Saturday, November 17, 2018

Sermon: Birth Pangs

          So, my niece Kathy has a baby due in mid-December.  Friday night was interesting, because she was having contractions 3 minutes apart.  This is her third child, so early would not be unheard of, but what was most interesting to me was the statement her mother made:  with all three children, Kathy had had Braxton Hicks' contractions beginning about the fifth month.  At this point, she knew the difference between the fake contractions and the real ones.  She knew these were real, but with the advice of her midwife, she took a benadryl and a bath, and they slowed back down. 
          Birth pangs.  Jesus warns of them, stating that nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom; we will have earthquakes and famine.  The Lord told Daniel, "There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence."  He, of course, is talking about the birth of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.  Nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom – sounds like the "war to end all wars" that we talked about last week. 
          We've heard birth pains described as one of the most painful experiences possible, followed by one of the best.  The most colorful description I've heard thus far is, "[It's] [l]ike if you ate 100 hot peppers and then pooped out a watermelon."  And I think Christ was being pretty literal in how bad it was going to get – before it became sublime.
          And that's the message here today.  People have been waiting for the end times since before Christ.  The passage in Daniel today marks the first time in the Hebrew scriptures where the experience of resurrection is discussed.  He talks about the coming of "Michael", and scholars are divided on whether the Michael referred to here is Christ, or whether they're discussing the Archangel Michael.  The name Michael itself, means "Who is like God?"  So some believe that this reference, like the apocalyptic reference to Michael in Revelations 12, is actually referring to the Word made flesh, or to Christ.  If this is the case, the Hebrew scriptures are referring to a pre-incarnate Christ, or one of those sightings in the Old Testament of a person who simply appears, performs miraculous deeds, is the wisest of the wise, and yet has no parents, and no birth or death is described.  For a people who keep track of genealogy the way the Jews do, that's an anomaly.
          But whether Michael is Christ, or the Archangel, we know that there will be a battle, and that all those with their names written in the Book of Life will be delivered.  This includes those alive and those who have already died, or as Daniel puts it, who have been sleeping in the dust of the earth.  They will be divided into those who will have everlasting life, and those who will have shame and everlasting contempt.
          Now let's take a look at both the words of the Psalm and the words of the New Testament lesson.  The Psalm mentions, "Their libations of blood I will not offer, nor take the names of their gods upon my lips."  Part of what this is referring to is what Daniel had been lamenting prior to our Old Testament lesson.  The people had been experiencing a period of unspeakable oppression of the Jews under Antiochus IV/Epiphanes in the second century BCE. This king, who considered himself divine, had desecrated the Jerusalem temple, the dwelling-place of God, turning it into a pagan shrine. There had been a vicious civil war (167-164 BCE), following centuries of foreign domination, and the persecution of the faithful Jews was ongoing. Worship and sacrifice in Jerusalem had come to a temporary close, and the observance of festivals and circumcision was prohibited.  The sacrifices, as mentioned in the Psalm, were not to be acknowledged by observant Jews. 
          Now compare that to our New Testament reading, where Paul, or whoever actually wrote Hebrews, discussed the fact that the priests can preside over sacrifices, day after day, but that Christ came once and sacrificed Himself for us all.  "By a single offering, He has perfected for all times those who are sanctified."  Again, the experience of horrible suffering, followed by the resurrection to everlasting life. 
          And lastly, let's look at the Psalm along with our Gospel lesson, and the warnings against false teachers.  The Psalm tells us, "But those who run after other gods shall have their troubles multiplied."  And Christ tells us, "Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray."  To stay with the whole childbirth theme, these will be the Braxton Hicks contractions, always coming at a time of strife and worry and calamity – but without the promise of the life to come. 
          So how do we tell the difference?  Let's go back to the Psalm:  "Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you; I have said to the Lord, 'You are my Lord, my good above all other.'  All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, upon those who are noble among the people."  We trust in God to guide us rightly.  We follow the commandments to love God with all our heart, strength, soul and mind, and we love our neighbors.  We think about the grace we have been given, both through Christ's sacrifice of Himself, and in our knowledge of the way, the truth and the life.  And we share that with others, so that they, too, may experience that grace.
          Our world has experienced more than its fair share of earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, floods, and hurricanes.  We've experienced the war to end all wars, and the ones that came after.  People around the world experience famine and degradation that we can only imagine in our very privileged lives.  I don't think we're experiencing Braxton Hicks, but rather, the beginnings of the birth pangs.  We're at the 3-minute contractions, and likely, those contractions will slow down again.  We're not yet at hard labor.  And that's a scary thought.  But at the same time, we know that at the end, we will be living with Christ, resurrected into the Kingdom of Heaven.  And that's what we have to share with others.  There is hope; there is life eternal waiting for us.  We just have to get through the labor, and the nursery still needs to be painted.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sermon: Choose Kindness

