The Messiah is Among You

There was once an old stone monastery tucked away in the middle of a picturesque forest. For many years people would make the significant detour required to seek out this monastery. The peaceful spirit of the place was healing for the soul.

In recent years however fewer and fewer people were making their way to the monastery. The monks had grown jealous and petty in their relationships with one another, and the animosity was felt by those who visited.

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Why (some of) Our Church Doors are Red

Some call it tradition, others think it’s just a snappy-looking color.  But the deeper reason is the firm belief that our churches are places of refuge.

As in the case with many churches, Episcopal parishes use red to let the world know what we’re about.  Red is the color of Christ’s blood.  It is the symbol of the sacrifice of the martyrs.  It is the symbol of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  And it marks the holy ground that lies just within.  We like to think that red tells the world we’re a safe place.  We’re a peaceful place.  We’re a place of refuge.  We are a place where God’s presence is made clear.

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Luke 13 Bent and Broken

Luke 13:10 – 17 

When you sit opposite from Lorena, you don't notice that there is anything amiss.  She is a spry and sparkling example of 86 years old at its best, when seated.  She sits up, looks you in the eye, and makes casual conversation with a rapier wit on almost any topic.  She picks up her teacup and scones like there is no difference between the two of you.  Nothing is out of place..., that is, until she stands up.

It is then that the 86 years seem to drop on her body like a heavy weight, born about the shoulders, crushing weight bearing down upon her small, and now frail looking body.  Deterioration of the spine, the result of years of degenerative disease, has taken its toll and it leaves Lorena bent and broken.  As she stands, the sparkle is gone out of her eyes and the breath is drawn, less with casual ease, and more with intense labor.  You wish it were possible to attach a string to her head, like a marionette puppet, and pull her up straight.  But her body is taught, not limp, gripped with pain, bent in agony.

Yet, without complaint she labors to the door, opens it and lets you out.  You know, more often than not, that she will now take some medication that will ease her pain but dull her eyes to a different state of glaze, not with pain, but into that gentle oblivion that will soon have her resting and sleeping for the duration of the dose.  Doctors can treat Lorena, but they cannot cure what bends her to the point of breaking.

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John 1 FOLLOW ME, COME AND SEE"

John 1:43-51

A new preacher came to town, stopped a man on the sidewalk and said, "Friend, are you a Christian?" The man said, "No, I'm a Jones. The Christians live about three blocks down the street." He said, "No, you don't
understand. I mean, are you lost?" And he said, "No, I know exactly where I am. I've been here all my life.!' And
he said, "You still don't get it. Are you ready for the Judgment Day?" And the man said, "Well, when is it?" The preacher said, "Well, it could be today or it could be tomorrow." And he said, "Preacher, you find out for sure
and let me know because my wife will probably want to go both days."


If someone were to ask you, "Are you lost?" What would you say?

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Foolish Love

I would like to share with you a question the Bishop of the Third Order Franciscans, of which I am a member, asked each of us…

This year, what the Spirit has stirred up in me for you is a question, a kind of Quaker query to be pondered and lived with: Are you being foolish enough? Paul and Francis both spoke of their call to be fools for Christ. Francis wrote: “My brothers, my sisters, God has called me to walk in the way of humility… The Lord has shown me that he wants me to be a new kind of fool in the world, and God does not want to lead us by any other knowledge than that.” (Regis J. Armstrong, Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, Vol. 2, The Founder, New City: 2000, pp.132-133.)

How might Jesus and Francis be inviting you personally, you as Chapter, and the whole Order to be more foolish in the context of our current world situation? The Marks of the Third Order are: Love, Joy and Humility. What might foolish love, foolish joy and foolish humility look like today in your life, in the life of the Order?

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St. Luke's Journey

These last few weeks, I have been deep in prayer for God to reveal  the direction He would like St. Luke’s to journey on.  I think part of the journey is within as Christ Followers…Grant that as strangers and pilgrims we may at the last rejoice with all the faithful in your heavenly city; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

From “Pilgrim Without Boundaries” by Ravi Ravindra

We must start precisely from where we are,

in the midst of our life,

in the world, in this place,

at this time.

