Lent

Cross v. World

Sermon Summary for Sunday, March 4th, 2018 | Respectfully Submitted by Meghann K. Humphreys

           The foolishness of the cross versus the wisdom of the world remains a struggle for us. It wasn’t easy in Paul’s time and it is not any easier now. We still struggle.

            Everyone has a role in trying to bring understanding of how the cross is wiser than the world. Jesus started the trend with his #turnoverthetables game-changing move. He made it clear that God is there – or here – in the temple of Christ’s body.

            We still seek thin places to worship, but since Jesus came, was crucified, raised, and ascended, God is everywhere. God is with us to help us walk behind Jesus in the way of the foolish cross.

Precious Scars

Sermon Summary for Sunday, February 25th, 2018 | Respectfully Submitted by Kelley Dial

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On the Second Sunday in Lent, we heard the famiiar story of Peter and Jesus rebuking each other.  Initially, Peter scolds Jesus for revealing to the crowd all that will happen to Jesus - rejection, suffering, death, and, ultimately, resurrection.  Peter does not want to hear this and he certainly does not want the Messiah described to the masses as anything but a strong and invulnerable leader.

Jesus, in turn, will not tolerate Peter's desire to mold the Messiah into Peter's preconceived notion of the Savior.  Jesus forcefully tells Peter and those assembled around them, to shift their focus from the human and move it to the divine.  He asks them to take their personal crosses and follow Him, to let go of their definitions of success, courage, and power and to listen for God's direction.  

That is the fruit of repentance, of metanoia, to be open to the fullness of God, to listen for God's call, and then to follow it, no matter where it leads. The observance of Lent reminds us that the foot of the cross is both the place of struggle and the source of new life.  In that new life we find the courage, the boldness, the perseverance that we seek. 

The Japanese art of kintsugi uses gold and other precious metals to bring together pieces of broken pottery and finds beauty and strength in that brokenness.  It also represents the essence of repentance - to deal with the damage we have endured, to help others deal with their brokenness and, ultimately, to find the unique strength and beauty residing in each of us. May you find new life from your golden and beautiful scars.

Thanks be to God.

Change/Metanoia

Sermon Summary for Sunday, February 18th, 2018 | Respectfully Submitted by Meghann K. Humphreys

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Are we willing to repent and be changed?

Repentance is all about our lives being changed. During this season of Lent, we are called to repent. We are not called to be sad about our sins. Instead, we are called to change through the transforming power of the life and death of Jesus.

Repentance is a gift from God made possible by God’s intervention in our lives to transform the world. So, are you willing to repent and be transformed? Are you willing to be the hands and feet of God in the world?

What will you choose: life or death?

Sermon Summary for Sunday, April 2nd, 2017 | Respectfully Submitted by Jon Thomas

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 “I am the Resurrection and the Life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die…”

Jesus strolled into Bethany.  His dear friend Lazarus had died four days earlier.  Lazarus’ sisters were not happy that Jesus had arrived so late, and had not saved their brother.  Blaming Jesus for our problems is common, even in today’s world.  We forget that we are living, breathing, thinking, and feeling; that we make our own decisions and when we fall, God will always be there to bring us back up.

Jesus, being Jesus, weeps at Lazarus’ Grave.  He performs a miracle, “a sign of God’s Presence and Life Saving Ways Among Us”, and raises Lazarus from the dead!

Jesus called to the others to “Unbind” Lazarus and to participate in “God’s Loving, Healing Works”!  Those who saw, now believed.

“Life is Messy & Complicated.”  Our pain, fear, hate, and addictions (both ours & of those we love), force us to adapt to fit into this world and change, for the sake of the family.  Some choose to let life consume them; to let the pain and destruction reign chaos down upon them.  Others will choose life & the resurrection, but we must remember that our life is our own and that, through the resurrection, we are given new life.  “What will you choose: life or death?” 

The Value of Value

Sermon Summary for Sunday, March 19th, 2017 | Respectfully Submitted by Kelley Dial

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Last Sunday we heard the familiar story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman as they meet at Jacob's well.  Jesus, showing human vulnerability, asks for a drink of water.  This confuses the woman since Jews do not normally associate with Samaritans. A somewhat playful conversation follows as Jesus speaks metaphorically and spiritually, but the woman takes his reference to "living water" literally.  As Jesus shows a knowledge of the woman's past she realizes the conversation is not about earthly matters and begins to see Jesus as a prophet.  As the conversation deepens the woman learns that she can have eternal life immediately if she believes, the details of her past and her manner of worship do not preclude it.  She becomes a believer and an evangelist in one fell swoop.  

