Category Archives: letter press

(Finding) My Voice

I have a million excuses not to write.  One of my favorites is, “I just can’t find my voice.”  I had a voice when I was younger!  When I started this blog back in 2006, I had lots of voice to go around.  It grew louder and bolder when I lived in West Africa.  It grew softer and less frequent when I returned to the States.  It almost disappeared when I was in “the process” for Holy Orders, feeling especially vulnerable and exposed.

This week I’ve been at a conference with ~100 young clergy women representing many denominations.  I’ve been inspired by the powerful voices of Dr. Karoline Lewis and the Rev. Traci Blackmon–both giants in my world.  I’ve been inspired by the voices of my peers–thoughtful and real.  But I’ve also felt like an imposter–especially in a group where several women my age and younger are published authors with *actual things to say* and voices to say it with.

Today’s schedule intentionally left space for self-care and affinity groups.  A saw one post about writers getting together, but I knew it didn’t apply to me.  So my self-care was to sit alone at a bar with pen and paper.  I’ve done the same every morning this week at breakfast.  It has been a total luxury to have so much alone time this week!  I almost question if I’m becoming an introvert, but it’s more likely I’m just a tired mama.

I came back to my apartment with a mission–to update my blog with a backlog of sermons so I couldn’t use my other favorite excuse of being too far behind to catch up.  While updating, I read things I’ve written over the past several months.  I even watched a few preaching clips.  And what I discovered is that I do have a voice and I have been using it.  I may have lots of excuses for not writing, but “not having a voice” can no longer be one of them.  And I need to start rebutting the other excuses too.  Because I’m a writer.  And someday those words will actually ring true–even to me.

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I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

A sermon preached at The Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta.

(I got choked up at the end of this one.  Still do.)

Proper 6, Year B. Watch it here.

When I first considered the juxtaposition of our gospel text with the story of David being anointed as king, I started asking myself, who are the mustard seeds among us? You see, David was a mustard seed. When Samuel asked David’s father to round up all his sons and present them, he didn’t even bother bringing David in from the fields. David was the youngest. Likely the smallest. Perhaps the least skilled or the least mature. There was no chance Samuel was coming to select David. Better to leave him tending the sheep.

But no! Samuel passed up every other seemingly ideal candidate for the job, listening to God’s instruction. After considering no less than seven sons, he came to the end of the line, probably a little concerned that no king was to be found, but asked—do you not have any more sons? And only then is David even acknowledged and then invited to be present.

And lo and behold, God chooses David. And chooses him for his heart. If you know anything about David, you know his heart wasn’t perfect. No earthly king’s heart is. But you also know that David drew near to God and talked to God and repented to God when his heart failed God.

So I’m still asking myself, who are the mustard seeds among us?

Who are the leaders we might ignore, pass over, neglect, assuming them to be unworthy?

Who doesn’t seem to fit the job description of our minds, but instead fits God’s search for a good heart?

Who is too young? Too old? Too disabled? Too slow? Too shy? Too loud spoken? Too unrefined? Too poor? Too unknown? Too colorful? Too boring?

If we are honest with ourselves, we all have some sort of prejudice that causes us to look past certain people as if they do not even exist. I know I do—and yet it’s hard to know when I do because we don’t always notice what we don’t notice. Because like David, even if we have the best of intentions, our hearts our bound to fail God on occasion. Will we, like David, draw close to God so that we can see our sin and ask forgiveness?

Who are the mustard seeds among us?

But Jesus didn’t tell these parables (and there are two of them) to bring up David. Jesus told these parables to talk about the kingdom of God. And so we need to talk about the kingdom of God this morning, too.

The first parable reminds us that we are not in control, and the kingdom of God is not all about us or about what we can do or what we can bring about in this world. Someone scatters seed, goes to sleep and wakes, watches the seed grow without understanding why. In fact, the Greek word used describes these crops as growing automatically. The earth produces of itself. I find this illustration to be both reassuring and humbling. Reassuring because at times I feel completely overwhelmed by the needs of our world. I feel too small (like a mustard seed!) to make a difference. This parable reminds me that the kingdom of God will come to fruition automatically. The kingdom of God will produce of itself. God’s bigness is much bigger than my smallness. But it’s a parable of humility too because I need constant reminders that I do nothing apart from God. That self-reliance is a myth. That my efforts to have it all together are more about my vanity than about pointing to God’s activity in the world. And so daily we pray: thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We still have a role to play in this story, but it’s not the lead role.

