Sermon

Proper 15, Year A

Have mercy on us Lord…

For those who have been to an Episcopal general convention or EYE 2014 (in person or through You Tube broadcast), you have had the experience of hearing the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry preach.  When the Bishop gets up to preach, you settle in because he is going to speak for a while – a long while in Episcopal terms.  But he is going to come at you with energy and passion. 

(Describe the experience at EYE in Philadelphia – one word “go”)

          The word this morning is mercy.  It runs through our lessons and our hymn selections at the 10 o’clock service.  Now I thought that the reading from Genesis, the end of the Joseph story, was about forgiveness, which is different than mercy.  But Joseph plays two roles; publically he is a ruler in Egypt and controls who gets food and how much in these years of wide spread famine.  Privately, he is the little brother that was sold into slavery by his siblings.  Okay, Joseph does have his fun when he accuses them as spies and has them put in prison for a few days.  He orders one brother to remain in prison while the others go back to Canaan, with full sacks of grain, and to prove they are not spies, to bring his brother Benjamin back with them to Egypt.  As a ruler, Joseph shows mercy to his brothers; as a sibling, he shows forgiveness.

          What is mercy?  What does it mean?  Checking the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, “Mercy is an attribute of both God and the good human being.  Hebrew uses several words for “mercy,” of which the most frequent is hesed, which mean loving-kindness, mercy, love, loyalty, and faithfulness.  Another Hebrew word and the Greek word for mercy in the New Testament refer to the emotion aroused by contact with undeserved suffering, that is, compassion and a deeply felt love for a fellow human being…grace is also another word used to mean mercy…Divine and human mercy are closely associated with justice and righteousness because all refer to behavior appropriate to a relationship…Jesus shows mercy to the needy…” Mercy is an attribute, showing compassion for someone suffering undeservedly.  Joseph as a ruler is providing grain to all the people who are suffering the famine, even those who are not from Egypt, because the whole area will suffer from the seven year famine.  Joseph recognizes that God has turned their actions – selling their brother into slavery – as a way to save the famiy; “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.”  In Egypt the Israelites will have a place to live and work and multiply; without it Israel’s (Jacob’s) family would perish.  Mercy, compassion for the underserved suffering.

The Gospel for this morning has an interesting and uncharacteristic story of Jesus encountering someone asking for help and his ignoring them.  We left out reading the optional story this morning of the encounter with the Pharisees where they challenge Jesus about dietary laws.  He tells the disciples that it is not what goes into a person that defiles them, but it is what comes out of a person’s mouth via their heart that defiles them.  Some time passes as they walk 25 or 30 miles over the next couple days.  Jesus must be contemplating the recent events.  A Canaanite woman comes to their group and shouts for help and mercy.  Jesus ignores her.  Then the disciples ask him to send her away; they too assume that he will help her and send her on her way.  But he tells them that he was only sent to help the house of Israel, but he has healed outcasts and Gentiles before.  His refusal to help her, even when she comes and kneels before him begging for help, isn’t what we expect. 

Jesus dismisses her with “it’s not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”  The woman replies, “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table”.  You can almost see his face break into a little smile as he tells her that her request is granted.  The woman notices that Jesus used the word, not for stray dogs that wander the streets, but for household pets.  Pets are not outsiders but insiders.  The pets do get to lie under the table and eat scraps that fall or are tossed to them.  This foreign woman asked Jesus for mercy, the same mercy Jesus had asked the Pharisees to show. 

We can have fun speculating on why Jesus acted the way he did with this woman.   Has he decided that he must give all his time and energy to his own people?  That he needs to really concentrate on helping the religious leaders to ‘see’ what God originally planned for Israel and how they may have erred?  Is it the human behavior of frustration and tired of dealing with those who just don’t get it?  Did he know that her faith was strong and that this would be a good learning exercise for his disciples and for us?

Yes, for us.  Because we are challenged daily to be merciful.  At times, showing mercy to someone we love is not the same as being nice.  The phrase ‘tough love’ comes to mind.  When our behavior is enabling or co-dependent, we are not being compassionate to one we care about.  We are not showing mercy and love because it is not a behavior appropriate to our relationship.  It is hard to change.  We, like Jesus in the gospel, are challenged to be merciful with the stranger.  One afternoon, a man pulled into the office parking lot in an old car and he looked – well – scruffy.  My first thought was ‘What now?’  But as he came to the door, I smiled and said hello.  He needed help with an address – that’s all.  He was looking for 1032 Lincoln at which point I knew he was probably looking for Lincoln Street.  But it began a very short conversation and my attitude was changed; he was not a stranger, he was a father looking for a son who was dying…so he could say good-bye.

Lord, grant me the grace to get past the ‘what now’ and be open to hearing the request for mercy.  Let your wisdom guide my responses, and may I strive to be merciful in my encounters.  AMEN. 

 

 

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 The Friday Reflection Title

 8-8-2014

 St. John the Evangelist, Stockton

 

Shortly after St. John the Evangelist was turned back over to the Episcopal Diocese, we had a deanery meeting in the Guild Hall to consider how the deanery could support the returned buildings and downtown mission of the church in Stockton. There were lots of ideas presented from the 40 plus people attending. A second meeting several weeks later also had more than 40 people. Many of these ideas required human capital that the congregation (what little of it that was there) was unable to currently provide.

 

What we did have was an appointed priest-in-charge, an appointed non-stipendiary deacon and a four member board of directors. Lea Isetti, formerly with the Chamber of Commerce in Stockton, was one of those members. She had contacts in the downtown area with business, civic leaders, and non-profits. Her suggestion (following Bishop David’s emphasis on missional thinking) was to ask those she knew to find out what they were currently doing, what they would do if they had additional resources, and how St. John’s might fit in with these needs.

 

First, we assessed what we had to offer the community:

  • We had expansive space (more than 20,000 square feet) and a parking lot, all centered in downtown.
  • We had endowments and rental income that paid the building expenses and maintenance.
  • We had a 3000 square foot Guild Hall and commercial kitchen, and a 2000 square foot children’s area in the undercroft. A beautiful church with stunning stain glass. A separate office building of 2600 square feet.
  • And, most importantly, a desire to share what we had by engaging in the downtown community.

