Interdependence Day, Independence Day – 2013

July 4, 2013

Deuteronomy 10:17-21Psalm 145; Hebrews 11:8-16; Matthew 5:43-48

“Independent.” It’s a word with almost universally positive connotations. People fill up their resumes describing how this or that experience made them more independent. As our children grow up and take on more challenges by themselves, we articulate their growing independence as evidence of maturity. Academics and intellectuals cherish the thought that they are “independent thinkers.”

And in the context of geo-politics, almost no other word carries the aura of statehood, sovereignty and completeness more than the word “independent.” It is the holy grail of would-be nations, a way to say that one has finally arrived.

July 4th is, of course, imbued with that special aura more than any other national commemoration – even to the point of sanctity. There are many good reasons why this should be so. Humans are hardwired to be in community and to have shared bonds of identity and rituals that reinforce that identity. The commemorations we have as the United States of America throughout the year can help to make us a cohesive community, give us a shared sense of pride and purpose, and help us to strive onward toward common goals and aspirations.

However, observing anything religiously without asking ourselves on a regular basis why we’re doing it is certain to lead to all sorts of problems. Just take a look at any conversation that Jesus had with the Scribes and the Pharisees, and the message that those encounters have for us in the church today. They ought to give us a sober reality check.

So it is with Independence Day. We’ll find it a more meaningful and authentic day of commemoration if and when we take the time to unpack it first.

Independence Day, as we know, marks the point at which the United States was able to break free of the orbit and authority of England. We only need to look to Jesus to know what good authority looks like – he tells his disciples that true leaders are servants. If leaders are not prepared to submit to their own authority and to experience the daily life of the community, as a part of it, then something has gone very wrong.

The American Revolution was a result, at least in part, of the almost total chasm between the – in every sense of the word – distant rulers and their subjects. The Founding Fathers strove to ensure that this chasm was closed and that it would be more difficult to open in the future. Naturally, their work was imperfect, but it is right that Independence Day should mark those noble sentiments. That the communities already living here when the settlers arrived were mostly not afforded the benefits of those sentiments is, of course, at best an irony and at worst a national disgrace.

In the epistle reading appointed for today, Paul writing to the Hebrews, we have to be careful not to read too much into it. It does not legitimize belief that any of us – individuals or communities – have a God-given right to a particular piece of acreage on this planet. God has given this whole world into our care and we are all citizens of it, under his gentle and loving rule. We are not owners, but custodians. When God led Abraham to the Promised Land, he did so on the understanding that custody of a place involved certain obligations.

Our first reading, from Deuteronomy, makes God’s law clear for those who would set up a nation: Welcome the stranger with love, feed and clothe them and act with justice to the weakest and most marginalized in that community, expressed in that reading as “widows and orphans.”

One of the most overlooked – but most important – parts of grammar is the preposition. What preposition should we insert before the word “independence”? We would probably say that we’re celebrating independence “from.” But what if we saw it instead in terms of independence “to”? Freedom is never just “freedom from,” it’s also “freedom to.”

The Founding Fathers didn’t just want to be free from foreign rule, they also aspired to create a new way of being in community. They wanted to build somewhere that was more equitable and safeguarded against anyone getting too much power and influence. Our celebrations of Independence Day need to include sober reflection on how we have compromised those ideals.

One of the biggest questions we need to ask ourselves on this national day is, What does the word “independent” really mean? Strip away from it all the positive connotations we looked at earlier, and what are we left with? That we don’t want to be dependent on anyone or anything. Suddenly the word loses much of its shine. If we close our doors to the stranger, then it’s a short step to closing our hearts and our minds to them, too.

Jesus warns us of that kind of living in today’s gospel reading. “If you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?” he says. It also suggests that a culture of individualism and self-reliance can, when left unchecked, turn into a mistrust of others. Being dependent on others is not always sign of weakness or of compromise; it can be a sign of strength. It is the ultimate sign that we trust another person, and it recognizes that we are, in fact, the Body of Christ, where we need everyone, with their gifts and specialisms – and idiosyncrasies – in order to be complete.

So, on this Independence Day, let’s also think of it as “Interdependence Day”; a day when we celebrate not only being free from unjust rule but also a day when we commit ourselves anew to extending liberty and justice to everyone who seeks it, without partiality.

