Test Time

Test Time

A lawyer was sitting in her office late one night, when Satan appeared. The Devil told the lawyer: "I have a proposition for you. You can win every case you try for the rest of your life. Your clients will adore you, your colleagues will stand in awe of you, and you will make embarrassing sums of money. All I want in exchange is your soul, your husband's soul, your children's souls, the souls of your parents, grandparents, and parents-in-law, and the souls of all your friends and law partners." The lawyer thought for a moment, then asked...

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Clocking In

Clocking In

I, like many of you, am no stranger to fevers. About seven years ago this month I traveled to Tampa, Florida for a conference and came down with what I thought was food poisoning, on the very first night I was there. I couldn’t think of anything else that could make me so sick, so quickly, for I was in bed for three days with a very high fever, night chills, and the expulsion of some really inhumane bodily fluids. It took me about two weeks to fully recover, until I encountered the same illness just two months later in April. This prompted a trip to a gastroenterologist, and an eventual colonoscopy, but these tests returned negative results. My next business trip in July returned me to Tampa again, where I suffered the same fate; three days in bed with a near visit to the hospital. But I persevered, and since I did not want to be stuck in the hospital in such a foreign country, I made my flight home; clutching the barf bag throughout the next 6 hours. 

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Unshattered

Unshattered

Have you ever met a crazy person?  I must admit—perhaps the adjective “crazy” can bring some baggage with it. So let me give you some definitions from which to choose. Most dictionaries lead with the description of a crazy person as one who is affected with madness; or insane. A crazy person is often considered dangerous, both to themselves and others. Crazy people are unstable, unreasonable, uncontrollable—people that we just don’t understand. It’s difficult to live in their world and we are often hesitant to let them invade ours. We consider them mentally ill. I had a crazy friend I’d like to tell you about.

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Come and See

Come and See

You know you’re from a small town if....

1. You can name everyone you graduated with
2. You know what 4-H is
3. You ever went to a party at a pasture, barn, or in the middle of a dirt road.
4. You used to drag race on "main street."
5. You said a curse word and your parents knew within the hour
6. You regularly went cow-tipping or snipe hunting
7. The whole school went to the same party after graduation.

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Pride and Joy

Pride and Joy

It had been a long time since I had remembered it, but every once in a great while a certain forgotten memory comes crashing back into the present. The story is that, growing up, I had been given a nickname at my high school—which on the surface didn’t seem that awful! There was this group of guys that apparently thought I was an odd sort—and would make a habit of embarrassing me in class. One of the guys would yell under his breath “nice” and the other would echo “Brice.” Well, as you can suspect—being considered “Nice Brice” should have been a compliment. But only if you were my grandmother.

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In Search of...

In Search of...

I love the Star Trek movies and TV series. Whether it’s the original Star Trek from the 60’s to the more recent series like Star Trek Next Generation, Voyager, or Deep Space Nine—I just couldn’t get enough of these Sci-Fi fantasy shows. Now I wouldn’t consider myself a Trekkie, per say, but I would pay to see a Star Trek celebrity if I had the chance. I think my favorite character of all of them, however, is Jean Luc Picard. And during this Epiphany season following our holidays I think it is appropriate for Jean-Luc to sing you his version of a favorite Christmas carol.

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The Last Hurrah!

The Last Hurrah!

On New Year’s Eve we connect to our celebrations as a Last Hurrah for the year. And there are many different ways to celebrate with traditions that go back centuries. From dressing up in black tie attire, throwing tinsel around, making lots of noise and kissing your loved one at the stroke of midnight, these traditions help us celebrate the ending of the year, and look forward to what’s coming in the new one. I’ve heard down here that on New Year’s day the traditional Southern spread consists of black-eyed peas and collard greens, ham or pork, and cornbread.

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The Gospel Symbols of Christmas: Gift-Wrapped Presents

The Gospel Symbols of Christmas: Gift-Wrapped Presents

I like presents. No…that’s an understatement…I love getting presents. In fact, I don’t just celebrate the day of my birthday; I celebrate the entire month of my birthday. And for me, the Christmas season is the epitome of a surprise birthday party. The anticipation of putting up the Christmas tree in my living room; shopping for presents for my family and loved ones; wrapping each gift and envisioning the look on its future owner’s face as it is opened. Now I admit, while I love giving presents…it really is so very exciting to get them. I mean, really, we all can be a little self-indulgent sometimes!

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The Gospel Symbols of Christmas: Twinkle Bulbs and Candle Lighting

The Gospel Symbols of Christmas: Twinkle Bulbs and Candle Lighting

When it comes to watching Christmas movies and holiday themed TV shows this time of year, I admit I am a bit of a junkie. I have to watch the old Christmas stand-bys…”A Christmas Story,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and one of my favorites, “A Year Without a Santa Claus.” But I like to surf through some of the cable channels for something different occasionally. And I am most intrigued by the shows on TLC and HGTV about extreme Christmas lights in America like the ones we saw earlier. One of the most extreme Christmas decorations of all times is by the Faucher family in Delaware who have been merrily setting a neighborhood standard for 23 years - decking their halls with an astonishing one million Christmas lights.

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The Gospel Symbols of Christmas: Let it Snow! Remembering our Baptism

The Gospel Symbols of Christmas: Let it Snow! Remembering our Baptism

A nice married couple, we’ll call Dwayne and David (wink wink) were sitting down to their usual morning cup of coffee, listening to the weather report coming over the radio. "There will be 2 to 4 inches of snow today, and a snow emergency has been declared," the weather report said. "You must park your cars on the odd numbered side of the streets." Dwayne says "Jeez, okay," and gets up from his warm coffee, bundles up and moves the car. The next day they're sitting down with their morning cups of coffee and the weather forecast declares "There will be 4 to 6 inches of snow today, and a snow emergency has been declared. Now you must park your cars on the even numbered side of the streets. Again, Dwayne says "Jeez, okay," and gets up from his coffee. Two days later, again they're sitting down with their cups of coffee and the weather forecast says, "There will be 6 to 9 inches of snow today, and a snow emergency has been declared. You must park your cars on the -" Just then the power goes out and Dwayne doesn't get the rest of the instructions. He turns to David and says "Jeez, what am I going to do now?"

