Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lent: Week 2, Day 6

Change - this is something that happens, one person at a time.  But, as the video for today tells us, that change has to begin with ourselves.  One of the concepts in Lent is that of repentance, but often what people forget is that after asking for forgiveness for past actions, we must then change the behavior or attitude for which we had to ask forgiveness for in the first place.  We have to choose to make better choices, and as Christ explained to the adulterous woman, "Go and sin no more."

So what does change look like for you?  Could it begin with something as easy - and difficult - as speaking kindly to yourself?  You are also a child of God - is it not rude to speak poorly to one of God's own?

Could it begin with speaking up when you see someone saying or doing an act of unkindness in your presence - whether the person to whom the unkindness is done is present or not?

Could it begin with finding a way of replacing a bad habit with a good one - consciously making the choice to change?

How can you make a difference in your own and the lives of others today?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lent: Week 2, Day 5

The Kingdom of God is both within us and among us.  Fr. Bartoli speaks in today's video about the things that we need to let go of, to foster the Kingdom of God within us.  So let's take 3 minutes (you can start the video) and sit in stillness.  Each time something comes up in your mind - take note of it, but set it aside.


Each of those things that comes up are impediments to the Kingdom, the ability you have to reflect the Kingdom of God to everyone around you - to tell them in actions rather than words how special and joy-filled it can be.  Be still enough that you can hear the voice of God.

In the meantime, the activity for the week is something you can start on today:  Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.  There's a video at the link, along with a .pdf, and a sample of the exercise for you to explore.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lent: Week 2, Day 4

Wow!  Today's video from SSJE carries a huge impact.  Please make sure you watch it.  Then, if you like the idea, decide how you're going to remember:

  • For what am I most thankful today?  
  • When was I most fully alive today?  
  • How have I received love today?
Br. Ditewig gives some great ideas of how you can track your own stories that will help you proclaim the good news to someone else.  Some ideas include:

  • Take a photograph
  • Collect a stone
  • Paint a picture or symbol (maybe even on the stone)
  • Write a blog
  • Write it onto a piece of paper and put it into a jar to review at the end of the year
  • Make a Jar of Remembrance
Or be creative and do some combination of those.  Feel free to share them here, or share your blog.  All of these ways are both ways to help remind you, and to help you tell someone about your own experience of God in your life.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lent: Week 2, Day 3

Evangelism - telling the good news.  And as Br. Woodrum points out in today's video, when we hear good news, we want to spread the news, tell someone about it.  Below is SheDaisy's method of sharing in their version of "How Can I Keep From Singing".


So put yourself in Mary's place:  the Angel of the Lord has just told her the good news - a young, teenage, unwed mother.  Or put yourself in Joseph's place when the dream comes to him to reassure him that not only has Mary not betrayed him, but God has a very special job for him to do.

Now think about your job in this dispensation of Christ:  what good news has God shared with you?  And what form will your telling, sharing, evangelizing take?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Lent: Week 2, Days 1 and 2

Extra!  Extra!  We've got the Good News right here!
Surprise for me!  SSJE is apparently doing videos on Sundays, so you'll find Day 1 of Week 2 and Day 2 of Week 2 at these links.  No worries - the two videos are less than 5 minutes on their own.

In this week, the overarching theme is to tell, or in the language of the church, to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God.  This is actually part of the mission of the Episcopal Church.  And within the first video, we learn that this was Jesus' mission on earth.  His quoting of Isaiah made it quite clear.

So today, think about the first time someone proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ to you.  What did you think?  What did you do?  Who did you talk to about it?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Lent: Week 1, Day 7

Lent is 40 days, but in our church, it excludes Sundays (perhaps to give the pastor time to prepare their sermon).  So this blog will skip Sundays and resume again on Monday.

Today is the day you actually bring everything you've been thinking about this past week to fruition. Today, you sit down and actually write your Letter to God.  The video today is a bit different, as Hannah Tadros describes her experience with the exercise.  She's a brave woman to share that experience, and maybe it will help you be a little more comfortable with the fact that this is not a comfortable exercise.  It's a challenge!

To give you some of the help that Hannah talks about, you can find Br. Mark Brown's article in Cowley Magazine, "Beloved, Marks of Mission, Marks of Love".

The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran is famous the world over, and you can find the book itself on Amazon or a variety of other bookstores.  But, there's a great poem on love by him that can be found at that link, with many links to other portions of his work.

