Archive | May 2016

Filled With The Holy Spirit

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?”

 God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: When the time comes, I’ll pour out my Spirit on those who serve me, men and women both.

 And whoever calls out for help to me, will be saved. (Acts 2:1-4, 6-8, 17-18, 21)

Imagine what it must have been like – you are standing in a crowd of people in Jerusalem, maybe at a festival or community meeting. People jostling each other, everyone in a festive mood. Can you hear the din of everyone speaking at the same time? Friends talking about people they know, strangers getting to know each other, vendors hawking their wares. Imagine the noise – and that everyone could understand what everyone else was saying.

Suddenly there is a rush of wind – – like a train rolling by, with dust swirling and people shielding their eyes and running for cover. And then – what appears over the top of their heads, but a tongue of flames! If they weren’t already scared, this certainly did it! Can you imagine the look of their faces when they saw flames sitting on the top of their friends’ heads?

Those flames over their heads were the Holy Spirit descending upon them. . . filling them with the love and protection of God. The same Holy Spirit that fills each one of us as we try daily to live according to God’s commandments.

And if that wasn’t enough, suddenly everyone started talking in different languages! People who were uneducated and never exposed to another language were suddenly talking fluently in a language they didn’t even know! But it was a language that someone else in the crowd understood.

Language is an interesting thing. It can bring us together or it can divide us.

When I first moved to the South, I heard a word I didn’t recognize. The word was “ratcheer.” I heard it many times before I finally figured out what it meant. For example, when Juliet calls down, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” Romeo responds, “Why I’m ratcheer in the bushes.”

If we could all speak the same language with the same accent perhaps there would be no hatred and wars. I don’t know.

All I know is that the miracle of Pentecost sends us a message we need to hear: concentrate on the language that unites us despite all worldly differences . . . the language of the Spirit of God. We all want to have God in our hearts. We all live with the Holy Spirit within us and among us. We all are in community and God wants us to know it and to live it. God wants us to be in community with all its nurturing gifts and its call for us to minister to one another.

The miracle I referred to a moment ago took place on the day known as Pentecost—which literally means “fiftieth”. It was the ancient “feast of harvest,” “the day of the first fruits.” held on the fiftieth day after Passover. The purpose of this feast was to commemorate the completion of the grain harvest. It was on this high holy Jewish holiday in the City of Jerusalem, 2000 years ago, that peoples of all nations gathered to worship and celebrate. People from many countries, cities and towns were doing that when suddenly they all started speaking in various tongues. Yet everyone present was able to understand what was said all around them. They understood it in their own native language.

This miracle occurred as the Gift of the Holy Spirit was given to the Church, and the community that is made possible by This Holy Spirit. This agape or love-based community lives and empowers us to care about others and to minister and to empower each other, from that day to this very minute.

The Holy Spirit is in us and in the world, linking us one to another. We are in community with everyone in the world who worships God, who seeks faith, who believes that good is better than evil. The word community comes from the same root that gives us the word communication, and the word Communion. We are all part of one another.

This one-ness applies to the whole world and to the small piece of the world such as the community of In The Garden. What one of us does or does not do has its impact on the whole. What one of us receives or does not receive has its impact on the whole. When one is forgiven the entire community is healthier in spirit. When we as a community forgive, each of us is freer.

So we live in community, even when we go off by ourselves. To be in relationship with God is to be in relationship with every person who is also in relationship with God. We do not need to speak the same language or have the same accent to be in true community; we have only to realize that we are all part of God, and remember that as we live and relate to each other.

Because we have the Holy Spirit as our guide, we can call upon it when we are in trouble or distressed. The Holy Spirit is always with us. And as we heard in the last line of the reading, because we call out to the Holy Spirit, we will be saved!

Let us pray:

Almighty God, thank you for the coming of your Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Thank you for sending your Spirit to us. Thank you for your abiding presence within us and assurance through your indwelling Spirit. Help us to see the Holy Spirit in everyone we meet. In Jesus’ name we praise you! Amen.


Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 15 May 2016


A Life Well-Lived : Remembering Gayle Lamb Nash

We are here today to celebrate and rejoice for the life of Gayle Lamb Nash: a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mother, a grandmother, a dear friend and a member of this parish for 42 years.

Gayle was born on November 20, 1937 and returned to be with God on May 9, 2016. The birth and death statistic is always mentioned in obituaries, as if that is the most significant piece of information about a person.

But what is more important, and is what we want to remember today is what happened between those two dates – who Gayle was, and what she did, and what she meant to all of us, in her 78 years.

One could say that Gayle was a person of commitment. She worked at Nationwide Insurance for thirty years, and Nationwide was an integral part of her adult life. There she connected with many people both within the organization and in the Columbus business community. She knew a lot of the movers and shakers in the city and could enlist their aid for community projects, both large and small.

Gayle was a stalwart member of Trinity Church; she became a member when her children was young and was an active leader. She taught Sunday School, served and lead many committees, and was known to one and all as ‘the Christmas lady’. She was determined that our decorations for Advent and Christmas should be done beautifully and properly and each year she directed everyone to make sure it was done ‘just right’. Some of the now adult members of the congregation remember well assisting her as children with hanging swags, lighting candles and changing bows from blue to red. For years, Gayle ensured that Trinity would look perfect as we progressed through the Advent/Christmas season.

She was a proud member of West High School Class of 1955, and was active in any activities related to the school throughout her life. She also attended Ohio State University and anyone who knew Gayle knew that scarlet and grey flowed in her veins. She was a constant and vigorous supporter of the Buckeyes.

Gayle was always there for not only her family, but also her friends and associates. But certainly her most loyal commitment was to her family, friends and colleagues.

Her grandchildren have posted touching remembrances on Facebook saying about their love for her and deeply important her love and care has been in their lives. She often was a second mother to them, their rock, and someone they could come to when they needed advice.

Of course, not only was she dear to her children and grandchildren, but they were dear to her. She was proud of each and every one of them, their accomplishments and the young adults they have or are becoming. The family was the most important thing in her life.

I was lucky enough to have been not only pastoral support, but also a friend of Gayle’s. While I was going through the ordination process, she was always there to reaffirm my calling, and in later years, I always felt her love and support. I, like many in this congregation and those who knew her, feel a lost in our hearts that we must fill with memories of what she meant to us, what she did for us, and what she taught us.

Always strong and determined in everything she did, Gayle was a trooper – through challenges and struggles, through good times and changes, she ‘soldiered on’ with unyielding purpose and strength of conviction. It is not surprising, then, that Gayle fought her disease and her failing health to the end. When I visited her shortly before she died, we planned this service. . . and she had definite ideas about what it should and shouldn’t be. You and God are in charge now, Gayle, and we hope we are fulfilling your wishes.

Gayle’s faith kept her going through the process. As a beloved child of God, she knew that death was not the end, but only the beginning of a new phase of her life. She believed she would be reunited with her parents and others who went before her. And that same faith assured her that those whom she left on earth would be supported in the love of God until they were with her again.

We are reminded in Ecclesiastes that

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to love, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)

So today mourn the passing of Gayle Nash, and we may weep. But we can also laugh and dance and be at peace, secure in the eternal life that we all share as promised by the resurrection of Jesus. We can hold close to each other with Gayle’s spirit alive in each of us, and for all eternity. As the poet Mary Elizabeth Frye so beautifully expressed, we can hear Gayle remind us:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there – I do not sleep.

I am the thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints in snow,

I am the sunlight on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

As you awake with morning’s hush

I am the swift-up-flinging rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there – I did not die.


      Delivered at Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; May 14, 2016

Let Us Remember (Memorial Day)

Tomorrow is the official commemoration of Memorial Day. Many people see it as just a 3-day weekend. But for those who have lost someone because of war or military action, it means much more than a day off. In fact, every American ought to recognize this day to honor of those who spilled their blood to make America what she is today. We tend to forget that the liberties we have today came at the cost of people’s lives. And most people forget to remember these sacrifices.

Memorial Day was originally begun by former slaves on May, 1, 1865. The ceremony was held in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. Former slaves dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial. Then they held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 black children marching through the streets celebrating the sacrifice of these men.

