Sermon for the fourth Sunday on Easter Also known as Earth Day or Good Shepherd Sunday

God created the world and said it is good; it is very good. (Genesis 1:31)
In a sermon by The Revd. Dr. Rachel Mash, who is the environmental coordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Pointing out that the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy. She went on to say; the planet is warming at disastrous speed, our oceans are full of plastic. The theme this year Earth Day is “plastic pollution. Diego delights in Earth Day. Just Google Earth Day San Diego 2018 and you will find a full page of links to activities.

This being Good Shepherd Sunday we are called upon to consider our love for Earth, community, and church family. John is blunt, “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our life’s. “ Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” Christ said I lay down my life for the sheep; this act of self-giving love is to show all the love of God. This should be an example for us. But how are we to lay down our lives? There are the works of mercy.

1. To feed the hungry
2. To give water to the thirsty
3. To clothe the naked
4. To shelter the homeless
5. To visit the sick to visit the imprisoned, or ransom the captive
6. To bury the dead.

All of these acts are part of following the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepard leads us to love. The Greek word Koinonia is a word used to define a Christian community. A fellowship of believers who share in an intimate spirituality, Koinonia is a community with each other and with their Lord.

In a broader sense Koinonia is the care of the wider community the giving and sharing of Gods love. We do an outstanding job at that in this community and we should be proud of this, but we should also be aware of how fragile life and community are. Working each day to show Gods love and caring for Gods creation. Caring for community follows.
I would like to read a short part from a book I read this past week called “Arctic Dreams” by Barry Lopez
“The mind, full of curiosity and analysis, disassembles a landscape and then reassembles the pieces— the nod of a flower, the color of the night sky, the murmur of an animal— trying to fathom its geography. At the same time the mind is trying to find its place within the land, to discover a way to dispel its own sense of estrangement.”

This landscape can be our Earth or our community. And I try to dispel my own sense of estrangement in trying to discern my role in Gods creation and community. Please join me in discerning your role in the care of the Earth and our community. The resurrection means a new Creation-restored humanity living on a restored Earth. Let us commit ourselves to becoming healers of Earth and community.

Advertisements

Evangeii Gaudium

Evangellii Gaudium the joyful news. He has risen!

The darkness has been broken by the light of Christ, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all”. “ We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life” John keeps reminding us that the word became flesh.
When my children would come to tell me what they had seen and heard, I would say show me. It’s not that I didn’t believe their testimony I needed to see and understand what they were talking about.
I am reminded of Phillip saying to Nathaniel, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” You remember what Nathaniel said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” and Phillip said come and see. Nathaniel will have to encounter Jesus so that he will have a testimony for others. It is Nathaniel’s skepticism that brings him to Christ. The woman at the well was very skeptical, with her encounter with Christ. In this light Thomas looks good and is in line with all in the passed people on their spiritual journey.

Thomas has a burning need for a personal contact with the risen Christ. All of Thomas’s friends have had an encounter with the risen Christ; Thomas yearned for the same experience. “Thomas will not be shamed into believing, or shamed into at least keeping his unbelief to himself. Neither will Thomas ignore what he knows in order to believe something he does not know.” I too have this same yearning, on my spiritual journey.

Nathaniel has his encounter, the woman at the well has an encounter, and Mary and the disciples have theirs.

John’s gospel has a pattern in which someone hears about Jesus and needs more — and then receives what they need. This opens the door for their personal experience of the risen Christ. The church of early Christians not only continue the ministry of Jesus, they increases it. One needs a personal experience in order to offer a testimony. The important thing here is that we are on a spiritual journey, a journey of experience and encounter with the living Christ.

Our community today is no different. We tell about Christ and invite other to come and see. Our invitation is the same as the early church. We continue to show Christ love and invite others to come and experience Christ in their lives. Showing our love is basic in the spreading of the Joyful News of the risen Christ.

I would like to close with a story from the Desert Fathers as a summary of today’s readings.
Four monks came to Abba Pambo, one fasted, one owned nothing, the third was a man of charity, and the fourth lived in the obedience to others. Abba Pambo said, “ The latter has greater virtue. The other three use their own wills to keep their promises. But this one roots out his self-will and makes himself the servant of another’s will. People like that. If they persevere till death, are saints”

Sermon for the fourth Sunday of Lent

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Knowing where one is going and time of arrival is a real comfort. Or when you travel do you worry about what you are going to eat along the way or on arrival? The people spoke against God and Moses saying, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” When I am in this kind of darkness. I too have spoken out against God. This is not about food or water or how one feels. This is about looking to God for healing, comfort, and confidence.

John’s Jesus is the preexistent Son of God
Sent into the world to be Gods agent
John’s Jesus insists that believer’s have eternal life in the present at the same time he promises eternal life in the future.

John’s writing is a contrasts between light and darkness, Moses and Jesus, law and truth, acceptance and rejection” With verbs like “believing”, “seeing”, and “knowing”; now that is John’s Jesus. In the Gospel of John everyone speaks the same language. A very limited vocabulary, with the same key words repeating over and over again: love, truth, light, darkness, life, world, see, look, know, believe, ha e faith, send, abide, hour, glory, father, son. John uses these words, which are rare in the other gospel’s, more often that the rest of the New Testament combined .

Scripture: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)
For many years someone would bring a sign to important foot ball games. All the sign said was, John 3:16 in very large letters. They would always get TV coverage. I often wondered if those signs converted anyone. Where they a light shining in the darkness?
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.
For all who do evil hate the light or are too fearful to admit to evil. And do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” Now that is my kind of evangelism. Let your light so shine that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.

We are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works.

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Lent is a time for us to ask ourselves what part of the dark do we still like. Where do we live in the dark?
Can we as a community move through lent without guilt yet open ourselves up to understanding of our personal and communal shortcomings?
Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. In todays pluralism do we believe this?
I think that one could conclude that John’s community was hard pressed in proclaiming the Gospel of light to the world and also have encountered push back from the World. For John’s world was pluralistic in believers and non-believers. I suggest that our mission is as difficult. Pluralistic ideas of our time have seeped into our theology.
Today’s pluralism has had a profound effect on our lives and the church. The church struggles with defining the difference between diversity and pluralism. Diversity without real encounter and relationships will increase tensions in our society. Pluralism is not just tolerances it should be the active seeking of understanding of the differences. I am not saying that tolerance in not a public virtue, but it does not remove our ignorance of one another, and leaves us with stereotype, half-truths, and fears. Fear that has lead to violence and division.
This inability of our social order to engage person to person will prove to be very costly and be a place were darkness would prevail.
In today’s society many of us are faired to let our true opinions be known, yet a full one on one relationship relies on openness.
“Pluralism is based on dialogue. The language of pluralism is that of dialogue and encounter, give and take, criticism and self-criticism. Dialogue means both speaking and listening, and that processes reveal both common understandings and real differences. Dialogue does not mean everyone at the “table” will agree with one another. Pluralism involves the commitment to being at the table — with one’s commitments.
I hope that we as a church can come to this table and not water down our theology, and not be part of the heresy of feel good theology, a theology where every idea is accepted as truth without thoughtful consideration of our three-legged stool, of a balanced understanding of authority, tradition, and God’s revelation. This balanced understanding of the middle way, “Via Media” is an Anglican willingness to tolerate and comprehend opposing viewpoints instead of imposing tests of orthodoxy or resorting to heresy trials.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his mercy endures forever.

New Year

Happy New Year
I would like to share a bit of history of the church where I am assigned. The Welcome Church of El Cajon was initially established by the congregation of St. Alban Episcopal Church in Wells Park in the spring of 2013 to be a radically open, radically welcoming community of faith in El Cajon offering prayer, the Lord’s Table, companionship and true and practical concern for the needs of our neighbors on the street.
Since 2013 the ministry has grown, an ecumenical advisory board has been established, and clergy from the ELCA and UMC have joined Father Dave Madsen as celebrants at “the church with no walls”
We believe it is time to strengthen the foundation of the Welcome Church and to extend its ministry to the marginalized in our community. This means increased focus on pastoral care, building new ecumenical partnerships, better connection to resources for the purpose of referrals, and participating in community wide efforts at education and advocacy on behalf of those on the streets.
We understand this to be our Gospel imperative; to share the truly “good news” of Jesus-that God loves you just as you are, and that all God’s gifts are intended by him to be experienced and enjoyed by all God’s people; regardless of where they slept last night.
The Welcome Church meets on the forth Sunday of each month at 3 PM in Wells Park on Madison in El Cajon. I get to preach often and enjoy the people and the setting. We meet under some very large pine trees. Set up card tables and chairs and have a communion service then lunch/church picnic. I am attaching a snap shot of one of our summer services. I would hope that some day you might take the drive and come see us.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday Sermon Preached at St. Alban’s El Cajon 2016

In ancient Israel the symbolism of ashes was understood to be a forceful reminder of the pervasiveness of human sin and of the inevitability of human death. What is the message from the early church? I think it is instructions for everyday living. The message is about personal piety, charitable donations, and private prayer. This is about the religious practices of everyday life of Judaism. Isaiah calls us to sincere deeds of unselfish personal sacrifice, not false humility disguised by fasting. Isaiah, Paul, and Matthew are asking us to examine our personal piety.

  • As many of you know I hang out with the homeless. One of my friends there came to the camp all chopped up, face, hands, and head. We asked what happen? He said that he got drunk and fell onto the channel rocks. He tried not too but just could not stop and went over the edge. After a long silence I said why didn’t you not just sit down? He had no answer, but said that he will try that the next time he was in that situation. Weeks later he was healed and looked good. Then two days later he was all beat up again. The first thing he said to me was, “I forgot to sit down.”

So like my friend that forgot to sit down, I ask you to remember to sit down and go to that special private place in your heart. Remind yourselves that in that secret room of your heart there is reward and rest. What a loving God we have. (Verse 14 of the psalm 103 suggests that a father’s compassion is related to his understanding of the child’s frailty.)