 

— The Rev Nils Chittenden is missioner for Young Adult Ministry in the Diocese of North Carolina, and chaplain of the Episcopal Center at Duke University. After attending seminary at the University of Cambridge, he was ordained in the Church of England in 1995. His ministry since then has been varied, encompassing cathedrals, campuses and community organizing as well as parishes. He moved to the U.S. in 2010. He and his wife have two cats and two beehives.

Independence Day (A,B,C) – July 4, 2012

Practice makes perfect

Deuteronomy 10:17-21; Psalm 145 or Psalm 145:1-9; Hebrews 11:8-16; Matthew 5:43-48

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

It’s tough to imagine a more unsettling teaching for Americans to hear on Independence Day than this passage from the Sermon on the Mount. Resisting evil doers, turning the other cheek and praying for those who persecute us are not things we seem to do very well. And then there’s the little matter of being perfect.

How many times have you heard these maxims? “Never settle for second best.” “Don’t accept no for an answer.” “Never give up.” “Get it right the first time.”

Americans tend to obey these rules as though they were self-evident commandments. But while it is true that following them can lead to personal success, slavish observance of them can also promote perfectionism.

Perfectionism is the desire to be without defect in everything we do, and it can cause heartbreak for us and those we love. It can cause a person to focus on his job to the detriment of his family life. It can cause a person to procrastinate for fear of not doing a project flawlessly from the start. It can influence a young woman’s view of her body so that she starves herself to have the “perfect” figure.

But the problem with perfectionism is clear: it is unattainable. No person can be perfect at all times and in every area of her life.

The Bible itself records this in one of the overarching themes of scripture: human beings are imperfect. We make mistakes in judgment. We are prone to self-preservation and selfishness. We are capable of committing evil. In short, however much we strive to live God-centered lives, we are sinners and will always battle the temptations that keep us away from perfection.

Given these realities, Jesus’ imperative to be perfect as God is perfect sounds a bit preposterous.

This verse closes the first section of the Sermon on the Mount and follows a set of teachings that should, if we really pay attention to them, cause us deep discomfort. We know that we shouldn’t commit murder, but Jesus says that we shouldn’t even be angry with our sisters and brothers or insult them. We know that we shouldn’t commit adultery, but Jesus says that we must control lascivious thoughts because the thoughts are as sinful as the actions. He tells us that we must give to everyone and anyone who asks for money or material goods, even if we don’t think they will use them wisely. And he claims that loving only those who love us isn’t enough. We must also love our enemies. Not simply avoid harming them or just tolerate them, but love them. Then Jesus closes with that strange, daunting command, be perfect just as God is perfect.

Jesus knew about human sinfulness and the darkness of the human heart. So how could he expect us to do the impossible? Was he making a rhetorical flourish to highlight the seriousness of his ethical teachings? Or was it hyperbole, a verbal exclamation point closing his interpretation of Torah?

When we look at different biblical translations of the term “be perfect,” we see that Jesus was not being dramatic or asking for the impossible. His understanding of perfection was not exactly the same as ours. The New Jerusalem Bible says, “You must therefore set no bounds to your love, just as your heavenly Father sets none to his.” The New English Bible says, “There must be no limit to your goodness, as your heavenly Father’s goodness knows no bounds.” And Eugene Peterson’s popular translation, “The Message,” says, “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Peterson translates teleioi – the Greek word often rendered as “perfect” – as “grow up.” In doing so, he highlights a definition of perfection that means to reach maturity, to become complete. In other words, Jesus wasn’t saying that perfection is a state of eternal flawlessness that can be magically wished into being. It is a process, one in which we make a practice of acting in ways that reflect God’s nature as we grow into the fullness of our baptismal calling.

Being generous as God is generous, being gracious as God is gracious, loving others as God loves us are surely some of the most difficult skills to learn. But as a child learns by imitating others, we too can help ourselves reach maturity by looking at the spiritual grown-ups around us.

