All Saints Messenger


All Saints Messenger - August 17, 2017

posted by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the name of  Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 

Is there anyone who hasn't felt the hurt that comes from being snubbed? Rejection is the  unkindest cut of all. In our reading, a woman with an agonizing family problem steps outside her religious comfort zone and comes toward Jesus with the cry, "Have mercy!" Her plea is met with--silence! If there is to be any answer at all, she will have to wait. And wait some more.

What Christian hasn't experienced this? You pray, but wonder if anyone is listening. You get the feeling that few, if any, of your prayers go anywhere but up into thin air. You wonder why God seems to be hiding from you. The silence this woman met didn't snatch hope from her soul. She let her faith carry her past uncertainty, past silence, past rejection, past humiliation and right into those words of Jesus, "Great is your faith!" Her daughter's inner torment found instant healing. God heard her cry, after all. Times of silence can let us know just how carefully God is listening.

Heather Heyer's (the young woman killed in Charlottesville this past weekend) mother could easily have slipped into a state of God not hearing her in her grief over her daughter. Instead, she rose up and challenged all of us to accountability for what is going on in our world today. She shared one of her daughter's facebook posts which said, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Sounds like Jesus to me calling us to love and forgive our neighbor always ensuring us that he is with us, listening to us and loving us. By sharing her pain, grief and hope Heather and her mom reminds us that God is with us always, always listening and always active in our world.

Gracious God, We ask that our courage not back up, nor let up, nor give up. Keep our faith grounded in your faithfulness. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

See ya Sunday,
Gary+

All Saints Messenger - August 10.2017

posted by Church Secretary

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The Forward Day by Day Meditation for THURSDAY, August 10

Acts 19:13 Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims."

I have never witnessed anything quite like the beating the sons of Sceva receive in our reading from Acts. I have never come across "itinerant Jewish exorcists." No one close to me depends on the relics of a saint, and I don't know anyone who has been healed by a handkerchief.
  
However tempting a miraculous narrative may be, it does not resonate with the eternal truth of Christ in the same way vulnerability does. For me, the strength of Jesus is power made perfect in weakness. My desire to be the conduit of miracles negates the grace upon which I depend daily. The more I long for my own greatness, the less I sense the heavenly substance of healing that adorns Paul's aprons and handkerchiefs. When the love that shapes all things is formed from some sacrifice of my prideful heart, I begin to see Christ's handiwork in the world.

MOVING FORWARD: Do some handiwork you have been putting off-mend a shirt, fix a button, sew on a patch. Commit yourself to praying along with your work.

All Saints Messenger - August 3, 2017

posted Aug 3, 2017, 11:44 AM by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 

Our previous bishop, The Rt. Rev. Porter Taylor writes a weekly reflection on his blog. This weeks reflection "Our Call to Be True" spoke to me powerfully and I wanted to share it here with you.  If you would like to get his weekly reflections you can go to:  http://www.portertaylor.com. 

I am addicted to Grantchester (a show on PBS about a priest in the Church of England). I admit it could be because I am envious of the hair of the main character (but then again what man tints his hair in the 1950's?).  Don't worry. I won't spoil anything if you haven't watched it.

There's a scene in the latest episode where the priest, Sydney Grantchester, is struggling with his calling. Should he stay in the Church or leave it?  His housekeeper, who has become a dear friend, says to him: "Sydney, people need you. They look to you, not the Church."

I have been haunted by those sentences these past days.  We in the Church talk so much about fixing the Church as if it were a car in need of a tune up. We act as if we need a new model because fewer people want to buy.  Yes, membership and attendance are declining. Yes, all institutions are at best under suspicion and at worst irrelevant.

But in AA we learn to pray for the wisdom to know the difference between what we can change and what we can't.  At the ripe age of 66, I have my hands full just trying to keep my own life and soul and intentions and actions in alignment with what I think the Lord wants from me and for me.

Our calling is to be true: true to our real self as God created us and true to the work that God calls us to do to heal a broken world.  I no longer worry about institutions; I am focused on integrity and vulnerability.  Do we yearn to align ourselves with God's will so that our actions match our beliefs, and do we keep our hearts open to others and to the Holy One?  If we do, institutions will grow as they will. Some will die and some will be born.  At its heart Church isn't a bureaucracy; it's the faithful person in front of you who represents the face of Christ.

In my late 20's I didn't reconnect with the Church because I fell in love with the institution; I reconnected because I encountered people who had such love for God I wanted to be around them. I didn't look to the Church; I looked to God lovers to show me what the Church is for.

It's so easy to waste our time and our time is short.  I don't want a game plan for how the Church can survive.  I want to live a life that will point beyond me to God and I want to find more and more people who are a window to the holy.  I want to be inspired by others to live my life for God.

