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What Do Do with the President

2017 March 20
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by Admin

Bishop David EppsSomeone recently asked me, “How should we respond to this President?” From the question, I could not tell if the person making the inquiry voted for the person who currently occupies the White House or not. And, if I did know, it wouldn’t matter. My answer would be the same. We are to pray for our leaders.

When I say “pray for our leaders,” I do not mean pray “against” them. If one wants to see a prayer against someone, one can look to Psalm 109. This is called an “imprecatory Psalm.” But I don’t think that is the type of prayer that one should pray, even if the person or persons are our enemies.

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1–4, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…”
When the Israelites of the Old Testament were in captivity in Babylon, they were instructed to, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7). And then there is this: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1)

For those of us who are believers, the biblical record is quite clear: we are to pray for our leaders whatever their political party. Each Sunday in church, we join in this, or a similar, prayer: “We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world.” And, yes, that includes the United States and, yes, it includes President Donald J. Trump. Before that, it included President Barack H. Obama and, before that, it included President George W. Bush. If Mrs. Clinton had won the 2016 election, we would be praying for her.

I have little sympathy for people who complain about leadership but, for whatever reason, reject the clear biblical mandate to pray for our leaders. I suppose that it is easier for some to gripe, complain, whine, protest, loot, riot, and generally cause a ruckus. But this kind of behavior does not accomplish the work or the will of God.

There is a great deal of anger in the nation, perhaps more than since the 1960’s. Non-Christians cannot be expected to behave in a manner that is Christ-like, although many non-believers come closer it than some believers. But for Christians, certain behaviors are not appropriate. And anger is generally considered a sin.

That’s how we should respond to the President—we should pray for him (or her, when that day comes). Murmuring, cursing, complaining, and always finding fault does no one, including the nation, any good. And pray for the President as you would your own son, brother, or father. He, or she, is not the enemy. He, or she, is the President of the United States of America. And that person deserves our prayers.

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org

You are Dust

2017 March 4
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Bishop David EppsOn Ash Wednesday, the first day of the liturgical season of Lent, as ashes are placed in the form of a cross of the believer’s forehead, the minister will likely say, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” This phrase is basically a quote from Genesis 3 where God speaks to our first parents. It is a reminder that this life is not all there is and that death is certain.

On the one hand, we in the West live in the midst of a culture of death. We, in America, practice capital punishment, are almost continually at war, and we have snuffed out the lives of some 55 million unborn children since 1973. In Chicago alone, more people have been murdered last year than the numbers of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our movies and television programs are filled with the scenes of violence and death. Death is everywhere.

On the other hand, death has been so sanitized that we rarely think about it. In the Bronze Age and Iron Age, life expectancy was 33 years of age. In Classical Greece, it was 28. In classical Rome, life expectancy was 20-30 years. In late Medieval England, it was 30 and, as late as 1900, world life expectancy was 31.

All of this is to say that, until very modern times (in 1950, world life expectancy was only 48), people were personally acquainted with death. Nearly every family lost young children, and pestilence, poor health, poor nutrition, and deaths by wars or accidents were common.

Death is further sanitized by people dying in a medical care facility, as opposed to dying at home, funerals being held outside the local church, which was nearly always the norm. Instead, most memorial services are held in a funeral home.

In fact, until the mid-1800s, the families cared for the body, dressed it, prepared it, and held visitation in their homes. Death was personal. Now, it is so far from our daily lives that we rarely think about it until it faces us or until we have a close friend or relative die.

A Russian monk encouraged his disciples to always be aware of death. He felt that, if people had this awareness, it would affect their lives in a significant way. After all, the monk reasoned, if we all are going to stand before God and give an account of our words, thoughts, and deeds, then the personal reality of death just might keep people from committing the worst of sins.

And so, even for children and young people, the middle-aged and the elderly, the words of the minister on Ash Wednesday seem jarring and out of place in our society. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” No one expects to die anytime soon. One of the common reactions to the death of someone who is critically and gravely ill is almost always, “I thought we would have more time.”

The last time I saw my father alive was on Monday, Sept. 9, 1996. He was at home in Tennessee, in hospice care, and was unresponsive. On Thursday, I received the call that he had died. I wept, even though I knew it was coming. And yet I had planned to see him the following Sunday evening. I thought we had more time. And sometimes it’s just too late.

So, Lent is a reminder to take care of spiritual business before it is too late. To be aware that death comes to all and that it often comes when we least expect it. We are dust and to dust we shall return.

