Pentecost 21, Oct. 18, 2015

Title:Pentecost 21, Oct. 18, 2015

 Pentecost 21, October 18 2015  (full size gallery)

After a week at Credo in Prescott, Arizona. Catherine returned late on Monday night Oct 12. Then the next day she paraticipated in consecration of the new Virginia Theological Seminary chapel.  The previous one burned 5 years ago in Oct. 2010. While at the event  she shot a video of the bells that was made into a video celebrating that event. On Thursday, she attending the ECW 125th annual meeting.  At the ECW meeting, we received the proceeds from the UTO grant to remodel our kitchen. 

Today was a wonderful fall day in the 50’s sunny though the weather was getting cloudy by the end of the service. 

We had 10 in "Weaving God’s Promises" discussin why we go to church. We munched on 3 types of muffins provided by Boyd, Barbara and Catherine. The children bring a substantial knowledge from "Godly Play" which validates that program. 

We were pleased to have Sharon Boivin, president of Region 1, visiting St. Peter’s today. She is visiting all the Region One churches – 19!  She talked about a new program for pastoral care that Region One is beginning.

This was pledge Sunday for 2015 which was covered in the sermon.  The sermon was on Father Damien of Molokai, a historical figure that Catherine learned about on her trip to Molokai and visit to an Episcopal Church there.  Catherine wore a yellow lathe that she purchased there.

Molokai is the fifth largest of the Hawaiian chain but is still small- 38 by 10 miles and was built from two volcanos. Kalaupapa, located on an isolated peninsula on the northern side was the site of a leper settlement from 1866 to 1969. Thousands of men, women and children living throughout the Hawaiian islands diagnosed with leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease) were exiled to the colony by the Hawaiian government and legally declared dead. Patients were not allowed to leave the settlement nor have visitors and had to live out their days in this isolated settlement. There are currently no active cases of leprosy on the island, but there are some former patients who chose to continue to live in the settlement after its closure.

The sermon was related to the Isaiah reading about the suffering servant. Today’s readings confront us with the reality that the call to discipleship means service and sacrifice. In Isaiah, the “suffering servant” of Israel, though innocent, takes on the sin, sorrow, pain and oppression of God’s people. According to Hebrews, Jesus, the full embodiment of the “suffering servant,” identifies with humanity and offers himself as final high priest and ultimate sacrifice.

From the sermon -"The lepers colony on Molokai began in 1865 with decree from the king that all lepers be separated and sent there. The people would be able to survive by growing their own crops and by fishing. They were expected to build their own shelters." 

Damien a Belgian priest went there in 1873 and "cared for them, cleaned their wounds, and began to go to work to improve conditions for the residents of the settlement." He became a water carrier, taught them how to farm and started an orphanage. He also built coffins for those who had died, an estimated 1600. He later contracted the disease and died in 1889. 15 patients still live and but can only be assessed foot, by muleback, or by plane" 

The sermon also covered the story of Brother Joseph Dutton who came to Molokai after reading an article about Father Damien. He went there and carried on the work of Damien until he died in 1931 

"In this quote, Brother Dutton challenges all of us to seek out what God has for each one of us to do."I wish to guard you against having too high an estimate of the work here. Work performed with a good intention, to accomplish the will of Almighty God, for his glory, is the same in one place as in another. Anywhere can be one’s Molokai.”

"For Jesus, Molokai was Galilee, where he healed lepers, cast out demons, fed people, and ate with outcasts and sinners. On his way to Jerusalem to face crucifixion and death, he said this to his disciples—words that St Damien and Brother Dutton heard and obeyed in their service to the lepers on Molokai. Jesus said, ‘Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’"

"This chair and this wheelchair sit side by side in the church in Kalaupapa. This is the chair in which each of us are called to sit, and in the wheelchair sits that invisible person or people that God is calling us to serve. For me, this picture is a reminder that God is calling me to serve and to give my own life for God’s glory by serving others."

"Who are you called to serve? How is God calling you to give, in the words of the poet Mary Oliver, “your one wild and precious life?” Where is your Molokai?"


Lectionary commentary by Canon Lance Ousley, Diocese of Olympia, Washington

Each day we pray, "For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, for ever and ever. Amen." Yet most days we spend our time trying to claim these for ourselves. This was Job’s issue in some ways even as he justifiably cried out in distress. This was the issue for those who inflicted death upon the suffering servant. The foundation of faithful and responsive stewardship in the heart is built upon our authentic acknowledgement that the kingdom, the power and the glory all belong to God. The passages from Job and Psalm 104 establish this truth. And the readings from Isaiah and Psalm 91 speak to the honor that God gives those who acknowledge this truth with humble lives.

In our gospel lesson we hear that James and John want to position themselves for some power and glory in God’s kingdom. Last Saturday at the installation of Dean Steven Thomason at Saint Mark’s Cathedral Bishop Greg Rickel posited in his sermon on this text that he thought the reason that the rest of the disciples were angry with James and John was because they had beaten them to this request. This certainly is reflective of our culture and what it means to "get ahead." But for what end?

I believe for most of us in our culture being in a position of kingly power and glory means acceptance. The tragedy is that creates an endless strife for acceptance as power and glory ebb and flow like the tide, and over time they take a toll on their subject. Just ask an aging fashion model or actor who has fallen from the limelight. When we realize that God’s love is enough, we are set free from endless power positioning and glory grappling.

Healthy stewardship comes with the knowledge that we are loved, no matter what position we hold in society. God loves Job, even in the midst of Job’s lowest of lows. God loves the one who was treated as a criminal, who has borne our iniquities and was stricken for our transgressions. And God loves us who have clamored for power and glory in God’s kingdom, even while hammering nails into the hard wood of the cross.

The truth is God loves us, no matter who we are. This is a message we need to preach, teach, and live continually with our people so that this truth can catch fire in their hearts. Being loved unconditionally regardless of our power or position helps us all to realize we are blessed. This is the baptism with which we have been baptized. Stewardship flows from this font of blessings, blessing all others through serving them with God’s love.

How will you pass this Blessing Cup to others?

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