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Unforgiven

Matthew 18:21-35

"Forgive me for interrupting, but are you going to buy anything?" It was a loud question in a provocative voice, but it seemed to have no effect on Sunshine Bristow. Sunshine was standing in aisle 7 of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Mattaponi, Virginia, staring at a shelf full of cheese doodles and pork skins. To all the other shoppers on aisle 7 it appeared as if she was just having difficulty making up her mind between the baked and the fried doodles, but far more serious questions were on Sunshine Bristow's mind -- she was thinking about death and forgiveness and God, all in the middle of the chip and dip section. But because she was standing so close to the shelves, it was beginning to frustrate her fellow shoppers, including the one who intruded so loudly on her thoughts.

"Sunshine, excuse me, but I just need to get a bag over here if you don't mind."

The second interruption was enough to shake Sunshine out of her reverie. With a start she realized that she was in the way. "Oh, I'm sorry, Yolanda. Guess I was just lost in my thoughts here." Yolanda Perkins grunted, grabbed some barbecue pork skins from the shelf and shuffled on down the aisle.

Sunshine was in deep thought because her father was lying in a bed in the small hospital in the little town of Mattaponi. She had just gotten the word from her sister, Benita, that he had been admitted with severe chest pains. They seemed to have ruled out a heart attack, but he was being held for observation. And for the first time in seven years, Sunshine Bristow was contemplating whether she might go to visit her father.

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The Overflowing Tea Cup

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Sometimes our insight into Scripture can be enhanced by hearing a story from another source. On considering today’s Gospel, I have gained a deeper sense of its message through a Zen Buddhist story told about Nan-in, a teacher who was active a hundred years ago in Japan. It seems that one day, Nan-in received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. “It is overflowing! No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?” [Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki, compilers, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writing (Tuttle Publishing, 1998), p. 19.]

In today’s Gospel, Jesus encounters a group of people who, like Nan-in’s visitor, are full cups that need to be emptied if they are ever to receive his message.

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Why Go To Church?

Have you ever wondered… why go to church?

It's not necessary to go to church in order to get saved and therefore go to heaven, but going to church still has very important benefits that can help improve your life and keep it in order.

Below are 13 reasons why we should attend church services on a regular basis.

1. Because it is an act of obedience to God and it honors the Lord's Day. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Ex. 20:8).

2. Because we need to belong to a community of faith that includes our brothers and sisters in Christ who are trying to live out the gospel just like we are.

3. Because we will benefit from being taught and led in worship by others, rather than always depending on ourselves to read and study the bible.

4. Because we need regular reminders of our standing in Christ, help in acknowledging and confessing our sins, and teaching about God's truth.

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4th of July - Origin of Taps

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach, the captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.

When the captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

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The Lord's Prayer - What does it mean?

Luke Chapter 11

This week, we’re learning about how God would like us to pray. Even Jesus’ closest friends, the disciples, wanted to know how to pray.

The disciples were with Jesus all the time and were with Him when He went to pray and heard his prayers to God, as well, yet they still weren’t sure how they were supposed to do it. So Jesus gave them the Lord’s Prayer.

Before Jesus teaches the prayer, He says that we should keep our prayers simple. God listens to us no matter if our prayers are long or short. Even if you don’t have the right words, God knows what we mean without having to use fancy words. Jesus also says that we shouldn’t show off’ when we pray.

He said this especially to the people that used to stand on the street corners praying, so that everyone would think how great they were at praying. He wants us to pray in a quiet place with our own words. We need to tell Him our needs, give Him thanks, praise Him, and tell Him what we’re sorry for.

At first, this prayer might be a little hard to understand, but let’s go through it and try to explain what it means.

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Luke

We have entered into the “Green Season,” green representing new growth… perhaps new growth in this place.  This summer we will continue to explore The Gospel of Luke.  We will walk with him as he writes to his friend “dear Theophilus.”  To begin, let’s start with the subject of prayer.

Prayer is not only at the heart of the Christian life, it is also at the heart of a lot of Christian frustration, misunderstanding, and even pain.

How do we pray? How does God answer prayer? Why does God sometimes seem to ignore my prayers? With these questions in mind, could there be a better - or more challenging - passage on prayer than Luke's depiction of Jesus teaching his disciples to pray?

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What about the Trinity?

What about the Trinity?

