Video available here.
Delivered by The Rev. James West Mathieson on November 29, 2016
John, you see, was noted for his brevity in the length of his sermons – 4 to 5 minutes at the most. One person remarked after church, “we never get our seats warm when John preaches.”
I, on the other hand, am a story teller. There is no limit to what I have to say. The seats of the congregation are given a lot of time to warm up.
Now I know John is laughing in Heaven.
John really was the “ideal” – the role model that every Episcopal priest yearns to be. Brilliant -- educated at the best schools, a teacher, a degree that would be the envy of each of us. John not only memorized his sermons, he memorized the Prayer Book, the hymnal, the Bible. Plus, he was the published author of a commentary on “Paul’s First Letter to Corinth.”
John and I would travel together to various functions: clergy conferences, retreats, funerals. We would travel along – mostly just rattling along, story after story -- John laughing at the appropriate time, quiet and respectful at other times. But even if I ran out of stories that simply kill time I would engage John in various questions: academic or pastoral or church problems.
That was the best of times – an unfolding of that wonderful mind. A disciplined mind! Words coming forth that unraveled the mysterious, the rough prattle, the puzzles that a priest is so often confronted with to realize “the ocean is too big and my boat is so small.”
The Reverend Dr. Regina Christianson
Last week we remembered Veterans and their families with a special collect and the singing of America the Beautiful. The last week in October we remembered our ancestors in the faith as we sang joyfully I sing a song of the saints of God.
The lighting of candles during the Sunday Service for All Saint’s and All Soul’s Day, while the choir and congregation sang, gave opportunity to express in solemn ritual both our sorrow and our lively faith.
Today, as we remember that all things come to an end, we celebrate it as a commencement – a beginning – the Reign of Christ. As T. S. Eliot wrote, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
November calls us to remember - from All Saints and All Souls through Veteran’s Day to Thanksgiving to the Last Sunday in Pentecost, closing out the liturgical year. As the days shorten, the sun is lower on the horizon, the leaves turn and fall, and the colder wind scours the land, we become aware of our own vulnerability, our own losses.
At our best, we remember that the thin places between this world and the Golden Land – paradise – are always there, we remember that God always holds all souls in life, and we remember it is by blessing those memories that we bring healing into this wounded world.
Sunday, after all, is always a recalling of the Easter Mystery - Sunday worship a re-entry into the feast of victory over fear, evil, and death. By fully entering into the liturgical life we hold again the touchstone of the reason for our lives of faith, hope, and charity.
This particular season, both individually and as a community, we experienced several losses. The death of the Rev. Dr. John Ruef on All Hallow’s Eve was keenly felt by all. Alice Overbey and Richard Chaney, though not members of our parish, were nonetheless mourned, their memories cherished. Several members of our parish have recently lost beloved pets. The shock of sudden or repeated hospitalization has challenged others.
And it would be remiss of me as your spiritual leader not to mention the loss felt by members of our parish and community at the national and local election results, even as others among us rejoiced. We have been called in this time to be particularly tender towards each other, to lead by example in compassionate presence.
Thank you for the tender care you have given, the steady presence of compassion in our parish.
Dear Friends in Christ,
"Where and how will we look for the Body of Christ, risen and rising?" Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presents in her Easter Message 2014. "Will we share the life of that body as an Easter people, transformed by resurrection and sent to transform the world in turn?"
Click here to read Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's Easter Message 2014.
The current issue includes:
Earlier newsletter issues may be viewed at The Pruden Parish Press.
To receive future issues by mail, please call or email the Parish Office.
Transcript of Bishop Hollerith’s 2012 Christmas Message video
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia
December 18, 2012
As I sit here seven days before Christmas, I find that my reflections today are very much colored by events in Connecticut this past week and that terrible, terrible tragedy of the death of children and teachers. It reminds all of us of a couple of things.