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org. Epps may contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org

The Wager

2017 February 18
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by Admin

Bishop David EppsI am not a gambler. I am, from time to time, a risk-taker but that does not extend to gambling. Once in a very great while, I will buy a lottery ticket if the prize is about a gazillion dollars. But I don’t really expect to win. I do buy raffle tickets at the Marine Corps League and the motorcycle club I belong to, but that’s just really a way to donate to those organizations. I’ve never won there either and don’t expect to.

About the only time I remember gambling was getting pulled into a poker game when I was in the Marine Corps. I really could not afford to lose any money as I was making a few cents over $110.00 a month. So, when I won eight dollars, I pulled out of the game much to the displeasure of my fellow devil dogs.

So, when my friend, Bishop Gregory Ortiz, of New York, offered a wager on the outcome of the Super Bowl, I demurred. I didn’t decline, I just put it off. But them, at half time, when the Atlanta Falcons dominated the New England Patriots by a score of 21-3, I contacted him and asked if he was still interested in that wager. After a moment’s hesitation, he said something like, “Sure, why not?” So we agreed that the loser would buy dinner next month at a meeting we will attend in Orlando.

Afterwards, I told my wife, “I never bet, but a sure thing is not really gambling.” She, a football fan, replied, “Well, as you often say, ‘there’s a lot of football left to play.’” I smugly settled back in my recliner to watch the shellacking.

But, as we all know, “it’s not over until it’s over.” The Patriots came alive in the second half and Atlanta died. No team in the 51-year-history of the Super Bowl had ever come back from a 14 point deficit. But, with the score now 28-3, New England began to play. And play they did. The Patriots scored 25 unanswered points and, at 28-28, sent the game into the first ever overtime period in Super Bowl history.

It didn’t take long. New England scored six points and the game was over. Atlanta has the distinction of being the only team to both blow such a commanding lead and to lose in a Super Bowl overtime. And I was out a dinner in Orlando.

Here’s what I have learned: (1) There is no such thing as a sure thing. (2) I truly should not be a gambler. (3) My wife is smarter than I am. (4) “Pride goeth before the fall.” (5) Never bet against Tom Brady and the Patriots. All of these things I should have already learned but sometimes lessons are learned the hard way.

However, I will pay my debt. Next time, if the Falcons ever get into another Super Bowl, I won’t bet. I will just pray for a miracle.

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org. Epps may contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org

Drama Addiction

2017 February 4
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Bishop David EppsIn the past few months, the social media has become a hot zone. A hot zone may be defined as “a location that is considered to be dangerous due to biological, chemical, or nuclear contamination.” I would like to suggest that a place that can be dangerous due to political rhetoric be added to the definition.

I have seen family members go after one another with unbounded hostility, friends “de-friend” each other over political differences, people swear at and curse each other, and people making statements that, as far as I can tell, are made for the purpose of getting under the skin of other people. Social media has become a hot zone—a dangerous, contaminated place.

Yet, strangely, the people who get the most angry return day after day to enter into the conflict. Why is that? I don’t like Sean Penn. While recognizing that he is a great actor, I simply do not like who he is outside the stage. The same is true for Madonna (the singer, not the Mother of Jesus). If I watch them for over a few minutes, I become irked. So, I don’t watch them or listen to them. If I hear a Madonna song on the radio, I change channels. I certainly don’t buy her music. If there is a Sean Penn movie at the theater or on television, I don’t watch it. That way, I don’t support them and I keep my personal peace intact.

So why do people who are so angry at either the political Left or the political Right keep going back to the hot zone and throwing bombs? I don’t get it. I do take positions of biblical morality on my Facebook page. I am pro-life and will advocate for and defend that position. Prior to the election I was not excited about either candidate. But the election is over. One side lost, the other side won. But, good grief. why continue to argue, debate, and fight about something that is now over?

I am convinced that some people are addicted to drama. I have seen it over and over in my life and ministry. There’s often the church gossip that just has to keep things stirred up. Or the guy in the group who, no matter how well things are going, just has to be critical and complain about everything. The only cure for drama is (1) confront it, and (2) refuse to enter into it.

I am also convinced that some people just can’t seem to live without social media. I finally established a Twitter account. I have checked it once. I do have a Facebook account but I do not enter into the Left/Right wars that seem to rage continually. A few weeks ago, someone posted on their page a photo. The caption read, “I am sick of all the fighting on here. Here’s a picture of a puppy.” And it was of a very cute puppy sleeping in someone’s slipper. It made me smile.

I have almost ceased watching the news. Even there, people are talking over each other, interrupting each other, calling one another names, and getting their blood pressure up. Why do news organizations allow this? Because they know that many, if not most, of their viewers like drama. They love drama. They are addicted to it. The problem, of course, is that drama is rarely civil and no one convinces anyone about anything.

