Archives: 3 Epiphany

Draw the Other Arc

Today’s scriptures are nothing but a bunch of fish stories.

You know what I mean, “I went out today and I caught a disciple this big!”

Or in Jonah’s case, “I got thrown off a ship in the middle of a hurricane and got eaten by a fish this big!”

What is it about fish stories?

Why does the fish always have to be this big?

We do that about a lot of things in our lives, though, don’t we?

We may not talk about it in terms exactly that blunt and unsubtle, but we’re happy to tell our friends about our big car or our big job or our super successful children or our ministry that is growing by the day.

There’s one thing we don’t often brag about, maybe because many of us can’t, myself included.

The size and depth of our commitment to our discipleship.

How far we’re willing to go for Jesus.

What we’re really willing to give up for the sake of the gospel. Continue reading

Vocation: I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

Today let’s talk about the nature of call.

When people use the word Vocation, you can practically hear the capital “V.”

There is an all-too-persistent notion in the church the vocation is strictly the realm of the ordained clergy.

That is not true! Why do people think that?

For one thing, it’s the legacy of a clericalism that created and reinforced a false specialness in the clergy and placed them above lay people.

I also suspect that for some lay folks, denying they have vocation can be a helpful way to escape discerning it.

When we do think about vocation as applying to all people, another trap we fall into is elevating it into some sweeping destiny that encompasses one’s whole life.

It’s a similar phenomenon to the One True Love™ school of thought in which there is One Perfect Person for you who will Make All Your Dreams Come True and you will live Happily Ever After. (This is a damaging and limiting paradigm for so many reasons, but that’s another sermon.)

So when we elevate vocation into a Sweeping Destiny of answering God’s call in a noble, heroic, world-saving way, a task that will remain constant and unchanging for an entire lifetime, we’re setting ourselves up for a lot of problems.

First of all, it ignores the potential for vocation to change and evolve over time.

What you are called to do at eighteen may not be the same thing you’re called to do at eighty.

In fact, in the vast majority of cases, it probably shouldn’t be or we need to start asking if you have really opened yourself up to growth over the last six decades.

Next, the Sweeping Destiny model of vocation puts a heck of a lot of pressure on the individual to get it right.

You’d better make sure you don’t have a headache or aren’t too caught up in speculating on your favorite TV show’s plot on the day you commit to your Vocation.

What if you get it wrong? What if you choose the wrong path? Will the Earth crash into the sun?

And not only do you have to choose rightly, you have to act perfectly in the execution of the vocation. Because if you fail at doing it, maybe you failed in discerning it, and again, we’re back at the Earth crashing into the sun.

Sometimes we act as though it might.

The consistent problem with this approach to vocation is that it takes us further from freedom and deeper into the prison of our need for security, control, and approval.

The Sweeping Destiny/One True Love approach to vocation can only create people—lay or ordained—ethically trapped on a path that often devolves into a job with tasks.

That does not create transformed people.

In fact, it often creates burned-out, bitter people who are phoning it in at whatever “vocation” seemed so noble and beautiful five or ten or fifty years ago.

(That doesn’t mean that every minute of living out vocation is sunshine and roses or it isn’t real. But when duty devolves into dread, something is wrong.)

So what can we say definitively about vocation? Continue reading

Are We Anglican?

On January 15, 2016, the Anglican Primates gathered in Canterbury and by a majority vote comprehensively sanctioned the Episcopal Church because of our actions in 2015 approving same-sex marriage.

They said in their statement: “Recent developments in The Episcopal Church with respect to a change in their Canon on marriage represent a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage… Such actions further impair our communion and create a deeper mistrust between us. This results in significant distance between us… given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

That’s pretty heavy duty stuff.

We’ve been told to sit out and stay at home for three years due to our stance for love and justice.

It’s painful to think that we’ve been separated from the Communion that birthed us, with whom we’ve been in fellowship these hundreds of years.

It hurts to think that Thomas Cranmer’s church no longer considers us worthy of being at the table of the Councils of the Church with them.

This has been building since Bishop Gene Robinson, our first openly gay bishop, was consecrated in 2003, but having weathered the storms of controversy for the last thirteen years without breaking up, I for one never thought they’d actually kick us out.

And they didn’t. We’re not exactly kicked out.

But we’re definitely not really in either. Continue reading

Zebedee Gets a Bad Rap

I am a responsible person.

No, really, I am.

I pay my bills on time.  I respect and care for my neighbor.  This community knows me as a sober, law-abiding citizen.

I have my own business, small but respectable, with which I provide for my family.

I have two boys, and they are the pride of my life.

I have a quick temper when provoked, but I have always walked upright before God and man.

I don’t put up with anything untested, untried, or fly-by-night.

My name is Zebedee, and I am a responsible person. Continue reading

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