          I had a direction for my sermon this week when God decided to change my focus.  A friend of mine, Jan, called me:  she's a blind, Jewish widow, and she asked that I put on my spiritual guidance hat. I laughed. She said, "What do I do? We have the synagogue shot up last week, then the dance club this week, and now there are fires moving so fast, people are barely escaping with their lives. What can I do to make things better?" Now fortunately, since I don't have such answers, I went to Christ's commandments.  I told her that everyone she meets is going through something.  Be kind.  Be wise and keep safe, but think outside the box to be kind. She described a woman who had apparently been going around her trailer park, panhandling. All of the residents were worried, because most of them are old or disabled in some fashion, and they felt that she would take advantage of them. I said I realize you don't have a lot, but did you think about offering her a sandwich? To give it to her away from your home, but to show her some kindness. I told her that like the woman in 1 Kings this week, she may not have much, but she is rich in caring and can share - if nothing else, her presence and a listening ear. And just like that, my sermon direction changed.
          Both of the women in our lessons this week have very little, and expect to die shortly. So their kindness isn't really going to cost them a whole lot in their own minds, because they are not long for this world in any case. Part of what fascinated me about today's gospel is that we found out that Christ is a people watcher. He looks at what people do, not what they say. And he ensures that his disciples learn how to properly observe as well.
          While we don't see what Christ did after watching the woman give her last two coins, I have a feeling that he ensured she would be doing better as a result of her piety. Elijah, in the first lesson, ensured that the woman and her son would not starve, and would have food to last until the rains fell again and crops could be grown. 
          One of the interesting aspects of the Old Testament lesson is that God didn't provide enough food until the rain fell; He provided the ingredients for daily bread until the rainfall. We've all heard the saying "God helps those who help themselves," but that particular quote is nowhere in the Bible. It is however, stories like this one that helped to develop what seems to be a truism.
          On this Veterans Day, we remember all who have died in service to their country. But more particularly, this day used to be known as Armistice Day, the Remembrance Day, the day when the War to End All Wars finally came to an end. Unfortunately, since that war is now known as World War I, we are aware that it was not the war that would end all wars. World War I became known as the initiation of a new change in policy for the United States. We were now the champions of democracy, and this has led to many more conflicts and wars in which the US has been involved.
          One of the things that has been learned over time, has been that there is difficulty in keeping the troops supplied with food. During World War I, food was often still being delivered by horse and wagon, and a lot of specialized foods had to be prepared by the troops themselves. In Britain, the troops were often provided with something known as bully, a tinned meat that stored well based on the French boeuf bouilli or boiled beef. The other thing that they got were hard biscuits, which apparently every cook in the military tried various and sundry ways to make taste better by soaking or crumbling. They rarely succeeded.
          We don't often hear about the troops that came from India or from Iraq during World War I. Both of these cultural groups had specific food requirements that were not usually handled in the field. It resulted in flocks of sheep or goats following the troops so that the soldiers would know that the deaths of the animals were carried out in a humane and religiously prescribed manner. They did offer to allow for frozen meat to be distributed, but only if someone could be there at the time the animal was frozen.
          Unfortunately, these two groups did not have the same requirements.  A major concern was that the slaughter be done the right way – halal (throat slitting) for Muslims, and jatka (decapitation) for Sikhs and Hindus. Separate slaughtering spots were set up, though at least once even this caused problems when one group angrily alleged that flies from the other side were contaminating their meat.
          Additionally, the foreign troops were told that they didn't have flour to make bread, and they would be stuck with the hard biscuits. However, the troops realized that there were plenty of mills around, and where there is civilization, there is flour. They requested Atta, the whole wheat flour they used to make bread. Soon, Indian troops were getting an Atta ration, and a ToI report from Jan 4, 1915 of a visit of King George V to the front writes of "his Majesty tasting a chapatti which had just been cooked." It's not known whether the royal endorsement had any effect on things, but recipe books on how to cook flatbread within the tins that were used for their beef sprang up and made their way around Europe.
        The point here is that by asking nicely, the troops were provided with what they needed on a daily basis. It wasn't much, but it kept them fed and continued the war efforts.
          Kindness is a universal attribute. It doesn't require a lot of effort, but even the smallest act can mean the world to someone in need. We don't have to be rich, we just have to be willing to share what we have. Like the two widows in our lessons today, we have the ability to change someone's life.
          And interestingly, the sign hanging across the main road into town from the high school kids today says, "You always a choice – Choose Kindness."  So I guess God's direction for the sermon was spot on.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sermon: Commandment to Love