You are welcome to post your letters on here.  You're also welcome to post them at SSJE, where you'll likely get more feedback, if you're looking for that.  Some will burn their letter to let the wind take the essence of our response to "You are my beloved" to God.  And some will save it away, knowing that God knows their heart, and the struggle that went into writing a letter to Him.

Pray first.  Pray after.  Pray always.  You'll find help with the Holy Spirit.  Just ask.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lent: Week 1, Day 6

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.  Br. Koester of SSJE likes to emphasize the word "go" as he explains in the video for today.

And this song, by Sam Baker, talks about "go in peace" and "arriving safely home."


So, here is where we'll ask you to think about what happens between those two things:  How are you going to be God's hands today?  What will you do between leaving formal worship, and lying down to sleep, knowing that you have made a difference in the world today?

The other thing to think about before our exercise tomorrow (writing a letter to God...), is how you feel when you go to worship; how you feel when you're there; and how you feel when you are told, "Go in peace."  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lent: Week 1, Day 5

There is a striking statement in today's video from SSJE.
And we as Christians believe that God actually entered into our human condition in the person of Jesus Christ to heal all that has separated us from God and each other.
 All those years ago, we were one people, children of God.  And since then, we have been finding ways of differentiating, of being different from others and emphasizing those differences as being negative, rather than appreciating them as being special in the sight of God.

There are two things I've noticed in recent years - people are either working to categorize everyone into boxes that are labeled "different than me" or "different from society" and considered "special".  Or, they are labeled "different" and therefore, "wrong".  The thing is, God doesn't make mistakes.  Now, we do - we make plenty of them.  But if God created us all, I don't think we can label people as anything other than a child of God.

Judgment for actions and choices - that's well above our pay grade.  Christ told us the way forward.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. ... You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
So today (don't forget to say your prayer this morning), find the connections, the commonalities, the differences you can cherish in another - simply because they are a child of God.  Just like you.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lent: Ash Wednesday

From the Episcopal Church website:  "The first of the forty days of Lent, named for the custom of placing blessed ashes on the foreheads of worshipers at Ash Wednesday services. The ashes are a sign of penitence and a reminder of mortality, and may be imposed with the sign of the cross. Ash Wednesday is observed as a fast in the church year of the Episcopal Church. The Ash Wednesday service is one of the Proper Liturgies for Special Days in the BCP (p. 264). Imposition of ashes at the Ash Wednesday service is optional."  Holy Trinity's service will take place at 5:30 p.m.

The video today from SSJE gives a fascinating exercise that we'll give you some tools to experiment with should you so choose.  Br. Nelson talks about the 5 Wounds of Christ, and the representation of that made through a Coat of Arms.

Much information about the meaning of heraldry and coats of arms:

 And if you'd like to get some ideas, or create a computerized Coat of Arms for the Mark of Love that catches your attention most, just click on the link.

And if you enjoy drawing your own, try this page.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lent: Week 1, Day 3

Today's video from SSJE combines in a small way with another task we have this Lent at Holy Trinity.  Br. Braught reminds us to "say our prayers", and we have chosen to pick a prayer to say, every morning, before getting out of bed to start the day.  The advice to remember that "Each and every day we’re acting as ambassadors of Christ, and we should imagine that we’re wearing that kind of name tag on our chest," reminds us that one of the other ways to start the day is to "Put on the Armor of God" from Ephesians 6:10-18.  Not only does this protect us, but it serves as a reminder of the second great commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself.  We are here to serve others - so today, keep track of what opportunities you have, and which ones you availed yourself of.  


Interestingly, while we are reminded that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, as an "Eastern tradition", Thomas Cranmer tells the story a little differently in his Preface to the Great Bible in 1540:
“Remember the Eunuch of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia, which albeit he was a man of a wild and barbarous country, and one occupied with worldly cares and business, yet riding in his chariot, he was reading the scripture. Now consider, if this man passing in his journey was so diligent as to read the scripture, what thinkest thou of like was he wont to do sitting at home? Again, he that letted [i.e. omitted] not to read, albeit he did not understand: what did he then, trowest thou, after that when he had learned and gotten understanding? For that thou mayest well know that he understood not what he read, hearken what Philip there saith unto him: Understandest thou what thou readest? And he nothing ashamed to confess his ignorance, and answered, How should I understand, having nobody to show me the way? Lo, when he lacked one to show him the way, and to expound to him the scriptures, yet did he read; and therefore God the rather provided for him a guide of the way that taught him to understand it. God perceived his willing and toward mind, and therefore he sent him a teacher by and by. Therefore let no man be negligent about his own health and salvation. (Emphasis added.)
I'm not sure whether Rev. Cranmer had ever read any Buddhist writings, but it does show a commonality among religions as to the Divine sending us teachers as we need them.  Now think about this - what if you are that teacher?  Are you paying attention enough to know that God needs you to help another along that path?

