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December 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

Be incarnational in our work for God’s kingdom.

This month, we once again prepare ourselves for the incarnation of our Lord at his most blessed birth in Bethlehem on that holy night. It is a story of intense mystery, challenge to social mores, unfathomable trust, an arduous journey, rejection, and ultimately a revelation in a most unexpected way. Mary scarcely was able to comprehend what the angel had foretold her; a young and pregnant unmarried girl in her culture was cause for ostracization; Joseph planned on ending the betrothal, but responded beyond what most would do to divine directive to persevere; the trip to Bethlehem was not especially easy, made all the more difficult for one in Mary’s condition, only to find no decent place to stay. And then, it happened…the most monumental event in human history…the incarnation, God born in human flesh, revealed not to the rich and powerful, but to foreigners and reviled outcasts (the wise men and shepherds).


Through the retelling of the story, we celebrate the incarnation each year, but the best way to tell the story is with our very lives, to be incarnational in our ministry. By that I mean that our faith needs expression if it is to have as much meaning as this Christmas story begs - in mystery and trust, in journey and revelation. As a high school friend encourages her clients in her life-coaching business, we need to “make the connection between your intentions and your actions which will then allow you to find the freedom and space to do the things that really matter.” A story of intense mystery, challenge to social mores, unfathomable trust, an arduous journey, rejection, and ultimately a revelation in a most unexpected way, we need not to just come and receive the sacrament whenever we come for worship, but to actually be sacramental - the outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace. This month, as we once again prepare ourselves for the incarnation of our Lord at his most blessed birth in Bethlehem on that holy night, now more than ever, this ol’ world needs us to be incarnational in our work for God’s kingdom this side of heaven.

October 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

The Church Acting Like the Church is Supposed to Act.

I mentioned in a sermon last month, but it bears repeating: Probably the single most gratifying aspect of being the rector of this church is seeing the Church acting like the Church is supposed to act. Recalling that the word “gospel” literally means “good news,” there is so much to commend in the faithfulness of the members of Christ’s body in this church. From overflowing blue bins and meal preparation and service at Love Chapel to the FISH collection and Book Buddies, brothers and sisters in our community who experience want and need are fed, housed, clothed, and educated. Those whose health or struggles with mobility and transportation who would otherwise suffer increasing isolation are visited and extended the grace of the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood. Some who have experienced disillusionment elsewhere or the pain of rejection find here a home. Grief is eased by the outpouring of love and support and the presence of compassionate followers of Christ Jesus. Examples abound of the people of this community of faith giving of themselves in serving at the altar and in regular worship or welcoming strangers or building up this body through fellowship and cooperative efforts with others of like mind; in formation of our adults, youth and children, in care for our sacred space and lots of little things that often go unnoticed but which provide the fodder for a vital community. I am grateful to all at St. Paul’s for the example of faithfulness that you demonstrate for the sake of the gospel - actually acting like the Church is supposed to act.

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September 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

Prayer: silence, smile, breathe, Presence [Ps 131.3], listen, be

I have always said that, for all the great work that we do to make God’s Kingdom come this side of the nearer presence of our Lord, if we are not first and foremost a worshipping community we might as well be a secular social service agency. Worship includes individual prayer. As a reminder as we come into the latter half of the year, here is one way that I punctuate my prayer, beginning and ending, through each of the four daily hours (setting a reminder alarm for each hour: morning: joy, noon: compassion, evening: gratitude (for the day), night: peace), in this order: silence: smile breathe, Presence, [Ps 131.3], listen, be.


  • silence: as in the primordial chaos (the pre-creation void, not frenzy); not the absence of sound, but the absence of noise
  • smile: literally releases endorphins and sets a grateful heart
  • breathe: ruach (Spirit, wind, breath) - even before God spoke, God breathed creation into existence; same ruach as at Pentecost
  • Presence: awareness of being in the Presence of God; not making God come to me, but being where God already is
  • morning and night, Ps 131.3: I still my soul and make it quiet…; intentionality
  • listening: now quieted in order to hear Divine Whispering
  • be: spoken prayer is good and necessary, but the deepest form of prayer is simply to be
  • then normal prayers for family, the Church, the world…
  • then again: silence, smile, breathe, Presence, [Ps 131.3], listen, be


You might have a different practice, maybe something similar. Either way, prayer: first and foremost.

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August 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

...the way of love.

There is a Pentecost ruach Spirit blowing through the Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s emphasis on being the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement is no small part of that, in fact is probably the impetus for it. Referring to the The Way of Love, Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life that he mentioned at the opening Eucharist of General Convention last month, Curry states that “In the first century, Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. A community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Before they were called ‘church’ or ‘Christian,’ this Jesus Movement was simply called ‘the way.’”



What might flow out of such a Jesus Movement can take many forms, but as you can see from the graphic, the framework for this Way is:

  • Turn: Pause, listen, and choose to follow Jesus.
  • Learn: Reflect on Scripture each day, especially Jesus’ life and teachings.
  • Pray: Dwell intentionally with God each day.
  • Worship: Gather in community weekly to thank, praise, and draw near God.
  • Bless: Share faith and unselfishly give and serve.
  • Go: Cross boundaries, listen deeply, and live like Jesus.
  • Rest: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration.


As Bishop Curry stated, today our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, growing more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives and bearing witness in and for the world to this way of being, the way of love.

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July 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

Intentional evangelism, hospitality and connectedness: that is transformational ministry!

Last month I attended an evangelism conference called Invite, Welcome, Connect at my former seminary in Sewanee, Tennessee. It was billed as “a transformational ministry that equips and empowers clergy and lay leaders to cultivate intentional practices of evangelism, hospitality, and connectedness rooted in the Gospel imperative to ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19).” Maybe you noticed that the conference was not just for clergy; it was for lay people, too - for Episcopalians - from all across the country. Intentional evangelism, hospitality and connectedness: that is transformational ministry! And it is ministry in which we all can share, indeed all can and must share for the sake of the Gospel. By the time of your reading this, I will already have made reference to this, at the very least in a sermon. But in case you missed it, here I want to reiterate the importance of it and let you know you will be hearing more - we will actually be doing more - about and with this, so think about where the Holy Spirit may be calling and empowering you as the fall activity level picks back next month.

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