 

Lea scheduled a series of meetings that included the police, human services, the Stockton Women’s Center, the DA’s office, Child Advocacy, the Downtown Business Alliance, and Head Start. Various members of the board, but always Lea and the Priest-in-Charge, met with all these people and offered our resources. Deacon Steve Bentley also met with the Stockton Bicycle Alliance and the Stockton Pride Center. We were overwhelming met with welcome and appreciation (and a bit of surprise.)

 

From these meetings some clear opportunities arose that include the following:

  • A Family Justice Center, sponsored by the DA’s office with support from multiple non-profit service groups, to support families in crisis and connected with the legal system.       This would be a separate non-profit umbrella organization. We have resources they need, and a location that is conducive to their mission.
  • Head Start evaluated our facilities and would like to use the children’s area for a downtown location.
  • There is no secure bicycle parking in the downtown area, and we could provide that. Lack of security was one of the principal reasons keeping people from commuting on their bicycles to downtown.
  • There is a need for a save place for youth to hang out in the downtown area (and we are across the street from the Cineplex.)
  • There are few neutral musical venues in downtown, especially those that are free. We have a great acoustically pure building with a stunning organ, an especially fine grand piano, and ample seating.

 

We now have some clear guideline from which to formula a missional strategy for St. John’s. It turns out that by filling some of these needs, we will also be generating income to support our facilities. But most importantly, we will be working toward becoming a dynamic downtown presence, engaged in our neighborhood, and meeting people where they are. All of this honors Christ and the Kingdom.

 

The Rev. Cn. Mark H. Hall, priest-in-charge

The Rev. Stephen Bentley, deacon

“Travel Light, leaving baggage behind.”

Luke 10:1-12

Car-thedra Fund…

Dear Friends in the Diocese of San Joaquin

 

As you know we are a diocese in the midst of redevelopment. And this redevelopment is no more evident than the amount of time your bishop and canon spend on the road. Please hear me, this is not a complaint at all, it is simply an observation. Amid this continued redevelopment in a missional context, there is an immediate need for a car. Actually, in due course, we will need two, but one step at-a-time. So we are, as you know, looking for your contributions for an economically efficient, environmentally friendly, reasonably priced, comfortable car.

 

And so, through this continued appeal, we are asking that you give generously.

 

Please help in keeping our “cathedra (seat of the bishop) on the move.” As I said last week in this space, please remember, I hope you give with the knowledge that the Apostolic Ministry we support, the Episcopal Ministry we aid, is non-other than the work which belongs to each of us. I suggest we set as a goal $20,000. I suspect this will not cover the full amount but it certainly gets us much closer.

 

And again, I wish to remind you that these contributions need to be over-and-above that which you gift to our local praying community.

 

Please send your contributions to:

the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin

1528 Oakdale Road, Modesto, CA 95355

 

Please make your check payable to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and please note “Bishop’s car” in the memo line.

 

Thank you again.

 

Bishop David

 

 

Bishop in Car-thedra artist Deacon Stephen Bentley 

People News…

The Rev. Kathleen West of St. Paul’s has applied and has been approved by Church Pension Fund for disability retirement. Kathleen’s immediate plans are for her and Ira to stay in the Modesto area, work at healing and getting well, and to come to some diocesan events as well as convention. Please keep Kathleen and St. Paul’s in your prayers during this time of transition.

 

Kathleen’s last day at St. Paul’s will be August 31, 2014  when the congregation will host a thank you celebration. All are welcome to come to the Eucharistic Service at 9:30 a.m. and stay for the thank you celebration at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1528 Oakdale Road, Modesto, CA 95355.

Call To Annual Convention…

Call to Annual Convention

Dio seal

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
55th Annual Convention
October 24-25, 2014
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
1528 Oakdale Road, Modesto, CA 95355

“Travel Light, leaving baggage behind.”
Luke 10:1-12
Annual Convention Notification Packets have been mailed to all Clergy, Parishes
and Missions, Delegates and Alternates.
Click below for the following forms/letters to find out more about
annual convention and to register.

All members of our diocese are most welcome!

EFM Training…

EFM

EFM Mentor Training

We just scheduled the annual EfM Mentor training.  This training is mandatory for all those who want to mentor an EfM class but it’s open to everyone who just wants to learn more about EfM.  It’s particularly good for current EfM students who want a summer EfMexperience.  All are welcome.

 

 

When:  August 13, 14 & 15

Starts:  2pm on Wednesday, 8:30am on Thursday, 8:30am on Friday.

Ends:  3pm on Friday

Where:  Holy Family Episcopal Church – Fresno

Cost:  $195.00 per person

 

Contact Holy Family Episcopal Church at holyfamilyfresno@gmail.com with any questions.

From Commission on Ministry…

 

Day of Discovery

A Program for Discerning Ministry in the Episcopal Church

 

September 6, 2014

10:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m.

Christ the King Community Episcopal Church

6443 Estella Avenue, Riverbank, CA 95367

 

Day of Discovery is designed to help Episcopalians broaden their understanding and appreciation of the four groups of ministers in the Episcopal Church. Participants will discover new arenas for ministry as well as see and experience the complementary relationship between all ministers of the Church.

 

Some people limit their definition of discernment as primarily an activity to find THEIR ministry, THEIR career, or THEIR place. This program, on the other hand, will define discernment as primarily a lifelong process of perceiving, listening, and responding to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

 

Most of all, Day of Discovery is designed to help people Discover and Appreciate the Mission and Ministry of Christ, how the Episcopal Church expresses that ministry, and how each person fits into that expression.

 

For more information and registration form on Day of Discovery click here.

For Northern Deanery…

Northern Deanery Meeting

 

There will be a Northern Deanery Meeting Friday, August 15, 2014 at  St. John the Evangelist, Stockton.

 

There will be a Holy Eucharist at 3:00 p.m. and the deanery meeting will be at 4:00 p.m.

