Friday, June 8, 2012

Sunday, June 10 - Schedule Change

This Sunday, June 10 is actually going to deviate from our normal Morning Prayer service at 9:00, as we will have a visit from the Bishop Frank Brookhart of the Episcopal Diocese of Montana at a 7:00 p.m. Eucharist service.  All are welcome!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Trinity - The Experiential Mystery

Rev. Pattiann Bennett provided a different view of the Holy Trinity this evening in her sermon.  She provided the following quote from Frederick Buechner, in his book, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC:
“If the idea of God as both Three and One seems far-fetched and obfuscating, look in the mirror someday. There is (a) the interior life known only to yourself and those you choose to communicate it to (the Father). There is (b) the visible face which in some measure reflects that inner life (the Son). And there is (c) the invisible power you have in order to communicate that interior life in such a way that others do not merely know about it, but know it in the sense of its becoming part of who they are (the Holy Spirit). Yet what you are looking at in the mirror is clearly and invisibly the one and only you.”
She pointed out that we relate to God mostly through His creation, through the mountains, oceans, valleys, trees, raindrops - seeing the vast plan and organization at work, on a daily basis. 

And we are told to look for the face of Christ in every being, seeing the Divine in the face of a baby laughing, a homeless man needing food, a mother whose children have all just gone to sleep and there is peace in the house, and a son whose father has just asked him the same question for the 50th time that day because of the dementia of Alzheimer's.  As we learn in Matthew 25:40:  "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."

The Holy Spirit is what aids our awareness of the Divine throughout all of creation, that allows us to see the face of Christ in our fellow man, that reminds us of the greatness and magnificence of God, which is only reflected in His creation. 

So, will you honor the Trinity through this experiential mystery?  Allow the Holy Spirit to help you see?  Look in the mirror, and begin there - knowing that every person you see has that same capacity of seeing the Trinity within their own face.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Abiding Within

In a fascinating sermon this week, Rev. Pattiann Bennett provided a lesson on grafting fruit trees, and how one goes about doing so.  It tied in with the Gospel reading this week from John 15:1-17 where Christ says, "“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."

The concept of abiding in Christ, of loving one another to the extent that the fruit borne from that love is good fruit, enriching humanity and the lives of those it touches, is both simple and requiring a commitment that is steadfast - and that cannot be accomplished alone.  We must reflect the love of God that nurtures the grafting to consistently produce good fruit as an outward sign of our own commitment to "remain" in Christ.  

So knowing that you have been grafted to the vine of Christ, what sort of fruit will you be producing this week?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tragedy on the East Coast

From a press release from the Maryland Diocese:

Tragedy at St. Peter's Church, Ellicott City

May 4, 2012
The Rev. Mary-Marguerite Kohn. Click here for a larger image. Baltimore -- The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is saddened beyond words by the shootings May 3 at St. Peter's Church in Ellicott City, Maryland. The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of Maryland, immediately offered prayers for the victims in the chapel of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore, when he learned the news later that evening. Clergy of the diocesan staff have been present with the parish and members of the St. Peter’s staff, and have said prayers over the victims. The diocese holds the victims, their families, and the people and staff of St. Peter's Church and pre-school in its continued prayers. A nearby Episcopal church, St. John's Parish in Ellicott City, opened their doors late Thursday evening to offer a place of support and prayer.

Howard County police are investigating the shooting. According to them, two women, Brenda Brewington, administrative assistant, and the Rev. Mary-Marguerite Kohn, co-rector of the parish were found shot inside the church office yesterday just after 5 pm. A custodian called 911.

Brewington was pronounced dead at the scene. Kohn was transported to Shock Trauma in critical condition.
The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is a Christian community of 22,000 households in 112 congregations covering 10 counties and Baltimore City. Please visit for more information. The Episcopal Church is a community of 2.4 million members in 100 nationwide dioceses, 10 overseas dioceses and six extra-provincial territories; The Anglican Communion is a global community of 77 million Anglicans in 38 member churches/provinces, including The Episcopal Church;

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Living Community

Today's sermon comes from Fr. Kevin Pearson, who talks about the apostles and specifically the one we have come to know as Doubting Thomas.  And we hear in John 20:29, "Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'"  The point to today's message was that Easter was not something that came to everyone at the same time, even among the apostles.  Many came to the resurrection through the stories that occurred after Easter, and that tradition continues today, thereby creating the living, growing community of people learning of the life, death and resurrection of Christ and coming to believe.  

Even through the fears of the apostles and the doors behind which they locked themselves, Christ came to them, the bring peace, instructions and the hope of the resurrection.  Today, Christians each have the experience of Jesus, emanating from the birth of Christ, through the resurrection and beyond.  And each of us is sent into the world to be a facilitator to those seeking to find Christ in their own lives.

