Thursday, November 20, 2014

Feast of Christ the King 2014

The Crucifix depicted above is much like one that is above my desk at All Saints'.  It depicts what is these days referred to as Christus Rex or Christ the King.  The Feast of Christ the King is celebrated on the last Sunday of the Pentecost Season.  As a festival it is relatively modern, originating in Roman Catholic practice. 

Even so the notion of Christ's rule is quite ancient and has been a part of Christian belief and practice for close to 2000 years.  There are Orthodox Icons of Christ Pantocrator that are quite ancient.  Christ Pantocrator meaning Christ the Almighty.

This year has been the year of Matthew, that is the Gospel of Matthew had been the major Gospel for our weekly Gospel readings.  Matthew stresses the position of Jesus as the Messiah (Christ) and therefore the anointed King and ruler of the Jews.  Yet Matthew points out that this kingship was denied by the Jewish Leaders and the Romans.  Jesus Kingship does not exist in armies and weapons or for that matter in any form of force.  Jesus' Kingship, his rule is over our hearts and souls and only to the extent that we submit ourselves. 

Christ's kingdom therefore lives within us.  We now bring that kingdom into the world and the work of that kingdom originates within us.  This is not a popular notion today especially in places where people are arrested for feeding the poor.  But we must remember that we meet Christ when we help the disadvantaged, the sick and disabled.  We feed Christ when we feed the poor.  When we are callous and cruel to others we are callous and cruel to Christ!

Meet Christ the King in your life.  Reach out to Christ in your life and make Jesus the ruler of your heart and soul. Reach out to Christ by reaching out to the needy.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Soup, Socks and Saints

The Feast of All Saints 2014

All Saints Sunday, Nov. 2nd was themed by everyone being asked to bring three things, Canned Soup for the needy, Socks to keep the homeless feet warm and a Saint that was known personally.  This may need some explaining.  The soup and socks I hope are clear.  The saint may not be so clear.  I asked for the name and description of a person known personally who displayed saintliness.  

From the contributed saints we built a tower of saints.  There were so many moving stories and contributions that it was clear the Spirit moved within us.  Praise God for all the Saints among us!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blessing the Animals

Each year we have a service of Blessing of the animals near the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Aside from a neat thing to do what is the purpose of holding a service of Blessing of Animals?

At first glance it might seem a futile thing to do.  Do the animals understand what is happening?  Do the animals need blessing?  I think that we Bless the animals mostly for our own sake.  Very often the animals being blessed are beloved pets.  They have been brought to the service by their masters because their masters love the pets deeply and feel moved when the pets are blessed.  Pets become members of our families and we as pet owners want the best for them.

I have blessed animals that are other than pets, that is, farm animals.  Farm animals do not usually have quite the emotional ties to the owner.  They do have an economic tie, however.  The owner has a life investment in the animals of their farm.  These are important animals and their welfare is important to the welfare of the farmer and the farmer's family.  God's blessings on agriculture has long been something that has been sought.  It is a motivation that goes to the early origins of religion.

At a service of Blessing of Animals I have even been asked to pray for a pet's healing!  A very fine looking dog was brought before me and the owner asked not only for a blessing, but for healing.  The dog had terminal cancer.  I am sure that the healing was for the distraught owner.

I think there is a greater need for Blessing that we express in this once-a-year service and that is we seek to remind ourselves of our closeness to nature.  We bless God's creatures, but in so doing we recognize our need for them and our need for our environment.  We were given dominion over the earth and that implies that we were also given responsibility for that earth.  Our pets and farm animals do more than belong to us, they are our companions in this life.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that we may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Mt 11:28 -30)

This was in the Gospel for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost which was last Sunday.  I reflected on this in the Sermon, but I want to reflect on this more here.  In fact, for all of my life part of this passage has been a part of our liturgy in a much older translation "Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you."  This passage can be found in our Rite I Eucharist in the "comfortable words" following the confession and absolution.  Since Rite I is in fact mostly the Eucharist from the 1928 Prayer Book, this has been a part of my life as long as I have been alive.

What does it mean to us?  Jesus speaks in many different tones in the Gospels and this is more the tone of the Jesus Meek and Mild I learned of in Sunday School.  However, I left that Jesus behind me many years ago along with my naivete.  I have come to think of Jesus as a strong, forceful and directed person who teaches a God of Love and forgiveness.  This passage almost seems too kind and meek.  Is it though?

Jesus was facing a rough time.  He was being opposed by the very people in Judea who he was closest to in message, the Pharisees.  The Pharisees are the very strain of Judaic religion that eventually became Rabinic Judaism and has lead to modern Judaism. An if you are familiar at all with today's Judaism you know that is is very moral, charitable and demonstrative of the Love of God.  So, what was the problem?  It was for Jesus a problem that the Pharisees of his day were layering things on the Torah Law enough to make compliance very difficult, for some even impossible.  In our passage from Matthew we hear Jesus saying that his yoke is light and it is light because he does not layer impossible demands on the people.

