Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Taking a Stand


There has been much in the news lately regarding those who are Transgender (the T in LGBTQ) and the government both state and federal response to such individuals.

Our presiding bishop and leadership have been taking a stand for such individuals, news reports:

National Episcopal Church urges defeat of Texas "bathroom bill"

Episcopal Church leaders oppose Trump’s ban on transgender people in military

If you want to go deeper than these news reports:

Presiding Bishop responds to Trump’s transgender military ban

Presiding Bishop Curry Offers Theological Reflection on Transgender Rights

and even deeper:

The Divine Call to Be Myself: Anglican Transgender Women and Prayer



Remembering the Victims of Human Trafficking in our World

This prayer is by Fr. Mike Marsh:

Almighty and gracious God, you heard the cries of your people enslaved in Egypt, you empowered Moses and Aaron to speak boldly to Pharaoh on their behalf, and you delivered them from their bondage.

We hold before you the lives and cries of all enslaved and trafficked people. Open our eyes to see each victim as a human being created in your image and according to your likeness. Emboldened us to speak to the Pharaohs of the world your words of justice, human dignity, and freedom, not only with our lips but in our lives. Fill us with your holy anger at the many ways men, women, and children have become commodities for another’s profit. Give us the will and courage to work for justice, freedom, and dignity for all people. Enlarge our hearts to love one another as you have loved us.

Bestow upon all victims of human trafficking your healing, peace, and hope that their lives may be made whole. Soften and turn the hearts of traffickers that there may be repentance and conversion in their lives. Strengthen the resolve of our nation, political leaders, and all who work for the well being of others that we may establish equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all people.

All this we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

In 90 Days - Read the Whole New Testament


Are you looking for a reading challenge with the Bible?

This is from Richard Beck's blogpost:

I recently discovered a Bible reading plan from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. This plan has you reading through the entire New Testament in 89 days.

The idea is simple. Each day read one chapter from the gospels, starting in Matthew 1 all the way through John 21. It'll take you 89 days to do this.

For the epistles, read two chapters each day, starting with Acts 1 all the way through Revelation 22. Two chapters from the epistles each day gets you through them all in 86 days.

So that's the plan. Each day, one chapter from the gospels and two from the epistles for 89 days.

I added a day because there will always be at least one day when things don't go according to plan.

Good luck!

July 30 Sermon (12 A)

O Lord, we pray that you would lead us to discover your hidden treasure in the field and awaken our hearts that we may have the eyes to see you, and be surprised by joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

I had a great time at Camp Washington. The theme for the week was Hospitality & Communion. We explored the Gospels and Jesus interactions with others in places of hospitality and meals. We also explored the communion of saints and their presence in our lives and at camp.

Today’s Gospel explores the idea of the Kingdom of God. Jesus used parables to talk about the kingdom of God…

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Finding the treasure, which is the Kingdom of God, is what our discipleship as Christians is about. When you are a parent, you often think about the seeds we plant in our kids. If you are absent because of work or service, how will they know what is important? Will they find the true treasure?

She is the mother of two boys and serves in the U.S. Army. When on deployment she does her best to stay in touch with her family through e-mail, Skype and cards. Still, she realized that she was missing out on the little day-to-day moments parents have with their kids: the funny things you find out about them, the way they think about stuff, the small discoveries that lead to profound wisdom.

Then she read about the "key jar." A teacher created a jar of questions. Every day the class would spend time drawing a question and sharing their answers. The questions were designed to "jump start" their thinking and "unlock" the values of their hearts - hence the name, "key jar."

So this Army mom created such a "key jar" for her family. The questions and answers made for interesting and revealing conversations around their dinner table:

If you were an inventor, what would you invent, and why? What do you want to accomplish by your next birthday? Who in your class makes you smile? What's something that is hard for you? How were you a helper today? If somebody from another planet came to Earth, what would he or she think of our world?

Many of the boys' answers were funny, but as many were thoughtful and sweet. This mom had a glimpse inside her sons' hearts and was proud and moved by what she saw and heard. [From "Key Jar" by Ashley Allen, Guideposts, May 2016, and Erin Waters, writing in momastery.com.]

Their "key jar" enables this mom and her boys to discover the pearls of great value they seek, the treasures within themselves and one another, the many discoveries and lessons they collect in the seeds planted each day. Sometimes we're surprised at the treasure we take for granted, the pearl in our midst that we overlook - and at other times, we realize that the hidden treasure we gave our all to obtain left us impoverished, the fine pearl we moved heaven and earth to possess cost us dearly.

As this family comes to understand in their taking on the questions in their "key jar," the hidden treasures and pearls of good value are the things of God’s kingdom: the love of family and friends, the support found in being part of a community, the sense of joy and fulfillment found in serving and giving for the sake of one other.

What happened at Camp Washington this past week was finding such treasure...

And I am not just talking about my role. As chaplain I did lead the worship, both the morning formation period and the compline that ended each night. And we looked for the pearl of great value, the Kingdom of God in our midst.

But the staff, through the love and compassion they shared with each camper, the fun times and the free play they engaged in. To the activities that each child signed up for, led by a staff member whose gifts helped them enjoy their activity. All that went on, even the space of Camp Washington helped them enjoy themselves in the beauty of God’s creation. What a joy it was to see such ministry going on!

Many seeds of life were planted this week, seeds of God’s love and understanding one’s self in God’s creation. We found the treasure, we found God in our midst, and we offered it to one another with hospitality.

