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A couple thousand years ago, Jesus was born to set us free. The Creator of the Universe became a human being in human flesh and walked among us. Even with that great coming of Jesus, the light of God living with us in the world, we still lose our way and get trapped by the darkness, and so into that darkness, God continues to give little epiphanies…
 
Repentance means that with that hope and mercy, we then get to reckon with those worst parts of ourselves. We have to reckon with the worst of ourselves because we can’t be free of those things, free of the worst parts of ourselves, if we don’t bring them with us when we come seeking mercy and redemption. When we do bring those worst parts of ourse…
 
As our king, Jesus wants us to see the importance of people all around us and seek to walk to the path of the righteous one, shepherding one another, caring for each other, and lifting each other up. That’s life in God’s kingdom. Not with God as an angry hitman, and not with God as a king who, quite apart from all of us, tells us we better be pure …
 
A mother gave her daughter a soothing bath when she came home from school angry, frustrated, shouting, and in tears. Now that was a loving response. She saw her daughter hurting. Past the tears, anger, and probable shouting and disrespect, this mother saw her daughter in desperate need of some soothing, some love, and some being cared for. Past som…
 
What do we give to God? Everything. I don’t mean that we should give God everything or we aught to give God everything. I mean, whether intended or not, we give God everything. The kindnesses we give to the people we know and love, and the kindnesses we give to the people we hardly know are given to God. Similarly, the hurt, contempt, and indiffere…
 
This story is not about an either/or, in-group/out-group, one side over another conflict in which we get to declare “Jesus good" and “chief priest and elders bad.” Both sides in this conflict brought some to follow more closely the will of God. The deeper music was not whose religious practices were best. The deeper music was the seeking of God, th…
 
As much vengeance as there is in the world, that is how much we are to forgive. In doing so, we unburden ourselves. The cloak of anger and resentment loosens its grip, until we can eventually let that heavy cloak fall to the ground and be clothed instead with the cloak of light, the cloak forgiveness, healing, and love.…
 
Who do we say Jesus is? Is Jesus the one who makes us perfect so that we can be around other perfect people? Nah. That’s not who Jesus is, and that’s not what the church is. The church is the broken, the beaten, the blessed, and the damned, people who need healing, gathering together for strength and support. The church is people who are imperfectl…
 
Let the weeds grow along with the wheat, Jesus said, so that we don’t all get damaged by pulling the weeds out. Imagine if everyone who wanted to pull the weeds out of society or out of the church was able to do so. There wouldn’t be any wheat left. Everyone would be pulled up and cast out because everyone is a weed in someone’s eyes. So, Jesus sai…
 
The Rev. Brad SullivanEmmanuel Episcopal ChurchJune 7, 2020Trinity Sunday, AGenesis 1:1 - 2:4a2 Corinthians 13:11-13Matthew 28:16-20Some of you have heard before a story I told of a former youth, now a young woman, who told me that all I do is talk for a living. She was joking around, at least kind of joking, and during times like this past week, I…
 
Brad SullivanProper 14, Year CAugust 11, 2019Emmanuel, HoustonLuke 12:32-40Dance With the Demons“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” We live with quite a lot of fear, don’t we? Fears of all kinds and varieties. Economic insecurity, health issues. Fear of loss. We have fears of violence, fe…
 
Brad SullivanThe Epiphany, Year CJanuary 6, 2019Emmanuel, HoustonIsaiah 60:1-6Matthew 2:1-12Flawed Dreams and Unexpected LoveHappy Epiphany y’all. Christmas ended yesterday, and the joy of Christmas now continues on in the Epiphany, the revelation of Jesus, of the God-baby to the nations through the Magi, and if I’m being honest, I feel the joy of …
 
Brad Sullivan3 Advent, Year CDecember 16, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonIsaiah 40:1-11Luke 1:26-38“I Love You.” “I know.”There’s a scene in the movie, “The Empire Strikes Back” in which one of the heroes, Han Solo, is about to be taken away by the villainous, evil Empire, and just before he’s taken away, one of the other heroes, Princess Leia, says, “I love…
 
