Proper 23, Year B, St. Barnabas, Tullahoma

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’” (Mk. 10:27).

Back in 1952 Norman Vincent Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking, a book that was enormously popular and influential in everyday culture. Even people who had never heard of Peale or read his book were impressed with the idea that maintaining a positive attitude increased the likelihood that good things would … Read more

Proper 22, Year B, St. James’ Church, Sewanee

“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” (Mk. 10:6).

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God. / It will flame out, like shining from shook foil,” wrote the 19th century poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins loved the natural world, and his poetry is full of wonderful images drawn from nature. In the poem from which these lines are drawn Hopkins goes on to speak of the … Read more

Feast of St. Michael & All Angels, DOK Annual Assembly & St. Michael’s, Cookeville

“Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” (Gen. 28:16).

Jacob has gotten more than he bargained for in our reading today, for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. He’s on his way to visit his uncle Laban’s family, ostensibly looking for a bride from among his mother’s family; but he’s also on the run from home, where he’s cheated his brother Esau out of his father Isaac’s blessing. … Read more

Proper 20, Year B, St. Ann’s Church, Nashville

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Jas. 4:8).

Over the past few weeks we’ve been reading from the New Testament Letter of James. The Letter is a form of Wisdom literature, standing in the tradition of Old Testament books like Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes, which offer practical advice on how to live one’s life. This continues to be a popular line of literary endeavor, as self-help guides and popular works … Read more

Radical Vocation Conference, Saturday after Proper 19, The Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, TX

“Let anyone with ears to hear listen” (Lk. 8:8).

It’s a great honor to be here and to preach at this “Ancient Order, Radical Vocation” conference. What a great theme, and what a great encouragement the conference, the presenters, and the participants have been to all involved, not least of all the bishops present over these last few days. We all know that ministry, and ordained ministry in particular, is work that we are called to … Read more

Proper 19, Year B, Church of the Holy Cross, Murfreesboro

“How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire.” (Jas. 3:5).

You’ve seen the joke, I bet, or a variant on it: a guru sitting on a mountaintop: solitary, inaccessible, silently contemplating the universe. After a long climb to the top, an exhausted man pulls himself up the sheer rock face and staggers to the feet of the guru. He’s searching for the meaning of life, for true wisdom, and he’s come a … Read more

Proper 18, Year B, Church of St. Joseph of Arimthaea, Hendersonville

“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (Jas. 2:17).

Faith is a word that has many shades of meaning. In one sense, it’s what we believe, as in “the Articles of faith” found in the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. St. Paul refers to faith in this sense in the First Letter to Timothy, to “the words of the faith and of the sound teaching” (1 Tim. 4:6) about Jesus Christ. Faith … Read more

Proper 17, Year B, Calvary Church, Cumberland Furnace & St. James’ Church, Dickson

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (Jas. 1:27).

I was tickled the other day when I heard part of a town hall meeting with former Governor Bredesen, who’s running for a Senate seat. He told the folks assembled that he was a Democrat, and that he knew that most of them in … Read more

Proper 16, Year B, Church of St. James the Less, Madison

“Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak” (Eph. 6:20).

My mother’s godmother was a close friend of my grandparents, and as I grew up this lady came to be my friend. She always spoke her mind, in a gravelly, southern-inflected voice (I can hear her saying my mother’s name in my mind’s ear right now); but when she came to be even older she really began to speak out. I’ll admit … Read more

St. Louis of France, Blessing of Liturgical Ministries, Christ Church Cathedral

“Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Lk. 12:31).

This past weekend at the Laymen’s Conference at Dubose, we sang a few hymns that I don’t get to sing very often; hymns like “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, Ye Soldiers of the Cross”, and “Onward Christian Soldiers, Marching as to War”. These are old favorites, and the laymen have been singing them for a long time: … Read more