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Addiction

As a child of the 80s, I remember hearing the “War on Drugs” campaign on television, but not really understanding what it was about or how it would impact my daily life.  I will freely admit I was a naïve kid and didn’t seek out adventure that would get me into trouble, but I do remember my mother warning my sister and I about accepting stickers (a childhood obsession) from anyone near the school, especially an adult.  I would later understand that there were stickers laced with LSD & PCP that were being given to children.  Fortunately, I never encountered any.
In Middle School, we had an assembly with a nationally known speaker (who was also a presenter at a church youth event I attended) who told horrible stories of people he knew, including members of his family, whose lives were destroyed by drugs.  I remember one in which he said a teen had just gotten high from huffing gasoline, then lit up a cigarette and burst into flames. I was terrified.  I never wanted to do drugs or …

Las Vegas, Blessed Francis and My Mother

I will openly admit that my heart is torn today for a couple of reasons.  On Monday, we awoke to the news of another mass shooting, this time in Las Vegas.  I’ve been trying to rationalize this irrational act, to comprehend how anyone could do such a thing. Of course that is impossible because there will never be a satisfactory answer.  And today, October 4th, is the anniversary of my mother’s birth.  She would have been 75 (she died when she was 63).  Grief overflows my cup, but I have a choice to let grief overwhelm me or move me toward joy.
In the midst of all this, the Church commemorates St. Francis of Assisi on October 4th, and if anyone can understand being moved from grief to joy, it is blessed Francis.  Unfortunately, too often Francis’ awesome spirituality and theology gets relegated to a small statue with birds alighting on him in a garden or commemorated with a blessing of animals (not that isn’t important!).  While it is true that Francis wrote about his love for “all cr…

Merry Michaelmas

For those of you who are fans of English literature or arcane feasts of the Church, you may be aware of the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, which is celebrated on September 29th.  As the feast of the birth of Jesus has been truncated over the years from “Christ’s Mass” to “Christmas”, so too has this holy day become known as “Michaelmas.”  In a Christendom society, it would have been understood one was talking about the end of September when referring to Michaelmas.  While this feast is not well known nowadays, angels certainly are as they continue to capture the imaginations of believers and skeptics as being powerful forces in the world today or just modern-day versions of fairies.  
The primary role of angels is to be messengers from God.  As it is very intimidating to have an angel show up with such a message, almost all interactions with angels start with the angel announcing, “Do not be afraid.”  At least the angels are aware that it is human nature to be terrified of some…

Honor Your Father and Mother

In God’s great (and concise!) directions of how to live a faithful life – also known as the 10 Commandments - the Episcopal Church understands the first 4 commandments to be how to love God and the other six of how we are to love our neighbor.  (I find it interesting we need more direction on how to love each other, but I digress).  The first thing we are instructed to do for our neighbors is to “honor your father and mother.” 
While in some ways this seems obvious, we also have to think about a culture that needed everyone to contribute in order to have the resources necessary to live.  This included (perhaps) getting water, tending livestock, hunting, gathering and a multitude of other jobs just to eat and have some where to live. The only real health care was what one’s family provided.  What we might consider a simple injury or infection might have been fatal.  Caring for someone not contributing was a drain on resources and caused extra work. From that standpoint, some might ha…

The Fabric of our Faith

As the wardens and I were brainstorming about a theme for this year, I was struck by the interconnectedness of all we do at church.  If you host Coffee Hour, you are offering hospitality and fellowship.  If you are involved in the Women’s Link, there are components of Christian formation, outreach and fellowship.  Any of the “jobs” involved in worship (Altar Guild, Acolytes, Ushers, Greeters, Chalicers, Choir, Lectors to name a few) contribute to evangelism, formation and hospitality.  All our actions and interactions are weaved into each other, just like fabric.
I must admit that when I started thinking about this, the catchy jingle that the Cotton Growers Association came up with years about (“The look, the feel of cotton – the fabric of our lives”), was running through my head ad nauseum.  But it also got me thinking about how the metaphor of fabric is helpful on our journey of faith.  Fabric is sturdiest when it is tightly woven together in a repeating pattern.  We can think abo…

Our Church Family

I will admit some apprehension about using “family” language when talking about Church.  In most families, you are either born or married into a structure that has a defined hierarchy of power and control.  Certain people are given titles to identify their positions of authority (there is a reason I choose not to use the title “Mother”).  Some family dynamics can create unhealthy relationships (co-dependence, enabling, even abuse).
However, (before you think I came from a really dysfunctional family!) all of this can be redeemed if we choose to use family language in Church when we think about it as ADOPTION.  In his letter to the Romans, Paul says, “You have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (8:15b-17).  In this way, all of God’s …

Blame it on the Rain

“Why is this happening?” I’d been ordained a deacon for three months and still had three months more to go before I would be ordained a priest. I was bursting at the seams from seminary with terms like “systematic theology” and “historical-critical hermeneutics”.  But I was in charge of a small congregation with real needs and concerns, like trying to understand why Hurricane Katrina was barreling down on the Gulf Coast. Ministry got real.
I had heard that some people were purporting that the storm was God’s response to America’s immorality, as a way to cleanse us from our sinful ways.  I was shocked by such claims masking as theology, but I was naïve.  However, I did know that we humans are quick to look to something or someone to blame when things don’t go according to our plan, and God is an easy target, because God could change it if God wanted to, right?
I chose to preach on the blessing and curse of rain, depending on one’s perspective.  When we are in draught, we pray for rain…