Sunday, January 25, 2015

Will you come and follow me?


‘Will you come and follow me’ is from the Iona Community in Scotland and is by John Bell and Graham Maule.

The Iona Community was founded in 1938 by the Rev. George Macleod, a Church of Scotland minister in Govan, Glasgow. He had a vision of an ecumenical community centered on the restored medieval abbey buildings on the island of Iona.



‘Will you come and follow me’ is set to a traditional Scottish melody, ‘Kelvingrove’, and is often referred to as ‘The Summons’. It takes its theme from the Gospel. The Gospels tell us that Jesus called others to ‘follow him’, whether it was the Galilean fishermen who left their nets to become ‘fishers of people’, or his disciples who were encouraged to ‘take up their cross’.  Through the centuries, as today, Christ continues to call people to a life of faith, prayer and service.

‘Will you come and follow me’ celebrates how the Lord calls us by name so that his life can be grown in us. It is a way of living that involves taking up the cross and to ‘risk the hostile stare’. It is a call to love in action which liberates the captive and blind and which dares to ‘kiss the leper clean’. It is a summons, too, to self discovery and to the faith that can conquer our inner fears. The hymn ends with a prayer for strength to follow and ‘never be the same’. For in responding to Christ’s call to love in action we move and live and grow in him and he in us. (descriptions borrowed from another webpage)


1 Will you come and follow me

if I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know

and never be the same?

Will you let my love be shown?

Will you let my Name be known?

Will you let my life be grown

in you and you in me?


2 Will you leave your self behind

if I but call your name?

Will you care for cruel and kind

and never be the same?

Will you risk the hostile stare

should your life attract or scare?

Will you let me answer prayer

in you and you in me?


3 Will you let the blinded see

if I but call your name?

Will you set the pris’ner free

and never be the same?

Will you kiss the leper clean,

and do such as this unseen?

And admit to what I mean

in you and you in me?


4 Will you love the “You” you hide

if I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside

and never be the same?

Will you use the faith you’ve found

to reshape the world around

through my sight and touch and sound

in you and you in me?


5 Christ, your summons echoes true

when you but call my name.

Let me turn and follow you

and never be the same.

In your company I’ll go

where your love and footsteps show,

thus I’ll move and live and grow

in you and you in me?

Rector's Parish Address on Discipleship

O GOD of all the ages, the God of our fathers and mothers, we thank you for the heritage and witness of all who have gone before us in this parish. Keep us, we pray, faithful to their vision, & eager for the promises of your call to service in our time. In the swift and uncertain changes of life today, let us not draw back into contentment with things that have been, for fear of things that may be. Reveal to us in the face of all people the image of our Savior Christ, that by the guidance of your Spirit, we may help them to grow with us into the full measure and maturity of his humanity, in truth, in freedom, and in peace; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(Adapted from a prayer by Massey Shepherd (1978))
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same? Will you let my love be shown?
Will you let my Name be known? Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

That hymn from the Iona Community that we just sang, often called the Summons, celebrates how the Lord calls us by name so that his life can be grown in us. Through the centuries, as today, Christ continues to call people to a life of faith, prayer and service. It is the call - Will you be my disciple?

Those first disciples heard his call. And they left their nets, their left the lives they were living. Something they had longed for, were hungry for, they heard in that call from Jesus and they followed him. Their lives would never be the same.

We are here this morning, because we heard that call to discipleship too. And our lives were never the same again. Discipleship is about letting Christ’s love and name be known through us and the Spirit of Christ be grown in us.
“Discipleship means adherence to Christ, and, because Christ is the object of that adherence, it must take the form of discipleship. Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
But it isn’t easy. Today, we endeavor to follow Jesus in a culture that fights against such discipleship, such commitment. I recently read about a meeting a pastor had in his office with a young man feeling conflicted about the decisions confronting him:
"He felt pretty clear about the sort of material success he was after, but uncertain about everything else. So I asked him what he thought he was committed to. What path did he think he was on? Could he describe it? He warned me that he wasn't going after some sappy religious angle. Sappy or not, I countered that everyone has a religion. Everyone functions from a grand operating principle whether or not they admit it. Mostly that principle can be inferred by the wake they leave behind as they pass through their lives. The tangible content of our commitments tells the tale for all of us, notwithstanding what we say. I suggested he check out the wake he was currently leaving behind, or if he was brave enough, ask others what they saw there. Did he want to hear the evidence of what his wake revealed?" (Simple Truths: Our Values, Civility, and Our Common Good by the Rev. Stephen Bauman )
What is our wake? Is it the values of our culture: like wealth, power, prestige. Is it caught up in the rat race or do we feel like we are treading water just to keep up?

