Posts Tagged ‘Andrew White’

“The jihadis can destroy nothing but the body”

December 1, 2014


I’ve preached about Canon Andrew White, the “Vicar of Baghdad,” a couple of times before. His faith, his courage, and his witness are an inspiration. Here, Archbishop Cranmer reflects on the decision by Archbishop Justin Welby, the spiritual leader of the Church of England, to bring White home in the wake of ISIS’s $57 million bounty on his head. Much to digest here, but let’s start with this:

[White] has no fear of ISIS personally, and has said so many times. He knows that at an appointed time he will go to be with the Lord in eternity, and that the jihadis can destroy nothing but his body, which is already ravaged and weary with Multiple Sclerosis. His witness throughout his own suffering has been manifest; his courage consistent; his sacrifice of love profound. His love of Jesus radiates like laser of light in a world of darkness and shadows. “I’ve been shot at and bombed and they’ve tried to blow me up,” he says. “People say, ‘Aren’t you afraid where you are?’ Never, not one day; I love it. I feel really sad that I’m not there now.”

Sermon 10-05-14: “Bible Heroes, Part 9a: Elijah”

October 16, 2014

superhero graphic

This is the first of two sermons I’ll preach about Elijah and the widow of Zarephath from 1 Kings 17. Today’s sermon focuses on Elijah’s hearing the “word of the Lord” and responding. We’re not told how the word of the Lord came to Elijah, but this sermon describes ways in which we can discern the Lord’s voice today: through scripture, through trusted Christian friends and mentors, through external circumstances, and by listening to our own heart. Once we “hear” his word speaking, however, we must find the courage to obey. That’s often the hard part!

Sermon Text: 1 Kings 17:8-24

The following is my original sermon manuscript.

For the past couple of weeks, tens of thousands of university students in the city of Hong Kong have been publicly protesting a new election law put in place by the Chinese government. This law limits Hong Kong’s right to rule itself. If you’ll recall, Hong Kong was under British rule until 1997. Britain agreed to return Hong Kong to China on the condition that the Communist Chinese government would let Hong Kong retain the right to govern itself democratically.

Students protesting in Hong Kong.

Students protesting in Hong Kong.

For the most part, the mainland Chinese government has honored that agreement, at least until last month. Now, the Chinese government wants to veto any candidate running for office in Hong Kong that it doesn’t approve of.

As a New York Times article points out, this puts the U.S. in an awkward position. One administration official said, “We have principles and values that we want to promote, but we’re not looking to inject the United States into the middle of this.” An official statement from the American consulate said, “We don’t take sides in China’s internal disputes.”

Don’t take sides? We’re the United States! Aren’t we always on the side of democracy and the right of self-determination? What about the Declaration of Independence! But… China is our largest and most important trading partner. We are seeking their cooperation in our war against ISIS. We need them to support us on a nuclear agreement with Iran.

I don’t pretend to know what the right thing to do is. But as you can see, what ends up happening is that we compromise our principles and values in the interest of diplomacy. And this sort of thing happens all the time, no matter who the president is, whether he’s a Democrat or a Republican. Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 08-17-14: “Bible Heroes, Part 2: Abraham”

August 26, 2014

superhero graphic

Prior to today’s scripture, Abraham had sacrificed plenty for the sake of God’s call. But everything he did, one could argue, he did in order to receive the promise from God. The question Satan asked of Job, he could ask of Abraham: Does Abraham serve God for nothing? What would Abraham do if God took his blessings away? Would Abraham remain faithful?

What about me? Do I serve God for nothing? What about you? This is an intensely personal sermon for me. Enjoy!

 Sermon Text: Genesis 22:1-18

The following is my original sermon manuscript.

I know many of us were deeply saddened to learn last Monday that actor and comedian Robin Williams committed suicide. He was only 63. Williams, as we’ve all since learned, struggled with clinical depression and alcoholism. He had only in the past few years fallen off the wagon after many years of sobriety.


I suppose each of us has our favorite Robin Williams movie or moment. But I can say with great confidence that for many men of my generation, Williams’s portrayal of English teacher John Keating in the movie Dead Poets Society deeply moved us. In the movie, Keating teaches at an elite, all-boys preparatory school in New England in the late-’50s. He challenges his students to “seize the day”—carpe deim in Latin—to find the courage to be your own person, to not be shackled by other people’s expectations, to live life to the fullest.

I was 19 when that movie came out—the perfect age to be blown away by the movie’s message. And not just me! Every young man I knew! Read the rest of this entry »