Epiphany 3A’23
22 January 2023
I Cor. 1.10-18; Ps.27;
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone <+>

“Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10.24-5

My wife and daughter have recently started watching reruns of the popular sit com. from the 90’s called “Friends.” I overheard the character “Phoebe” played by Lisa Kudrow, in a fit of frustration blurt out, “I can make it on my own – I don’t need anybody!” Her statement echoes within the hearts of many Americans and probably people all over the world, especially after the pandemic. It seems our individual worlds have shrunk, initially as a health precaution, but it has gone from being a habit to what now seems to have become a way of life for more and more people:

[“I can make it on my own, I don’t need anybody!”]  Thanks to the automated cashier, even going to the grocery store after the pandemic has become, more or less, a solitary activity.

We truly are grateful that many of our homebound parishioners, as well as people from all over the country and the world have been able to attend St. Luke’s “virtually” through Facebook. But this has also led to a withdrawal by some from attending in person, or staying connected and involved with the Christian community.

The very way the Church was started by Christ, and the very nature of the Sacraments sets the path, tone, and trajectory of our Christian faith, as a communal, not an individual one. After hearing John, the Baptist had been imprisoned, Christ began his ministry by calling people to repent, (that is to turn from their individualistic self-centered lives and to seek God). Besides this general call issued in synagogues and other public meetings, he issued a direct call to his first disciples, two brothers who were fishermen, Peter, and Andrew, asking them to join him in a mission to accomplish the salvation of the world. He said to them “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” The King James version of the scriptures says it much more poetically, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This meant proclaiming the Good News of God’s forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, and unconditional love, and to issue the invitation to join the mission by committing to a new way of living as a follower of Christ’s life and teaching.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks back Jesus as the Living Word of God became the lens through which the way of Love is discerned and followed. Put simply “What Would Jesus Do? “and “Do it.”  The Latin word for calling is Vocare’, where we get the English word “vocation.” Jesus began his public ministry by issuing a “Call” to all as the gospel writers would put it, “all those with ears to hear.”

This new life involved leaving their egocentric lives and communing with God and being active in the Christian community where they would learn and practice the way of Love. Now, in the first century this could prove to be very costly, as it might mean being disowned by your own family or being imprisoned, beaten, or killed for your faith.

Throughout time Jesus has continued to issue his call to follow him in a new way of life. One person that listened and responded to Christ’s call may surprise you, her name was Ann B. Davis, that’s right, the woman who played the role of “Alice”, the housekeeper on the 70s sit com. “The Brady Bunch.”  Her very interesting story of faith is told in more depth by the Rt. Rev. William Frey, a retired Bishop of Colorado.[1]

In her late 40s Ann had a midlife conversion experience. As she told it, when her parish in Hollywood welcomed a new rector, she thought she’d “go and catch his act.” His “act” was Bible study, and as she plunged in all the lights began to go on. As she put it, “I felt as though I had been living in a castle, but confined to one room. Now all the others are open.” During her travels she began to visit Episcopal churches and to befriend their rectors, whom she called her “Fly Fathers.”


She met the bishop and his wife at a dinner theatre where she was performing for several weeks, and they struck up a friendship that would last for the rest of her life. She ended up selling her home in Los Angeles and moved to Colorado to participate more fully in the diocesan outreach ministries. The bishop would sometimes take her with him on some of his Sunday visits and she was a huge hit, in fact she unintendedly side-lined the bishop! She would sign autographs but would only sign Church bulletins to prove the person had been in church.


She was invited to speak all over the country. She used to joke, by telling audiences that as she first started reading the Bible seriously, she was amazed that it contained so many passages from The Book of Common Prayer!


When the diocese opened a homeless outreach in Denver, that interestingly was called St. Francis Center, Ann was one of the first volunteers. She avoided the limelight, sorting dirty socks and underwear and managing the washing machines. She later said that it changed her perspective on street people. “Now when I see somebody diving in a dumpster, I don’t say to myself, Oh, how sad. I say, that may be a friend of mine.”


In addition to her volunteer work with the homeless Ann was devoted to intercessory prayer, attended twice-weekly Eucharist, led Bible study, sang alto in the choir, and helped to train lay readers, and was a lay eucharistic minister, taking Communion to the homebound. In some of her talks she made it quite clear that while she was under no illusion that the church was perfect, but also added, it was still the community for which Christ died.[2] Ann B. Davis died on May 31, 2014 and is buried at St. Helena’s Episcopal Church in Boerne, Colorado.

It’s 2023 and Christ is still calling, calling us to repent, to follow him into a new way of living that leads us to love the Lord our God with all of heart, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and to fish for people, even if it is not by knocking on a stranger’s door but in an Episcopal way, like Ann B. Davis practiced, by telling those with whom we have opportunity, what Christ and the Church mean to us. May we go and do likewise. Amen.


[1] https://livingchurch.org/2016/01/15/life-alice/

[2] O’Driscoll, Herbert, Prayers for the Breaking of Bread: Meditations on the Collects of the Church Year (Cowley Publications: Cambridge & Boston) p.30