And I imagine that is true in part because the kingdom of God is seemingly so counterintuitive, so counter-cultural, so revolutionary, that it’s beyond anything anyone but God would dream up. When Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed, he’s being funny and subversive. He calls the mustard plant the “greatest of all shrubs” which is like saying “the most resounding of all harmonicas” or “the most eloquent of all toddlers.” And then, because Jesus has a knack for turning things upside-down—for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comforted—for saying things like, “You’ve heard it said an eye for an eye, but I say love your enemies”—this same Jesus chooses a plant as ubiquitous as kudzu in Georgia. Not the kind of plant you’d choose to cultivate. And in explaining why the mustard shrub is so great and kingdom-like, he praises it for giving birds of the air a place to nest. Anyone who has watched Wizard of Oz knows that birds are not what you want near your crops. It’s why we have scarecrows! Yet Jesus compares the kingdom of God to an unwanted plant providing shelter to unwanted birds. If that doesn’t preach this week, I don’t know what will.

So friends. Fellow mustard seeds. Do not be discouraged, but pray fervently that God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. And then don’t be surprised when it looks nothing like powers of this world. Be like Samuel—searching for God’s anointed in unlikely people. Be like David, drawing close to God and asking forgiveness when your good heart falls short. And be like Jesus, upsetting the status quo with love again and again and again. Because Jesus doesn’t come as justice incarnate or fairness incarnate, but LOVE incarnate. And I have decided to follow Jesus.

Amen.

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Jesus is My Friend

A sermon preached at The Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta.

Easter 6, Year B.  Watch it here.

If you’re over the age of twenty, you’ve likely had an experience similar to the one I’m about to describe. Your best childhood friend is getting married, and you go to the wedding. Chances are, you’re even in the wedding party. At some point you run into the mother of said friend, who is elated to see you. You say, “Mrs. Smith!” and give her a hug. She pulls away from you and says with all sincerity, “Honey, you’re an adult now. Call me Jane.”

Incredulous, you think, ‘I couldn’t possibly call this woman Jane! She used to cut the edges off my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! She had to tell my parents that one time I cussed in Sunday School. She caught us sneaking out in high school… I could never in a million years call Mrs. Smith just Jane.’

If you know anything about long distance running, you know the name Meb Keflezighi. But just in case Meb isn’t a household name where you live, I’ll tell you he’s an Olympic marathoner, and he won the NYC Marathon in 2009 and the Boston Marathon in 2014, the year after the Boston bombing. In the world of running, Meb is a celebrity not just because of his achievements, but because of his humility. If you ever see Meb after a race, I guarantee you the first words out of his mouth will be, “how was your race?” You could be the last person to cross the finish line, and Meb will ask with all sincerity, “how was your race?”

In both these examples, we are taken aback by the esteem and the worthiness Mrs. Smith or Meb bestows upon us. You may still feel like a kid in Mrs. Smith’s presence, but then she says “call me Jane” and you begin to see in yourself what she already sees in you—an adult. Or you may feel like the slowest hobby jogger next to Meb, and then he asks, “how was your race?” and you begin to see in yourself the runner he already recognizes in you.

Jesus says to his disciples, “I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends.” Friends! And I can just imagine the disciples’ response, “But rabbi, you are the Messiah!!” And Jesus goes on, “You did not choose me but I chose you.” And I imagine the disciples looking at themselves and beginning to see that which Jesus already sees in them. I imagine them standing a little taller, feet a little more grounded, shoulders a little lighter, head held a little higher. ‘Friend, me?’

And Jesus goes on, saying it is the job of the disciples to bear fruit and to love one other as he has commanded them to do.

It’s interesting to note that loving one another as Christ has loved us is “the great commandment” in John’s gospel. In the synoptic gospels, we get the familiar, “Love the Lord will all you heart, mind and soul; and love your neighbor as yourself.” But in John’s gospel, the greatest commandment is condensed even further: that you love one another as I have loved you.

