Season of Creation 3, Sept 17, 2017

Title:Season of Creation 3, Sept 17, 2017

 Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, Season of Creation 3 (full size gallery)

This week we completed our fundraising for the hurricanes. St. Peter’s began collecting funds for Hurricane Harvey relief after it affected Houston, Texas. This was the first step in the long road to recovery. Then Hurricane Irma came to Florida and Georgia and dealt a blow. $2,500+ dollars was collected in the effort with help from an anonymous donor who provided half. The funds will go to Episcopal Relief and Development.

It was also the celebration of Holy Cross. It remembers the building of Church of the Sepulchre built in 335AD at the Jesus resurrection. 

We had a mixture of clouds and sun on a relatively warm day for September. This was the first Sunday with the turning of the leaves present. Adult Godly Play studies the seasons of the church year showing Sundays by cards and then by a circular wheel. The youth continued playing Quidditch

44 were at the service. We were please to welcome Bill and Jean Locke from Chicago. They petitioned the Vestry to be buried here. Bill came in April alone and then both were here on this Sunday

It was Stewardship Sunday when the pledge cards were distributed. The theme of Thanksgiving with the Collect and readings fit well with stewardship. Elizabeth emphasized we give out of "abundance" which is Latin represents flow.

We are measured not but what we have accumulated but we give to service to others thrrough blessings. As the sermon stressed, blessings includes not only material things but also things like mercy, peace, love, grace, and wisdom, to share with others. When we share it we truely have abundance life. As Paul stressed, "you will be enriched in every way for your great generosity." The first hymn "Come Ye Thankful People Come" had the lyric "Lord of harvest, grant that we Wholesome grain and pure may be." The last hymn, "Praise to God, immortal praise" emphasized our reliance on God -" These, to thee, O God, we owe, Source whence all our blessings flow; and for these our souls shall raise grateful vows and solemn praise."

The children performed a Johnny Appleseed blessing. "Oh, the Lord is good to me, And so I thank the Lord For giving me the things I need The sun, and the rain, and the apple seed. The Lord is good to me." Elizabeth had apples to distribute after the service.

Creation Week 3 continues to be involved in our relationship to the Creator God. In Deuteronomy is about the benefits of faithfulness in terms of blessings. In the Psalm it’s in term of prayers being answered sins being forgiven , and the blessedness of dwelling with God in terms of bountiful harvests and the beauty of nature and God’s control. The Epistle is about our relationship to God in terms of giving. Why should we give. For those who give cheerfully and willingly, the promise is that God will provide all that they need to continue doing good The Gospel looks at our relationship to God in terms of 3 questions- Where is your treasure ? How is your vision ?Who are you serving ?

The readings for this week are here.

The sermon was about abundance and how we are to live with it. "Psalm 65 says that God crowns the year with God’s bounty, wagon tracks overflow, hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together with joy"

"What is abundant life ? As Ed Stetzer points out in an article in Christianity Today, Ultimately, abundant life is about what we receive as a gift from the Lord. To live an abundant life is to live as stewards of the blessings of God. And our stewardship is measured by what we have given. Stetzer says, “At the end of the day, perhaps that is how we know we have an abundant life—when we have shared our life with others.

When we have enough of the blessings of God, and these blessings include not only material things but also things like mercy, peace, love, grace, and wisdom, to share with others, and then actually do it; that’s when we truly have abundant life.”

Creation itself is an act of sharing. God created a universe that is all about relationship and sharing. Suzanne Simard is an ecologist, and about twenty years ago when she was doing research for her doctoral thesis, she discovered that trees share with one another! Trees use a network of latticed fungi underground to “talk” to each other, to communicate needs, and to actually feed each other with nutrients

The apostle Paul had no clue about trees sharing with one another, but he is very clear about the fact that human beings are in relationship with one another and that sharing through various networks keeps relationships alive and growing. Paul would probably be fascinated with a book I’m currently reading. The title is Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions, by Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University

In Chapter 4, “The Cost of Social Norms: Why we are happy to do things but not when we are paid to do them,” Ariely explains that “we live simultaneously in two different worlds—one where social norms prevail and the other where market norms make the rules.”

"In the world of social norms, people experience pleasure from doing things for one another and will return favors at some point down the road. The world of market norms is run on “sharp edged exchanges: wages, prices, rents, interests, costs and benefits. Ariely’s experiments revealed that people in his experiments who were motivated by payment depended more on themselves and less on others. They were less willing to ask for help. In fact, the people in that group were more selfish; they wanted to spend more time alone; they were more likely to select tasks that required individual input rather than teamwork;

"When I read this chapter, I had an “aha” moment! These market norms and social norms are exactly what Jesus is talking about in today’s gospel! These market “treasures” make us depend only on ourselves instead of on each other, make us believe that no matter how much we have, we need more and more—the more we have, the more we want. Market “treasures” are the treasures that make us want to hold on tight to all we have, because we are afraid that if we share, we won’t have enough left for ourselves. These market “treasures” are the ones that can destroy the social fabric of our lives and our community, when money or some other commodity becomes an end in itself instead of something we use to care for and to support one another.

"Jesus goes to say that we should store up our treasures in heaven. So in this comparison, storing up treasures in heaven would be living in a world in which people are guided by their interconnectedness and their attention to social norms, where sharing and doing things for others brings pleasure and mutual benefit, without a focus on reward. Sharing and giving are rewards in themselves. Sharing and giving out of love result in joy.

"So in thanksgiving for God’s abundant gifts, gifts poured out on us so that we can live richly and fully with one another and with all of creation, go out and be cheerful givers–give and give and give again.

"Store up your treasures in heaven by living the abundant life that Jesus has made possible for each one of us here and now, and with the psalmist, who described the the gateways of the morning and the evening, the hills and the meadows and the valleys and the trees, shouting and singing together with joy, may we leave here today rejoicing, and may we give God the glory."

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