Much can be drawn from this reading. There is power in vulnerability.  Both Jesus and the woman allowed their vulnerabilities - physical and spiritual - to show and, because of that, were able to have a substantive and meaningful conversation about profound things.  Acceptance breeds receptiveness.  Jesus' acceptance of the woman without judgment allows her to be open to his message.  The nature of the entire interaction makes the woman want the things afforded her by Jesus.  Acceptance coupled with affirmation equals empowerment and that breeds the "other" E word - Evangelism.  

Jesus challenges us to accept eternal life now, to listen honestly and act bravely, to worship in spirit and truth.

Thanks be to God.

God's Love

Sermon Summary for Sunday, March 12th, 2017 | Respectfully Submitted by Jon Thomas

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16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John is very difficult to read.  This Gospel has been used to divide people and cause us to cast shame on those around us.  John’s vision of a God-Hating World is more layered than that.  We are not Fallen Angels, cast out into the void; We are God’s Children, divided throughout the World. 

“God’s Love is Surprising, Audacious, Outrageous, Bold, and even a little Crazy” and God promises to love us, unconditionally.  God sent Christ into our “God-Hating World” to save us from ourselves. 

In this Season of Lent, remember that the Bible is about God; a God who works through you; a God who does not condemn you.  God seeks a relationship that is extraordinary, boundless, and spellbinding; one that defies death, itself.  What’s next, my sisters & brothers?

Temptation

Sermon Summary for Sunday, March 5th, 2017 | Respectfully Submitted by Mal Underwood

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Sunday’s Gospel lesson is the temptation of Christ in the wilderness shortly after his baptism. As always, Jesus sets the example for us in how to combat the great deceiver by quoting the truth of the scripture and staying strong in his knowledge of what he is to do as the Son of God.

Temptation – we have all have experienced it and have succumbed to it on occasion.  Worse yet, we may even have been the source of temptation ourselves to lure others into non-Christian behavior. Either way it’s the work of Satan, the deceiver who has been at his evil work forever, wanting to devour us and take us away from experiencing and sharing the love of God in the world.  I am reminded of some familiar scripture that is on point with the Gospel:

Discipline yourselves, be vigilant.  Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith.  I Peter 5:8-9a

This passage is a mirror of Christ’s experience and serves to warn believers to remain on guard at all times so that we do not succumb to lies of Satan; it was true then and will remain so for all time.

When Jesus was baptized God spoke from heaven claiming him as his son with whom he was well pleased.  Jesus knew whose he was, and therefore who he was, and thus what he was to do. He never forgot.  Under the pressure of temptation, we can lose our sense of identity causing us to sin and move away from our daily walk with God. We forget, and it leaves us insecure and vulnerable, prone to trying empty solutions that eventually move us farther and farther away from God and what we are to do as his children.  At our baptism, God claims us as he did Jesus when we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever. We are the beloved children of God, and we are to honor that identity through the worship of our Creator and love of our neighbor.

As Jesus took his baptism into the wilderness to combat the deceiver, we should take our baptism into our world of temptation so that we can be strong and persevere in the way of Christ. We need to remember who we are. We can develop our own personal daily rituals and practices to help keep us mindful of that. Whatever it takes, we must make sure we grow our roots in that identity to find our way in the world with love, peace, security, and hope.  As we go through our daily lives we are to remember whose we are and who we are so that we walk the path of righteousness God has prepared for us to walk.

The Sacred Triduum

All are invited to join us for The Sacred Triduum.  