          Christ gave us a lot to think about when he told us the greatest of the Commandments.  "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."  I'd like you to keep these commandments in mind throughout this sermon.
          A Christian pre-school teacher was putting together a play that the children would perform Christmas Eve.  As with all teachers, she wanted to take advantage of teaching moments, so as she was ending her remarks to the kids before they got started on rehearsals, she wanted them to know why this play was important.  She asked, "Do you know that some people don't love Jesus?"  The children, of course, were astounded, so she continued, "That's why it's important to pray for the conversion of their souls, so they can love Jesus too, and go to heaven."  Now, 4-year-olds pretty much think in black and white.  If a 4-year-old hears that some people don't love Jesus, well, then that means, they must hate Him!  Who would want to be friends with someone who hates Jesus?  Most 4-year-olds aren't going to hear or understand what conversion is.  Without the context that some people have a different belief system – for which we have respect because we love God and we love our neighbor – and without the context that they don't know Jesus, and so don't know how important He is, this teacher has inadvertently created the seeds of ill will and prejudice.
          We're hearing a lot in the news about Hate Crime Prevention, and the No Hate Act – Episcopal preachers throughout the country received a set of instructions forwarded from the Presiding Bishop and put together by the Anti-Defamation League.  And there are a lot of very good points in those instructions.  But let's look at the difference between the original "ten" commandments, and the two that Christ gave us.
          Within the 10, 2 are positive – as in, do this (Keep the Sabbath and Honor our parents) – and 8 are negative – as in, don't do this.  If we broaden it out to entirety of the 613 Mitzvot originally given to the Jews, there are 248 positive commandments, and 365 negative.  As humans, I think we have rather a strong tendency to focus on the negatives, on what we shouldn't do, on what we should prevent others from doing.  We still see that today, even though Christ gave us two commandments, on which hang "all the law and the prophets." 
          I'd like us to look at some definitions, that I've taken from 
          Hate - to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward.
          Discriminate- to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit.  Notice that discrimination can be a positive, as well as a negative.  It is, however, a showing of partiality.
          Tolerate - to endure without repugnance; put up with.
          Violence - rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment.
          Love - unselfish love of one person for another; brotherly love.
          Neighbor - one's fellow human being.
          Now those last two, I've obviously put in the context that we're discussing here.  Love, in this context is agape; neighbor is as Christ was instructing us as to whom to love.
          After the end of the Civil War, there's an account of a Sunday service in Washington, D.C.  The preacher had remarked on those who were absent, and upon finishing, invited people to the rail to take communion.  No one had noticed the old man shuffling down the aisle at first. His faced bowed, looking intently at the floor rather than making eye contact with row after row of astonished worshippers who turned to gawk at him.
          His leathered ebony flesh was a stark contrast to the smoother ivory-skinned church attendees. His calloused hands and emaciated frame left no mystery as to his former station in life – a slave to people just like those gathered in the church that day.
          A solemn quiet fell over the congregation as the man bowed at the altar, having come forward to take part in the Lord’s Supper.
          No one knew what to do.