 

This meeting is our agreed  follow-up meeting to our May meeting regarding the future of St. John’s. At this meeting we will review our progress at St. John’s and further brainstorm ideas about the future of this ministry. Anyone interested in the ministry at St. John’s is welcome to attend.

 

For Southern Deanery…

Southern Deanery Meeting

The next Southern Deanery meeting is currently scheduled for

From the Diocesan Office…

For All Clergy and Parishoners:

The Diocesan Staff would appreciate your assistance in getting the contact information for the Provost, Chancellor, Dean, or President of the public and private universities, colleges and junior colleges in our geographical location. If you know who to contact, please call the diocesan office or email emeyer@diosanjoaquin.org.

For Clergy:

For a Marriage Consultation and Consent form contact the Diocesan Office and one will be mailed or emailed to you. Thank you.

For Treasurers:

Be sure to use the 2014 Treasurer Monthly form and discard older forms.
Click here for the 2014 form.
For Clergy, Vestries and Bishop Committees:

The Bronze Disaster Preparedness Plan is to be completed by all parishes and missions and turned into the Diocesan Office. Many thanks to St. Clare of Assisi- Avery, St Matthew’s- San Andreas, St. James- Sonora, St. John the Baptist- Lodi, St. Raphael’s- Oakhurst, Holy Trinity- Madera and Church of the Saviour- Hanford,  St. Paul’s- Bakersfieldfor completing their plan.
ALL MAIL

for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, Bishop, Canon, and Administrator is to go to the current address: 1528 Oakdale Road, Modesto, CA 95355.

Time sensitive material can be emailed to: emeyer@diosanjoaquin.org.

Thank you,

Ellen Meyer,

Administrator

Whats going on…

What’s Happening in the DIO

 

EfM Training August 13-15, Holy Family, Fresno

 

Northern Deanery Eucharist August 15, 2014  3:00 p.m., St. John’s, Stockton

 

Northern Deanery Meeting August 15, 2014  4:00 p.m., St. John’s, Stockton

 

Day of Discovery, September 6, 2014, 10:00 a.m., Christ the King, Riverbank

 

Southern Deanery Meeting, September 20. 2014, 10:00 a.m. Location TBD

 

Standing Committee Meeting, September 20, 2014, 10.00 a.m., Holy Family, Fresno

 

Joint Meeting of the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council September 20, 2014, 12 noon, Holy Family, Fresno

 

Diocesan Council Meeting, September 20, 2014, 1:00 p.m., Holy Family, Fresno

 

Annual Convention, October 24-25, 2014, St. Paul’s, Modesto


   Click on the link below to see more upcoming events and meetings around the diocese.

 

From Our Parishes and Missions…

Dining Chairs for sale at St. Paul’s, Modesto
only $10.00 each!

St. Paul’s, Modesto has 207 green upholstered dining chairs for the fantastic price of $10.00 each. Please email Suzie at jeanandsuzie@yahoo.com for more information about the chairs and to make arrangements for purchase and pick-up.

In our Community…

Wheelchairs Needed

Trinity United Presbyterian Church, Modesto and
First Presbyterian Church,Turlock

are collecting wheelchairs, walkers and crutches to deliver to those in need in Guatemala. They hope to collect 200 wheelchairs.

If you can help please contact:

Trinity United Presbyterian Church, Modesto 209-529-3228
or First Presbyterian Church, Turlock 209-312-1238

For the Bishop and  Canon’s Calendar…

Bishop David’s Calendar -Click Here
 
Canon Kate’s Calendar-Click Here

 

For our Diocesan Prayer Calendar….click here
Diocesan Website and Facebook…
 Have you checked it out?

Keep up to date on news and events with our
Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin website

www.diosanjoaquin.org  

Facebook  
Check out postings from Bishop David and Canon Kate at
Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin

Episcopal ShieldDio seal

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It took a few days to deliver the donations to the group of homeless people because they have to constantly keep moving. They were very happy to receive the items and are doing well. They are still building bicycles and pursuing their dreams.

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Click to order tickets online

 

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 The Friday Reflection Title

 7-18-2014

From Bishop David

Healthy, Holy and Happy Relationships…

I was traveling somewhere the other day and I realized that I was without my phone.  And the feelings attached were something like: more-than-slightly discombobulated, at least disconnected, somewhat irresponsible, letting the “side” down, off balanced, naked, to name a very few.  I sleep (perhaps sleep is too generous a word) with the iPhone and iPad by our bed.  When I awake each morning, before my morning prayers, before I make a “comfort stop,” before I do anything else, I reach over, check my emails, the news of this early day, and perhaps Facebook installations.  I want to be clear about this, I have a love-hate relationship with technology, far more accurately, my life is far more dependent on the immediacy technology affords than I could have ever anticipated.

So here’s what I have learned.  And please understand, on most occasions I am able to differentiate between that which has been learned (perhaps a cognitive exercise) and integrating that which has been learned into my experience (more often than not, an exercise of the heart [namely, putting into real practice]).

It is not conducive to a healthy, holy and happy relationship to be so inextricably connected to our technological devices.  So yes David, the worst place to keep your iPhone and iPad is by your bed.  And perhaps it is far better to walk downstairs (Tracy typically begins her day before me) and bid good morning to your wife prior to doing anything else, duh?  Similarly, consider for a moment the number of times you have observed couples in “social situations” with their heads looking down at their phones rather than directed toward one another.  You must know what I’m on about.  Tracy and I recently saw the film “Her” which was about a guy who fell in love with his OS, his Operating System.  Unfortunately this story wasn’t too far from home.  I have also learned that this immediate and expedient culture of which we are a part (technology is the vehicle) doesn’t necessarily ensure healthy, holy and happy relationships.  Sometimes we need to pause and consider and reconsider our responses before we make them.  Sometimes we discover that delaying a far more substantive chat when a phone conversation or better yet, a face-to-face opportunity is possible, is a much better approach in ensuring the aforementioned 3H relationship.

