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Dear St. Luke’s Community,

As I sit in my office and write this, the mercury is headed for 90 for (I believe) the first time so far this summer. I can’t help but marvel how easily I change my tune from one season to the next. It wasn’t a month ago that I was lamenting the fact that warm weather had been so elusive so far in 2007 here in Worcester. Today, I found my mind wandering to the coolness of the fall already. I have such a hard time being in what is sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with hoping for an improvement in our lives. Having said as much, I have a hard time remembering the weather is not in my sphere of influence. What’s the old saying? “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it!” As if we really could do something about it.

The weather is but one of the objects of a certain kind of magical thinking in my world from time to time. I have to admit finding myself concerned about ‘big issues’ while at the same time being unwilling to act in the small ways I can around me sometimes. There are many examples I could give, but here are two.

1. I decry the lack of Sabbath time in our lives. Weekends are full with all sorts of things, and yet I find myself available by phone and/or email almost all the time. Sometimes, despite my protestations to the contrary, I act as though I am indispensable. “For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15).

2. I am concerned about the fact that our culture preaches the ‘more is better’. I know that the scripture tells us that “where our treasure is, there our heart will be also” and yet, I have to admit that I really like my things. I’m trying to work on that but it’s a tough one for me.

Sometimes our deep concern about the big issues can be an excuse for not doing the things we can that are right before us with regards to our personal transformation. Let’s face it, worrying about the big, hard problems can be a way of getting out of doing anything.

There are times when I can grasp the deep faith in St. Francis’ dying words, “I have done what was mine to do”. What sort of world might we be able to create if we could all say that at our last? Better, I’m guessing. We all have something to do. May we all have the strength to do it, no matter how small it may appear. Many small acts, done faithfully, are what ultimately can change the world. I leave you with the following classic prayer by Reinhold Neihbur, an acclaimed 20th Century Theologian. Note, if you will, his prayer for temporal happiness is qualified, he prays only to be reasonably happy in this life. Oh that we could be so easily satisfied!

The Serenity Prayer

PathGod grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

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Dear St. Luke’s Community,

It’s been just now a year since you extended the call for me to be your rector. My how time flies!! One of the things that made a big impression on me from the first was the Mission Statement of St. Luke’s. In the I’ve been here I find myself attaching it to all kinds of things. This weekly (or almost weekly) update. The Blog that contains these updates. It’s amazing how something can fade into the background in a short time. The Mission Statement above has done so a bit for me.

I was having a conversation with a couple of folks the other day and we started talking about the Mission Statement and we spent an awful lot of time concentrating on the first phrase. ‘Nourished by God’s Word and Sacraments,’

The assumption that it makes is that we, all of God’s people, have a hunger that only the experience of God can satisfy. That seems to me to be the easy part. The more challenging reality at hand is twofold.

1. Invite people to the table and let them express their hunger.

2. Prepare, from our best ingredients of faith and truth, wholesome, nourishing food for the soul.

During the remainder of our conversation we were quite taken with the feeding metaphor that nourishing conjured up for us. I want to encourage you to sit with that image as well as the summer unfolds. It seems to me that it connects beautifully with our self-identified gift of feeding, eating and hospitality. We do those things well, but we can always do all things better and more faithfully. Sit with this question if you will.

”With what shall we feed the stranger at our door who hungers for the transformative power of God in Jesus Christ?”

This, it seems to me, is a great question because there are a whole number of ‘right’ answers. Let’s reflect on this and talk about it as we encounter one another through these languid summer months.

Peace and Good,

The Rev. Warren Earl Hicks, Rector
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
921 Pleasant St.
Worcester, MA 01602
508-756-1990 (Office)
508-756-8277 (Fax)

Blog Address www.frwarren.blogspot.com

Dear St. Luke’s Community,

Memorial Day has come and gone and Independence Day is bearing down upon us. The days are longer, the flower, oh my the flowers here are truly a sight. You must remember that I am used to living somewhere where 9 inches of rain is a year’s worth. The green, verdant and colorful gardens everywhere are such a treat to the eye!

I have been reading a book by a man named N. Graham Standish who is a pastor of a Presbyterian Congregation in Pennsylvania. He says that congregations and churches are like gardens. Some he says are like English Gardens, requiring lots of upkeep and planning to maintain their character. Some, he says, are like herb gardens that add flavor and fragrance to the world about it. Others are vegetable gardens, that feed those in the church and the many neighbors as well with hearty and simple fair grown from fertile, loamy earth. Another variety is the cottage garden whose plants are simple and often serve the purpose to create separation and space from noisy and nosy neighbors. Others are like wilderness gardens. Wilderness gardens are grown on large tracts of land, require a bit of planning and maintenance, but are often allowed to grow wild. They have incredibly lush areas and some dead spots as well. Standish thinks that much of New Age Spirituality is like this. Finally Standish offers the conservatory model. It is a garden that has many varied zones and may contain all of the above types (save maybe the wilderness garden). It can be confusing, it takes enormous amounts of time, planning and money to maintain and is not easily accessible or necessarily a place of prolonged respite.

I have been wondering what sort of garden we are at St. Luke’s. I see elements of several and I’m not sure there’s any ‘right’ answer. What is far more interesting to me is to deal with the question, ‘What sort of Garden does God wish for us to plant in this fertile soil?’ I point you all back to the parish profile where there is mention of fertile soil and tilling. Could it be that part of the Holy Conversation into which God is inviting us is to plan, prepare, plant and tend a particular kind of garden (either literally or metaphorically)? I’m not sure of the answer but I’m loving the question.

Shall we all grapple with the question together in the coming months? During the summer we are likely to have the chance to experience some different church settings in our vacation travels. Why not try and find out what kind of garden you’re visiting? See what kind of plants seem to be flourishing there and bring back your stories. Who knows, we might be able to do some transplanting to make this Garden Spot of God more lush, diverse and inviting?

Have a great summer. Bring back your ideas, but most of all, rest in the lushness of God’s garden, wherever you may find it.

Peace and Good,

The Rev. Warren Earl Hicks, Rector
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
921 Pleasant St.
Worcester, MA 01602
508-756-1990 (Office)
508-756-8277 (Fax)

Blog Address www.frwarren.blogspot.com

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