So what stories do you have when someone asks you about Christ?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Rev. Pattiann Bennett provided our reflection for Resurrection Sunday or Easter. She made the point that we each have the capacity to participate in the resurrection in small ways throughout our life.  That when you choose to trust after having your trust broken, you experience a resurrection of hope; when you choose to find hope in what has previously been a hopeless situation, you experience a resurrection of faith; and each time you choose to love again after a love is lost, you experience a resurrection of spirit. 

The resurrection is the central focus of our faith - without Christ's rising from the dead, we would have no faith, no hope of the everlasting life promised through Christ.  And we can remind ourselves of this when we state, "He is Risen" by responding not just through the words, "He is Risen, Indeed!", but through our actions.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lenten Practices in the Episcopal Church

Our own Rev. Pattiann Bennett made several suggestions this past Sunday on Lenten practices.  Here are some links for some indepth looks at some of them:

Fasting -The practice of fasting and how it can be done regarding your food.  Our priest also recommended fasting from a particular attitude that does not serve anyone's best interests.

Liturgy of the Hours -Interestingly, a recent study came out stating that we don't actually sleep best with an 8-hour sleep cycle.  During a time when life wasn't quite so hectic, nor computers and lights so readily available, people would sleep in a 4-2-4 cycle, where within that 2 hour break, one would take care of babies, pray the hours, and do whatever else married people might get up to in the middle of the night, before sleeping again for another 4 hours.  Perhaps taking a look at your own busy life might be a method of allowing you to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

40 Ideas for Lent - Sick of giving up chocolate or cookies for Lent? Looking for some new ways to do things differently this year? Check in over the next 40 days and 40 nights for creative ideas to take you from Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday.

Lenten Reading Plan -This is the Church Fathers reading plan - the language can get a bit formal and dry, but it is interesting to see what has changed over the millenia.

Love Life, Live Lent - Provides the inspiration to live Lent in a way that is spiritually enriching and will transform the world. It encourages people to be generous, think of others and make a difference, without giving up chocolate!' An initiative of the Church of England Archbishops' Council.

Meditations - From the members of St. Paul's in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Burying the Alleluia - Holy Trinitarians all seem to have difficulty with this one. :)

Please add your own ideas or practices.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Baptism - Water or Holy Spirit?

As Reverend Katerina Whitley states in her sermon for this week:
Jesus comes like all the other people who come to John, and is baptized. God arrives to us without fanfare, in the ordinariness of our lives, and we don’t recognize him. He comes enfleshed, from distant, unimportant Nazareth – not from the significant city of Jerusalem, but from Nazareth! Jesus enters the waters as a human being and emerges from the waters with the unshakable assurance that he is God’s Son, the Beloved.
 As we see in Mark 1:11, God provides a private assurance to His Son that, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." 

How many of us have been baptized in Holy Spirit, as Paul describes in Acts 19:1-7?  How many have received gifts of the holy spirit, described in Corinthians 12:7-11?
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
 How many are believed when we receive that private assurance from God that we have received those gifts?  And how many of us acknowledge that we have received them?  Explored how we might use them in service to God and His creations?  How many deny their gifts, and act as if they have been baptized with water?

The readings this week lead to a fascinating contemplation of why Jesus chose to be baptized with water; why God made His assurance to His Son a private one; and how many of us accept the baptism by the Holy Spirit when we receive it. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Naming Day!

Today would, by tradition of the Church celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas, be Christ's naming day, or Bris/Berit Mila.  When a parent gives a child a name, the parent is giving the child a connection to previous generations.  As we see in Matthew, Chapter 1, Jesus comes from a long line of notable people in history.  The Bris, Berit Mila must take place for an infant boy at eight days of age. If this is performed before the child is eight days old, it is not considered valid. The reasoning behind waiting for eight days is that everything was created in seven days. When a child is eight days old, the child has surpassed the physical world and entered a world far more spiritual. Mila is a sacred religious rite and not merely a hygienic practice. The Jewish parents accept this as a normal part of life.

"Jesus" is a transliteration, occurring in a number of languages and based on the Latin Iesus, of the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iēsoûs), itself a hellenization of the Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yĕhōšuă‘, Yeshua) or Hebrew-Aramaic יֵשׁוּעַ (Yēšûă‘), both meaning God delivers or God rescues.

Names are important in the Bible, both when self-taken (the change from Saul (meaning responded or prayed for) to Paul (meaning small or humbled)), and when changed by God (Abram (biblical patriarch) to Abraham (father of multitudes); Sarai (my princess) to Sarah (princess)).  At this start of this New Year, think about what your name means - and what you want it to stand for.  How would *you* like to be known in history?