San Joaquin, what has truly prompted my meandering is this.  I ask that we rely less on our email conversations particularly when they involve personal or delicate issues, and rely far more on the courtesy that each of us yearn and desire.  If we want to be involved in healthy, holy and happy relationships then let’s consider traveling without our phones once-in-a-while.  Let’s contemplate having our bedrooms as technological-free-zones.  Let’s assume an approach of “prayerful pause” next time we get an email which prompts us to consider firing back an immediate response which if truly considered, would simply complicate an already complicated situation.  Let’s honor, respect and care for one another by taking the time to have the sometimes “difficult conversations” or even the “not so difficult conversations” in a way that lead to healthier, holier and happier relationships.

So, when you receive a response from me which says, “Let’s hold this conversation until the can see one another and discuss it prayerfully and properly.”  Please don’t think for a moment that I am endeavoring to “put you off,” I am simply endeavoring to live in that 3H space with you.

+David

“Participating in God’s Reconciling Love”

“Missional ” Day with the Bishop…

To all Clergy and Parishioners of the Diocese of San Joaquin,

In earlier Friday Reflections, Bishop David announced that he is looking for stories of mission and stories about the people involved in the “missional” experience of how you are joining God working in your neighborhoods. Bishop David wants to visit  you in your parishes and missions so to participate with you and capture and post on our website the good work that you are doing in your communities.  A few parishes and missions have already set up midweek “Missional “Days. 

 Thank you, Thank you, and again Thank you

For those who have yet to schedule a midweek ”Missional” Day please do so. Please click    here for a “Missional” Day request form that will assist in the scheduling process. Please note that we are now scheduling dates for Bishop David September 2014 and beyond. If you have any questions, please contact Ellen Meyer at the Diocesan Office at209-576-0104 209-576-0104 or emeyer@diosanjoaquin.org.

   

People News…

Reverend Anne Benvenuti St. Paul’s, Bakersfield new book Spirit Unleashed has been recently published.

-from the cover
“In Spirit Unleashed, Anne Benvenuti uses analysis of real encounters with wild animals to take us on an intellectual tour of our thinking about animals by way of biological sciences, scientific psychology, philosophy, and theology to show that we have been wrong in our understanding of ourselves amongst other animals. The good news is that we can happily correct course. Drawing us into encounters with a desert rattlesnake, an offended bonobo, an injured fawn, a curious whale, a determined woodpecker, and others, she gives us a glimpse of their souls. Anne Benvenuti strongly makes the case that to change the way that we think about animals-and our way of relating to them-holds the possibility of changing all life on Earth for the better.”

“We Franciscans always believed that nature was God’s first revelation, and if we did not read and respect creation, elements, and animals, we would probably not know how to read the written Bible either. That might just be what happened. But in this beautiful book you now have a way through-and beyond-that will satisfy your searching intelligence and your seeking heart at the same time. You will surely enjoy this writing in both style and substance! I did.”

-Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, NM

Spirit Unleashed: Reimagining Human-Animal Relations has been published by
Wipf & Stock! You can also order it from Amazon!

For more information about Anne’s book click here.

Congratulations Anne!

From the Episcopal Churh Development Office…

The Episcopal Church’s Development Office is sponsoring a


Pilgrimage to Navajoland
October 20-26, 2014

This pilgrimage is designed to raise awareness of the region and to showcase the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church in Navajoland and return to their dioceses and parishes to encourage support for Navajoland.  Participants will have the opportunity  learn the history of the Navajo and how they have embraced The Episcopal Church for over 100 years, visit historical sites and meet Navajo elders and clergy.

For more information please contact the diocesan office at 209-576-0104 or email
emeyer@diosanjoaquin.org

TENS …

tens logo

TENS ranks a TEN from parishes that have tried the TENS program

 

During these summer doldrums of stewardship, it is time to plan for the fall giving campaign. Last year, Holy Family Episcopal ChurchFresno used the program from The Episcopal Network for Stewardship, (TENS) with some success. The Dioceses of San Joaquin has joined TENS this year, so their material is available to each parish and mission to use. This year’s campaign, Walking the Way, looks very exciting. TENS provides everything a congregation needs for a campaign, except the people. They have document templates for pledge cards, bulletin inserts and even models of letters to various levels of givers. All a congregation needs is for a parishioner to step forward and coordinate the program. If you feel called to help your church, visit www.tens.org and talk to your priest about this opportunity.

 

Don Austin

Holy Family, Fresno

 

TENS was utilized by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Modesto as one of the tools that was part of our Tapping our Talents- Sharing our Gifts- Stewardship is Spiritual Healing Campaign last fall. St. Paul’s found that TENS had a positive impact on the success of their campaign and we plan to use it again in 2014.

 

Stephanie Gilmer

St. Paul’s, Modesto

 

 

Access to the membership only portion of the TENS website is available by calling the diocesan office to get the diocesan code for 2014.

EFM Training…

EFM

EFM Mentor Training

We just scheduled the annual EfM Mentor training.  This training is mandatory for all those who want to mentor an EfM class but it’s open to everyone who just wants to learn more about EfM.  It’s particularly good for current EfM students who want a summer EfMexperience.  All are welcome.

 

 

When:  August 13, 14 & 15

Starts:  2pm on Wednesday, 8:30am on Thursday, 8:30am on Friday.

Ends:  3pm on Friday

Where:  Holy Family Episcopal Church – Fresno

Cost:  $195.00 per person

 

Contact Holy Family Episcopal Church at holyfamilyfresno@gmail.com with any questions.

From Commission on Ministry…

 

Day of Discovery

A Program for Discerning Ministry in the Episcopal Church

 

September 6, 2014

10:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m.

Christ the King Community Episcopal Church

6443 Estella Avenue, Riverbank, CA 95367

 

Day of Discovery is designed to help Episcopalians broaden their understanding and appreciation of the four groups of ministers in the Episcopal Church. Participants will discover new arenas for ministry as well as see and experience the complementary relationship between all ministers of the Church.

 

Some people limit their definition of discernment as primarily an activity to find THEIR ministry, THEIR career, or THEIR place. This program, on the other hand, will define discernment as primarily a lifelong process of perceiving, listening, and responding to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

 

Most of all, Day of Discovery is designed to help people Discover and Appreciate the Mission and Ministry of Christ, how the Episcopal Church expresses that ministry, and how each person fits into that expression.

