Sunday, April 5, 2015

Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!

This is the end of the Gospel of Mark. 16:8 is the end of the story – over time, people have been so troubled by this ending that they added on other bits and pieces. But this was it – the women fled and said nothing because they were afraid.

We know this cannot be true –otherwise, we would not be here. We would not know anything beyond the death of the most perfect human being who ever lived. We would think that God had died then and there. We would not know the rest of the story, as the great Paul Harvey used to intone.

We will spend lots more time in Mark over the summer in Ordinary time. Today we are at the very end – no resurrection appearances, no road to Emmaus, no Ascension. This is the end – and this is the gospel dealt to a preacher this Easter morning. I could have gone the easier route, but that seemed to be cheating in year B.

If you remember, it was not that long ago when we talked about the birth story in Mark. Remember? “This is the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ.” Mark’s entire birth story – right there. In Mark, Jesus arrives on the scene as a grown man, ready to be baptized by John. Maybe Mark’s whole intention is to only begin the story – and this ending is merely the end of chapter 1. Maybe Mark intends us all to complete the story with our own lives?

The women went to the tomb to honor the body of Jesus. With the news of the resurrection, they fled in fear. Fear of the supernatural? Fear of a love so great that even death could not restrain it? Fear of a God who loves us so much that we are all welcome – any time – no matter what? How about the fear that may have crept in when they had time to think about it all? The fear that Jesus meant what he said about healing and caring for the least, the lost  and the last? The fear that his words about the last supper on Thursday night were true? This is my body, this is my blood: they went to honor the body, and maybe realized that they were meant to become the body.

We are Resurrection people. We believe Christ was raised from the dead – conquering death forever. We believe he walked around among us again bodily until he ascended into heaven. We also are Eucharist people. We believe that every time we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, Christ is resurrected in us – he lives through our hands and feet and actions in this world. We are the uprising of hope and healing to this hurting world.

On this day, I challenge you all to get over your fear of being Christ in the world. I challenge you to tell your story of meeting Christ. I challenge you to heal and tend to the least, the lost and the last that God has placed in your path and in your heart. Go be Easter People! Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tidying Up - Sermon for Lent 5B

 You know I’m going to do more teaching than preaching when I begin a sermon this way: Please turn in your Book of Common prayer to the Catechism, page 845. If you did not know about this section of the BCP, I highly commend it to your study. If a sermon is particularly off-base, you can always fact-check it here, or even just start reading on another topic altogether. The Catechism is the Outline of our Faith; it is what and how we believe as Episcopalians.

We’ve been talking about the Old Covenants, the Ten Commandments, the New Covenant, the Summary of the Law, and the New Commandment throughout Lent. You can read more about all of those in the Catechism – it’s all there in question and answer form for you to refer back to and study.

In this week’s readings, we have some more of the language about covenants in the reading from the prophet, Jeremiah. There’s an echo in the Psalm also. The Hebrews reading reminds us that we are ALL priests – all of us are capable of direct communication with God for prayers and supplication and confession. In our gospel reading, we get a glimpse of the level of obedience that is expected of us all as brothers and sisters of Christ.

As you all know, this is my first call as a solo priest in a parish. I have been an intern, or a deacon, or an associate before – always on staff at a large church. There are some things that haven’t occurred to me yet that I just do not know. For instance, at this time of year, in each of the churches I have served, the rector always puts a blurb in the bulletin about making appointment times available for Confessions. OF course, confession is offered all the time, but some people make it part of their Lenten discipline to seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so priests often bring it to our attention during Holy Week in case we feel so moved. It did not occur to me until this last week that I have never asked how that went for each of the rectors for whom I have served. I have no idea if they had fifty people for whom to hear confession, or five, or none. I realized I did not know what I did not know! Eek. I have of course received the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a spiritual director, so I know how it goes from the side of a Penitent Person. I have also heard confessions at times other than Holy Week, usually in a less formal set-up. Mother Mo happened to call on an unrelated matter last week, and she was gracious enough to allow me to grill her for her wisdom and experience. I think I’ve got this.