Brad Sullivan1 Advent, Year CDecember 2, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonJeremiah 33:14-16Psalm 25:1-91 Thessalonians 3:9-13Luke 21:25-36Prisoners of Hope“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly.” Happy Advent everyone. Here at the beginning of the …
 
Brad SullivanProper 28, Year BNovember 18, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonMark 13:1-8…Then Were We Like Those Who Dream…“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then were we like those who dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.” (Psalm 126:1-2) That’ Psalm 126 verses 1-2, and whether in those words or in other…
 
Brad SullivanProper 25, Year BOctober 28, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonMark 10:46-52Isaiah 2:2-4 Out of Anger, Hatred, and Killing, “Let There Be Light” “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep…Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:…
 
Brad SullivanProper 21, Year BSeptember 30, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonNumbers 11:4-6,10-16,24-29Psalm 19:7-14James 5:13-20Mark 9:38-50…And All the Water Was At EaseBetween the woods the afternoonIs fallen in a golden swoon.The sun looks down from quiet skiesTo where a quiet water lies;And silent trees stoop down to trees.And there I saw a white swan mak…
 
Brad SullivanProper 19, Year BSeptember 16, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonIsaiah 50:4-9aPsalm 116:1-8James 3:1-12Mark 8:27-38To Sustain the Weary With a WordYears ago, when I was youth minister and assistant priest, one of the youth in the church said to me, apropos of absolutely nothing, “You shouldn’t even be paid. All you do is talk for a living.” She sa…
 
Brad SullivanProper 16, Year BAugust 26, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonJoshua 24:1-2a,14-18Ephesians 6:10-20John 6:56-69Choose Whom You Will Serve Eat“Choose whom you will serve,” Joshua said to the Israelites. Will you serve God, or will you serve some foreign false god or idol? Joshua had taken over leadership of Israel from Moses just before they entered…
 
Brad SullivanProper 12, Year BJuly 29, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonEphesians 3:14-21John 6:1-21Kneeling to Jesus, to Freedom, to the Man Who Wouldn’t Be KingI was at a teacher’s party last week with Kristin, for the teachers at her school; spouses were invited, and we actually got to see each other, which was lovely. We were meeting at one of their houses…
 
Brad SullivanProper 10, Year BJuly 15, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonMark 6:14-29TitleJohn the Baptist was killed because of a hastily-made promise given by a man who was overly aroused by his step daughter’s dancing. With little thought as to possible consequence, Herod spoke his promise to give her whatever she wanted. He was acting out of emotion, feelin…
 
Brad SullivanProper 5, Year BJune 10, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonGenesis 3:8-15Psalm 1302 Corinthians 4:13 - 5:1Mark 3:20-35At the Time of the Evening Breeze…At the time of the evening breeze, God was walking through the Garden, and the man and the woman were afraid of God’s judgment, so they immediately started demonizing the other. Rather than just tak…
 
Brad SullivanProper 4, Year BJune 3, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonDeuteronomy 5:12-15Psalm 81:1-102 Corinthians 4:5-12Mark 2:23 - 3:6Sabbath, Jesus: Gifts of Freedom from All that Enslaves usRules are made to be broken. That’s one of my favorite oft quoted sayings of supposed wisdom which is actually totally and completely bogus. Rules aren’t made to be br…
 
Brad SullivanTrinity Sunday, Year BMay 27, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonIsaiah 6:1-8Romans 8:12-17John 3:1-17Trinityish Type Stuff: a.k.a. Restoring God's ShalomWithout doubt and without fear, May you find some comfort here, May there be hope to help you copeWhen what you need Is nowhere nearMake your mark unto these years, Shape your world with salt and t…
 