 

For more information and registration form on Day of Discovery click here

For Northern Deanery…

Northern Deanery Meeting

 

There will be a Northern Deanery Meeting Friday, August 15, 2014 at  St. John the Evangelist, Stockton.

 

There will be a Holy Eucharist at 3:00 p.m. and the deanery meeting will be at 4:00 p.m.

 

This meeting is our agreed  follow-up meeting to our May meeting regarding the future of St. John’s. At this meeting we will review our progress at St. John’s and further brainstorm ideas about the future of this ministry. Anyone interested in the ministry at St. John’s is welcome to attend.

 

For Southern Deanery…

Southern Deanery Meeting

The next Southern Deanery meeting is currently scheduled for

From the Diocesan Office…

For All Clergy and Parishoners:

The Diocesan Staff would appreciate your assistance in getting the contact information for the Provast, Chancellor, Dean, or President of the public and private universities, colleges and junior colleges in our geographical location. If you know who to contact, please call the diocesan office or email emeyer@diosanjoaquin.org.

For Clergy and Delegates to Annual Convention:

The 2015 Annual Convention notification packets will be mailed at the end of July. Please inform the Diocesan Office if you do not receive your packet.

For Treasurers:

Be sure to use the 2014 Treasurer Monthly form and discard older forms.
Click here for the 2014 form.
Reminder:


The Bronze Disaster Preparedness Plan… 

 is to be completed by all parishes and missions and turned into the Diocesan Office. Many thanks to St. Clare of Assisi- Avery, St Matthew’s- San Andreas, St. James- Sonora, St. John the Baptist- Lodi, St. Raphael’s- Oakhurst, Holy Trinity- Madera and Church of the Saviour- Hanford, St. Paul’s- Bakersfield for completing their plan.

If your parish or mission has yet to complete the plan get ‘er done. 

ALL MAIL

for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, Bishop, Canon, and Administrator is to go to the current address: 1528 Oakdale Road, Modesto, CA 95355.

Time sensitive material can be emailed to: emeyer@diosanjoaquin.org.

Thank you,

Ellen Meyer,

Administrator

Whats going on…

What’s Happening in the DIO

 

Diocesan Council Teleconference Meeting, Thursday, July 24, 2014, 5:30 p.m.

 

EfM Training August 13-15, Holy Family, Fresno

 

Northern Deanery Eucharist August 15, 2014  3:00 p.m., St. John’s, Stockton

 

Northern Deanery Meeting August 15, 2014  4:00 p.m., St. John’s, Stockton

 

Day of Discovery, September 6, 2014, 10:00 a.m., Christ the King, Riverbank

 

Southern Deanery Meeting, September 20. 2014, 10:00 a.m. Location TBD

 

Standing Committee Meeting, September 20, 2014, 10.00 a.m., Holy Family, Fresno

 

Joint Meeting of the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council September 20, 2014, 12 noon, Holy Family, Fresno

 

Diocesan Council Meeting, September 20, 2014, 1:00 p.m., Holy Family, Fresno

 

Annual Convention, October 24-25, 2014, St. Paul’s, Modesto


   Click on the link below to see more upcoming events and meetings around the diocese.

 

From Our Parishes and Missions…

The Bluegrass Festival planned for
Saturday July 12, 2014 at Christ the King, Riverbank has been postponed. 

Watch this space for a later date.

+++

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church is happy to announce that….

This past Lord’s Day at Saint Matthew’s Church in San Andreas, two new Mosaics (fashioned in Beirut, Lebanon) were Blessed during the Sunday Mass.  The Mosaic of Jesus Christ our High Priest was placed about the entrance doors going into the church, and the Mosaic of The Blessed Mother:  Our Lady of Guadalupe was placed in the Narthex stairway going into the Choir Loft.

 

 

For the Bishop and  Canon’s Calendar…

Bishop David’s Calendar -Click Here
 
Canon Kate’s Calendar-Click Here

 

For our Diocesan Prayer Calendar….click here
Diocesan Website and Facebook…
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Keep up to date on news and events with our
Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin website

www.diosanjoaquin.org  

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The Rev. Anne Largent Smith

Sermon for the Third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 7A), June 22, 2014

Preached at the Episcopal Church of St. Anne, Stockton, California

Text: Matthew 10:24-39


The first summer after I moved here to Stockton, I worked as a hospital chaplain at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. I was training there as part of my preparation for becoming a priest. It was a hard summer for me, not least because I had responsibility for offering pastoral care in the Pediatric ICU (the PICU) where I encountered children and families suffering acutely. One of the toughest of those turned out to be Damien.

 

Damien was six years old, tall for his age, lank, with chocolate skin. He’d landed in the PICU after falling into a swimming pool and nearly drowning. Damien’s parents were both there initially, his mother with another man who might have been her husband, and his father seemingly unattached. There were a few other family members in and out; Damien had a couple of older brothers.

 

It had been Damien’s father’s turn to have Damien, but it seemed his dad had left him with his grandmother, and that’s where he had been playing near the pool with no companion close by. Damien was listless, though sometimes he seemed conscious—his eyes seemed to rest on the cartoons on the TV in his room. His father exuded a frenetic, agitated energy, and was very concerned to clear himself from blame; he kept insisting he hadn’t done anything wrong. The tension among the adults was palpable.

 

After Damien’s first day at the hospital I no longer saw the father. He had gotten into an altercation with security and had been banned from the hospital building. Hopelessness and despair gradually wore Damien’s mother down. Each time I passed through the PICU the room seemed quieter—fewer visitors, less activity. Damien didn’t stay in the ICU all that long; though his condition was critical, his medical needs were not actually intensive. He was moved to the regular pediatric unit, still lying listlessly in bed. The one visitor he seemed still to have was his grandmother—whether she was the one who’d been watching him at the time he fell into the pool, I never knew.