In 2005 a Palestinian family demonstrated God’s generosity, graciousness and love with a beauty that surely bordered on perfection. The family’s 12-year old son, Ahmad Khateep, died after being shot in the head and chest by Israeli soldiers. Ahmed’s father made the decision to donate his son’s organs to children in an Israeli hospital and declared, “We want to send a message of peace to Israeli society, to the Defense Ministry and the Parliament.” Mustafa Makhamid, Ahmad’s uncle, told reporters that “Ahmed was a wonderful and smart little kid who just wanted to play. We want to donate his organs to all the children of Israel whom we consider our children. Enough blood spilling. We hope that we will start a new process that will exceed all others and end the spilling of blood.” With that decision three Israeli girls were given the gift of new life because they received the organs of a Palestinian child. With that decision the Khateep family loved their “enemies” and showed the entire world what it means to have God-like generosity and graciousness. In their practice of God’s qualities, they acted like true grown-ups.

It’s not difficult to imagine that some of their ancestors may have sat on a mountainside in Galilee more than 2,000 years ago and decided to take seriously Jesus’ invitation to enter the process of becoming perfect as God is perfect. If so, they had to have made many mistakes while living out his teachings because they were flawed people, just like us. But they kept handing them down, maintaining their practice so that the seeds of God’s loving kindness were planted in their spiritual DNA. And those seeds bore fruit generations later in the lives of people who are supposed to be at terrible odds with one another.

What hope is found in this story! As Americans, we can see that it is possible to act in ways that go against the norm of what our culture tells us. It is possible to be faithful to God’s teachings rather than fall prey to the fear and hatred that seem to dominate our political conversations.

As followers of Jesus, we can see that we are all invited into the process of growing up and into God’s kingdom of loving kindness. Even in the face of our sinful natures, we can choose to act with love, not only toward those who love us, but also toward those we might be inclined to despise. With God’s help and the example of mature sisters and brothers, we are able to act out Jesus’ teachings in our lives for the benefit of all God’s creation.

There is another maxim you may have heard: “Practice makes perfect.” Maybe we should rephrase that to say, practice may not make us flawless, but it can make us loving grown-ups in the Kingdom of God.

 

— The Rev. Christie M. Dalton is a deacon for regional ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. She lives in Winston-Salem where she is also a development officer for Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

Independence Day (A,B,C) – 2011

July 4, 2011

Deuteronomy 10:17-21; Psalm 145 or 145:1-9; Hebrews 11:8-16; Matthew 5:43-48

As our nation celebrates its 235th anniversary, reflection on our liberty, freedom, and relationship with God, the giver of all liberty, is a good exercise.

We learn from the passage chosen from Deuteronomy that the foundation of our liberty is conceived in justice, that our “great God … is not partial and takes no bribe … executes justice for the orphan and widow, and loves strangers, providing them food and clothing.” What might we find were we to lay this standard up against our political realities?

The writer of Deuteronomy also exhorts the hearer to love the stranger and fear the Lord. In our time, that is not a popular standard. Rather, the reverse seems to be what we hear: people talk of loving God but fearing the stranger. Of course, we all know we got this way by straying from the fundamentals of liberty and justice for all. Yet people keep trying desperately to come to America for those very things: the justice of a paying job, the liberty to be free from corruption and sinister dictatorships.

In the passage from Hebrews, we look at the faith of Abraham and Sarah, who see themselves as strangers and foreigners on earth who seek a homeland, people who desire a better country. That is the desire that still dominates much of our civil discourse and should be the standard of our Christian community. A better country means, in the terms described in Deuteronomy, a just country for everyone, including the stranger – for all of us are in some way strangers seeking a better country.

It is common to talk of disillusionment and be discouraged about the future of our nation, our culture, and our society. Christians are called to be un-common in the way we talk about these things. We maintain a critical and sometimes prophetic stance about injustice and the treatment of the poor and oppressed, so we cannot join the chorus of those who are only negative. We see in our own failures the need for us to place ourselves under God’s gracious leadership. Without that, we have nothing to offer that is Good News. As it says in today’s reading from Matthew, “And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?”

So, what is the Good News in a time of economic uncertainty and national disillusionment? The Good News is that we find in those very strangers who come among us, in those who would perhaps be our enemy, the future of peace through just relationships with all of our neighbors.

