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Showing posts from May, 2012

"We Believe in the Holy Spirit," or, "I've come here today to tell you about my walk with Jesus."

 is the sermon I preached on Pentecost Sunday, here: This Sunday is the Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Easter, and the day set aside in the church year to focus on the Holy Spirit. And so today is a good day to take a look at the Holy Spirit, and the role of the Holy Spirit in our life. Each Sunday we stand and say what we believe about the Holy Spirit when we say the Nicene Creed: we say “we believe in the Holy Spirit.” Notice that we do not say, “we believe THAT THERE IS a Holy Spirit,” but “we believe IN the Holy Spirit.” “We believe in the Holy Spirit.” Those are important words for us to say…as individuals and as a faith community. I remember when I was young, maybe a sophomore or junior in high school, and I having a lot of questions about my faith, but still going to church most every Sunday, there was a time I just stopped saying the Nicene Creed because I wasn’t really sure I believed it. One Sunday my mom noticed I was

The General Convention: Straining Gnats, Swallowing Camels

(I'm posting here an article I wrote for the Diocese of Virginia's " The Center Aisle .") I’m beginning to wonder if “GC” stands for “General Convention” of the Episcopal Church, or “Gnats and Camels.” You know the reference: Jesus noticed religious leaders who were meticulous about the smallest points of the law – to the point of tithing even one sprig of mint – but who ignored things that really matter. Using a bit of hyperbolic humor, he says, “Blind guides, you strain out the gnat and swallow the camel.” Gnats, as insects, were considered unclean. So the religious leaders of Jesus’ day carefully strained   their wine to keep from accidentlely swallowing a gnat. The picture he paints is that of religious leaders squinting at fine gauze to be sure they’ve captured pinhead-sized impurities, while camels – also unclean animals that were forbidden as food – have been swallowed whole. It’s meant to be a comical portrayal. But it’s a painfully accurate

When a Loved One Dies Prematurely

Last week, I had the bittersweet honor of ministering to a family whose college-aged son died suddenly. The week was a reminder to me of many things: One, the privledge we clergy are given, when tragedy strikes, to enter into people's raw emotions. Two, how important it is for everyone, when tragedy strikes, to have strong family, faith, and friendship nets to fall into. And, three, how important it is for me not to try to be a lone ranger in such times but instead to reach out and ask friends and colleagues and intercessors to "minister to the minister" through their prayers. Intercessory prayer was particularly helpful in writing the funeral homily. One of my intercessory pray-ers shared with me, over the phone, that she had lost a brother suddenly as well, and gave me words, and Words (from Scripture) that she found comfort in. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, I was able to run with those thoughts and write a homily the family found helpful.  I share it here