Proper 28, Year A

This is another gospel that is difficult for me to understand, let alone try to tell it as good news to you. Matthew has a theme, last week with the maidens and their oil lamps, this week servants and talents, and next week the separation of the sheep and the goats. There was an earlier ‘kingdom of God is like’ where a king throws a banquet for his son and those invited do not come. The ending to all these parables is that someone is left out or thrown out in the darkness where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Our challenge is that Matthew’s audience was different than those of us listening to his words today. Matthew writes, primarily, to Jewish Christians who are struggling both with the delay in Jesus’ return, the parousia (pair-oo-see-ah), and the Jewish population surrounding them. They have differentiated themselves from their Jewish family and are not sure how to embrace the Gentile Christians. It seems the end time has come – the temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed, and yet Christ has not returned as they expected he would. As time went on Christians began to focus more on how to act than on preparing for the arrival of the son of man in the near future.
Looking at the gospel in the terms of what it meant to Matthew’s audience may give us ideas as to how this is good news for us today. The ‘talent’ in the gospel story is a huge sum of money. Five talents today would be around 4 million dollars. It is only important to know that it was a great amount of wealth to leave with a servant.
“In the Parable of the Talents, the master showed great trust by leaving so much money in the care of three servants. The FIRST servant honored that trust by using the master’s money wisely. Likewise the SECOND servant. Those two servants respected the master. They knew what he wanted, and did their best to give it to him. The THIRD servant, though, acted quite differently. (Perhaps) he acted differently because he felt differently toward the master.
He didn’t respect the master. He didn’t love the master. He feared the master. He thought of the master as a hard man, even though the master has been generous to all three servants. This third servant didn’t care what the master wanted, so he didn’t try to do what the master wanted. The third servant cared only about himself –– his own life. So instead of using the master’s money wisely, he buried it in the ground. In the culture of that time, he would not be held responsible for the sum if he buried it and it became lost. Because he didn’t want the responsibility, he just hid it away. But it didn’t work. The master left the money to be used. He expected his servants to DO SOMETHING –– to make the world a little better place –– to make someone happy –– to put the money to work. “ (Sermonwriter, Dick Donovan)
God gives us gifts, abilities that we call talent. We are expected to use those gifts. When they are used, they multiply, and spread the goodness of God’s kingdom. When we hide them, ignore them, or choose to not do anything (like burying them away), we do lose them. They remain unused or worse fade away to nothing. God asks that we use the talents that have been bestowed upon us.
I tend to picture God as a merciful, loving, forgiving, creator. To see a judgmental, condemning God is difficult for me. That third servant pictures a God that is indeed unmerciful, unloving and most definitely unforgiving. Fear of the consequences of losing what God has entrusted to him leaves him one option – to hide it all away. Would God care if we try to use our talents and end up losing them? I don’t think so.
It seems that God is most upset and hurt when we turn away and hide – only because God knows that in the end we will be hurt by our own actions.
How you respond to God by either boldly using your gifts/talents or hiding them away will indicate the way you envision God. Are you the beloved child of a loving, merciful, caring, forgiving God? Or are you the servant of a Master “who is harsh, reaping where he does not sow, and gathering where he did not scatter seed”? Paul tells us that we are “children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness…God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Over the next week, reflect on three things: What has God given you? What are you doing with those gifts? What should you be doing? Next week’s gospel will outline how we are to use our God given gifts/talents. It is a special Sunday, Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday in the season after Pentecost. It is the last Sunday in our church year. We can continue this conversation next week…

