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Bulletin

Bulletin Announcements – September 24th

Posted September 22, 2017

Ministers in Today’s Service

Presider: The Rev. Rick O’Brien

Preacher: The Rev. Rick O’Brien

Deacon: The Rev. Sam Morford

Pianist/Organist: Kathy S

Musicians:

Altar Guild: Judy F

Eucharistic Ministers: 8 AM: Paul G 10 AM Ginny G, Jen O

Acolyte: 8 AM: Sandra M 10 AM Emilie C

Readers: 8 AM: Caroline C, Sandra M 10 AM Mark L, Jennifer H

Greeters: 8 AM: Bobbi P 10 AM Rachael B, Rosalie M

Usher: Bill K

Nursery: Mary F

Coffee Hour: Mary E

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Blessing of the Animals – Saturday September 30 at 4:00 PM will be the Blessing of the Animals and a potluck picnic here at Epiphany. Sign-up sheet is on the board in the narthex.

Wine Tasting – October 14. Don’t miss this fun event. Tickets are on sale today after all services. This year we feature the wines of South Africa!

The night also includes a silent auction, and we need your help in donating items. Collectibles, gift cards, travel, tickets to games or shows; all of these are a big hit at the silent auction. Your gift is tax deductible and the best part is you are helping to fund our church ministry! Talk with Ginny for details or to make a donation.

Here we grow again! It is time to compile our new directory. If you have any changes in contact info, or you have not been included in the directory before, please fill out a sheet on the table in the narthex.

FAMILY PROMISE – We will be hosting guest families overnight this coming week. It is not too late to get involved. You are welcome to drop by in the evening to share a meal and visit with our guests.

This is an important and life-changing ministry, and your help is greatly appreciated by our guest families.

Bulletin

Homily – 9/17/18

Posted September 18, 2017

Epiphany Episcopal Church

15th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Opening:

 

Let the words of my mouth…

 

And the meditations of my heart…

 

Be always acceptable in thy sight…

 

O’ Lord…

 

My strength and my redeemer…

 

Amen…

 

Introduction:

 

“I forgive you…”

 

“I forgive you…”

 

If anything was ever easier…

 

Easier said than done…

 

To forgive has most certainly been a struggle in my life…

 

My inability…

 

My inability to genuinely forgive…

 

You see…

 

With every good intention…

 

I have forgiven persons in my life…

 

Those who remain in…

 

Those who remain out…

 

I have forgiven myself…

 

Yes…

 

I have forgiven all those who have harmed me…

 

In some instances…

 

In word only…

 

I have not…

 

I have not forgiven them in my heart…

 

In my heart…

 

As I reflect on what lies beneath…

 

When I search those deeper…

 

Darker spaces of my heart…

 

I have found…

 

I have found greater understanding as to the layers of my stubbornness…

 

My unwillingness to forgive…

 

In those deeper darker spaces…

 

What lies beneath???

 

What lies beneath is hurt…

 

What lies beneath is pain…

 

And sometimes…

 

When I visit those spaces…

 

I too…

 

I too find anger in my vulnerability…

 

I too…

 

I too find betrayal in my trust…

 

I find…

 

I find fear in my peace…

 

All reinforcing my stubbornness…

 

My unwillingness…

 

To forgive…

 

Now…

 

As I meditated in that space with this week’s Gospel…

 

I came to the realization…

 

The realization that I have much work before me…

 

That time…

 

Time does not heal all wounds…

 

Healing…

 

It is a process…

 

Forgiveness…

 

It is process…

 

And…

 

As much as I realized the work before me…

 

I too realized…

 

I realized that in some cases…

 

In some cases, I am still not ready…

 

Not ready to forgive…

 

That I am not healed…

 

That I…

 

That I am still in process…

 

Body One:

 

Forgive in word…

 

Why???

 

Because it is the polite thing to do???

 

It is the Christian thing to do???

 

Forgive in word…

 

Why???

 

To relieve the awkwardness???

 

To allow a relationship or circumstance to move forward???

 

Forgive in word…

 

Why???

 

Perhaps it is in the hope…

 

In the hope that if we say it…

 

That maybe…

 

Just maybe, we will believe it…

 

Yes…

 

Maybe we will believe it and we will no longer have to endure our suffering…

 

Forgive in word…

 

It is not the polite thing to do…

 

Two wrongs do not make a right…

 

Forgive in word…

 

It is not the Christian thing to do…

 

It is the dishonest thing to do…

 

Forgiven in word…

 

Does it really relieve the awkwardness???

 

Or does it only veil it…

 

Does a relationship or circumstance???

 

Does it really move forward???

 

Or does it spin off…

 

Spin off onto a new disingenuous path???

 

A path leading back only to its place of origin…

 

Forgiven in word…

 

Have you ever said it???

 

“I forgive you…”

 

Have you ever said it and instantaneously been absolved of your pain???

 

Of your hurt???

 

I didn’t think so…

 

Body Two:

 

Forgive in word…

 

But who???

 

Just exactly who is the beneficiary???

 

Is it the one who caused the harm???

 

If so…

 

Just what have they gained???

 

A false sense of security???

 

That they are indeed forgiven???

 

Surely, they will know that they are not…

 

The one who is hurt will demonstrate that through their actions…

 

Did they learn???

 

Did they have an opportunity to understand the hurt???

 

The pain they may have caused…

 

What they did…

 

Why they did…

 

How to not do it again…

 

Were they enabled???

 

Having earned what is not rightfully theirs…

 

Trading only the vacant words of “I am sorry…”

 

In the exchange for “I forgive you…”

 

Who is the beneficiary???

 

Is it the one who has hurt???