Pray.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Lent: Week 1; Day 2

"You are my beloved; in you I am well pleased."  Today's video asks if you can hear God's voice speaking those words to you, and if you are able to reciprocate that love, and extol God's glory, delighting in the personal relationship you have with Him.

We tend to think back to the baptism of Christ at these words, but the brothers here are asking you think about your relationship with God, with Christ, and express the joy, the awe, the praise and glory that comes from your heart.  Think about what words you could answer when you hear God say to you, "You are my beloved; in you I am well pleased."  How do you feel when you hear it?  And rather than the knee jerk reaction that you might have, that you are not worthy (none of us are), take the grace, the compliment, at face value - blush if you need to - and know without doubt that you are beloved of God.  Now write down how you feel, how that makes you feel to know that, and what you think of God at this very moment.

And just a little more inspiration to help you along:

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lent - Week 1; Day 1

Today is an overview of what we're going to be doing for the next 6 weeks.  The brothers at the Society of St. John the Evangelist have a program called The 5 Marks of Love.  Today's video gives an outline of the Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion as defined in 1984.  They are:
  1. Proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God; 
  2. Teaching, baptizing, and nurturing new believers; 
  3. Responding to human need by loving service; 
  4. Transforming unjust structures, challenging violence of every kind, and pursuing peace and reconciliation; and 
  5. Striving to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustaining and renewing the life of the earth.
Now, these are the work of the church in the world, but what I want you to do is think about first, your own church and community.  Are you fulfilling these missions?  What are you, personally, doing to contribute to these missions?  And finally, what could you do to make these missions more of a focus in your own life, in the life of our church, in the community in which you live?

So this week, start writing out your assignment, which will result in a letter to God that you'll write out in full on Saturday to share as you see fit.  Guidance for the assignment is:  "Slowly writing out our words of love for another person can be a meditative practice that connects us in a deep way. This week, spend some time hand-writing a letter to God.  What would you say? How might you express your love for God in words?"  There is also additional guidance at the video link above if you want to get started on it early.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lent 2017

Lent begins on March 1 (next Wednesday) with Ash Wednesday.  We will be having an Ash Wednesday service at 5:30 p.m. (normal Bible study will be moved up to directly after the service so people don't have to go out twice).  The ashes were sent to us by Rev. Pattiann Bennett and blessed by her.

We will be following the Society of St. John the Evangelist program - the 5 Marks of Love - for Lent, and you can either sign up for them to send you an email once a day in your mailbox, or take a look online at our website here on a daily basis for a link to the proper video and commentary.  Their program actually begins February 26, with an introduction.  Then each week has the themes of Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform and Treasure.

Another Idea for Lent...
One additional suggestion for Lent is to choose one prayer from the Prayer Book.  Each morning, before you get out of bed, recite the prayer.  At the end of Lent (or sooner if you wish), we'll talk about why you chose the prayer you did, what meaning it had for you before you began, if anything has changed, and what you think of the practice - if it changed the tone of your day at all.

We are going to see if we will be able to get a supply priest for Easter (4/16), and we'll let you know about that closer to the time.

Thanks everyone!  Let me know if you have any questions or need any assistance.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Winter Schedule

Greetings!

Holy Trinity will begin or resume their Bible studies this week, and all are welcome to join.

Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Trinity, we will be looking at parallel cites in the Bible - what made these words important enough to repeat; why is there an emphasis on them; who are they addressed to; is the meaning the same in both instances, or are there differences; were they written at the same time or different times; how do they affect us today.

Wednesday evenings at 7:00, we have a chapter by chapter study of the Bible, taking place at R Place.  We read the chapter aloud, and then discuss various aspects of it, what interests us, what we didn't know about before.

Tuesday and Saturday evenings at 7:00 p.m. there is a Compline service at Holy Trinity, open to all.

Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m., we have our Morning Prayer service led by one of our lay worship leaders, and followed by fellowship in the meeting hall.

Looking forward to 2017 being a time of growth and activity at Holy Trinity!  And, there are going to be interesting and exciting things happening this year in the Episcopal Church as a whole.  When you have a spare half hour, take the time to listen to the Presiding Bishop's sermon on Evangelism.