Epiphany 3, Year C

Luke 4:14-21

January 27, 2013

When the Vestry was getting to know each other Friday evening, we were sorted into two teams.  Picking of teams can be done many ways.  There is the literal ‘picking of teams’ where inevitably someone will be the last picked – not much fun.  Names can be drawn at random.  The method used by our Senior Warden was the count off method.  One, two, one, two, one, two – pretty fair.  All the ones are on a team and all the twos were on a team.  But then someone asked how they would know who was on their team because we were all sitting around a large table.  The answer was quickly offered – shirts and skins.  That was pretty funny because in a coed crowd of middle aged people it just wasn’t going to happen.

There was another sorting process in a class in Seminary, that wasn’t so funny.  We were breaking into groups of 3-4.  First the class divided into male and female.  Then the female group decided that those under 40 would be a group.  That left about 8 of us in the female, over 40, and we were having a tough time coming up with how to break up the group – until someone said ‘those who have children’ and those who don’t.  That worked!  As we started to separate one of my classmates got really upset and began to cry.  Turns out that while not having children wasn’t a big deal to the rest of her group, it was a big deal to her.  She had always wanted to have children but was not able to.  She felt we had been cruel in even suggesting the distinction.  She did not want to be part of the “I can’t have children” club.  You can’t tell by looking at a person what clubs they belong too and which memberships are difficult to bear.  You only know after you’ve brought up the difference.

The people of Israel are returning to Jerusalem – a place of their own, the place of their ancestors.  And it is new to most of them.  They have been in exile – scattered throughout Babylonia.  By birth they are part of a club.  It’s time to return to living life according to the laws of Moses, whether they want to or not.

What we need to understand, is that it has been a long time since the people have lived in Jerusalem, and to most of them this is a way of life that they have only heard about through stories.  On this day before the festival month that today is known at Rosh Hashanah, Ezra reads from a spot where all the people, even ritually defiled persons, could be present.  “Ezra, brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding.”  Immediately, I was wondering who are the people that can’t hear with understanding.  What kind of club weren’t they part of?  I thought about people we might call developmentally challenged or maybe they were foreigners, non-Jews.  Well, the notes say that ‘those who could hear with understanding’ meant ‘older children’, teenagers in our lingo.  So those who couldn’t understand were presumably kids.  There were pauses during the reading of the law so that it could be translated and that all would be able to understand.  In that understanding, they are becoming part of the club – the club of the people of God.

Jesus has begun his ministry in Galilee and eventually gets back to Nazareth, his home town.  He stands up to read in the synagogue like he has done many times before as a young man and is handed the scroll of Isaiah.  This part is unique to Luke’s gospel – the other gospel versions of the story don’t go into this much detail.  “This Isaiah citation defines the character of Jesus’ ministry.  He will announce good news to those who are poor, blind, in captivity, and oppressed.  Luke portrays Jesus’ liberating work in terms of personal exorcisms, healings and the teaching of the people.  The radical character of this mission is specified above all by its being offered to and accepted by those who were the outcasts of the people.”  (Sacra Pagina, Luke)          How many of us are part of that club?

We come to Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth.  Last week, he was telling them about gifts of the spirit.  This morning Paul is taking that a bit further and letting us know that all gifts are important to the Church – and that they are equally important.  (You get the idea that maybe some people then were looking down at other members in the community.)  Together we make up a whole body.  Even our blemishes are parts of the body.  And though we might want to deny that we are part of the body, we can’t.  “If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.”  Through baptism we are part of this body, this family of Christ.  “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

No doubt we all belong to many different clubs.  There are no external markings to identify which clubs we have membership in, and it’s not necessary that we share with each other all of our club memberships.  Suffice it to say that we are all members of God’s creation.  We are a part of this family of Christ and our family is part of the larger family of God.  Being members of the ‘no’ kids club does not make us less (or more) than those who have children.  Being members of the club of those who suffer depression does not make us inferior (or superior) to those who suffer physical challenges.  Being members of any club just makes us human.  The thing we have in common is membership in one or more clubs.

Spend some time this week thinking about how these clubs affect the way you look at and interact with the world?  AMEN.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

I think I’d like to be able to heal people’s pain, whether it is hunger, loneliness or whatever.

                                                                                                                                                             Brandi Chastain

 

Like so many people I find myself wanting to find a way to make a difference. We live in a land of such abundance but we are confronted daily with the awareness that too many are going without their basic needs. My thanks goes out to Evelyn & Noble for making it so easy for all of us to do something that will make a difference in people’s lives right here in our own back yard. Please drop of your donations at The Episcopal Church Of St Anne or you can take them to the address listed below. The Food Bank has been impacting lives for a long time thanks to caring people that take action when they see a need.