 

Paul calls on the Corinthians, “We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:20b) You know that Christ thought with a human mind, worked with human hands, and loved with a human heart. Yet was without sin. We have this good news. We have this great high priest that understands us. We know that we can turn to him and find forgiveness and love.

 

I bid you a holy lent of praying, fasting, and loving completely. Especially loving completely, and remember to sit down and go to that secret place in your heart, where your treasure is, and be with God. Amen

 

Reflections of a Deacon in Lent

During the time that I have been ill, I have had time to think about the mission of a deacon and my mission. Leander S. Harding wrote a book called ” To Persevere in Love: meditations on the ministerial priesthood” in his book he talks about the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Bishops. He points out that the bishop is a successors of the apostles. The bishop delegate some aspect of their ministry to deacons and priest. Deacons are given a special responsibility for the poor, the sick, and the lonely and assist the bishop and priests in the preaching of the word of God and the administration of the sacraments.

I got to thinking again about my mission. I feel a call to preach and serve the church. I also have a strong call to serve the whole church. I understand that my ordination means that I am to be an icon of Jesus Christ who came to serve and not be served. I would hope that my calling may be so that many may be called.  Whenever I read the gospel in the Eucharist my hope is I remember that the symbolism of my reading is that of Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth opening the scroll of Isaiah and saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has called me to preach the good news to the poor.”

Soon we will be washing feet in holy week and again I hope I remember that  I am an icon of Christ as he washed the feet of the disciples on the night that he was betrayed. I would hope that in this season of lent that I will keep the image of Christ the servant. I so want to be in the midst of his people and hopefully stirring them up to servanthood. Always remembering Christ death and resurrection and never forgetting Jesus Christ concern for the poor,feeding and healing. His cross that makes no sense to the world. Even in this enlighten and highly sophisticated intellectual world. The words of Paul are still true, “the cross of Jesus Christ is foolishness to Greeks and a stumbling block to Jews but to us who are being saved it is the power of God and the wisdom of God”(1 Cor 1:18)

If I understand my ordination as carrying the charism of the order as a witness to the charitable deeds of Christ but also of his saving death and mighty resurrection. I ask the question, “Do I really feel that I have died and that my life is hidden with God in Christ?” if the answer to this question is yes then my task is laid out before me. I am to fed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick and preach the good new to them. If the poor are not reconciled to the Father in one body through the cross, if not then I leave them hungry and naked still in their sin. I want to show that what I preach is what I live. That I have died with Chris and been born anew from above, and hopefully evident as much by who I am as what I say.

Pray for me my brothers and sisters.

 

ADVENT 2016 STARTERS

This morning I was reflecting on the Lenten messages of the past. How so many times the message was give up something until it hurts, but this year I am thinking about giving away things like good thoughts, smiles food and clothing.

During my sickness and recovery I have been studying Paul. I read many books and journals. Books on perching Paul and the historical Paul. It is in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians that he ask’s the church in Corinth to give of themselves and goods to the church in Jerusalem.

Christ showed the way. It is God’s grace that he shared a love that does not hesitate of offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved. Charity, love, is sharing in all things with everyone. Love breaks down walls and eliminates distances between people. Just think about the mystery of Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary, truly human in very way except sin. Jesus worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted by his human choice and loved with his human heart.

Jesus made himself poor, not because he was seeking for himself, but because as Saint Paul say’s”that by his poverty you might become rich”. Play on words? I don’t think so. I think this Gods logic. The logic of love in the incarnation and cross. Paul states that we were set free, not by Christ’s riches but by his poverty. Paul is very aware of the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8) “he is the heir of all things” (Heb 1:2) In that Christ chose to comfort us, to save us, to free us from our misery.

So what is this poverty by which Christ frees us and enriches us? First it is his way of loving us, he’s way of being our neighbor. If I follow Christ this lent in this kind of poverty I will be rich in Christ. Some where (I can’t remember where) I read that the real poverty is not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.

The next question that came to my mind was, “How do I take this message to my community ?” It is not easy to talk about human resources and distributive justices in this corporate society. During this election year it is even more difficult. I know that the Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution and I am called on to proclaim the liberation news that forgiveness for sins is possible, God is greater than our sins, and that he freely loves us no matter what, and that we are all made for communion and eternal life. This should be good news to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness of soul, hunger, and homelessness. But it is only good news if we feed, house and provided Christian community to all. Bottom line for me is to imitate Christ as best I can. This lent can be for all of us a time of self-denial becoming more responsible for the destitution around us and remember that social justice is our calling.

 

 

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time

Seeing...with His eyes...

Encountering and sharing Christ's redemptive love

sailwaywil

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Titus on Mission

Commentary by Titus Presler on Mission & World Christianity

The Daily Office

Not Just a Website, a Community

Viewfound

Thoughts, images, and stories by Biswajit Dihidar.

God at the Beach

Some thoughts on culture, God, and politics

The Onward Journey

“All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”

Stories From the Belly

A Blog About The Feminine, Creativity, and The Movement of Taking Up Space

God for All

Thoughts, reflections and leanings of an Episcopal postulant growing in formation