Reflection From Acolytes

Acolyte Ministry

The Acolyte ministry helps to facilitate the liturgy, which contributes to a holistic space in which the community worships. We also represent the community and serve as a bridge from the congregation to the altar. Our ministry helps revere and celebrate life milestones at memorials, marriages, and baptisms. We are the face of the community at the altar. As we serve, the gifts that we both give and receive are abundant and plentiful.

Quotes from acolytes:

I have been approached by people that haven’t attended a service in a while, and they tell me how nice it is to see a familiar face at the altar. So I think we provide continuity.

Giving and receiving is what it’s all about.

I love helping congregants to be in a worshipful space.

Serving the wine gives me a special relationship with each congregant.

It has something to do with us all working together for the glory of God rather than as individuals.

People have expressed to me how excited they are to see a woman thurifer. It’s welcoming for some people who have never seen certain things happen at the altar.

In giving, we receive.

The gift that we get from the community is that they go out of their way to acknowledge our contribution to the service and give us positive feedback.

We all function as a team — acolytes, clergy, and congregation functioning together to worship God in a beautiful liturgical space.

We contribute to a greater whole, a physical presence that helps inspire everyone to be more enthusiastic and be aware of the necessity to contribute.

I love serving at the Still Point service; it is a lovely, fulfilling, and simple format.

Reflection From Penny and Charlie Ozinga

Penny and Charlie Ozinga, St. Andrews History

Charlie and I found St. Andrew’s about five years ago. I had been talking with Sue Torfin, a long-time member of St. Andrew’s, and had voiced several times that I was missing a spiritual community and wanted to check some places out. As a kid, I had gone to Catholic church and school, but as a teen and adult had followed other more esoteric and diverse spiritual paths, so looking into a church wasn’t something I would have initially thought of on my own 😉

Sue said that she thought that with what I had expressed about my love of deep ritual, symbolism, history, and ambiance that I might get something out of coming to St. Andrew’s, even though I didn’t think I was looking for something so ”traditional”.

Charlie had grown up with traditional Christian churches, school, and family life, but for several years had not been involved with any place in particular. He also was looking for someplace that was more spiritually focused and open-minded.

Bringing up the idea to Charlie that we try this “St. Andrew’s place” was met with a curious and willing response.

The first Sunday service we attended was the 11 am service on the first Sunday of Advent, and immediately the ritual, incense, choir, the energy of the church itself, and the friendliness of the parishioners spoke to us.

We attended a few more times, going to the Christmas Eve service as well, and also started going to the Thursday ELF classes. It was soon after the 2016 elections and we were drawn to the subjects and speakers that were part of the ELF series, which focused on diversity, other religions, and activism.

We have remained active in the ELF classes, even becoming members of the ELF planning team two years ago and leading some of the classes ourselves from time to time.

While the ritual, the messages of the clergy, the community of active and caring participants, the ELF sessions, and the friends we have made at St. Andrews have all been wonderful and nurturing, for me, what has meant the most is the open-mindedness and acceptance of those whom I have met. I am not traditionally spiritual and study many paths, and St. Andrews has always been accepting and interested in how I relate to the Divine and the teachings of Christ.

For Charlie, what has meant the most is how he has found a spiritual fulfillment by participating in the service and programs and also a connection to all the people he has met and communed with and learned from.

 We will always be grateful to Sue for having the instinct to introduce us to St. Andrew’s. We also are grateful to St. Andrew’s for being so welcoming of us, and showing us nothing but respect and acceptance while honoring our strengths as we receive and give to this community.

Penny and Charlie Ozinga

Reflection From Frank Nowell

Frank Nowell Stewardship Message:

As a long-time member of St. Andrew’s, I appreciate the opportunity to think about this church in terms of gifts given and received. When I reflect on the many gifts I have received at St. Andrew’s, one word keeps coming to mind – community. It’s a simple but powerful word. In St. Andrew’s I find a community to worship with, learn with, laugh with, grieve with, and sometimes argue with. I find a community where I am listened to, supported, and challenged. And of course, this community prays together. Prayer at St. Andrew’s may take many forms, including music, poetry, liturgy old and new, and shared silence and contemplation – experienced in person or virtually.