          Everyone remained still except one man. The gray-haired gentleman stood to his feet. All eyes were upon this man whom everyone respected. His face was gaunt; his appearance, wizened from the terrors of war. Those who knew him recognized just how heavy a toll he had paid.
          Despite his age, he moved with military discipline. He left his family’s pew and padded toward the old man praying before the cross. Without hesitation, the distinguished fellow knelt beside the former slave and they both took Communion.
          His efforts so moved the congregation that they joined them at the altar.
          The man was General Robert E. Lee.  Many would have you believe that he was exemplifying Paul's words from Galatians, " For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  And it may be the case that he said, the ground is level beneath the cross.  And, it could also be the case that he literally ignored the existence of the black man, in order not to bring the Civil War into church.  The first explanation would be exemplifying Christ's comment to love one another.  The latter explanation would be an example of tolerance.  History is unsure which it is.
          The media provides us with endless examples of negativity, preaching tolerance and the need for "no hate" legislation, for hotlines and ways of reporting on those who practice hateful ways.  But we wouldn't have put that pre-school teacher in that category.  We know that her intent was to teach her kids the important of evangelism, of spreading the good news.  She just maybe left a few things out.
          The thing is, Christ didn't say, tolerate one another, don't hate one another, don't discriminate.  His commandments, which are literally taken from the Old Testament, and are from the positive commandments, are to love.  To love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  To love your neighbor as yourself. 
          Why?  Why is it important to love your neighbor?  To love one's fellow human being?
          Well, let's go back to very beginning when God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness."  Every single person on earth reflects the image of God.  Now, knowing that, can you hate your fellow man?  Should you tolerate them?  Discriminate against them?  Perpetuate violence against them? 
          Obviously, our answer as Christians, is no.  But I think it's the reason that the answer is no that's much more important to think about.  We are commanded to love.  Not to judge, not to tolerate, not to hate, but to love.  And I think teaching that to our children, exemplifying that to others – that Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors, and that God made all humankind in His image – is the best thing that we can do for humanity.
          Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said the following:  Let us pray:  May it be Your Will, our Eternal God and God of our ancestors, to put an end to war and bloodshed on earth, and to spread a great and wonderful peace over the whole world, so that nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.  May all inhabitants of this planet come to recognize and know the ultimate truth: We did not come to this world for conflict and strife, nor for hatred, envy, mockery or bloodshed; we came to this world only to know You.
          Therefore, have mercy on us, and fulfill for us what is written, “And I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down and none shall make you afraid. I will drive the wild beasts from the land, and neither shall the sword go through your country.”*(Leviticus 26:6)
          “And justice will well up like water, righteousness like a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:24).
          “For the earth will be filled with knowledge  of the Eternal as water covers the sea.”(Isaiah 11:9).
          May it be Your Will. And let all us say: Amen.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sermon: Loving God

