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Rector's Blog

1/1/2017

As we begin a New Year change is in store for all of us. Change can be difficult and for some it will even bring fear.  Of one thing I am certain though, is that even amidst social and political change, our identify and values as members of the Jesus movement do not. Our Baptismal promises and the Five Marks of Mission continue to shape our lives and our commitment to and understanding of God's holistic and primary mission in the world. They can be found at the end of this brief missive.   On social media, recently a friend recommended that before times of change are upon you,  it is important to know and write down what you hold dear and what values you are not willing to compromise when the going gets tough.   I am going to write those things down and more importantly, refer back to them when the structures around  me are saying otherwise.  This new year,  instead of making a  resolution to exercise more or eat less, I am going to consider and focus on how I can be an agent of love and forgiveness,  those values I want to uphold , as well as the promises and commitments I have made to myself and  others and refer back to them again and again.  In this way I hope to  be the person that God has called me to be  as a witness of God's love.  If you join me in this endeavor,  each of us can be co-creators in God's reign ensuring God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven.  I might just lose a few pounds too!

 

The Five Marks of Mission are:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

(Bonds of Affection-1984 ACC-6 p49, Mission in a Broken World-1990 ACC-8 p101)

 

Baptismal Promises

  • To continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.
  • To persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.
  • To proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.
  • To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.
  • To strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.


10/19/2016

I have been thinking this week about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in this 21st century.  His earliest followers left their homes, families and jobs to follow him around for three years and learn at the master's feet.  Filled with the Holy Spirit,  they continued his mission, healing the sick, feeding the hungry and teaching all through their words and actions, that the Kingodom of God was indeed near.  They took seriously Jesus' mandate to make disciples of all nations.  So what does it mean to be his follower, a disciple of Jesus today?  A Disciple is defined as a person who believes and adheres to the teachings of another by inculcating the teacher's values and reproducing his teachings, by imitating the teacher's life.  A disciple has a listening, and obedient heart willing to really know the teacher in order to follow the teacher on the path of discipleship.  You might ask how can we really know Jesus in order to be his disciple?  He isn't with as as he was with his first disciples.  That is a fair question.  Because the original disciples of Jesus were learners, all of us can come to  know Jesus by learning about his life through the accounts, written by different writers, found in the Bible and through the teachings of his earliest followers.  The heart of the call of Christ is to be with him and to know him intimately. By abiding in his word as the writer of John's Gospel reminds us is to be a diligent student of his teachings and not only a  student of his teachings but as the writer of Matthew's gospel tells us, we are to be "doers" of the Word.  So what might this look like in our daily lives?  I think it begins with an open heart and a willingness to study the Bible with others.  This can be done in many different ways.  It happens here at St. Peter's each Sunday Morning.  It can take place in your home with a small group of like minded friends.  It can happen in a Community Bible Study or in youth group.   If you are interested in starting a small bible study in your home, know that I can help you. Finally, know that God loves you and wants to have an intimate relationship with you.  Like any good relationship it requires, desire, committment, work and trust.  Are you ready to become a disiple?  Jesus is waiting with open arms.                ~Ann~


09/27/2016

"This past week we looked at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. ( Luke 16:19-31) There have been many good sermons preached on this passage.  Many  have asked us to identify with Lazarus or, more frequently, with the rich man who paid no attention to Lazarus' situation. The parable also spoke of the family that the rich man left behind.  What if instead of focusing on Lazarus and the rich man, we instead imagine that we are one of the rich man's brothers and sisters and that even though we have the law and prophets, God also saw fit to send a man from the dead to awaken us to give us what we need to live faithful lives. In this context, how small the requests the rich man makes: a drop of water, a messenger to tell others. Might we not do these very things, bringing a measure of relief to others and telling all we meet that God loves each one of us deeply, rich and poor alike and desires we care for each other?

Care for the poor and vulnerable is clearly God's command and intention. As we enter into this season of stewardship I encourage you to prayerfully consider how we can make a difference as a community in the lives of the poor and vulnerable. It might mean we open our doors to our community in new ways, volunteering to feed our young people at Just lunch or providing greater support to WUMCO or establish a food pantry on site that is open on weekends. There are few needs greater than that for clean water. Could we contribute to bringing a drop of cold water to our neighbors?   Episcopal Relief and Development for instance, can provide an emergency water filter to those coping with disaster for just $35 and a whole irrigation system to a community for $2,500. Can we imagine committing ourselves as a community of faith to directing some of our funds to bringing water to those in need and inviting others to join us?

The Parable of the Rich man does not have to be an indictment of what will happen to those of us who by the world's standards are indeed rich.  Instead let it be a call to action based on the certainty of God's command and visible in the suffering face that becomes for us the face of Christ. We have, after all, seen a man put to death for caring for the poor, for announcing God's mercy for all, for daring to forgive the sins of any, and we have heard the testimony that this man was raised from the dead and vindicated by God as the supreme embodiment of God's kingdom logic and royal love."

(David Lose, Partner in Preaching)


09/18/2016

I am grateful for this community of Faith and so proud to stand beside each of you as we identify ourselves as Jesus people.  I know worshipping on Sunday mornings is just one of many choices you can make in your lives, particuarly when time is such a precious commodity. In  Forward Day By Day for Sunday, September 18th, the writer reminds us that while once upon a time church membership yielded professional gain, that privilege not longer exists. We can be thought of as socially and morally, good and respectable people without church affiliation.  So what motivates you to continue walking in the way of Jesus, to continue to be part of  the St. Peter's faith community?    I found a wonderful prayer in Forward Day by Daythat I would like to share with you and I hope it encourages you as it does me. 

