Sept 28, Authority

Title:Sept 28, Authority

 Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014   (full size gallery)

Two services were scheduled – 9am Morning Prayer Rite 1 and 11am Eucharist, Rite II with Godly Play sandwiched between.

The day started out in fog in the early 60’s which turned within 2 hours to a brilliant sunny day. The early fall sunlight provided a wonderful backdrop to the 9am service. Everything literally shone. Leaves are turning on the trees and some have begun to fall.

The sermon was on the first part of the Gospel – Jesus in Holy Week confronting in the first of three stories with the authorities on the subject of authority. The chief priests and the elders questioned him by what authority he was preaching. He said he would if they answered a question – "Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? They couldn’t answer the question without criticizing their own stance on John or running afoul of the crowd. So they had not answer.

The sermon confronted this issue of authority. (The readings are here).  "Certainly, as Christians, we can disagree, but when God is the authority in our lives, the ways in which we disagree can help promote life giving discussions instead of turning into death dealing divisions that lead to bitterness and hatred among neighbors.God’s advice, in the words of Ezekiel, is to cast away our sins, and to get ourselves a new heart and a new spirit. "

She brought the spiritual practice of examen – "I’ve mentioned before that St Ignatius developed a way of prayer called the “Examen.” Basically, the idea is that at night, you look back over the day and thank God for the blessings of the day and ask forgiveness for the inevitable sins that you’ve committed. If you’ve started down the road of death during the day, this examination gives you the opportunity to see your mistake, and to turn back to life before you get so far down the road that you can’t even see that it’s the wrong road any more"

From Philippians she looked at  Philippians stressing the concept of humility. "Again, in our culture, humility is not something that is sought or celebrated by most people. And yet, true humility is knowing and living into the understanding, in both our heads and our hearts, that God is our ultimate authority and so we try to live out of that knowledge, even when being obedient to God leads to suffering on our parts."

The sermon ended with the a "Collect for the Renewal of Life"

At 11am, we celebrated Roger, Marion and Woody’s birthday. Marilyn presented her fundraiser for therapy dogs. We also provided a St. Peter’s cross to the Tilt family.

The bulletin covered the upcoming Charter Day and St. Francis day blessings as well as  new food initiative. 

Godly Play attracted 10 students to hear about the 7 days of creation and the Good Samaritan. This was perhaps the largest class we have ever had with student in attendance. 

Here is the lectionary commentary by Lance Ousley, Canon for the Diocese of Olympia, Washington:

Good stewardship flows from a humble heart that receives blessings as a gift. The heart that lacks humility takes blessings as something due missing the grace of the gift. Likewise, God blesses us richly in our humanity, yet a lack humility dehumanizes the self and others robbing the joy of both. It also takes humility to recognize God as God – the only divine, and to recognize ourselves as human – no more than human and no less than human. There is a common theme of humility running through our readings this week from various points on the spectrum.

In the reading option from Ezekiel this week we hear Israel’s corporate lack of humility in placing itself as judge in the accusation that, "the way of the Lord is unfair." Yet Israel continues to sin – missing the mark of the fullness of their humanity God intends for them, dehumanizing their selves and others. God reflects their accusation back to them – who is it that is unfair here, and who is it that is choosing the way of death? God’s grace remains present and waiting for them to receive it, but it will take a humble heart for them to accept it and live into the grace.

Paul lays out the blessings of human humility before us in his words to the Philippians encouraging them to be of the same mind of Christ who, "though he was in the form of God" "humbled himself to be "found in human form" and "was obedient to the point of death." His exhortations, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves" and "Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others," instruct us in the way of living into the fullness of our humanity in our relationships with God and one another. The working out our salvation "with fear and trembling" is not about anxiety of death and destruction, but rather is with humble awe of God’s divine grace available and working through us to care for all people.

Jesus meets the scheming question of the chief priests and elders of the Temple with a question that places them on level ground with those who do not hold their position. Then Jesus continues with a parable to illustrate that it is the actions of a humble heart that speak louder than lofty words. Jesus repositions all people as equal in the kingdom of heaven. And he pronounces that those who live in humility enter the kingdom of heaven first. This is not because of a hierarchy, but because the humble heart’s reception of the presence of God’s kingdom and their living into this reality now. Continuing to uphold earthly hierarchy dehumanizing the self and others creates a barrier for one to enter into God’s kingdom now. Those who believed John the Baptist’s message of repentance in humility, such as the tax collectors and prostitutes, found the richness of their own humanity and that of others, as well as a deeper relationship with God as God. Faithful stewardship is an humble expression of our relationship with God, ourselves, and all of humanity.

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