Recently the Dalai Lama spoke to several university communities while visiting America. He said he loves America because of its passion for energy, new ideas, and continuing exploration and change. He also said he is grateful for our leadership, but questions our motives in some of our political decisions. His message of peace echoes the gospel reading for today, that loving our enemies and persecutors is the only way forward.

Christians are called to be advocates of the Good News of Jesus Christ. That is how we celebrate our freedom, and that is how we proclaim our liberty. Taking on that Good News means we have to change our values to those of Christ. We cannot ignore the stranger among us, nor can we write off our enemies. But we do just that all the time. Jesus calls us to a higher standard, one that includes struggle, misunderstanding at times, and the possibility of failure.

What we have done as a church in the last few decades, learning how to speak civilly about our differences, attempting to reconcile with those who differ from us, taking up the cause of justice for those who are treated unjustly, has thinned our ranks, but it has also perfected our faith. That is something to celebrate in a nation where it is still possible to proclaim and expect liberty and justice for all.

In the Mid-South there is a group of people from the Marshall Islands who have come to live and work under the Compact of Free Association, an agreement entered into between our government and nations in the South Pacific. These are people who have left extreme poverty to come and work, mainly in meat-processing plants. They, along with Latinos from Mexico and Central America, form the backbone of a work force that provides our food, adds to our tax base, serves in our military, and generally leads law-abiding lives. Engaging with these “strangers” is a rewarding challenge.

One new Episcopal church plant has embraced these strangers and finds itself growing from their ranks. As they join the church, a whole new culture of Christian growth of liberty and freedom emerges. That is the vision of Deuteronomy, the faith described in the passage from Hebrews that desires a better country, and the Good News that moves from greeting only those who are like us to embracing the stranger and finding in that embrace the God of liberty and justice for us all.
— Ben Helmer is the vicar of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Eureka Springs, Ark.

Independence Day – July 4, 2009

(RCL) Deuteronomy 10:17-21; Psalm 145 or 145:1-9; Hebrews 11:8-16; Matthew 5:43-48

The fact that we have the option of two Collects for Independence Day hints at the possible ambiguities associated with this national holiday. Ambiguities that attempt to hold us somewhere between declaring our independence on one hand, and on the other, thanking God, as the Prayer Book says, “for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.”

Such ambiguities also reside within our gospel reading. This section of the Sermon on the Mount seems to suggest that Jewish tradition directs love of neighbor and hatred of enemies. While the former is well attested to throughout the Old Testament, Judaism nowhere prescribes hating one’s enemies.

And although just who constitutes a neighbor has been subject to much debate, Jesus throughout the gospels, and New Testament writers like the one in Hebrews, and Paul’s mission to the gentiles, appears to extend the boundaries of the neighborhood to all those who have been created in God’s image. Indeed, as early as the Noah narrative deep in the origins of Genesis, our God is portrayed as the One God who provides for the entire human family, letting the sun shine and the rain fall for both evil people and good.

As surely as virtual distances between countries in the global village continue to shrink, forces like globalization extend the neighborhood to even the furthest and most remote corners of this fragile earth, our island home. Images are streamed to us via satellite and the Internet of catastrophes, triumphs, and discoveries wherever they are to be seen.

This day’s scriptural theme reminds us that we are all of us sojourners on God’s earth, and this is ever more important as we pause to reflect on our nation’s origins, history, and contributions to God’s ever-growing neighborhood.

The book of Exodus tells us to “love the sojourner, therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

A sojourner is one who lives or stays in a place for a time. The Bible understands this to be the most fundamental characteristic of what it means to be human: we are all here just for a time. We are all of us on our way to yet somewhere else. We are all sojourners.

For people of Biblical faith, Abraham and Sarah are the perfect prototype couple signifying a life of sojourn, a journey from home to a homeland, which is ultimately the common denominator of who we are: people on our way. They stepped away from the friendly confines of the familiar and into the new world of God’s dream for them. In the cosmic sense, we come from God and return to God, with this brief sojourn on earth as a kind of midpoint in what we often refer to as eternal life.