For so many people, these days the wakes we leave behind us are often filled with anxiety, sorrow, and exhaustion. I know I have days when the sheer busyness of activities for my kids, school obligations, a visit to the doctor maybe, the work here at church and it feels like I’m on a treadmill from the moment I get up to when the kids finally hit the sack. Then maybe I have an hour or two…

But to frame it this way, lets me off the hook. How I spend the day, my week, how I look at it is really up to me and I do have control over it, even when at times when I feel overwhelmed by it. I have choices to make with what I do and what I give meaning to.

I know there are days that I wish we lived in that by gone era when the culture supported Church and its activities; when people felt volunteerism was a good thing and people felt they had the time to really give of themselves to service and to their church. The culture no longer sees an obligation to church as a necessity or in service to the common good.

But I think in the long run that is a good thing. Because it means we have to be honest with our commitments and it forces us to make a choice with our lives, will we follow Jesus or not? Is the wake I’m leaving behind, the life I’m living, in tune with the values that Jesus challenges us to have when we follow him?
For as one author put it: “Jesus' Gospel is not a collection of pious words we commit to memory; it is a spirit-centered attitude and perspective to which we commit the whole of our lives. We cannot be disciples by being mere spectators of God's presence; authentic discipleship calls us to become involved in the hard work of making the reign of God a reality in our world today.” (Jay Cormier)
To follow Jesus is not a series of thou shall not do this or that, but it is walking with Jesus, following his footsteps.

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Jesus calls each one of us to the work of discipleship: to extend, in whatever our circumstances, the love of God to all; to proclaim, in our own homes and in our communities, the compassion, the forgiveness, that Jesus personified, to the kind and the cruel, even risking the hostile stare.

As God is present to us in the person of Jesus, we are called to be present to one another in our love and care. Christ calls us to discipleship, to fish, to “cast the net” of God’s love that we have experienced upon the waters of our time and place, to reach out and grasp the hand of those who struggle and stumble, to be that answered prayer.

We are called to do that in our individual lives and we are called to do this as a community of love known as St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. I have always enjoyed how active this parish is. Not only in what it gives of itself in service (Mozambique, Chapel on the Green), in what it offers Monroe (tea, fish fry, apples), and in our own activities (knitting, reading, bible studies) but also through the wonderful spirit this is this parish family.

As we know, we are challenged in our financing of this holy church which is part of our discipleship too. In the midst of our ministries, in our work to give to the kingdom, I want us not to forget that deeper call that Christ calls us to do, even as work to be stewards of our time, talent & treasure.

There is a hunger in the lives of all of us to be in deeper relationship with God, the one who created us. To that end, we are beginning a project together to focus on our discipleship and to create a Rhythm of Life for each of us. These disciplines will not only satisfy our desire to serve and please God, but are in fact the very means by which we come to know and love God better. Three ancient practices, commended to all by Holy Scripture and perfected by countless years of human experience will guide us:
 
Pray twenty minutes a day - Worship one hour a week - Serve others five hours a month.
((20+1+5) This project is laid out in the handout.) If you want to know God better and be a more faithful disciple, please join with me in this project dedicated to nurturing disciples of Jesus. This is an invitation to spiritual depth. But as Dietrich Bonhoeffer knew, our journey as disciples is not always comprehensible for us, is not always clear to us. It is God who by Word and Spirit will guide us in the way we should go. Not the work or the road which we choose, but by the call of God in whichever way God does, in that way you are called to be his disciple.

Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

So in this 213th year of St. Peter’s Church, I hope you will join me in the Discipleship Project, learning to hear God’s call again.

Christ, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show,
thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.


Our discipleship we lead us to deeper love than we have known. It will guide us into our future.
In this we will live and move and grow. “Here, Lord, is my life. I place it on the altar today. Use it as You will.” - Albert Schweitzer

The call of the disciples by Malcom Guite. (which is our call too!)
He calls us all to step aboard his ship,
Take the adventure on this morning’s wing,
Raise sail with him, launch out into the deep,
Whatever storms or floods are threatening.
If faith gives way to doubt, or love to fear,
Then, as on Galilee, we’ll rouse the Lord,
For he is always with us and will hear,
And make our peace with his creative Word,
Who made us, loved us, formed us and has set
All his beloved lovers in an ark;
Borne upwards by his Spirit, we will float
Above the rising waves, the falling dark,
As fellow pilgrims, driven towards that haven,
Where all will be redeemed, fulfilled, forgiven.
Amen.









Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Walking with #MLK - Jonathan Myrick Daniels


Jonathan Myrick Daniels was born in New Hampshire in 1939. In the spring of 1962, while attending Easter services at the Church of the Advent in Boston, he had a conversion experience. Soon after, he made a definite decision to study for the priesthood, he enrolled at Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1963, expecting to graduate in the spring of 1966.

In March 1965 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, asked students and others to join him in Selma, Alabama for a march to the state capital in Montgomery demonstrating support for his civil rights program. News of the request reached the campus of ETS, and during Evening Prayer at the chapel, Jonathan Daniels decided that he ought to go. Later he wrote:
"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." I had come to Evening Prayer as usual that evening, and as usual I was singing the Magnificat with the special love and reverence I have always felt for Mary's glad song. "He hath showed strength with his arm." As the lovely hymn of the God-bearer continued, I found myself peculiarly alert, suddenly straining toward the decisive, luminous, Spirit-filled "moment" that would, in retrospect, remind me of others--particularly one at Easter three years ago. Then it came. "He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things." I knew then that I must go to Selma. The Virgin's song was to grow more and more dear in the weeks ahead."
He and others left on Thursday for Selma, intending to stay only that weekend; but he and a friend missed the bus back, and began to reflect on how an in-and-out visit like theirs looked to those living in Selma, and decided that they must stay longer. They went home to request permission to spend the rest of the term in Selma, studying on their own and returning to take their examinations. In Selma, many proposed marches were blocked by rows of policemen. Jon describes one such meeting:
After a week-long, rain-soaked vigil, we still stood face to Face with the Selma police. I stood, for a change, in the front rank, ankle-deep in an enormous puddle. To my immediate right were high school students, for the most part, and further to the right were a swarm of clergymen. My end of the line surged forward at one point, led by a militant Episcopal priest whose temper (as usual) was at combustion-point. Thus I found myself only inches from a young policeman. The air crackled with tension and open hostility. Emma Jean, a sophomore in the Negro high school, called my name from behind. I reached back for her hand to bring her up to the front rank, but she did not see. Again she asked me to come back. My determination had become infectiously savage, and I insisted that she come forward--I would not retreat! Again I reached for her hand and pulled her forward. The young policeman spoke: "You're dragging her through the puddle. You ought to be ashamed for treating a girl like that." Flushing--I had forgotten the puddle--I snarled something at him about whose-fault-it-really-was, that managed to be both defensive and self-righteous. We matched baleful glances and then both looked away. And then came a moment of shattering internal quiet, in which I felt shame, indeed, and a kind of reluctant love for the young policeman. I apologized to Emma Jean. And then it occurred to me to apologize to Him and to thank him. Though he looked away in contempt--I was not altogether sure I blamed him--I had received a blessing I would not forget. Before long the kids were singing, "I love ---." One of my friends asked [the young policeman] for his name. His name was Charlie. When we sang for him, he blushed and then smiled in a truly sacramental mixture of embarrassment and pleasure and shyness. Soon the young policeman looked relaxed, we all lit cigarettes (in a couple of instances, from a common match, and small groups of kids and policemen clustered to joke or talk cautiously about the situation. It was thus a shock later to look across the rank at the clergymen and their opposites, who glared across a still unbroken "Wall" in what appeared to be silent hatred. Had I been freely arranging the order for Evening Prayer that night, I think I might have followed the General Confession directly with the General Thanksgiving--or perhaps the Te Deum.
Jonathan devoted many of his Sundays in Selma to bringing small groups of African Americans, mostly high school students, to church with him in an effort to integrate the local Episcopal church. They were seated but scowled at. Many parishioners openly resented their presence, and put their pastor squarely in the middle.  In May, Jonathan went back to ETS to take examinations and complete other requirements, and in July he returned to Alabama, where he helped to produce a listing of local, state, and federal agencies and other resources legally available to persons in need of assistance.