 

And then Damien died, and I was angry and deeply saddened, because he had been alone. Grandma hadn’t happened to be there at the time, and the rest of the family seemed to stay away. When I checked in with the nurses at their station, they seemed a little angry and sad, too; it’s one thing to deal with children’s pain and suffering and even death day in and day out, but to see a family so divided and distant was a difficulty they were especially troubled by. We waited, and no one came. Damien’s family had failed him. Beloved child of God, left alone in the end by the hurting, helpless people into whose care he had been entrusted.

 

There was nothing to say and really only one small thing I could do. His body needed to be transferred to the morgue. Would I walk with the nurse as she took him there? His blanket-wrapped body lying in a little red wagon looked for all the world as if he were asleep. We were able to walk through the halls without alarming people that way; down two floors and around to the opposite wing of the building. I don’t recall much conversation, only presence. My presence to Damien and this nurse; her presence to him as well. The hall outside the morgue door was empty of people, though cluttered with things. I knelt by that little body, and I prayed over him, and blessed him, sign of the cross on his forehead. My grief felt overwhelming to me. It was not right that he should die alone. It seemed to me that his family had failed to do the thing that was most important: love him until the end, so that he could know himself as beloved.

 

I had strong feelings about what Damien’s family should have done for him. I suspect that the values I judged that situation by are the same values so many of us feel are violated when we encounter today’s gospel reading. Recall that Jesus says this:

 

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

 

“For I have come to set a man against his father,

and a daughter against her mother,

and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;

and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

 

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Mt. 10:34-39)

 

These are difficult words. They speak to the very difficult circumstances the early church experienced as Christians. And in our day, in our culture, our sense of familial loyalty and obligation causes us to bristle at the idea that God could ask anything less of us than to love our family members until the end, to ensure that they know themselves to be beloved. We expect the kingdom of God to look different in many ways from the world we’re living in now, but we assume the family will be left intact. We aren’t looking to change everything about the status quo.

 

We believe it’s our God-given duty to care for each other. We suppose that love amongst family members is a reflection of God’s love for us, so that a parent’s role with a child, for example, is idealized as that of unconditional-love-giver. And children are then expected to understand obedience to and cooperation with God as essentially the same thing as obedience to and cooperation with their own parents. And suddenly family relationships become a sort of idol; we care for them as though that were the most important thing we could do for God.

 

It’s easy to begin to operate this way, because we feel certain that family is very important. Our love for our families motivates our choices in all other aspects of our lives. We judge actions that help families to cohere as righteous, and actions that cause family disunity as unrighteous. That’s why back at the hospital in Sacramento I could rush to judgment of Damien’s family based on my assessment of their failure to cohere.

 

Because family has such a high status in our society, we don’t notice how uncritical that rush to judgment can be. In reality I only understood Damien’s family slightly. Most of the factors that likely brought about their situation are cause for compassion, not judgment. But we rarely learn what drives people in such situations—we rarely bother to ask with any real curiosity.

 

While our families can reveal something about how we and the divine relate to each other, families do fail. Family falls short of fully reflecting the love God has for us. No icon can tell the whole truth. What Jesus has to teach us about the family reflects the limits of the metaphor. He calls God Father, and we learn that the love and care human fathers offer at their best is an image of God’s love and care for humanity. He calls his followers brothers and sisters, and we understand a little more how intimate and deep are the bonds that connect us as Christians. And he turns his mother and brothers away, and we learn that our obligations to our families are not so comprehensive as our obligations to God.

 

The bonds we share as parents and children and brothers and sisters are at their best deep, comforting, supportive, and a reflection of divine love. It is certainly possible for God’s love to be communicated to us through these relationships, for God’s care for us to be received practically from the hands of our families. That’s part of why it makes so much sense to us to think that God wants families to be united.

 

But God’s love is in fact different, and our need for God is in fact greater. Our culture, our biology, and our intellect and emotions promote primacy of place for family, but families are human, and their purposes are human. The real and perceived function of families as a place of nurture and security undoubtedly make them important. But they do not make them most important. When family is what is most important, family becomes a false god.

 

Perhaps our need for nurture and security are at the very heart of our reasonable but misplaced attachment to family. However close or remote God may seem to us, God’s perfect mystery will always be beyond our understanding. And so our ability to trust God alone to protect and provide for us is limited by our fear that we won’t be taken care of. And we are very afraid. In chapter 10 of the gospel of Matthew, as elsewhere, Jesus reminds his followers that the very many ways we try to calm our fears by grasping our own security and meeting our own needs will all ultimately fail, but God’s love will never fail. God’s love is the only completely reliable thing; it is therefore the only power which truly prevails for us. Naturally in the course of our lives we seek our own security, but all means besides God are transient, ephemeral. Secrecy cannot save us; self-negation cannot save us. Power, wealth, status, possessions cannot save us. Mutual care and friendship cannot save us. And those most basic and essential allegiances established by virtue of our birth into family relationships, as much as we may value them, cannot save us. Any of these things may be used as a means of grace, assuredly; but they are not grace itself.

 

We would be happy to trust in our own efforts to care for ourselves and our loved ones. We would be content if we could amass enough wealth and possessions to meet our needs. We want to slip into complacency and close our eyes to the frailty of our efforts; we just want to be left in peace. But Jesus comes to wake us from our complacency and get us to invest in the real source of our security: God.

 

Jesus invites us to recognize God as our true source of love and security. And the corollary to that invitation is an invitation to entrust our family members to God, too. We can’t save ourselves, and we can’t save them. But God can. And trusting in God’s love allows us to let go of our fears. And stop all that work we’re doing to try to ensure nothing goes wrong. It’s counterintuitive and uncomfortable. Painful—it can easily be painful. But to acknowledge God’s perfection and the lesser status of the family does not constitute failure. It simply reflects the truth.

 

We will fail. Difficult things will happen. We will have to entrust each other to God’s care when they do. We may even find ourselves with a Damien in our lives—with conflict and pain so horrific it seems we will not be able to bear it. Each of us will have to find our way.