 

Forgive and forget…

 

God knows…

 

God knows I would like to…

 

To forget…

 

I imagine I have wished…

 

I have prayed…

 

I have wished and prayed as much for certain experiences to have never have happened…

 

Just as much as I have wished and prayed that I can just forget them…

 

Those wishes…

 

They have never come true…

 

Those prayers…

 

They remain unanswered…

 

They happened…

 

And…

 

I remember…

 

Forgive in word…

 

We can be childishly naïve…

 

Naïve in our thinking as to what lies beneath…

 

That it indeed…

 

That it simply lies…

 

In our attempt to not feel…

 

In our attempt to not feel we fail to recognize…

 

We fail to recognize that what lies beneath is far from idle…

 

(pause)

 

But just how active…

 

How active the hurt…

 

The pain…

 

The anger, the vulnerability…

 

The fear, the mistrust…

 

Just how active they are…

 

How much they shape and influence us…

 

How it can consume us…

 

Our thinking…

 

Our feeling…

 

Our behavior…

 

How what lies beneath…

 

What lies beneath is really what is active on the surface…

 

How it leads us to self-medicate…

 

How the anger leads us to hurt others…

 

How the vulnerability leads us develop sharp edges…

 

How the fear leads us close ourselves off…

 

How the mistrust leads us to isolation…

 

Body Three:

 

Forgive in word…

 

A fallacy…

 

Genuine forgiveness…

 

Cannot…

 

Cannot be delivered from our lips…

 

It must…

 

It must be delivered from our hearts…

 

Forgiveness is the actualization…

 

The actualization of catharsis of that hurt and that pain…

 

It is the release…

 

The release of the emotions…

 

The trauma…

 

The setting free and letting go of what it is we house in those…

 

Those deeper darker spaces…

 

Healing…

 

It is a process…

 

Forgiveness…

 

It is a process…

 

It is a process of understanding…

 

Of understanding that we too cause hurt…

 

That we cause pain…

 

It is a process of seeking…

 

Seeking those emotions housed in those deep dark spaces…

 

Identifying those feelings…

 

And allowing ourselves to feel them…

 

It is a process of discernment…

 

Discerning that forgiving…

 

That forgiving does not mean forgetting…

 

Our forgiveness may very well be solely to set ourselves free…

 

Setting ourselves free while binding the other to the caution necessary to protect ourselves…

 

Closing:

 

“I forgive you…”

 

If anything…

 

was ever easier…

 

Easier said than done…

 

I ask you…

 

What is in your heart???

 

In those???

 

Those deeper???

 

Those darker spaces???

 

What lies beneath???

 

Just what???

 

Just how has does it shape you???

 

Who???

 

Who do you have to forgive???

 

What???

 

What do you have to forgive???

 

Where are you???

 

Where are you in your process???

 

Are you ready???

 

Healing is a process…

 

Forgiveness is a process…

 

I pray…

 

I pray you heal…

 

I pray you understand…

 

That you seek…

 

That you feel…

 

That you discern…

 

I pray…

 

I pray that in your own time…

 

That in your own time you may forgive beyond word…

 

I pray that you heal…

 

That you forgive…

 

Forgive from your heart…

 

And that from your heart…

 

You…

 

You are set free…

 

Amen…

 

 

Bulletin

Homily – 8/20/17

Posted August 23, 2017

Opening Prayer:

 

I speak to you in the name of God…

 

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…

 

Amen…

 

Introduction:

 

“No one is born hating another person…”

 

“Because of the color of his skin…”

 

“Or his background…”

 

“Or his religion…”

 

“People must learn to hate…”

 

“And…”

 

“If they can learn to hate…”

 

“They can be taught to love…”

 

“For love comes more naturally to the human heart…”

 

“Than it’s opposite…”

 

Nelson Mandela…

 

A quote that had recently been “tweeted” by Former President Obama…

 

Quickly surging to become the most “liked tweet” in Twitter history…

 

I find comfort in that…

 

The response…

 

Well…

 

Well, I had a homily that I had got a jump on…

 

Nearly completed ahead schedule in preparation for today…

 

And then…

 

And then Charlottesville happened…

 

It was a funny one too…

 

I thought so anyway…

 

Yes…

 

Charlottesville happened…

 

A gathering of various hate groups…

 

White supremacists…

 

Neo-Nazis…

 

White nationalists…

 

A veritable crucible of hate…

 

Of evil…

 

And in their ignorance…

 

From that crucible…

 

From that crucible violence bubbled over…

 

It poured over…

 

Body One:

 

I have little doubt…

 

Little doubt that it was not…

 

That it was not exactly what was intended…

 

I myself have participated in several marches and demonstrations through the years…

 

And not once did myself…

 

Or any of the other participants arrive with shields…

 

With sticks, batons, bats…

 

Projectiles…

 

With high-powered semi-automatic rifles on display…

 

No…

 

No, I would imagine that if you show up with such items…

 

There must be some intent for their use…

 

Especially…

 

Especially if you are seeking to be insightful…

 

Donning Nazi memorabilia…

 

Chanting anti-sematic…

 

Anti-black…

 

Anti-Muslim…

 

Anti-LBGTQ…

 

Anti-Immigrant slogans…

 

And…

 

And when the situation went as according to plan…

 

When that crucible poured over…

 

Three souls lost their lives…

 

Heather Heyer…

 

Whose parents have been inspirational in their loss…

 

 

Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen…

 

And…

 

Trooper Berke Bates…

 

The two law enforcement gentlemen each left behind a wife and two children…

 

Physically…

 

Physically many more were injured…

 

The images have been tough to see…

 

The accounts hard to hear…

 

Emotionally…

 

Mentally…

 

Our nation…

 

All of us…

 

We all have been injured…

 

Injured by the ignorance…

 

The hate…

 

The evil…

 

Injured by the realization…

 

The realization that these vessels of ignorance…

 

Of hate…

 

Of evil…

 

That these vessels do not only exist within the fringes of our society…

 

But evidently…

 

Substantially throughout the fabric of it…

 

Now…

 

Prior to last weekend…

 

Prior to last weekend I do not think us naïve enough…

 

Naïve enough to have collectively believed that such hate had ceased to exist…

 

I think we are aware of how it presents itself in our culture…

 

The subtle…

 

The overt…

 

The systemic…

 

However…

 

However, I do believe that actions in Charlottesville…

 

The actions caught us off guard…

 

The sheer spectacle of it…

 

Caught us off guard and allowed us to see just what had been standing before us all along…

 

We learned something last weekend…

 

Through hundreds of torches marching through the night…

 

We learned something…

 

Through shields…

 

Through sticks, batons, and bats…

 

Through a speeding vehicle…

 

We learned something…

 

We learned…

 

We learned that we…

 

That we have so much to learn…

 

That so many…

 

