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

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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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