Jesus calls us to be perfect, which in Greek means something like “whole,” “undivided,” or “complete.” In one sense, the perfection Jesus calls for is a call to treat other people in the same way God treats people – all people – in the divine realm. Jesus calls us to live in a new world of God’s eternal reign, and Jesus in all that he says and does proclaims this new world to be already operative.

Again, as Hebrews lays it out, persons and communities of persons achieve identity, in part, by imitating exemplars. Abraham and Sarah are such exemplars, setting out from home to they know not where, allowing God to lead and direct them to a new world, a new home, a new life where even a craggy old man, “and him as good as dead,” and a woman, “even when she was past the age,” could become the parents of a nation of God’s people more numerous than the stars of the heavens and grains of sand on the seashore.

As history would have it, this nation of Abraham and Sarah became the quintessential sojourning community, now distributed throughout all the earth. And by adoption, we gentiles were added to that nation through the mystery of the cross and resurrection, a mystery that means to remind us that we too are sojourners called to care for others as God so graciously and generously cares for us.

It takes little reflection on these core stories of our faith to find the stirrings that brought and continues to bring sojourners to this land we call America. A land founded, in part, by religious and entrepreneurial refugees from an old world seeking a new world. A land that, as it found its identity, became a beacon of freedom and liberty for people the world over.

But the liberation of our forefathers came at a price for those already living in the neighborhood, and for those we brought by brute force to work the land that gleams from sea to shining sea. The land has itself been brutalized and gleams a little less each year we are here. It does not appear that we have been completely faithful to live out of whatever it might mean to become perfect as God is perfect.

So it is we gather to reflect and pray on this, our Independence Day. We pray either to “have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace,” as it says in one of the Collects for today, or to have “a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with God’s gracious will,” as it says in the alternate Collect.

That is, we gather to renew our commitment to become a people like Abraham and Sarah, a people like Israel, a people like Jesus, who remember who we are and whose we are: we are God’s sojourner people. And like our lifetime here, we have now only a brief time for this sojourn and this reflection. We have only a brief time to become perfect as God is perfect in caring for others – all others who sojourn with us – and for the earth as God’s creation.

If we take this time to reflect on how we as a nation might use our liberty in accordance with God’s gracious will, we will come to know the kind of faithfulness and hope that gave Abraham and Sarah – and all those who came and still come to the shores of North America seeking a more true vision of God’s purpose – the courage to leave the realm of the familiar as we continue to step out and into the New World God has already begun in Christ. With Christ, in Christ, and to Christ be all honor and glory, now and forever.

 

— The Rev. Kirk Alan Kubicek is rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, a parish in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. He also travels throughout the church leading stewardship events for parishes, dioceses, clergy conferences, and diocesan conventions. He has long been involved in the work of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS), and the Ministry of Money. He frequently uses music and storytelling in his proclamation of the Word.

Independence Day (B) – July 4, 2006

(RCL) Deuteronomy 10:17-21; Psalm 145 or 145:1-9; Hebrews 11:8-16; Matthew 5:43-48 

[NOTE: Collect 17 “For the Nation” (BCP p. 258) may be used instead of the Collect for Independence Day (BCP p. 242).]

The fact that we have the option of two Collects for Independence Day hints at the possible ambiguities associated with a national holiday. Such ambiguities also reside within our Gospel. This section of the Sermon on the Mount makes the claim that Jewish tradition directs love of neighbor and hatred of enemies. While the former is well attested throughout the Old Testament, Judaism nowhere prescribes hating one’s enemies.

Although just who constitutes a neighbor has been subject to much debate, Jesus throughout the Gospels, New Testament writers like the one in Hebrews, and Paul in his mission to the gentiles, appear to extend the boundaries of the neighborhood to all those who have been created in God’s image. Indeed, as early as the Noah narrative deep in the origins of Genesis, our God is portrayed as the One God who provides for the entire human family, letting the sun shine and the rain fall for both evil people and good.

Surely, as what is increasingly referred to as “the global village” continues to shrink, forces like globalization extend our neighborhood to even the furthest and most remote corners of this fragile earth. Images stream into our homes via satellite and The Internet of catastrophes, triumphs, and discoveries wherever they are to be seen.

This day’s scripture reminds us that we are all of us sojourners on God’s earth and it is ever more important as we pause to reflect on our nation’s origins, history, and contributions to God’s ever-growing neighborhood.

