Proper 6, Year B, St. Paul’s Church, Murfreesboro

“With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?” (Mk 4:30).

The kingdom of God: we pray for it every time we say the Lord’s Prayer. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, just as we’ll say at the Eucharist in a few minutes; and again when we close out the prayer, “for thine is the kingdom, and the power, … Read more

Proper 5, Year B, St. Bartholomew’s Church, Nashville

“But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered” (Mk 3:27).

“The world is run by the Man. The Man. Oh, you don’t know the Man? He’s everywhere. In the White House, down the hall, Miss Mullins, she’s the Man. And the Man ruined the ozone, and he’s burning down the Amazon, and he kidnapped Shamu and put … Read more

Proper 4, Year B, St. Philip’s Church, Donelson

“The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath” (Mk 2:27-28).

Our Gospel today puts the sabbath front and center: in fact, these two stories are doubtless grouped together in Mark’s Gospel because they both deal with the sabbath. The sabbath, of course, is the seventh day; in our calendar, Saturday. It’s the day on which God rested after the work … Read more

Trinity Sunday, Year B, Trinity Church, Clarksville

“The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice” (Ps. 29:4).

Can you hear the drumbeat roll in our psalm this morning? The phrase, “The voice of the Lord”, is repeated seven times here in Psalm 29, and I’m told that the words in Hebrew suggest rolling thunder. That’s called onomatopoeia, where words are used whose sound suggests the sense: “bang”, “crash”, and “sizzle”. “The voice of the Lord” sounds in the ear like the … Read more

Feast of Pentecost, Year B, Diocesan Pilgrimage, St. John’s Church, Ashwood

“I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17).

In ancient Greece, people went to the shrine at Delphi to get their questions answered, about what’s going to happen and what they should do. The priestess of the God Apollo would fall into a trancelike state and speak ecstatically, in a way that could not be understood by the questioner. A functionary “prophet” stood by to … Read more

The 140th Anniversary of the Consecration of the Church, Grace Church, Spring Hill

“Listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place” (1 Kings 8:30).

A couple of years ago I participated in an ecumenical pilgrimage to the city of Rome, to the Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican City. The church stands at the traditional burial site of the Apostle Peter, who is supposed to have been crucified not too far away from where the church stands now. … Read more

The Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B, St. George’s Church, Nashville

“If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater” (1 Jo. 5:9).

“Testimony” is a word with legal reference going back to the Romans, to evidence offered in court or to the certification of a claim. “Witness” is an alternative word used by translators of the New Testament, and has the same weight though a different, Old English root. The Greek New Testament word doesn’t have that same legal root but means something … Read more

The Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B, Otey Memorial Parish, Sewanee

“Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love… So we have known and believe the love that God has for us” (1 Jo. 4:8, 16).

“Just the facts, ma’am”: that’s Jack Webb’s fictional detective Joe Friday, questioning a witness in a TV drama of yesteryear. Webb’s character is trying to untangle the facts of the case from the extraneous opinions of his witness; the main narrative from what his interlocutor had … Read more

The Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B, The Church of the Good Shepherd, Brentwood

“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us– and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 Jo. 3:16).

This is a homiletical set-up if there ever was one: Good Shepherd Sunday a few weeks before the retirement of a long-serving and highly-regarded rector. Not just any priest, but one who planted the church and who has served faithfully for over twenty years as the pastor of … Read more

Feast of St. Anselm of Canterbury, Spring Assembly, Daughters of the King, St. George’s, Nashville

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants” (Matt. 11:25).

Can you prove the existence of God? I think most of us would say that God is not like a mathematical proof, where two and two must equal four. God can’t be “proved” like that, or people convinced through logic. Nor is it enough to look around … Read more