So many have so much to learn…

 

Body Two:

 

“No one is born hating another person…”

 

“Because of the color of his skin…”

 

“Or his background…”

 

“Or his religion…”

 

“People must learn to hate…”

 

“And…”

 

“If they can learn to hate…”

 

“They can be taught to love…”

 

“For love comes more naturally to the human heart…”

 

“Than it’s opposite…”

 

As the Gospels tend to be…

 

This week’s is right on time…

 

And not for the lesson in persistence of faith…

 

But because…

 

But because Jesus…

 

Jesus in his ignoring of…

 

His belittling of…

 

His hurting of the Canaanite woman…

 

He learned…

 

He was “taught to love…”

 

Having previously withheld his compassion for her as she was not a “lost sheep of Israel…”

 

She taught him…

 

She taught him how to love…

 

Opening his compassion and care…

 

His love…

 

His love was open to all peoples…

 

Profoundly changing his ministry from that moment on…

 

Body Three:

 

“No one is born hating another person…”

 

“People must learn to hate…”

 

“No one is born hating another person…”

 

“People must learn to hate…”

 

Learn hate…

 

Where do we learn to hate???

 

We learn to hate from our parents…

 

Our families…

 

Our peers…

 

We learn to hate from history…

 

From media…

 

Perpetuated false stereotypes and generalizations…

 

We learn to hate from misguided belief systems…

 

That somehow our color, our culture, our nation, our God…

 

That we…

 

That we are superior…

 

And the other…

 

The other is inferior…

 

We learn to hate from our fears

 

Afraid of the unknown…

 

Of not being dominant…

 

Of not being superior…

 

We learn to hate from our own disappointments and short comings…

 

Blaming others for why we did not…

 

Why we cannot achieve…

 

Making others responsible for our lot…

 

Sources of hate…

 

They surround us…

 

It is in that space…

 

In being surrounded…

 

That is for us…

 

That it is for us to be mindful as to our teachers influence…

 

That we do not allow those teachers to indoctrinate us with ignorance…

 

That we do not take on their hate…

 

That we are not infected by that evil…

 

It is for us…

 

It is for us to question what we have been told…

 

What we supposedly know…

 

Our values…

 

Even if…

 

Even if they had been handed down to us by those that we admire…

 

Those who love us…

 

And that we love the most…

 

It is for us…

 

It is for us to question information…

 

Our sources…

 

To challenge stereotypes…

 

To challenge generalizations…

 

It is for us…

 

It is for us to examine our belief systems…

 

It is for us…

 

It is for us to find comfort in our fears…

 

It is for us…

 

It is for us to take responsibility for our own lot…

 

It is for us…

 

It is for us to learn…

 

To learn about ourselves…

 

To learn about ourselves just as Jesus did…

 

Closing:

 

“If they can learn to hate…”

 

“They can be taught to love…”

 

“For love comes more naturally to the human heart…”

 

“Than it’s opposite…”

 

If they can learn to hate…

 

They can be taught…

 

They can be taught to love…

 

And here it is…

 

Our mission…

 

Our response to Charlottesville…

 

Those that hate…

 

They can be taught to love…

 

They can be taught by surrounding…

 

By surrounding those same sources of hate…

 

Surrounding them with love…

 

The love of not accepting a racist joke…

 

The love of denouncing a slur…

 

The love of not perpetuating stereotypes…

 

The love of offering comfort to fear…

 

The love of personal responsibility…

 

The love of seeking tolerance in bigotry…

 

The love of enlightening ignorance…

 

The love of calling out…

 

The love of not validating racism, prejudice, or hatred…

 

This morning…

 

This morning I pray…

 

I pray that through the tragedy in Charlottesville…

 

That we…

 

Like Jesus…

 

That we learn…

 

That our compassion and care…

 

Our love…

 

Our love is open to all peoples…

 

I pray that our ministries are profoundly changed from this moment on…

 

I pray that we are teachers of love…

 

I pray that loves surrounds hate…

 

I pray for Helen Heyer…

 

For Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen…

 

For Trooper Berke Bates…

 

For their families and all those who mourn them…

 

I pray for our nation…

 

“No one is born hating another person…”

 

“Because of the color of his skin…”

 

“Or his background…”

 

“Or his religion…”

 

“People must learn to hate…”

 

“And…”

 

“If they can learn to hate…”

 

“They can be taught to love…”

 

“For love comes more naturally to the human heart…”

 

“Than it’s opposite…”

 

The most “liked tweet” in Twitter history…

 

I find comfort in that…

 

The response…

 

Amen…

 

Bulletin

Irv Cousins Eulogy – 8/12/17

Posted August 19, 2017

Burial Rite for Irv Cousins

It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3: 26

It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

 

What we believe about death and what comes after death makes all the difference for what we believe about life. It’s a kind of vantage point from which we look at life.

 

Buddhism and Christianity take starkly different views on this. Most of you know, I respect Buddhism and believe we could learn a thing or two from our Buddhist friends. But there is this basic difference.

 

Buddhism doesn’t believe in the soul, but it does teach reincarnation. This was confusing to one young American student. So, he asked his teacher, “If there is no soul, what is reincarnated?”  The teacher answered, “It is your bad habits.” The idea of reincarnation is that we need to scrub away all our faults and that takes more than one lifetime.  But eventually, once we have scrubbed away our faults, there is nothing of us left; so, we just cease to be.  Non-existence is as good as it gets because there is nothing in us worth saving.

 

Christianity takes the opposite view.  We say God is a vast immensity of love,  that we are created by God’s love sustained by God’s love, and that makes us good. God says we are good.

 

We may get twisted a bit, we may go off course, but our soul, the core of who we are is fundamentally good.  We come from the heart of God, we return to the heart of God, and we are never cut off from the heart of God. God does not forget the goodness he has made. Nothing good dies forever.  It all lives on in the heart of God and will manifest again in God’s time and in God’s way.

 

That is a general truth for all humanity. But God’s love for us isn’t just a general attitude. God doesn’t just love all of us in general.  God loves each of us particularly for being the unique person that each of us is.   Theologian Karl Rahner said, Each of us is a unique irreplaceable word of God

 

That means there are not just four gospels.  Every human life is a gospel. Irv Cousin’s life was a gospel, so what does it say?

