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Dear St. Luke’s Community,

The icon you may or not be able to see to the left in this week’s reflection is that of St. Brigid a shining light in the Celtic pantheon of Saints. She is known as the patroness of hospitality and helped maintain Christian identity ahead of the celebrated time of St. Patrick on the Emerald Isle. Her feast day is tomorrow, February 1st.

She was known to be generous to a fault. One story of Brigid is that she was sent to take the family dairy produce (cheese, butter and cream) to the county fair for judging in competition which would mean a great deal in real terms for her family’s dairy business. Her parents were skittish about sending her alone to do this task as she was known to give anything to anyone who she believed needed it more than she. Their fears were realized (though they would not know) when on her journey to the fair, Brigid came across a poor unfortunate. She shared a bit of her fare with him and went along, determined to have at least some of the dairy products to serve at fair. She came across another poor one and then another practicing her signature generosity along the way. She makes the last stretch of her journey to market and fair noticing that she has nothing left for the judging.

She takes her place in the judging line and opens up her basket one last time to see if she had missed something that she might offer for sampling and judging. Miraculously, the basket appears full and with products of a quality superior to that which she had left Kildare with. Her radical and reckless generosity was rewarded with top prize and orders for all the produce that her dairy could supply.

It’s a marvelous story and fun, no question. I believe there is a deeper reality about the nature of our call of God in Christ that we ignore at our own peril. To give without question and because there is need is the action of a faithful life and a mature faith. This last Sunday in my Annual Meeting address, I called the community to a commitment to practicing the Christian Virtue of Hospitality.

As you enter tomorrow, the shortest month of the year, and stand on the threshold of Lent, remember Brigid and her lasting example on a people who have a heritage of hospitality to the stranger. Remember Jesus in Matthew 25, “Whenever you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.” Or Hebrews 13 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Happy St. Brigid’s Day!!!

I ran across the following news item in the ‘Odd News’ section of Yahoo. I was amused and thought it a ‘sweet’ story (pardon the pun) but realized it was something more when Elizabeth Emerson utters this line near the end,

“I couldn’t enjoy it if I wasn’t able to share.”

What if we looked at the love of God and the Good News of the Gospel the way Elizabeth looks at chocolate. Just a thought. Chew on it for a time.

Maine woman, 87, gets a sweet response

Mon Jan 21, 10:36 PM ET

JONESPORT, Maine – When Elizabeth Emerson confessed to a newspaper that her only real indulgence has been an occasional chocolate bar during her 87 years, she wasn’t prepared for the sweet response that followed.

if(window.yzq_d==null)window.yzq_d=new Object(); window.yzq_d[‘6WqPMELEYpY-‘]=’&U=13b7nlumn%2fN%3d6WqPMELEYpY-%2fC%3d634284.11962888.12400355.1442997%2fD%3dLREC%2fB%3d5187362’; The 87-year-old Emerson was featured in a New York Times story about the impact of soaring fuel prices, generating letters from across the country, some with bars of chocolate inside.

She hit the jackpot in mid-December with an assortment from Hershey Co. that was accompanied by a personal note.

“I couldn’t believe it. I laughed more than anything. All that fuss over little old me,” Emerson told the Bangor Daily News.

The story about how the low-income elderly endure harsh Northeast winters gave a snapshot of Emerson’s life: married for a half-century, grandmother and great-grandmother to 52, former aide at a nearby nursing home, now struggling to live on a $683-a-month Social Security check.

The final line disclosed her secret: “My greatest vice is Hershey bars.”

This weekend, Emerson displayed what remains of her chocolate collection at her kitchen table.

“This isn’t even all of it. I’ve given boxes and boxes away,” she said. “I couldn’t enjoy it if I wasn’t able to share.”

Besides, she said, “I can only eat so much chocolate.”

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)

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Dear St. Luke’s Community,

The dust is finally starting to settle. I’ve gotten at least a few of the boxes that filled the house broken down. The tree’s still up, but hey, it’s not Valentine’s Day yet and besides, it’s artificial. I’m really not ready to move on from the Christmas Season yet, but the calendar says the Epiphany is a matter of hours away!

During Christmastide we spend a lot of spiritual energy (or at least I have) on coming to grips with why God sends such a gift as Jesus to a bunch of folks (we humans) who so consistently seem to miss the bloody point. In fact I usually do so at the expense of forgetting to imitate the Magi in their Epiphany response. Moving between the sacred and profane aspects of Christmas (by profane, I’m not talking about my language) often diverts me from realizing that the new birth of Jesus into my life each Christmas ought to inspire some kind of thankful response. Let’s face it, the Magi were late, talked to the wrong people before heading to see Jesus and weren’t ‘the right sort of folks’, and yet we remember their faithful response to the coming of the Everlasting King by bearing opulent gifts to a poor child who appears to needed a place to stay more than gold, frankincense and myrrh.

As we prepare to Celebrate the Feast of Epiphany and the Sundays that follow before Lent comes (very early this year I might add), I want to invite you to search your experience of God over the past weeks in the liturgy, in your family, in the parish, at work, count some blessings and make an offering to God. Make an offering that may seem insignificant but that nags at you. Make an offering from the heart and see what God does with it. What good is the birth of a King if we just sit around and say how cool it is? Jesus has always called his disciples to reflection AND action. Let us as the people of God do both in hearty measure and with prayerful intention.

Blessed Epiphany!! Jesus the Light of the World awaits your gift. What do you bear for the coming of a King?

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January 2008

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