It’s a simple command, but it’s not an easy command. It gives meaning to all that Jesus has done in John’s gospel—this is the reason that the Word became flesh! God came to dwell among us so that we would see in Jesus how to love one another, how to be in relationship, how to be friends. And here in this passage, Jesus knows he won’t be with the disciples much longer. He knows that this work of loving people selflessly, of introducing people to God through the sheer force of love, that that task is going to fall to this motley crew. And so he calls them friends. He calls them friends not just to make them feel better about themselves, but to call out in them the potential they were created with—the potential we are all created with as children of God to love one another selflessly, radically, deeply, truly.

Friends, I want us to take this gospel message home with us today, and to hear Jesus’ words as if he is sitting in this room talking to us in every moment. To hear Jesus say to you and to me, “I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends. You did not choose me, but I chose you. I’m appointing you to bear fruit, that you may love one another.” Hear those words from Jesus and stand a little taller. Begin to see in yourself what Christ sees in you. Use that self-knowledge to embolden you in your love. Be courageous in your love for one another. And then look for opportunities to be that same voice of empowering and encouraging love in someone else’s life.

Because loving others as Christ loved us is as simple as it is hard. And we are all friends of Jesus.

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Carrying the Crucifix

A Good Friday sermon at The Cathedral of St. Philip: talking about empty crosses of victory over death, and crucifixes of the suffering Christ–and how we need both in order to recognize Christ continually crucified in our midsts, and the powerful love emboldening us address that suffering.  Watch it here.

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Lungs and other miracles

This morning I opened the door to my son’s room at 6:33am to find him fast asleep.  I know by now that if he doesn’t wake up on his own, we’re in for a morning of tantrums–and that will only make us late.  So I snuggled in next to him and put my arm around him, leaving my hand on his sweet toddler chest.  Listening to his breath go in… and out.  Feeling his chest rise… and fall.  In and out.  Rise and fall.

I often do this when he’s sleeping.  I know he can sense my presence and that will start to wake him a little.  But for the first minute or three, he is fast asleep.  In these moments, I am always reminded of his lungs.  His precious miracle lungs.  It may seem an odd thought, but Charlie was born three weeks early, and I remember thinking that his lungs may not be ready.  I remember learning at some point in my pregnancy that lungs are one of the last things to develop–and babies born early often have respiratory problems.  So to me, the lungs in his chest feel like the icing on the cake.  The final detail.  The last little miracle before the miracle of his birth.

The chapter of pregnancies and births is over for me–and I imagine I will always mourn that a little.  But in the quiet couple of minutes before my son starts to rouse, when only the sound of his sweet breath fills my ears, I am awestruck by this miracle of life that is my child.  And though he grows bigger and taller and smarter every day–with my hand on his chest, rising and falling, he is always and forever my miracle baby.

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A tiny piece of paper

I’m watching my 10 month old play independently while my 2.5 year old naps (a rare thing on the weekend.)  It is one of my favorite things to do–to sit back and watch her engage the world.  I remember reading about the importance of independent play when Charlie was a baby.  It was tempting to get all up in his face and be the one he was playing with.  But sitting back–watching my kids play on their own–it has taught me so much about their personalities.  Just now, Lucy Rae was playing with a small piece of red paper–a remnant from a craft her brother and I were working on yesterday.  She kept hiding the small piece of red paper in the crevice between the cushions and the arm of the couch.  She’s in that fun–but frustrating at meal-times–stage of dropping things to see what will happen.  Amazed by gravity.  And she loves peek-a-boo, and the idea of things going away, then coming back.  But this hiding of a small piece of red paper in the crevice of the couch cushions–this feels different.  There’s something about the deliberateness of her actions–a thoughtfulness and intentionality of sorts–it tells me to pay attention.  I can see this moment, this tiny action I might have missed, as being an early hallmark clue to just who Lucy Rae might be as a person.  And so I file it away in my mind, tucking it into a tiny space, deliberately and intentionally, for safe-keeping.

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What Possesses You?

First sermon preached at The Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta

Epiphany 4, Year B.  Watch it here.

One of the things I love about the Gospels is that they are so relatable. I know that might seem far-fetched on a week where our Gospel reading is about a public exorcism. I know I’ve only been at the Cathedral less than a week, but to my knowledge, the clergy are not frequently casting out demons—and it certainly wasn’t in the job description presented to me before coming here. It might seem at first glance that this Gospel has little to do with us.

But put in simpler terms—we have a story of a person possessed by something, and Jesus setting the person free. And so my question becomes—who among us has ever felt possessed?

