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In Light of Events of Recent Days

A sermon delivered at St. John's Episcopal Church, Huntington, West Virginia, on June 28, 2015.

On June 21, the Sunday following the shootings at Mother Emanuel Church, few if any preachers in America delivered the sermon they had prepared earlier in the week - the events overtook plans, and I spoke of faith that abides, that helps us deal with such tragic events.

The public and political reaction has been swift with moves to remove the Confederate battle flag from display as well as to possibly relocate or remove monuments to leaders of the CSA. It is not for me to say that this is or is not a good idea. I certainly have my own thoughts, but I don't see the preacher's job as being to address those specifics. It is my job to warn of a potential shortfall, because (in my opinion) if we were to erase any public evidence of the existence of the Confederacy from American soil, but failed to deal with the racism which plagues our country, we would have failed to live out our calling as people of faith.

This sermon tries to call people to conversation, both on racism in particular and other public events in general (and the two Supreme Court decisions of last week come readily to mind as examples). Conversation is not confrontation - we don't need more sound bites forcefully advocating our own points of view. People who support, for example, keeping the battle flag as a mark of respect for heritage need to be able to hear the voices of those who say the flag is an offensive symbol of a society whose purpose was the continuation of slavery. And those who find it offensive need to hear why it is an important cultural icon to others. And everyone needs to clearly speak of the racist elements present in American society. If we do that well, it will bring good from the evil that took nine innocent lives in South Carolina.

06282015 St Johns Huntington - Abiding Faith.mp3

Preached at St. John's Episcopal Church, Charleston, West Virginia, on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, July 27, 2008. It was my privilege to be the last in a series of supply priests who assisted during the transition between the departure of an interim rector and the arrival of the new rector.

St. John's is a congregation which honors the old ways of doing things (and so has, for example, an excellent choir), while embracing the inclusive thrust of the Episcopal Church. As it happened, this Sunday coincided with 1) the beginnings of Lambeth, 2) the approaching arrival of a new rector (The Rev. Susan J. Latimer, formerly of the Diocese of Maine), and a Gospel lesson that talks about the new and the old.

The sermon talks about how one determines value in things old or new. It also suggests (and this is the preacher's point of view, so St. John's should not be tarred with it) that the current discussion in the Anglican Communion to move toward our being a confessional church is inappropriate for all sorts of reasons, not least of which is that such a move eliminates the patience that we are required to display in loving one another.

Nobody said that loving others was easy - but it is the commandment!

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It was my privilege to preach the homily at the memorial service for Randy Valz on Wednesday, April 30, 2008. Randy was one of two persons that I used to visit as a Lay Eucharistic Visitor. To participate in a funeral is a final as well as an initial act of ministry for a priest - for in some cases as you lay aside the ministry to the deceased, you may have the opportunity to minister to the family.

Meeting with Randy was a blessing to me and a lesson for us all in terms of accepting the things we cannot change. May he rest in peace.

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A sermon delivered at St. John's Episcopal Church, Charleston, West Virginia, on the Second Sunday of Easter, March 30, 2008. It deals with rooms in which we live our lives and "famous first words." Preachers often focus on the last words of Jesus - but these first words of the risen Lord are equally if not more instructive.

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Our Samaritans

A sermon on the text of the Samaritan woman with a focus on the "Samaritans" in my own life. Includes an acknowledgement of my own arrogance (illustrated with a story about Bishop Jack Iker), and a request for prayer. I especially long for a return to civility in the Episcopal Church.

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Take up your cross - daily.

A short sermon contrasting my grandmother's idea of bearing a cross with that which is in the Gospel. Delivered on the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, June 24, 2007, at Ascension Episcopal Church, Hinton, West Virginia.

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