All Saints Messenger


All Saints Messenger - May 11, 2017

posted May 11, 2017, 11:51 AM by Church Secretary

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The Forward Day by Day Meditation for 

THURSDAY, May 11

Luke 6:43-44 No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.

We worked hard to prune three mature trees next to our house. One has fruit, one has leaves but no fruit, and one is completely bare. I cannot say whether or not any of our trees started out as "bad trees" or "good trees," but I can say that they have all suffered neglect. For nearly a decade, they had been left to their own devices, growing without any sort of pruning or attention.

 
When we finally took the time to prune, I wondered what sort of good treasure these trees would have offered if they had been better tended. I wonder about my own fruit, about my own heart. I ponder what vines, diseases, and behaviors I have neglected to root out, cut back, weed out, and I resolve to tend to all-the trees, my relationships, and my heart-with greater care, giving us all a chance to bear good fruit.

MOVING FORWARD: Take a walk around your home today. What needs to be pruned, cleaned up, or tidied to ensure a fruitful season ahead?


All Saints Messenger - May 4, 2017

posted May 11, 2017, 11:40 AM by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
 
Having just returned from an Alumni Council meeting in Sewanee and reading the passage from John for this Sunday brought to mind a classmate of mine. He graduated seminary with all of us but he decided to stay in Sewanee and not seek ordination because Sewanee had become a great place of growth and transformation for him. He had become contemplative and listened to the Spirit in new, exciting and different ways.

My classmate stayed, got married, and built a sheep farm. Chris & I (sometimes Emma) stay with him and his bride once in a while when we return and stay in a small apartment above the shed and art studio. We often wake up to the sound of his voice calling the sheep as he and his faithful sheep dog command them to move through the pasture. It is a special sight and experience. What was amazing was how he could easily call the sheep in and lead them where he needed them to go. Chris, Emma & I often laugh about the times our friend let us try to call them as the sheep ignored us.

Our gospel reading says, "When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice." What does it look like in your faith-filled life to listen to the voice of the shepherd? Where are you following this shepherd? Where are you being led in your life of faith--for the sake of the kingdom here and among us?

Faithful God, open our ears that we may hear the voice of the great shepherd and follow as we are led into greater faith and greater opportunities to proclaim the name of Jesus. Amen.

See ya Sunday! 
Fr. Gary+

All Saints Messenger - April 27, 2017

posted Apr 27, 2017, 12:31 PM by Church Secretary

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

 
This Sunday we hear from The Gospel of Luke the wonderful story about the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. For many of us here at All Saints just the word Emmaus may conjure up memories of a Cursillo Weekend because our Methodist brothers and sisters use Emmaus instead of Cursillo for their weekends of transformation and new learning.

Just like the disciples on the road, all of us are moved from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence and hopefully, if we are open to new learning we move to conscious competence. For the disciples on the Road to Emmaus their conscious competence came when Jesus said the prayers and broke the bread in their presence.
 
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus: "their eyes were kept from recognizing him." They were disheartened because they had hoped this man Jesus they followed was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And now here Christ was right in their midst and they did not know it was him. Sometimes God is active in our daily lives and we do not even know or recognize it. We can sometimes get so caught up in the destination that we don't stop and see God's presence right in front of us in our lives. But when we pause to look back on our lives and reflect, sometimes we are able to recognize where and when God was present--that chance meeting in a coffee shop, that phone call we received, that turn in the road we made. When was a time in your life you felt God was especially present or active or so close to you that you could reach out and touch him?

Present God, we give thanks that you walk along the road of life with each of us. Help us recognize your presence. Amen.

See ya Sunday! 
Fr. Gary+





All Saints Messenger - April 20, 2017

posted Apr 20, 2017, 10:01 AM by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
 
What a glorious Holy Week & Easter Sunday. We journeyed with Christ through his week of betrayal and death and hears about salvation history and coming into the light at the Great Easter Vigil. Easter morning saw baloons, joyous music, numerous Alleluias and so many smiles and so much joy.