 

But remember that God sent Damien a little red wagon, and a nurse, and a chaplain. Grace was there. God was there. God was present to that little boy even when his family could not be. And with those final acts of love and blessing, God received Damien into God’s care forever. God stands ready to do the same for each of us, and that is the best, the only, hope we have. That at the moment our lives at last seem to be lost—at that very moment, in God, they are found.

 

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The Rev. Anne Largent Smith

Sermon preached at the Episcopal Church of St. Anne, Stockton, California

June 15, 2014: Trinity Sunday, Year A

Texts: Genesis 1:1-2:4a, Psalm 8, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20

 

“Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

 

Years ago I worked for a massive corporation that periodically got employees together for training events. One of them be sexual harassment training. And one of the first questions we were asked in the training was: “Are you a hugger?” To my surprise, about half the room self-identified as huggers. The rest of us did not.

 

That was an enlightening moment for me. I hadn’t particularly thought before about how varied people’s comfort levels are with physical proximity and contact in spaces like the office where I worked. I hadn’t particularly realized how much clearance I liked to give people and how hesitant I was to use touch in the workplace. It made a lot of sense upon reflection. All our different contexts and experiences meant our comfort levels were widely various, and we all had different ideas about what a touch might mean.

 

So in the Episcopal church when we gather for worship, there is always a moment when we are invited to exchange the peace. This community has its particular way of passing the peace, and other church communities have their way. Some people move around, some stay in place. People say different things—just “peace,” or “The peace of Christ,” or “God’s peace,” or even “Good morning”—and they may shake hands or offer a hug or not touch at all. And I have known some people to kiss, on the mouth or the cheek or even in the air.

 

I myself have come a long way from identifying as “not a hugger.” As far as touch goes, I try to do whatever is comfortable for others when passing the peace. We’ve all been on one side or the other of an unequal exchange where one person expects a hug and the other doesn’t, right? I just do my best not to invade people’s space.

 

And that’s just hugging. I have had some surprises where kissing is concerned, too. I have a friend who always kisses on the cheek, but I always forget and am just trying to give her a hug. And then like many children I was made to kiss my grandparents when we greeted them. I remember not liking my grandfather’s tickly mustache. But I also remember that gesture becoming a special way of expressing love for my grandparents, and later for my mother too. And I have even on occasion given a kiss to a parishioner who proffered one, and to people over whom I have prayed.

 

So it turns out that negotiating touch and communicating through it is pretty complicated. No one would argue with me on that, and yet here, smack in the middle of the liturgy, we issue an invitation to do just that. To negotiate a greeting of some kind, and to communicate something through it. And one of the reasons we do that has to do with ancient instructions like the one Paul gives at the end of this letter to the church at Corinth, to “greet one another with a holy kiss.”

 

I suspect that we all have different ideas about what we’re communicating.  A lot of us will have stories about mishaps. And a few of us will have been really thoughtful about what the exchange of peace represents.

 

I once was part a congregation in which certain members were angry with certain others. One person there began avoiding certain people at the exchange of peace because, as he explained to me, he believed if he was angry with them he couldn’t be sincere in wishing them peace. He thought it was disingenuous of him to make such a gesture of friendship when he did not feel friendship for these other people. Needless to say, his relationship to them did not improve.

 

I’m glad he told me his thoughts on not extending the peace, though, because I realized that for me, passing the peace in the liturgy, whether verbally or with a handshake or a hug, doesn’t actually have very much to do with me at all. When I offer the peace, what I mean to do is pray that God’s peace would be upon each person that I greet. And that means I can sincerely exchange the peace with anyone, friend or enemy, because I truly do wish for everyone to know God’s peace.

 

In fact the holy kiss Paul speaks of in his letter to the Corinthian church has very little to do with reflecting any individual’s positive feelings about the others in that congregation. The church at Corinth was fraught with conflict. Various factions in the church claimed to have more authority than others; their divisions placed their unity as a community at risk. And Paul wants very much for these Christians to realize how central their unity is to their identity as followers of Christ. He exhorts them to love each other, to be patient with each other, and to be humble. He wants them to model themselves after Jesus, who never forgot that he belonged to and relied upon God.

 

And Paul isn’t asking the Corinthians simply to change their minds and their behavior. This is not an exhortation to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and get the job done through sheer will and effort. It’s not an admonition to “Don’t worry, be happy.” What Paul wants the Corinthians to realize is that they have been made a new creation! That they are something different now because the Holy Spirit is in their midst, and the Holy Spirit will bring about transformation among them that they cannot accomplish on their own. The Christian community is a miracle, and for Christians to behave as if it isn’t is for Christians to deny the very power that gives us our identity.

 

Several times in his letters, Paul uses the analogy of the body to describe the miracle of our unity in Christ. He emphasizes that we’re all different—unity doesn’t mean uniformity. We’re not all eyes, or ears, or hands, or feet. Everyone has a part to play. But when Paul describes the Christian church as being like a body, we must understand that we are uniquely connected. That what happens to the eye matters even if you’re a foot; that an injured hand matters even to a healthy ear. And that no part is better than the others, and no part can say it doesn’t need the rest.

 

The body, with all its various parts, is a whole, a unit, and in Christ, so are we, the church. It may seem like we can choose at any moment to disassociate ourselves and choose not to be a part of the community anymore, but in fact we can no more separate ourselves from the body of Christ than our ears can jump down onto our shoulders, slide down our arms, and run away down the street.

 

We often think about our membership in the body of Christ in terms of whether we go to church, or how much a part of the community we feel, but the fact is that there’s something far bigger happening within this body. Whether we choose to participate matters, but even if we don’t, we are still bound together. We are bound together by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit present among us, linking us inextricably to one another. And we need one another. We need the gifts of the Spirit that each person brings into this body. We need to be a place where those gifts can find expression for the sake of God’s purposes for the world.

That’s wholeness for us.

 

 

This is what Paul wants the church to realize: that they are as mutually dependent upon and connected to one another as the various parts of the human body are. That miraculously in this world where relationships are broken and estranged so easily, we are united in Christ. We are in relationship even when we need healing, and we move forward by God’s grace with mutual love because that is how our brokenness is redeemed and repaired.

