Today--Saturday, November 14, 2015--we are all filled with great sorrow at the events that unfolded in Paris last night. The violence, the loss, the suffering makes us heartsick. We are pained to the core. And it always raises a question: What do we then do?
Perhaps one thing we might do is get to know our neighbors, particularly those who are different than we are--those who are "other" until there are no "others" anymore. Gregory Boyle, in his wonderful book Tattoos on the Heart, writes of creating a community so close there is "no daylight to separate us." He goes on:
Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased.
But this cannot be mere rhetoric. There must be action beyond our words. And that is why we do Community Lunches at St. Matt's. Sandra Gentry speaks to this:
People often ask me what the Community Luncheons are about. That always takes me back to when I was first asked to coordinate this ministry. And I had a vision. I saw our Community Luncheons as an opportunity for us to enter into relationships with one another and our community, our neighbors. Who are our neighbors – why not find out?
[For example, at] the first Community Luncheon in January of this year... there was one family in particular that stood out to me. It was a young man, his father, sister, and niece. I had met him at the Thanksgiving Day Luncheon last November. That day he was a late arrival, and I asked if he would mind if I sat with him as he ate. I inquired as to how he had heard about the meal. He explained that he was just driving by and saw the sign. Normally, he and his father (who lives with him) celebrated Thanksgiving Day with his sister’s family, but they had gone out-of-town. When he finished his meal, I suggested that he take some food for his father.
Well, in January he and his family came to join us, and they bought cupcakes to contribute to the meal. When he saw me, he asked me to come to their table so he could introduce me to everyone. We had made a connection, and that is exactly what my vision is about – relationships – connections.
If you have never attended one of the Community Luncheons, please consider doing so in 2016. I invite you to come and meet our neighbors. ~Sandra
A very nice tribute to our Music Minister written by a member of our choir:
This coming Sunday, immediately following the 11am service, we are paying tribute to our amazingly talented and dedicated music minister, Raymond Mueller. I ask that you join us in this celebration, as he moves forward in his career and music endeavors.
Music, for me, has always been a source of healing and connection with God. Singing under Ray with the choir has additionally offered me friendship and expanded community, for which I am very grateful.
For almost ten years, Raymond has graciously allowed us to be present and inspired by his phenomenal gift of composing music for our services. This gift can only be explained as God’s miracle and Raymond’s hard work. His musical talents, not only as a composer, but as a pianist, vocalist, leader and conductor, has offered St. Matthew’s a top notch music program to which we are so proud.
As a choir, we have been moved tremendously in our own individual lives by his courageous actions to always follow your dreams, despite the vulnerability and discomfort this sometimes brings. This message and example has inspired our choir to make many life changes of our own, in pursuit of our own true callings.
Although we all feel a sense of true loss as he moves on from our St. Matt’s music program, we are so grateful for the great foundation he has given us to continue serving God through music. We were nothing short of truly blessed for the gifts bestowed on us, and we cannot thank him enough.
I am deeply proud of my dear friend’s decision to move forward, spreading his talents and pursuing his calling to reach out further to share his most magnificent gifts.
In closing, please join us for Sunday’s 11am service, which will knock your socks off music wise. And, then stay after service to show our support and gratitude to this man, who has done so much for our church. Allow him to know, he has a community here at St. Matt’s, who will continue to follow and support him. We are all better for having him in our lives.
The hummers are usually gone by now, and they probably wish they were. But the yard is still full of them, puffed out in the wet and cold, so they look like little balls rather than the sleek missiles that is their usual appearance.
I suppose it is going a little overboard, but I warmed up their feeders in the microwave this morning. I know how much a I enjoy a hot cup of tea, and it seemed like they might appreciate the extra boost.
St. Francis day is October 4, and I'd like to think he would be pleased. We'll be celebrating a pet blessing in his honor as well, perhaps another way to express our affection for the beloved creatures that add so very much to our lives.
