Thursday, November 30, 2017

Padre's Post - Advent: A Dream Is Conceived

“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down… when you did awesome deeds that we did not expect… no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for Him…Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” 

These words lifted from the passage of Isaiah proclaim the hope at Advent:  God “coming down” to be in our midst filling the intimate spaces of our lives.  God’s voice speaking to us, God’s countenance shining upon us, God’s hand shaping and guiding us. 

In Advent the church begins again the pilgrimage through the life of Jesus.  As in all new birth it begins with a relationship.  The Hebrew prophets are relying upon the covenant between God and creation and more specifically, the covenant relationship between God and the Hebrew people.  Isaiah is looking around and seeing little evidence of a relationship between God and God’s people.  And so, a hope is conceived in the imagination of the prophet.  The hope being that God “come down” from the high and inapproachable places to dwell amidst the people.

In his own day, Isaiah recognized the need to touch, see, smell, and feel God’s presence.   And so the idea was conceived that God would walk among us.  In our flesh we could know God in the flesh.  Our eyes could behold.  Our hands could touch.  Our ears could hear the word of God reverberating to the depth of our hearts.  This was the dream of the Hebrew prophets conceived centuries before the birth of Jesus in the town of Bethlehem.

Fr. Richard

Sunday, November 26, 2017

God's Love In The Flesh

Father Richard's sermon for November 26, 2017.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Padre's Post - Living Thanks Giving

The Eucharist is the great thanksgiving.  Our worship centers around the communal act of offering thanks for the gift of life and all that God has given.  Living thanksgiving invites us to be gracious for our lives; and be generous with our lives.  St. Paul wrote, “I am content with little or an abundance and I am thankful for either.”  Living simply with little can bring more joy then being a steward over much.  This truth has been learned time and again by those who have lost much to discover a new sense of joy and freedom.

Christian spirituality has always designated the day as the foundational place in which we are instructed to live lives of faith, hope, and love.  “Rejoice and be glad, for this is the day that the Lord has made.”  “Do not worry about tomorrow, today is enough to hold to our attention.”  I believe it to be a major theme in all healthy spirituality to focus our intention for spiritual growth “one day at a time.”

For the remainder of this season of Thanksgiving, consider your own conscious intention to “Give thanks in everything.”  Simply being thankful for who you are, where you live, with whom you share life, for the resources in your life, for the work you do, for those with whom you work, for the food you eat, the hands that prepared it, and the miraculous gift that a day is.  This spiritual exercise of simply saying, “Thank You,” for the day and all that fills it will be transformational.   

Fr. Richard

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Creating A Life Of Giving Thanks

Father Richard's sermon for November 19, 2017.

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(No text available)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Padre's Post - The Lives Of The Saints

The church remembers the lives of the saints to inspire the generations who follow. In the Episcopal tradition, a collection of exemplary and faithful biographies are compiled in “Holy Women, Holy Men.” The book is filled with persons who were instrumental in expanding education to the masses, opportunities and resources to the disadvantaged, contributions to the arts and sciences, and tireless devotion on behalf of marginalized people groups over the past three centuries as well as lives remembered from the ancient church. As I read the short biographies I am impressed with the difference one life can make in the world, and the tremendous sacrifice and devotion of which persons are capable.

A life is a powerful force of nature. With our thoughts we create or destroy. With our words we bless or curse. With our bodies we work or indulge. With our souls we imagine or deny. The lives of the saints who have walked before us tell us that we can turn a culture from bigotry to mutual respect. We can be peacemakers in violent times. We can raise the consciousness of the dignity of all life when exploitation and abuse threaten humanity at every turn. We can give our lives to being instruments of change and beauty because we believe at the center of all life lies the power to live and to love and to forgive and to heal. It is the saints of the world who break through the surface of life’s landscapes and headlines to find the power to be the divine force inherent in all creation. May the lives lived before us continue to inspire us to fully live and work and breathe and love in our own day.

Fr. Richard

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Padre's Post - Living the Seasons III

Each year, on the Sunday following The Feast of All Saints, in the time normally given to a homily, we remember all who have died in the past one hundred and thirty-two years throughout the history of St. Andrew. It is a tradition made possible by technology. Like the credits following a film, hundreds of names pass before our eyes in a litany of remembrance. Following the presentation there is a sense of awe as the people with whom life was shared, and now separated by death, are drawn together again in the sanctuary on the Feast of All Saints.

It is a powerful act to remember the beloved dead in the context of sacred ritual. Their lives, their contributions, the myriad of memories return simply by seeing their name scrolled before your eyes. A person’s name, spelled out to see, becomes a sacrament. It is the physical manifestation of the immense invisible grace, love, and dignity that was a person’s life. Beholding the multitude of names representing over a century of shared and inherited parish community, is a holy and profound moment.

It is healthy and transformative spirituality that remains in communion with those who have walked and lived before us even while being fully present in the time that is ours. Everything we have and experience is because of the prayers and work of those who have gone before us. It is important to remember those who have given their lives, either as teachers and parents or for heroic social change. Our own lives and society become more significant and precious when we remember the sacrifices, the investments, the hard work, and even the martyred lives of persons who lived the lives of faith, hope, and love in their own day.

Let the days of November be filled with a sense of gratitude and awe for all the saints whose lives were lived so that our lives could be better. They inspire us, they enrich us, and they pray for us. Still.

Fr. Richard

Friday, November 3, 2017

Padre's Post - Living the Seasons II

The Christian faith emerged in the world as “a way” to live. It was a spirituality before it was a world religion. In the life of Jesus, the early followers of him, saw in his life and teaching the way of faith, hope, and love. In his life, his followers found grace and healing. In his death, his followers found hope. And in his resurrection, was found redemption.

The calendar rules us. When the calendar says it is winter, than it is winter. When it says it is Monday, it is Monday. When it proclaims it is June, school recesses. Whatever the calendar declares, we must accept and abide. This is the inspiration of recognizing the Christian calendar or as some call “the year of our lord.” Instead of months, days, and years, we live our year through the life of our Lord. Every year we: “begin again” with Advent, the conception of Jesus. Throughout the four weeks of Advent, we hear again the dreams of the prophets who foretold the grace and redemption of God through the birth of “a promised one.” This dream endured for hundreds of years before the dream was finally realized when “Mary was found with child.”

It is beautiful and redemptive to mark the year by the life of the Christ. As we listen to the scriptures proclaimed in their season, and we enter the different seasons of Jesus’ life, we realize, as the years go by, the same cycle of conception to resurrection occurs in our own lives, again and again. The story and life of Jesus is also our own story as we experience new beginnings, growing joys and pains, suffering, dying, followed by new beginnings again. The same grace and relationship we recognize between Jesus and “The Father,” can be our own relationship with God.

So I encourage and welcome you to live the seasons of the church in community at St. Andrew. The first Sunday in Advent is December 3. May you be blessed as you choose to walk a different calendar then January to December, choosing instead to walk the year of our Lord, from Advent to Pentecost.

Fr. Richard