Surge Capacity

Sermon for Sunday, September 20, 2020 || Proper 20A || Exodus 16:2-15

At the end of this sermon, I’m going to talk about the prophetic voice of the movie Frozen II, but first let me talk about the church hymn board affixed to the wall to my left. This is the attractive wooden rack into which our altar guild slides in the numbers that correspond to particular songs in our hymnal. At the top of the rack, we display the particular Sunday of the church year. I haven’t touched the hymn board since the last time we used it. I’ve left it alone as a memento from our last in-person gathering. Right now the hymn board reads the “3rd Sunday in Lent.” Half a year ago. 

I remember the anguished discussion the vestry had about closing the church building back in March. We had no idea how bad the pandemic would get, but the writing was on the wall. Thankfully, the vestry made the hard choice in that moment of uncertainty. Now, six months later, we are faced with the opposite hard choice: how and when to invite people back to in-person services as we balance our need for physical proximity with our collective goal of deterring the spread of the virus.

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The Funeral Anthem: A Meditation

Sermon for Sunday, September 13, 2020 || Proper 19A || Romans 14:1-12

Today’s sermon is a meditation. In a minute, I’m going to invite you to find a relaxing sitting position, which will be easier on your couch than if you were here sitting on a hard pew. I decided to offer a meditation today because recently I’ve been feeling my jaw clenching more and more. Sleep isn’t restful. I’m on edge all the time. I’d wager you are responding to the abnormally high level of stress in our society in similar ways. A friend of mine has a newborn in the NICU whom he says is there because he has to “remember to breathe.” I think that goes for all of us right now.

So, in lieu of my regularly scheduled sermon, I’d like to lead us all through a meditation designed to bring our ultimate future into this present moment. This is a meditation about God’s presence and promise when death is an ever-present reality. I’m offering it because today’s reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans includes a paragraph that we read as the third stanza of the opening anthem at the beginning of every Episcopal funeral. All four stanzas are quotations from scripture, and I’d like to meditate on them with you this morning. This might seem like a strange thing to do – focus on words spoken after someone has died. But these words are shared with those who remain, and I believe these scriptural truths actually help to bring us more fully alive.

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In the Middle of Them

Sermon for Sunday, September 6, 2020 || Proper 18A || Matthew 18:15-20

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Jesus says this amazing promise at the end of our Gospel reading this morning. We’ve heard this promise every week since we began worshiping together online at the start of the pandemic. At the end of the service of Morning Prayer, we say a prayer written in the early centuries of the Church by St. John Chrysostom: 

“Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them…”

I am so thankful that our Gospel reading inspired John Chrysostom to write this prayer, especially in these days when we cannot be in close physical proximity with each other. The prayer reminds us of the singular truth that Christ connects us one to another. But “I am there among them” is a rather anemic translation. I “am in the midst of them” is better. The original language translates most directly to, “I am there in the middle of them.”

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Announcing Adam’s New Novel: The Islands of Shattered Glass

A new novel of high fantasy and adventure from author Adam Thomas.


A million years of elven life
Will never rise with sun or moon,
Will never grant both bane and boon,
For lost they are in endless strife.

So says the “Dirge for Meilin’s Heirs,” the last poem written by night elf creativity before the War at Dusk consumed all art in the furnace of conflict. Decades of fighting between elven peoples have destroyed any hope for peace until a weapon of tremendous power reaches the field of battle. Each side believes the other deployed the mysterious weapon, which kills day elf and night elf alike, leading to the smallest chance for a cease-fire.

But even the smallest flame can keep the darkness at bay.With the elves locked in never-ending warfare, the Grasp flourishes. The criminal organization influences every business across the islands, and either the money rolls in or heads roll out. But when a small-time grifter runs afoul of the Grasp, she sets off a series of events that will bring together criminals, peacekeepers, warriors, and wide-eyed dreamers. When they collide, the War at Dusk will either end or go on forever, shattering anew the Islands of Shattered Glass.


 

Adam Thomas, writer of wherethewind.com, presents the third stand-alone novel set in Sularil, his own Tolkien-esque fantasy world. A lover of works of high fantasy ever since reading The Hobbit and Redwall way back in middle school, Adam brings his new offering to the genre with a story about the importance of coming together and letting go of the cycle of revenge. (For ages 14 and up.)

For a brief excerpt of The Islands of Shattered Glass, please click here.


Click here to purchase The Islands of Shattered Glass
on Amazon in paperback or kindle edition.

And check out Adam’s other fantasy offerings:
The Halfling Contagion
The Storm Curtain
The Shields of Sularil: Torniel, The Jeweled City, and True Sight


 

 

Introducing the Podcast for Nerdy Christians

This week, my friend and colleague, Carrie Combs, and I launched our new podcast!

The Podcast for Nerdy Christians sits at the intersection of those two words. We love nerdy things like Star Wars and Harry Potter, and we love Jesus. The idea for the podcast came from the article I wrote last spring about grief in Avengers: Endgame. I realized that so much of my life runs through a pair of intertwining influences: nerd culture and following Jesus Christ. I asked Carrie to partner with me in this adventure because I knew her life exhibits the same pattern. I’m so glad she said, “Yes!”

We recorded the first three episodes before launching #1 in order to prove to ourselves that we liked what we were doing. And we do! This podcast is the perfect place to talk about all the nerdy stuff I can’t put into sermons because the references are too obscure or would take too much time to explain.

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