the joy, the praise? Why are you dwelling on Death and sin?” Indeed, you are right, the cross is more then solidarity, more then conviction, it is also a sign of Hope. The death of Jesus on the cross is a sign of hope because it points to the Resurrection. Jesus’ commitment to be God with us—the divine in solidarity with human kind—continues on past death, beyond this mere physical existence to whatever is further than death. The Cross points to our hope in the Resurrection because beyond the indictment and condemnation we receive from the cross there is forgiveness in the Resurrection. From the cross and the empty tomb we learn that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even our sinful rejection of God’s love for us shown in Christ Jesus. Therefore, indeed, there is joy today, praise, and thanksgiving; for God, as we have heard this night in the account of salvation history, has been about saving us since the moment we went astray.

But how do we get there? How do we get to this redeemed resurrected holy life? How do we live in this world but not of this world? How do we not look for the living among the dead? How do we come to this table, this altar of God, to receive the body and blood of the risen Christ? How do we get beyond the cross and, indeed, beyond the empty tomb?

The answer is in the back of the room. We enter this resurrected life through the death of baptism, and that is why I linger this evening upon the death of Christ. My brothers and sisters in Christ, through our baptism we are united with the Israelites in their deliverance by God through the waters of the Red Sea. Through our baptism our dry bones are given new life, breath, blood, and tissue. Through the waters of baptism we are united in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the waters of baptism, “This is the night, when [God] brought our fathers [and Mothers], the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land. This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life. This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.” My brothers and sisters, Christ is risen. The lord is risen indeed. Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Quote from Abraham J. Heschel

"An idea or a theory of God can easily become a substitute for God, impressive to the mind when God as a living reality is absent from the soul."

--Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets, Vol. 2, p.1

Good Friday


I'm having an odd Good Friday so far. I feel guilty, but not the way you would think. I haven't been meditating on the crucifixion and come to some deeper understanding of my complicity in death of Christ. Rather I feel guilty because I feel well rested. Holy Week is a busy time for clergy, and I have been busy this week. However, thanks to the shared effort of the leadership team here at my parish, and intentional nap taking on my part, I am not feeling stress, beat-down, haggard, or burnt out. For some reason that makes me feel guilty. Maybe there is some protestant work ethic still left in me that hasn't been completely pushed out. But part of me wonders if I'm letting my team down a bit, if I haven't taken my fair share of the load. I don't want to be worn out or haggard, but I also do not want my team worn out and haggard as well. I especially do not want them burnt out because I didn't take on my fair share of the load. This, my personal mind games and over thinking, is starting to take my mind off of Christ. Hopefully the services today will help me refocus.

God's Peace,

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday and the Thursday Four


In honor of Maundy Thursday, this Thursday Four, derived from the Friday five of RevGalBlogPals, is simply this: What four commandments of Jesus do you find the hardest to keep?

Here's my answers:

4. Washing feet.
3. Making sure to store treasure in heaven not on earth.
2. Praying for my enemies.
1. That damn golden rule gets me everyday!

Thanks for playing. Put your answers in the comment section or a link to your post on your blog.

God's Peace,


I rarely give commands, because they are ineffective in the long run. However, for the sake of your soul, go see the movie Amazing Grace. I learned more about being a man and standing up for my convictions than any war film, action thriller, or drama I have ever seen.

God's Peace,

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Palm Sunday Sermon

Here is a my sermon from this past Sunday, but if you want to read one that is far superior to mine check out the Running Priest.

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.”

May only God’s word be spoken, and may only God’s word be heard. Amen!

I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership lately, more specifically Jesus’ spiritual leadership. It is not surprising thoughts of leadership have been banging around in my skull, since the vestry retreat ended yesterday; even more so because it is lent and we have been following Christ. Christ is leading us toward this day, Palm Sunday and leads us still toward Easter. This Day we follow Jesus liturgically in the invasion of that ancient Middle Eastern city Jerusalem.

Jesus’ act of riding into the city on a donkey colt is leadership because Jesus is showing us the Godly way to establish the Kingdom of God. Picture with me, that scene of Jesus, probably covered with way more travel dirt then paintings and artistic renderings allow, riding into town with throngs of people waving palms and shouting the royal greeting:

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

Watching this had to make the “powers that be”, the religious leaders of the day, a bit nervous. In fact, we know some Pharisees were nervous because the scriptures say they tried to get the crowd to shut up. But why they are nervous is not clearly stated. The Gospel of Luke is silent on that point and we are invited to speculate.