The doctrine of the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. It is crucial for properly understanding what God is like, how he relates to us, and how we should relate to him. But it also raises many difficult questions. How can God be both one and three? Is the Trinity a contradiction? If Jesus is God, why do the Gospels record instances where he prayed to God?

While we cannot fully understand everything about the Trinity (or anything else), it is possible to answer questions like these and come to a solid grasp of what it means for God to be three in one.

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Pentecost Being Different for Jesus

 1 Peter 1:13-22; 2:1

In C.E. Montague's novel, Rough Justice, a memorable scene describes a little boy named Bron going to church for the first time with his governess. He watches with interest every part of the service. The preacher climbs into the high pulpit and Bron hears him tell some terrible news. It is about a brave and kind man who was nailed to a cross, terribly hurt, a long time ago, and who still feels a dreadful pain even now, because there was something not done that he wants them all to do.

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Ascension of Christ

The Bible describes the ascension of Christ in a scene told both by Luke and by Mark. The scene portrays meaning to the believer and is supported by other Scripture, as well. It is really a very poignant picture when you think upon its meanings.

The ascension communicates Christ's glorification. Jesus' work here was done. Mark says, "After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19). The scene communicates that He was leaving earth in His bodily form and that He was going to His former place of glory, having won victory over death (John 17:5).

Jesus' ascension brought to an end the time of His ministry as God in man. And it began the time of His ministry as God in man, the church. God would minister through His Word and His ministers in the church. The church is Christ's body in the earth (Ephesians 5:30; 4:15-16). The ascension forms the point of continuity between "all that He began to do and to teach (Acts 1:1), and what the apostles and the church continued to do and to teach after His departure.

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Who is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is a real person who came to reside within Jesus Christ's true followers after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.

Jesus told His apostles...

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, (Paraclete) that He may be with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:15…

The Holy Spirit is not a vague, ethereal shadow, nor an impersonal force. He is a person equal in every way with God the Father and God the Son. He is considered to be the third member of the Godhead.

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The Great 50 Days of Easter

   As there are 12 days of Christmas, so there are 50 days of Easter. The season of Easter ends with Pentecost – the 50th day.

     Society has a hard-enough time understanding the twelve days of Christmas. I am afraid the concept of celebrating 50 days of Easter is not really going to catch on. At least with Christmas, many of us still have trees up and decorated, and a few of us even make sure the outdoor decorations are still on until the Feast of the Epiphany or 12th Night, January 6. For most people, Easter ends on Sunday, Easter Day, when the last of the meal is finished, or when the Easter candy is gone. For society it is now time to look toward Memorial Day, opening the cottage, putting the boat into the water, and enjoying the summer. Check, we’ve had Easter, time to move on.

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Live as Easter People

Easter has arrived! We made the long way through Lent; some of us journeyed through the liturgical marathon that is Holy Week, with its multiple services leading up to the Great Easter Vigil.

Now we dwell in the weeks prior to Pentecost. Yes, we keep looking forward to the next event in the Christian year. Jesus has risen from the dead; in the coming weeks, as we hear in the Gospel stories, he will appear to many people. Those who believe in him will understand that he has conquered death. Jesus will tell them that he’s leaving again but will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. So those who love and follow him live in tension still; of course, they want him to stay, forever. What will happen when the Holy Spirit comes? They do not yet know the day it will happen. All they can do is stay together and pray and hope that Jesus’ leaving will not be soon.

Even after the great Resurrection has occurred, we continue to live in paradox and tension. We believe Jesus rose from the dead and that we, too, will one day be resurrected. In the meantime, though . . . in the meantime, life continues and people suffer, and the answers we want don’t come, and Jesus the Man-God is nowhere to be seen.

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What is Maundy Thursday?

Good Friday, we know. And Easter most certainly. But what is Maundy Thursday? Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter, believed to be the day when Jesus celebrated his final Passover with His disciples. Most notably, that Passover meal was when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples in an extraordinary display of humility. He then commanded them to do the same for each other.

What does Maundy Thursday Mean?

Christ's "mandate" is commemorated on Maundy Thursday---"maundy" being a shortened form of mandatum (Latin), which means "command." It was on the Thursday of Christ's final week before being crucified and resurrected that He said these words to his disciples:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" (John 13:34).

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