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The Gospel Symbols of Christmas: Hanging of the Greens

The Gospel Symbols of Christmas: Hanging of the Greens

Anyone get to clean out their refrigerators this past week? Amen! Does it look like this now? Did you pardon any turkeys in your life? Amen, again! I hope you continue this tradition next year, and remember to prepare your hearts for Thanks-forgiving every year. And speaking of traditions, did any of you participate in “Schwarzer Freitag” the day after Thanksgiving? Like Black Friday in the secular world, we have lots of traditions or customs that we follow in the Christian church during this time of year. There are many traditions that most young people don’t really understand, and even some of us older folks have probably forgotten their original meanings. Over the next four weeks we will be exploring these customs during our Advent sermon series called, “The Gospel Symbols of Christmas.”

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Let Us Build a House Where Hands Will Reach

Let Us Build a House Where Hands Will Reach

There were a few traditions I started at my house for Thanksgiving after I moved into my home in Ohio about ten years ago. I’m not the cook in the family, so instead of planning menus or going shopping for the dinner ingredients I got to design the table decorations and create a personal gift for each individual plate setting. In the past I borrowed some great ideas from Martha Stewart like making construction paper cutout Turkeys on which family members could record what they are thankful for.

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Let Us Build a House Where All Are Named

Let Us Build a House Where All Are Named

I began my sermon on Sunday by quoting an interesting factoid I discovered on the internet while researching my sermon. In a study of 200,000 ostriches over a period of 80 years, no one reported a single case where an ostrich buried its head in the sand or attempted to do so.I give you this pretty useless fact to frame our discussion of a pretty controversial story in Sunday's gospel text; just because someone says something doesn’t make it real. Perhaps that why I love preaching on the parables of Jesus. Let’s face it, Jesus told some really outlandish stories that don’t seem to make much sense in our contemporary society. And when we encounter such a story like this one, it is a great opportunity to again take pause and consider the reasons why such parables were told, and then written down and eventually published in the collection of letters and writings that we called the Bible.

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Let Us Build a House Where People Feast

Let Us Build a House Where People Feast

Many of you know about my flair for the dramatic. One of my life goals in high school was to become a professional actor. I loved the theatre…and still do for that matter. One of my favorite musicals is “My Fair Lady.” And one of my favorite musical numbers in that show is “Get Me to the Church on Time." Of course, leave it up to me to confuse my musicals! While preaching in worship I introduced this video clip as being from "Fiddler on the Roof." Wow! Really, I do know my musicals. Please don't take away my gay card! LOL!

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Let Us Build a House Where Prophets Speak

Let Us Build a House Where Prophets Speak

It was truly an amazing worship on Sunday, as I was officially installed as Holy Trinity's pastor. There was a moment in the installation service when my heart felt so full I thought it was going to burst. I felt like the balloon that burst at the beginning of my sermon as I illustrated how getting "puffed up" when our egos get too big leads to the same experience. You and I are sometimes like a balloon. We sometimes get all puffed up with our own importance. We think we are great and we expect everyone else to think so too. Sooner or later, if we keep getting puffed up with our own importance, something will happen to burst our balloon. 

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Mi Casa Su Casa

Mi Casa Su Casa

Last Friday I participated in a press conference at the state capitol calling the Governor to denounce the White Lives Matter protests scheduled this past weekend in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro. I was joined by Interfaith leaders, University students and refugee advocates, as part of the "Moral Movement Tennessee," who believe that the recent political climate in TN has created a "welcoming environment" for these white nationalist rally to take place. We also called for the removal of the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate Army general during the American Civil War and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

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Home Economics

Home Economics

I don’t think anybody really wants to hear about politics anymore. I don’t either. I have been disgusted by the political discourse in our country for the past two years. I learned early on that posting my thoughts about our politics last year was an exercise in futility. No one ever changes their mind based on someone’s rant or rave about their political opinion. However, politics are hard to avoid, especially in our own lives. When it comes to volunteering for leadership on church councils and committees, or facing disruptions and disputes in the congregation, politics are always given the reason for leaving. But something that really helped me understand and even face these kinds of challenges throughout my past 20 years in the church is this mantra: wherever there are people, there are politics. More simply, people = politics.

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Homecoming

Homecoming

What a day!!! If you attended Holy Trinity Community Church's annual Homecoming service this past Sunday I hope you felt as excited and satisfied as I was! Over 140 folks attended the spirit-filled worship service; the potluck food multiplied like loaves and fishes; the ministry fair was exciting and engaging; and the talent that performed during our cabaret was exceptional! It was a fantastic day. My heart was full, and all of the hard work by so many folks to pull our homecoming events together paid off in a HUGE way. I specifically want to thank...

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Home Ownership

Home Ownership

It seems these days that renting is just not a very good idea. Whether you are a renter or a landlord, lots of things can happen to sour your rental experience. Renting just doesn’t make sense. So why on earth doesn’t everyone own a home? I mean, I must be crazy to read into today’s gospel story that Jesus is advocating living life with a renter’s mentality. If the truth be told, living this way just opens yourself up to all kinds of problems. Living with a renter’s mentality means being vulnerable to people who might have some kind of control over you. Living like this puts yourself at the mercy of the landlord, not to mention all of the unscrupulous employees working for him or her. Having a renter’s mentality just isn’t safe.

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