Like Sydney Grantchester, people need us and we need them because how else will we see the Lord?

Thank you +Porter for your words and reflection that remind us not only who we are but whose we are.

See ya Sunday!

Peace
Fr. Gary+

All Saints Messenger - July 27, 2017

posted Jul 27, 2017, 12:17 PM by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 

In the Finger Lakes region of central New York, you can find a delicious and unique treat: concord grape pie. Like many other places in the United States, there are a variety of bakeries and shops in the small towns nestled among the winding roads. They sell all sorts of pies, but grape pie is a specialty. It makes sense, especially given all the vineyards in the Finger Lakes region. So why not make wine and pie?

Vineyards are everywhere. Rows and rows of grape vines next to rows and rows of corn and other crops. So neat and orderly looking - quite pretty. Quite predictable, except for the weeds, of course. You never know where or when they're going to show up. Just like we can never predict how the Kingdom of God will show up.

Take, for example, the parable of the mustard seed that Jesus tells in this Sunday's gospel. What we may not know today, but what the early listeners would have most likely understood, is that the mustard plant is a weed that grows like a bush and spreads. It's a very invasive weed. Jesus is comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to a plant that will constantly and inevitably keep growing and spreading. Have you ever seen ivy on an old house, taking it over completely? Now there's a visual. That's what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.

But that's the endgame. Jesus' point is that the beginnings of the Kingdom are tiny. The Kingdom of God starts small and unnoticeable. But when the Kingdom comes into its own, it is everywhere, and you can't miss it. We are part of that growth, part of that kingdom, whether anyone recognizes us for what we are or not. The most important thing is that God knows.

Where do you and we and All Saints fit into this view of the Kingdom?

See ya Sunday!

Peace
Fr. Gary+

All Saints Messenger - July 20, 2017

posted Jul 20, 2017, 11:30 AM by Church Secretary   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 11:30 AM ]

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Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 

Wheat or weed, that is the question. Well, it's one possible question. Contemporary rhetoric--from casual conversation to "official" speechmaking--suggests that most people consider themselves to be wheat and others to be troublesome weeds. We may even be eager to eradicate the weeds. However, God's farming practices are unusual indeed. Thank God for that, for surely we are all likely someone else's weed on the verge of being uprooted by overeager weeders.

This brings to mind our recent journey to Jerusalem. Within the walls of Old Jerusalem you find a small city divided into four quarters: The Jewish, The Christian, The Muslim & The Armenian. As one moves closer to the center, where these four different communities, culture, people and faith come together you can feel a tension rising. The sights, sounds and smells are much more noticeable as if they are in conflict with all the others. The fact is that they are. Yet, this conflict does not have to be bad...I found it to be a time and place of new sensory and personal growth allowing me to better and more fully understand and appreciate the other.

In appreciation of this new found realization I come to this reading with new and fresh eyes. Our job seems to be to live into the kingdom that reflects God's gracious, if not unusual, farming practices by learning to live in the field in which wheat and weed grow together. The job of discerning who is wheat and who is weed is ultimately not ours anyway. When God determines it is harvest time, God will determine how we all will be gathered. I, for one, am grateful to take something off my "to do" list and to leave the tasks of harvest up to such a gracious God.

God of wheat and weeds, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

See ya Sunday!

Peace
Fr. Gary+

All Saints Messenger - July 13, 2017

posted Jul 13, 2017, 10:05 AM by Church Secretary

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The Forward Day by Day Meditation for THURSDAY, July 13

1 Samuel 16:23  And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

Last summer, after a two-year fight with chronic hip pain, my doctor began discussing surgery. When surgery sounds like a relief, pain has been in charge for too long. Pain doesn't stop at affecting your mobility-it seeps into your mind, convincing you that you don't deserve to feel better. Faith has to work doubly hard to stay on top of pain.
  
As I drove my daughter to school for her dance program, I handed her my phone so she could play DJ on our morning commute. Jaiya, being the insightful child God made her, choose the perfect song:

Just because I'm losing, doesn't mean I'm lost.
Just because I'm hurting, doesn't mean I'm hurt.

Of course, this youngest child of mine is right to remind that I'm not the negative feelings I feel-not alone, or hopeless, or unwanted. I am, have been, and will continue to be God's beloved child. God wants me to fight for my healing and peace. God wants me to be complete. And God is fighting alongside me, making me whole and giving me peace.

MOVING FORWARD: What song helps carry you through difficult times?

All Saints Messenger - July 6, 2017

posted Jul 6, 2017, 11:02 AM by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

My time in Jerusalem was life-changing. It forced me to examine things from a new perspective. I encountered many different cultures and faith traditions. As some of you know it was Ramadan while we were there and this forced us to interact with millions of Muslims each Friday as they entered the Holy City to pray at The Dome of the Rock, which sits where the temple once stood. Just this fact brings new understanding to the 'dynamic tension' we each experience in our daily lives.