Proper 27, Year A

How many choices have you made in your life, and how many choices has life made for you? It feels that way sometimes; we don’t get to choose. Life happens and we find ourselves dealing with it. There is seemingly so much beyond our control that we hold on to the things that are familiar, comfortable or stable – until someone or something comes along and messes with our life. Perhaps that’s why religion survives. We need the hope that all will be well.
The Israelites have made it to the land that God had promised them. They have been on a journey for years and almost nothing is the same. Sure they have something to eat and water to drink, but they still longed for the ‘good ole days of slavery in Egypt’. But now, they have settled in their new land and they are asked to make a choice – a choice for how they will live out their lives. Joshua gathers the tribes and says, “choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods our ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living, …or serve the LORD.” It is an important decision because if they choose to follow God, their LORD, then they can’t change their mind later without paying the consequences. The God of the Israelites was a vengeful and jealous God, and yet the people choose to follow the one God, to forsake all those other gods. They make their choice publically in front of the assembly so as to be held accountable. They choose to stay with the God that has protected them and done great works in their sight.
This morning Jesus tells another parable about the kingdom of heaven. This one has to do with 10 maidens and their lamps. Five bring extra oil – just in case. Five do not. Well, the bridegroom is delayed and all ten lamps are low on oil. The five that brought the extra oil are present when the bridegroom comes and get into the wedding feast. The others are late because they had to run to the market to get more oil and get locked out. Culturally, at that time, “the bridegroom has gone to the home of the bride to determine and sign the marriage contract with the bride’s father and then he will return with the bride to his home (or that of his father). Since negotiations about the terms of the marriage contract could get involved, perhaps the groom’s delay should not be considered unusual. At the return with his bride, the wedding feast could begin at the bridegroom’s household. The ten maidens await the groom’s return with his bride.” (Sacra Pagina, Matthew, page 349).
Hard to say what choices were made by the maidens that led some to get extra oil and some to not bring any. Did some choose to go have manicures/pedicures in preparation for the banquet and then not have time to get to the market? We can identify with this scenario. We’ve overscheduled our day so that we don’t have time to pick up something at the market or we are late for a meeting or we miss our child’s event? And we’ve done it more than once! That’s one lesson to take from the story. Don’t get so involved with doing, that you forget to take care of living.
Jesus was speaking in parable using events from everyday life. The people listening to Matthew’s gospel would understand that he is the bridegroom and that the “maidens become positive and negative models on how to act in view of the Son of Man’s delayed arrival.” (Sacra Pagina, Matthew, page 350). This parable reiterates the need to be prepared, to be ready, “because you do not know the day or the hour.” Another lesson to take from this parable is not so much about judgment or the character of God as about being ready for the kingdom of heaven and what the time of Jesus’ return will be like.
There are two ways of looking at the “end time”. One is called cataclysmic, and the other is the continuum. The people to whom Matthew was writing lived with a belief of a cataclysmic eschatology. The Son of Man would suddenly return and if you weren’t prepared, you got left out, like the foolish maidens at the wedding banquet. My preference is the continuum, that the end time comes with the reign of God. All people on earth will work together and bring about the reign of God. We are all ready, because it can’t happen unless the whole earth is one family. It rather goes along with the vision of a loving, merciful, God. It also makes our job harder. We not only have to get our own lives in order, we need to help and support each other. In this way, we need to use the resources we receive to help bring about the reign of God (heaven on earth). That is the lesson to take from the readings today. For the people in Matthew’s day, they thought Jesus was coming at any time and had to be prepared. For us, so much time has passed; it is a matter of continuing to work more than being prepared.
We gather our pledge intentions this morning. The money is used to continue our work in bringing about the kingdom of God here in our community. I pray that we share our gifts and talents with each other and with those in need, believing that God will continue to provide for us. We, as Christians, have promised to serve the LORD. Let us follow the role model of the wise maidens and be prepared to do this work. AMEN.

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The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
The Friday Reflection Title

July 26, 2013


Dear Friends,


First Forays in the Field


This is the third in a series of articles about the Diaconate from Teri Van Huss and Nancy Key, postulants who are engaged in ministry education in a 3-year program at the School for Deacons in Berkeley. In the second year students start Field Education where they serve 240 hours per year in a mentored setting at a local community program. The Field Ed for third-year students, also 240 hours, is a parish placement at a church different than their own. Teri has completed her community placement and will begin a parish placement with Fr. Luis Rodriquez at Church of the Saviour in Hanford. Nancy is beginning her community placement with Clinica Sierra Vista homeless program.


Thus, we call this First Forays in the Field – a reflection about how the universe shifts when you are faced with real world situations that are completely out of your experience. We are learning first-hand the role of the deacon as a servant leader, and about the ministry of presence. How can we preach the Good News to someone who needs food, water, and shelter? What does it really mean to “be” with the poor or the sick or the lonely? We are learning that when we help to provide food, water, and shelter or medical assistance or safety from violence, we are indeed spreading the Gospel! The Good News of Christ is channeled through those who love them enough to be with them. So, we invite you to take a walk with Nancy.




Today was my first day of street outreach with the Clinica Sierra Vista Healthcare for the Homeless Program street outreach team. Today, I simply “shadowed” Ka and Greg, the two outreach workers I was with. My goal was to learn and do no harm.