 

It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.  Irv was a quiet man, a private man.  As an only child, he spent a lot of time alone reading and he kept that practice up all his life.  Growing up in a military family, he didn’t have a chance to be part of the school cliques.  He learned to keep his own counsel and enjoy his own company.

 

John Milton said, Solitude is sometimes the best society. Thoreau said, I love to be alone.  I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. Lord Byron wrote, Then stirs the feeling infinite so felt In solitude where we are least alone.  Or in the language of our day, punk singer Henry Rollins said,

                                                                 Loneliness adds beauty to life.

It puts a special burn on sunsets

and makes night air smell better.

 

In Irv’s privacy, something precious grew.  It was a profound dignity.  Our collect for the 2nd Sunday in Christmas says that, God . . . wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored the dignity of human nature . . .. In our Baptismal Covenant, we vow to respect the dignity of every human being.

 

In our time, dignity is hard to find.  In an era of reality television sapheads and buffoons posing as political pundits, we long for someone we can respect.  Irv Cousins was easy to respect. He showed us what human dignity looks like.  He showed us what graciousness looked like.  These are not just manners and style.  Dignity is something good that God created and reveals to us through people like Irv to show us a piece of what we are called to become.  Human dignity is part and parcel of the gospel.

 

Irv was a private man, but he was not an island.  He connected with others by serving them.  He served his church in Maryland as their Treasurer. Then he served our diocese as Treasurer and Finance Officer

for 18 years, across the tenures of three bishops.   While the rest of us did Church in all too visible and audible ways, Irv was quietly keeping the ship afloat.

 

Because he was not too enamored of his own voice, Irv had the vital spiritual gift of listening.  When he listened to you, his attention was undivided.  James 1: 19 says, Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.   That was Irv Cousins.

 

He could listen to you in a way that said, “you matter.”  He took people seriously.  Irv had human dignity because he respected the dignity of others.  He showed that respect by the way he listened.

 

Christina Rossetti said, Silence is the most beautiful music Benjamin Disraeli echoed Silence is the mother of truth.   Irv had the dignity, the wisdom, and the compassion to keep still and listen others into life.

 

This is not just an individual character trait.  It is not an accident of nature and nurture.  Irv’s way of being in this world was a virtue created by God.  It was, as Rahner said, a unique, irreplaceable word of God.

 

Irv’s family will not be the only ones to miss him.  We all will.   The world needs Irv’s way of being now more than ever.  Maybe some of the rest of us will have to take up some of the slack by becoming a bit more like him.  I know I want to be more like him.  But no one can take his place.

 

We will miss him dearly.

 

Our consolation is that Irv Cousins came from the heart of God, he returns to the heart of God,  he was never cut off from the heart of God.  He was a good man if ever there was one, and nothing good dies forever.

Amen.

 

Epiphany Episcopal Church

The Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards

August 12, 2017

Bulletin

Homily – 8/13/17

Posted August 14, 2017

“Peter Doesn’t Swim”

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead.  The King James says that “Jesus constrained the disciples to get into the boat.”  It was clearly not the disciple’s idea to leave Jesus alone with the crowd.  They probably wanted to stay while he dismissed them, but Jesus insisted they get into the boat and go on ahead of him.  It had to be quite exhausting to be the center of attention; to be the one that everyone wanted to see, to touch, to speak to.  I can recall a diocesan convention several years ago, when Presiding Bishop Katherine was the speaker.  We had just adjourned for the lunch break, which was a very short break if I remember correctly.  I saw a large crowd of people head in her direction, and a line began to form, just to say hello, to get a blessing, or to simply speak with her.  She handled it with her usual grace, but it must have been a bit exhausting and it took up more than half of her lunch time before all in the line had their moment with her.

It must have been the same for Jesus, but even more so.  This was Jesus who did miracles, who had the power to feed 5,000 people, who could heal the sick, could bring the dead back to life.  Is it any wonder that people wanted to get a moment with him?  And not just the crowd, for the disciples also made demands on Jesus’ time, even when it was well intentioned.  So it is not surprising that he would send them away while he handled the last of the crowds, to give him a brief respite and a few moments alone.

So we have the disciples alone in a boat and night is falling.  They are far from shore when a storm comes up and the small boat starts to get battered by winds and high seas.  Not exactly a good place to be.  They were certainly wet and uncomfortable, and likely afraid of the storm.  And then, in the wee hours of the morning, in the darkness, they see a man walking toward them on the storm-tossed sea.  If they were not already, they are most certainly terrified at this point.  “It is a ghost’, and they cried out in fear.”  But Jesus tells them not to be afraid.

We know the rest of the story.  Peter walks onto the water, starts to fall, and is saved by Jesus.  We hear the rebuke ‘oh ye of little faith’ and we chalk it up to good ole Peter once again.  I have said this before, but it bears repeating.  If Peter had not actually existed, the gospel writers would have had to make him up.  Think about it.  Peter is the perfect foil for the action that takes place.  It is as if he came straight from central casting in Hollywood.  Peter who is just a tad too anxious to please.  Peter who wouldn’t let Jesus wash his feet.  Peter who doesn’t quite have enough faith.  Peter who would deny the Lord three times before the cock crowed.

The reason Peter is such an integral part of the story is that we can all relate to him.  If he were the stereotypical hero, if he were Hercules, he would never make a mistake.  He would be exactly what he always tried to be, but so seldom was.  Instead he was entirely human, and that is what makes him relatable.  For we all try and fail, so we can see ourselves in Peter.  And we can see that if Peter could fail and still be redeemed, then there is hope for us as well.

But I think it is too easy in this story to condemn Peter.  I think history has given him a bad rap this time.  For what do we all remember about this story?  Oh ye of little faith, poor Peter, failing yet again.  But how exactly did Peter find himself in this predicament?  “Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’  He said ‘Come’.  So Peter go out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.”  Let me say that again.  Peter said, Lord, command me to come to you on the water.  Peter ASKED for this.  And that is amazing.

Let me remind you that the disciples found themselves in a boat on a rough sea, tossed by the wind and waves, in the middle of the night.  They see a strange apparition walking toward them on the water and are terrified.  And Peter, poor old doesn’t quite get it Peter, does something remarkable.  He asks the Lord to tell him to get OUT OF THE BOAT!