In recent years, in the midst of a global pandemic and deepening divides and crises in our nation, I have a new realization that community is not just a nice to have, it’s essential.

The community also has the power to transform. One recent example of that for me is Sacred Ground. Sacred Ground is a 10-part dialogue series on race, grounded in faith. Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism while weaving in threads of a family story, economic class, identity. St. Andrew’s has now had two10-week cycles of Sacred Ground that I have had the honor to be part of, in 2020 and 2021, with over 60 people who have made this journey together. For me (and I know for many others) Sacred Ground was truly transformational and continues to have ripple effects in my personal and professional life. For St. Andrew’s it has borne fruit in growing a new Social Justice ministry, and incorporating advocacy as an important part of what we do as a church.

As a recent vestry member, I have a renewed appreciation of the many different ways people are drawn to and connect with the St. Andrew’s community. There are as many paths as there are people – each with its own unique story. And once someone is connected to this community, there are rich, interwoven opportunities for worship, fellowship, formation, service, and advocacy. Again, not a single path, but many possible ones.

With all this in mind, I invite you to join me in reflecting in the coming weeks on this extraordinary community of St. Andrew’s – what it has been, what it is today, and what it is becoming.

And on these words from a short prayer (from the Center for Action and Contemplation) that has become one of my favorites:

O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.

 

Reflection From Lynn Huber

Lynn Huber Stewardship Talk October 31st, 2021
Good morning.
I had been very reluctant to give a Stewardship talk until this year, but this year something niggled at me, and I was drawn to reflect on the fact that my own giving has been inspired in part by the joy I saw in others who have shared something with our congregation about theirs. So I decided to say yes.
Having worked for one diocese full time, and having been involved in three others in significant ways, I have gotten to know a very large number of congregations. I’ve known of only one other that inspired the kind of joy in me that I find here at St. Andrew’s. (And that was my first congregation after I was baptized at the age of 20 in NYC, where we had an inclusive language liturgy in 1965!)
What I have found here is
• celestial music,
• liturgy that is impeccable but not fussy,
• a commitment to basing our decisions on prayer and deep discernment, combined with the costly willingness to tolerate the ambiguity of uncertainty about next steps, and based on a growing trust that we will be led one step at a time where we need to go;
• a sweetness and open hospitality unequaled by any church I have ever known, and
• a commitment to reaching out to others both locally and worldwide to bring something of the blessedness we have experienced to a world desperately in need of it.

I have found in our members a willingness to be vulnerable and transparent, and a joy in five areas—worship, study, service, social justice activism, and playing together—having fun! I acknowledge that this has been impacted by Covid, but hope that all of you will be able to be with us for our event next Sunday that should be a great deal of fun. And how many churches do you know that would claim they play well together?
My personal bottom line on what I hope to see both in my church and in my world is a form of welcome that is all-inclusive. I put it “It’s all of us or none.”
I’ve seen inclusiveness across many lines of difference at St Andrew’s.—and a willingness to experiment in a number of ways that many churches would find threatening, but which we seem to find exhilarating. I’ve heard challenging and deeply inspiring sermons that helped to bridge differences and shine a light on possible new directions.
I’ve seen a willingness to keep plugging when things are not clear, trusting in our being led by the Spirit. And I’ve experienced amazing love, both coming to me and being willy-nilly drawn out of me.
So I want this amazing place to be here for the immediate future and for those who are to come. Whether you are old or new here, you are both blessed to be part of this place, and a blessing to it, or, if really new, a potential blessing.
I hope you each will prayerfully consider what St. Andrew’s means to you, and, regardless of the amount, make a commitment and pledge your treasure, and also your time and talent to support this community for the year to come. I thank you!