So back to our Catechism – page 858. What are the two great sacraments? Baptism and Eucharist. Those are the two we believe are necessary for all persons. Now flip to page 861 and look at the list of the other five sacraments: confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction. None of these are strictly necessary for all persons. For some of us, some are very necessary, but the church leaves it up to us to discern which are ours to claim. Not everyone has to be a confirmed Episcopalian, married, ordained, completed confession or received laying on of hands for healing (or Last Rites as some call it). Even though we are all priests in the order of Melchizedek, we are not all ordained priests in the Episcopal church – so don’t run around getting in trouble with the Bishop! Conversely BECAUSE we are all priests in the order of Melchizedek, you may say your own confession at any time to God and feel forgiven – God says in the Jeremiah reading today that you will be forgiven – no ifs ands or buts. Says so right there.

So then why do we have the sacrament of the Reconciliation of a Penitent? Look at the answer: so that a person “may confess [their sins] to God in the presence of a priest, and receive the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution.” Sometimes there are things we confess over and over and are not sure of forgiveness. Sometimes we need to hear another person – someone who has received the sacrament of ordination – assure us that God has forgiven us and that God loves us. Sometimes we need to shut the door on that sin forever – not take it out and play with it ever again. Sometimes we need a penance to do to feel as though it is done and finished in our lives.

The church, and I, leave it up to you to discern if the Sacrament of Confession would be helpful in your spiritual journey. If it is something you need, please let me know and we can talk about how to go through it all. If it is something you do not feel would be helpful in your journey of faith, then do not worry about pursuing it further.  Either way, please know that you are already loved beyond measure and completely forgiven by our God who is the origin and eternal pool of love and forgiveness. Amen.

Audio in the right sidebar PodBean player.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Snakes on a Stick

Snake on a Stick – sounds like something that would be served deep-fried at the State Fair of Texas – maybe served with a fun Cajun spicy sauce. Yum!

This OT reading is odd-sounding to my ears, for many reasons. So imagine my surprise to find it in the beginning of our Gospel reading in John today. Jesus Christ himself is compared to the Snake on a Stick. “Curiouser and curiouser” as our friend Sheldon Cooper would say.

So here’s my take on it all. John is reminding us that just as the snake in the Numbers reading would “save” those who gazed upon it, so will Jesus Christ “save” those who gaze upon him. You see, in John’s Gospel, one only has to believe to be saved. Once Jesus comes among us, according to the author of John, the world get divided into those who are saved and those who are not. But I do not think John means it is the evangelical, Texas-style phrasing of “Brother have you been saved?” If we look closely at John 3:17, that particular verse changes what many of our evangelical brethren think about judgment and being saved.

As we get closer to Easter – my first one among you all – I want to talk a bit about judgment and being saved. I believe Jesus saved the world merely by entering it. God loved us so much that she sent her only-begotten son to live among us, teach us, show us how to BE God’s believed people in the world that whosoever believes in Jesus will have ever-lasting life.  At the core of that statement, is what I was taught as a child growing up Southern Baptist at 1st Baptist Church in Archer City, TX – 25 miles from here. But my journey has been ever so much longer than that. God could have “saved the world” in any infinite number of ways. Jesus could have lived a long and happy life, surrounded by family and friends and the world would have been saved merely by his existence among us. The circumstances of the fateful week dictated otherwise. I’m NOT saying there is no value in Jesus’ actions concerning the crucifixion, but I am saying it did not have to happen THAT way. You will never hear me glorify the violence of Holy Week. Instead you will see and hear me continually point out the actions of Jesus and his followers – what they did and how they handled what was happening.

The Stations of the Cross are difficult for some of us. It is a Lenten discipline I practice – not because of the re-hearing of the violent actions, but because every year I enter into the story from a different place. There is a different bystander I can empathize with or learn from: compassion from Veronica, service from Simon, empathy with Mary… there are many ways to enter into the story – and for that reason, I find value and devotion there to strengthen my own spiritual disciplines.

Now before you think I said it’s all good – we’re all going to Heaven, so we can just live our lives however we choose with no accountability to God and our neighbors, I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is that this is all much harder than it seems – we cannot just say the words of a Believer’s Prayer and make our reservations in the Father’s House. We actually have to believe. We actually have to love God with all that we are, and all that we have to offer, & love our neighbors as ourselves. I believe CS Lewis is onto something in the Great Divorce: we have to choose to be saved. We have to give our consent. We can refuse the grace that God offers – that is part of free will. So I am not saying that this is all good, we’re all going to Heaven, go about your business and be happy.