Over the last almost-thirty years as a priest I’ve had opportunity to talk with hundreds of people about a wide variety of topics in a wide variety of settings. But when those conversations have turned to how a person’s life is going, as they frequently do, there is perhaps one theme that occurs more frequently than all the rest:
The person I am talking to is not satisfied with his or her life.
Now in one sense, that’s just the nature of life in an imperfect world. None of us gets everything we want. But in another sense, the simple truth is that only a small percentage of us get to do what we really wanted to do with our lives.
This new sermon series, which will run for the next 5 weeks, is about taking steps towards making dreams a reality. It’s called Go Big or Go Home, and the idea isn’t that we’d do something ostentatious or grandiose. No, it’s simply that we’d make the most of what’s been given to us in the short time that is our lives. It’s that we’d dream big about what is possible in our marriages, our families, our friendships. It’s that we’d dream big about what is possible in our neighborhood, our school, our workplace, our church, our home.
And it’s that we’d take those dreams seriously enough to take steps to realize them. In the brief time we are on this planet, we’ll make the unique contribution that only we can make. The idea is that we will become more fulfilled, more focused on things that matter, and happier with life. Because even if our life is pretty good—maybe even pretty darn good—there are always things that need improvement, always areas of our lives and in the world that can use a little (or a lot) of help.
Where there are boys, sticks usually will not be too far away.
Given the chance, the use of those sticks will probably not be Parent Approved.
Stuart Brown, a physician, psychiatrist, and clinical researcher, has written a wonderful book on play. He says that play is not "always sweetness and light. Play can be dangerous. People do get hurt." That does seem to be the direction this is heading...
He calls this kind of play "rough-and-tumble". "Rough-and-tumble play," he says, "is typical among all juvenile mammals, including humans. Part of rough-and-tumble play is that, often, someone goes a little too far. ... [When this happens] both have learned something about how far they can go. It might seem paradoxical, but such episodes allow the kids to be closer and more free, especially now that they have discovered where their own boundaries lie." Such wisdom does come at a price...
Moments later, the other boy helped this boy up. He hobbled off the field with a rather dramatic limp. A few minutes later, both boys came back, and both were walking just fine. They did not, however, pick up sticks.
It’s been said that we make our commitments, and then our commitments make us. I believe that is true. No commitment has shaped my life more than my commitment to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
But here’s the thing: commitments aren’t a “one and done” kind of thing. They need to be renewed on a regular basis. Sometimes, I think, it’s good to renew our commitments in public. That’s why people post about their diets or their exercise routines on social media. By going public, they are rededicating themselves to getting fit. Doing so in front of God and everybody adds a level of accountability. Doing it regularly—sometimes multiple times a day—keeps their commitment fresh.
It is with this in mind that I have decided to reaffirm my faith when Bishop Jones joins us on September 20. The Bishop will lay his hands on my head and pray,
Rob, may the Holy Spirit, who has begun a good work in you, direct and uphold you in the service of Christ and his kingdom. Amen.
There is nothing I desire more, nothing that is more important to me, than this. May the Holy Spirit indeed direct and uphold me, finishing the good work the Spirit has begun.
And this seems particularly pertinent in relation to the major transitions we are facing at St. Matt’s. I’ve therefore invited our Staff and Vestry to join me in making this commitment as well. It’s an important way of saying, quite publicly, that we are deeply committed to doing all in our power and then some to help St. Matt’s live into God’s best for us. Personally, it’s a way of saying that even after 15 years, I’m all in.
Perhaps you would like to publicly reaffirm your faith as well. Whether that is the case or not, I do hope you’ll join us for what I believe will be a glorious day.
P.S. For those in the area, we'd love to have you join us immediately following the 11am service as we celebrate Saint Matthew's Day with a picnic. Please bring a dish to share according to the first letter of your last name. A-N - Side Dish; O-Z - Dessert
There is something very rewarding about finding something one has been searching for his whole life long, but which in the past has always proved to be elusive. A Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar is one of those things for me. I've been hoping to find one since I was a kid, actively looking for one without any success.
But then, just last week, I noticed this guy hurrying across the road.