This is incredibly courageous.  It had to be way outside of his comfort zone, yet Peter asks Jesus to set him this impossible task.  Think of how hard that would have been if it were you or me.  Do you think you would have the faith to ask the Lord for something so impossible?  I certainly don’t.  I know that I don’t have the strength, or the skill, or the courage to do something so difficult.

But that is precisely the point.  Peter doesn’t have the skill or the strength or the ability to do this by himself either.  He didn’t just climb out of the boat.  He asked Jesus to command him to do this impossible task.  For Peter knew something that we tend to forget.  Nothing is impossible for God.  So while Peter couldn’t do it alone, he could with God’s help.  The same is true for us.

Do you have the courage to ask God to help you with a seemingly impossible task?  How about something well outside your comfort zone?  It need not be walking on water, for we have opportunities every day.  We collect school supplies for Communities in Schools, but they also need people to mentor and tutor kids.  We collect food for the Epicenter foodbank, but have you ever thought about going down there and handing out the food to those in need?  We collect personal items for Gabriel’s gift, but they also need folks to go out and distribute them to homeless folks here in town.  These things may be way outside of your comfort zone, but if you ask God for help, they are surely things you can accomplish.

And you may find that doing these things, things that are done with and through the Lord will put you into places and situations you could never dream of. You all know Deacon Ann.  She has always had a heart for the homeless and the hungry, and after turning more deeply to God she became even more involved in helping and in advocacy.  But she never dreamed that this would lead to an opportunity to advocate in person with the President of the United States.  Yet, that happened.

You never know what God has in store for you until you ask for his help.  And when you do, you will be able to do things you never dreamed of.  To quote from Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you will go.”

Bulletin

July 30, 2017

Posted July 28, 2017

Ministers in Today’s Service – July 30, 2017

Presider: The Rev. Nicholas Neubauer

Preacher: The Rev. Vince O’Neill

Deacon: The Rev. Sam Morford

Pianist/Organist: Carol W

Altar Guild: Claire J

Eucharistic Ministers: 8 AM: Kris K 10 AM Ginny G, Joe S

Acolyte: 8 AM: 10 AM Bobby & Thomas B

Readers: 8 AM: Kris K 10 AM: Kelly M,  Lindsey C, Caroline C

Greeters: Carol C, Kristen L

Usher: Ron F

Nursery: Kristen L

Coffee Hour: Mary Ellen H

Bulletin

Homily – 6/25/17

Posted July 3, 2017

A group of people were trying to cut a path through a dense jungle. They had been divided into three groups; workers, managers and leaders.  The largest group were the workers and they were the folks who stood shoulder to shoulder with machetes in their hands, hacking away at the foliage.  It was hard and tiring work.  The second group was the managers.  It was their job to make sure the machetes were sharpened, to develop a stretching program to help the workers stay limber, and to develop a break schedule to ensure that the workers got some relief.  The final group were the leaders.  It was their job to determine the overall direction and to chart the course.

As they begin, the workers start their labor in the oppressive heat.  They stand side by side swinging their machetes, sweating and looking forward to their next break.  The managers stand behind them and track their progress on clipboards.  They ensure that job rotation takes place, the machetes are properly sharpened, and make sure the workers stay at their task.  While this takes place, the leader climbs the tallest tree he can find.  As he looks out across the jungle, he realizes something important.  He shouts down to the workers and the managers, “We need to stop.  We are heading in the wrong direction.”  To which they all respond, ‘shut up, we are making good progress!’

The leader here is clearly not earning any popularity points.  For he has committed that unpardonable sin; he has told people something that they do not want to hear.  Even though they are going the wrong way, the leader’s pronouncement has intruded upon their world in a decidedly unwelcome way.

In a scenario like this one, each person knows their role.  The workers know what they are supposed to do, and the direction they travel is not something they are worried about.  Such is the life of a worker, at least in Jesus’ time. Each of the disciples understands this role, as that is what they were.  Simple fishermen, shepherds, farmers.  Matthew may have been the only exception as a tax collector who had a more official role in the roman government.  He was one of the managers, those folks who have an entrenched interest in making sure things run smoothly.  Their status and position are dependent upon how well they can manage the people and the process.  They want nothing to make their job more difficult or to jeopardize their position, so they tend to value the status quo above all things.

And then along comes the leader, and he has the audacity to tell them they are going the wrong way.  Who does he thing he is?  Are we supposed to stop the wheels of progress just because he says so?  If we stop now we will never make our quota.  And if we don’t make quota, the workers won’t get their scheduled break and the managers may not earn their bonus.  Neither group has time for crazy pronouncements from the leader.  So they ignore him.

But the leader knows that they are going the wrong way.  If they stay on the course they are heading, they will not get to their destination.  So he speaks even louder.  He is persistent and won’t stop.  And now he begins to get on the other people’s nerves.  It is bad enough that he is interrupting their work, but now he just won’t shut up.  He keeps telling them they are wrong and it is annoying them.  So they start to shout back.  They tell him he is the one who is wrong and they don’t need him.  They being to vilify him and even threaten him.   But he keeps on telling them they are going the wrong way, and they begin to hate him for it.

“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!”  Jesus is telling the disciples exactly how hard it is going to be to follow him.  For Jesus is like the leader in our story.  He sees that the people and the rulers of the land are going in the wrong direction and he tells them so.  And they begin to hate him for it.  Jesus wants the disciples to clearly understand how difficult their path will be as his followers.  People will call him all manner of awful things, and they will say the same and perhaps even worse about those who serve him.

It is not going to be easy to be a disciple.  For people do not want to hear that they are going the wrong way.  We all prefer to hear that we are already doing the right things.  We want to hear that we can lose weight without exercise while eating anything we want.  We want to hear that we can take expensive vacations and not have to pay for them.  We want to hear that we can use people for our own purposes and there will be no consequences.  But that is just not the case.  And we tend to dislike the people who tell us otherwise.

That is what Jesus is telling the disciples.  Be aware that the message I am giving you to bring will not be a popular one.  People are not going to like to hear it, and they are not going to like you for bringing it.  Even within families, it is not always easy to be the one who tells you that you are going the wrong way.  You love the person, but you still need to tell them that their path is leading them to ruin.

