O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. BCP pg. 815
September is upon us. The leaves are beginning to change and fall is about to arrive. It has been a fun and busy summer here on the hill. We have had chicken and spaghetti suppers, an amazing yard sale, and our first big Bingo event. Our outreach efforts have also been in full swing. Episco Golf had the most golfers it has ever had and raised $11,000. This will all be distributed to children's charities in the area. The ARFF Walk, Animals Raising Funds for Food, is now sponsored by the Wakefield Food Pantry. ST. John's continues to be a driving force in this ministry. Judy Gray and Linda Loucony continue in leadership positions. They were able to raise over $3,000 for the Wakefield Food Pantry. That will serve over 8,000 meals. Wow!!! Our little white church on the hill is a powerful example of God's work continuing to be present in the world.
Each week, we gather together around God's word and sacrament. We pray to become the people God most needs us to be in the world and on this day and at this time. How is God changing us?
Many Sundays I leave the church, and return to the events occuring in our nation and am startled by the violence, fear, and hatred that continues to bubble up around us. Sometimes it is tempting to keep it all at an arm's length, to think this does not really affect me.
"Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." Matthew 16:24
As followers of Jesus, we don't have the luxury to look away. We are blessed to live in a beautiful place. We are blessed to worship and thrive in a church that embraces hospitality with joy. We are blessed to sit side by side with those that are of different thoughts and opinions and listen. learn and pray. We are blessed.
How can we embody that out in the world? How can we be the people Jesus calls us to be? Jesus never let the disciples stay in one place very long. They were always teaching, healing, being God with skin on in the world. What are the events in the world right now trying to teach us? What cross is God calling you to pick up?
In the Catechism, the question; what is our duty to our neighbors, is posed. It does not describe the neighbor. It does not explore in any depth who our neighbors are. How God, how are we supposed to treat our neighbor? Here are some of the answers:
Our duty to our neighbors is to love them as ourselves, and to do to other people as we wish them to do to us;
To show respect for the life God has given us; to work and pray for peace; to bear no malice, prejudice, or hatred in our hearts; and to be kind to all the creatures of God.
To be honest and fair in our dealings; to seek justice, freedom, and the necessities of life for all people; and to use our talents and possessions as ones who must answer for them to God;
To speak the truth, and not to mislead others by our silence
To resist temptation to envy, greed, and jealousy; to rejoice in other people's gifts and graces; and to do our duty for the love of God who has called us into fellowship with him.
It requires tremendous courage right now to speak up for what is right and good. I am not talking about differing opinions about policy and laws. Those are things that there has been discussion about since time began. We are called to live in community, to live with each other. It is important that there be different schools of thought. I am talking about being called to honesty, respect and the dignity of every human being. As followers of Jesus we are called to those hard places, where being fair and honest is who God needs us to be. As followers of Jesus God calls us to seek justice, freedom and necessities of life for all people. The clarity in scripture and in our Book of Common Prayer is startling sometimes.
As we enter this fall season, a time when through the brilliance of color the leaves die and fall away, let us pray. Let us pray to not be silent. Let us pray for God's guidance and grace to be the women and men we were created to be.
Gracious God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and grateful to do your will. Bless our land with fruitful and honorable industry, sound learning, and kind actions. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Help us to know and protect our liberties, and join us into one united people the multitudes brought from many lands, kindreds, and tongues. Grant with the spirit of wisdom those whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, let our trust in you not fail, all this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
God is calling us in ways we can't imagine and yet, can't ignore. Let us bring our passion, care and joy into the lives we lead. Let us be that outward and visible sign of God's love and passion for human dignity.
*Adapted from the prayer for our country in the BCP, pg. 820
*Catechism information BCP. pg. 846