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

Proper 19, Year A, Holy Cross Church, Murfreesboro

“Peter came and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times’” (Matt. 18:21-22).

After the murder of nine people at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, in 2015, the perpetrator was tried and sentenced. You all know the story of these killings so I won’t repeat the … Read more

Proper 18, Year A, Church of St. Joseph of Arimathaea, Hendersonville

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18).

Stuck at the end of the liturgy for Holy Eucharist in the Book of Common Prayer is an example of what I consider the “fine print” of the Christian life. Under the heading “Disciplinary Rubrics” we read “If the priest knows that a person who is living a … Read more

Episcopal Church Women Annual Meeting, The Martyrs of Memphis, Grace Church, Spring Hill

“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jo. 12:24)

In a letter to Arthur Stanley, the Dean of Westminster Abbey, in 1852, Florence Nightingale wrote:

The Church of England has for men bishoprics, archbishoprics, and a little work… For women she has – what? I had no taste for theological discoveries. I … Read more

Proper 17, Year A, Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Fayetteville

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me” (Matt. 16:23).

This Thursday I took my father to his doctor’s appointment at a local hospital. We’ve been there a number of times over the past few years, so it’s familiar territory for both of us, but this time on the way in to the examining room my father stumbled and fell. I was standing right there, but even I don’t know exactly what happened. … Read more

The Blessing of Liturgical Ministries, Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville

“[Boaz] said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you.’ They answered, ‘The Lord bless you’” (Ruth 2:4).

Our reading this morning from Ruth contains words that are familiar to us as Episcopalians from their use in our liturgy, the salutation “The Lord be with you”. This is the single occasion in Holy Scripture when these precise words are used; to make it even more singular, this is the only day in the entire Church Year that this reading … Read more

Proper 16, Year A, St. Anselm’s Church, Nashville

“The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).

The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. News outlets report that there are over seven hundred persons in prison for every one hundred thousand members of the general population. This is a far higher rate than in other countries with democratically elected governments. Proportionally speaking, we also have far more people locked up than countries with fairly repressive governments: … Read more

Laymen’s Conference, Dubose Conference Center, For the Mission of the Church

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).

It’s good that our Conference is gathered around the theme of mission this year. We’ve engaged missional themes before at this Conference, as we think about the work that God has called us to as Christians living in the world. This weekend, however, gives us an opportunity to think about the nature of mission itself. What’s its origin? Where’s it headed? What are we doing … Read more

Proper 15, Year A, Christ Church, Tracy City

“Woman, great is your faith!” (Matt. 15:28).

If you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, you know what it is to “keep the faith”. For those of you who don’t follow baseball, I’ll just say that the Cubs are a National League team which won the World Series in 1907 and 1908, and then failed to win the championship again until this past year, 2016. That’s right, over one hundred years: one hundred and eight years, to … Read more