I don’t need a show of hands.

But I’ll be the first to raise mine.

One of the things you’ll learn about me is that I have a favorite quote I have clung to for years. It hangs on the wall of my office, and even Bishop Curry mentioned it at my ordination, remembering the words had shaped my discernment to become a priest. The quote is simply: “The glory of God is the human person fully alive” (Irenaeus).

The glory of God is the human person fully alive.

If I want to glorify God in any moment, the greatest honor I can give God is to be precisely the person God created me to be, and be that person to the fullest.

In today’s gospel, the man possessed by an unclean spirit confronts Jesus. Something had taken hold of this person, of this child of God, and was keeping him from being his most authentic self. And Jesus, seeing the man, restores him. Jesus silences the demons, casts them out, and restores this child of God to himself and to his community.

My question for us in light of today’s texts is this: what is keeping you from being your most full self. What things or thoughts or feelings possess you?

I can give you a laundry list to choose from: Loneliness. Business. Keeping up appearances. Keeping up with the Jones’. Fear of failure. Grudges. Too much of one thing or too little of another. Shame. Greed.

I’ll give you two examples from my life.

The first is from just this week. We have a 10-month old daughter and a 2.5 year old son, both in daycare, so runny noses and colds are a constant—as you might imagine. As much as I know just how normal our reality is, this week I was gripped by guilt that our youngest was going to daycare every day while teething and battling a cold, and crippled by fear that one of her teachers or one of the other parents would think I was a “bad mom.” It wasn’t until Thursday morning, talking to my husband on the phone while driving into work, telling him about how I was failing as a mom and how others were going to judge me, that I heard the voice of reason. Jay asked, “Do you seriously think people are walking around thinking you’re a bad mom because Lucy Rae has a runny nose?” I argued for a second, but I knew it was futile. I had been possessed by an unreasonable fear that had brought me to tears earlier in the week—it was so real—but then laughed it off with another mom the next day. Does any kid not have a runny nose right now? Why did I let something so trivial bring me down?

The second example is a little harder to share. I already told you how I love the quote, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” There are several things in my life that help me to be fully alive: being a partner, a mom, a daughter, a friend, a priest. But there is one thing I am not yet—a writer. At my core, I long to write. I think about it all the time. Several times a day. I think about things I want to write, I think about how to create time in my life to write, I think about how to get started. But I never do. And when I think of all the things that hold me back from being “fully alive” as a writer, the list is long: I don’t have time; what if I start and then can’t keep it up; what if people don’t like what I write; what if I have nothing original to say; what if I’m wrong; what if I fail. All of these things boil down to one thing that possesses me: fear. And really, I wonder if that’s not true of all of us. If we think of the things that “possess us” and keep us from being fully alive—are they not, for the most part, rooted in fear?

Earlier I asked if anyone in here had ever been possessed, and perhaps you thought that sounded weird.

But if I ask if anyone in here has ever been possessed by fear—does that resonate with you? This is why today’s Gospel is so relatable.

Last week’s Gospel had Jesus inviting us to follow him. Is there anything in your life that makes following Jesus feel impossible?

This week’s Gospel has Jesus freeing a man of demons—restoring a person to be fully alive.

Our reading from 1 Corinthians today says, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” In this season after Epiphany, we continue to dwell in the light of Christ as love incarnate—love that came down at Christmas—love among us in the person of Jesus.

And elsewhere in the scriptures we are reminded that, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

Sisters and brothers in Christ—love is a powerful force. Love is not just sunshine and rainbows and snuggles—Love stares Evil in the face and says, “Be silent—and leave.” Love faces Fear head-on and says, “There is no room for you here. Stop spreading lies and get out.”

I want us to ask ourselves this week—what is possessing my life right now. What is keeping me from being fully alive?

And then ask ourselves—how can I claim the love of Jesus as a power that casts out fear. Where do I see the love of Jesus at work in my life, and how can I let that love truly build me up to be fully alive to the glory of God?

And know that you don’t have to face your fears alone. Jesus restored the man in our story today while in the synagogue—right smack in the middle of his faith community. And here we are, the Body of Christ gathered together—possessed by one thing or another at one time or another—but walking in Love together.

