Pentecost 14, August 30, 2015

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Title:Pentecost 14, August 30, 2015

Pentecost 14, Aug. 30, 2015  (full size gallery)

We had 37 in church today, the same number as last Sunday. It was Catherine’s second Sunday of vacation and morning prayer was repeated. Substituting were Elizabeth Heimbach as officiant and Johnny Davis as preacher.

The weather was temperate and overcast until about noon. Helmut and Susan were at a beach in North Carolina last week and complained about it being too hot. Generally we have had a mild summer as for the temperature.

Many thanks to extend this week:

1. Thanks to Kimberly for bringing a wooden plaque of "Be Doers" that she made in camp. Check out the picture of that in the slide show. She also brought a friend to church.

2.Thanks to Cheryl for bringing a big bag of Village Harvest supplies – Kleenix, toilet paper, etc. She also brought some earings for Cookie.

3.Thanks to Laura for bringing Shirley to church and your work on the altar guild.

4.Thanks to Evan and Sidney for being our two youngest ushers along with Zeke last week.

5. Thanks to those ready to spread the word about the Sept 15 flamenco concert – Cookie, Susan and Andrea. We had a table setup with posters and press release to distribute.

6. Thanks for the children attending this service and also for Callie, our Godly Play teacher. 

7. Thanks for Elizabeth for being a well organized officiant and keeping the service flowing

8. Thanks to Susan for her readings as lector. Well spoken.

9. Special thanks to Johnny and Cookie Davis. Cookie for continuing the wide variety and beautiful flowers that are fun to take pictures. And Johnny for his inspiring sermon and being the leader he is.

Johnny’s sermon was a review of areas that he is passionate about and those that are part of his responsibility as Junior Warden. He linked it to the James reading "Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures." and "But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves."

He started with a prayer in praise of God for the stars, wind and nature, the praise of all things holy and to strive to follow God in all that we do. He quoted "Christ has No Body" by Teresa of Avila (1515–1582). "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world" – We have to be the Body of Christ in the world"

He use the metaphor of a "dash" which is the abbreviation between a person’s birth and death. The dash represents how we spent our time here, what we did, the love we provided.etc. What will your dash look like and say about you? There is a poem by Laura Ellis on the dash

He touched on the following outreach ministries:

1. Food. We are feeding 25 families, 85+ people through what you provide and what the church can buy at the Northern Neck Food Bank. Johnny says he buys between 500 and 600 pounds monthly. In that capacity, Johnny described the gleaning mission project of a month ago. Over 5 days we gleaned 7+ tons of sweet corn left behind after the first harvest of the field.

2. Supporting a Nepal family. This is new and described in the September newsletter. We are already providing shelter and will do more to help the congregation connect with this family during the fall.

He moved to the building:

1. Painting of the church. It should be completed this week. The painter has struggled with personnel issues. He cleaned the sign this week and is working on the sealer for the doors. The belfry will be done as a separate project by the end of September.

2. Kitchen . $15K UTO grant. It will be outfitted with new appliances in support of our outreach projects. 

3. Parish House . Johnny hoped to paint in the fall but may not happen until the spring. He needs to find a roofer since the roof leaks. The windows in Catherine’s office need to be replaced. If there was a fire there is no way to get out since they are painted shut. 

4. Tablets – We have signed a contract for restoration to give it a new least of life. It is an expensive project  but  he referred to the 10 commandments, creed and Lord’s Prayer as the foundation of our faith, the guide to how we should live our lives.  We have collected monies already for this project.

5. Long range planning. In this capacity he mentioned a revision of the St. Peter’s Endowment fund which will provide funds for Outreach and capital projects. He encouraged people to revisit their wills and donate a portion to the church.

He closed with readings of encouragement from the Bible, many of which touched on the poor and stewardship – Hebrews 13:16. Being a cheerful giver from 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. Act 20:35 about more blessed to give than receive. Being generous to the poor from Proverbs 19:17 and the Widow’s mite story from Luke 21:1-4. Here are more readings on the needy

Commentary by Canon Lance Ousley, Diocese of Olympia, Washington

Our identity as Children of God is essential to our formation as Christian stewards. Understanding and recognizing our created belovedness is central to our responsive life to the Gospel message and the needs of the world around us. Our actions do not save us, but they do flow from our known identity and are a result of it. However, one of the beautiful things about our responsive action is that it holds up a mirror to our hearts deepening the reflection of who we are in Christ reinforcing our true identity.

Note that in understanding who we are in Christ as children of God includes the understanding of whom God is, too. This is about personal relationship with God and all of God’s creation. The commandments given at Mt. Sinai were relational and identity defining. We hear this clearly in the summary of these commandments, "Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself."

James urges us to live fully into our identity as Children of God reflecting our faith as we interact with others and all of Creation. This is stewardship of our core baptismal identity and stewardship of whom we say God is with the whole of our lives. This is not lived out legalistically, but in relationship as we embrace others’ created belovedness and honor God in loving them.

Jesus’ challenge to the Pharisees and Scribes was not so much on the traditions they upheld as it was on the legalism they projected. Jesus was concerned that their perspective was distorted by elevating the tradition to Divine Commandment closing their hearts off to being able to embrace loving their neighbors as themselves. This hardened heart within is the source of the litany of sins Jesus lists and each of these deny the divine childhood and blessedness of the other. Ultimately, this comes from a distorted internal view of our identity, the identity of the other, and the identity of God!

So Jesus is calling us to steward our true identity in ourselves and in the other as Children of God. And in doing so, we project who God is to the world. James encourages us to do the same.

This call is true for congregations, too. And most congregations that I see struggling are in the midst of an identity crisis. Some find themselves in this situation because they have elevated traditions over their identity as the Body of Christ, failing to steward this identity and the implications it has for them to love their neighbors (those outside their walls or new in their midst) as themselves. Or maybe more accurately, their "traditions" construct a barrier for them to love their neighbors as Christ loves them.

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