God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
COLLECT: Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I have attached two version of the liturgy. One is dated and contains the readings for this Sunday. The other is undated and does not contain the readings in case you would like to print one out to use for multiple weeks. The readings and collect may also be found by clicking on the calendar icon at BCP2019.com
Summary: This is an opportunity for the glory of God to be seen in and through the Church. We are working to find a platform in which we can share our needs and our ability to help. We will not be meeting in person for the next two weeks. This Sunday, we will gather through Zoom for worship. I am available by phone, text, e-mail, or zoom. Please know that each of you remain in my prayers. I am confident that God will be glorified in ways that we are not able to ask or imagine.
Dearest Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Grace and peace be with you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This ancient greeting seems particularly appropriate as we prepare to navigate a difficult period in the life of our community, our nation, and the Church. As the impact of both the disease and the measures enacted to prevent disease in vulnerable populations and to prevent overwhelming the capacity of our health care system become more apparent, we as a parish will need to consider the ways in which we act as the Body of Christ caring for one another and the community around us.
We have already seen shortages in stores. Soon we will begin to see the economic impact of closures in restaurants, hotels, and other businesses on employment. This is an opportunity for the glory of God to be seen in and through the Church.
Luke describes the early church in this way, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” While these actions of community will look different in our current age of supermarkets, automobiles, and digital communication, I think we have an opportunity to love and serve one another in community by sharing both our abundance and our need.
We are working to find a platform in which we can share our needs and our ability to help. For example, someone might have peanut butter and another jelly to offer, someone might need help with childcare or with shopping.
We will not be meeting in person for the next two weeks. We will do our best to utilize technology to maintain community and worship. This Sunday, we will gather at our regular time (4 PM) through Zoom for worship. We will also attempt to stream the service on Facebook Live so that those who are not able to participate by Zoom as well as those outside of our community can participate in worship. I value your feedback and suggestions regarding how to make this unusual and less than ideal process the best that it can be.
I do not talk about money very often because it is usually not necessary. We are a low expense church. However, this seems to be a good time to share a bit about how we work. Offerings by check or online go into the general operating fund which pays for nursery care, music, rent, housing allowances, our contributions to mission, and our tithe to the diocese as well as other operating expenses. Offerings that are received as cash go into the Rector’s Discretionary Fund which is disbursed according to need to assist those in a crisis. As we come into this season, we are committed to providing for our missionaries, our staff, and the other operating expenses which others depend upon. We are also committed to providing as much as possible to those in need through the discretionary fund and other funds. Please consider continuing your regular giving through our online portal (https://tithe.ly/give?c=932854). In this portal, you may also select “Rector’s Discretionary Fund” if you would like to make an additional donation during this time of crisis. (Please note that the fees we pay for online giving are greater for credit card donations than for ACH (bank draft) donations).
For non-social distancing reasons, I will not be in my office this week (a pipe burst and flooded the building last week). I am available by phone, text, e-mail, or zoom. Please know that each of you remain in my prayers. I am confident that God will be glorified in ways that we are not able to ask or imagine.
COLLECT: Heavenly Father, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you: Look with compassion upon the heartfelt desires of your servants, and purify our disordered affections, that we may behold your eternal glory in the face of Christ Jesus; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Comments Off on Contagion – Reflection for 15 March 2020
The recent Coronavirus outbreak has introduced a number of very interesting questions regarding the way we do church.
One way that we can look at the ministry of Jesus as fulfilling the Law and the Prophet’ is from the perspective of contagion. The purity laws of the Torah describe a contagion of death and impurity. For example, one becomes unclean or impure by touching a dead body. In contrast, Jesus brings a ministry in which life and purity are contagious. When Jesus touches a dead body, instead of becoming unclean from the presence of death, Jesus transmits life and the dead are raised. This is part of what we proclaim when we declare that in the Resurrection, Jesus defeated sin and death.
As we look back to the current situation with Covid-19, we hear that on average the virus spreads from one infected person to 2 or 3 others. This results in exponential spread and our current social distancing efforts seek to reduce or slow this rate of transmission.
I wonder what would happen if we started to look as well at the contagion of Hope with which we are entrusted in the same way. What if we sought out to transmit a contagious hope to two or three people, a hope that they would transmit to two or three additional people. Perhaps we would have to look at the ways that we have socially distanced the hope of the Gospel from our own daily lives, the ways the we have been infected by idolatry, fear, sin, and the culture of death that surrounds us. We might have to even look at the way we have distanced ourselves from those who most need to be infected by hope.
COLLECT: Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities that may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Comments Off on Hearing God – Reflection for 8 Mar 2020
“Now the LORD said to Abram…” While I marvel at the faith of Abram at picking up and moving according to the call of God, I am even more impressed by the clarity with which Abram hears God. I would like to think that if I really knew what God was saying, following Him would be much easier. Indeed, I have great faith in God, I just doubt that I hear Him well. How do we hear God and know that what we are hearing is God?
This is the practice of discernment, discerning the voice of God from the myriad voices that bombard us, distract us, and tempt us. Discernment begins with knowing the character of God through the Word of God. God has chosen to reveal Himself in the Scriptures and in the person of Jesus. Many of us have allowed our primary understanding of Scripture to come second hand from teachers, preachers, authors, or even Google. All of these can be good or useful, but they are not a substitute for reading the entirety of the Bible. Within the Biblical narrative, we are challenged to know and explore the full personality of the Living God instead of the thin caricature that we often settle for in an attempt to simplify and control God. There are a number of reading plans that take us through the full Bible, and the Daily Office lectionary will take us through the majority of the Bible in a year. The first step in learning to discern the voice of God in our own lives is to know the Word of God that is given to us.
A next step in hearing the voice of God is the practice of listening for the voice of God in prayer. Too often, our prayer life can turn into a one sided conversation in which we speak to God and never take the time to listen.
Another step in discerning the voice of God is learning how God has spoken to people in the times since the Bible was given to us. This is where the traditions and practices of the Church can guide us. We can also see in the Church the way that those before us have misheard, misunderstood, or ignored the voice of God in their time. Just as we listen to the voices and experiences of the past, we should also listen to the voices of our community. We are bound together as the Body of Christ, and in most cases, we should discern no longer as individuals but as a community.
Once we have listened for God in Scripture, in prayer, in the community of the Church, we can pass what we think we are hearing through a final lens. What is the end? Will what I think God is calling me to do glorify God? Will it bear the fruits of the Spirit or reflect the works of the flesh? Will I measure success according to the Kingdom of Heaven or the ways of man?
COLLECT: Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations, and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Dearly beloved in the Lord: if you intend to come to the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, you must consider how Saint Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, exhorts us all diligently to examine ourselves before we presume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For as the benefit is great, if we receive that holy Sacrament with a truly penitent heart and lively faith, spiritually eating the Flesh of Christ and drinking his Blood, so that we might be made one with Christ and he with us; so also is the danger great, if we receive these gifts unworthily. For then we become guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of Christ our Savior, and we eat and drink to our own condemnation.
Therefore, judge yourselves lest you be judged by the Lord. First, examine your life by the rule of God’s commandments. Wherever you have offended, either by thought, word, or deed, confess your sins to Almighty God, with the full intention to amend your life. Be ready to make restitution for all injuries and wrongs you have done to others; and also be ready to forgive others who have offended you: for otherwise, if you unworthily receive Holy Communion, you will increase your own condemnation. Therefore, repent of your sins, or else do not come to God’s Holy Table.
If you have come here today with a troubled conscience, and you need help and counsel, come to me, or to some other Priest, and confess your sins, that you may receive godly counsel, direction, and absolution. To do so will both satisfy your conscience and remove any scruples or doubt.
Above all, each of us should give humble and hearty thanks to God for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Savior Jesus Christ. He humbled himself, even to death on a Cross, for us sinners who lay in darkness and in the shadow of death, that he might make us children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life.
Because of his exceedingly great love for us, our Savior Jesus Christ has instituted and ordained these holy mysteries as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death and passion, to our great and endless comfort.
To him, therefore, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, let us give continual thanks, as is our duty and our joy, submitting ourselves entirely to his holy will and striving to serve him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.