29 August 2011

Put on the armor of light

This coming week's epistle from Romans is quite excellent - lots of food for thought.  "love one another"  "loves is the fulfilling of the law" "wake from sleep" "the night is far gone, the day is near" "lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light" "put on the Lord, Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires"

What is the armor that we put on each day?  What are we needing to protect us in our daily lives?  Is it an armor of light, or an armor of steel?  Is it an armor that brings light to others, or keeps them away?  What are we pushing out into the world, fear, anxiety, self-protection?  What would it look and feel like if we truly put on an "armor of light"? Hmmm.  Lots to consider.

Off to the Mudhouse Coffeeshop in Crozet in a bit to roll these ideas around with some good folks from our congregation.  Not a bad way to start the week; not a bad way to begin sermon preparation.  My prayers are with all those who have been affected by the hurricane, especially those hardest hit, such as those in my home state of Vermont, where the devastation is extreme.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Romans 13: 8-14

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet"; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

26 August 2011

Why sermons bore us

Why sermons bore us

Like other teachers of preaching, I listen to a lot of sermons, sometimes a dozen in a single day. I have noticed that this fact rarely evokes covetous sighs from my faculty colleagues, many of whom imagine a daily regimen of multiple homilies as akin to endless trips to the periodontist.

Contrary to expectations, though, I find that helping students preach for the first time carries the excitement of teaching skydiving to beginners. There is always that telltale widening of the eyes as they stand in the open bay of the pulpit feeling the wind whip by, staring into the depths below and suddenly becoming aware of what they are about to do as you tap them on the shoulder and say, "Go!"

Classroom adventures notwithstanding, for many people the words boredom and sermon are a proper pair, like horse and carriage. Pulpit search committees almost always top their wish lists with "good preacher" and report that their searches lead them through dry and waterless places. Last year, Monsignor Mariano Crociata, secretary-general of the Italian Bishops' Conference, made a splash on the pages of the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano when he slammed dull preachers. "Too often," he complained, "sermons are just boring mush."

23 August 2011

Reach out to the risk of living

It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price. One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risk of living with both arms open. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence.

~Morris West

Courtesy of Inward/Outward blog

22 August 2011

RCL at the Mudhouse in Crozet ~ Fall 2011 Dates & Readings

Revised Coffee Lectionary at the Mudhouse in Crozet
Fall 2011 Dates & Readings
We meet at the Mudhouse in “downtown” Crozet from 10am-11am

August 29                  12 Pentecost / Proper 18
Exodus 12:1-14
Psalm 149
Ezekiel 33:7-11
Psalm 119:33-40

Romans 13:8-14
Matthew 18:15-20

September 12                       15 Pentecost / Proper 21
Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
Psalm 25: 1-8

Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32

September 26                       16 Pentecost / Proper 22
Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20
Psalm 19
Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80: 7-14

Philippians 3:4b-14

Matthew 21:33-46

October 3                   19 Pentecost / Proper 25
Deuteronomy 34:1-12
 Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17

Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
Psalm 1

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Matthew 22:34-46

October 24                 All Saints Day Readings
Revelation 7:9-17

Psalm 34:1-10, 22

1 John 3:1-3

Matthew 5:1-12

November 7               22 Pentecost / Proper 28
Judges 4:1-7
 Psalm 123
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
 Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
 Matthew 25:14-30

November 28                        2 Advent Readings
Isaiah 40:1-11

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8

December 5               3 Advent Readings
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Psalm 126 or Canticle 3 or Canticle 15

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

December 12             Christmas Readings
Isaiah 9:2-7 

Titus 2:11-14 

Luke 2:1-14(15-20) 

Psalm 96

21 August 2011

"The Jesus Way" ~ Sermon for 21 August 2011 ~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey

The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Sermon – 21 August 2011
The Jesus Way

The ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are made for. ~JFK..

When Jesus asks his disciples “who do people say I am?”  He is not asking them to cast him in their own image.  It is a rhetorical device.  He is teaching.  He is trying to see just how clueless they are.  Here, Jesus is getting a sense of their thinking, so that he can find a way to set them straight. 

“Who do people say I am?”  asks Jesus.
Who do you say that I am?