 

 

O God,

 

Give me strength to live another day;

 

Let me not turn coward before its difficulties

 

or prove recreant to its duties;

 

Let me not lose faith in other people;

 

Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite

 

of ingratitude's, treachery, or meanness;

 

preserve me from minding little stings

 

or giving them;

 

Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live

 

so honestly and fearlessly that no outward

 

failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity. 

 

 

 

Open wide the windows of my soul that I may

 

see good in all things;

 

Grant me this day some new vision of your truth;

 

Inspire me with the spirit of Joy and

 

gladness; and make me the cup of

 

strength to suffering souls; in the name

 

of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord

 

and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.  -Phillip Brooks

8/30/2016

Summer is almost behind us and we begin a new program year in the next few weeks.  Our scriptures for this Sunday remind us that radical and generous hospitality are the marks of Christian discipleship.  We are called to live this out not only on Sunday mornings but each and every day.  This kind of hospitality is more than just being nice to strangers.  This Jesus hospitality invites us to put aside our fears, our judgements and open our hearts to the stranger, the poor, the prisoner and anyone who we deem different. It can be expressed in many ways. It might mean visiting someone in prison, sharing a meal with a homeless person, inviting a new person home after school  or arranging a play date with a new family.  It might mean that St. Peter's sponsors a  refugee family or homeless veteran or even offer ESL classes. On Sunday morning it might mean helping a parent care for a child, being patient with a squirmy baby, volunteering to teach Sunday School even if you don't have school age children, praying for the mother or father in front of you who are wrestling with their kids but managed to get to church.  Jesus hospitality means putting the needs of others first, and it could even be something as simple as making sure we have coffee and snacks available on Sunday mornings.  We have so many opportunities to practice this Jesus kind of hospitality and what a great way to model Christian hospitality to our children.  I pray for each of you and as we begin a new school and program year open your hearts to the need that surrounds us.  I  also encourage you to invite a new family to Saint Peter's this year and show them what Jesus hospitality looks like as we live it out in community.  Ann+


5/10/2016

Each year Pentecost arrives and we celebrate the Spirit of God among us, the advocate, the counselor that Jesus promised.  The coming of the Holy Spirit brings  with her an opportunity for reflection on our mission  followers of Jesus as well as  hope for revival.  Pentecost is so much more than red balloons and birthday cake and reading the scriptures in different languages.  Pentecost reminds us of who we are and the Spirit of God continues to  empower those that desire to be  passionate followers of Jesus Christ.    As I look at the church today, while some would see declining numbers and  communities not that different from other social clubs, I see the Spirit at work in our care for one another, the meals we provide to young people in our community, the sanctuary we provide for those struggling to find their way and a dialogue  of love and respect that is an alternative  to the hate and discord found in our current political arena.  Beloved community is what Jesus had in mind for his church and as  followers of the Way of Jesus we all have a part in making this kind of community a reality.  On Saturday, six of our young people will be confirmed and commit  themselves to the way of Jesus.  As they continue on their journey of faith, it is my prayer the Holy spirit sets their hearts ablaze for Jesus and they discover their own path to participate in God's mission of healing this broken world and creating Beloved Community wherever they may go.   


When We Breath Together

"This is the blessing

we cannot speak

by ourelves.


This is the blessing

we cannot summon

by our own devices,

cannot shape

to our own purposes,cannot bend

to our own will.


This is the blessing

that comes

when we leave behind

our aloneness,

when we gather together, when we turn

toward one another.


this is the blessing

that blazes among us

when we speak

the words

strange to our ears


When we finally listen

into the chaos,


When we breathe together

at last."

  (From Jan Richardson's Circle of Grace, Copyright Jan Richardson.janrichardson.com.)


4/26/2016

Death and loss are part of the human experience and intellectually that makes sense but  that does not mitigate the pain and sorrow we feel when we experience such loss.  The disciples  experienced this kind of loss in the death of their teacher and friend Jesus.  Jesus however, gave them words of comfort as he prepared them for that time when he would no longer be with them. These same words ring true for us today as they do  for all who  profess Jesus as their Lord. 'Peace, I leave with you: my peace I give to you.  I do not give as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid'.  So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."   ( From John's Gospel) The Disciples took Jesus words to heart and as a result the new Christian community that would arise from the ashes of their tears would be empowered by the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that claims each of us as Christ's own forever in Baptism.  This new community that followed the way of Jesus  would be marked by grace, love, caring, mercy and forgiveness.  We strive to be that kind of community and in the days and weeks  and months to come, I invite you to live the Way of Jesus more fully in your care for one another and especially for those who most closely mourn the loss of loved ones and dear frineds,  Prayer, a phone call, email, text, a note, a meal, an invitation to dinner or a visit are just a few of the tangible expressions of love and care and as well intentioned as most of us are, don't wait to be asked but instead reach out in love to one another.  This is what sets us apart from the rest of the world and allows us to particpate in the resurrection of Jesus. 
 

Stay

"I know how your mind

rushes ahead,

trying to fathom

what could follow this.

What will you do,

where will you go,

how will you live?

 

You will want

to outrun the grief.

You will want

to keep turning toward

the horizon,

watching for what was lost

to come back,

to return to you

and never leave again.

 

For now,

hear me when I say

all you need to do

is to still yourself,

is to turn toward one another,

is to stay.

 

Wait

and see what comes

to fill

the gaping hole

in your chest.

Wait with your hands open

to recieve what could never come

except to what is empty

and hollow.

 

You cannot know it now,

cannot even imagine

what lies ahead,

but I tell you

the day is coming

when breath will

fill your lungs

as it never has before,

and  with your own ears

you will hear words

coming to you new and startling.

You will dream dreams

and you will see the world

ablaze with blessing.

 

Wait for it.

Still yourself

Stay."      

  (From Jan Richardson's Circle of Grace, Copyright Jan Richardson.janrichardson.com.)

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