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. May the love of Christ cast out any demons of fear lingering in your life. May you leave this sacred space assured that God loves you—and let that love empower you to be your most real, most bold, most full self—to the honor and glory of God.

Amen.

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Hard Ass Mama

A few years ago, one of my higher-ups insinuated that I would be less qualified for my job once I gave birth.  This person seemed to believe that being a mother would make me less fit to do the work I enjoyed so much.  It broke my heart and made me question my identity.  I spoke with one of my sister clergy, a mother too, and I remember her telling me that I would be a better priest for being a mom.  And not because I’d become more nurturing or motherly–not because I’d offer better pastoral care–but because I’d be a better administrator, better leader, and stronger voice.

I thought back to that conversation last night as I held my inconsolable 7-week old daughter.  She is not a colicky baby.  But she does have the occasional night when she will do nothing but cry for an hour or two.  She won’t take a pacifier or bottle, she won’t nurse, she won’t be rocked or bounced–she’ll just scream in my ear.  All I can do is walk back and forth in her darkened room, sush-ing and patting, walking and walking until there’s a worn path on the rug.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Knowing that she will at some point tire of crying and fall asleep, but I can never tire of loving her.  I may not like it.  I may feel like she’s yelling at me and wearing me down.  But I can wait her out.  I can be stubborn and unrelenting.  I find new strength I didn’t know I had.

And then I remember my colleague’s encouragement, and realize I am indeed becoming a better priest by being a mother.  That these few hours of pacing are teaching me the persistence I need in my profession.  That being a mom has taught me I can carry more than I thought I could.  That I can put up with more than I ever imagined–and what I won’t put up with.  That intuition is a leadership skill that can only be realized or discovered–not taught.

I know a lot of moms who feel like their career–one aspect of their vocation–has to take a back seat while their children are young.  I feel that sometimes too.  And it’s hard because I’ve always been driven and I love my work.  But every once in a while I can see the “professional development” that my children bring me.  It may not be notable on a resume, but it’s meaningful and true.

If in the years to come I am a more persistent prophet, a more valiant lover, a more courageous and thoughtful leader, a wiser authority and a more savvy administrator–you can thank my children.  Because moms aren’t all softness and kisses.  We are hard asses.  And we will do the work.

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Teach us to Pray

This morning as I was helping Charlie get dressed for school, the brightly colored rosary hanging on his closet door caught my eye.  It was a gift at his baptism from my professor and friend, who is now in hospital.  Mo. Mitties had a knack for showing up at Holy Spirit events–so many ordinations (often as a presenter or preacher), installations and baptisms.  She showed up at Ground Zero as a chaplain to first responders when she was supposed to be on sabbatical.  The woman shows up.

And she showed up this morning in Charlie’s room, even from ICU.

Jay and I pray with Charlie every night before bed, and have since he was born.  As soon as we start praying, he crawls off our lap and puts his head down to sleep.  It has become his signal that peace has come and it’s time to rest.  Because Jay usually does bedtime, I don’t get to pray with Charlie as often.

I realized the other day that we had not been praying at meals–ever.  The start of supper is such a fluid thing now, with no real pause to signal prayer.  Sometimes Charlie starts eating before us, sometimes one of us is calming the Lucy while the others eat, and in the midst of the chaos we don’t even notice that we’ve forgotten to ask God’s blessing.

So we’ve started this week, remembering only ever-other-day, trying to re-create a meaningful and formational habit.  Jay prays the Catholic prayer he was taught as a child, I’ve introduced “Johnny Appleseed” (which has to be sung several times at Charlie’s request), and I imagine Charlie will come up with his own brand of blessing as his vocabulary increases.

Sitting there with the rosary this morning, I tried to *explain* prayer for the first time.  We talked about how the different colored and shaped beads can remind us of things to talk to God about.  We talked about how the cross reminds us of Jesus’ love for us.  We prayed for our friend Mitties, that she would know comfort and that God would make her whole.  And then we walked to school thinking of more people to pray for and pointing at things we thank God for.

The glory in all this is how God is teaching me to pray in new ways.  There’s a different kind of sacredness I am discovering in praying with my child who is beginning to understand conversation more and more, because of course prayer is conversation.  I feel as if I’m entering a new season of spiritual formation as I grow alongside Charlie.

Lord, teach us to pray.

