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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
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

News

Rest

Or: Reflections from my End of Summer Vacation

I bid you to read I Kings 19, the story of an exhausted Elijah to whom God sent his angels to provide sustenance for a 40 day journey to Mt. Horeb (Sinai) whereupon Elijah finds a cave where he sleeps.  It is only after rest that Elijah can hear the Spirit of God’s voice, not in the sensationalism of an earthquake or fire, but in God’s still small voice. 

Rest.  Jesus teaches about rest and actually follows his own teaching by evening periods of solitude in the hills.  Instead of going to bed tired, Jesus goes to the mountains, rests and enters the stillness of God’s voice, thus allowing him to sleep restfully.  Do you ever have trouble sleeping?  When I do it’s because I go to sleep when my mind and body are far too “noisy.” 

Matthew 11: 28-29—“Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.” 

Soul rest.  Usually we think of just resting our bodies or minds.  Soul rest is a different kind of rest.  Hear an extrapolation by Neil Douglas-Klotz, Aramaic scholar:  “Come to me, all of you, all of yourselves [bring every part of you] in your frenzied weariness, your movement without end, your action without purpose….  Come enmeshed by what you carry, the cargo taken on by your soul, the burdens you thought you desired, which have constantly swollen and are now exhausting you….  I will give you peace and renewal after constant stress; your pendulum can pause between here and there, between being and not-being.” 

We are so accustomed to “doing” that rest can be difficult.  Rest is another kind of doing or undoing—it is a “letting go.”  It’s like being a dump truck that carries a load until it comes to the place where it can dump it.  Sometimes we have difficulty finding the place and way to let go. 

As Elijah went to Horeb and Jesus went to the Wilderness and hills, we too need to find places away from our usual places of movement (without the internet) and doing to “break the state” and allow God to “do his thing” with us. 

I am reminded of this every time I remember to “vacate” to a place where I can be renewed.   Since the summer camps were cancelled this summer, we decided to rent a cabin at Duncan Park.  There’s no cable or towers for phone/internet service there.  Didn’t miss that a bit.   As technology has offered us some helpful ways to make our life easier, there is often a cost to it in that our souls are covered over by what the Psalmist discovers in Psalm 12: that which is worthless is highly prized by everyone. 

After Duncan Park, we went to Kathy’s childhood home and revisited the Colorado National Monument south of Grand Junction.  We traversed the high desert multicolored rock formations until we found the right spot, took our shoes off, and sat upon a rock—for hours.  Even Shiloh was absorbed by the stillness and the energy we felt come into us from the rock finding rest.  The words of Jesus, reverberated in my head—“Come to me and you will find rest for your souls.”  When we are in a place where we can be still enough for long enough, for the mind to empty and the body to relax, we can feel the presence of God moving in and about, swirling through our bodies and finally reaching the depths of our souls where there are no words. Only the Word, which needs not make a sound—only needing to move within us as we are the temple of God.  Soul rest brings us into a state of effortless equilibrium. 

The necessity for soul rest is akin to having lights in the various rooms of our homes.  How silly it would be to pull the plugs out of the receptacles in our homes where no light could be received.  Since we cannot go to the mountains or coast every day, we need to find ways to create restful soul spaces.   Some create a part of their yards, some walk in the countryside or go to a park.  Some make a run to the coast or find a corner of Enchanted Rock.  I knew a woman years ago in Victoria who literally set up a small altar space in her bathroom because it was the only place in her home where she could get the solitude she needed.   At its deepest, solitude is prayer, the commingling of God’s Spirit and our own.

This soul-rest requires intentionality.  The world will not allow you to be quiet because the world cannot tolerate the Silence of God.  The world needs to make noise to distract us so that they can continue to pretend to “be in charge” of everything—themselves and even others.  No wonder the world is “out of tune.” 

Find some places where you can find rest of your souls—not just your bodies.  If you have trouble, call me and we’ll find a place for you together.

Rest.  Allow the Great Lover to find a space in your heart where He can begin to release that which is not of you, so that you may be renewed and become one with the One Being. 

The soul is the place of true rest.

Fr. Mark

News

Order of Service: 17th Sun after Pentecost, Morning Prayer

https://episcopalluling.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020-Pentecost-17-Year-A.pdf

Opening Sentences:

You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow
citizens with the saints and members of the household of
God.    Ephesians 2:19

Confession of Sin

The Officiant says to the people

Let us humbly confess our sins against God and our neighbor:

Silence may be kept.

Officiant and People together, all kneeling

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

The Priest alone says
Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.

The Invitatory and Psalter

OfficiantLord, open our lips.
PeopleAnd our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Officiant and People

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Alleluia.  The mercy of the Lord is everlasting: Come let us adore him.  Alleluia.