We drove down to the south part of Fresno, close to the railroad tracks and freeway, with scattered industrial sites nearby.  Lining a little-used wide street were ten or twelve shanties constructed from a variety of materials including wood, tents, and cloth. Some were fortified by a gaggle of shopping carts. On a cross-street was one large encampment, covered with large pieces of wood. Greg told me that was the “big house,” meaning the “drug house.” He said there would be a “guard” outside. Sure enough, a stern looking man was sitting in a chair just outside the big house. We asked him if he would like some information about health care, and he answered with a firm “no!” We moved on.


One of the shanties was made of wood with a cross nailed on it. One arm of the cross said “God loves you,” and the other said “God bless you.” The man was standing outside, and was quite willing to talk about his house. On the outer walls he had affixed wood in the shape of a window, with red pots of flowers painted on it. And paintings on the walls. We complimented him on his house, and he said, “Everything belongs to God: He did everything here.” He clearly was grateful for the gifts of God.


After moving along, we encountered a man cleaning up a pile of charred rubble from his encampment. We greeted him and gave him a brochure, explaining that he could get free medical and dental care at the CSV clinic. He – as others had also been – was grateful for the information, mentioning that he had a sore tooth that needed a dentist. We asked him about the rubble. He responded that the fire had burned his place, destroying everything. He wanted to clear the rubble so he could finish constructing a new shelter. The fire was apparently deliberately set because the people weren’t keeping their area neat. Not only did the fire drive out the offending residents, but it also destroyed three other shanties.


Each of the people we spoke to – with the exception of the man guarding the Big House – expressed sincere gratitude. We had long conversations with several of them, in some cases about their trouble getting government assistance, in some cases about their medical problems. They spoke of their neighbors, knowing who was home, who was working, etc. So I learned about gratitude, openness, and community.


At another encampment – this one next to a canal – we visited with six or seven residents. Several of these residents were sitting outside of their tents. They too were grateful for the information and shared a bit of their needs. After we had been in the area for several minutes, other residents appeared and came up to us. They had heard about the information and first aid packets were brought, and in many cases, seeking them for their friends who were not presently at home. One woman came up and wanted several brochures. She said she had previously recommended the clinic to people, though she hadn’t been herself. She wanted to distribute the information. After she left, we asked one of the residents who lingered to talk with us who was the “mayor.” Well, Sheila is, she said, gesturing toward the woman who had asked for several brochures. “She’s the brightest bulb in the box,” she explained, laughing.


We asked her about the cleanliness of the canal water. Oh, it’s dirty, she said. But it’s good for keeping things cold. And I have a place down there (gesturing to a small area of the canal) that I go in the morning to wash up.


When you live in the dirt, you get dirty, she said. Her name was Nancy, same as mine.


Nancy Key and Teri Van Huss


“Participating in God’s Reconciling Love”

From St. Paul’s, Bakersfield …

  St. Paul's, Bakersfield

                                     This Weekend!

  Festival Welcoming Eucharist


July 28, 2013

4:00 pm

2216 17th Street

Bakersfield, CA 93301


St. Paul’s Episcopal Church welcomes all to our Festival Welcoming Eucharist,Sunday, July 28, 2013, at 4:00 p.m. Light refreshments will be served after the service.


The entire community is welcome to  come  join in song, praise, and thanksgiving  for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bakersfield. Bishop Chet Talton will be our celebrant and preacher.


Please come and bring friends to join us in our celebration!

We need choir members from other parishes to join us on July 28th for the 4 p.m. Festival Welcoming Celebration at St. Paul’s in Bakersfield. If you plan to join us,

please be in the sanctuary of St. Paul’s, Bakersfield by 3 p.m. on July 28 to rehearse the piece we’ll be singing: Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace by Jody Lindh.


Email Miriam Raub Vivian ( to let her know you’d like to join the festival choir, and she’ll email you a pdf of the music.

From Commission on Ministry…

Ministry retreat 2013 Kaleidoscope Institute

Celebration of Ministry Conference

with the Rev. Eric Law

August 30- September 1, 2013


We welcome The Rev. Eric Law as our conference leader for this year’s ministry event at ECCO. Eric Law is the Founder and Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Institute, the mission of which is to create inclusive and sustainable churches and communities.


For more than 20 years, he has provided transformative and comprehensive training and resources for churches and ministries in all the major church denominations in the United State and Canada. He is the author of 7 books including The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb and, his latest Holy Currencies: Six Blessings for Sustainable Missional Ministries. You may order Holy Currencies on the Amazon website, either in print form or download to your Kindle reader.