Reflection From Peter DeBlois

Stewardship at St. Andrew’s

Peter DeBlois

“Only for so short a while have You loaned us to each other…we take form in Your drawing us, we take life in Your painting us, and we breathe, in Your singing us.  But only for so short a while have You loaned us to each other.”  This Aztec prayer gets at the heart of our stewardship theme of Good Gifts: Receiving and Giving.  Here are some of the good gifts that brought me to and sustain me at St. Andrew’s.

I was trained as an acolyte at age 12 by a former Marine master sergeant who made us process around the nave with hymnals on our heads.  If the hymnal fell off, you did extra laps until your balance matched your supposed piety.  The first time I served at a Eucharist, during the Fraction, I proceeded to faint and fell flat on the sanctuary floor.  Five years later, when I was a senior acolyte and crucifer, a gifted organist became choirmaster.  Like Ralph and Linda, he played glorious voluntaries before and after each service; I wanted to sit next to him and turn pages—so I traded in my cassock for the bench.  These were unexpected gifts, but they were too much about me and not enough about the liturgy or the music or Christ.  Then I went off to college and drifted to a Unitarian church with a fine music ministry.  My mother blamed the schism on the philosophy department at St. Lawrence University and, of course, Johann Sebastian Bach.  I was yearning—but for what, I didn’t know.

Fast-forward 30 years; I was looking for a home and a path back to Christ who had always been with me.  My love Marta and I happened to meet Nina who was assisting at Good Shepherd in Centennial; we formed a special connection and wanted her to marry us.  She suggested St. Andrew’s, where Mother Connie gave her permission, and in 1997, we were united here in Christ, with Tim curating a wonderful music program for us.  It was Nina’s first officiated wedding.  To paraphrase John Denver, in the spring of our 5th year together, we came home to a place we’d never been before. We had been Episcopal gypsies, sampling preachers, and parishes all over the metro area but kept returning to St. Andrew’s.  Not long after Marta began her new life with the Lord two years ago, I stayed.  Here are just some of those loaned to us now whose good gifts I’ve received:

  • Sue Kilgore and members of the Social Justice ministry who led me on the Sacred Ground journey;
  • the Exploring Life and Faith planning group who’ve welcomed me;
  • Janice Woodward and the Mission and Outreach Committee mentoring me as our liaison to the Rocky Mountain Refuge for end-of-life care;
  • Jim Fitz guiding and immersing us in the weekly spirit-sharing of Lectio Divina;
  • Zoe Cole and friends who use a pile of sand and wooden figures to enact the Bible and engage our children in the Christian life;
  • Tim, when leading our wonderful choir to the end of each canticle and anthem adds a subtle, upward gesture of his hand, which for me is a silent grace note pushing the music that much closer to Heaven;
  • And most certainly, Elizabeth, Wib, and Nina—and today, Hentzi—taking us into and connecting the dots between the Word, the Spirit, and our lives.

Coming back to that Aztec prayer, these are the fruits of just some of us, ourselves, loaned to each other for so short a time.  Just yesterday, my younger brother Jeff unexpectedly left this life to continue it more wholly with the Lord.  He was an acolyte loaned for a short time, and it was he who got me to church today.  In terms of our stewardship of this holy place, Dich, the Tenure Halle, You, dear hall, Your ministries, and the gift of Christ, let me end by asking all of you to consider a counterpoint to the old adage “Give until it hurts.”  Rather, give until it feels good.  Real good!  Amen.

All Saints’ Sunday 11/07/21

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

All Saints’ Sunday 

… At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…

 

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

 

            Peace on each one who comes in need;

                        Peace on each one who comes in joy.

                        Peace on each one who offers prayers;

                        Peace on each one who offers song.

                        Peace of the Maker, Peace of the Son,

                        Peace of the Spirit, the Triune One.  

