Thursday, December 6, 2012

2nd Advent

Luke 3:1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
"The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

I always find preaching during Advent to be difficult. I'd like to think the difficulty is due to the busyness of the season but truth be told it has more to do with John the Baptist. It's not that I don't like John in fact I find him to be an interesting and colorful character. My problem with John is that I don't know what to do with him. Seriously, what do you do with a guy who is unkempt, obtrusive and difficult to be around? How do you help him relate to 21st century people? The only comparison I can come up with is this guy I knew years ago in college who always asked difficult or seemingly off the wall questions of important people. He would literally ask noted professors questions about their politics or religious affiliations. One time he asked a professor how he, a professional educator, justified voting for Ronald Reagan given the cuts to education during Reagans gubenatorial terms. I don't remember the professors answer but I do remember being embarrassed for my friend. Funny thing, he wasn't embarrassed at all. Maybe the key issue here is that I'm not alone in not knowing what to do with John. I think the institutional church doesn't know what to do with him and we're all a little embarrassed of him.

Perhaps this piece of scripture is a good reminder for the institutional church that Advent and Christmas is not about neat, pretty packages. It is in fact about difficult and perhaps embarrassing questions that we need to confront and consider. John is asking humankind the same question that is considered in many cursillo gatherings, "if it were illegal to be a Christian, could you be found guilty?"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Confirmation is coming

Bishop Gray will be with us on October 7 at 10:30am to confirm, receive and baptize new members of our congregation. 23 new members to be exact. It's going to be a great day in the life of our church. See you there.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

2012 Program year begins ...

I hate to say it but, it is nice to be back in the normal routine again. The normal routine which includes school,  sports and church programs. If you missed it we started our Wednesday night supper and programs yesterday with an interesting presentation about the development of 2 new state history museums in Jackson. Both feature Mississippi state history but one will focus on the civil rights battles of 1945 - 1970. The state department of history and archives believes this will have a 20 million dollar annual economic impact on our state. Come join us for these events and invite a friend!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Summer Time

It's the end of school and beginning of Summer! Wow! I can't believe that in 8 days my children will be done with another year of school and Summer will be upon us. With that in mind let me say THANK YOU to all the teachers and educators in our parish and community. You make such a difference and touch the lives of our children in amazing ways. Thank you for your dedication and professionalism ... we are blessed to have you!

As we prepare to enter the churches summer period let me say thanks to all of you who make our yearly programs possible. Sunday School, Wednesday nights, Choir, EYC ... Thank You! You provide us with so many blessings!

Friday, April 20, 2012


Surfed for a long time yesterday. I'm beat and even now, a day later, a little sore. The conditions were good with some really big waves. Today we're going to a break called Avellanas which is about 30 minutes driving time from the camp. It's supposed to be a good wave breaking at about 3 - 5 feet. The front office waved me over to arrange bus transportation for tommorow to the airport. It was like a cold splash of reality. Attached is sunset seen from the camp.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 3

Had a great surf session early this morning and later in the morning with my coach J Luis. The conditions were a little choppy but we had several hours with good shaped waves. J Luis is a 21 year old Costa Rican whose English is quite good. I've begun calling him my spiritual director because he is extremely calm and incredibly observant. He reminds me and my lesson partner, Craig, to relax and don't over think things. Good advice for lots of things. I was gonna paddle out for an afternoon session but the sky clouded over and it started raining. Many surfed in spite of he rain but I chose to relax and rest my weary muscles. Attached is a picture in front of my room.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Witches Rock

Witches Rock Surf camp in Tamarindo is literally right on the beach! The picture in this entry is from my room. This is a beautiful place. We arrived in the afternoon and after getting situated I changed my clothes and went to the beach. It was awesome! I actually surfed for around 2 hours. Pura Vida!

Easter retreat 2012

A number of my colleagues take retreats every year before Lent as a sort of "prep for Lent, Holy Week and Easter." During that time, I'm told, they research and plan services and sermons. I have argued that the real time for a retreat is during the Great 50 days of Easter ... the season of new birth that begins on Easter day. My idea of a retreat is refreshment, relaxation and recreation. So, I'm calling this time away in Costa Rica my Easter retreat. My mission (goal) is to enjoy the beach, spend time with an old friend and be refreshed.

My journey began this morning with an early flight to Atlanta. The picture in this post was taken at about 5:30 this morning in the Jackson airport. At this moment I'm on the flight to Liberia, Costa Rica. The flight time from Atlanta to Liberia is 4 hours, so we should. E arriving in about 2 hours.

