Proper 14, Year B, St. Anselm’s Church, Nashville

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 5:2).

It sounds pretty bold doesn’t it: to imitate God? How do you think that we’d react if someone came into the church today and told us, “Hey, I’m imitating God.” It would be hard to take that person seriously. A claim like that might … Read more

Proper 8, Year B, Church of the Holy Spirit, Nashville

“He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James” (Mk 5:37).

One definition of “disciple” is “follower”. We are Jesus’ disciples because we follow his teaching. We are also his disciples because we walk with him, following in his footsteps. Where Jesus goes we go. Like Ruth with her mother-in-law Naomi, when Naomi returned to the land of Israel, “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I … Read more

Proper 7, Year B, St. Mary Magdalene’s Church, Fayetteville

“Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mk 4:40).

“Keep the faith”: these are words we use to encourage one another in difficult circumstances, when there isn’t much else about the situation that calls for optimism. Those who “keep faith” when the going gets tough discover a bond between them, through sheer perseverance in a common cause. Adversity would seem to be the natural testing ground of faith, the place where the tensile … Read more

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