Now, I think the Pharisees and other leaders were nervous because they weren’t Episcopalians. See, they had actually read their bible. Now, I know the bible wasn’t complete by this point, and for sure, despite popular misconception, Jesus did not ride into Jerusalem wielding a brown, soft leather bound, King James Translation of the bible with his words marked in Red. I know this. When I say the leaders of Jesus’ day knew their bible, I am, of course, referring to the Hebrew Scriptures, what we call the Old Testament, consisting of the books of Moses, the writings, the psalms, and most importantly for today the Prophets. They knew the great stories of the faith! See when Jesus rode in on a donkey, the Pharisees and other leaders had to recognize the scene from Zechariah 9:6 where the prophet writes,
“See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

They would see Jesus, and instinctively remember the foretelling of the coming prophet king that would establish peace and lift up the lowly.

Now, you might still be wondering why this made them nervous. Establishing peace sounds like a good thing. Indeed it is, unless you are part of the elite who prosper from the status quo. See, in order for the lowly to be lifted there would a disordering of the system, a reorganizing of the way things are. Like Mary the mother of God says in the Magnificat, for the lowly to be raised, the high must be brought down. Consequently, those that manage the system, those on top of the pile, are loath to lose there station. So seeing Jesus’ paradoxically triumphant entry on a humble mule, would make the Pharisees nervous, would make them ask: what is this prophet-king going to do, and what will this cost us personally?

Now the Pharisees weren’t the only power in town. Jerusalem was occupied by the Roman Empire. The sight of Jesus coming in town and being greeted as a king by the people had to at the very least seem weird to the Romans. See, it was ingrained in the Romans that peace came through victory, Roman victory; and the Romans were very good at victory. Make no doubt about it, in their day they were the only super power. They had the largest military force that was also the best funded and equipped with the latest in technological advancement. Where Rome went, Rome conquered. Rome was in no way squeamish about inflicting great violence upon the conquered. So, the Roman soldier standing a top the walls of Jerusalem watching Jesus amble into town on a colt had to wonder, “What’s the big deal?” “Where is this guy’s army?” This dirty hoard of unemployed unarmed fishermen, tax collectors, and vagabonds can not take on the Roman Empire.

Now, we know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey use to say: a week later Jesus is dead and risen. A few decades later the temple is destroyed and the religious leaders all but exterminated, and the Roman Empire eventually falls as well.
Which leads me to ask, “what are we hereafter today?” How come we Liturgically remember, indeed we re-enact Jesus’ triumphant entry and his last days leading to his crucifixion. I have two ideas about this:

1) We do this worshipful imitation of Christ, because we know about the resurrection, but we don’t understand it. We may intellectually realize that Jesus defeats the powers that be and even the ultimate power of death by his life, death, and resurrection. But we do not get that the kingdom of God is not established by conquest; peace does not come from victory, domination, or control. Indeed, we often are more like the Romans and the Pharisees then we are like Jesus. We still build bombs instead of levies. Our schools are more separate and unequal then we admit. And our battles in the church are more about who we can keep out, more about maintaining the status quo; rather than about how we can share the good news with everyone.

2) We do this thing called Holy Week, because deep down we know number 1 is true. We know we are not right. We know we are wrong. We know we are not as God intends us to be. That’s why we say the confession every week. We know that we need to be formed, indeed transformed by God into what God intends. Simply put: we got some learning to do.

I am blessed to be married to an educator, one who is professionally engaged in the formation of others. She reminds me often that absolutely the worst way to teach anyone anything is through lecture. Study after study after study shows that talking at people just doesn’t get the point across. Now, I am a preacher. I like to think that my craft is affective and effective; so, those study result do not make me happy. However, I know they are true. We learn best by doing, by practice. So that is why we are here this week. That is why we processed with palms today, and why we will wash feet on Thursday; why we abstain from communion on Friday, and immerse ourselves in salvation history to await the Resurrection at the Easter Vigil. We do them in the hope that by literally doing what Jesus did we might be transformed to be more like Jesus. That we may continue to hope that we will structure our lives both personal and communal in more Godly ways. Indeed we do them in the hopes of letting the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, our victory is in our defeat, our salvation in the cross, and I invite you this day to walk with Jesus to the cross. Come! Receive the bread and wine, the body and the blood of Christ shed for you and for all. Come let this mind be in you! Amen!