How do we understand Jesus?  What is the way that we see Jesus?  You see, the way that we understand Jesus says a lot about (how we understand church, and also) how we understand the pathways of our lives.

Do we understand Jesus as a teacher who brings wisdom to the world?  Do we understand Jesus as a healer, who contends with petty demons and sends people on their way, newly clean and newly healed?  Do we understand Jesus as someone who gives us spiritual and psychological peace when we pray in his name?  Do we understand Jesus as the Son of God primarily interested in our salvation after death?  Do we understand that Jesus is the Son of Man who comes down from the clouds above in order that we might live the life abundant, and so that we might assist with the inbreaking of God’s kingdom, in this place, in this time, now? 

What is our notion of Jesus?
Who do you say that I am?

You see, the way we understand Jesus will set down the foundations of our notions of church, and the notions of how we should live our lives.  If Jesus is merely about wisdom, then church is merely a place where we fill but bucket of learning.  If Jesus is merely an earthly healer, then the church is merely a first aid tent, a place of rest and comfort, but not a place of any transformation.  If Jesus is merely a hand-holder who gives us spiritual and psychological peace, then the church is merely a compassionate listener and not demanding much more than that.  If Jesus is merely interested in our salvation after death, our church has little role other than to remind us of the rewards after this life is over – and has not much of a responsibility to the world in need today. 

Now, you see where I’m going.  If Jesus came out of the clouds descending, as the Son of Man, and has truly become incarnate within this broken world in order that we all might live the life abundant, he is demanding more of us than mere rest and peace.  If Jesus is truly the mystical Son of Man, the incarnate God in our midst who came to earth, was crucified, resurrected, and ascended, then there is something huge that God is doing with those who are on the pilgrim way of Jesus.  If Jesus is truly this God in our midst, the church – this church, even – has a greater calling, and a greater responsibility to help with the inbreaking of God’s kingdom.  We have a great responsibility, and a great power, in this world. 

Read the rest HERE

20 August 2011

21 August 2011 ~ Proper 16A ~ Sermon image

Who you say that I am?

Sermonating on Saturday ... not the ideal, but there has been a lot bubbling this week on these readings!

Jesus asks, "Who do you say that I am?"

If we reflect deeply on this question and find the answer, we may see that what is demanded of us is far more than we previously thought.  Our image of Jesus relates deeply to our image of the Church, and whether we are "stepping up" into the life that Christ has made for us.  This was not a mere rhetorical question; Jesus was (and is!) trying to get his disciples to enter deeply into the Jesus Way.

How does Eugene Peterson's paraphrase from the Message hit you?

Who do you say that I am?

“Who do you say that I am?” 
Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 
Jesus came back, “God bless you Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers.  My father in heaven, God himself, let you in on the secret of who I really am.  And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are.  You are Peter, a rock.  This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.” 
“And that’s not all.  You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. “
Here's a word cloud of my sermon so far...

courtesy of www.wordle.net

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds - 8/20/11 - - Charlottesville, VA

19 August 2011

Reflection on the Sea of Galilee by a friend

My colleague and friend, Jim Richardson, the rector of St. Paul's, Memorial here in Charlottesville, is visiting Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

I have been enjoying his reflections on his blog Fiat Lux.

Check out his reflection on a visit to the Sea of Galilee today:

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

THE SEA OF GALILEE -- I have long pictured this place in my prayers.
Today I got put my feet in the warm waters of the Sea of Galilee.

And, yes, it was something like what I had imagined.

And I began to feel for the first time that we were on ground where Jesus walked.
On our fourth day of our Holy Land pilgrimage, we toured Roman ruins on the Mediterranean, and drove inland to the northern mountainous region of Israel.

We ate lunch in Nazareth, once the tiny village where Jesus grew up and now the most populous Arab city in Israel. Then we crossed another mountain range and descended into the great rift valley.
Read more HERE

The church is/is not a steeple?

The church is not a building
The church is not a steeple.
The church is not a resting place.
The church is the people.