Jubilate      Psalm 100

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; *
    serve the Lord with gladness
    and come before his presence with a song.
Know this: The Lord himself is God; *
    he himself has made us, and we are his;
    we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise; *
    give thanks to him and call upon his Name.
For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting; *
    and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16

1 Hear my teaching, O my people; *
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

2 I will open my mouth in a parable; *
I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.

3 That which we have heard and known,
and what our forefathers have told us, *
we will not hide from their children.

4 We will recount to generations to come
the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord, *
and the wonderful works he has done.

12 He worked marvels in the sight of their forefathers, *
in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.

13 He split open the sea and let them pass through; *
he made the waters stand up like walls.

14 He led them with a cloud by day, *
and all the night through with a glow of fire.

15 He split the hard rocks in the wilderness *
and gave them drink as from the great deep.

16 He brought streams out of the cliff, *
and the waters gushed out like rivers.

Exodus 17:1-7

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

The First Song of Isaiah    

Surely, it is God who saves me; *
    I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
    and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
    from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say, *
    Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
    see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *
    and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
    for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.  

Matthew 21:23-32

When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

A Song of Creation    Song of the Three Young Men, 35-65

Invocation

Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

II    The Earth and its Creatures

Let the earth glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills,
and all that grows upon the earth, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas, and streams, *
    O whales and all that move in the waters.
All birds of the air, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild, *
    and all you flocks and herds.
O men and women everywhere, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Doxology

Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

The Apostles’ Creed

Officiant and People together

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    creator of heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
    He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
        and born of the Virgin Mary.
    He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
        was crucified, died, and was buried.
    He descended to the dead.
    On the third day he rose again.
    He ascended into heaven,
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

Homily 

HYMN

The Prayers

OfficiantThe Lord be with you.
PeopleAnd also with you.
OfficiantLet us pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
     hallowed be thy Name,
     thy kingdom come,
     thy will be done,
         on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
     as we forgive those
         who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
     and the power, and the glory,
     for ever and ever. Amen.

Suffrages

V.     Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
R.    Govern and uphold them, now and always.
V.    Day by day we bless you;
R.    We praise your name for ever.
V.    Lord, keep us from all sin today;
R.    Have mercy upon us, Lord, have mercy.
V.    Lord, show us your love and mercy;
R.    For we put our trust in you.
V.    In you, Lord, is our hope;
R.    And we shall never hope in vain.

The Collect for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Collect for Grace
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Guidance
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light risesup in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For a Birthday
O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, we pray, on all your servants as they begin another year. Grant that they may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen their trust in your goodness all the days of theirlives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those in the Armed Forces of our Country
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Quiet Confidence
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray you to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 A Prayer of Self-Dedication
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto thee; and then use us, we pray thee, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

62. A Prayer attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

The General Thanksgiving

Officiant and People

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Prayer of St. Chrysostom

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

V. Alleluia! Let us bless the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.  Alleluia!

Officiant    

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. Romans 15:13

The Benediction
May God the Father bless you, God the Son heal you, God the Holy Spirit give you strength. May God the holy and undivided Trinity guard your body, save your soul, and bring you safely to his heavenly country; where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Questions for Reflection on the Readings:

  1. Read Matthew 21:23-32.   The “authorities” attempt to trap Jesus by asking him by what “authority” he chooses to act.   Today, we are showered by numerous “authorities” from which to choose and on which to base our lives as if they were all “equal.”  
    1. How has your life been challenged by various kinds of “authority?” 
    1. Are there really multiple “realities” or “authorities” that co-exist or is it a matter of choosing one’s self will or God and our true selves? 
    1. How can we discern the difference between the authority of God and the authority of self-will?
  • Jesus tells another vineyard story about two sons: one who is openly honest about not wanting to work in the vineyard and who later changes his mind, and the son who says “yes” but his answer is incongruent with his actions. 
    • Ask yourself, which son am I more like, the one who admits our resistance or one who denies it. 
    • How is the first son’s response like confession?   How is the second son’s response unlike confession? 
    • Ask yourself, how do I work with my internal resistance to choosing what authority I will embrace and follow?   What helps you and where are the difficulties for you.
Father Mark, Sermons

Rx for Complaining

Proper 20A; Pentecost 16; Exodus 16 & Matt. 20; 9/20/20

I remember running to a coffee shop during a break.  In the line in front of me were two young women in their 20’s followed by a soldier in fatigues.  One of the young ladies was complaining to the barista about not having enough whip cream in her coffee and the other was complaining about something else.   As they complained, I could see the soldier’s posture become rigid and begin to restlessly fidget about.  I backed up one step. 

I could surmise what was going through his mind having known other veterans.  Veterans have gratitude that they could just have a cup of coffee and not complain about what kind of fixings went in it. 

All of us have been complaining about COVID—how could we not—missing what we hold dear in life—most of all relationships.  We have plenty of company when it comes to complainers. 

Besides the Israelites in the Wilderness there’s Jonah who sits under a bush in the hot sun while his shade withers away having a pity party when Nineveh wasn’t destroyed.   The disciples complained regularly and it’s no wonder that this could have been a reason why Jesus wandered out by himself to pray in order to get away from them.   

This morning we read of the Israelites during their survival wilderness training, chronically complaining.  

Today they are complaining about the lack of bread. 

In the gospel story, Jesus tells a parable about a landowner who hires workers throughout the day and he pays a living wage to each of them whether they began early or late in the day.   The early workers complain that they had to work longer and the landowner wasn’t being fair. 

The parable isn’t about equal pay. 

The parable is about God’s love for all his people whether they come to him early or later.   When we’re in God, we’re happy that others come to Christ no matter what age they are.   

When we rejoice at the blessings of others we reveal that our spirits are in the heart of God.

Moses speaks a sentence of deep conviction:  “Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.” 

Moses is right on target.   When we complain, we may not realize that we’re complaining about God’s order in the universe—that it doesn’t seem to be working because life seems to be so messed up.  

God’s order in the universe is working just fine.  Its human beings that get off track and take the order that was created and make chaos out of it.  This is the part we often forget.   

It’s not that we should shut up and stuff our complaints as we would still have them.  Complaints don’t disappear by suppressing them.  After our initial grumbling and murmuring, God seeks for us to direct our complaints to him.  God helps uncover what is underlying our complaints so that the Spirit can absorb our discontent as we re-establish contact with him, redirect our path and find a way through the conflict—returning to peace of heart and mind.     

In another story Jesus says that God is like the sun and rain, giving light and warmth and moisture to all. 

I remember the northern winters that average overcast skies 25 days a month—blocking out the sun.  I suffered from SAD from mid-November to mid-March.    During the few days that would have sun, I would go outside and stand in the sun, to absorb the Vitamin D that would help relieve my depression.   I could feel the change over me as the sun soaked into my body. 

Prayer is learning to come out of the dark to avail ourselves of the Light God pours into our lives.  When we’re disturbed and feel like complaining, instead of feeling embarrassed about it, we can take ourselves and our complaints to God so that the Spirit can reorient us into himself, his LIght and his peace.

News

Order of Service: 16th Sunday after Pentecost: 20 Sept 2020

[Click HERE for a pdf version of this Order of Service.]

Opening Sentences:

You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow
citizens with the saints and members of the household of
God.    Ephesians 2:19

Confession of Sin

The Officiant says to the people

Let us humbly confess our sins against God and our neighbor:

Silence may be kept.

Officiant and People together, all kneeling

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

The Priest alone says
Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.

The Invitatory and Psalter

OfficiantLord, open our lips.
PeopleAnd our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Officiant and People

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Alleluia.  The mercy of the Lord is everlasting: Come let us adore him.  Alleluia.

Venite     Psalm 95:1-7

Come, let us sing to the Lord; *
    let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *
    and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, *
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the caverns of the earth, *
    and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, *
    and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *
    Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45

1 Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; *
make known his deeds among the peoples.

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him, *
and speak of all his marvelous works.

3 Glory in his holy Name; *
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

4 Search for the Lord and his strength; *
continually seek his face.

5 Remember the marvels he has done, *
his wonders and the judgments of his mouth,

6 O offspring of Abraham his servant, *
O children of Jacob his chosen.

37 He led out his people with silver and gold; *
in all their tribes there was not one that stumbled.

38 Egypt was glad of their going, *
because they were afraid of them.

39 He spread out a cloud for a covering *
and a fire to give light in the night season.

40 They asked, and quails appeared, *
and he satisfied them with bread from heaven.

41 He opened the rock, and water flowed, *
so the river ran in the dry places.

42. For God remembered his holy word *
and Abraham his servant.

43 So he led forth his people with gladness, *
his chosen with shouts of joy.

44 He gave his people the lands of the nations, *
and they took the fruit of others’ toil,

45 That they might keep his statutes *
and observe his laws.
Hallelujah!

Exodus 16:2-15

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’“ And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’“

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

The First Song of Isaiah    

Surely, it is God who saves me; *
    I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
    and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
    from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say, *
    Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
    see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *
    and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
    for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

A Song of Creation    Song of the Three Young Men, 35-65

Invocation

Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

II    The Earth and its Creatures

Let the earth glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills,
and all that grows upon the earth, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas, and streams, *
    O whales and all that move in the waters.
All birds of the air, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild, *
    and all you flocks and herds.
O men and women everywhere, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Doxology

Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
    praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

The Apostles’ Creed

Officiant and People together

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    creator of heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
    He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
        and born of the Virgin Mary.
    He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
        was crucified, died, and was buried.
    He descended to the dead.
    On the third day he rose again.
    He ascended into heaven,
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting. Amen.

Homily

The Prayers

OfficiantThe Lord be with you.
PeopleAnd also with you.
OfficiantLet us pray.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
     hallowed be thy Name,
     thy kingdom come,
     thy will be done,
         on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
     as we forgive those
         who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
     and the power, and the glory,
     for ever and ever. Amen.

Suffrages

V.    Show us your mercy, O Lord;
R.    And grant us your salvation.
V.    Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
R.    Let your people sing with joy.
V.    Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
R.    For only in you can we live in safety.
V.    Lord, keep this nation under your care;
R.    And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
V.    Let your way be known upon earth;
R.    Your saving health among all nations.
V.    Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
R.    Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
V.    Create in us clean hearts, O God;
R.    And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.

The Collect for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Collect for Grace
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Guidance
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rise sup in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For a Birthday
O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, we pray, on all your servants as they begin another year. Grant that they may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen their trust in your goodness all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those in the Armed Forces of our Country
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Quiet Confidence
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray you to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 A Prayer of Self-Dedication
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our  wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto thee; and then use us, we pray thee, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

62. A Prayer attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

V. Alleluia! Let us bless the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.  Alleluia!

Officiant    

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. Romans 15:13

The Benediction
May God the Father bless you, God the Son heal you, God the Holy Spirit give you strength. May God the holy and undivided Trinity guard your body, save your soul, and bring you safely to his heavenly country; where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Questions for Reflection on Sunday Readings:

  1. Read Exodus 16:2-15.   What is it like to listen to someone complain?  
    1. What are some things we complain about?
    1. Do I tend to take the complaints to God or tend to hold on to them?
    1. How can God take my complaint(s) and turn them into contentment?
  • Read Matthew 20:1-16.   Some of the workers complained that the landowner wasn’t being “fair.”  Where in our lives do we feel that life isn’t fair?   How does our belief affect our lives?
    • When God blesses another with good fortune, do we tend to rejoice with them or do we feel something different? 
      • What does our spirit need if we cannot rejoice with another in their blessings?
    • How does the quality of my spiritual life affect the outcome of God blessing my life?  
    • How are we open to blessing and how might we place a barrier between God blessing us? 
Father Mark, Reflections

Resentment

Proper 19A Pentecost 15; Matthew 18:21-35; 9/13/20

Trivia question:  Do you know the bitterest substance on the face of the earth? Denatonium benzoate better known as Dentrol or Bitrex.    Denatonium benzoate in a solution of ten parts per million is unbearable to human taste buds.

The heart of people with long carried resentment becomes dark and the bitterness that spews from them is like tasting denatonium benzoate. 

Ten parts per million isn’t much of a ratio. 

It’s like .001 of a percent.  That’s all it takes for resentment to darken our life.  

Resentment is like putting a backpack on and carrying around 100 pounds of lead. 

Not only is the weight intolerably heavy, but the chemical contamination from lead poisons weakens the body and soul. Charles Dickens’ character, Scrooge, would be an example of one who is poisoned by resentment.  

Those whose hearts are unforgiving bring on their own agony and spreads that agony to others.  I am reminded of memories of working in a crisis mental health center of clients brought up by police who hadn’t bathed or changed clothes in over a month.  The stench would permeate the whole floor.   Resentment can carry the similar stench.

The king, after discovering his servant’s failure to show mercy to others after he himself received mercy from the king, reveals the perils of not forgiving.   It’s not that God is going to hold sentence over us for not forgiving.  No.

Spiritual law reveals that when we hold on to resentment and fail to forgive another, we are creating a state of hell for ourselves.  I don’t know if you’ve ever known anyone who has held resentments over an extended period of time.  They’re not much fun to be around. 

One of my favorite quotes that returns to my memory comes from St. Benedict:  Every day we begin again.   God has already forgotten our transgressions and so Benedict is urging us not to keep hanging on to them.   Resentment blocks us from living in the present moment. Learning from our faults is one thing.  Dragging them around is another. 

God does not withhold forgiveness like the hypocritical servant who showed no mercy or compassion to others.   Seventy time seven:   An infinite number. 

Seven and multiples of 7 for the Hebrew represent wholeness and a sense of being complete. 

Forgiving completes our soul, reuniting the lost pieces of ourselves that resentment scatters.  God is always available to relieve human suffering by entering our suffering with us—the way Jesus did it.   Jesus went to hell and back for us.  All we have to do is open the door when he knocks and the agony we carry will be removed from us, restoring us to our blessed Union with God.