As I’ve been preparing to lead our group of youth and adult pilgrims to Banff this week, I have had the famous English hymn “To Be a Pilgrim” going through my head. Despite its 17th century protestant themes (it’s from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress of 1684), the hymn is useful for thinking about pilgrimage beyond the specific allegorical story for which it was composed. I think it is useful for meditation on the Christian life as pilgrimage from where we are to where God is.
Every year as summer approaches and the activities of the school year come to a halt, there is a discernible change in the DC and Alexandria region. Downtown neighborhoods are filled with families who go out to enjoy the beautiful weather on the weekends. Friends share summer vacation plans and meet up for picnics and music in the park. And eventually, the constant traffic we are all so accustomed to becomes a little less congested as people leave town or just slow down. Summers in our area are a special time, when the everyday pace of life slows a bit, and we’re invited to spend a little more time noticing God’s beauty all around us, in the quiet moments of leisure, the laughter of children playing, and the blooming flowers of summer.
Jesus said, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you." John 12:35
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Holy Week is the longest walk of the year. We begin the walk on the outskirts of Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives, where the disciples throw their cloaks over a colt and Jesus climbs on. It is a ludicrous sight - a grown man on a colt, his feet dangling to the ground. Everyone knows that real kings ride great stallions, not donkeys. But Jesus chooses to be a living parable, a parable of humility. Jesus chooses to embrace seeming foolishness to reveal God's wisdom, seeming weakness to show us real strength.
In the Third Chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus says at one point, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that all who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
For years, I’ve often thought that that passage only referred to Jesus giving his life as a sacrifice on the cross. And to be sure, that is part of what it means. But some years ago I was reading a commentary by Raymond Brown, on the Gospel of John, and Professor Brown said that that passage not only speaks of Jesus willingly giving his life on the cross, but it actually speaks of Christmas, of God giving his very self, his very son to the world, not for anything God could get out of it, but for the good and the welfare and the well-being of the world. Of us.
There is a hymn that I grew up with that has taken on special meaning for me since I began my journey serving on the vestry:
Living for Jesus a life that is true.
Trying to please him in all that I do.
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.
When I was approached last year to take over as Stewardship Chairman, my first reaction was there had been a terrible mistake. Stewardship involves funding the church’s activities and I’m not even allowed to balance our checkbook at home! My international relations degree and career spanning US Embassies around Africa makes me potentially the least qualified person at St. Luke’s to take on this important task. What does diplomacy and interacting with foreign nations have to do with Stewardship? Luckily God know has a plan for each of us, one that we may not even know about.
“…send us out to do the work you have given us to do as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.”
BCP p. 366
With the arrival of the pumpkins this Saturday morning we have the chance to do the good work God has given us to do! There are so many reasons to love Saint Luke’s Pumpkin Patch and its many vines that go out into the world. Here’s a glimpse of a few of those
Why do we attend church together as a congregation and not just pray on our own? After all, we can talk to God whenever and where ever we want. Right?
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
- Matthew 18:20
The answer can be found in Scripture readings like Matthew. And, like much of Scripture, it speaks to a truth that is in our hearts.
Some of you may remember Tuck handing out dollar bills several years ago and telling us we could use the dollar for whatever we wanted, but we should try and discern how God wanted us to use it. It took a while for me to eventually heed the call. Thankfully, I did. What I discerned was God didn’t care if I worked at a prestigious law firm, wore fancy clothes, and had fancy things. God wanted more for me. So, I invested my dollar to leave my old law firm and start my own.
Ever write a prayer? No? Why not? That's for theologians and, you know, priests and stuff. Maybe not. Consider some different perspectives on prayer, and, specifically, The Book of Common Prayer (BCP). First, think about the word "common" and what it might imply in the BCP context. Common means normal, everyday. It also means collective: Us together. When Thomas Cranmer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cranmer set out to write what would become the BCP for the Anglican church, he was, in effect, bringing prayer to the common people, rescuing it from the experts. The reformation of the Christian church made prayer common in both senses of the word.