It is about the Kingdom of God right now breaking forth…

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
~ The Bright Field by R. S. Thomas ~ 


(Amen.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Blessed are the Peacemakers

More than 1,300 teenagers gathered as the sun was setting at the Oklahoma City National Memorial on July 12 for a candlelight vigil. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Learn more here:

As EYE17 closes, ‘peacemakers’ make a path home

https://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/eye

Watch the Opening and Closing Sermons:


Flat Jesus Comes to St. Peter's

Rowan received a Flat Jesus at EYE in Oklahoma.

Learn about it here:

Folks flat-out having fun with traveling laminated Jesus cutout

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sermon July 16 (Proper 10)

Jesus, you sow yourself
The Word of Truth, generously
The Word of Life, graciously

Defend us from the Evil One
Who seeks to snatch us away

Fortify us for hard times and the costly discipleship
That we may endure

Deliver us from distraction
From worldly desires and
All that would lure us and choke us with false promises

Till us
Turn us
Enrich us with every blessing of your Spirit
That we may become the good soil
Forever faithful and fruitful for you
Amen. (© 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia)

“Listen carefully my child to the master's instruction and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

These words were written by St. Benedict 1500 years ago to guide the monks of his monastery. Since then, his rule has been adopted and used by countless monks and nuns and other Christians to help guide their Christian lives. His feast day, the day we remember him, was this past week.

I have always been struck by the opening sentence of his prologue: “Listen carefully … attend to them with the ear of your heart.” In the rush of our days, even in summer, we need to stop and listen, really listen, to the words that will guide our lives, attend to them with ear of our hearts. Listen to the masters instructions.

And what does Jesus say to the crowd that comes to hear him speak, “Listen.” And he tells them a parable. Now remember that a parable is not like an Aesop Fable with a moral at the end, it is not like the stories we so often hear.

“In the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) Jesus teaches predominately in parables. Teaching in parables was characteristic of Jesus’ style, especially his proclamations concerning the Kingdom of God. Though Jesus’ teaching style used storytelling conventions that were common in that time period, what he taught was novel. Jesus taught with newness and purpose, offering people a fresh perspective about God and the Kingdom of God. The novel twists in what Jesus taught in his parables made his audiences take notice, then and today; they captivate the imagination. A given parable’s significance appears when the realism or surface meaning of the story begins to break down, allowing the deeper meaning to penetrate the interior life of the hearer or reader.” (Arthur David Canales)

A parable is “where the ordinary has gone askew and thereby shocks us into realizing that the parable leads us into another way of thinking about life.” (John R. Donahue) So Jesus tells a parable to the crowd (and us) about a sower sowing seed on the ground. Notice the sower throws seed everywhere!

· Some falls on the path, birds eat
· Some on rocky ground, no root & withered away
· Some fall on ground that is chocked by thorns
· But some fall on good soil and produce grain, 100 fold, 60 and 30.

“Let anyone who has ears listen,” says Jesus. That’s the 9th verse, what we don’t have in today’s reading is the disciples flummoxed by what Jesus said, in the missing verses. When asked, he gives them an interpretation. The seed is the word of the Kingdom of God that is given freely to us:

· Some falls on the path & they don’t understand and Satan snatches it away
· Some on rocky ground, hear the word joyfully, but when trouble comes, they fall away
· Some fall on ground that is chocked by cares of the world and wealth, & it yields nothing
· But some fall on good soil and produce much fruit

The challenge for us is to make sure the Kingdom of God has good soil in us to take root. Clear out the rocks, the weeds & thorns… There is so much we can do in our busy, hectic world to make sure our hearts are receptive to what God is giving freely to us. And the first thing we do is…

Listen.

Once upon a time there was a little seed. Because it was only a seed, nobody seemed to notice or care. The seed didn't consider himself very important, either.

One day, the wind picked up the seed and threw the seed mercilessly into an open field. The sweltering sun beat down on the little seed; rain pounded the helpless seed into the ground; snow and ice trapped the shivering seed for long periods of time. The little seed was broken, confused and lonely.

Time went by. Then, one day, a traveler came up and sat beside the seed. "Thank you, O God, for this place," the seed heard the traveler say. "Excuse me." The seed spoke up. "What are you talking about?" People had stopped by his little plot of earth before, but no one had ever spoken like this. The seed thought the traveler was making fun of him.

The traveler was startled. "Who's speaking to me?"

"Me. The seed."

"The seed? You're no seed. You're a tree - a goliath of an oak!"

"Really?" asked the seed.

"Yes! Why else do you think people come here?"

"Why?"

"To rest under your shade. Don't you realize how you have grown?"

It took a moment for the seed to realize what the traveler was saying.

The seed smiled for the first time in his life. The years of restlessness and struggle, of brokenness and loneliness, finally made sense to him. "I am worth something," rejoiced the one-time little seed, now a great oak. [Adapted from a story by Novoneel Chakaborty.]

In this charming Indian parable, a simple seed learns the meaning of struggle and discovery, as the seed has taken root. In the first part of Jesus' parable of the sower, the seed sown is the Word of God - but in the interpretation, Jesus tells us the seed is the individual in whom the Word of God takes root.

We become the seed that was planted within our hearts. Listen says Benedict. Listen says Jesus. And the Spirit of God inside of us will help us find meaning in the parable because the Word of God is planted within our hearts to live out in our lives. Amen.