Pentecost 5, June 28, 2015

Title:Pentecost 5, June 28, 2015

Pentecost 5, June 28, 2015  (full size gallery)

This has been an astounding week in the life of this church and other Episcopal churches:

1. News from the General Convention

   A. St. Peter’s wins $15,000 UTO Grant. The UTO listed the grant this way – ""#15682 Diocese of Virginia $14,996.16 St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Community Kitchen Upgrade 
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Port Royal, VA

 "To upgrade the church’s kitchen in order to expand the food ministry. Hot meals will be prepared in the kitchen to be delivered to impoverished parts of the county. The program will also create new bridges from the church into the community – a small village in rural Virginia. The community is an economically depressed area of Caroline County. Fresh, healthy food is not readily available to many of the residents who lack transportation and live on fixed incomes below the poverty level."

Summary of the grant 

Full grant application

   B. Bishop Michael Curry is elected the new Presiding Bishop. A slideshow of the election.

2. Announcement of a new annual concert featuring flamenco music in Sept at St. Peter’s

3. Gleaning mission trip in July 20-25, 8:45am-12 noon. We have two forms to complete. Gleaning involves picking up crops left on the field which goes to supports the Northern Neck Food Bank and Feed More which are fresh produce suppliers for the Village Harvest. We buy from them at 5 cents a pound. A bargain. So by gleaning we are giving back to them.

4. Moving eulogy by President Obama at the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Today was "Marion Mahoney Sunday" with Marion moving to Maryland in July to be near family. after 25 years at St. Peter’s. Today was a proper sendout with prayers, thanks for her ministries and an ECW luncheon after the 11am service. We presented her with a canvas picture of St. Peter’s so she will remember us. Marion said she knew after Tom and her visited St. Peter’s at Easter, 1990 that this was the church home for her. A prayer at 11am mentioned these items, "We thank you for the time that she has spent with our children, we thank you for her leadership of the ECW, we thank you for her participation in our Bible study. We thank you for her art and for her poetry. And we remember her husband Tom this day."

Today we had two services – Rite I, Holy Eucharis, 9am and 11am Morning Prayer. 8 were at 9 and 38 at 11am

The readings this week are a second crossing when Jesus and disciples cross "to the other side" from Galilee to Gentile lands. So what do they do ? The story of Legion is not part of the Gospel but we have two healing stories involving women.  Mark uses his familiar "story within a story".  

The sermon used Marion’s transition with her new move to Maryland as a basis for looking at transitions as depicted this week in the Gospel of Mark. The basis for the story is transition – in this case unpleasant ones  – a bleeding woman and a young child of 12 that people think has died.   The sermon concentrated on Jairus daughter.  The readings are here

"Several things in these two stories, one about the healing of a hopeful bleeding woman, and one about the insistent faith of a father, will help us to see for ourselves the miracles that God is constantly working all around us as we experience both the wanted and the unwanted transitions and the leave takings that come our way as we go through life."  

"First of all, Jairus and the bleeding woman both seek out Jesus. They know that they need help and so they ask for it.

"Second, both Jairus and the woman know the power of touch. 

"Third, Jesus makes space for God’s healing power to work in all its richness and fullness. He calls the woman out of the crowd after she touches him, and in the space in which she meets him face to face, this open, non judgmental space between the two of them, he gives her ongoing healing and on top of that, the greatest of all gifts, God’s peace. “Go in peace,” Jesus tells her. “Your faith has made you well.”   The woman bleeding is the most vulnerable – one that has not been able to cure the problem for years and one seen as "unclean". Jesus names her "daughter", gives her identity, heals her bleeding and restores her to the community

"When Jesus, Jairus and the three disciples arrive at the house and the mourners inside laugh at Jesus, he puts them out—again, clearing out the doubt and negativity and making space for those who have faith and those who desperately want to have faith, to catch their breaths and breathe in his love and healing power rather than to be suffocated by the doubt and the derision of the others around them.

"Fourth, and here’s the bottom line, Jesus says, “Do not fear, but only believe.” 

All of us know that the desperate prayers we pray in the transition times in our lives are not always answered in the ways that we wish they would be…But we do have control over how we deal with and pass through the transitions in our lives. We can ask Jesus to go with us. We can ask for God’s healing touch. We can ask God to make the space in our lives to be faithful and hopeful and forgiving, rather than to be full of fear, negativity, bitterness and doubt. With God’s grace, we can remind ourselves, over and over, not to fear, but only to believe."

The sermon cited President Obama’s euology for slain minister Rev. Clementa Picnkney. The Bible calls us to hope, to persevere and have faith in things not seen.”  President Obama went on to refer to the New Testament book of Hebrews, a book written for a discouraged and downhearted congregation.

"And maybe, if we’re blessed with God’s grace to do this, we can be living breathing miracles of God’s love in this world, and with the psalmist, our hearts can sing to God without ceasing and we can praise God forever as we go forth today filled with the peace that God longs to give us in both the wanted and in the unwanted, the expected and the unexpected transitions in our lives."

The ECW luncheon after the service featured Tucker’s home made bread, chicken salad sandwiches, stuffed shells, macaoni, fish, mixed vegetables, watermelon, apple salad. The deserts were equally amazing – Brad’s chocolate cheese cake, rum cake, Betty’s blueberry pie, cookies.

Commentary by Canon Lance Ousley of the Diocese of Olympia, Washington

With the many choices for our texts this week in the Revised Common Lectionary I will focus only on the epistle and Gospel lessons. That said, the last option for the first reading and it’s companion texts seem to fit more with the common theme of God’s generous providence and our active response in the epistle and Gospel.

In the whole of chapter 8 in 2 Corinthians Paul deals with the church’s generous response to the blessings they have received, their promise to give freely out of their gifts and to respond to the needs of those less fortunate. Paul appeals both to their sense of fairness and to their competitive nature to encourage them to respond in gratitude to the abundant gifts they have been blessed to receive. Paul, also, points that the integrity of their faith will be shown in their generosity stating that this is a test of their authenticity. Stewardship preachers, teachers and ministry team leaders should take note at the many different perspectives from which Paul is making his case. This approach gives him the ability to appeal to the multiplicity of motivational needs of his hearers in forming them in responsive giving. His use of the Greek word charis (grace, gift, privilege, generous act) many times sets the overarching tone of responsive gratitude expressed to God the Giver through our responsive giving to the ministry needs of the Church as God’s agents in the world. Our Gospel text in Mark 5 gives us a picture of the transformational work of the Church that Paul is appealing to the Corinthians to fund. Jesus’ gifts are blessed upon the full spectrum of people in society. The leader of the synagogue and the woman with the hemorrhage represent cultural polarities yet Jesus blesses both the community leader and the outcast. I find it interesting that while Jesus is on his way to Jairus’ house to raise his daughter from the dead that Jesus attentively blesses people on the way, even stopping to ask who had touched his robe to give her his grace of restoration to the community. We should do the same, always blessing out of the grace we have been given. These three people represent the universally included recipients of the God’s unconditional love – a ruler of the synagogue, a woman considered unclean, and a little child, even a dead one who also happens to be a female. All of these break down the barriers of whom can and does receive God’s graces, exposing our own inclusion in receiving Grace and our need to pass God’s graces on to all people. It also gives us a chance to reflect on this type of transformational work that is happening in our own community of faith, inviting us to respond with grateful support of what God is doing among us.

This all-inclusive work of blessing others as Jesus does is our ministry, and it is the ministry we support with our many gifts in all expressions of our time, God-given abilities and financial & material resources. All three are important and our expression is incomplete without the fullness of the composite response. Paul might even say it is our test.

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