Tag Archive for 'change'

Lent 2 March 20, 2011

Genesis 12:1-4a                                                                  

John 3:1-17                                                                            

Yesterday I was back in Illinois to preach at the funeral of a lady named Elizabeth Carpenter, who died at the age of 98. Liz was the last of the founding members of St. Charles’ Episcopal Church. That I be the preacher for her funeral was one of the things she requested. It was a significant request, because Liz Carpenter had a difficult time accepting me as her new rector. You see, I came on the heels of the beloved Fr. Ludtke, founding rector of the St. Charles’ parish, who had served it for 33 years and then retired. There was one interim Sunday and then I arrived: my first parish. I was the new guy, full of seminary learnings, and I liked to make changes. Fr. Ludtke was the old guy, who had liked things to stay the same.

But Liz was a serious Christian. She believed in that Benedictine vow of stability which we talked about last week in the adult forum. This was her church and she was going nowhere. So she’d come to my office, sit herself down, produce a list from her purse, and we’d go through it item by item: why did I change this, why did I change that? And what happened was that Liz Carpenter learned to accept change, indeed to change herself. The present rector of St. Charles’ told me a story. A few weeks before she died, Liz was in church, sitting in her wheelchair at coffee hour. She was looking around at the coffee hour crowd and she said to Fr. Nesbit, “I don’t know all these people any more.” And then, after a pause, she added, “But I guess that’s a good thing.” A good thing for her church to grow and change. Continue reading ‘Lent 2 March 20, 2011’

Easter 6 May 17, 2009

Acts 10:44-48                                                                     

1 John 5:1-6                                                                        

John 15:9-17


This wonderful little reading we have this morning from the Book of Acts. Let’s listen to it again:


While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers [that is, the religious insiders] who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles [that is, the religious outsiders], for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” [That is, for bringing them into the Jesus movement that became Christianity.] So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.


One of the great figures of history will surely be Pope John XXIII. He was elected pope in 1958 as an old man, a placeholder, a transitional figure. But out of the blue one day, at a routine church meeting, he announced that he was convening a great council of all the bishops from around the world, to reform the Church, to bring it into the modern era. And he did, in ways that dramatically changed not only the Roman Catholic Church, but all of Christianity.


There are many little stories told of this old and gentle saint. One of the ones that I think of most often is that when he would lie awake at night, worrying about the council he had convened, about the Church and its future, he would say to himself, “Angelo, Angelo [for that was his baptismal name, Angel], who’s in charge of the Church? You or the Holy Spirit?” And then he would fall to sleep like a baby. Continue reading ‘Easter 6 May 17, 2009’