I am saying that God loves you so much that there have been numerous covenants made – that God loves you so much that Jesus Christ as one of the Godhead came to dwell among us in human form and ascended into heaven in human form – that we are loved THAT much and even more than we can imagine.  Amen.

I put a new battery in the recorder, so the audio is on the right sidebar PodBean player.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Covenants and Temple Cleansing

Exodus 20:1-17 : Ten Commandments
Gospel: John2:13-22
Lent 3, Year B

Collect:  Almighty God, you seest that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul – it is a lovely collect for the day and a great summary for the readings today.  Today is one of those glorious days when all the  readings and the Collect inter-weave beautifully.

I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but throughout this Lenten season, we have had Covenant readings in our Hebrew Testament first readings.  The First Sunday of Lent, we had God making a covenant with Noah: “Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  A flood is certainly an adversity which may happen to the body – and God promises to protect us from an earth-encompassing flood.  What do we have to do to uphold our end of the bargain?  Nothing – the rainbow is the sign that reminds God.  There is no Rainbow Bat signal that we have to flash – it just happens – God makes the rainbow happen and restricts the flood.  Who does this covenant affect?  All of us – every human on the earth.  Some may perish periodically in floods, but never again has there been a flood that covered the entire earth.  When I first saw the previews to Evan Almighty a few years ago, I wondered if the writers had forgotten this covenant.  “Defend us from all adversities which may happen to the body.”

On the Second Sunday of Lent, last week, God made a covenant with Abram and Sarai, who became Abraham and Sarah. Abraham became the father of the three major religions who worship the same God: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity: “you shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations…to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”  And three major world religions followed, which I sometimes wonder if all three remember that we are siblings.  What do we have to do to uphold our end of this covenant:  nada.  “Almighty God, you know we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves.”

This is the Third Sunday of Lent, and we have more covenant language: the Ten Commandments.  This is a covenant between God and the Hebrew people.  As Christians who descend from the Jews theologically and scripturally, we inherited this covenant.  The Quran does not have the Ten Commandments – it has similar teachings, but not in this form like we have it in both Exodus and Deuteronomy.    Do you see how the field is narrowing each time?  All people with Noah; Jews, Muslims and Christians with Abraham, and now Jews and Christians with the Ten Commandments.   And this is where we got to the question: How do we uphold our end?  What is expected of us?  Jesus later narrows it even further for us as Christians as we hear in our opening proclamation every week in Rite I, “Love God with all your heart and soul and mind, and love your neighbors as yourselves” – the Summary of the Ten Commandments – simplified.  That’s all we have to do to uphold our end of this covenant – simple enough - ha.  “Keep us from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul.” 

So what does all this have to do with Jesus getting angry in the Temple?  God could only be found in the Temple in those days – it was where God lived for the Hebrew people.  We have no concept of how pervasive that thought was for them – God lived there and they went to visit God there as a show of obedience and sacrifice.  Only certain people were allowed to be in the same space as God.  What we know that they did not, was that Jesus incarnate is God.  When He was walking among them, God was out of the building (maybe God had never truly resided there for long), but now God walked and talked and got angry.  I actually like this portrayal of Jesus because I can so clearly see both the fully human and the fully divine here.  Jesus sees the gauntlet people are expected to walk through to get to God, and knows that HE is right there.  Jesus tried to tell them that HE was the temple – the body for God – but they would not get that- really get it – until after his death.  When the curtain of the Temple is torn in two later – it signals that God has left the building, once and for all.  The Holy may visit there, but will no longer ever be thought of as living there.  Ironically enough in John’s gospel, Jesus turning over tables, driving out the money changers, and proclaiming to be the Temple is what made the powers-that-be mad enough to start conspiring to kill. 