Jesus' words of conviction hit home in this Sunday's Gospel (Matt 11:16-19, 25-30). If Jesus or John the Baptist were our contemporaries, would we, like the crowds, be so quick to disregard their righteousness? The beginning of this week's gospel reading challenges us to examine ourselves. Jesus, who regularly ate and drank with tax collectors, is calling us to do the same thing. A life of faith is truly countercultural and takes place far outside of our comfort zones. Loving God and our neighbors is no easy task. Jesus' words are a reminder and call for us to always be ready and willing. What might God be calling us to do today?

To whom might God be sending us to serve? God is constantly shattering our expectations, and offering us the privilege of being invited into the work of building God's kingdom.
God of justice, guide us into neighborly relationships so that we may live with and for all of your children. Amen.

See ya Sunday,
Gary+

All Saints Messenger - June 29, 2017

posted Jun 29, 2017, 11:43 AM by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

That greeting to the beloved community of Christians in the Epistles of Paul has become an often used greeting in our tradition. For me, in light of our Holy Land Pilgrimage it carries much more meaning than ever before. In reality, everything about our faith, our Savior, His ministry and suffering has become for me so different, so real, so alive.

Our 13 days in The Holy Land were filled with sights, sounds, smells, experiences, prayers, liturgies and so much more that they cannot be condensed down into one column. Let me say for you that I have been changed...I have been transformed by this experience.

From gaining a new understanding that Jerusalem is indeed the center of the world to truly living in the midst of dynamic tension, to experiencing a million faithful Muslims making their way to pray to walking The Way of Sorrows, The Via Delarosa, The Stations of the Cross and experiencing this where it really happened was life-changing for me. (The image below is a 16th C map locating Jerusalem as the center of the world.)

 

As I wrote in my blog, "It will take years to fully process everything I have experienced here" and by then I hope to return again to gain an even deeper insight into this mysteriously, hauntingly, faithful place where the three Abrahamic Faiths come together and try to co-exist together. Sometimes well...sometimes not so much. But the important part is that they continually try.

For now that is my biggest learning, to arise every morning, give thanks and venture out into this amazing world trying to do what God has called me and all of us to do! May it be so!

Note: Some are wondering when a presentation will be made about The Holy Land. My guess is that there will be many presentations. There will be a presentation on Tuesday, August 15th at 10 AM with the Pacesetters.

See ya Sunday,
Gary+

All Saints Messenger - June 22, 2017

posted Jun 22, 2017, 11:49 AM by Church Secretary

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The Forward Day by Day Meditation for Thursday, June 22

Luke 21:2-3 [Jesus] also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.

I sometimes teach Flannery O'Connor's story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" in my literature classes. The grandmother in the story is racist, classist, and manipulative throughout the story, but at the end her "head clear[s] for an instant," and she sees that she and "the Misfit" character are part of the same human family. Unfortunately, her post-conversion life lasts only a few seconds before "the Misfit" kills her. At its core, the story is about a person who desperately needed to change and did; the quantified time after her change isn't important when compared to the essence of that change.
 
In our gospel story for today, the widow's two small copper coins make a similar point. The widow cannot offset a shortfall of the temple budget, but Jesus applauds the quality of her gift. God is interested in our souls expanding and our hearts becoming softer and more generous. These changes might not fill coffers or give us length of days, but when our souls expand, we experience the profound reality of being created in God's image, and the kingdom of God comes near.

MOVING FORWARD: How is the dance between quantity and quality going in your life? Are there any adjustments that need to be made?

June 15, 2017

posted Jun 15, 2017, 11:56 AM by Church Secretary

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The Forward Day by Day Meditation for Thursday, June 15

Psalm 71:2 In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; incline your ear to me and save me.

Some years ago, our new assistant priest, Father Mario, made a hospital visit to a Jamaican woman who was not recovering well from surgery. He paid his visit at night, when things were quiet. Days had passed since this woman's surgery, and she still had no appetite. As they talked about their respective homes-Jamaica for her and Cuba for him-he asked what her family would be bringing her to eat if she were home. She said, "Fresh oranges." He said, "Wait for me. I'll be back."

 
Father Mario drove to a grocery store and purchased six oranges and a knife. Back in her hospital room, he peeled the oranges and described how his grandfather in Cuba taught him to peel oranges without tearing the membrane. Father Mario listened to her-and the woman began to recover. She ate two oranges that night and had a supply for the next day.

When we take the time to listen deeply, being sensitive to what a hurting person is saying or not saying, we may find that we are able to soothe broken bodies and broken hearts. God has given us to each other just for this reason.

MOVING FORWARD: Who has listened to you deeply and helped set you free? Write them a note or give them a call and offer your thanks.

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