MAUNDY THURSDAY - March 24th at 7:00 PM with childcare

The evening of Maundy Thursday officially witnesses the end of Lent.  On this night we begin what is traditionally called the Triduum Sacrum, or the Three Sacred Days.  The Service which we celebrate on this night is called The Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and recalls the institution of the Church’s liturgy by our Lord on the night that he was betrayed, the night before he died.  This sacred act by Jesus would for ever unite him with his people in his humanity and with his Father in his divinity thus making atonement.  He gave his disciples a moving discourse on their unity and he gave them also the sacrament of unity, Holy Communion, as a concrete expression of his promise to be with them always.  The word Maundy comes from the Latin word Mandate:  meaning mandate or commandment.  This comes from the phrase used by our Lord after he washed the disciples’ feet: A new commandment (mandate) I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  Jesus himself expressed his love for them in that gesture of humility and service.  In all of the cathedrals and in many churches, the action is repeated as people wash each other’s feet as a symbol of service to others.  The Maundy Thursday Eucharist is a unique blend of joy and sadness.  There is joy because it is the annual remembrance of the institution of the Blessed Sacrament.  But there is sadness here also, because this is a farewell meal overshadowed by the treachery of Judas and the knowledge that suffering and death were waiting for Jesus.  This Eucharist is like no other, it has no formal ending (no blessing) and it continues into and is finally concluded at the Good Friday Liturgy.  Sufficient wafers are consecrated on Maundy Thursday for those who attend the Good Friday Liturgy.  After the faithful have received Holy Communion, The Blessed Sacrament is taken to the Altar of Repose where it is reserved until tomorrow.  Then the sanctuary is stripped as a symbolic reminder of the stripping of Jesus.  Then a watch is kept before the Blessed Sacrament and we recall our Lord’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  We stay with him until his arrest.  We stay with him as he asked the disciples to do, to watch and pray.

GOOD FRIDAY - March 25th at 7:00 AM, 12:15 PM, 7:00 PM with childcare

On this day the Church’s liturgy is bereft of ceremonial refinement.  The sanctuary is unfurnished.  The stark wood of the altar points us to Calvary.  The ministers enter without ceremony.   The first part of the Service consists of readings and these culminate in the reading of John’s Passion Gospel.  The solemn prayers follow the Gospel.  During these ancient biddings we pray for the Church and for the world.  Finally, the Blessed Sacrament is brought from the Altar of Repose and all receive Holy Communion, thus ending what was begun last night.  Although our hearts feel as bereft as the church building looks bleak—nevertheless we end on a note of subdued triumph.

THE EASTER VIGIL - March 27th at 6:30 AM

This is the great climax of Holy Week and the whole Christian year.  It is the Feast of Feasts when the Church joyfully hails her risen Lord.  Here we proclaim and celebrate the central fact of our faith—that Jesus has triumphed over death and lives among us.  On this Saturday night at the beginning of the Service the church is in darkness:  it is the end of the crisis which began on Palm Sunday when we traced our Lord’s path to Jerusalem, to betrayal and death.  Now the Church changes its identity from Jerusalem to the Tomb of Jesus and so, like the women who went to the Tomb, we wait outside.  The Resurrection is symbolized by the kindling of the new fire, a small fire lit outside the church and from which the Paschal Candle is lit.  This candle is then carried into Church with the cry “The light of Christ.” The Exultet is then sung and we hear readings from the scriptures and the psalms telling of God’s salvation to his people.  This leads us to the blessing of the baptismal water and everyone then renews their baptismal vows.  The Gloria is sung and the church bells ring out with Joy!  The resurrection celebration reaches its climax in the first Eucharist of Easter.  We celebrate the new life which is ours through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Alleluia!

Submitted by Mother Mary

Tuesday's Telling of Sunday's Homily

Sermon Reflection for Sunday, March 6, 2016

            The Prodigal Son is one of the most important parables Jesus shares. There are at least three perspectives one can take when listening to this: the prodigal son, the older son, and the father.

            We were asked to think of a time we deeply disappointed our parents, guardians, mentors, or other loved ones. “Life was ok and then you made a sinful choice.” We have all been there and we have all hoped that forgiveness could happen, but those relationships can become strained or nonexistent as a result of our poor choices.

            Then there’s the perspective of the older son. He has done everything he is supposed to do and his reward is seeing his father throw a party for his irresponsible brother. He chooses anger and resentment when he should have been just as happy that his “screw up” brother came back home. Again, we’ve all been there.

            The perspective of the father, a man begging his son to return to love and safety, was distasteful for the time, but necessary to illustrate. Instead of a father that might slap away such an irresponsible son, this story is of a father whose hands are welcoming and embracing. This is beautifully illustrated in Rembrandt’s painting on the subject of the Prodigal Son. The father in this painting embraces his son in tattered clothing with one masculine hand and one feminine hand – that itself is worthy of being examined in a separate discussion.

            Our task, overall, from this parable is to search for that grace-filled father-mother and that we recognize ourselves in the older and younger son. In this crazy world, we need to be the imitators of God and be a blessing to others.

Respectfully submitted by Meghann K. Humphreys