Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Communion Sunday

Dear Friends in Christ –

I often speak of the narrative sweep of the Bible as God’s love song to God’s people. And so this Sunday we’ll engage two texts starting with Isaiah 40 and ending with Mark 1:29-39.

The 40th chapter of Isaiah is known as the beginning of Consolation. A fresh voice speaks of comfort, of promise, of restoration by the cosmic God who is “everlasting, the creator of the ends of the earth."

We continue in Mark, continuing in the first chapter, as Jesus has returned from the desert, taught in the synagogue and exorcised a demon. He leaves the synagogue. He and his disciples stop by Simon and Andrew’s house. Simon (soon to be renamed as Peter) discovers his mother-in-law feverish and in bed. Jesus restores her. “He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.”

Men and women, the cosmic God and the comforting God are one and the same. From across the centuries we are given hope, inspiration and evidence of the one who does not abandon, who creates, who meets us at our point of need and lifts us up.

Aren’t we in need of a little lift? Come worship our never-failing God of the ages. See your friends. Meet the recent arrivals. Welcome the seeking and hear the combined choirs of the First and Second Presbyterian Churches of Charleston!

In anticipation –


Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

Dear Friends in Christ –

There are many questions that are raised in our text for Sunday. Jesus is just coming from his battle royal in the desert. You’ll recall that immediately, as Mark would say, after his baptism Jesus was ‘driven’ into the desert, the wilderness, where the wild things are to battle hunger, heat, cold, exposure, isolation – to battle Satan.

Jesus was compelled to boot camp to condition him for the campaign ahead.

Why do I address you with such bellicose imagery? Because I believe we are at war. We’re in battle daily combating those forces that would demean, would belittle, would destroy the goodness of God’s creation. Those people, things, or forces that would rob us and all of God’s creatures of the blessings and the joy that is ours as people of the Holy God.

It being the Sabbath, Jesus comes to the synagogue (as I’m sure you will) and begins to teach. The people are astounded. He teaches “as one having authority.” Mark says, “Just then.…” Remember Mark is characterized by immediacy, urgency. Just then a man in the synagogue, seemingly possessed, shouts out at Jesus.

Men and women, this may be one of the most important texts of the year because of what Jesus does and when and how he does it – he reclaims the man for life, for his family, for his community for the reign of the Holy. He sends the demon packing!

What does this have to do with us? Everything. Jesus takes care of business. First things first.

This Sunday we baptize Lynnlee Jaffe. We commission Jessica Rodman for her work with the Peace Corp. We celebrate the life of Jim Lichty at 2:00. We are reminded through scripture that through each passage of our lives we are accompanied by the God who loves us and has promised to never let us go. What we get to do!



Third Sunday after Epiphany

Dear Friends in Christ,

Remember when fishing was just fishing? Well, now there seems to be a bunch of folks phishing as well – those malevolent folks who troll the internet and present themselves as worthy of your trust only to invade those areas  you thought were secure to steal your passwords, your account numbers, your life.

The gospel writer, Mark, whose narrative is known for its compelling urgency, reports Jesus as saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." Then he goes on to call his first disciples from their lives as fishermen.

In the first text, Jonah, still smelling of blubber, petulantly lobs the message of repentance to the Ninevites – the moment is now! There is action to be taken. There is grace to be received. Repent.

Get the memo?

If you’ve heard the last three guest preachers, you get a pass this Sunday! (Not!)

But this Sunday we get to engage scripture and begin work anew on our attendance pins - I’m excited to be back and we’ll recognize Melvin Kizer for his 35 years of service to generations of this church, and the Kingdom.

With gratitude and anticipation –