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Showing posts from June, 2015

Conservative Opposition to Gay Marriage?

Shortly after the decision by the United States Supreme Court that made gay marriage legal in all fifty states, the editor of the local paper, The Falls Church News-Press asked me if I had a statement. After I gave it a little bit of thought, and not wanting to repeat things already said elsewhere, here's what I came up with:  "I’ve never understood why conservatives, of all people, would be opposed to people lining up and fighting for the opportunity to join the inherently conservative institution of marriage. "Couples want to marry – to make lifelong promises to be exclusively loyal to one another, to be faithful to each other as long as they both shall live. And some people oppose that?  "Couples want – to paraphrase the United Methodist pastor and author Adam Hamilton – to share their lives together as one another’s helpers and companions, hold hands, share dreams, help one another when one is struggling, share memories, companionship, and a warm embrace, c

My Love-Hate Relationship with The General Convention

The General Convention of The Episcopal Church officially starts tomorrow in Salt Lake City, and runs through July 3rd. General Convention is the primary governing and legislative body of The Episcopal Church, and meets every three years. I've always had mixed emotions about The General Convention, but this one in particular is stirring up even more mixed, "love-hate" feelings. Because I'm not there. This will be the first General Convention I haven't attended since 2000 (Denver) -- I was in Minneapolis in 2003, Columbus in 2006, Anaheim in 2009, and Indianapolis in 2012. On the one hand, I LOVE The General Convention, because it's a ten-day chance to catch up with a lot of fabulous people -- lay people, priests and bishops from all over the country (and world) who love The Episcopal Church and all it stands for. Reading Facebook posts and seeing photos, I miss them; I miss catching up over dinners and drinks. I feel like there's a large, fun party

"Don't just tell God how big your Problems are -- tell your Problems how big your God is."

I wrapped up a three-part series on the David and Goliath story this Sunday by using a familiar expression, " Don't just tell God how big your problems are; tell your problems how big your God is ."  To make that point visually, I took a little post-it note, held it up, and said "here's you."  I then held up an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and said "here's your problem." And I put the post-it note on the corner of the paper, and held it up. The obvious point being, compared to the size of our problem, we seem very small.  At the beginning of the sermon, I had asked the congregation to imagine the Goliath they were facing: a challenge, a seemingly insurmountable odd, a struggle. Then (after preaching the majority of the sermon) I said, imagine your problem – your giant – moving closer to you.  Like Goliath, your problem has every advantage in its fight against you: it’s above you, it’s bigger than you are, it’s stronger than yo

Charleston Shooting: Politicized Pain

In response to the white supremacist terrorist attack on Emanuel AME Church-goers in Charleston, S.C. this week, and as a way of voicing not only sorrow for, but solidarity with, the victims of this attack, churches in Charleston are tolling their bells at 10:00 tomorrow morning. We at The Falls Church Episcopal will join in this bell-tolling at 10:00, and then, before our opening hymn, pause for a moment of silence and for prayers. With thanks to the Rev. Canon Frank Logue, these will be among the  prayers we will use tomorrow. There's something about this white supremacist terrorist attack that commands attention and action. Yes, "white supremacist terrorist attack" -- I agree with those who refuse to call it a "tragedy" as if it were a random, isolated, apolitical event, because as heartbreaking as it is to admit, this massacre was neither random nor isolated. And while a recent Peggy Noonan blog piece in the Wall Street Journal makes good points ab

David and Goliath, and Your Goliath

This Sunday, I'm wrapping up a three-part sermon series based on the David story found in I Samuel. Two Sundays ago, we heard about Israel's insisting, over the prophet Samuel's warnings, that they should have their own King (King Saul). Last Sunday, we heard about the anointing of the young shepherd boy David as Israel's second King, despite the fact he was the youngest (and least likely) of many older brothers, and despite the fact that at the time of David's anointing, Saul was still King. We also looked at how we can put our faith in the God of Surprises .  This Sunday we get the to the actual David and Goliath story . I have a working title for the sermon based on a popular saying: "Don't Just Tell God How Big Your Problems Are: Tell Your Problems How Big Your God Is."  Take a close look at this illustration: Imagine yourself as David. Smaller, un-armed. No military experience. You're facing a giant of a soldier, who IS experienced

Letting Go, Holding On

High school graduation season.  It's a delightful disruption to the schedule, as our friends' children graduate and we attend their parties, and as we prepare to host our own tomorrow morning after daughter Elizabeth graduates.  A recurring theme at high school graduation parties is photo displays. Here's the rough, first stab at a layout...although Elizabeth hasn't seen it yet, so it's prior to the "Dad, please don't put that out there!" screening and editing process.   High school graduation photo displays are a rare chance to celebrate a loved one; to celebrate a life still very much being lived. On the table is a photo I took of Elizabeth about 18 minutes of age:  And another photo of her about 18 years of age, looking as young-adultish as ever: but my favorite -- the Elizabeth that is kind of frozen in my mind and heart and head -- is the one where she's holding on:  High school graduation accentuates the proc

Putting our Faith in the God of Surprises

A sermon preached June 14, 2015 The Reverend John Ohmer, Rector, The Falls Church Episcopal, Falls Church, Virginia 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 This is the second of a three part sermon series leading up to next Sunday, when we hear the David and Goliath story. Last Sunday, we pulled the lens way back to see David’s story in context of the people Israel, being ruled by judges and prophets but finding themselves surrounded by political and military enemies, insisting on having a King appointed over them so they could be like other nations. Last week I made the point that God saw their desire for a king as symbolizing their rejection of God as their ruler and protector, making the wider point that among the many choices we made in life and each day, we choose what, or who to put our trust or faith in: will it be the good, and even God-given “cardboard boxes” of Kings – political leaders human mentors and heroes, education, money in the bank/financial security, a strong milit


This is the moment, this past Saturday afternoon, they did something you normally don't want someone to do, which is to open the door of an airplane at 10,000 feet above ground:   As part of the on-ground training, they instruct you, when you get to this point in the jump, to keep your hands in the "safety position," which involves grasping little loops near your chest. They are VERY clear about this in the on-ground training. They even make you practice it.  But it turns out that when a door of a plane pops open at 10,000 feet above ground, your instincts take over and you start trying to grab at something. Anything. I guess we're hard-wired not to willingly fall out of airplanes. So the professional who you are wearing on your back slaps your hand, and you remember your training, and you grab your little loops. He swings his legs out, which means you swing your legs out. Because you're spooning.  A few moments later,  feelings of vertigo m