We know that God walked in the body of Jesus – we also believe that the Holy Spirit lives in and moves among every person here.  We know that God is not only in a building or a room.  We believe that God loves us and covenants with us – that God will defend us from adversities of the body and evil thoughts that hurt the soul.  We can look historically and faithfully to see how much God loves us – the covenants point us there.  What kind of clearing out have you been doing in your Lenten discipline?  What have you driven out of your life to make room for the Holy Spirit to dwell more fully there?  What practice have you chosen to help you see God more clearly in this season?  The psalmist reminds us that God’s laws are perfect and sure and clear, and pure – sweeter than honey.  I know that when I pressure myself to exceed God’s laws, I stress myself out.  God does not do that to me – I am reminded that God loves those foolish enough to believe as Paul reminded us today – and that the strength of God is enough to keep and defend me.

And why?  Why does God keep us, defend us, and bind the holy to us – as human beings, as people who believe in Jesus Christ, as spirit-bearers in the world?  Why would God do this?  I’m giving you the soap opera ending - That answer comes next week – you’ll know it when you hear it… Amen.

There is no audio for this one - dead battery :(

Saturday, February 28, 2015

March 1 Worship Service for ECWF

Daily Morning Prayer:

Rite One

The Officiant begins the service with one or more of these sentences of Scripture, or with the versicle “O Lord, open thou our lips” on page 42.

Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”  Mark 8:34

The following Confession of Sin may then be said.

Confession of Sin

The Officiant says to the people

Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God.

Silence may be kept.

Officiant and People together, all kneeling

Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our
    own hearts,
we have offended against thy holy laws,
we have left undone those things which we ought to
    have done,
and we have done those things which we ought not to
    have done.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
spare thou those who confess their faults,
restore thou those who are penitent,
according to thy promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord;
and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy Name.  Amen.

The Officiant stands and says

The Almighty and merciful Lord grant us absolution and remission of all our sins, true repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of his Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Invitatory and Psalter

All stand

Officiant       O Lord, open thou our lips.
People          And our mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Officiant and People

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

Then follows one of the Invitatory Psalms, Venite or Jubilate. One of the following Antiphons may be sung or said with the Invitatory Psalm

In Lent

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy:  O come, let us adore him.

Venite   Psalm 95:1‑7; 96:9, 13

O come, let us sing unto the Lord; *
    let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, *
    and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, *
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are all the corners of the earth, *
    and the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his and he made it, *
    and his hands prepared the dry land.
O come, let us worship and fall down *
    and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is the Lord our God, *
    and we are the people of his pasture
    and the sheep of his hand.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; *
    let the whole earth stand in awe of him.
For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth, *
    and with righteousness to judge the world
    and the peoples with his truth.

Then follows

The Psalm Appointed for the Second Sunday in Lent: Psalm 22:23-30

Psalm 22   Deus, Deus meus
23  For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither does he hide his face from them; * but when they cry to him he hears them.

24  My praise is of him in the great assembly; * I will perform my vows in the presence of those who
worship him.

25  The poor shall eat and be satisfied, and those who seek the Lord shall praise him: * “May your heart live for ever!”

26  All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, * and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.

27  For kingship belongs to the Lord; * he rules over the nations.

28  To him alone all who sleep in the earth bow down in worship; * all who go down to the dust fall before him.

29  My soul shall live for him; my descendants shall serve him; * they shall be known as the Lord’s for ever.

30  They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn * the saving deeds that he has done.

At the end of the Psalms is sung or said

Glory to the Father, and the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: * as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Lessons
Silence may be kept after each Reading.

A Reading from the book of Genesis (17:1-7, 15-16): When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.’ Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’
After each Lesson the Reader may say

The Word of the Lord.
Answer        Thanks be to God.

Or the Reader may say   Here endeth the Reading.

4   The Song of Zechariah  Benedictus Dominus Deus
Luke 1:68‑79
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, *
    for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us *
    in the house of his servant David,
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, *
    which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, *
    and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers, *
    and to remember his holy covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham,*
    that he would give us,
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies *
    might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, *
    all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, *
    for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord
                        to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people *
    for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God, *
    whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death, *
    and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: * as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

A Reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans (4:13-25): For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
After each Lesson the Reader may say

The Word of the Lord.
Answer        Thanks be to God.

Or the Reader may say   Here endeth the Reading.

