Sunday, May 29, 2016

Model of Profound Faith

2nd Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 4 (Year C)
1 Kings 8.22-23, 41-43; Psalm 96.1-9; Galatians 1.1-12; Luke 7.1-10
Sunday, May 29, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

With the passing of Pentecost two weeks ago and Trinity Sunday last week, we are now solidly in the season that the Church calls “ordinary time.” This term merely refers to the numbering scheme used – ordinal, or ordered, numbering. This is the second Sunday after Pentecost. Next week is the third Sunday after Pentecost. And so on. Essentially, this schema indicates that we have come through all the major liturgical events of the year: Advent and Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost and now settle in for six months of regular, ordinary life in the Church.

Just because this period is called “ordinary” shouldn’t suggest that it’s meaningless, boring, or uneventful. Whereas other liturgical seasons tended to focus on specific, defining events in the life of Jesus, during this time our gospel lessons primarily focus on Jesus’ earthly ministry of teachings, healing, and miracles. The ordinary times of Jesus’ life (to the extent that there was anything ordinary about his life). We look at Jesus’ day-to-day life and seek to learn lessons about how we are to live our day-to-day lives. Rather than being uneventful, ordinary time is essential to our lives of faith. After all, it’s in our ordinary lives that we’re called to live out our faith. It’s not just about being good Christians at Christmas, during Lent and Holy Week, and on Easter. Being a Christian is something we’re called to do every day of the year, even in the ordinary times. Especially in the ordinary times. This sense of living out our faith, of growing in our faith, is visually represented by the change to green paraments and vestments. Green, representing growth.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Trinity: The Lover, the Loved, and the Love

Trinity Sunday
Proverbs 8.1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5.1-5; John 16.12-15
Sunday, May 22, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

Who is God? This is the great question that we seek to explore every Sunday. But even more so on this day –Trinity Sunday.

Every Sunday of the liturgical year focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Even Pentecost, which we celebrated last Sunday, while focused on the coming of the Holy Spirit, recognizes that this was in response to a promise that Jesus made to his disciples. The coming of the Spirit is the continuation of Christ’s presence and ministry in the world.

But today is different. It is the only Sunday in the entire year that is dedicated not to the teachings or events in the life of Jesus Christ, but to a doctrine of the Church – the Trinity. This is because the Trinity is so central to our religion. Despite its centrality, it also happens to be one of the most difficult things to comprehend about Christianity.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Coming of the Holy Spirit

Day of Pentecost – Year C
Acts 2.1-21; Psalm 104.25-35, 37; Romans 8.14-17; John 14.8-17 (25-27)
Sunday, May 15, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

How do we even begin to fathom the depths of what happened on the Pentecost event we heard about in the reading from the second chapter of Acts? Jesus’ followers, gathered together to celebrate one of the major Jewish holidays – Shavuot. A festival with double significance. First it was a celebration of the wheat harvest in Israel – important to the livelihood and wellbeing of the people. And second, it was a commemoration of God giving the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai, which occurred on the fiftieth day of the Exodus. Fifty days after the Passover. Hence the Greek name we know it as – Pentecost, meaning fiftieth day.

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Sunday, May 08, 2016

Jesus Praying for Us

Seventh Sunday of Easter – Year C
Acts 16.16-34; Psalm 97; Revelation 22.12-14, 16-17, 20-21; John 17.20-26
Sunday, May 8, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

Generally speaking, we humans are a people of action. We tend to like forward momentum. We want to be doing something, anything, to keep things moving, to see some sign of progress. Particularly when we think something should be happening, we chomp at the bit. We just want to get on with it. We don’t do waiting very well.

Alas, as we begin the last week of the Easter season, we enter into a period of waiting. This is the time of waiting between the Ascension, which was this past Thursday, and Pentecost, which is next Sunday. Ascension marks the ending of Christ’s presence on earth – first physically and then in resurrected form following Easter. And Pentecost marks the coming of the Holy Spirit to be God’s continuing presence among us. Personally, I have always wondered why we had to wait a whole ten days between the Ascension and Pentecost. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to be with us after his departure. Why the delay? Why not have it all happen on one day – have Jesus’ departure followed immediately by the coming of the Holy Spirit, all in one fell swoop?

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Peace That the World Cannot Give

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Year C
Acts 16.9-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21.10, 22—22.5; John 14.23-29
Sunday, May 1, 2016 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

“Peace I leave with you. My own peace I give to you. The peace that the world cannot give, I give to you.”

Now, admittedly this is not exactly the way Jesus’ words are translated in today’s reading from John’s Gospel. Nor will you find his words rendered quite this way in any of the available English translations of the Bible. But this is the way I remember it – undoubtedly a paraphrase I heard years ago. And frankly, one that, for me, adds clarity to the seemingly awkward version in today’s Gospel. These words of Jesus, at least my remembering of them, providing his promise of peace to his disciples, is one of my favorite passages. It is one that gives me great comfort and cause for hope.

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