Opening Prayer

Praise to you, God, for all your work among us. Yours is the vigor in creation, yours is the impulse in our new discoveries. Make us adventurous, yet reverent and hopeful in all we do. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                             John 11:32-44

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Poem: “News About No One”                                                       by Sargon Boulus (b. 1944)

Those who are

never in the news,

whom no one remembers –

what wind erased their traces

as if they never walked the earth;

my father, all the others, where

O where . . . ?

What happened to the

neighborhood carpenter

maker of solid beds, and dressers

for brides?

How he worshipped the wood!

Where is the silent shoemaker

who hugged his anvil, and bit the bitter nails

between his teeth? Did a “smart” bomb

demolish his hole-in-the-wall

crammed to the ceiling

with battered shoes?

Where the coppersmith,

where the golden tray?

The ear of wheat around the saint’s image?

The horseshoe above the door?

What happened to Umm Youssef, the midwife?

How many babies were dragg

out of the warm darkness of the womb

into the starkness of this world

by her dextrous hands

sending them on their way

with a slap on their bare bottoms

through the crooked valleys of

their destinies, soldiers who fight

in dubious battles

and unjust wars? . . .

After they got tired

slaving in the mills of poverty

to fill the granaries of the tyrant

did they feel ashamed of the way

this world is made?

After the sieges, after the wars

beyond hunger, beyond

enemies, out of the reach

of the executioner’s hand –

did they go to sleep at last?

To sleep, and hug the dust.

(trans. from the Arabic by the author)

Meditation

The familiarity of today’s Gospel reading probably evokes all sorts of associations for us: the image of Lazarus on St. Andrew’s reredos behind the altar, the way that ‘Lazarus’ has become an archetype for all kinds of resurrections (metaphorical and real), to name two.  The poem by Sargon Boulus reminds us that saintly stories are grounded in the real.  Those we remember as saints and beloved souls this week are perhaps preserved in our memories in their somewhat idealized versions.   The incarnation of Jesus is about the divine entering the human world of flesh, blood, and dirt, while the saints travel the opposite journey, starting in the human, “hugging the dust” before entering eternal sleep. Boulus’s poem also reminds us of the quotidian origins of the saints – as we sing in a well-known hymn, some were queens and priests, and other shepherdesses and soldiers (or, as the poem invites us to consider, midwives and shoemakers).

Questions for Reflection

What sense memories do you have of the beloved souls you remember this week?

What ‘relics’ have meaning for you in your spiritual life?  How does the materiality of those relics connect you to the divine?

To what ‘unknown’ or little-known figures would you grant sainthood? Why?

Prayers

We bring before God someone whom we have met or remembered today

We bring to God someone who is hurting tonight and needs our prayer

We bring to God a troubled situation in our world

We bring to God, silently, someone whom we find hard to forgive or trust

We bring ourselves to God that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind, and warmth of affection

We offer our thanks to God for the blessings in our lives

We name before God those who have died.

Gracious God, you hear all our prayers: those we speak aloud, those we hold in our hearts, and those prayers for which we have no words. Hear the prayers of your people, and grant them as may be best for us, for the sake of your holy name. Amen.

                  Accept our thanks for all you have done, O God. Our hands were empty, and you filled them.

May Christ’s holy, healing, enabling Spirit be with us every step of the way, and be our guide as our road changes and turns, and the blessing of God our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be among us now and remain with us forever. Amen.

    Poem and Reflection offered by: Matt Bentley 

Proper Twenty-six 10/31/21

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The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Twenty-third Sunday After Pentecost: Proper 26

… At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

 

            Peace on each one who comes in need;

                        Peace on each one who comes in joy.

                        Peace on each one who offers prayers;

                        Peace on each one who offers song.

                        Peace of the Maker, Peace of the Son,

                        Peace of the Spirit, the Triune One.  

Opening Prayer

Praise to you, God, for all your work among us. Yours is the vigor in creation, yours is the impulse in our new discoveries. Make us adventurous, yet reverent and hopeful in all we do. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                             Mark 12:38-34

One of the scribes came near and heard the Saducees disputing with one another, and seeing that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Poem: “Knowing Love in Herself”                                   by Hadewijch of Antwerp (b. 1200)

I do not complain of suffering for Love,
It is right that I should always obey her,
For I can know her only as she is in herself,
Whether she commands in storm or in stillness.
This is a marvel beyond my understanding,
Which fills my whole heart
And makes me stray in a wild desert.