          Today's lessons are all about faith – having and keeping faith in the depths of despair, heartache, illness, and misfortune.  They are wonderful reminders of the results that faith can bring – happiness, health, joys, treasures untold.
          Let's look at our Old Testament lesson, the ending of Job's tragic story.  Job was beloved of God, blessed with wealth and riches of family, crops and livestock.  Despite this, he was humble and thankful for the blessings he received and credited God for every one of them.  And then one day, the Devil got bored.  He challenged God, and declared that Job was merely a faithful servant of God because he had been so blessed, but that without those blessings, he would curse God's name.
          Job is one of those stories in the Bible that often makes people very uncomfortable.  None of us can explain the concept of a God who allows the testing of His most faithful.  At his very lowest point, however, Job does curse the day he was born.  Despite having done nothing wrong, his three best "friends" counsel him incessantly that he must have done something to deserve this.  And despite being an Old Testament character, Job is the very epitome of the collection of sayings from the Psalms that Paul put together in his letter to the Romans:
There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
    there is no one who has understanding,
        there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned aside, together they have become worthless;
    there is no one who shows kindness,
        there is not even one.”

          And yet, Job's faith in God never waivers.  He submits himself – his life, his will, everything that he is – to God, to do with as He will.  And God finally ended the tests the Devil had subjected Job to, as Job had never denounced God or denounced his faith.  He had decried his very existence, as he didn't understand the reason for his suffering, but he didn't take his life.  He didn't commit a murder of the image of God that he was.  He submitted to the concept that he didn't understand, but that he belonged to God, to do with as God willed.  And God restored to Job all of the wealth and riches that he had before all the tests.  He rewarded Job for his faith.  He provided to him another family.  And if this were a fairy tale, it would be a happy ending and they would all live happily ever after.
          But this isn't a fairy tale.  And when Job's children died, they weren't returned to life.  Job had faith that they had gone to the Father, but what parent ever gets over the loss of a child – even when they have more children?  There is no substitute.  And perhaps the lesson that Job leaves with us is that there is none righteous, not one – but God's grace will bring His children to eternal life, and that is the faith we must strive to have.
          Yesterday's shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh is just such an event that will have so many people asking the question, "How can God let this happen?"  or making the statement, "I can't believe in a God who allows people to die for how they worship."  And the normal answers and arguments include that God gave man free will; that God is there with every one of those who died or were injured, taking them to their eternal life with Him. 
          The United States has so many laws governing free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly – how can something like this happen in our country?  And we often forget that this time it was a Jewish synagogue in the United States, but in other places around the globe, it could be an Islamic mosque, or a Christian church, or a Buddhist temple.  Hatred is not a tool of God – it is a tool of the Devil, designed specifically to make us question our faith.  We can go all the way back to Cain and Abel – and even at that early point in time, God warned against anger and jealousy.  He cautioned us before we even had the commandment not to murder, for to do so was strike down that which had been created in the image of God – and thus was a crime against God Himself.
          Jesus was born to bring God's love to the forefront.  To teach that among the myriad of laws, the most important was to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  Second only to that was to love your neighbor as yourself – to treat everyone you meet, your neighbors, the way that you would like them to treat you.  As Paul's letter to the Hebrews in today's New Testament lesson said, God "appoint[ed] a Son who has been made perfect forever."  And like the sacrifice that Job's friends were told to make in order to repent of their own faults, so that Job could pray for their souls – Christ became the perfect sacrifice for us.  Not just Jews, or Christians, but for the entire world. 
          Like Job, God too lost His Son – for three days, Jesus was dead.  Now Christ is restored to eternal life, but God knows what it is to lose a child.  And I think He mourns with us, even as He cares for those whose lives are cut short.
          We are heirs to the Kingdom of God, with Christ.  As such, and as baptized Christians, we are responsible for carrying on the work of Christ – of spreading the good news of eternal life, and teaching people to love one another as Christ loves them.  We're not alone in this job – not only are all the other baptized Christians out there, spreading the Word, but the Holy Spirit is here to help and guide us to do the right thing, in every situation.  We have to listen.  When we're dismissed today, listen to the commission you receive:  "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord."  With your response of "Thanks be to God", you've accepted that assignment.  What do you intend to do to fulfill it this week?
          Let us pray:  Almighty and merciful God, we ask that you receive into your tender and loving care all those who were killed in the mass shooting in Pittsburgh. Comfort those who mourn. Be with the first responders. Give strength and perseverance to those who work to eliminate bigotry, hatred and jealousy.  Transform the hearts of all who have embraced hateful and bigoted belief systems, so that they may learn love, before others are hurt. And help all people to come to know the truth that if you do not love others, you do not know God. Amen.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Invitation to an Instructed Eucharist

Why do Episcopalians
do the things they do?

What do all their
Liturgical practices mean?


All are invited to an Instructed Eucharist Mass

this Sunday, October 21st, at 9:00 a.m. 

with the Rev. Karen King.

Have questions?  Want to know more?

This is your perfect opportunity.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Sermon: What Do I Lack?

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  Please be seated.

A former dean at Duke University wrote: Today's gospel reminds us that there are good, understandable, reasonable reasons for not following Jesus.  Jesus is too often presented by us, from the best of motives, as the solution to all our problems, the way to fix everything that's wrong in our lives.  But this story reminds us that Jesus is sometimes the beginning of problems we would never have had if we had not been met by Jesus!

So I want you to think back to the time when you were a child.  What was your most valued possession?  (Pause)  What made it so valuable to you?  (Pause) Do you still have it in your possession?  Has its value changed? (Pause)

Think about today.  What is your most valued possession now?  (Pause)  What makes it valuable to you?  Are you capable of selling it?

Now keeping in mind those things, think about what exactly Christ said to the man.  "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." 

What was it that the man lacked?

