Pentecost 16, Sept 12, 2021 – Whose Jesus we proclaim based on our actions and words?

A warmer Sunday with 18 in house and 6 online. We were pleased to have Larry Saylor play his guitar for the perlude and offertory, the latter including an original melody. Larry and Helmut joined together in concluding hymn

This Sunday’s lectionary featured reckoning of Peter as to Jesus mission – deny yourself and take up the cross. Peter did not see that Jesus mission had to lead to resurrection. He wanted it his own way. The sermon’s main source was a book by Donnel O’Flynn, an Episcopal priest Holy Cross, Life Giving Tree.

The sermon contained this summary – “In summary, and what I hope you will remember from all I’ve said today about the cross as the tree of life is that, as O’Flynn says, “the Cross of the Living Tree focuses our attention on the results of Christ’s work…it invites us to join the risen Christ in the New Creation. The Life-Giving Cross does not deny the death of Christ; after all, it is still a symbol of the instrument of his death. But it is transformed just as Christ’s crucified body was and revealed for what it was intended to be from the beginning: a gracious symbol of God’s unending purpose of giving life.”

“When we take up our crosses, remembering that we are carrying a life-giving cross, we can lay down the things in our lives that bring death.

“We can rejoice as we bear the fruits of love and joy and peace growing in us and sustained by the life of the cross we carry.

“We can revel in the greenness of new life growing in ourselves, in those around us, and in creation itself.

“And we can be givers of new life to those around us, and to the earth, remembering that the earth continues to sustain us as it did the Tree of Life itself, in the beginning.

It was also the second Sunday in the Season of Creation

We have been involved with the Season of Creation since 2017. Besides the teaching of scriptures, sermons and recommended books, we have taken on some projects to benefit the appearance of the church and the environment at the same time. The bulletin cover shows these.

In 2021, we encouraged people to bring coffee grounds for our composter. Composting coffee grounds helps to add nitrogen to your compost pile. It can act as a fertilizer since it adds organic material to the soil, which improves drainage, water retention, and aeration in the soil. The used coffee grounds will also help microorganisms beneficial to plant growth thrive as well as attract earthworms.

We have also introduced the M.O.R.E. book. M.O.R.E is measure, offset, reduce and educate. It is a short, concise book on climate change in our time. More importantly it focuses on what we can do now. Last week the focus was on EDUCATE about climate change.

In the second week, MEASURE, we measure our carbon footprint. This is a base line on where we are in emitting greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. One we know our use we can decide what we can to do reduce our carbon emissions off set it.

The ultimate goal is a carbon neutral planet. However, in the mean time the Paris Agreement set a target of 2 degrees maximum hotter than preindustrial levels. We would need to be at 1.7 tons. The global average is 4 tons. A long way to go!

Here is the chapter on MEASURE

We include information in the bulletin about calculating carbon footprint

Commentary by Canon Lance Ousley, Diocese of Olympia, Washington on the Lectionary Sept 12.

A few years ago a man suddenly died who had joined our parish after being ostracized in another church in town for asking questions and challenging local doctrines that were inconsistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ that he knew. We had spent much time together as he untangled the web of inconsistencies with what the Holy Spirit had revealed to him about the identity of Jesus Christ. How could this Spring flow both “fresh and brackish water?”

These were the readings we had in our lectionary the day after he died. Tears streamed down my face as I read the Gospel that day because he had come to our church due to who we proclaimed Jesus to be with our words and actions in that community. I preached that day to those gathered about the power of their faithful proclamation of the identity of Jesus through their ministries and openness in our community. Knowing who Jesus is and proclaiming him as the Christ with our words AND actions simply is faithful stewardship!

His was the largest funeral we held in our church because so many from our parish, the town, and those from his old congregation came to celebrate his life. But also because so many from his old congregation came to see what might be said about his salvation they thought had been lost in their ingularity doctrine. The Jesus Christ they were proclaiming was not the Savior of the world, but merely the savior of those who were part of their church who thought the way they thought.

Our reading options from Proverbs, Wisdom, and Isaiah all encourage us to heed the guidance of the Holy Spirit over the selfish ways of the world. James reminds us of the sharpness of the tongue and how it can cut both ways, even convicting us of our inconsistent actions with our words. These all lay a foundation for us to think about as we respond to Jesus’ question, “But who do you say that I am?”

The way we answer this question in our churches about Jesus’ identity has huge implications on the stewardship of our members. This informs us who we are as the Body of Christ doing Jesus’ work in the world. And when this is consistent and integrated with what we read in scripture, our words and actions people are more inspired to give of themselves and their resources for this proclamation of Jesus as the Christ.

So, who does your church say Jesus is with your words and actions? How is this making a difference in your membership giving of themselves and their resources? If it’s not making a positive difference, might it be time to get some clarity about who we are saying Jesus is?