Courtesy of The Christian Century

18 August 2011

Elements of a Rule of Life: Play

What are the elements of a "Rule of Life"?  In the monastic tradition, monks and nuns abide by a particular "way of life" as they join with a particular monastic community.  What might be the "Christian Way of Life"?  Or, what would be the elements of a "way of life"?  It is also something that people often work on as they engage in Spiritual Direction or engage upon a discernment process.  What are the elements of a "way of life"?

One often overlooked element of a way of life is the element of "Play".

More on "Ways of life" in later posts.

Check out this interesting article on "Women at Play" in today's New York Times.  How is "play" an important element of a "way of life"?

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Caution: Women Playing

“I DON’T wear shorts in public!” shouted Sophie Franks Staub, a rangy 41-year-old stay-at-home mother, from her spot on a sand court on Pier 25 in Hudson River Park. Yet she was indeed wearing them, as were two dozen other women in their 30s and 40s, all barefoot as they learned to play beach volleyball on a buttery night in July.
Richard Perry/The New York Times
It was the latest “play date” offered by a group called Mice at Play, which seeks to bring play and fun into the lives of overscheduled New York women. Past events have included a bartending course, a Harlem Renaissance theme night, trapeze lessons, a “survival skill” hike, a burlesque class and, perhaps inevitably, pole dancing.
“I needed an impetus to remember how to do stuff,” said Ms. Franks Staub, a frequent attendee. “I used to do stuff, and then I had kids, and I stopped.”

Read more HERE

17 August 2011

Confirmation and Membership

What is Confirmation in the Episcopal Church? How is this related to "membership" in the Episcopal Church?

We should all know the answers to these questions. Check out Bryan Owen's great post on this issue at his blog, "Creedal Christian"

Even though the current Book of Common Prayer has been in use for thirty two years, one occasionally still hears Episcopalians talk about confirmation as the way to "join the church." For example, I recently came across this statement on a parish website:

"Confirmation is also the official vehicle by which a person joins the Episcopal Church."

In light of 1979 Prayer Book's theology of baptism, this is not an accurate statement. Note, for instance, this sentence at the top of page 298 (emphasis added):

"Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body the Church."

"Full initiation" means that nothing else is required for membership. A valid baptism is sufficient.

16 August 2011

15 August 2011

Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero

Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980), commonly known as Monseñor Romero, was a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador. He later became prelate archbishop of San Salvador.

As an archbishop, he witnessed numerous violations of human rights and began a ministry speaking out on behalf of the poor and victims of the country's civil war. His brand of political activism was denounced by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and the government of El Salvador. In 1980, he was assassinated by gunshot while consecrating the Eucharist during mass. His death finally provoked international outcry for human rights reform in El Salvador.

In 1997, a cause for beatification and canonization into sainthood was opened for Romero and Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God. The process continues. He is considered the unofficial patron saint of the Americas and El Salvador and is often referred to as "San Romero" in El Salvador. Outside of Catholicism Romero is honored by other religious denominations of Christendom, like the Church of England through its Common Worship. He is one of the ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London.

Almighty God, you called your servant Oscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor, and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope: Grant that, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador, we may without fear or favor witness to your Word who abides, your Word who is Life, even Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be praise and glory now and for ever. Amen.

~From "Satucket" lectionary blog

Who do people say that the Son of Man is?

My friend and brother in ministry, the Rev. Steve Pankey has posted this helpful and provocative reflection on this week's gospel reading...read the excerpt below and go on over to his blog, Draughting Theology, to read the rest...

Who do people say that the Son of Man is? 
It is a clunky sentence, that question from Jesus. Does he mean, "Who are people saying is the Son of Man?" Does he mean, "Who are people saying I am?" Is he looking for affirmation? Has his encounter with the Canaanite woman brought up real questions of identity in Jesus?
It is a clunky sentence, that question from Jesus, but it is far weightier than its clunkiness would lead us to believe.
 From Steve Pankey's "Draughting Theology"

Saint Mary the Virgin August 15

Saint Mary the Virgin August 15

O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Talk no more so very proudly

This portion of 1 Samuel came up in today's reading in Morning Prayer.  From the song of Hannah, a helpful reminder of the ways that our praise for God also helps us to cultivate humility.

'There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
1 Samuel 2:2-3