The challenge now for all of us is maintaining that joy and remembering to let Jesus Easter in us! To live this time, really the rest of our lives, with the resurrected Jesus in our souls, selves and bodies. Such a challenge and one not just unique to us in America in the 21st Century. The disciples, just a few days after Jesus' resurrection struggled with the same thing.

The disciples were huddled in fear. Their rabbi had been executed. Surely questions lingered among them as to whether they too might be handed over to the authorities. That evening the risen Lord appeared in their midst and showed them the wounds in his hands and side. The disciples saw firsthand the wounds inflicted by humanity upon God's Son. God's response to the horrible events of Good Friday stood before them--the resurrection of the Son. Christ's first words to the disciples are ones of peace and forgiveness. Just as Easter brings new life, so also forgiveness brings new life. Forgiveness is the contemporary equivalent of the resurrection of the dead. Christ appears to the disciples bestowing upon them a new commission. Just as he himself is raised, Christ authorizes his followers to raise fellow believers from the dead by speaking these words, "I forgive you your sins for Christ's sake."

God of peace, forgive my sins as I forgive the sins of others. Make me a witness to your sacrificial love to those I meet today. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

See ya Sunday! 
Fr. Gary+

All Saints Messenger - April 13, 2017

posted Apr 20, 2017, 7:23 AM by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
 
The Triduum or Three Holy Days begins today. These three Holy Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday where we celebrate The Great Vigil of Easter recalls for us the passion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is, for all Anglicans and Episcopalians, the holiest of days and an apt conclusion to Holy Week.

Tonight, at our Maundy Thursday service we will, once again, recall Jesus' servanthood through the washing of feet. It is an ancient tradition allowing us to enter Jesus' servanthood in a tangible and meaningful way.

The scene in this passage is poignant. Jesus knows what is coming--his arrest, trial and death on a cross--but his thoughts are only for those he loves: "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end." 

The Son of God shows himself here again to be a servant king. Human rulers expect to be served; they do not serve. They are self-focused and (too often) self-serving. Jesus shows us a different way. He does what no master would do; he ties a towel around his waist and washes his disciples' callused, dusty feet. And then he tells them to do the same--to be servants to one another. 

The other gospel writers speak of the institution of Holy Communion on this day. John instead describes a humble act of service, the washing of tired feet. Both are acts of love, enacted by a Lord who, even in the face of death, continues to care for those around him. This is our Lord; let us follow where he leads.

Lord Jesus, you loved your disciples to the end. Teach us to follow you, seeking not to be served but to serve and to pour out our lives in love for the world. Amen.

See ya Sunday! 
Fr. Gary+

All Saints Messenger - April 6, 2017

posted Apr 20, 2017, 7:23 AM by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
 
Starting in seminary I started to experience Palm Sunday as a "calm before the storm" in Lent. After many chapters of conniving Pharisees, demonic forces and ignorant disciples, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, greeted with glorious fanfare. For this short time, at least, it seems that all is well. But it is precisely that calm that confuses me. How, in the span of one short week, does the crowd's shouting turn from "hosanna!" to "crucify!"? 

Perhaps that tension is exactly the point. Once again we are given a jarring juxtaposition of humility and exaltation. Matthew quotes the prophet Zechariah, "Look, your king is coming to you, humble." And indeed Jesus enters Jerusalem in humility on a donkey. But the crowds exalt Jesus, willing this prophet to become a mighty king, a valiant warrior. They cannot understand that Jesus' exaltation can only result from his future humiliation. And so as Jesus fails to be the warrior-king the crowds expect, their exaltation dissolves into hate. Underneath the shouts of "hosanna!" lie the powerful shouts of "crucify him!" that bring Jesus to his ultimate humiliation. But through that humiliation Jesus also receives the true exaltation, that is, resurrection.

Lord, as we prepare to enter Holy Week, let us be like your Christ, seeking not empty exaltation, but holy humility. Amen.

May the palms of this Sunday be for you a holy reminder of what is to come...just one week later!

See ya Sunday! 
 
