Father Mark, Reflections

Fr. Mark and Kathy are…

Greetings brothers and sisters in the Spirit.

It’s been a little over a week now since we’ve been creating holy space between C-19 and ourselves.(I am tired of writing “COVID”).  One of the spiritual mysteries is that we can be connected to one another even though we’re not physically visible to one another.  Spend a moment and close your eyes and recall a special time with a special person.  In the world of the Spirit we are not time-space bound.  Relive the memories and allow them to nourish you.
Kathy and I spend time discussing C-19 from the research (not the news) we read.  We may discuss it 3 or four times a day for a few minutes but limit it to this.  We try to focus on what we want instead of what we don’t want.  So what else are we doing?
Work wise, I have been researching the C-19 and our response to it.  I have been working with our new technology committee ( Vanese Blackmar, Kelly Allen, Paige Johnson and Lindsey Wallace) who are coming up with ways to offer spiritual food and maintain connections over the internet.  I know enough tech to get by and so I’m learning new skills at something that does not come natural to me.  I am also making phone call contacts and will continue to do so.
As far as family life, this is what Kathy and I are doing, realizing that these areas can overlap:
Spiritually
Kathy is off work this month and this gives her more time for spiritual reading and meditation.  I have been taking advantage of the silence to practice the stillness of contemplative prayer and have been reading Biblical word studies to enrich my understanding of the scriptures.   Sometimes I sit still, scan my body for tension and then let it go.
Mentally
Kathy and I have had more time to visit with each other over the last week than since our last vacation.  We speak of memories, people, spiritual experiences,, what we’re learning and sharing moments when we become restless.  We spend some time apart in different rooms for personal space is important to both of us (I recommend it to you and this is a time to teach your children and grandchildren about learning to spend time alone).  We experience time alone not as isolation but as solitude, which is a positive experience.  I am reading more spiritual and mental health articles and books along with some history. which I never get enough time to read.  I am calling my children and my brother and have reached out to a few old friends. .
Physically
Kathy and I have a little more time to think creatively about what we want to cook rather than the usual of hurriedly throwing something together.  We’re savoring what we eat and its goodness, especially since we have more time to prepare it.
Exercise is a challenge for me because I was dependent on the gym.  Kathy and I walk in Patton Park and I am trying to figure out how to transfer exercise from free weights and machines to other methods.  Kathy has had more time for her yoga, exercising and stationary bicycle riding.  If the weather changes, I plan to ride around and photograph a few wildflowers.  I enjoy sitting and resting with no TV or radio and we’re watching a few old movies we like on DVD.
We’re looking into expanding our time into other ventures.  What are y’all doing during this time of what I see as a prolonged retreat?  Let us here from you!
To everything there is a time and season under heaven, (Ecclesiastes),
Fr. Mark and Kathy
Prayer Services

Order of Service: 4th Sun in Lent, 3/22/20

Welcome!  We thank God for you and the Spirit that led you to join us in worship.  To prepare for online worship, have ready

+Your Book of Common Prayer; OR

+ Morning Prayer Rite II on your device screen (See:  https://www.bcponline.org/)

+ Your device, set to the Church of the Annunciation FaceBook page, or YouTube channel.

The Daily Morning Prayer, Rite II

The Word of God

Opening Sentences……………………………………………………………………….. BCP Pg 76

Confession of Sin………………………………………………………………………….. BCP pg 79

Invitatory………………………………………………………………………………………. BCP pg. 80

Jubilate …………………………………………………………………………………………… BCP pg 82

Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.

3 He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.

4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.

6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:*

As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

The Lessons:

Old Testament:  1 Samuel 16:1-13

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

Canticle 14………………………………….. Song of Penitence:  BCP pg. 90

The Gospel:  John 9:1-41

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

Canticle 16…………………………………. Song of Zechariah:  BCP pg. 92

Homily

Welcome + Greetings + Announcements

The Apostles’ Creed…………………………………………………………………….. BCP pg. 96

Prayers ………………………………………………………………………………………….. BCP, pg 97

The Lord’s Prayer……………………………………………………………………….. BCP, pg. 97

Suffrage A……………………………………………………………………………………… BCP, pg 97

Collect for the 4th Sunday in Lent:

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayers and Intercessions……………………………………………………………. BCP Pg. 98

The General Thanksgiving……………………………………………………….. BCP, pg 100

Prayer of St. Chrysostom………………………………………………………….. BCP, pg 102

+ The Blessing +

+  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +  +

 

Announcements

† The No Strings Supper continues, but is serving only to-go plates until further notice.  At this point, shopping for and obtaining the food and quantities required to serve almost 100 meals every Wednesday is proving a challenge.  Stay tuned for details on how you can help us work around quantity limitations, shortages, etc.  Questions?  Talk to any coordinator:  Debbie/Ed Moses, Connie Conley/Bryan Banks, Ann Gaines/Rudy Rodriguez, Vanese Blackmar/Lindsey Wallace.

† On the calendar:  The vestry meets today by Zoom at 11:45 a.m.

Coming up at Annunciation:

* Compline on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m.  Once again, we will gather in spirit, while remaining physically separated.  Check FaceBook Live or YouTube to join the service.

* In the works:  our online version of Godly Play for Annunciation’s young people.  Stay tuned!

To get the most out of online worship, be sure to like, comment and share the FaceBook and Instagram posts.  Fr. Mark is making regular blog posts on the Annunciation website, links to which can be found on the Facebook page.  Regular email messages to the congregation will also continue.  All of these changes are difficult, and require us to be deliberate and intentional to stay connected until we return to the comfort of gathering together physically.  We can do this!

CoA on Facebook:  Church of the Annunciation

CoA website:  http://www.episcopalluling.com

 

 

Contact Info:

Fr. Mark Bigley:                                  Cell: 423-509-2674

                                               Email:  rectorcoaluling@gmail.com

 

Ron Hagelman, Sr. Warden                             Cell:  830.708.1333

                                                Email:  ron@icefloeconsulting.com

 

Greg Wallace, Jr. Warden                       Cell:  512.618.3236

                                                   Email:  gregbwallace@gmail.com

 

 

COVID-19 Update
Events, News, Wednesday Supper

Changes – online services eff. Mar 21, 2020

Members of Annunciation,

Bishop Reed in conjunction with the latest medical and government information has given us guidance that we should not have any group activity worship and otherwise until April 1 at the earliest.  This date is subject to extension depending on the outcome of how the virus is being contained.  I am behind Bishop Reed’s advisement and believe his guidance is based in wisdom and sound medical information.

Your vestry will meet by internet Sunday to discuss ways of moving forward as creatively as possible.  God has given us his Spirit, a Spirit of Wisdom, the saints would say and can imagine an infinite number of ways how his Will can be created in the midst of this challenge.

In the meantime, Morning Prayer will be held live on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube at 10:30 on Sundays.  I am learning how to imagine that I am conversing with you through a tablet screen so please be patient with me.  Our technical committee is working to find ways to increase our communication and you will be informed as things progress.  We will also read the Office of Compline at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.  I am looking at on online format for Bible Study that I have used before on another diocesan ministry committee.  I’m sure we can work the bugs out quickly and find ways to nurture ourselves in the Presence of the Lord and one another.

We will be in touch with you again soon.  Please contact me via my cell phone at 423-509-2674 with questions, concerns, needs or reports of anyone who might need of pastoral care.

Peace be with you,
FR. Mark

Father Mark, Reflections

Fr. Mark’s Daily Journal – Mar 21, 2020

This morning I have begun to see comments and articles about “Where is God during the Corona Virus?   “Why won’t God stop it?”  I read some interesting pieces of history about other plagues and heroic acts by Christians in the midst of tragedies, histories of other plagues such as one in Rome, the Black Plague the 1917-18 Spanish Flu Epidemic and so on.

A spiritual director told me many years ago that human beings always ask the question, “Why?” when suffering erupts along with seeking a means to get out of it the fastest way possible.  The “Why?” question never gets us anywhere because even if we can come up with an answer, the answer doesn’t really solve anything because we find ourselves in the midst of the same situation.  I can give a summation of “Why?” in a theological nutshell: Sometimes suffering comes from a place we cannot know.  Other times suffering comes because we have violated the Natural Law of Creation, established by the Creator from the beginning of time.  Humankind has gone to untold means to refute the boundaries of Divine Reality but to no avail.   The law of gravity dictates that I had better not walk off the edge of a cliff else I place my life at risk.  God isn’t placing my life at risk when I do so.  I am.  I have choices.  We have choices.

