Pentecost 15, Proper 19, Year A

Title:Pentecost 15, Proper 19, Year A

 Holy Eucharist, Sept. 13, 2020 – Season of Creation II (full size gallery)

There were several celebrations this week. We began Communion after a lapse of 6 months due to Covid (the last one on March 8). It was very different. Communion was distributed in one kind only—the bread. The wafers were in cups. People lined up to take a cup and then consume it raising your mask. Still, it was a sign of a restoration of the key ceremony in the church.

The second was a celebration of Carey Connor’s ordination a priest in Richmond yesterday at St. Paul’s. She had been Catherine’s friend since 1992 when she came to St. George’s. In the fall of 2019, Carey became our Deacon. In that year, she has graced us with her preaching, Christian ed on mission, hospitality and participation in many parts of St. Peter’s life. Today we presented here several tokens of appreciation. Elizabeth presented a collection of stoles for every season. We got to see them unwrapped after the service. Second was a St Peter’s cross made by Helmut. Today was her first Eucharist as a priest outside of her ordination. About 10 of her friends from St. George’s came to witness and brought out attendance up to 30. We have videos of her role in the service.

The sermon was part of the Season of Creation blending in forgiveness with an awareness of the fires in the West Coast. In the latter, the Indians who had a process of controlling wild fires were take off the land. Now they are bringing that vision to climate scientists. “Tribal leaders have been reaching out to ecologists, researchers and fire agencies about the importance of indigenous knowledge. In Northern California, the Karok and Yurok tribes are partnering with the Forest Service to manage land for traditional values as well as for wildfire management. Studies are showing that these two visions go hand in hand.”

“This is the sort of forgiveness and re-membering that God offers to each of us. Re-membering our pasts, and speaking about our sins and betrayals through confession helps us to accept God’s forgiveness, and helps us to see that even now we are living in God’s commonwealth of justice, peace and freedom for all on this earth, because that is God’s deepest desire and destiny for us.”

Commentary on this week’s lectionary from Former Canon Lance Ousley from the Diocese of Olympia, Washington. The readings are here.

“Forgiveness is stewardship of grace, mercy, and love rooted in a theology of abundance. Forgiveness not only is extending grace and mercy to the other who has wronged us, it also is an act of accepting God’s grace ourselves setting our hearts free from self-destructive animosity. It is an humble acknowledgement of our own need for forgiveness and God as the judge of all. Rooted in a theology of abundance, forgiveness puts no limit on love or mercy or grace. Our readings this week address these themes from various situations.

“In the reading option from Genesis, Joseph has a grace-filled response to his brothers’ plea for forgiveness for the wrong they did to him. Joseph’s view of the bigger picture of how their act positioned him to be able to help a large number of people (the Egyptians) and now to be able to help another large group (his kinsmen, the Israelites) is filled with humility in his understanding that a greater good was facilitated through God’s redeeming grace of what they had intended as harm. This broader view of God’s hand at work redeeming his situation for good expanded his heart to love abundantly. He was not burdened by hatred or limited by a need of retribution. He was able to steward the love and mercy extended to him and share it with grace with his brothers. Joseph’s response to his brothers also was undergirded with a gratefulness that he was in a position to be able to help so many.

“Paul focuses his words to the Romans we read this week the need for humility and thankfulness and living our whole lives for God. He emphasizes God’s place as judge of all and our not passing judgment on others, no matter whether that be on a spectrum from their dietary practices or to their mistreatment of us. In recognizing God as God and ourselves as human, we recognize our fellow sisters and brothers as human, too, and all of our need for grace, mercy, and love. In so doing we are empowered to be agents of God stewarding divine grace, mercy, and love in the world.

“Jesus pushes the understanding of the limits of forgiveness in his response to Peter’s question about the number of times one should forgive in this week’s Gospel lesson. Jesus’ response is not founded on and idea of scarcity of grace, but rather the abundance of God’s grace extended to us that we are to share and pass on to others. His response of “seventy times seven” was not to say that the limit of forgiveness is 490 times, but that grace and mercy of forgiveness is to be limitless. Humility and gratitude are key in our receiving forgiveness and then extending it to others. His parable about the unjust slave also illustrates the incarcerating power that a lack of forgiveness can have in our own lives. We find grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy and freedom upon freedom when we forgive those who have sinned against us. We are to steward forgiveness in the world with grateful hearts reflecting the grace and mercy and love that God showers upon us all.

Father forgive us, for we know not what we do, and give us grace to forgive others as we have been forgiven that all people may experience the liberation of your love.”