27 August 2017

27 August 2017 ~ Sermon ~ St. Mary’s Church, Cathedral Road, Philadelphia

The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Sermon ~ St. Mary’s Church, Cathedral Road, Philadelphia
27 August 2017

It is well-worth your time to study the book of Romans.  There is incredible wisdom and truth contained within this epistle by Paul to the Romans.  Today’s portion of this letter is no different.  Essential to this book is the deep and abiding sense that all that we are, and all that we have is from God.  When Paul asserts that his hearers should “present your bodies as a living sacrifice,” he is affirming the deep reality that our bodies, minds, and spirits are all from God.  When we offer sacrifice, we are offering a bit of what we have already been given back to God.  

As we pray in the Rite I offering a bit of what we have received.  “All things come of thee O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee.” We can cling to our selves, cling to our patterns, cling to our possessions and pathways, but it is deeply important to go into a prayer of gratitude so that we might recognize our own giftedness.  When we abide this truth, we come to the discerning sense about what is important, and what is merely the “small stuff.”  “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  Even here, even in church, we can spend too much time on the particulars, and forget that the love of God is what is truly important.  Love God, Love Your Neighbor.  (the rest are merely details).  

Here the listeners of Paul’s letter to the Romans are no longer “conformed to the world, but are transformed to the renewing of your minds.”  Rather than merely cling to the world, to the practices of the worldly expectations, rather than becoming fastened to the limiting works of the world, here, Paul affirms that his listeners then will be TRANSFORMED - to the renewing of our minds and hearts.  No longer merely conformed to the laws of the world, but rather TRANSFORMED by the law of love.

And, so this should also build humility, that we are pulled into a deep awareness that we don’t know the whole truth.  We do not have the ability to do it all ourselves.  We do not have pure thinking, and we do not have pure knowledge.  We can be tempted to feel that our way is better, that we may actually have a corner on the Truth, that we can assert statements like “My way or the highway.” Doing a sober assessment of our gifts and particularities we get a clearer sense that while our own gifts are essential, that the entire Body of Christ the entire community needs a multiplicity of gifts.  There are truly many gifts but the same Spirit.  The many gifts of the Spirit are needed, and Paul has named a few of them...prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

However, let us be clear, the gifts of the spirit do not include toxicity, selfish criticism, griping, complaining, and negativity.  Were these a part of the gifts mentioned by Paul.  No.  Just because there are many gifts, it does not mean that every single behavior are blessed.  No.  When we spend time to do an accurate and sober scan of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we begin the process toward true transformation.  Through the work of the Spirit, it is our gifts that are affirmed, it is our gifts, motivated by love, that are affirmed.  Setting aside the “works of the crud” - and affirming the “works of the spirit - of the Loving spirit of God” is what we each must do as persons in relationship.  When each our our Spirit-fed gifts are named, affirmed, and fed, then the entire Body of Christ is powered by Love.  

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Pray ~ Read  ~ Reflect

First, I ask that you each include St. Mary’s, our entire church community, and the community surrounding St. Mary’s in your daily prayers.  Whatever we do that is good and abiding will be grounded in prayer.  Please pray for each of us and for our neighbors.

Second, I ask you to consider joining our Bishop, Daniel Gutierrez, as he has encouraged the Diocese of Pennsylvania to join the “Bible Challenge” by reading a portion of the Bible Daily, which will lead us to complete the entire Bible in one year.  I realize this may not be possible for all of us, but I wonder if we could commit to reading even a small portion of the Bible daily?  Please consider it.

Thirdly, I ask that you read and reflect upon the Mission of St. Mary’s Church at least weekly.  I love this mission statement, and think it is a helpful vision for us.

"St. Mary's Church is a fellowship of Christians called by God to worship,
to witness God's love and concern for all persons,
and to serve our brothers and sisters under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

24 August 2017

Blessed are the quiet ones

Blessed are the quiet ones, who hold their thoughts in gentle hands and listen all the more carefully. Blessed are the kind ones, who reach out to others without hesitation and by so doing heal the world. Blessed are the funny ones, whose humor keeps us hopeful no matter what we face. Blessed are the thoughtful ones, who think deeply to learn more and so become our teachers. Blessed are those who share for they are the parents of community. Blessed are those who risk for they find the answers we seek. Blessed are those who are patient for they show us how God relates to us all.

~The Rt. Reverend Steven Charleston

11 August 2017

Prayers for peace in Charlottesville!

Prayers for peace in Charlottesville!

Be our light in the darkness, O Lord, and in your great mercy 
defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the
love of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours
of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and
chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Look down, O Lord, from your heavenly throne, and
illumine this night with your celestial brightness; that by
night as by day your people may glorify your holy Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the 
enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in
peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus 
Christ our Lord. Amen.

10 August 2017

Forward Movement Announces Major Discipleship Conference at St. Thomas, Whitemarsh!

I am really looking forward to this conference on Discipleship which is being held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Whitemarsh, not too far at all from St. Mary's - Cathedral Road.  I heard rave reviews from the earlier "Evangelism Matters" Conference put on by Forward Movement, and I am encouraging all of our Vestry and other ministry leaders to attend the conference.

Check out the registration link below, and I hope to see you there!

~Peter Carey+

Forward Movement Announces Major Discipleship Conference

Forward Movement is pleased to announce the Discipleship Matters conference for 2017.
Episcopalians will gather October 16-18 at St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, for a conference focused on helping leaders create a culture of discipleship in their congregations.
The conference will explore Christian formation for discipleship, scripture engagement, habits of daily prayer, serving the poor, and sharing the Good News. Built on the model of the very successful Evangelism Matters conference held in Dallas in November 2016, this conference will offer keynote presentations, workshops, and networking time, and will be undergirded with Eucharist and the Daily Office. The conference will include findings from RenewalWorks, a research-based Forward Movement initiative that has identified key catalysts for spiritual vitality in congregations and for individuals. A focus on discipleship is one of those primary catalysts, based on research from nearly half a million participants across the country.
“In our work with RenewalWorks, we have learned a great deal about how to encourage spiritual growth and deeper practices in congregations,” said the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, director of RenewalWorks. “This conference gives us a wonderful way to share practices that work.”
The conference will begin at 2 p.m. on Monday, October 16, and conclude at noon on Wednesday, October 18. Conference sessions will be held at St. Thomas, and participants may stay in nearby hotels or travel from their homes, if local. Registration opens in mid-July, and more details will be available then, including keynote speakers and workshop sessions. To learn more about the conference or to sign up for updates, visit renewalworks.org/events.
The people of St. Thomas’ Church look forward to hosting Discipleship Matters, said the Rev. Marek Zabriskie, the church’s rector. “We have been transformed by scripture engagement in our church, including of course, The Bible Challenge. We are excited to share what we have learned and to offer hospitality to conference attendees.”
Forward Movement is a ministry of the Episcopal Church that seeks to inspire disciples and empower evangelists. With offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, Forward Movement offers online resources, digital products, books, pamphlets, and its flagship devotional, Forward Day by Day. Learn more at www.forwardmovement.org.

04 August 2017

Ode to Joy!

Hymn: Joyful, joyful

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee,
Opening to the Sun above,
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day!
All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
stars and angels sing around Thee,
center of unbroken praise:
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
singing bird and flowing fountain,
call us to rejoice in Thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving,
ever blessing, ever blest,
well-spring of the joy of living,
ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
all who live in love are Thine:
Teach us how to love each other,
lift us to the Joy Divine.