Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Month: September 2017

Kingdom Longings – Reflection for 24 SEP 2017

daylrOne of my favorite ways to read the parable of Jesus is to prayerfully envision myself within the story. It always amazes me how the Holy Spirit can speak into my life through these times of sacred reading. As I approach the Gospel for this week as Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of the harvest workers in the vineyard, I am reminded of the many ways that I have seen myself in this parable.

I have seen myself as the vineyard owner and heard the Kingdom call to use my “ownership” and financial resources to provide work for others. As I live a Kingdom life and are formed in the image of Christ, is it more important to save or spend money for my own comfort or to provide employment to others?

I have seen myself often in the place of those who were hired early. I have been offended to see God’s grace poured out on those that I considered less deserving. I have even wasted considerable emotional and spiritual energy trying to convince myself and God of the undeserving nature of those hired last in a vain attempt to present myself as deserving of more. When I read and pray from this perspective with honesty and openness to the Holy Spirit, I am called to repentance, compassion, and love.

Recently, I was invited to read this passage from the perspective of the workers hired last. I was invited to stand waiting and wondering whether I would be able to return home with enough money to buy food or whether my family would go hungry again. I was invited to experience the increasing despair of the lengthening shadows with no sign of work, to experience the desperation at the end of the day with which I would accept a job with no promise of payment in the hope that I could bring home some scrap of food. I was invited to experience my own poverty of spirit, to consider the longings and desires of my heart that I stand and wait wondering if they will be met, desires for meaning, belonging, assurance, safety, love, rest, or whatever else I might long for. The things which only the shalom of God will provide.

I invite you to consider the joy and surprise of those hired last as they experience the grace of God fully meeting their need for the day. I invite you to come to His table and be filled.

Forgiven to infinity and Beyond – Reflection for 17 September 2017

Unmerciful_servant_punishedWow! What a story Jesus spins about the king and the servant. Forgiving the servant a huge amount of indebtedness. This is like having your mortgage company tell you your loan is paid in full and you have only taken the loan out last year. What a gift! This is really impressive, but the servant has to get greedy. It’s like an old saying ‘it’s ok to be piggish as you will only get fat, but if you get hoggish you will get slaughtered;. The servant got hoggish and could find no mercy in his heart after mercy and grace was shown to him. Slaughter time! Enough said about the servant, what about you and me?

I encounter all types of people who say they forgive others, just like the prayer, but hold onto something. I forgive you but…..and then there are conditions. Forgiveness does not come with conditions, well that is not exactly true, forgiveness begets forgiveness even when the person who is forgiven violates the relationship. Jesus spoils everything when he says forgiveness has no limits, seventy times seven, infinite forgiveness. That is a debt that garners mercy and grace in an ongoing relationship. Yeah, you don’t know how low a creature he is, she has done this to me before and I am not going to take it, and Jesus says forgiveness to infinity, and beyond (could not resist a little Star Trek).

It’s not right that I am forced to forgive him/her/them so many times, it’s not fair! Wash your mouth out with ‘Irish Spring’, how can you make that statement? Every Sunday we confess our sins to God Almighty, with the same words, and every Sunday we hear the pronunciation of God’s forgiveness upon us. How then can we possibly think that we are any different from the greedy servant in the story? Especially when I hear so often, “I can forgive them, but I can’t forgive myself”, who do you think you are? God! When we get self focused and forget that it is God’s Blessings we are enjoying, not our own efforts, because God is willing to forgive us for the same things time after time

Then let us accept God’s forgiveness and share that forgiveness towards those that we need to forgive. Christ paid for our wrongs with his life on the cross and then to make sure it would not have to be repeated over and over, he overcame death and lives ever more. He is Lord and we are his servants, bask in his grace and mercy of forgiveness.