Emergency Food Bank of Stockton/San Joaquin
7 W. Scotts Avenue, Stockton, CA 95203
Tel: 209.464.7369
Fax: 209.464.0309

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.
Bill Moyers

 

Kids have a natural ability and desire for creative expression. Looking at the results of this project brings a smile to my face. What a great way to motivate and teach positive and lasting lessons. St. Anne’s Sunday School teacher are a dedicated group who tirelessly seek to inspire and educate.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

“The time is always right to do what is right.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Day 2013 was bright and beautiful. A perfect day to enjoy a trip out into the beauty of nature in the San Joaquin Valley and spend the day at the harvest Home Animal Sanctuary. It’s inspiring to see and meet the dedicated people whose passion for all animals has created this haven. Find out more about the sanctuary at harvesthomesanctuary.org. If you have some time get in touch with the sanctuary and make arrangement to volunteer. They can always use an extra hand.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Advent 4, Year C

Sermon

January 13, 2013

 

Giver of all gifts, prepare us for the greatest gift…

 

Can you identify with totally trusting God?  Have you ever let God guide your next step completely?  When you are undecided about what to do next and prayed for guidance, did you really let God have control?  Even knowing that God loves us and knows us, we still have trouble letting God guide us.  I have to get pretty frustrated trying to make my life work before I can turn to God and ask for help.  Has that ever happened to you?

I had been working part time as an associate priest in the Diocese of California, applying for different open rector positions for over a year.  I knew it was time for me to have my “own church” so to speak, but it just wasn’t happening, and didn’t look like it would happen in the Bay Area for many reasons.  So finally, I asked God – send me where ever you need me to be – even if it means that I need to leave California.  Two months later I was forwarded an e-mail from Fr. Mark Hall who was looking for some part-time help at St. Anne’s in Stockton.  Nothing is impossible with God.

If we back up a little in the gospel story, Mary had just a few days before been visited by Gabriel, an angel sent by God.  Gabriel tells her she has been chosen by God to be the one to give birth to a child that will be called Son of the Most High, and the Son of God.  Mary must have been very skeptical – this was all really strange talk, and it was very dangerous.  Gabriel gives her a sign.  “Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.”  Mary gives her consent to God’s plan.  She knows the Torah and has heard about God’s promises of deliverance by a Savior.

Going to visit her relative, Elizabeth, accomplishes a couple things.  She can check out what the angel has told her – Elizabeth is with child – and Elizabeth confirms the angel’s words.  She reassures Mary with these words “and blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”  So Mary says – Yes!  Everything is going to be okay!  Mary’s response is known as the Magnificat, we sang it just a few minutes ago.  I doubt that she has any idea of what is in store for her or for her child, but she is able to receive the gift God has given her.  God will save me, and all future generations will recall this time and they too will receive good things from God.

Mary’s song is for us too.  “God’s mercy is on those who praise him from generation to generation…he has exalted the lowly and filled the hungry with good things.”  Listen to your soul; let the song of praise and thanksgiving spread from it through your whole being.  Stay open, be vulnerable and ready to receive God’s gifts for you.  How?  How do we stay open?  How can we be ready?  Mary says, “My soul magnifies (which means declares the greatness of) the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.  So our soul can continually bless and rejoice in God, but how do we get our conscious mind and actions to do the same?  If we set aside time each day for quiet prayer or reading scripture, that’s a start.  If we can take everyday, repetitive chores and do them for the glory of God, that’s another way.  Making a commitment, having the intention to pray and give glory to God at all times throughout the day, would insure that our actions and words are praise worthy.

I don’t know about you, but I am so easily distracted by the world around me.  So many things call for our attention.  It’s so easy to forget, to lose track, be influenced by the wrong people or thoughts.  It would help to have something to remind us.  Something tangible that would call our minds back to giving thanks and praise to God.  Some people carry prayer beads in their pocket or have a prayer bracelet.  Maybe it’s a tattoo, a symbol or sign that would help you refocus on God.  Some people wear a cross, and I remember one person telling me that they didn’t wear it so others could see, but they wore it inside next to their heart where they could feel it.

Another idea is looking for Christ in each other – hmmm.  Our souls have no problem magnifying the Lord.  If we look for Christ in the people we meet, in ourselves when we look in the mirror, we can be continually reminded to praise and give glory to God.  Sundays, as we gather together is a great time to practice.  At the exchange of the Peace, look in each other’s face, see Christ looking at you and smiling.  Practice as you stand in those lines at the check out counter, or wending your way through the stores.  Practice at work on your co-workers, your boss, or those pesky customers.  Look for Christ in your neighbors and those family members you only see at the holidays.

Advent has helped us prepare for God’s greatest gift – the baby Jesus.  As another year begins, we need to celebrate the gifts and the work that God has given us to do.  We use our gifts to help each other, to do something to heal our world.  We know that we are doing the work of God, our particular ministry, when we get more enjoyment and energy out of the activity than it takes from us.  In those quiet moments between bowl games this week, think about what you do at St. Anne’s – does it still bring you joy?  Is God calling you to some new ministry or confirming what you have been doing?  Trust that with God nothing is impossible.     AMEN.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS