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Father Mark, Reflections

What HAM Radio Teaches Me About God

One of the joys I experience in life is discovering new things and their relatedness with God’s creation and how God works through creation.  Creation is a metaphor for God’s dynamic action in our lives.  

After passing my HAM exam I began seeing images of how the electromagnetic frequencies and wavelengths of radio waves are interrelated in all forms of sound communication.   The psalmist knew that when God “opened his mouth” and spoke, the frequency and wavelength emitted created life in some form. 

In the New Testament, Jesus would speak and that frequency or wavelength emitted from him would heal a sick person.  Depending on the context and spirit of our hearts, the words emitted from our mouths carry a certain wavelength and frequency to build up or to tear down.  

I was speaking with Pastor Bill Nobles of First UMC this week and we spoke of the message of Jesus that we preach.  Jesus, similar to a transmitter, sent out the Word in the Creator’s frequency and wavelength which was universally (and still is) available to the masses.  The message was received by some whose spiritual antennas were open to receive the message.  In a sense, our whole being is an antenna and receiver for the Spirit but we have to turn it on. 

As you cannot visually see electromagnetic radio waves, we cannot in the same way “see” Spirit.  But we can see what the Spirit does and feel what the Spirit does within us.

Then Pastor Bill and I took the conversation a step further, wondering if the message that we’re preaching is at the same frequency and on the same wavelength as Jesus?  We were silent for a while.  How can we offer the Word Christ preached and healed with at the same frequency and wavelength as he did (does)?  We spoke of the incredible responsibility of how important it is to get out of the way and make sure that it is Jesus speaking through us instead of ourselves.

But is not this the message for all the baptized?  Are not all of our mouths created for allowing the Word in all its vibration and wavelength to emanate from our soul center?  

The HAM radio reminds me of how important being “tuned” to the frequency and wavelength of God’s vibrating Word.  

Let us support each other in this most Holy task.  May the Spirit sound through each of us so that we may radiate the harmony of God.

May each of us experience God’s Peace vibrating through us,

Fr. Mark

Father Mark, Reflections

Another Mystery of Life

When in Big Bend last year, Kathy and I stopped at a wonderful rock shop in Terlingua. As we all are “taken aback” when we see things, the above stone caught my attention and my eyes were riveted upon it for some time. Initially, it was the layers of coloring that blended together as I pondered how the minerals were layered so mysteriously instead of conglomerated together in a colorless blob.

The second insight that came to me is can be summed up in the word, “time.” The stone was created layer upon layer over time. Each period of time was layered, colored, and uniquely blended together. There are three different layers of color between the two darker brown layers, one being much thinner than the previous one while there are six layers separating the two pinker layers. How did the differentiation in color and layer thickness happen? How long did it take to happen. I only had one geology course in college so the questions will remain a mystery.

Are not our lives like this beautiful stone. Our lives are layered as we grow from different life experiences. Some of those experiences are darker than others but the darker layers remain as a foundation for other layers of various colors and thicknesses. The stone reaffirms to me that there truly is a “Divine Order in the Universe.”

Each phase of our lives, God is building on the previous layers something entirely new, differing from the other layers, calling us into wholeness and the complete nature of who we are. God is always about the task of shaping us. There are no two stones exactly alike just like there are no two people exactly alike.

Take a few moments before your head hits the pillow this evening to recall all the layers of your life and how each part was used by God to form you into the person you are today. Each part or layer is important and fits in as a part of the whole. Each of us is multifaceted and rich in blessing adding color to and benefiting the world God gave us.

Let your colors show or in the words of Jesus: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Make no mistake about it. Jesus’ directive tell us that all of our lives matter.

De Colores (All the colors),

Fr. Mark

Father Mark, Reflections

Labor Day

I want you to take a moment to look at your hands. I want you to recall a few moments of what your hands have already done today. Most of what your hands have done was most likely done without your awareness. Our hands have become so skilled that they just “do it” without much thought at all.

What your hands have done has been generally a two way effort towards taking care of yourself and your neighbor. The hands have washed and dressed yourself, helped your children, hugged members of your family and prepared and assisted you in eating your breakfast. On other days we we work, our hands in conjunction with our minds create something to bless the world.

Hopefully you remembered to allow your hands to either come to rest or together to pray for a few moments. It is the heart that guides the mind to direct what the hands will do and will not do. The content within the heart is the driving force which moves the hands in the direction, intent and the quality of the work we do.

Notice your hands. Be still for a moment while looking at them and wondering where God will have you use them today. Gratitude will fill your being.

God has no hands but ours.

Remember. Give thanks. Be.

Fr. Mark

Father Mark, Sermons

Listening and Spiritual Growth

Hey! I’m all ears!

Proper 18, Pentecost 14; Romans 13:8-14, Matthew 18:15-20; 9/6/20

In the spoof, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, one of my favorite scenes is when one of King Arthur’s knights, Sir Robin, nicknamed, Brave Sir Robin, comes face to face with the Three Headed Giant.  Brave Sir Robin gives the command to his men:  Run away! 

It not only takes faith to follow Christ, but it takes courage to live out what Paul says of Jesus’ Great Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.   Life presents us with many challenges, some of which we prefer not to face.  Conflict is often difficult for many of us and learning how to handle it without our anxiety hitting the roof can be a real challenge. 

Jesus’ directive to address conflict also takes courage.  It can take real courage to listen to another—especially when they are at cross ways with us.  A new way of life creates a new way of being in the world.  Instead of using force or deception to manipulate our opponents into submission, Jesus offers us something strangely simple and unique:  being compassionate towards yourself and others having received the compassion of God.   Jesus teaches us that listening is a way of compassion.

Listening seems simple at first.   But listening is one of the most difficult tasks in the world.  Loving by listening isn’t easy because it means that we have to get out of the way.    

First, we have to exhibit a willingness to listen.  Willingness is not always a state of being in which we find ourselves.  Our minds are often preoccupied with tasks and concernsIt’s hard to stop and empty our minds when they’re on cruise control so that we can actually stop what we’re doing and listen to another. 

Another difficulty in listening is understanding the differences in language, gender, culture and so on that uses words in different ways.   Each family system has its own unique culture, created out of two or more cultures of the parents.  Added to this are the various cultures of coming from different geographical areas.  Each varies between the polarities of thought and feeling. 

Gender is often a source of polarities between thoughts and feelings where one person operates from a thinking mode and another from a feeling mode, and most of us are not bilingual in both.  There’s a funny video on You Tube you may have seen that I will list in the bulletin for you to watch to illustrate this.  It’s oversimplified but it does make a point and it will give you a good laugh.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O11_Ma20Rk

Probably the most difficult issue about listening is not wanting to hear what another is saying.  There’s a chance we might be wrong.  Who likes being wrong?

Not only may we not agree with the content of the other’s statements, but there’s a dynamic called the “story-counter story”where when one tells their story, their story triggers memories of our own stories.     Not only do we recall our own memories that take us out of the listening mode, but if what another tells us triggers a painful memory, we may not be willing to continue listening in order to avoid the pain we continue to carry in our own lives. 

It is easy to project our desires of what we want the other to be and not be, instead of seeing and hearing the other as they are.  We can only listen as deeply to another as we can listen to ourselves.  

Listening demands of us that we be on an intentional path of spiritual growth.  

A respectful way to deal with this without changing the subject or disengaging, leaving the storyteller with a sense of being abandoned, is to simply tell the storyteller that his or her story is calling up memories from our own life and we either need a moment to recover or need to stop listening to this part of the story at least for now. 

Listening is a spiritual gift—not only for the story teller but also for the listener.   In order to listen to another we have to be able to face our own wounds that are also in need of healing and allow God to heal us.  Rare is it that human interaction only benefits one of the two parties. 

It’s probably no surprise to you that listening to a family member is often more difficult than listening to another outside the family.  Family relationships can become very sensitive because our family members see through us as we really are.    They experience all of us, the light and the darkness, not just the good parts as others outside our family see.   Our persona covers the things we do not wish for others to see.  But the family sees it all.

Jesus suggests we attempt to work our problems out privately instead of bringing others into them.  Sometimes friends and family become involved and the chaos becomes more elevated and expansive fomenting into  the resemblance of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s.  Jesus said if the two cannot be reconciled, take it to the community so the elders can decide, as well as judges that might be appointed in some communities.  In my mediator training we learned to suggest to the parties involved that mediation is a far better method because you still have some say in the matter.  If two people go to a judge, they lose control of the outcome by a judges’ our council’s decision. 

Finally, I want to reference verse 19: “If two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”  The English word, “agree“ is not accurate.  The Aramaic word, nistwon means worthy of or deserving, not agreeing.   It means the prayer of a group of people or a congregation will be granted if two among them can be responsible for the things they are requesting.  

If our prayers are congruent with the will of God, then they are granted.   The idea of prayer is not to pray for what we want as much as to want our prayer to reflect the principles of the Kingdom of God.  Therefore when two or more are gathered in his name—for his purpose, which is for our best interests, then God moves through us who are open to His will. 

Listening to others requires that we are first able to listen to God and ourselves.  God relieves us from our internal interruptions so that we become able to discover the sacred Trinity of the other, God and ourselves. 

Listening to others opens us to the Mystery of God.  Try it this week.

News

Order of Service: 14th Sunday after Pentecost

[Click HERE for a printable 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

Officiant Lord, open our lips.
People And 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 149

1 Hallelujah!
Sing to the Lord a new song; *
sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.

2 Let Israel rejoice in his Maker; *
let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

3 Let them praise his Name in the dance; *
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.

4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people *
and adorns the poor with victory.

5 Let the faithful rejoice in triumph; *
let them be joyful on their beds.

6 Let the praises of God be in their throat *
and a two-edged sword in their hand;

7 To wreak vengeance on the nations *
and punishment on the peoples;

8 To bind their kings in chains *
and their nobles with links of iron;

9 To inflict on them the judgment decreed; *
this is glory for all his faithful people.
Hallelujah!

Exodus 12:1-14

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

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 18:15-20

Jesus said, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

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 You Tube illustration for the sermon can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O11_Ma20Rk

The Prayers

Officiant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Officiant Let 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 Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for 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.

In Times of Conflict
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Guidance
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up 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 Labor Day
Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 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

HYMN

 

Questions for Reflection on Sunday Readings:

  1. Read Exodus 12:1-14. The Israelites are given rituals for the preparation of the first Passover out of Egypt.   Rituals have a purpose of creating behaviors that work create harmony with God.
    1. What are some of the rituals in this passage and what purpose do you think they serve?
    2. What rituals do you follow in your life? What purpose do they serve?
    3. What rituals do you follow that help you remain aligned with God?

 

  1. Read Romans 13:8-14. Paul speaks Jesus’ words: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Sanskrit has 96 words for love; ancient Persian has 80, Hebrew has 4, Greek 3, and English only one.  The word, “love” is used in so many ways in English that the meaning of it can be lost in the realm of appetites or attraction.
    1. If you were to repeat the great commandment of Jesus, what word might you replace the word “love” with that would reinforce Jesus’ meaning? “________ your neighbor as yourself.”
    2. Why would you choose that word?

 

  1. Read Matthew 18:15-20. Jesus gives the disciples direction on conflict resolution.  The word, “church” in English is incorrect as the word was not used at that time.  The word, “community” would be more appropriate.
    1. How does Jesus’ method of conflict resolution differ from those you observe in use today?
    2. How does Jesus’ method of conflict resolution differ from our own?
    3. What is your most difficult personal challenge in resolving conflicts?