My Own Prison – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 17 September 2017

5715033866_9a8d585379_bToday’s Sermon – My Own Prison

LESSONS:

First Lesson         Genesis 50:15-21

Psalm                    Psalm 103:1-14

Second Lesson     Romans 14:5-12

Gospel                   Matthew 18:21-35

COLLECT: O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

Not Just for Sunday – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on 10 SEP 2017

IMG_3224Today’s Sermon – Not Just for Sunday

LESSONS:

First Lesson         Ezekiel 33:1-11

Psalm                    Psalm 119:33-48

Second Lesson    Romans 12:9-21

Gospel                  Matthew 18:15-20

COLLECT: Lord God, grant your people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; that we may love you faithfully with all our heart and soul and mind and strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Paying Attention to Jesus – Reflection for 10 September 2017

iconJesusWhat if we really paid attention to what Jesus said? What are you talking about, of course we pay attention to Jesus. Then why do we have so many wounded churches where distrust and division seem to abound? It is easier to not talk with someone or to change churches than it is to reconcile the wrong

Jesus doesn’t say that there will never be offenses or wrongs, but he does give us a method to attempt to reconcile.
First, you personally go and attempt restoration.
Two, take another with you, not to gang up, but to make sure that the reconciliation is true and restoration is the goal.

Three, take it before the church body, this had better be a grievous sin and not just feeling slighted because you didn’t get invited to the garden party.
Four, then treat the individuals as gentiles and/or tax collectors.

We, you and I tend to treat this passage as a ‘that’s nice’ and move on. If we have that kind of problem, we take them to court in the legal system. All this raises the issue of how we take sins against ourselves. Is it easier to ignore the transgression and carry the burden of anger and unforgiveness in our souls. Interestingly, Socrates worried more about his soul than he did with his mortal body. His goal was to keep his soul in good order (my words) .

Repent, a call to reconcile with each other and God. Jesus again talks about the action of forgiveness and not just from one point of view, but from the other side of the act of repentance. The action taken is that of reconciliation and if the act is refused it does not erase the misdeed or sin.
This does not release us from the act of forgiveness towards the one who sinned against us, for if we do not forgive then that will be a burden to us here and to come. Is it worth it?
I would much rather have a brother or sister in Christ instead of a tax collector in my midst. I do not wish to shun or treat anyone as though they were unclean, as I know that all are made clean in Jesus Christ. Let me endeavor to be Christ to a brother or sister who sins and love them by giving them a chance to repent.

God in the Small Things – Sermon for 3 September 2017

Generic-Reserved-Parking-SpaceToday’s Sermon – God in the Small Things

LESSONS:

First Lesson             Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm                        Psalm 26

Second Lesson        Romans 12:1-8

Gospel                       Matthew 16:21-27

COLLECT: O Lord, we pray that your grace may always both precede and follow after us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Transformed by Love – Reflection for 3 September 2017

BRA0875_frontispiece-title_main_1000In our epistle lesson, Paul asks us to be transformed in worship to see things according to the will of God rather than the deceptions of the world. In our Gospel, Jesus admonishes Peter to not set his mind on the things of man but rather to seek the things of God. These sound like great goals, but sometimes they just seem impossible. How can we live into these Biblical directives?

Fortunately, our liturgy guides us. I recently read Ashley Null’s account of how Thomas Cranmer’s theology guided the development of our Book of Common Prayer. According to Null, Cranmer saw our understanding of the love of God for us even in the midst of our unworthiness as the most important aspect of our faith. Null writes of Cranmer’s theology, “Cranmer conceived of God’s work in the world as changing human wills, not human worthiness, and he believed God did so by loving the unworthy elect so unconditionally as to inspire in them a reciprocal love for him and others.” Null then concludes that Cranmer crafted our liturgy for Holy Communion to weave together the great themes of God declaring his love for us in Christ, our transformation in turning toward God, our fellowship in the body of Christ, and our call to a life of love for God and others. He grounds all of this in a setting which clarifies that the only source for worship is faith in God’s incomprehensible sacrificial love for the unworthy.

As we come to the Lord’s Table today, I invite you to take your mind off of all the worries, fears, doubts, and shortcomings that dominate the busyness of our lives. Set your mind upon the gracious love of God for each of us. As Paul invites us, place all of your inadequacy and brokenness before God as a living sacrifice. Be transformed by the knowledge and experience of the love of God.

As we depart from worship today, I invite you to consider who God is calling you to love even when they are unworthy of love. Remembering that Christ loved us even to the point of death on the cross even in the midst of our own unworthiness, how will you take up your cross and love the people around you?