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Apocalypse Now

It’s not my habit to write sermons anymore.  I find I get too caught up in how I’ll sound (me-focused), therefore missing out on what the Holy Spirit might be saying (God-focused).  Lots of people can write great sermons and do.  I just find I preach better from a place of vulnerability, and I’m more vulnerable sans script.

But nights like tonight, before mornings like tomorrow, I sometimes question that wisdom.  Here we are, mere days after the most divisive election in my lifetime, and we get to grapple with an apocalyptic text from Luke: Jesus predicting the fall of the temple.  Couple that with Isaiah’s text that God is making a new heaven and new earth.

Of course these texts weren’t chosen in response to the election.  I preached the same text 3 years ago and I’ll preach it again 3 years from now… only every 12 years does this text fall after a presidential election.  And its real purpose is to prepare the way for the season of Advent–the coming of Christ.

Here are some truths about my parish: most will be hugely (not just slightly) heartbroken over the results of Tuesday’s election.  Most.  And yet a significant number will not feel heartache, but relief.  And everyone has to feel welcomed and loved and valued–because they are.  So how to tend to the wounds of the majority without ostracizing the few?  How to preach in light of the election, but not about it?  And how to do all that being true to myself without making it about myself?  The tenderness of the timing almost does require a script of sorts.

Here are some things I want to say–things I’ve said before about this text.

  • While Jesus is predicting the destruction of the temple–Luke’s gospel is written in retrospect of that same destruction.  Anyone who has ever heard or read this gospel has done so in hindsight of the events Jesus describes.
  • This isn’t just about the decline of a building–but of institutions, of ministry.  Some might feel like our nation is doomed after Tuesday.  Others have felt that for the past 8 years.  But we can’t let that overshadow the decline we see in other areas: like the church.  Just last week a parishioner posted a picture from our balcony, lamenting that the pews are only ever half-full at the 11:15 service anymore.  And then there are declining relationships–marriages that feel as if they are falling apart.  Strained familial ties.  Best friends you aren’t sure you really know or understand anymore.
  • Clearly, this gospel is for us.
  • Our “temple” of St. Luke’s has been thrown down before–literally shelled only months after being established.  We have come out of the ruins.
  • We’ve been led astray by false teachers before–all of us.  Whether it be at work, at school, at church, or in our national landscape.
  • Our kingdoms have been at war, as the veterans we celebrate this weekend can so ably attest to.  In fact this church was born out of war.
  • We know something about natural disasters too–even as our neighbors just North of us suffer from wildfires–so close we can smell it if the wind blows our direction.
  • Betrayal, hatred and death are daily realities.
  • And YET, Jesus says we will not perish–we will endure.  And the fact that this church still stands and that this nation still stands is a testament to that truth.
  • Most importantly–Jesus says this is our opportunity to testify.  Every single one of us gathered in this room is called to testify.  To give witness.  To proclaim.  Not in our facebook statuses, but in our lives.  Does your life, does my life, testify that Jesus is the risen Christ?  That Jesus is the living Christ?  That love conquers death and faith conquers fear?
  • I know that it can be hard to testify when you feel your “temple” (whether it be our country, our church or our relationships) is in shambles.  It is so much easier to testify when we feel like we’ve been vindicated, when we’re making progress, when we’re on top.  The truth is that fear breaks down creativity.  And many of us are facing varying kinds and varying levels of fear right now.
  • But lets take a look at Isaiah.  “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth.”  Folks, testify from that hope–the hope of God’s vision of the future.  Read through that text again and remember that God is at work in the world–even at this very moment–and that we are invited to share in that work and creativity.  We don’t have time to be stifled by fear. It’s time to get busy.

All of this brings me to one of my favorite prayers in the Book of Common Prayer.  It’s one that can be used at various times, but it is always used at ordination services of deacons, priests and deacons.  I think it’s important to share it the week following baptism.  Last week we renewed our baptismal covenant, as we do several times a year.  We promised to seek and serve Christ in all persons.  We promised to respect the dignity of every human being and to work for peace and justice in the world.  And in so doing, I want to remind us all that this week’s gospel calls us ALL to testify, for we are ALL among what church types like to call, “the priesthood of all the baptized.”  So remembering that you are all part of this priesthood, be it ordained or not, I share with you this prayer at ordination:

“O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: look favorably on your whole church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are bing made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”

Amen.

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