Brad Sullivan6 Easter, Year BMay 6, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonJohn 15:9-17Jesus wants us to be joyful…not fearful, lonely, right, or isolated.Abide in my love, Jesus said, so that my joy may be in your and your joy may be complete. Jesus had all sorts of emotions, just like every other human. Anger, frustration, contempt. Think about how Jesus was with …
 
Brad Sullivan4 Easter, Year BApril 22, 2018Emmanuel, Houston1 John 3:16-24John 10:11-18Give Grace Amidst Angst, and Be HealedLife is hard. It’s also great, and we’re in the Easter season, so we’re not going too far down a dark path, but life is, in addition to being great, straight up, plain, old fashioned hard. We have hurts that happen to us from…
 
Brad SullivanEaster SundayApril 1, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonJohn 20:1-18Even When the World Tells Us Not ToHappy Easter y’all, as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, his victory over death, and the fullness of his great love for us. I love that God joined with us even in death, and then in Jesus’ resurrection, God has shown us the full measure of his gra…
 
Brad Sullivan5th Sunday of LentMarch 18, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonJohn 12:20-33Sleeper Awake (and Quit that Darn Snooze Button)First of all, I’d like to thank my buddy Patrick Hall for his sermon last Sunday entitled, “Risking Exposure,” which helped draw out of me these words for today. You can look him up, Patrick Hall, and search for his sermon from…
 
Brad Sullivan3rd Sunday of LentMarch 4, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonJohn 2:13-22Wreck It RabbiOne of my kids’ and my favorite movies is an animated movie called, “Wreck It Ralph.” Ralph is a video game character, a bad guy whose catch phrase is, “I’m gonna wreck it,” and in this movie, the video game characters are kind of alive and interact with each oth…
 
Brad SullivanAsh WednesdayFebruary 14, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonMatthew 6:1-6, 16-21Choosing to Love…Without All the Time in the World I was on Facebook this morning as I am every morning, about to start Morning Prayer, which I pray on Facebook so others can join in praying together, and as I was about to start, I noticed a friend’s updated status (a p…
 
Brad SullivanLast Sunday after the EpiphanyFebruary 11, 2018Emmanuel, Houston2 Corinthians 4:3-6Mark 9:2-9God Is In the Grind Have you ever been outside walking around and then looked up and been startled, scared even, by a hideous, almost other worldly beast staring at you with hungry eyes, vicious teeth, and razor sharp claws, only to have your e…
 
Brad Sullivan2 Epiphany, Year BJanuary 14, 2018Emmanuel, HoustonJohn 1:43-51The Families of the Earth Can Be Blessed Through You“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” I love this question of Nathanael’s partly because it appeals to my snarky side, and also because the obvious answer is supposed to be “no.” Nazareth was a Podunk little sparrow fa…
 
Brad Sullivan2 Christmas, Year BDecember 31, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonJohn 1:1-18The Questioners, the Loners, the Kids with Behavior Problems…Over the weekend, a priest friend of mine and I talking and joking together about challenges of church life, and she said, “Yeah, church would be great if it wasn’t for all the people.” It’s a common joke about t…
 
Brad Sullivan3 Advent, Year BDecember 17, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonIsaiah 61:1-4, 8-111 Thessalonians 5:16-24John 1:6-8, 19-28That Someone Greater Is Jesus, and that Something Greater is LoveSo, John the Baptist really upset the uber religiousy folks of his time, didn’t he? He was there, baptizing folks to testify to the Light of God, to lead people in…
 
Brad Sullivan1 Advent, Year BDecember 3, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonMark 13:24-27A Tale of Two HouseholdsWhen Jesus told his parable about the master of a household going away on a journey and leaving his servants in charge of the household while he was gone, telling them to keep awake and be ready for his return, Jesus was talking about how his disciple…
 
Brad SullivanAll Saints Sunday, Year ANovember 5, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonMatthew 5:1-12Who are the saints? (Icon of St. Joseph - is this a saint? Picture of my dad - is this a saint?)Both are saints, even though only a few knew my dad.The saints are those who love God and love people. The saints are also those whom God loves and whom people love. In …
 