Think about what Christ said to his disciples in response to the question, "Then who can be saved?":  "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” 

We don't believe that we can get into heaven by "doing".  We believe that the only way we can get into heaven is by the grace of God.  Which, of course, doesn't mean that we shouldn't be doing all that a follower of Christ would do.  That phrase, "What would Jesus do?" should actually govern our actions, so that people know we are Christians by our actions, as well as our words.

One night, in a college dormitory Bible study, a priest presented this same story of Jesus and the rich man.  He then asked the gathered students, "What do you make of this story?"

"Had Jesus ever met this man before?" asked one of the students.

"Why do you ask?" the priest asked.

"Because Jesus seems to have lots of faith in him.  He demands something risky, something radical of him.  I wonder if Jesus knew this man had a gift for risky, radical response.  In my experience, a professor only demands the best from students that the professor thinks are the smartest, best students.  I wonder what there was about this man that made Jesus have so much faith he could really be a disciple."

Wow.  The priest hadn't thought about that.

Another student said thoughtfully, "I wish Jesus would ask something like this of me.  My parents totally control my life just because they are paying all my bills.  And I complain about them calling the shots, but I am so tied to all this stuff I don't think I could ever break free.  But maybe Jesus thinks otherwise."

Well, the priest was astounded. What he had been thinking about as severe, demanding BAD news, these students heard as gracious, GOOD news.

What was it that the man lacked?  He already followed the commandments.  He already believed in Christ, because he asked Jesus, what must I do to have eternal life.  What did he lack?

There's a story told that Clarence Jordan, that great Southern, social prophet, visited an integrated church in the Deep South.  Jordan was surprised to find a relatively large church so thoroughly integrated, not only black and white but also rich and poor; and this was in the early '60s.  Jordan asked the old country preacher, "How did you get the church this way?"

"What way?" the preacher asked.  Jordan went on to explain his surprise at finding a church so integrated, and in the South, too.

The preacher said, "Well, when our preacher left our small church, I went to the deacons and said, 'I'll be the preacher.'  The first Sunday as preacher, I opened the book and read, 'As many of you as has been baptized into Jesus has put on Jesus and there is no longer any Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, males or females, because you all is one in Jesus.'

Then I closed the book and I said, 'If you are one with Jesus, you are one with all kind of folks.  And if you ain't, well, you ain't.'"

Jordan asked what happened after that. "Well," the preacher said, "the deacons took me into the back room and they told me they didn't want to hear that kind of preaching no more."

Jordan asked what he did then. "I fired them deacons," the preacher roared.

"Then what happened?"

"Well," said the old hillbilly preacher, "I preached that church down to four.  Not long after that, it started growing.  And it grew.  And I found out that revival sometimes don't mean bringin' people in but gettin' people out that don't dare to love Jesus." (As told in Hauerwas and Willimon, Where Resident Aliens Live, Nashville: Abingdon, 1996, p. 103).

Jesus invites people to be his disciples:  to divest.  To break free! Let go of your stuff!  Follow me!  I believe you can do it!

What did the man lack? 

It wasn't poverty.  Christ doesn't ask us to live in poverty, and He certainly gives us more than enough to do with our money in order to benefit people. 

It wasn't a lack of ties – we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  We're supposed to build ties with the family of God. 

Could it be that what the man lacked was belief in himself, in his own work, and his own hands, capable of doing the work of God?  Of profiting the poor, the marginalized, the least, the lost, the outsiders.  Could it be that Christ believed more in the man and what he was capable of in following Him as a disciple?  Our Psalm ends today with "Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands— O prosper the work of our hands!" 

Do you dare to love Jesus enough?  Amen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Newsletter: October 2018

Holy Trinity Sanguinity

                    October 2018

Events in October at HT
            With convention occurring the first weekend in October, Kris Hanley will provide a Morning Prayer service on October 7, 2018 at 9:00 a.m.  Morning Prayer will also be celebrated the 14th and 28th. 
            The Rev. Karen King will be celebrating the Eucharist at the October 21, 2018, 9:00 service, which will include an instructed Eucharist.  Also attached here is a list of terms for you to look over, either to remind yourself of what everything is called, what its purpose is, or to learn about those things for the first time.  Interestingly enough, everything has a purpose or meaning behind what we do and why we do it.  Take the opportunity to glance over those terms and remember just how rich our liturgy is.
            Noonday Prayer is held Monday through Friday at Noon.  If you want a quick break in the day to remember our purpose here, stop in.  Takes about 10 minutes.
          Our Bible Study meets on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.  We are currently using a Great Studies course on "Lost Christianities:  Christian Scriptures and the Battles Over Authentication."  The next study will be on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  All are welcome!
            Last, but not least, our Vestry meeting will be on Sunday the 28th after the service.  If you have anything you want to bring up to the Vestry, please talk with one of the members.

