Lent 3, Feb. 28, 2016

Title:Lent 3, Feb. 28, 2016

February 28, 2016  (full size gallery)

We had 8 at 9am and 33 at 11am.  The day was gorgeous with plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures reaching into the 50’s.

9am Holy Eucharist included Catherine’s grand dog Maggie enjoying the service and was blessed at Communion. 11am included St. Peter’s Music part 7 covering time in music, focusing on the types of notes. This is a logical progression since up to this time we had covered pitch. Catherine drew a few types of notes and the congegation found examples of these in our concluding hymn #404.  

We also celebrated birthdays for Barbara Wisdom and Mary Ann Betchy at 11am. We handed out forms for Easter lilies and financial donations for the altarpiece restoration. The bulletin indicated we need $6K by the end of March to receive at $5K grant.

At "Growing a Rule of Life" at 9:45 we had our largest group – 13. This is a good discussion vehicle to find out what motivates our religious life. Today’s study was basic – our relationship with God.  For the brothers at St. John the Evangelist the creators of this study, the basis for the relationship is prayer -"We should seek the gifts which help us to pray without ceasing." It is based on repentence, spontaneous and based on our spiritual gifts. 

"We are to bring him our sufferings and poverty, our passion and sexuality, our fears and resistances, our desires and our dreams, our losses and grief. We must spread before him our cares about the world and its peoples, our friends and families, our enemies and those from whom we are estranged. Our successes and failures, our gifts and shortcomings, are equally the stuff of our prayer. We are to offer the night to God as well as the day, our unconscious selves as well as our conscious minds, acknowledging the secret and unceasing workings of the Spirit in the depths of our hearts."

We built a garden plot as a group focusing on the soil and plants that motivates and build our relationship with God.  This included support mechanisms, practices, places and people that provide nourishment for our relationship with God.

Today’s lectionary readings call us to faithful obedience. In the Old Testament reading, God’s promise to rescue the faithful in Eqypt summons us to a new relationship. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul looks at the experiences of God’s people in the past to show his readers how to live in obedience now. In the gospel, Jesus advises us to respond to calamities with a spirit of personal repentance.

Much of the text deals with the challenges of the wilderness, the hot desert in the Old Testament and Psalm and the need for new relationships . We who are given much squander our resources.

The sermon’s key words were "warning" and "repentence". 

"As we wander through our own landscapes, living out our days, we tend to forget that life is fragile. Life can end suddenly and unexpectedly. We all know this, but it’s easy to live in a state of denial and assume that death is a long way off and that we have all the time in the world to change the things in our lives that keep us from living in the fullness of life that God intends for us."

She used signs mounted on the church door and held up during the sermon to demonstrate warnings – from flood, dangerous cliffs, falling rocks that injure or kill

Warnings come in many forms. "Jesus wants the people to avoid the dangers inherent in living unexamined lives.

"The Ash Wednesday Litany of Penitence (pg 267-269 in the BCP) provides a laundry list of things that bring death into our lives—things for which we come before God and one another in repentance.

“Lack of love toward God and one another, inability to forgive, deaf to God’s call to serve, past unfaithfulness, pride, hypocrisy and impatience, self-indulgent appetites and ways, exploitation of other people, anger, envy, intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, dishonesty, negligence in prayer and worship, failure to draw on the little faith we have, blindness to human need and suffering, indifference to injustice and cruelty, false judgments, uncharitable thoughts, prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us, the waste and pollution of God’s creation, the lack of concern for those who come after us.”

The parable of the barren fruit tree provides hope for repentence. It not cut down but given a chance to live to help bear fruit. A hoe is used an not an ax "If we think of ourselves as trees who haven’t lived up to our potential, then God, the gardener, who is faithful to us and merciful, and who has hope in us, is willing to give us a little more time—and this time is not going to be peaceful and undisturbed, but God plans to disturb the soil around our roots by digging up stuff, and not only that, but throwing manure into the newly turned soil around our roots–

"Isn’t that life?

"Disturbances at the very roots of our being, and all the things in our lives that happen that we could put into the “manure” category?

"Disturbances and manure are probably the last things we want, and yet these often unpleasant things are the very things that can lead us to repent and return to God.

"Disturbances and manure can be the very things that help us to bear fruit.

"To repent is to be intentional about turning away from the cliffs and slippery slopes of sin, the flash floods of uncontrolled passions in our lives and to turn back to firm ground, back to God."

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