On Friday, August 13, Jonathan and others went to the town of Fort Deposit to join in picketing three local businesses. On Saturday they were arrested and held in the county jail in Hayneville for six days until they were bailed out. After their sudden release on Friday, August 20, four of them undertook to enter a local shop, and were met at the door by a man with a shotgun who told them to leave or be shot. After a brief confrontation, he aimed the gun at a young girl in the party, and Jon pushed her out of the way and took the blast of the shotgun himself.  He was killed instantly. Not long before his death he wrote:
I lost fear in the black belt when I began to know in my Bones and sinews that I had been truly baptized into the Lord's death and Resurrection, that in the only sense that really matters I am already dead, and my life is hid with Christ in God. I began to lose self-righteousness when I discovered the extent to which my behavior was motivated by worldly desires and by the self-seeking messianism of Yankee deliverance! The point is simply, of course, that one's motives are usually mixed, and one had better know it.
As Judy and I said the daily offices day by day, we became More and more aware of the living reality of the invisible "communion of saints"--of the beloved community in Cambridge who were saying the offices too, of the ones gathered around a near-distant throne in heaven--who blend with theirs our faltering songs of prayer and praise. With them, with black men and white men, with all of life, in Him Whose Name is above all the names that the races and nations shout, whose Name is Itself the Song Which fulfills and "ends" all songs, we are indelibly, unspeakably One.
(Note: Much of Alabama has brick-red clayey soil. The region where the soil is black loam is called "the black belt." The term has no racial referent, although Yankees often assume that it does.)

Sources:  James E.Kiefer & The Jon Daniels Story, ed. William J Schneider (Seabury Press)

Living into #MLK #Nonviolence



At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
 "The non-violent approach... first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally, it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality."
"Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."
"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." ~ Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967

#WeekofChristianUnity


The week between the Confession of St Peter (Jan 18) and the Conversion of St. Paul (Jan 25) has been traditionally a time for Churches to remember their unity in Christ and to pray for one another.

Prayers for Christian Unity

Lord Jesus Christ, who prayed for your disciples that they might be one, even as you are one with the Father; draw us to yourself, that in common love and obedience to you we may be united to one another, in the fellowship of the one Spirit, through all of our Churches in Monroe, that the world may believe that you are Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Amen. (William Temple (1881—1944))

O God who has called men and women in every land to be a holy nation, a royal priesthood, the Church of your dear Son; unite us in mutual love across the barriers of race and culture, and strengthen us here in Monroe in our common task of being Christ and showing Christ to the world he came to save. Amen. (John Kingsnorth (USPG))

O God, be with thy Church everywhere and particularly in the Churches of Monroe. May she walk warily in times of peace and quietness, and boldly in times of trouble. Do thou remove all harshness and bitterness from amongst us, towards those who walk not in all things with us, but who worship our Lord in sincerity and truth. And all this we ask for the sake of thy dear Son. Amen. (Helen Waddell, 1889-1965)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Remembering to Serve on #MLKDay

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advance rolls in on the wheels inevitability. Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Without persistent effort, time itself becomes an ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of irrational emotionalism and social destruction. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Stride Toward Freedom the Montgomery Story - Chapter XI Where Do We Go From Here

Prayers using the Words of #MLK



Prayers of the People using the Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Intercessor:  Let us before all else give thanks for the love of God revealed to the world in the life and death of Jesus Christ:
People:  "The Cross is the eternal expression of the length to which God will go in order to restore broken community."
Intercessor:  Let us give thanks for the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and for the enduring power of his dream:
People:  "I have a dream that one day 'every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low... and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.'... With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."  
Intercessor:       Let us commit ourselves to pray and work for peace:
People: "One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal… How much longer must we play at deadly war games before we heed the plaintive pleas of the unnumbered dead and maimed of past wars?"
Intercessor:  Let us commit ourselves to walk in the way of nonviolence:
People: "The non-violent approach... first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally, it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality."
Intercessor:  Let us commit ourselves to pray and work for a just ordering of our world:
People:  "Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals…This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is the time for vigorous and positive action." 
Intercessor:  Let us commit ourselves to the vision of a world without poverty and disease, as set forth in the eight Millennium Development Goals:
People: "I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits." 
Intercessor: Let us commit ourselves to seek the spiritual renewal of our nation:
People: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
Intercessor: Let us commit ourselves to seek the spiritual renewal of the Church:
People: "In spite of being disappointed, in spite of being left out without any initial response, millions of people are still knocking on the door of the Church and turning to it for the answers to the basic problems of life. The great challenge facing the Church today is to keep the bread fresh."
Intercessor:  Let us pray for all those on our hearts this morning.
Rev. Kurt will add names for those we pray for this morning and then all join in the final prayer.
All:  "And now unto God who is able to keep us from falling and lift us from the dark valley of despair to the mountains of hope, from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy, to God be power and authority, for ever and ever." Amen.
--------- Quotes are from the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and prayers are organized by Bishop Jeffery W. Rowthorn. --------