The first official Memorial Day was celebrated a few years later. A group of women asked the War Department for permission to put flowers on the graves of soldiers buried at what is now Arlington National Cemetery. Permission was finally granted, but a stern order that ‘no flowers were to be placed on the graves of the Confederate soldiers.’ The confederates were buried in a segregated section of the cemetery.

The ladies carried out their task and carefully followed their instructions. A crowd gathered for the commemoration at which General Ulysses S. Grant gave a speech. But shortly after the ceremony concluded, they say a strong gust of wind blew through the cemetery… and the wind blew almost all the flowers into the Confederate section. After that the separation was never repeated. Many believed that the wind had sent by the hand of God.[1]

Now, how many of you knew that about Memorial Day? How many of you knew that Memorial Day began as a way of honoring the dead from the Civil War?

Me neither! – until I began research for this homily.

Most people do not know that Memorial Day was begun after the Civil War, and don’t know that Memorial Day has since been set aside to honor the dead of all American wars since that date. It is marked by parades, speeches, flags and flowers placed on graves, and was originally called ‘Decoration Day’. As a child, my family used to gather to place flowers on graves and then have a picnic on the grounds of the cemetery (in some places, there are picnic benches and places to sit in the cemetery). We were taught that it was important to honor those who died, giving us the freedom we now have.

But, today, it’s like most of the nation has forgotten WHY Memorial Day was established. One person on Facebook joked that many think it is National Barbecue Day! People tend to be forgetful, especially when the impact of the current ‘wars’ are minimal. But we need to jog their memories to remember those who gave their lives for our safety!

A fallen hero can be defined as someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for an amount up to and including their life.

In John 15:3 we are told by Jesus

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

The people we remember on Memorial Day not only gave up their lives for their friends, but for people they didn’t even know, and even for those they didn’t even like. That is true sacrifice.

And because these men and women have died for this country,

  • we have the right to worship as we wish
  • we have the right to live at peace in our own homes
  • we have the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness as we wish
  • we have the responsibility to seek peace in the world.

How many of you were in the military at some point in your life?

I am an Air Force brat, and I know that you share with me the grief of having lost friends in wars. Nothing can ever replace the feeling of loss and anger as we attend the funerals of our friends. I can’t image the feeling of loss on the battlefield, when the person next to you makes that ultimate sacrifice.

But, those who have fought and survived, as well as the rest of us, need to remember that war and killing are wrong! We were not put here on this earth to kill each other. In my humble opinion, World War II was the last ‘just war’. Every other conflict since then has been based on greed and personal gain for a few. It is time to stop these aggressions.

Instead, we are instructed again and again by Jesus to love one another,

Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12)


love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44)

The one and only thing that Jesus kept teaching is LOVE!

Not hate, . . .

not greed, . . .

not privilege.

Saint Francis wrote a prayer that sums it up; take a quiet moment and listen to his words:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

So we must work for peace in our little corner of the world.

In closing, I want to tell you about the ‘Coin Tradition’.

coin traditionWhen a living soldier visits the grave of a fallen hero, they leave a coin on the headstone. If they leave a penny, it means they visited the grave. If they leave a nickel, it means they trained with this person; a dime signifies that they served together. Leaving a quarter is the most significant tribute, not only to the living, but also for the families of the fallen. It means that they were there when that soldier was killed. This is why, when you visit cemeteries with soldier’s graves, there are always coins on them. Someone cared enough to visit and leave a small token of respect for others to see.

And because these fallen soldiers died for us, that we have a responsibility to remember them on this Memorial Day. Go to parades, barbecues, celebrations,

But remember our fallen heroes and sheroes.

Let us pray:

We give you thanks, O Lord, for all who have died that we may live, for all who endured pain that we might know joy, for all who made sacrifices that we might have plenty, for all who suffered imprisonment that we might know freedom. Turn our deep feeling now into determination, and our determination into deed, that as men and women died for peace, we may live for peace for the sake of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[1]  Bruce Howell,

 Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 29 May 2016