This is something for us to keep in mind today.  The faith of the Church is much simpler by far than some would make it.  "Do not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed you, and do not give a law like the lawgiver lest you be constrained by it." This is a quote from the Gospel of Mary Magdalen, a non-canonical work.  It is a quote of the post- resurrection Jesus to his Disciples and it indicates the very principle I refer to.  Don't add a lot of extra things to the "way of Christ."  Let's keep the burden light!

God's Peace,
Michelle +

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Care of Creation

"God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day."

Recently, a group of us have come together to recommend wording changes to our Baptismal covenant.  These changes would emphasize care for God's Creation.  This is to begin what is usually a very long process leading to experimental use and eventually Prayer Book wording change.  I am on board with the process, but I wonder about the effectiveness of a simple wording change at the time of Baptism.  We still baptize infants so the covenant is agreed to by God Parents ( who often loose touch with their God Children over the years.)  Also a simple promise made in the context of a service I believe to be a rather weak method of making a change.

As I write this there are people in California who are suffering from some of the worst fires in recorded history for the area.  California, additionally is suffering under extreme drought conditions.  This is affecting farmers and agricultural workers and probably has untold affect on all kinda of people.  This isn't the California I knew as I was growing up, full of fields of produce, orchards and vineyards.

Right next to California is Arizona, where my son and his family (with my only granddaughter) live.  They have been experiencing some of the hottest weather ever.  I cannot imagine daytime temperatures of 113 degrees!  When I visit them I cannot drink the tap water.  It is OK for showering and other things, but not so good for drinking.

I read that the polar ice is melting rapidly and may cause the rise of oceans.  I hear news accounts of islands of garbage floating in the Pacific and other places.  I also read and hear that many of our legislators are playing ostrich (putting their head in a hole and waiting for reality to pass them by.)

Somehow, I do not believe that a statement made in a Baptism is going to make a great change.  I do think that the Baptism covenant discussion can be a beginning of our awareness.  This awareness can lead to change.  In Genesis it says that God looked at Creation and thought it was good, so good we were entrusted with it's care.  So far we haven't been good stewards!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bring Back our Girls!

It has been very disturbing to me that about a month ago 276 School Girls from Nigeria were kidnapped and taken violently from their school.  It has taken about three weeks for most of the world to become aware of this sad event.  The Militant group that kidnapped the girls is threatening to sell the girls as brides for $12!  The basic reason for the kidnappings is that the girls were being educated.
The Nigerian Government has been slow to act and the safety of the girls and their future is in doubt.

I am asking each of you to include the following prayer in your daily prayers:

O God, we cry out to you
for the lives and the freedom
of the 276 kidnapped girls in Nigeria.
In their time of danger and fear,
pour out your strong Spirit for them. 
Make a way home for them in safety.
Make a way back for them
to the education that will lift them up.
Hold them in the knowledge
that they are not captive slaves,
they are not purchased brides,
but they are your beloved daughters,
and precious in your sight. 
Change the hearts and minds of their kidnappers
and of all who choose violence against women and girls.
Cast down the mighty from their seat,
and lift up the humble and meek,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

this prayer has been written by Elizabeth Smith, Diocese of Perth, Australia

some links to news articles:


Presiding Bishop calls for prayers for South Sudan

The Presiding Bishop has called the Episcopal Church to prayer and action for South Sudan in response to the continuing crisis there. South Sudan became a nation in July 2011 following almost half a century of civil war. Fighting continues in parts of South Sudan and the humanitarian crisis is vast. The conflict has left thousands dead and more than 1.2 million people have fled their homes.

Since May 16 marks the commemoration of the Martyrs of the Sudan in the Episcopal Church, Sunday, May 18 has been chosen as a specific Day of Prayer for South Sudan and Sudan. All are invited to join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in South Sudan. 
Here is the collect for that day:
O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Friday, February 21, 2014

East of the River Lenten Series 2014

LENT East of the River
A Collaboration of Episcopal Churches

Matthew on Mission
(or, Got Mission?)
Simple supper, conversation, and worship. 6:30–8:00 p.m.

Exploring the theme of mission in the Gospel of Matthew, we will discuss select scripture passages
and how they relate to current issues of importance to the Body of Christ in community.

Wednesday, March 12: “Satan” | Grace Church, Stafford Springs
Wednesday, March 19: “Let Our Eyes be Opened” | St. John’s, Warehouse Point
Wednesday, March 26: “Jesus’ Healing Touch” | All Saints’, East Hartford
Wednesday, April 2: “In As Much” | St. John’s, Vernon
Wednesday, April 9: “Out of the Water—Into the World” | St. Peter’s, Hebron

(with simple supper)
Wednesday, April 16, 6:30 p.m. | St. James’, Glastonbury

The Great Vigil of Easter
Saturday, April 19. 8:00 p.m. | St. Mary’s, Manchester
The Rt. Rev. Gordon Scruton, Celebrant