“Love the sojourner, therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” (RSV)

A sojourner is one who lives or stays in a place for a time. The Bible understands this to be the most fundamental characteristic of what it means to be human: we are all here just for a time. We are all of us on our way to somewhere else.

For people of Biblical faith, Abraham and Sarah are the perfect prototypes of sojourners, journeying from home to a homeland, which is ultimately who we all are: people on our way. They stepped away from the friendly confines of the familiar and into the new world of God’s dream for them. In a cosmic sense, we come from God and return to God, with this brief sojourn on earth as a kind of midpoint in what we often refer to as “eternal life.”

Jesus calls us to be perfect, which in Greek means something like “whole,” “undivided,” or “complete.” In one sense the perfection Jesus calls for is to treat other people in the same way God treats people — all people — in the divine realm. Jesus calls us to live in a new world of God’s eternal reign, and Jesus in all that he says and does proclaims this new world to be already operative.

As Hebrews lays it out, persons and communities achieve identity, in part, by imitating exemplars. Abraham and Sarah are such exemplars, setting out from home to they know not where, allowing God to lead and direct them to a new world, a new home, a new life where even a craggy old man, “as good as dead,” and a woman, “even when she was past the age,” could become the parents of a nation of God’s people more numerous than the stars of the heavens and grains of sand on the seashore.

As history would have it, this nation of Abraham and Sarah became the quintessential sojourning community, now distributed throughout all the earth. And by adoption, we gentiles were added to that nation through the mystery of the cross and resurrection, a mystery that means to remind us that we, too, are sojourners called to care for others as God so graciously and generously takes care of us.

It takes little reflection on these core stories of our faith to find the stirrings that brought and continues to bring sojourners to this land we call America. A land founded, in part, by religious and entrepreneurial refugees from an old world seeking a new start. A land that, as it found its identity, became a beacon of freedom and liberty for people the world over.

Yet, there are two edges in the sayings of Jesus that greet us on this anniversary day of our independence: the liberation of our forbearers came at a price for those already living in the neighborhood, and for those we brought by brute force to work the land that gleams from sea to shining sea. This does not appear to have been a faithful living out of whatever it might mean to become perfect as God is perfect.

So it is we gather to reflect and pray on this our Independence Day. The Book of Common Prayer recommends that we pray either to “have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace,” or to have “a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with God’s gracious will.”

That is, we gather to renew our commitment to become a people like Abraham and Sarah, a people like Israel, a people like Jesus, who remember who we are and whose we are: we are God’s sojourner people. And we have only a brief time for this sojourn and this reflection. We have only a brief time to become perfect as God is perfect in caring for others, all others who sojourn with us.

If we take this time to reflect on how we as a nation might use our liberty in accordance with God’s gracious will, we will come to know the kind of faithfulness and hope that gave Abraham and Sarah, and all those who came and still come to the shores of North America seeking a truer vision of God’s purpose, the courage to leave the realm of the familiar and to step out and into the New World God has already begun in Christ. With Christ, in Christ, and to Christ be all honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

A poem by Edward Sanders from the anthology Poems for America:

O America! how I thirst for you to shine
& swirl in peace
on your tiny globe
out on the arm of a Spiral Galaxy
we call the Milky Way
swathed in a sheath of glowing gas
100,000 light years across!

I am singing you America
I am singing your wilderness
your smoggy cities, your art
& your wild creativity!
I am singing your crazy inventors
I sing the Hula Hoop& the Harley Hog & the oil of Hopper

& I am singing your schisms & controversies
O Nation, Vast & Seething
Day& Night & Dream!

War and secrecy
make writing America
a twistsome ting
and how many thousands of times
have I shook my head with the
ghastly sudden knowledge
of this and that
but how many thousands more
have I smiled at the millions
who have made my nation a marvel.

 

— The Rev. Kirk Alan Kubicek is rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, a parish in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. He also travels throughout the church leading stewardship events for parishes, dioceses, clergy conferences, and diocesan conventions. He has long been involved in the work of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS), and the Ministry of Money. He frequently uses music and storytelling in his proclamation of the Word.