7   We Praise Thee  Te Deum laudamus
We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud,
the Heavens and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry:
    Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
    Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee.
The noble army of martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world
                           doth acknowledge thee,
    the Father, of an infinite majesty,
    thine adorable, true, and only Son,
    also the Holy Ghost the Comforter.
Thou art the King of glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man,
thou didst humble thyself to be born of a Virgin.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our judge.
    We therefore pray thee, help thy servants,
    whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
    Make them to be numbered with thy saints,
    in glory everlasting.

A Reading from the Gospel according to Mark (8:31-38): Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’
After each Lesson the Reader may say

The Word of the Lord.
Answer        Thanks be to God.

Or the Reader may say   Here endeth the Reading.
A Sermon on the Psalm appointed for the day by Pastor Marci Glass (originally posted at
            Psalm 22 is arguably best known as being the source of the words Jesus chooses to say from the cross, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But if you can read past the crucifixion imagery in the first verses of this psalm, and make it to the passage we read this morning, the psalm expands from the very real complaints of an afflicted person into a hymn of hope, a promise of redemption, and a reminder of God’s love for, and authority over, the entire earth.
            Isn’t that remarkable? In one little psalm, 31 verses, the narrative shifts from “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” to “future generations will…proclaim God’s deliverance to a people yet unborn…
            This reminds us, of course, that despair and hope are not mutually exclusive. Even in the midst of the worst despair, we have the capacity within us to also hold on to hope. It doesn’t mean we disregard our despair and cling, Pollyanna like, to only the positive moments. The psalmist allows for both to live together in one psalm. But it does mean that, even as we experience those moments of life that break our heart and crush our souls, it is okay to let hope and praise come forth too.
            I wonder if sometimes we fear that we can’t honor or value our pain if we allow hope to creep in to the midst of it. Does it make us worry that we will forget what we have lost, how we have been hurt, if we can also see how we might be healed?
            But the psalmist seems to not be bothered by despair and hope living alongside each other. Perhaps because he or she knew that we most truly understand the power of hope when we have experienced despair.
            Really. Who worries about future redemption when the present already feels redeemed?
            I want to be like this psalmist. I want to be able to see that entire spectrum of life within the scope of 31 verses. I want to be able to claim my despair, to cry out to God when I feel forsaken. But I also want to make claims of hope and redemption.
            And not just personal redemption for me. While this psalm is personal— “God did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him”— this psalm is not private.  “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD.
            It is a reminder to us that while God does hear us, while God does listen for our cries, we are also a part of a larger story than just our own individual lives. Our story is connected to “all the ends of the earth” and “all the families of the nations.”
            Somehow, though, we seem to live as if that isn’t true. We act as if we could get our own salvation, our own redemption, taken care of, without praying for and working for the salvation of our brothers and sisters in the pews next to us and across the world from us.
So, what does that mean? How do we live as if we believe what the psalmist is saying? How do our lives change if we believe this:
            All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
            I would suggest that we need to read the news with more intention. We need to pay attention to what is going on down the street and across the world with an understanding that it affects us.
            And once we have become aware of the despair and hopelessness that others are experiencing, then we can make a difference for them, and for ourselves. As Martin Luther King, jr, once said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
            The psalmist is calling us to live our personal despair into communal redemption.
One of the things I appreciate about this psalm is the view it affords us. It starts in close and personal with the anguish of the psalmist’s soul and the mistreatment he receives at the hands of his enemies. It reminds us that we all experience loss, pain, and grief.  But as the view expands, we are reminded that we are not alone. We are reminded that other people are with us in our journeys, through the good and the bad. We are reminded of our connection to each other as part of God’s family.  And we are reminded that it is God who is in charge.
“For dominion belongs to the LORD,
and God rules over the nations.”
            And this is the good news. God is in charge. We are recipients of God’s grace, mercy, healing, and redemption, but it is God who has the whole world in hand.
            So our job is not to hold on to our own problems or try to fix everyone else’s. The psalmist instructs us to remember that God is in control and to worship God, offering our thanks and praise for our deliverance, testifying and proclaiming deliverance so that the story can expand even further—to future generations yet unborn.
            Putting our despair into the context of the world’s redemption also helps us see the beauty of the “big picture”. Listen to these words from author Ursula LeGuin.
            “If you see a whole thing – it seems that it’s always beautiful. Planets, lives…. But close up a world’s all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern.”
            This is where the psalmist leaves us, inviting us to look up from the dirt and rocks of our personal lives so that we may see the beautiful pattern of God’s wider plan for the redemption of the world.
            So, when you find yourself down amid the dirt and rocks, it is okay. Sometimes that is where we need to be. But remember to look up at the sky, seeking the stars, and remember that you are a part of God’s bigger plan for the redemption of the world.  And then, when the time is right, you can get up from the ground, wipe the dust from your hands, and get back to participating in the praise and worship that the world offers to God, so that future generations can also know about the Lord, learning about their place in the deliverance of the world too.
            May it be so. Amen.