“For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.”  Family is everything in the culture of their time and Jesus again wants the disciples to really understand the price they are going to pay to be bearers of his message.  Not just strangers will recoil from them, but in all likelihood family will as well.  This is the price of discipleship.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about this in his work “The cost of discipleship.”  He differentiates between cheap grace and costly grace.  Cheap grace is a kind of no consequences grace.  Cheap grace is spiritual junk food.  It is the idea that you can eat pizza and ice cream every day and still lose weight.  Cheap grace is the grace we pronounce upon ourselves, it is forgiveness without repentance, it comes with no real cost.  But costly grace is something else.  It is grace that we must seek.  It is costly because it requires something of us and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus the Lord.  The cost of discipleship then is exactly that, a cost we must pay to be Jesus’ followers and bearer of his message.

It is the cost of being willing to climb the tree and tell everyone they are going the wrong way, whether they like you for it or not.

 

Bulletin

Homily – 6/18/17

Posted June 19, 2017

 

Opening:

 

Let the words of my mouth…

 

And the meditations of my heart…

 

Be always acceptable in thy sight…

 

O’ Lord…

 

My strength…

 

And my redeemer…

 

Amen…

 

Introduction:

 

Euangelion (e-juan-gel-ion)…

 

Yeah…

 

You heard me correctly…

 

I think anyway…

 

I practiced the pronunciation on Google a few times…

 

Euangelion (e-juan-gel-ion)…

 

No…

 

No, it’s not some science fiction dialect…

 

It’s from the Greek…

 

Meaning???

 

Meaning—“the good news…”

 

Telling the story of Jesus Christ…

 

So…

 

How do we use the word today???

 

Evangelism!!!

 

Yes…

 

Evangelism!!!

 

Every Episcopalian’s favorite “E” word…

 

Good ole evangelism…

 

Just think about it…

 

You…

 

You can strap a sandwich board on your body…

 

You can go right up the road to Las Vegas Blvd…

 

Don’t forget your Bible…

 

And you can yell…

 

Better yet…

 

Let’s do it the right way…

 

I’ll tell you what…

 

Get a bull horn…

 

People love bull horns…

 

Get a bull horn and scream…

 

Scream at the top of your lungs…

 

Repent!!!

 

The kingdom of heaven is at hand!!!

 

And…

 

While you are at it…

 

While you are at it, tell people how God hates them…

 

How they should fear him…

 

That God is angry…

 

Maybe…

 

Just maybe…

 

If you are “really” serious and desperately want to save souls…

 

Maybe, you can even threaten them…

 

Threaten them with the notion of burning in hell for all eternity!!!

 

What do you say???

 

There are thousands walking around over there…

 

I’ll tell you what…

 

You guys go do that…

 

And in the meantime…

 

In the meantime, I’ll make sure we have more chairs for next week…

 

We are going to need them, right???

 

If you guys go do that…

 

If you do that…

 

Our coffers will be full…

 

Our coffers will be full and we can give Father a raise…

 

That church building…

 

That church building, we have our eye on…

 

It’s as good as built…

 

Just pick the elevation…

 

Right???

 

Now…

 

Am I a prophet or am I a prophet???

 

Body 1:

 

Evangelism…

 

In our Gospel today…

 

We hear of Jesus…

 

Of Jesus gathering his disciples and instructing them…

 

Instructing them to “go to the lost sheep of Israel…”

 

To “proclaim the good news…”

 

Evangelism…

 

I think for most…

 

For most…

 

The “E” word…

 

It can be an off-putting…

 

An intimidating concept…

 

The ideas…

 

The imagery it can conjure up…

 

That fire…

 

The brimstone…

 

That guilt…

 

The fear…

 

The very things…

 

The very messages in which so many…

 

So many…

 

Have been so hurt…

 

So many…

 

So many shamed…

 

Persecuted…

 

Excluded…

 

So many have been so hurt…

 

They have chosen…

 

Chosen to walk away…

 

Walk away from God…

 

Or maybe…

 

Maybe never sought him in the first place…

 

Because after all…

 

God hates them…

 

They should fear him…

 

God is angry…

 

God would allow you…

 

God would allow you to burn in hell…

 

So many…

 

So, hurt…

 

So much so…

 

So much so that I don’t blame them…

 

Body 2:

 

Evangelism…

 

What about the why???

 

Why???

 

Just why are we called to do it???

 

To fill the pews???

 

Is it our ego???

 

Is it God’s???

 

The greater our numbers…

 

The greater are we???

 

The greater our God???

 

Are we???

 

Are we not enough???

 

Not enough for us???

 

For God???

 

To fill bank accounts???

 

Is it the money???

 

Is our stuff???

 

Is our stuff not good enough???

 

Not good enough for us???

 

Not good enough for God???

 

Body 3:

 

Evangelism…

 

Let me ask you…

 

Who was Jesus???

 

Let me ask you…

 

Who is Jesus???

 

What are his qualities???

 

I’m glad you ask…

 

Loving…

 

Gentle…

 

Compassionate…

 

Kind…

 

Giving…

 

Accepting…

 

Inclusive…

 

Humble…

 

Patient…

 

Forgiving…

 

Teacher…

 

I can go on…

 

Let me ask you…

 

Who did Jesus seek???

 

Jesus…

 

Jesus sought everyone…

 

Let me ask you…

 

When Jesus could have commanded anything…

 

What did he choose???

 

He chose love…

 

You see…

 

You see God…

 

God does not hate you…

 

God loves you…

 

You should not fear God…

 

God is peace…

 

God is not angry…

 

God is joy…

 

God will not…

 

God will not allow you to burn in hell…

 

This…

 

This my parish family…

 

This is evangelism…

 

This is the Good News…

 

The story of Jesus Christ…

 

This is the Good News…

 

The story…

 

The story that so many…

 

The so many who have been hurt…

 

That have been shamed…

 

That have been persecuted…

 

That have been excluded…

 

Those so many…

 

Those who have chosen to walk away…

 

Or never who have sought God in the first place…

 

This is the good news…

 

This is the story they need to hear…

 

Evangelism…

 

Evangelism is our opportunity…

 

Evangelism is our chance to set the record straight…

 

To do it right…

 

To proclaim…

 

To reveal…

 

Our chance to correct the good news…

 

To tell the true story…

 

With the true qualities of our Lord, Jesus Christ…

 

This is evangelism…

 

Body 4:

 

Evangelism…

 

Why???

