The Second Sunday of Advent, Year B, Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville

All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field” (Isaiah 40:6).

Back in 2013, explorers in the Rising Star cave system in South Africa northwest of Johannesburg discovered what seemed to be humanoid remains in a virtually inaccessible offshoot of this underground system. Scientists followed the amateurs down the chute and uncovered the ancient remains of fifteen individuals, apparently not direct ancestors of human beings but in the same genus. Over … Read more

The First Sunday of Advent, Year B, Church of the Advent, Nashville

“Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity for ever” (Isaiah 64:9).

Even those who have never been in a courtroom know how the justice system works. Someone gets charged with a crime; there’s a trial or more likely a plea in which confession is made; all of it followed by punishment or a fine. I don’t know about you but I was brought up on reruns of Perry Mason, where the confession … Read more

Proper 29, Year A, St. Mark’s Church, Antioch

“All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left” (Matt. 25:32-33).

Sheep and goats are mixed together in Palestine: that is, in animal husbandry in that part of the Middle East the two kinds of animals are herded together indiscriminately until the very … Read more

Proper 28, Year A, St. Barnabas’ Church, Tullahoma

“After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them” (Matt. 25:19).

In the Middle Ages in England, wages were paid and rents were due quarterly, on days throughout the year called the “quarter days”. The quarter days fell on religious holidays, so no one could pretend that they had forgotten they owed the rent, or that it was time to pay wages. Everyone in the community knew that on … Read more

Proper 27, Year A, The Church of the Messiah, Pulaski

“The bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet” (Matt. 25:10).

I don’t know about the sort of day you had last Sunday, but I had a happy morning and afternoon at All Saints’ Church in Smyrna: meeting with a couple of Sunday school classes; preaching, confirming, and celebrating the Eucharist; joining the congregation for a traditional Karen feast afterward. The sun was shining and the temperature was mild. … Read more

The Sunday after All Saints’ Day, Year A, All Saints’ Church, Smyrna

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matt. 5:9).

There are lots of places in the world where there is no peace, where people are in conflict with each other. Sometimes these places are far away, like the Middle East or Afghanistan or Ukraine; sometimes they are closer to home. Sometimes peace is interrupted by violence, like the killings in Charleston two years ago, or the terrorism attack in New … Read more

All Saints’ Day, Year A, Requiem for the Rev’d Rob Courtney, Church of St. James the Less, Madison

“Those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good” (Ps. 34:10).

All Saints’ Day got its start as a day of general commemoration, where the church remembered the countless saints of God who had no other memorial. Others have their own day, of course. St. Peter gets his day; St. Paul gets his: actually each of these apostles has multiple days where they are remembered. By the time we get to the Blessed Virgin … Read more

Proper 25, Year A, St. Agnes’ Church, Cowan

“And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself”” (Matt. 22:39).

The big news in Middle Tennessee this weekend is the rallies held on Saturday in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, broadly characterized under the banner of “white supremacist”. My friends, I wish it were not so; I wish we had better news to tell about this beautiful part of the world. I rejoice that the weekend passed without the violence seen a … Read more

Proper 23, Year A, St. Paul’s Church, Murfreesboro, 125th Anniversary Service

“For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).

This week I got an automated call on my cell phone that told me I had won a prize, a free vacation. All I needed to do to claim the gift was to call back. I can tell by your laughter that you know what I’m talking about. I thought to myself: “when did telemarketing calls start coming on cellphones?” Answer: probably the instant that … Read more

Feast of St. Michael & All Angels (trans.), St. Michael’s Church, Cookeville

“This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:17).

In the ancient world of the Hebrews, “the house of God” and “the gate of heaven” were distinct places within a single sacred precinct. Imagine for a moment a large pyramid, like those built for worship in Mesopotamia, the land from which Jacob’s family had come. At the top of the pyramid was “the house of God”, … Read more