I'm not gonna promise to blog everyday or even at all! But, if the spirit moves me I'll post some pictures and reflections from my retreat. Thanks again for the time off! Blessings on all of you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Thank You's!

It's hard for me to properly say thank you to everyone who did so much during Lent, Holy Week and Easter at St. Columb's. It's hard because there are so many of you and I'm afraid I will forget someone. It was a Holy and incredibly spiritual experience from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day. Whether choir, altar guild, lay readers, lems, teachers, volunteers, staff and on and on ... you all did so much! Thank You! And, thanks for making it possible for me to "finish" my sabbatical a few months late. Watch this blog for details about that experience.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Last Epiphany

I always struggle with the scripture for this week.I don' know why. It's really great stuff with a great theme, transfiguration. All of us have seen others change in dramatic ways. We watch our children do it as the years go by, we watch ourselves do it simultaneously. Maybe my struggle is the fact that change and transfiguation are an ongoing part of life. Kind of life death and taxes ... it can't be avoided. Just for simplicity sake I'm gonna use the words change and transfiguration intechangeably.

Change scares people! It scares me. As times change and years go by you can't help but pine for the good old days. Everything is different. Everything looks different. Our cars look different. Our homes look different. Our Church looks different. We look different! Jesus was there at the top of the mountain with a couple of his close companions. Suddenly in the midst of their time away everything looked different even Jesus. The disciples came to see him differently and know his divinity more fully. That particular change was a real good thing because they came to finally understand that God's love was being delivered to the world in the form of a humble human being.

We have 4 more days till Ash Wednesday comes and leads us into Lent. During these days consider the changes that God might be calling you to make in order to serve and know him more fully. When we open our eyes to the love of our lord He looks different and so does everyone else.

Friday, February 10, 2012

6th Sunday after Epiphany

I have fond memories of reading the Kings lesson to my daughter Katie. It seems like her little children's Bible always opened to the story of Naaman the Leper. It's a great story about a great military commander and hero who is sick with leprosy. In the midst of his complaints one of the maids in his house suggests that he turn to the prophet Elisha for help. Naaman is skeptical because he is a mighty and powerful person who has achieved much due to his military prowess. He seems to say, "how could a prophet from an area I defeated help me?" Yet, he goes anyhow and Elisha is not impressed with Naaman or in a hurry to help. When he does finally see him he suggests that Naaman bathe 7 times in the river Jordan. Naaman doesn't like that suggestion. In fact, he finds it offensive. After all he has rivers in his own country that are nicer ... why turn to an ugly, muddy river in Israel? So, he doesn't bathe in the Jordan and he doesn't get healed.

Naaman will finally relent and go to the Jordan and bathe 7 times just like he was told. No more half measures, he just goes and gets it done. The bathing allows him to emerge from the water with his skin restored like, "the flesh of a young boy.

How many of us have taken shortcuts in life? I have. I've also tried to convince myself that shortcuts were a wise route to take. After all everybody takes shortcuts, right? Actually, history is full of examples of people who took short cuts and tarnished their reputation as a result. Look at all the athletes who have been caught taking performance enhancing drugs. Roger Clemens, Mark Mcgwire to name a few. I feel like God is speaking through scripture and saying "look at Naaman, you can't take short cuts."

Shortcuts are fun and often easy but they're not the way to go. They don't get us closer to God any sooner. In fact they distract us from God and often send us down the wrong path. Naaman tried to take a shortcut it didn't work. Roger Clemens tried a short cut, got caught and his reputation is sullied for ever.

I am reminded of the words of the Big Book of Alcoholycs Anonymous who said that "half measures availed us nothing.We stood at the turning point. We asked his protection and care with complete abandon."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lent 2012: The Bible Challenge!

Looking for a good discipline for Lent 2012? How about joining me and our Bishop and read the Bible? That's right Bishop Gray has invited everyone to join him in reading through the gospels during Lent and Holy week. The pilgrimage begins on Ash Wednesday! So don't hesitate, get out your favorite translation or a translation that you've always wanted to try and sign up today. Signing up online at allows you to subscribe to the regular commentary and postings from Bishop Gray. Or, you can contact me and I'll get you the calendar and breakdown for the readings.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tablescapes 2012

There's a whole lot happening in the parish hall. At least a dozen folks are gathered and working on designs for tables. That's right tables. There's a Roll Tide Roll table, Camel and middle east table, Steppin' Out table and sorts of other themes all somehow related to our guest speaker Marshall Ramsey. The coolest thing about all this is that fun that folks are having putting it together!