The Black Labrador

This morning my wife’s parents headed back home to South Carolina after visiting with us for a couple of weeks here in Houston. Last Friday they watched our two boys while we attended a social event with the young adults of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, the “under-the-hill folks” in my new congregation. It was so much fun to meet them, most for the first time. I loved to see how each of them embodied the state motto of Texas, which is simply “friendship” and something all of us need.

It was also fun to gather in the Churchill Room of a local pub known as The Black Labrador. Not surprisingly, that room for private parties and whatnot has lots of images of Winston Churchill, including a poster of the famous Prime Minister pointing us — err . . . the British — to victory. One of the young adults thought it would have been the perfect setting to watch the United States play Germany in the World Cup! So true! The Willards, however, were content to know that our dog Tippet approved of the venue. Seriously, she tweeted about it.


From Folsom Prison to the Moon

Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, Houston, Texas
The Reverend Neil Alan Willard, M.Div.
Trinity Sunday, June 15, 2014

Loosen a little our grip, O Lord, on our words and our ways, our fears and our fretfulness, that finding ourselves found in you, we may venture from the safety of the shore and launch afresh into the waters of grace with Christ, the Morning Star, as our guide.[1] Amen.

Well, my friends, the big weekend has finally arrived! It’s a day of celebration for this congregation, and I’m honored to share that joy with you as your new rector. Together with my wife Carrie, our two boys Rowan and Ben, and, yes, even Tippet the Labrador Retriever, I’ve been truly overwhelmed by your kindness and your hospitality. We’re excited about walking with you as fellow travelers, with Jesus, the Christ, before us always, leading us. Don’t forget that it’s Jesus who leads us.

Everyone here has a story to tell about this wonderful place. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been here for ten years or ten minutes. Those experiences are part of the Great Story that God has written in the Scriptures and continues to write on our hearts. It’s the story of how God uses ordinary men, women, and children to bring forth extraordinary things in the world around us. It’s the story of how even small, concrete acts of love reflect the love of God in Jesus of Nazareth. It’s the story of how we’re transformed by the Holy Spirit, in spite of ourselves, for the sake of others. Indeed, there’s much to celebrate today for what God’s doing both in this moment and in our dreams for the future.

Now I want you to know that I haven’t forgotten it’s Trinity Sunday. Nevertheless, we have before us a text about the beginning. So this morning it seems to me rather appropriate to consider that text as, together, we celebrate a new beginning. Those first words of the Bible are familiar to most of us. But perhaps, like me, you first heard them from the King James Version Continue reading

Greetings from the Lone Star State!

My name is Neil Alan Willard. I’m an Episcopal priest and serve as the Rector of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. My family and I arrived in the Lone Star State a little more than a week ago. In addition to unpacking boxes both at home in the Rectory and at church in the Rector’s study, it also seems like the right time to open up a metaphorical box in form of Tumbleweed Almanac.

If you’re curious about me, you can read more here. If you’re curious about the name of this blog, you can read more here. I hope you’ll come back and visit often.