From the Pastor – February 26, 2017

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. (Mt. 6:33-34) One of my favorite books is called the “Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis. I’m sure many of us have read it. The book takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, a junior “tempter” named Wormwood, giving advice on the best way to ensure that a British man, known only as “the Patient,” ends up in hell. In a great irony, God is called “the Enemy.” One of my favorite letters involves the idea of “living in the present.” I’m going to let C.S. Lewis speak for the pastor today: “The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – February 19, 2017

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt. 5:43-48) “Nobody’s perfect.”  It’s a common excuse when we make a mistake.  We might like the perfect date, or the perfect sunset, or the perfect evening, but we don’t like applying the word to ourselves because, well, … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – February 12, 2017

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 5:19) Preferring quiet, I rarely listen to music around the rectory or in the car, but when I go to my family farm in Alabama, I listen to a lot of country music.  It started many years ago when it was the only thing I could pick up on the radio in my beat-up 1980 Suburban.  And now I listen to country because it seems to go well with riding around in the woods.  Although I generally enjoy the melodies of country songs, what I particularly like are the lyrics.  They’re easy to understand in country music, and they usually have some kind of good, … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – February 5, 2017

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Mt. 5:13) I’ve told this story before, but I’m reminded of it whenever I hear this Gospel! When I was in second or third grade, some of my classmates started making fun of me – as children do – by calling me “salty Nalty.” They would repeat it over and over again: “Salty Nalty! Salty Nalty! Salty Nalty,” especially as they realized that it distressed me at that young age. One day I came home from school and told my Mother about it. And she told me: “You just tell them that you are the ‘salt of the earth.’” I'm not sure I'd ever heard that saying before but it sounded like it came from … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – January 22, 2017

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Mt. 4:18-20) One afternoon while I was in seminary I was having lunch with a some classmates, and we were joined by another seminarian who was a member of a religious community. He was younger than my classmates, and pretty “gung ho” about being a seminarian. With eager eyes and enthusiasm, he turned to my classmate, Mike Woods, and asked “So when did you get your call??!!” Now, you’d have to know Mike, but suffice it to say that Mike was about 10 years older than the other seminarian. He’s from Pittsburgh, … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – January 15, 2017

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” (Jn. 1:35-36) In the readings this weekend, we have some “naming” going on.   John calls Jesus the “Lamb of God” and the “Son of God.”  But what we’re dealing with has both theological and practical implications.  In the Bible - and in real life - names are important. In William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, the lovers have a dialogue about their own names.  It begins with Romeo hearing Juliet call his name:  “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”  The dialogue has been paraphrased to something like:  “there’s nothing so sweet as the sound of one’s own name.”  And even if we don’t read Shakespeare or understand poetry, we can relate to that.  We like hearing … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – January 1, 2017

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16 ) Although the Feast of the Holy Family fell last Friday, I think that this season is a good time to reflect upon our family lives, and to examine whether we’re being good family members. When we contemplate the Holy Family, we note the fact that when Jesus became man – when the Word became flesh – He became flesh as a little child within a family. That was a divine choice; because Jesus could have chosen any way he wanted to manifest Himself. He could have arrived on earth as a 33 year old adult or an 80 year old man. But Jesus was conceived and began his existence in Mary’s womb, and was born … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – December 25, 2016

The shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.” (Lk 2:15-18) Christmas can carry with it a lot of nostalgia for many of us. The season brings back memories of past Christmases, and might be particularly difficult for those who’ve recently lost loved ones. We might remember the happy times that we had, and we might be filled with a little nostalgia. It’s interesting that the word “nostalgia” is formed by two Greek words, nóstos, meaning “homecoming” … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – December 18, 2016

Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel. (Is. 7:14) She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt. 1:21) In William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers have a dialogue about their own names.  It begins with Romeo hearing Juliet call his name:  “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”  Later in the dialogue, Romeo responds:  “It is my soul that calls upon my name:  How silver-sweet sound lovers’ tongues by night, Like softest music to attending ears!” This quote has been paraphrased to something like:  “there’s nothing so sweet as the sound of one’s own name.”  And even if we don’t read Shakespeare or understand poetry, … [Read more...]

From the Pastor – December 11, 2016

Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. (Is. 35:4b-6) The coming of the Messiah was something eagerly anticipated by the Jewish people.  His coming was to be a time of great rejoicing (Gaudete!)  It represented the intervention of God into the affairs of men.  No longer would they be hungry or thirsty or oppressed or crippled.  They would be delivered from the difficulties of this life and live in a new reality without fear.  God would be with them, according to the promises of His Covenant. However, the appearance of the Messiah was disputed.  Would he be a great … [Read more...]