Yet the above response to the “Why?” question fails to respond to “What does this present epidemic mean to me?” and “Where is God in the midst of all of this?”

God is where God has always been:  in our midst in each present moment of every day.  I know this because I have shifted my awareness away from the Spirit a million times.  When I awaken to this mistaken detour, the Presence who is always here awakens within.

I remember the George Burns movie series of O God!   The movies had signs everywhere to “Think God.”  Not a bad idea.  But thinking doesn’t get us “there” or even “here” where God is.  I would change the sign to say, “Know God,” like the Psalmist: Be still and know that I am God. 

Once we attempt to wade through the inner restlessness to arrive at a point of stillness, we will know.    This knowing is available to us in both pleasant and unpleasant times, in life and in death.

So instead of at the end of this journey entry, asking you, “What do you think?: I will ask, “Whom do you know?”

Peace and Knowing,

Fr. Mark

Father Mark, Reflections

Reflections on Hope

When I was young, I spent a lot of time on different lakes and spent time in boats fishing.  I was fascinated by the anchors of various shapes and sizes.  My father would tell me to hold the anchor until he gave me the signal to toss it overboard.  Once overboard, the anchor held to the lake bottom and our drifting ceased.  I remember one fishing trip when the rope wasn’t tied to the anchor and it was thrown overboard.  Oh well.  Needless to say, that fishing trip we drifted around and didn’t catch many fish. There’s a certain feeling of uneasiness in drifting in contrast to being held secure by an anchor.  One time, we drifted into the reeds and had to dig our way out of them.

When I went to seminary, my uncle gave me a small pamphlet called Saints, Signs and Symbols.  In it I found a picture of an anchor.  I didn’t realize at the time but the anchor had been a Christian symbol for hope since the time of St. Paul.  I also realized the top cross bar of the anchor, making it a type of cross.  For Paul, hope was part of the big three of faith, hope and love (I Cor. 13).  The writer of Hebrews (Ch. 6) realized that We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.

Hope anchors us in God.  Of course unlike that day in the boat, we need to make sure we’re connected to the anchor.  Christ grounds us like an anchor grounds a boat and keeps it from drifting.   In my study this week, I reflected on the word, hope, and how different the biblical meaning of the word is from our modern English understanding to the point that we risk that we may not understand what hope is at all.

Hope in modern English has a connotation of crossing our fingers, hoping for a specific outcome to be realized, but with a void of certainty, living with feelings of chance that things might come out all right.  Little do we know in our day that the crossed fingers comes from the Greek Orthodox practice of making the X in the Greek meaning Christ.  So when we cross our fingers, we’re actually invoking Christ in prayer.  I find it sad that symbols and practices of our heritage have become so watered down and lost through time.

Hope for the Hebrew, such as David, the Psalmist (Ps.71:5) who writes, “For you are my hope…,” comes from a word meaning “a place of collecting” or “reservoir.”  Texas ranchers know how important tanks are for a reservoir of water for livestock.  So not only is God our reservoir but also a source of certainty and assurance that this reservoir won’t dry up.  In God, there is certainty to the outcome even if we don’t have the full picture.  We can expect for God to be involved in the outcome.  God imagines, speaks and creates into being.  We too can imagine along with God remaining anchored in the reservoir of his presence imagining along with him not only how God will act but how God will act through us.  This is a far cry from our common understanding of hope as a maybe, as in maybe it will happen and maybe it won’t.   In this way hope is not future based something we wish turns out all right in the end.  Hope is something we are anchored in now—in this present moment waiting for God to continue to stabilize and create with and through us.  It’s all kind of exciting really.

This is why I asked for you to email me with how God is using your imagination to create new ways of moving through this COVID-19 challenge.  God is navigating the way for us.  Share with others how the Spirit is moving you through the sea of change.  Remain tied to your anchor else you drift aimlessly.  In hope, we act with great boldness (2 Cor 3).

Amen.

Fr. Mark