So, lose your peace and tranquility if you must. Most evenings, I’m watching Animal Planet, Star Trek re-runs, and a very few other programs, or, by the warmth of the fireplace, I am reading biographies of people who inspire me and challenge me. I do get on Facebook daily, but don’t stay on it all day. Just long enough to post a few things and to see if there’s a picture of a puppy.

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.

A Beautiful Thing

2017 January 28
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by Admin

Bishop David EppsDavid Pike and his wife, Kimberly, are members of our congregation. Several days ago, David posted an observation on his social media page. The previous Sunday morning, he was in church and heard a child praying out loud. Here are his observations:

“Every Sunday at church we have a time of confession of our sins. We take a moment to reflect and, as a group, pray a prayer of confession and ask forgiveness. Last Sunday as we began the prayer I hear this little piping voice in front of me. A small girl of around 7, I would guess, had her head bowed and was reciting the prayer and not missing a word. I am convinced you could preach a year on that image alone and not run out of things to say. I mean, here is this child, asking God for forgiveness, when she probably needed it the least of all. And I was struck also at the contrast to the world. This child is growing up with the understanding that there is someone to whom she is accountable, she is learning that we all make mistakes, but that we can be made new no matter the mistake, and she is learning that none of us are perfect, not even she. I think those things stand in contrast to a society that will tell her she gets an award just for breathing, that all her problems are external, and she should never question her own heart. There are so many more things that I think each of us could take from that image and I just found it beautiful.”

I’m pretty sure that I know who the little girl is, although, truthfully, it could be one of several. I find it beautiful too. I have knelt beside a number of our children who pray out loud and unashamedly on a number of times. It is beautiful and it is encouraging.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Children have to be taught to hate. They aren’t born with that trait. The same is true with bigotry, prejudice, sexism, racism, and all the rest. They learn all that from adults. I visited an African American woman in her mid-80’s about fifteen years ago who was very ill. A native of a local county, we had several conversations over the next several months. When she was a little girl, it was forbidden for black and white children to play together. “We did it anyway,” she laughed. “Kids just love other kids, whatever their color,” she told me. “If we got caught, we would get a whipping. But we played together anyway.” I find that beautiful too.

Years ago, a course I took taught that there were three parts to an individual: body, soul, and spirit. Each of the three need attention or the person will become unbalanced, we were informed. I grieve when I learn that children are given everything they need for the intellect and for their physical well-being, but their spiritual needs are ignored.

In the hospitals over the last two years, I have met a number of children, some very small, who lost a mother, a father, a sibling, or a grandparent. Those, like the little girl who prayed in church, always seemed to do better, to handle the tragedy in a more healthy, to, in spite of everything, trust God that, somehow, all would be well. Those who did not have a spiritual component to their lives looked, to me, to appear shell-shocked and lost.

Children who aren’t given food or are deprived of an education are considered victims of abuse or neglect. Are they any less neglected or abused when their spiritual selves are smothered? This I know: the little girl who prayed has a vibrant spirituality, even for one so small. She has an awareness of God and His love that few adults have. Her parents care enough to encourage her spiritually. And that is really a beautiful thing.

David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.

Deacon Wayne Lewis to be Ordained to the Priesthood

2017 January 26
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Deacon Wayne LewisThe Rev’d Deacon Boyd Wayne Lewis, Founding Vicar of St. Philip the Evangelist CEC in Tullahoma, Tennessee, has been recommended for ordination to the priesthood by the Tennessee Commission on Ordained Ministry. Dcn. Wayne was ordained to the diaconate in 2013. His ordination date has yet to be set but will be between Easter and Pentecost. Additional details to follow soon.

New Paraments Dedicated at Christ the King

2017 January 25
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by Admin

New paraments, or altar coverings / hangings, were dedicated at The Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, during the Advent season. When the church was first established in 1996, soon after that Tom and Karen Hennessy became charter members of the church. Due to a long illness, Tom Hennessy became the first member of the church to die. In 1998 his wife, Karen, purchased paraments in his honor for the church. Since the church met in borrowed facilities for the first six years, all of the paraments saw extensive use and wear. Almost twenty years after those paraments were purchased, the church bought new Advent paraments and placed them in the church in memory of Tom Hennessy and in honor of his family. Bishop David Epps dedicated the new cloths.

Karen Hennessy and Family

Members of the Hennessy family who were present were (left to right): Noah Thompson, Roscoe; Richard Thompson, Newnan; Joseph Thompson, Newnan; Karen Hennessy, Newnan: Lisa Sharpton, Newnan; Christi Thompson, Newnan, and Rainee Thompson, Newnan.