Meditation

Today’s gospel contains the well-known summation of the law by Jesus: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The latter seems straightforward (although there are the questions about who is my neighbor, and just what is meant by “as yourself.”)  But what does it mean to love God, especially if God is Love? Does it seem too abstract to “love Love?” Some may seek or prefer a personification of God, at least for the sake of a metaphor to help in our incomplete understanding.

Mystics – both historical and contemporary – may help us. Hadewijch of Antwerp was a 13th-century mystic and poet who wrote in a middle Dutch language. Little is known about her life beyond her writings, much of which are intensely personal poems about God’s love. In this short poem she talks of obeying, and suffering for, Love, which she personifies as female. The last three lines are especially striking: “This is a marvel beyond my understanding which fills my whole heart and makes me stray in a wild desert.” If we follow Love completely, it may draw us into wild and uncharted territory.

Questions for Reflection

How do you respond to the poet’s suggestion that her obedience to Love makes her stray in a wild desert? What would it mean to follow Love into a new (perhaps wild and uncharted) place?

What images and metaphors are meaningful to you for thinking about loving God? What form does that love take for you?

Prayers

We bring before God someone whom we have met or remembered today

We bring to God someone who is hurting tonight and needs our prayer

We bring to God a troubled situation in our world

We bring to God, silently, someone whom we find hard to forgive or trust

We bring ourselves to God that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind, and warmth of affection

We offer our thanks to God for the blessings in our lives

We name before God those who have died.

Gracious God, you hear all our prayers: those we speak aloud, those we hold in our hearts, and those prayers for which we have no words. Hear the prayers of your people, and grant them as may be best for us, for the sake of your holy name. Amen.

                  Accept our thanks for all you have done, O God. Our hands were empty, and you filled them.

May Christ’s holy, healing, enabling Spirit be with us every step of the way, and be our guide as our road changes and turns, and the blessing of God our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be among us now and remain with us forever. Amen. 

Poem and Reflection offered by: Frank Nowell   

Proper Twenty-four 10/17/21

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The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost  

… At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

            Peace on each one who comes in need;

                        Peace on each one who comes in joy.

                        Peace on each one who offers prayers;

                        Peace on each one who offers song.

                        Peace of the Maker, Peace of the Son,

                        Peace of the Spirit, the Triune One.  

 

Opening Prayer

Praise to you, God, for all your work among us.
Yours is the vigor in creation,
yours is the impulse in our new discoveries.
Make us adventurous, yet reverent and hopeful
in all we do. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                             Mark 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

 

Poem: “Sonnet 19”                                                                         By John Milton b. 1608

When I consider how my light is spent,

Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,

And that one Talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

My true account, lest he returning chide;

“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”

I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best

Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state

Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed

And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:

They also serve who only stand and wait.”

 

Meditation

At the conclusion of today’s gospel, Jesus says that the Son of Man came into the world “not to be served, but to serve.” It seems that Jesus used the situation of the request made by James and John to convey to the disciples his hopes and expectations for them, and to provide a model of both leadership and service that may have been totally new to them. This teaching resonates to the present day as we consider our service to God and to each other.

The poem by Milton provides another angle to the concept of being a servant. The poet is reflecting on his own blindness and how that affects (and perhaps impairs) his ability to serve God through his talents and work. He finally concludes that God does not need our work! We do not always need to rush around to actively pursue work on behalf of God; “they also serve who only stand and wait.” Waiting may have a double meaning here – to wait upon or “attend as a servant,” and also to “remain stationary in readiness and expectation.”

In reflecting on both gospel and poem, some thoughts and questions might come to the surface:

  • How does Jesus give us a model of serving in this story from Mark?
  • How do service to God and service to each other interrelate?
  • How might we serve by “standing and waiting?”