 

Just why do we have to do it???

 

Evangelism is not about filling the pews…

 

Evangelism is not about lining our bank account…

 

Evangelism is not about stuff…

 

Evangelism…

 

Evangelism is about healing…

 

Healing the hurt…

 

Evangelism is about eliminating…

 

Eliminating shame…

 

Evangelism is about seeking out…

 

Seeking out the persecuted…

 

Evangelism is about accepting…

 

Accepting the excluded…

 

Not only telling…

 

Not only telling but living the good news, the story of Jesus Christ…

 

To do this work…

 

To do it well…

 

We do not need a sandwich board…

 

We do not need a bull horn…

 

We do not need to seek the masses…

 

All we need to do…

 

All we need to do is live lives that demonstrate…

 

That demonstrate and project the qualities of Jesus…

 

That we seek like him…

 

That we follow his commandments…

 

And…

 

In time…

 

In time, I have little doubt that we will succeed in our mission…

 

Closing:

 

Euangelion (e-juan-gel-ion)…

 

Or however you say it…

 

Evangelism…

 

The good news…

 

The story of Jesus Christ…

 

I pray…

 

I pray that for us…

 

That the “E” word…

 

That it not be off-putting…

 

That it not be an intimidating concept…

 

I pray…

 

I pray for the imagery it has the potential to conjure up…

 

The qualities of Jesus…

 

Of healing…

 

Of seeking…

 

And I pray…

 

I pray that in our mission…

 

Our mission in which we are so called…

 

Proclaiming the good news…

 

Telling the story of Jesus…

 

The “E” word…

 

That it leads us to those…

 

To those lost sheep of the house of Israel…

 

And it leads them…

 

It leads them to God…

 

Amen…

 

Bulletin

Homily – Pentecost

Posted June 5, 2017

 

Pentecost Sunday, 2017

 

Opening Prayer:

 

Let the words of my mouth…

 

And the meditations of my heart…

 

Be always acceptable in thy sight…

 

O’ Lord…

 

My strength and my redeemer….

 

Amen…

 

Introduction:

You ever get that feeling???

You know that feeling…

That feeling you get…

That feeling you get when you see suffering…

Perhaps it’s looking out of your car window or checking in with the nightly news…

And even if we keep on driving or flip the channel…

In that witnessed suffering…

In that moment…

In that moment we are drawn from within to the other in compassion…

You know that feeling…

That feeling you get…

That feeling you get that lifts you up in tearful solitude…

Perhaps at a time of a broken or lost heart…

In that agony…

In that moment…

In that moment the subtle internal embrace reminding you that you will be okay…

You know the feeling…

That feeling you get…

That feeling you get when you are overcome with joy…

Perhaps when your eyes meet with same of an old friend…

Or your little one holds your finger for the first time…

In that joy…

In that moment…

You feel the flutter within…

You know the feeling…

That feeling you get…

Whether it be that draw of compassion…

That subtle embrace…

That flutter of joy…

Or many others that we experience…

That feeling you get…

That feeling…

That feeling is the spirit who dwells within each of us…

Body One:

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you…”

“Which you have from God…”

“And that you are not your own???”

Each one…

Each one of us…

Each one of us is a Holy vessel…

Again…

Each one of us is a Holy vessel…

Now…

I know…

I know it can be hard to remind ourselves of that…

To believe ourselves as such…

Holy men and women of God…

Saints…

Mostly because we on regular occasion bear witness to our “unholiness…”

I can struggle with that reality myself…

Because after all…

We can yell…

Some of us can curse…

We can lie…

Cheat…

We can steal…

Be selfish…

We can withhold forgiveness…

Hurt others…

Ourselves…

But…

But we can also…

We can also soothe…

Choose our words…

We can be honest…

Be givers…

We can put ourselves 2nd or at times last…

Forgive…

We can heal others…

Heal ourselves…

Body Two:

Often times…

Often times we can lose sight…

Lose sight of our own holiness…

Of just how miraculous we are…

Amazing…

Our gifts…

The spirit we possess…

And why???

Because of our behavior…

Of our thoughts…

Our feelings…

The choices that we made…

Impulsive or deliberate…

We can declare, “I am not holy because…”

Or…

Or we move in the other direction…

Choosing to measure our earned holiness…

Measure it as though it has some ordinal value…

Our works…

Our good deeds…

Whatever they may be…

We can declare, “I am holy because…”

Now…

As much as I am a fan of a good behavior analysis…

Of being mindful as to our thoughts…

Of an examine of our emotional inventory…

The choices we have made…

As I much as love to hear about good works…

None of that…

None of that makes us unholy…

And…

None of that makes us holy…

However…

Depending on just what they are…

They might very well make us some other things…

I will leave that to your imagination…

But unholy…

And holy…

They do not…

You see…

This is out of our hands…

It is God…

God…

God though our Lord, Jesus Christ that makes us holy…

It is out of our hands…

The spirit does not dwell in us on a conditional basis of our doing…

But rather…

Rather, the spirit dwells in us on an unconditional basis of God’s doing…

We are…

We are holy in spite of ourselves…

Body Three:

Pentecost…

Today…

Today the Church’s birthday…

In which we celebrate the Apostle’s having received this most sacred gift…

The gift of the Holy Spirit…

The Holy Spirit that brought the Church into life…

“On this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation…”

“By the promised gift of your Holy Spirit…”

Today…

In observation of and recognition of the gift of the Holy Spirit to God’s people…

It is my hope…

It is my hope that we…

Like the Church…

That we too celebrate our sacred gift…

Our sacred gift of the spirit living within us…

And that in doing so…

That we do not allow our judgement…

Our scorecards…

To determine the degree of God’s presence within us…

No…

It is my hope that instead…

That instead we allow our hearts and our minds…

To be open to that presence…

To that presence, knowledge, and love of God…

That we embrace the spirit…

Not only to its existence within us…

But just how do we experience it???