A reflection written by Pastor Rachel Keefe on the Covenants we have been reading these last few weeks about can be found here:

The Apostles’ Creed

Officiant and People together, all standing

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord;
    who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried.
    He descended into hell.
    The third day he rose again from the dead.
    He ascended into heaven,
    and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.
    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting.  Amen.

The Prayers
The people stand or kneel

Officiant    The Lord be with you.
People       And with thy spirit.
Officiant    Let us pray.

Officiant and People
Our Father, who art in heaven,
    hallowed be thy Name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
       on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
    for ever and ever.  Amen.

Then follows one of these sets of Suffrages


V.    O Lord, show thy mercy upon us;
R.    And grant us thy salvation.
V.    Endue thy ministers with righteousness;
R.    And make thy chosen people joyful.
V.    Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
R.    For only in thee can we live in safety.
V.    Lord, keep this nation under thy care;
R.    And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
V.    Let thy way be known upon earth;
R.    Thy saving health among all nations.
V.    Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
R.    Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
V.    Create in us clean hearts, O God;
R.    And sustain us with thy Holy Spirit.

The Officiant then says one or more of the following Collects

The Collect of the Day
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Collect for Sundays
O God, who makest us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of thy Son our Lord: Grant us this day such blessing through our worship of thee, that the days to come may be spent in thy favor; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

A Collect for Guidance
O heavenly Father, in whom we live and move and have our being:  We humbly pray thee so to guide and govern us by thy Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget thee, but may remember that we are ever walking in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Then, unless the Eucharist or a form of general intercession is to follow, one of these
prayers for mission is added
Lord Jesus Christ, who didst stretch out thine arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of thy saving embrace: So clothe us in thy Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know thee to the knowledge and love of thee; for the honor of thy Name.  Amen.

Here may be sung a hymn or anthem.

Authorized intercessions and thanksgivings may follow.

Before the close of the Office one or both of the following may be used

The General Thanksgiving

Officiant and People
Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we thine unworthy servants
do give thee most humble and hearty thanks
for all thy goodness and loving‑kindness
to us and to all men.
We bless thee for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for thine inestimable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ,
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we beseech thee,
give us that due sense of all thy mercies,
that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful;
and that we show forth thy praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to thy service,
and by walking before thee
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be all honor and glory, world without end.  Amen.

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom
Almighty God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication unto thee, and hast promised through thy well‑beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name thou wilt be in the midst of them:  Fulfill now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting.  Amen.
Then may be said

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The Officiant may then conclude with one of the following
Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine:  Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.  Amen.  Ephesians 3:20

After the service, please feel free to join in a diocesan-wide refection
            Lent is an interruption in our normal habits. This season of the church year invites us to think and interact more intentionally and with greater awareness of and of the world around us. In Texas, snow and ice also interrupt our routines. So on a snowy Lenten day, where are your reflections taking you?
            In addition to inviting photos of our churches in the snow, we also invite reflections on anything the weather brings to your attention. What does the snow and ice put you in mind of: gratitude for warmth, concern for those exposed to the cold, fascination with the operation of the natural world?
            Wherever you happen to be, take a moment to look closely at what you see around you and reflect on the weather’s disruption of your normal habits. If you can, try to capture some of what you notice or think about in a photograph or a piece of writing and send some of the fruit of these reflections to We will share some of the responses online.

Additional Note from Mother Amy:
            I am so sad that the weather has kept us from gathering. Please know you will all be in my prayers as the ice and snow thaws. Please stay safe and warm. My cell number is 214-695-2627. My email is Please let me know if there is anything I can be praying specifically about for you. I plan to be in WF on Wednesday as normal. The Lenten dinner and book study starts at 5:30 pm.