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Just a note with this video. I was stunned by the disconnect between my expectations and the reality I witnessed. Another lesson in humility and standing back from judgement (and the Lord knows I really need all the reminders I can get).

Have a grand day and dream big dreams.

–Warren

Archbishop Rowan Williams talking about at the core, what the Church is. The Church exists in response to the often surprising touch of Jesus into our lives.

Where’s the Church? Not just under the steeple!!!

‘Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:8-13)

The Apostle Paul writes these words near the end of his letter to a fledgling church in Philippi struggling along with Paul in the challenges he faced as he was imprisoned and uncertain about his future. It seems to me that we might do well to put a bookmark at this passage as we face the uncertain future of a challenging world. I particularly draw your attention to verses 12 & 13:

‘I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’

Given the current state of affairs in the economy (especially at the grocery store, the gas station and when the oil delivery comes), it might be wise to pray that we can become as Paul in knowing the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry. What Paul is calling the Philippians (and be extension us) to is being mindful of the ground of our being (as theologian Paul Tillich would put it), which is God alone. At the very core of our being as humans created in the image and likeness of God is an insatiable yearning to connection, relationship, even union with God. We were created to reflect the confidence, glory, compassion and love of the God of all that was, is and is to come.

I guess I’d summarize one of our challenges like this: It has been said that tough times don’t last but tough people do. I would like to make an appeal to a different understanding. One that comes from a place of deep faith and confidence in God’s good wishes for us and for the whole world. I want to suggest that Paul’s appeal to the Philippians might be best summarized that tough times don’t last simply because God is. So then I see the challenge as not giving into the temptation to despair by remembering, to the core of our beings, that whatever tough times we endure, we do so with the God of all the universe at our side and in our corner. Maybe Julian of Norwich said it best, “All will be well and in all manner of things, all will be well.” She recognizes that it is not at present well in the eyes of God but that the promise is that the completion and perfection of the creation is a promise, not merely a dream. I believe that is what leads Paul to boldly proclaim is ability to ‘do all things through him who strengthens me’ (v. 13).

Here’s to strength for your journey, my journey and our journey. I trust that sooner or later, we’ll all learn to deal .

Our Prayer Book boldly states that:

“The Holy Eucharist, the principal act of Christian worship on the Lord’s Day and other major Feasts, and Daily Morning and Evening Prayer, as set forth in this Book, are the regular services appointed for public worship in this Church.” (BCP p. 13)

This fact makes the active life of the community very important especially when we view ‘Eucharist’ by the literal meaning of the word in Greek, which is ‘thanksgiving’. Each and every week as we gather around the table and expect our Trinitarian God to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the ‘Real Presence’ of Jesus at our table we should be profoundly thankful. That thankfulness should not be limited to a ‘feeling’ of gratitude but should extend in to lives which display, in tangible ways, how thankful we are to be fed at the Communion Table.

One of the ways we have done this over the years at St. Luke’s is to gather non-perishable goods on the first Sunday of the Month to send off to Jeremiah’s Inn to help with their work with those seeking to break the grip of substance abuse. I don’t have to tell you that times are tough. I don’t have to tell you that it costs more to fill our grocery bags with our accustomed fare. I don’t have to tell you that just getting to the store is more expensive than it’s ever been. You all know all of that.

The really important question, given all of these realities, is; “What’s a Church to do about it?” I think that, among other things, we need to be more public about our support for those who feel this pressure most acutely and we need to do it publicly within the context of our regular corporate worship. A number of you have suggested over the course of the past months that we need to be more public about our monthly ingathering and have suggested that it become a weekly practice. I could not agree more and you all will be happy to see (I hope) that I’m getting around sharing your suggestion with the community.

Beginning this weekend, I invite you all to bring whatever non-perishables you have, whether it be macaroni and cheese, canned goods, dry cereal or the like. It doesn’t have to be much, but I believe it is a Holy Habit to cultivate, tend, nurture and watch blossom. Just as the flowers at the church or at our homes give us pleasure through our care and cultivation, so to does our Heavenly Father take pleasure in the gratitude that we cultivate in the giving of what we have to those who have so much less. I would also like for these offerings, whatever they may be, to be a part of the offering of our treasure and the gifts of bread and wine in the service. I conclude with this Offertory Sentence from the Book of Common Prayer (p. 376):

Through Christ let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of
praise, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his Name.
But do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:15, 16

Peace and Good,
The Rev. Warren Earl Hicks, Rector
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
921 Pleasant St.
Worcester, MA 01602

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