How does that spirit inform us???

How does it support us???

Encourage and guide us???

How is the spirit of God working in our lives???

If we are to do so…

If we are truly to receive this gift…

We must first…

We must first accept it…

We must embrace it…

We must take ownership of it…

“Peace be with you…”

“As the father has sent me…”

“So I send you…”

“Receive the Holy Spirit…”

Receive the Holy Spirit…

Accept it…

Embrace it…

Own it…

Receive the Holy Spirit…

You…

You my brothers and sisters…

You are holy vessels…

You are God filled miracles…

You are saints…

Closing:

You ever get that feeling???

You know that feeling…

That draw from within???

That internal subtle embrace???

That flutter???

You know that feeling…

That feeling…

That feeling is the spirit who dwells within each of us…

So…

Today…

This day of Pentecost…

As the father has sent me…

So…

So I send you…

I pray that you receive the Holy Spirit…

I pray that you know…

That you know that you are holy…

That God…

That God is alive in you…

Regardless of what you may…

Or may not do…

I send you…

You, vessels of compassion…

Of forgiveness…

Of love…

The Gospel…

I send you back into your experience…

Your experience that needs your spirit…

I send you home to your families…

Your families that need your spirit…

I send you to be present within your communities…

Your communities that need your spirit…

I send you out into a world…

A world that desperately needs your spirit…

And I pray…

I pray that when you get that feeling…

You know the one…

I pray that you embrace and celebrate its presence within you…

Peace be with you…

Amen…

 

 

 

 

Bulletin

Homily – May 21

Posted May 28, 2017

Jesus is giving his farewell address to his disciples. It is nearly time for him to face the cross, and he is trying to pass along some final wisdom. In today’s passage from John, he tells them “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” This is very much in keeping with John’s gospel. For John, love is the theme, but it is not what we think of today when we use the word love. John does not mean it in a romantic sense, rather it has a fraternal connotation of brotherhood and care for one another. It is this love that we aspire to and for John, the ultimate expression of love is obedience.
That is a bit jarring to us in western civilization. We like to think we are rugged individualists and prefer to answer to no one but ourselves. An instinctive distrust of organizations has been inculcated in our civilization, one based primarily on the perceived failure of so many institutions. Our leaders have been corrupt, the institutions that are there to care for us are instead self-serving, or so bound up with process and red tape that they are almost laughably inept. So we have built a distrust of institutions and maintain what we like to call a healthy skepticism.
The church is one of those institutions. There are any number of people who have had a bad experience with organized religion, and if it hasn’t happened to you, you likely know someone who has been in that situation. So they doubt the effectiveness of the church in much the same way they doubt the effectiveness of the DMV. Going there is an odious chore, one that they avoid based upon their bad prior experiences. And when they do happen to come, they hear a gospel like this one which is telling us we need to be obedient. Ouch. Definitely outside of our mainstream culture.
But there is a significant potential here for misunderstanding. For the gospel today is not telling us that we need to be obedient to the church, but to Jesus. Jesus is NOT an institution, but God himself. He has given us the new commandment that we love one another as he loves us, and it is obedience to that commandment that John refers to. Perhaps that will sit a bit better with us, but it is no less daunting. In fact, it is much harder.
For if we are told we must be obedient to an institution, then we have the ability to make a value judgement as to the validity of the institution. It is really our choice to be obedient, even to a large institution like the government. True there are laws that we all must obey, and they are enforced upon us. But we also have the ability to question the government, and to disagree with it. We can even use civil disobedience to help change the government in ways we feel are unjust. Women’s suffrage and the civil rights acts were both born of civil disobedience, and changed our government and our world for the better.
But as I said, Jesus is NOT an institution. 2,000 years later, John is still telling us that we must be obedient to him, and the way we do that is by keeping his commandments. Unlike our man-made institutions, we don’t get to make a value judgment on the validity of his commandments and only follow the ones that appeal to us. While there may be a process for amending the constitution, there is no process to alter the commandments. For they are not made by men, but by God. God gave Moses the ten commandments and Jesus gave the new commandment to the disciples. These are not open to debate, but are just what they are called, commandments. If we are to be God’s people, then we are to be obedient to his commandments.
That is a hard thing. For while we like or dislike our elected leaders and their positions, Jesus is not in the same category. True, you can elect not to follow him at all. But if you do claim to be a follower, then the path to that is obedience to the commandments.
Jesus is leaving the disciples, but he promises not to leave them alone. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides in you, and he will be in you.” Even when Jesus was with them on earth, the disciples had a hard time being obedient and keeping the commandments. What hope do they have once he is gone? Jesus knows this, and understands that the way will be difficult. So he tells them of the coming of the Holy Spirit; the spirit of God that will be with them as their advocate.
This is a poor word choice. For the meaning of advocate in our world is very different from Jesus’ time. We tend to think of it in a legalistic sense, which would mean that the Holy Spirit is really here to be our lawyer. That is not quite the idea. Other translations use the world Comforter, but that too is not quite it. True, the spirit is there to comfort us in times of trouble or grief, but it is far more than that, and to reduce it to only comfort is to minimize the role of the Spirit. The actual word is paraclete, which has a number of connotations. It means someone who stands with you when you are accused of something, but it also means someone who helps to build your courage when you face danger. It is someone who helps to instill bravery and confidence in yourself, to enable you to persevere, to encourage and enliven you.
Given this understanding, we can appreciate the mission of the spirit and the reason God sends that part of himself to us. For help, for comfort, for strength and confidence, and the heart to obey the commandments, even when it is truly difficult to do so. We are called to love one another as Jesus loves us, and the spirit is with us to aid us in this mission.
This past week we have been obedient to the commandment as we have hosted families in need through Family Promise. We have fed them, housed them, and most importantly, been in fellowship with them. This is more than an act of charity, it is part of our calling. Charity is easy, but building relationship and companionship is much more challenging. It is also much more fulfilling, both for our guests who need someone to talk to, but also for us. It has been said that it is more blessed to give than to receive, but often times, in giving, you receive more. That has been our experience with Family Promise. Epiphany is a warm and welcoming place, and we demonstrated that this past week. But in so doing, we have been changed by the experience. And this change is decidedly for the better.

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