 

Maybe on this Trinity Sunday the church’s understanding of the triune God can help us understand how deeply connected we are in Christ; how close the relationship is that we’re invited into. The doctrine of the Trinity tells us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three persons; they are individual and complete. And God is one, and so the three are also one. There is unity within the trinity, and mutual indwelling, and yet God is three and yet one.

 

We who are made in God’s image and formed into the body of Christ by the action of the Holy Spirit are also joined together so that though many persons we are one. And that moment when we turn to one another to pass the peace is a moment when we recall this profound connection. Whether we’re greeting a spouse of forty years or a stranger we’ve never laid eyes on before, our offering of peace is in a way an acknowledgment of our unity with each other.

 

So while we bring all our human emotions and the tendencies and habits that we’ve developed with each other, yet in Christ, by God’s grace, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we enter a radical new relationship with each other where we recognize ourselves in each person we greet and pray that the God of love and peace be with every person just as we hope that the God of love and peace will be with us ourselves.

 

There’s a mystery to being the body of Christ just as there’s a mystery to God’s Trinitarian nature. We may not understand it or feel it, and we may still be learning how to inhabit this space together, how to know whether to hug or shake hands, how to understand our unity, but we are still in it. We are in the mystery of God’s love here, if only we knew how much. Remember this profound love we share, and our profound connection, as you encounter each other today, and always.

 

Amen.

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Rev. Anne Smith

a

June 8, 2014: Day of Pentecost, Year A

Text: Acts 2:1-21, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, John 20:19-23


 

Among the lesser-known Jewish holidays is Shavuot. The day of Shavuot marks seven weeks since Passover each year; Shavuot means “weeks”, and the English translation of the name for this Holy Day is the Feast of Weeks.

 

In the ancient Jewish tradition Shavuot was a feast of obligation—it was the time to bring the first fruits of the harvest to the Temple to be a thanksgiving offering to God.

 

But in Jesus’s day a shift was taking place, and Shavuot gained significance as a memorial of the covenant God had made with humankind, ultimately symbolized by the giving of the law, or Torah, to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

 

Even as the meaning of the day has shifted, it has always represented a significant occasion for acknowledging and giving thanks for what God has provided.

 

The most common name for this day is actually from the Greek. Seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot makes the celebration fall on the 50th day, and so the Greek word for “fiftieth” became its name: Pentecost.

 

Pentecost, a holy day for Jews from every nation to gather in Jerusalem and offer thanks to God, remembering God’s goodness and love toward them and their commitment to serve God in return.

 

And one year long ago, there amid the Jews renewing their commitment to the divine covenant, a gathering of the disciples of Jesus issued an invitation for people to turn to God in a brand new way. A sound like rushing wind rose up, and tongues of fire came to rest on the disciples, and they spoke. Into a crowd of Jews from every corner of the empire, the disciples spoke languages they could scarcely have named before, and foreigners caught the familiar cadences of home in speech plainly sensible to them though it came from the mouths of a few yokels from that provincial backwater, Galilee.

 

There on that day the Holy Spirit was poured out and people’s hearts were set ablaze. They heard a message of God’s saving power, a power made real in the person of Jesus.

 

Here amid a cacophony of different languages this morning we too hear this message, emerging in clear, sensible speech. The Spirit comes and we hear the message of God’s power at work from the beginning of time and even now.

 

We hear the song of the Psalmist recall the movement of the Holy Spirit in creation, the wisdom with which God made all things, the variety present everywhere we look! Creation is God’s delight, and the Holy Spirit is the very breath of life.

 

We hear the words of the prophet Joel, as he speaks of the Holy Spirit being poured out on all flesh, bringing forth new life in the midst of death, saving not just the chosen ones of Israel but people of all nations, to God’s greater glory.

 

We hear Jesus himself offering shalom, a word of peace and well-being, as he sends his followers into the world as he himself had been sent by God. He breathes on his friends and the Spirit comes and fills them with power, the surprising power of offering forgiveness and accountability.

 

Those who receive the Holy Spirit as Jesus offers it here are given the power to release the sins of any or retain the sins of any. Friends, this is the power to break the world open, to give freedom to captives and to bring justice to the oppressed.

 

Do you remember how Jesus practiced forgiveness? Jesus went into places where sin cast people’s lives into darkness and shadow, and he brought them healing and release. Those who suffered from blindness, paralysis, fever, bleeding, leprosy, and disease received the healing of their bodies; those who suffered analogous ailments of heart, mind, and soul received blessed release. Jesus offered forgiveness that restored suffering people to wholeness and connection with God.

 

But Jesus retained the sins of some. Everywhere Jesus went, he challenged the lies that held power over people’s lives. When Jesus found the tellers of lies, he confronted them with the truth. Jesus held them accountable for their sin, the sin of leading people away from God. When the Pharisees burdened the Jewish people with lies about what God required of them, Jesus held them accountable. When anyone in power dismissed another person as less than worthy for any reason—gender, status, age, ethnicity—Jesus exposed the lie. He affirmed the dignity and value of all people, but he held anyone accountable who propagated the lie that some are less-than, the lie that some are unbeloved.

 

Jesus gave his friends the Spirit and the power to forgive, and we have received these gifts too. In baptism, we invite the Holy Spirit to reside in us, and what potential is ours because of it! The Spirit comes and expectations break apart, and the immovable breaks free. Forgiveness, release, and new life become possible. The Spirit is poured into every believer, every servant of God, and we have such gifts to offer because of it. This body of God-loving, sin-forgiving, healing-bringing, lie-exposing faithful people, still learning ourselves to walk by grace, gets to spread the love of God and the forgiveness that frees us into every corner of the world.

 

Like the Jews gathered in Jerusalem at Pentecost the year of that first Easter we come to this day to give thanks to God and acknowledge all that God has provided, and to be reminded of the covenant we have made with God. We renew our baptismal vows, the promises we make about how we will live our life in Christ. And I pray that we also see the continuous outpouring of the Holy Spirit and that we will receive anew our commission to bring light and love and forgiveness and justice into the world.

 

Amen.

 

 

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