Deacon's Office Hours
         Deacon Angel Bolling holds office hours at the church from 10:30 to Noon, or by appointment. 

2018 Outreach Events
            In addition to our normal outreach activities that include providing vouchers for food, gas and lodging for stranded travelers, scholarships for our graduating seniors and the Prayer Shawl Ministry, Holy Trinity held two outreach events.  The first, on Crockpot Cooking, was poorly attended, but gave people ideas of how to choose the right crockpot for them, and provided the opportunity to experiment with a variety of ingredients.  The second, on Estate Planning, led by Libby's Steve Dalby and Troy's Scott B. Johnson was fairly well attended by people from both Troy and Libby.  The seminar discussed wills, trusts, healthcare powers of attorney, and other documents your family will need should something happen to you. 
            At each annual meeting, we discuss the projects and goals for the year – both in outreach ministries and as methods of introducing Holy Trinity to the community.  Past events have included herbal medicine workshops and various kitchen skills.  Other ideas have included a rummage sale, afternoon tea and life skills classes.  It's October, so put your thinking caps on, and come to the annual meeting with ideas, a willingness to lead and/or support the ideas of others. 

Daily Liturgy Readings
            Many of us like to read the daily readings with the Liturgical Calendar, but finding them can be a chore.  At this link, you will find the daily readings for the week, each with a link that makes reading them easy.  Additionally, there's something to help you experience "Quiet Time" – a time to meditate, pray, or simply sit and listen for the voice of God.  Try to find an hour each week to do that for yourself.

Bishop Search – Request to Parishioners
            The Diocese has requested everyone's help in getting the word out about the Bishop Search.  There is now a video, Diocesan Profile and application form on the diocese website.  Send any or all of them to people who might be interested, or post it on your Facebook or other social media applications you may have.

Building and Grounds
            Our new roof, weather permitting, should be installed in the first part of October.  We're sticking with the shingle type roof, but hope to eliminate a couple of places where we've got drainage problems.

            We're currently looking for someone interested in doing concrete work and re-building our deck, so if you know someone, tell them to contact Jill Wilson to get the particulars and get a bid put together for consideration by the Vestry.

October Feast Days
This month's Feast/Holy Days include

  • The 18th for St. Luke the Evangelist.  He is known as a patron saint of artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers. 
  • The 23rd for St. James of Jerusalem, also known as St. James the Greater.  He is known as the patron saint of Spain and, according to legend, his remains are held in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. 
  • The 28th for St. Jude and St. Simon.  St. Jude is known as the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes. Saint Jude's attribute is a club. He is also often shown in icons with a flame around his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles.  St. Simon is the patron saint of curriers; sawyers; and tanners. 
·         And the 31st is the Vigil for All Saints (as well as being All Hallow's Eve or Halloween). 

            The links here will lead you to readings for those specific saints should you choose to honor them, or just learn more about them.

Prayer Shawl Ministry Needs Help!
            As everyone knows, the Prayer Shawl Ministry is currently meeting the first and third Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.  While we are always happy to have new knitters, crocheters and all around organizers, part of what we really need are names of people who need the shawls!  Prayer shawls only do some good when they're wrapped around people.  We've got all sorts of sizes and colors, and include lap blankets for those not so fond of shawls.  Each stitch is made with prayer, and often they get passed from person to person as people need to be wrapped in prayer.

            So, contact Angel, Kris or Jill with names and ideas of how to best get a shawl or blanket to them, and we will do our best to make that happen! 

Quarterly Assignments
            The fourth quarter assignments are up and available on the website, found here.  These are, of course, subject to change within the last 10 minutes before a service.  We are a flexible congregation.