Remember, the Ministry Conferences are for everyone in our Diocese! Laity and clergy alike will learn a great deal about transforming the way we think about church, “from a static, linear and maintenance-type mode to a dynamic, circulatory, and rejuvenating vision of a church that interacts with the wider community…”

To read more about The Rev. Eric Law and the Kaleidoscope Institute, visit their website at

To register for the Annual Celebration of Ministry Retreat click here for the registration form and click here for the Retreat Schedule Registration forms are due August 15, 2013.   There will be a $10 fee for late registration.

Register today!

Focus on Stewardship …

The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) membership! 

Good News! The Rev. Laurel Johnston, our stewardship speaker from our leadership day this past year and executive director of The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS), has given the diocese a gift membership to TENS. Free stewardship materials are available by logging on to Even more materials will be available to our congregations with this gift membership.


The diocese will be emailing the password for access to the additional resource materials to all clergy this coming week. Your stewardship chairperson may also have access to the password and additional resources by calling the diocesan office. These resources can prove invaluable as you plan your stewardship programs.

People News…

Stephen Bentley was ordained to the diaconate July 20th  and is now The Rev. Deacon Stephen Bentley. He will continue to serve at Christ the King in Riverbank. Congratulations!

From the Diocesan Office…

Attention Parishes, Clergy, Delegates, Alternates, Diocesan Council, Standing Committee and Convention Arrangement Committee:


The 2013 Annual Convention Notification packets have been mailed and you should be receiving them by July 27, 2013. A Call to Convention email was also sent to you this week with all forms attached.

If you do not receive your notification packet, please contact Ellen Meyer at the diocesan office 209-576-0104 or Thank you.

From the Diocesan Office…


Please mark your calendar for these upcoming meetings and events. Watch for additional details in the Friday Reflection.

  • Standing Committee Meeting, July 27, 2013, 11;00 a.m., Holy Family, Fresno
  • Festival Welcoming Eucharist, July 28, 2013, 4:00 p.m., St. Paul’s, Bakersfield
  • Parish and Mission Audit Committee Meeting, August 1, 2013, 1:00 p.m., St. Paul’s, Modesto
  • Diocesan Council Teleconference Meeting, August 13, 2013, 6:00 p.m.
  • Sustainability Committee Meeting, August 17, 2013, 9:00 a.m., Holy Family, Fresno
  • Standing Committee Meeting, August 17, 2013, 11:00 a.m., Holy Family, Fresno
  • Celebration of Ministry Retreat, August 30 through September 1, 2013, ECCO
  • Festival Welcoming Eucharist, September 8, 2013, 4:00 p.m., St. James, Sonora
  • Northern Deanery Clericus, September 10, 2013, 11:00 a.m., St Matthew’s,San Andreas


Do you wish to see what else the Diocese is up to? Click here for The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin calendar.


From our Parishes and Missions…

  Christ the King

2nd Annual Raise the Roof


Saturday August 24, 2013

5:30 p.m.

(Doors will open at 5:00 p.m.)

6443 Estelle Avenue

Riverbank, CA 95367

Live Music

The Fun Strummers

Nails of Glory





1940s radio comedy form the evenings emcee Phil Schmitt

Italian catered dinner with dessert.

Wine glasses are available for $10 each and include two tickets for wine pours.

Tickets: Adults for $25.00

 Children 12 and under for $12.00

For more information  call Christ the King at 209-869-1075 or find us on Face book: Christ the King Community Episcopal Churc

Christian Rock Band BOOK


For our Diocesan Prayer Calendar…. click here

Bishop’s and Canon’s Calendars…

Bishop Talton’s Calendar




July 28                       St. Paul’s, Bakersfield


September 8              St. James, Sonora




Canon Cullinane’s Calendar



July 28               St. Paul’s, Bakersfield


August 4             St. Paul’s, Bakersfield


August 11           St. Paul’s, Bakersfield

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Sunday School Project Outline:

Throughout the year, the Sunday school children hold fundraisers to raise money for different causes. They sell Christmas cards Easter cards, Valentines Day cards, cookies, crafts etc. Through the Episcopal Relief Development Organization the most recent funds raised will be used to help those in need. The children voted to purchase/support the following: Bees, drought resistant seeds and tools, clean water, mosquito nets, community garden, health clinic, food at school, and a goat. Thank you to all our church members who support our fundraisers.

Nina O’Regan

Take a look at The Episcopal Relief & Development Organization

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