Questions for Reflection

What new insights come to your mind and heart as you re-read the story of Jesus’ response to James and John, and his teaching to the disciples about serving each other?

Are there times when you have found yourself “standing and waiting,” either because of limitations and disability, or because of lack of clarity or direction?

The Prayers

 We bring to God a troubled situation in our world

We bring to God, silently, someone whom we find hard to forgive or trust

We bring ourselves to God that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind, and warmth of affection

We offer our thanks to God for the blessings in our lives

We name before God those who have died.

 

Gracious God, you hear all our prayers: those we speak aloud, those we hold in our hearts, and those prayers for which we have no words. Hear the prayers of your people, and grant them as may be best for us, for the sake of your holy name. Amen.

                  Accept our thanks for all you have done, O God. Our hands were empty, and you filled them.

May Christ’s holy, healing, enabling Spirit be with us every step of the way, and be our guide as our road changes and turns, and the blessing of God our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be among us now and remain with us forever. Amen.

Poem and Reflections offered by  Frank Nowell

Property Twenty-Two 10/03/21

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost: Proper 22

… At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…

 

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

 

            Peace on each one who comes in need;

                        Peace on each one who comes in joy.

                        Peace on each one who offers prayers;

                        Peace on each one who offers song.

                        Peace of the Maker, Peace of the Son,

                        Peace of the Spirit, the Triune One.  

Opening Prayer

Praise to you, God, for all your work among us. Yours is the vigor in creation, yours is the impulse in our new discoveries. Make us adventurous, yet reverent and hopeful in all we do. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                             Mark 10:2-16

Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Poem: “First days of Spring-the Sky”                                                      by Ryōkan(b. 1758)

First days of Spring – the sky
is bright blue, the sun huge and warm.
Everything’s turning green.
Carrying my monk’s bowl, I walk to the village
to beg for my daily meal.
The children spot me at the temple gate
and happily crowd around,
dragging to my arms till I stop.
I put my bowl on a white rock,
hang my bag on a branch.

First we braid grasses and play tug-of-war,
then we take turns singing and keeping a kick-ball in the air:
I kick the ball and they sing, they kick and I sing.
Time is forgotten, the hours fly.
People passing by point at me and laugh:
‘Why are you acting like such a fool?’
I nod my head and don’t answer.
I could say something, but why?
Do you want to know what’s in my heart?
From the beginning of time: just this! just this!

 

Meditation

The gospel for this day concludes with the marvelous image of Jesus taking children into his arms and blessing them. He had just told his disciples (sternly) to allow the children to come to him and made two startling statements: 1) the kingdom of God belongs to children such as these, and 2) it is necessary for a person to become like a child to enter the kingdom.

The poem casts light on these sayings of Jesus by taking us to a different time and place, but an experience that is universal. Ryōkan Taigu was a Zen Buddhist monk in late 18th and early 19th century Japan. He lived as a hermit and was known for his poetry and calligraphy. Ryokan’s poem delightfully depicts a day in which the beauty of the spring day inspired the poet to “play hooky” from his work and instead spend the day playing with children. (It’s interesting that the work he was escaping was begging for food!) The poem may take us in our memories to days when we could play endlessly – one game leads to another, and “time is forgotten, the hours fly.” The poem may also lead us to think of how we as adults might become more childlike: through wonder, playfulness, joy, being in the moment… and remembering our own childhood.

Questions for Reflection

Reflecting on your own life experiences and circumstances, what does it look and feel like to become more childlike? Does that create an openness to experience aspects of the kingdom that Jesus talks about?

In response to Jesus’ call to let the children come to him, what do you feel is especially important to do to care for children and their needs in these times? (You might think of this question in terms of various aspects of our life at St. Andrew’s, as well as the wider community and world we live in.)