Fr. Gary+

All Saints Messenger - March 30, 2017

posted Mar 30, 2017, 12:05 PM by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
 
Jesus' words to Martha from John 11:25-26 are familiar, comforting words often read at funerals: "I am the resurrection and the life." Jesus' last question to Martha in that speech, though, is often left out: "Do you believe me?" When I read this passage, the question startles me, and I pause to consider my own answer. Do I believe that everyone who lives and believes in Jesus will never die? I am catapulted to Mark 9:24, where the father of the possessed boy says, "I believe; help my unbelief!" Like most of us, I live every day somewhere along the spectrum between belief and unbelief. Some days I am completely confident in God's resurrection power. On other days I am less sure, and I need more help with my unbelief. On those hard days I am grateful for the witness of the saints who have come before us, for the people at All Saints who hold me up, for clergy colleagues and friends, and for the grace of new mercies each morning.

Recently I have begun a more disciplined prayer life using an Ignatian method of prayer. I am using an app on my phone called "Pray As You Go" and I recommend it whole heartedly. The method consists of two parts: First, a quiet time with bells, music, a reading, a reflection and listening to the reading again. The second part is done near the end of the day when one reflects on the good and not so good of the day, what has brought life and light to your day as well as what has taken those things away. During the introduction to this phase the "Pray As You Go" app reminds the listener: "Know that you are in the presence of God. God rejoices that you have come however forgetful you may have been of God during the day." What a powerful reminder of God's love for us and God's desire that we return. God is always with us and always welcomes us into God's presence no matter our belief, unbelief, doubt or uncertainty. What is most important is that we reside with God and return always.

Lord, I need your help each day. I trust your promise, but so often I lived poised between belief and unbelief. Thank you for being present in my need, and for the witness of those who surround and sustain me with the signs of your mercy and grace. Amen.


See ya Sunday! 
Fr. Gary+

All Saints Messenger - March 23, 2017

posted Mar 27, 2017, 11:45 AM by Church Secretary

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Greetings in the Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
 
This Sunday's Gospel from John is about the man who has been blind from birth. In this story of healing I find myself so often focused on the matter of the blind man receiving sight that I fail to see effects of Jesus' vision. Right from the beginning of the passage Jesus sees the blind man. Furthermore, Jesus sees beyond the man's blindness. To Jesus, the man isn't reduced to his condition of blindness; neither is he reduced by sin. Instead, Jesus sees that God's works will be revealed in him--Jesus sees the potential of a new disciple.  

So Jesus gets his hands dirty in healing the man. Then he sends him with the command, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam," and the man follows the order and comes back able to see. From there his literal sight gives way to the growth of his vision, his recognition, his understanding. His new vision is such that he sees in himself what Jesus also saw--a disciple. Jesus' vision moves the blind man from darkness to light, from unbelief to belief, from beggar to disciple.

Much of John's Gospel is about light...light coming into the world through Jesus Christ. So true, yet so difficult. Hopefully this quote attributed to Mother Teresa may help, "Christ must be the light that shines through you, and the people looking at you must see only Jesus. You have a challenge from Jesus to meet: He has shed the light, and you will take His light and lighten every heart you meet."

See ya Sunday!  
Fr. Gary+

All Saints Messenger - March 16, 2017

posted Mar 27, 2017, 11:43 AM by Church Secretary


Greetings in the Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
 
Over the past few months our nation as well as our parish have been affected by some executive actions by the current administration that have brought up sensitive issues and feelings within many of us. Bishop José has written a Pastoral Letter about Immigration that I believe offers understanding, comfort, hope and perspective:
 
Peace,
                            Gary+

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

In the past five months as your bishop, I have traveled extensively throughout Western North Carolina, visiting parishes and exploring the various communities that encompass our diocese. I am continually blessed by the opportunity to learn and know your congregation's story as well as the unique, personal narratives from many of our lay leaders. These stories have deepened my appreciation for the grace that flows through this wonderful diocese. 

I also hope that through our conversations and prayers, you have heard my story and witnessed the grace of God that flows through my life. I hope you have come to know that it is not my custom to officially address every issue discussed in the public square. As your bishop, I value "the middle way," recognizing that our church is a community that welcomes all people, in the diversity of their convictions, to join together at the Lord's Table and share in the one bread and the one cup. 