Brad SullivanProper 25, Year AOctober 29, 2017Emmanuel, Houston1 Thessalonians 2:1-8Matthew 22:34-46The Most Powerful Force In the WorldBecca Stevens is an Episcopal priest and the founder and president of Thistle Farms which she stared 20 years ago with five women who needed healing, survivors of abuse, trafficking, and prostitution. She started w…
 
Brad SullivanProper 23, Year AOctober 15, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonIsaiah 25:1-9Philippians 4:1-9Matthew 22:1-14Wow, That Got Out of Hand QuicklySo this is everyone’s favorite parable. In a few sentences, Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast went from a king throwing a wedding feast for his son to the guests not wanting to come, killing the king’s serva…
 
Brad SullivanProper 20, Year ASeptember 24, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonJonah 3:10-4:11Matthew 20:1-16But Jesus, That’s Not Fair!“But Jesus, that’s not fair!” That pretty well sums up the response of the laborers at the end of Jesus’ parable of the laborers in the vineyard. They had agreed to work for the day for the usual daily wage. They negotiated thos…
 
Brad SullivanProper 16, Year AAugust 27, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonExodus 12:1-14Romans 13:8-14Matthew 18:15-20Our Pre-Harvey Lives Are Dead and In the TombLast Friday, I was volunteering over at FamilyPoint Resources, a little ways down Memorial from here. Family Point has after school programs for children in this area along with other services for ch…
 
Brad SullivanProper 14, Year AAugust 13, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonMatthew 14:22-33Walking On Water: The Martyr of CharlottesvilleJesus was the Word of God which spoke all of creation into existence. On some level, even subconsciously, I’d guess Jesus began to have some inkling of who he was. I wonder if in his encounter with his disciples on the boat, …
 
Brad SullivanProper 12, Year AJuly 30, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonMatthew 13:31-33, 44-52A Woman Made Bread, and Jesus Said, “This Is My Body”Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to “yeast that a woman took and mixed in with tree measures of flower until all of it was leavened.” Bread. The kingdom of heaven is like bread, the yeast mixing wit…
 
Brad SullivanProper 11, Year AJuly 23, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonGenesis 28:10-19aRomans 8:12-25Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43We Are One With Jesus, and Jesus Is With UsI had a wonderful week last week at Camp Allen. Kristin and I, along with Machel Delange and Caroline San Martin were the camp directors for a session of summer camp for 3rd and 4th graders, an…
 
Brad SullivanProper 7, Year AJune 25, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonGenesis 21:8-21Romans 6:1b-11Matthew 10:24-39Come On, Jesus! You’re Supposed to Be the Prince of Peace!Several times last week, someone would ask me what the Gospel reading is for this Sunday, and every time I told them, their reaction was, “Oh, yuck, I hate that passage.” Honestly, that wa…
 
Brad SullivanTrinity Sunday, Year AJune 11, 2017Emmanuel, Houston2 Corinthians 13:11-13Matthew 28:16-20Love, Grace, and Communion: The Holy TrinityA couple of years ago on Trinity Sunday, I had this idea to preach about God as a frosted Donut, as a way of describing the Trinity, with The Father as the dough part, Jesus as the frosting, and the Holy…
 
Brad Sullivan7 Easter, Year AMay 28, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonJohn 17:1-11Love Is Gritty, Love Is Hard, Love Is an Empty TombI had a conversation with a nine year old last week about this Sunday’s gospel passage. I read it to him and then asked him what he thought. He said that it sounded like Jesus and the Father saying, “If we get to be in heaven for…
 
Brad Sullivan4 Easter, Year AMay 7, 2017Emmanuel, HoustonActs 2:42-47John 10:1-10Thieves and BanditsJesus said, “All who came before me are thieves and bandits...The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Those who came before Jesus were those who were seen as a messiah, an anointed …
 
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