Prayers

We bring before God someone whom we have met or remembered today

We bring to God someone who is hurting tonight and needs our prayer

We bring to God a troubled situation in our world

We bring to God, silently, someone whom we find hard to forgive or trust

We bring ourselves to God that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind, and warmth of affection

We offer our thanks to God for the blessings in our lives

We name before God those who have died.

 

Gracious God, you hear all our prayers: those we speak aloud, those we hold in our hearts, and those prayers for which we have no words. Hear the prayers of your people, and grant them as may be best for us, for the sake of your holy name. Amen.

                  Accept our thanks for all you have done, O God. Our hands were empty, and you filled them.

May Christ’s holy, healing, enabling Spirit be with us every step of the way, and be our guide as our road changes and turns, and the blessing of God our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be among us now and remain with us forever. Amen.

  Poem and Reflection offered by: Frank Nowell   

Proper Twenty 09/19/21

Link to PDF

The Still Point: A Time of Meditation and Reflection

The Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost  

… At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…

 

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

 

            Peace on each one who comes in need;

                        Peace on each one who comes in joy.

                        Peace on each one who offers prayers;

                        Peace on each one who offers song.

                        Peace of the Maker, Peace of the Son,

                        Peace of the Spirit, the Triune One.  

Opening Prayer

Praise to you, God, for all your work among us.
Yours is the vigor in creation,
yours is the impulse in our new discoveries.
Make us adventurous, yet reverent and hopeful
in all we do. Amen.

The Gospel                                                                                                             Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Poem: “Do Not Make things Too Easy”                                                  By Martha Baird b. 1921

Do not make things too easy.

There are rocks and abysses in the mind

As well as meadows.

There are things knotty and hard: intractable.

Do not talk to me of love and understanding.

I am sick of blandishments.

I want the rock to be met by a rock.

If I am vile, and behave hideously,

Do not tell me it was just a misunderstanding.

Meditation:

The gospel passage contains hard sayings of Jesus: God’s chosen one, the Son of Man (often now translated the Human One), will be betrayed and killed. His friends cannot understand this, any more than they can understand that they must let go the desire for power and status and become last, and servants. Jesus emphasizes this by showing them a child, the most vulnerable, least valued person in his world. It is tempting to receive Jesus’ sayings about children in a sentimental way, focusing on our notions of innocence, or wonder, or joy and play. But in bringing a child into their midst, Jesus is showing his friends the ultimate example of the last and least, the most dependent and helpless.

The poem, a bracing antidote to sentimentality, cracks open the notion that love makes things soft and easy. It is not too difficult to imagine Jesus, in the moments when his friends try to dissuade him from the hard truths of his mission, saying, with the poet, I am sick of blandishments. There are things knotty and hard, including the way that leads to the cross. And yet it is the way of truth.

Questions for Reflection:

The ancient spiritual practice of active imagination invites us to enter a scene from scripture and experience it through our senses. What happens for you if you enter one or more of the three scenes from this gospel passage?

Can you think of a time when someone offered you blandishments instead of a hard truth? Or when you offered someone a soft word instead of the truth? If you bring Jesus with you into that memory, does he show you a different way?

What are your first memories of the stories of Jesus with children: welcoming the child, blessing the children? What do these stories say to you now?       

The Prayers

We bring to God a troubled situation in our world

We bring to God, silently, someone whom we find hard to forgive or trust

We bring ourselves to God that we might grow in generosity of spirit, clarity of mind, and warmth of affection

We offer our thanks to God for the blessings in our lives

We name before God those who have died.

Gracious God, you hear all our prayers: those we speak aloud, those we hold in our hearts, and those prayers for which we have no words. Hear the prayers of your people, and grant them as may be best for us, for the sake of your holy name. Amen.

                  Accept our thanks for all you have done, O God. Our hands were empty, and you filled them.

May Christ’s holy, healing, enabling Spirit be with us every step of the way, and be our guide as our road changes and turns, and the blessing of God our Creator, Redeemer and Giver of life be among us now and remain with us forever. Amen.

Poem and Reflections offered by  Rev’d Elizabeth P. Randall