The first is that evil is real. Evil in the world is a force that is a reality. And it is a force that we are sometimes powerless over. We are vulnerable as human beings and, despite all our technology and all our knowledge and ability, there are times when our vulnerability is obvious before events we cannot control.
There is a darkness to the world. Isaiah talks about that darkness – that there is a darkness before us, that the people sit in darkness. I’m reminded of a quote from W.H. Auden, “Nothing can save us that is possible. We who are about to die demand a miracle.”
We live with an idealized vision of what Christmas is like. But in reality, the world in which Jesus came, was born into, was a world where suffering, violence and death was very, very much a part of the context of the people to whom he came to be with.
I’m reminded of Herod and the slaughtering of the innocents shortly after Jesus’ birth – the slaughtering of the innocent children of Bethlehem. That’s the world into which Jesus came. It is the world in which we live.
There’s an attempt, I think, at times to explain these things using the intellect, using science or using some aspect of wisdom to say why these terrible things happen. But I think we know, deep down inside, there are no easy answers to this.
Our response – the church’s response – especially at Christmas, is simply to talk about the one who comes to save us, to bring light to the darkness. I’m reminded of the book of Job, where Job is consoled by his friends who try to give him various arguments as to why he has received such suffering from God.
But ultimately none of those explanations satisfy Job. The only thing that speaks to Job is God’s presence. The fact that God would come and speak to him directly. And it’s that presence that gives Job meaning and hope - the presence of God.
At Christmas, God says to his creation, I’m willing to experience what you experience, to feel what you feel, to think what you think, to laugh as you laugh, and to suffer as you suffer. I am willing to draw you and the whole world to myself. It’s so simple and so elegant. A birth, a gesture of insignificant proportion and yet one of infinite consequence.
This holiday season, I hope you will keep in your prayers all those in Newtown, Connecticut, who are suffering from deep loss and grief. And that you will pray as well for this country, as we learn to heal from what has happened and as we come to terms with the issues we have in our society that causes these things to happen.
I pray that we as Christians will remember that what we have to offer is not only ourselves together as community, but also this great message of the one that has come to redeem the world. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.
Those that have lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined. For a child has been born for us. A son has been given to us. Authority rests upon his shoulders and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2-6)
God’s blessings to you.
"When one considers the various Easter accounts of the Risen Lord appearing to the disciples, it becomes clear that for the early Church the resurrection was much more complex and much richer in character than a single event fixed in time.
The meaning of the resurrection was revealed not all at once, but gradually, with each appearance adding more depth to the rich texture of the disciples' personal and community experience of the risen Jesus.
The beauty of the Easter season as we celebrate it in our tradition is that each Sunday we too learn a little more about the miracle - a little more about its startling implications for our lives."
You can also access the Bishop's reflection on the Diocesan website.
Rev. Becki Dean at the Powhatan YMCA
Revs. Gillian Barr & Win Lewis in Norfolk
At both of these "Ashes to go" events, they also handed out a simple flyer with church location, service times, and contact information. The flyer distributed in Norfolk also offered this explanation for "Ashes to Go": "We are here, outside Starbucks, because this is a place of warmth, welcome and community - a place where, over a cup of coffee, we share our stories, our struggles, our beliefs, our need, in short, our humanity."
"It was evangelism at its best. We all returned pleasantly exhausted and profoundly blessed," said Becki. "God truly imagined more for us than we ever could have imagined for ourselves on this most Holy day."
Source: Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, Parish News and Events, February 28, 2012
The March 2011 issue of The Pruden Parish Press, a periodic newsletter containing news and information for parishioners and friends of Emmanuel, was published this week. The current issue includes:
Click here to read the March issue online.
Earlier issues may be viewed at The Pruden Parish Press.
To receive future issues by mail, please call or email the Parish Office.
The encounter between John the Baptist and Jesus was pivotal, not only for the Jesus movement wanting to differentiate itself from the followers of John, but for our understanding of what took place.
Continue at Daily Musings