First Sunday after Epiphany, Year A, Christ Church, Tracy City

Suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove” (Matt. 3:16).

We begin today with the dove, and an old story from Genesis about Noah and the flood. You know how it goes: In the days of Noah and his sons, “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence” (Gen. 6:11). Yet “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his … Read more

The Second Sunday after Christmas, Church of the Epiphany, Sherwood

Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” (Lk. 2:51).

Obscurity and humility: these are the themes of our Gospel today, from Luke, rounding out the twelve days of Christmas with a meditation on the meaning of the season. Obscurity, because we know so little about the life of Jesus between his birth and the beginning of his short public ministry, apart from this story; humility, because what … Read more

Christmas Eve, Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (Lk. 2:14).

The Irish have an expression: a “thin place,” a particular geographic space where heaven and earth are closer than usual, where one can pierce the veil of sense and sight and see a reality that usually cannot be perceived. Ireland abounds in such places, or so the Irish say: places where you can get a glimpse of … Read more

The Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A, St. Mark’s Church, Antioch

“Through him we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles…” (Rom. 1:5).

The “obedience of faith”: it’s a phrase that St. Paul uses twice in the Letter to the Romans, once at the beginning (in our reading this morning) and once at the end, and it’s easy to think that we know what it means. Obedience conjures up an enforced regimen, about which we’re not enthusiastic … Read more

The Third Sunday of Advent, Year A, St. David’s Church, Nashville

“Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (Jas. 5:8).

Our reading from the Letter of James points us to the heart of the matter: in fact, it points us to the human heart itself, as the problematic integer in the human equation. The Epistle has a fine sense that we as human beings are divided against ourselves, on multiple fronts. In the first chapter the Letter talks about people who are … Read more

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

“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt. 24:36).

Do you remember the last time you were really surprised; taken aback by something you had not anticipated? I think that when we look back on events, we do a little bit of editing, remembering clues that pointed the way, and even premonitions or anticipations of what might happen, so that it … Read more

Proper 29, Year C, Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created” (Col. 1:15-16).

We live in an age of images. Nothing original here: just plug that phrase into your search engine and you will see what I mean. The rise of visual culture is a well-established meme in our day. It seems we’re awash in a sea of images. The camera phones that … Read more

Funeral of the Rev’d Clark Baker, Church of the Holy Cross, Murfreesboro

“Happy from now on are those who die in the Lord! So it is, says the Spirit, for they rest from their labors” (Rev. 14:13).

Today we gather to remember and pray for our brother Clark Baker, a priest of the church; and to pray with his family and to remember them in our prayers as we mourn his loss. I am grateful to Fr. Jim and to the members of the Church of the … Read more

Proper 27, Year C, Church of the Redeemer, Shelbyville

“They cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection” (Lk. 20:36).

“Children of God:” a phrase we’re very familiar with in the church, as in “you’re a child of God,” and “we’re children of God,” but which has an interesting genealogy. In our Gospel today, it’s a loose translation of the Greek, which reads “sons of God,” an expression reaching back to the very beginning … Read more

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

“I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Lk. 6:27-28).

The Feast of All Saints’ got its start as a celebration of the martyrs of the early church, a commemoration of the many people put to death in the persecutions under the Roman Empire. So many people were executed in so many places that there weren’t … Read more