Nevertheless, I must speak out and stand firm in solidarity with the immigrants among us and the refugees seeking a safe harbor for their families. 

As you might know, I am the son of a refugee. In 1961, my mother fled Cuba and the oppressive, communist regime of Fidel Castro. Along with other members of her family, my mother lost all she had and risked her life in pursuit of freedom and the possibility to realize her potential. My family made their way to Puerto Rico, where they were welcomed and given an opportunity to become citizens of the United States and contribute to the common good. And all along the journey, the Church demonstrated the radical welcome of Jesus, which profoundly shaped their new lives. 

From the very first time I introduced myself to you, I shared my belief that I am called to be a bishop who not only proclaims the Gospel in words, but also in actions. This principle was set out in my ordination, when I was asked, "Will you boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ, enlightening the minds and stirring up the conscience of your people?" Ever since, I have taken seriously how we nurture our lives as disciples of Jesus, as well as explore innovative ways to stand alongside and serve those in need. 

Our Lord Jesus served within an ancient tradition that firmly welcomed immigrants and refugees. "The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." (Leviticus 19). Jesus himself was clear when he said, "I was a stranger, and you welcomed me" and "that which you did to the least of these, you did to me" (Matthew 25). We put our faith into action when we demonstrate radical hospitality and solidarity for all people, including the immigrant and refugee. We put our faith into action when we speak out against both hateful language and acts of bigotry. 

Likewise, as Americans, one of our core values is echoed by the poem etched in the base of the Statue of Liberty: "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." My earlier years in law enforcement as well as serving at the Department of Justice emphasize that I will always honor the work necessary to ensure that proper safeguards are in place to help secure our nation. However, we also need to take every precaution not to impose restrictions or preferences based on religion, and we must always keep in mind that refugees and other immigrants have been a consistent source of creativity, ingenuity, and productivity - a true blessing to this nation and those who love it. 

Finally, while there may be some in our communities who cheer the anti-immigrant sentiments and actions being unleashed, as your bishop, I entreat each of you to remember the grace of Christ that brought each of us into the safe harbor of God's love, and then I invite you to join me in proclaiming a Gospel message of peace and solidarity for the stranger and foreigner in our midst. 

Faithfully, 

The Rt. Rev. José A. McLoughlin 
VII Bishop of Western North Carolina 

All Saints Messenger - March 9, 2017

posted Mar 9, 2017, 12:24 PM by Church Secretary

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

This past Sunday through Tuesday the clergy of the diocese met for their annual Lenten Clergy Retreat. This was our first opportunity to be in retreat with our new bishop.

Bp. José practices Ignatian Spirituality which emanates from Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th C Spanish Priest and Theologian who founded the Jesuits. The Bishop brought in a good friend who also follows Ignatian Spirituality and I found it quite interesting and comforting.

Ignatius required no specific clothes, no rote prayers...his spirituality called upon his practitioners to live in the world seeing all of God's creation as their monastery. I find that reassuring and comforting.

As part of the retreat we were exposed to various poems and I would like to share my favorite. It is called "The Pulley" and it was written by George Herbert, who was a 17th C poet and Anglican priest.

The Pulley

Related Poem Content Details

When God at first made man, 
Having a glass of blessings standing by, 
"Let us," said he, "pour on him all we can. 
Let the world's riches, which dispersèd lie, 
Contract into a span." 

So strength first made a way; 
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure. 
When almost all was out, God made a stay, 
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure, 
Rest in the bottom lay. 

"For if I should," said he, 
"Bestow this jewel also on my creature, 
He would adore my gifts instead of me, 
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature; 
So both should losers be. 

"Yet let him keep the rest, 
But keep them with repining restlessness; 
Let him be rich and weary, that at least, 
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness 
May toss him to my breast." 

I think what this poem means to me is that Herbert is reminding us that humanity is always restless and striving for more, and that we are naturally drawn to God and can only truly find rest in God.

This Lent may we remember that God calls each one of us very good and that we can only find true rest in God.

See ya Sunday,

Peace,
Fr. Gary+

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