Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blessed

P648

10 June 2012 Sermon - The Rev. Peter M. Carey - Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, VA



10 June 2012 Sermon
The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Emmanuel Episcopal Church

In the 1st Book of Samuel we are given a snapshot of a moment in the life of the nation of Israel.  The elders of Israel approached the prophet Samuel to demand a king.  To understand this moment, one has to scan back a few chapters in the narrative of Israel, and then also scan ahead a few chapters.  Samuel himself is a transition figure, he arrives on the scene as a young boy who is called to speak on behalf of God, to be “God’s mouthpiece.”  Before Samuel, the leaders of Israel were the judges, and despite the modern sense of a judge having a deep sense of gravitas and wisdom, the judges of Israel were a wild bunch.  At times they ruled with discretion and patience, but also ruled with passion and fury.  Do you remember Samson?  Samson, the warrior akin to Sylvester Stallone in the Rambo movies, going into battle and slaying thousands with the jawbone of a donkey?  He is but one of these charismatic leaders, known as the judges.

So, we can forgive the elders of Israel a bit for asking for a king.  They ask for a king so that they can “be like other nations,” which for a chosen people was a cop out.  However, considering the somewhat unruly style of leadership of the judges, having a king chosen by God looks like a good idea. 

Turning the pages ahead a few chapters, we know that Saul becomes king, and though things start off well, but he himself is a tragic figure, ultimately losing favor with God.  Also, King David’s rule starts out well – this ruddy young boy who starts out a hero as he defeats the Philistine Goliath.  However, the greatness of David is tempered by his own failings.  King David is remembered as a model king, even though his mistakes and sins are many, and they darken his reputation.

So, we turn back to the story at hand.  We have the sense that the leaders before Samuel’s time were unruly and passionate, prone to unpredictability and chaos.   We also have a clear sense that kingship is not necessarily the panacea that the elders crave, having a king won’t really “solve” the problem of unpredictability and impermanence.

The leaders were impatient, and their impatience led to a narrowing of their vision.  At the moment when they needed a wide angle lens, they zoomed in to an overly quick “solution”.  This impatience was based in forgetfulness that they themselves were not the ones doing the work, that they themselves were not the primary actor in the drama.  The impatience was based in “God-forgetfulness” – forgetting that God is at the heart of any discernment process.  Schleiermacher used the term “God-forgetfulness” to describe sin.  Parker Palmer wrote that when we believe that everything really depends on us, we are practicing a kind of “functional atheism,” and moments of transition are times when we need to turn to God more, not less, when we need to remember, rather than forget God in our very lives.

And so, here we are.  We are all in a time of transition.  Chuck, me, my family, you all.  Here in the narrative of this church indeed this is a time of transition, but also, in our lives more generally.  I would argue that much of life is transition – school year is ending, we are moving into summer, the political campaigns are heating up, our lives are dynamic and moving.  This moment is a time of transition, much like every moment in our lives.  How will you handle the moment?  With a rush to a “static” solution?  By burying your figurative heads in the sand?  By clinging to the past?  By clinging to some new and shiny future? 

Or, in this time, will you turn to God, to trust God, even as God is often slow to speak, and even slower to act?  Will we have the courage to get out of the way so that God and enter the scene, and direct us on our way?

I pray that we might trust in the slow work of God, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote.

Let us pray:

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually–let them grow,
Let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ


Saturday, June 09, 2012

Feast of St. Columba & anniversary of my ordination

Feast of St. Columba and the anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate,

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever.  Amen. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Trust in the slow work of God






Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually–let them grow,
Let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Trinity Sunday Sermon - The Rev. Peter M. Carey - 3 June 2012



Trinity Sunday Sermon
The Rev. Peter M. Carey
3 June 2012
Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Greenwood, VA

For with your co-eternal Son and Holy Spirit, you are one
God, one Lord, in Trinity of Persons and in Unity of Being;
and we celebrate the one and equal glory of you, O Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Awe can cause us to experience God in tangible ways. 


Have you ever camped out while a thunderstorm roared?  Have you ever climbed a snowy mountain when a blizzard kicks up?  Have you ever hunkered down during a hurricane?  Have you ever battened down the hatches when a storm arises and you are at sea?

Perhaps you have not had these experiences, but I remember all too well one time when my brother and I were out with my dad on our wooden 12 foot sailboat and a storm came up.  I was about 8 and Paul was about 6.  My dad had us go forward under the small covered area in the bow of the boat and he covered us with raincoats and ponchos.  The storm roared, the boat was pushed this way and that, and we were terrified, but my dad had a calming presence nonetheless.  He probably was nervous as well, but he was highly functional and quite “matter-of-fact” about the storm and the rain and the fact that we were out on the water during it all. 

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters
The God of glory thunders
the Lord is upon the mighty waters
The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice
The voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.


While I don’t think that it was in God’s interest to make the storm upon the waters for us in our little yellow wooden boat, I can imagine something of the power of God through my memory of the power of that storm.  I can also remember something of the care and compassion of God through the care and ability of my Dad through that stormy and worrisome time. 


The Lord sits enthroned above the flood
The Lord sits enthroned as King for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people;
The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Encountering the awe of a tremendous storm is perhaps just a bit of what it must be like to encounter God in all His majesty.  Whenever I read the passage today of the calling of Isaiah from the 6th chapter of Isaiah, I can only begin to imagine this tremendous scene.  The Lord sitting on a throne, the hem of his robe filled the temple, Seraphs in attendance with 6 wings and smoke and all the rest.  It is tremendously hard for me to imagine this scene, but the glory of God is surely, probably, something as incredible as this.  When I was huddled in the bow of the yellow wooden sailboat, I was hoping that my father would steer us to the solid shore, and that the storm would abate.  When encountering the living God, awe is the only appropriate response.  This is an awe however that evokes fear, but also the sense that God is steering the boat, that the same God who appears in the storm appears compassionately as we are steered to safe shore.  The God who judges us is the God who loves us, afterall.  The God who created us also became one of us through Jesus the Christ, and we are His forever. 

And so, on this Trinity Sunday, we can affirm the way that God is one in three and three in one, though we don’t totally understand this assertion.  We know that the glory of God fills us with awe, but also that the love and compassion of God wraps us up in his arms like a mother hen cares for her children.  The God who created us, and who sent His son to redeem us is also the God who lives and breathes among us as the Holy Spirit.


In Revelation, we read the words, “hear what the Spirit is saying to the people,” and we are privileged to receive the many gifts of the Spirit even in this place and this time.  Just as we know that God is ever-present with us as Father & Creator, and just as we know that we are ever being redeemed and saved through the Son, the Christ, we are also constantly being revived and strengthened through the gifts of the fire and breath of the Holy Spirit.

Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth:
Set up your kingdom in our midst.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God:
Have mercy on me, a sinner.

Holy Spirit, breath of the living God:
Renew me and all the world.
~N.T. Wright

Trinity Sunday




Collect of the Day: Trinity Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

I have set my bow in the cloud

I had the joy of seeing a wonderful rainbow last evening.  A reminder of the love and hope that God has for us!

Blessings,

Peter+




Genesis 9:12ff


12 And God said, b“This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set cmy bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 dI will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember ethe everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”