I am away this weekend on retreat and Bill Gannon has graciously agreed to take the 8 & 10am services today for me. Thank you, Bill. My retreat is in Vershire, Vermont at Pema Osel, a Buddhist retreat center. There, I will get to learn from Pema Chodron, an amazing and renowned Buddhist teacher. You might be wondering why a Christian (and Episcopal priest at that) would go on a Buddhist retreat. Well, I have never found any conflict between Buddhism and my Christian faith. Reading books by Pema Chodron or Thich Nhat Hanh or others actually helps strengthen my Christian faith as they always give me new insight and understanding - in ways I don’t always get when I go on a retreat or read within my tradition. That’s also why I subscribe to the Harvard Business Review. Their articles really help me think in new ways about our life together and how to create a healthy and robust community. I am amazed at how relevant HBR articles are and how little “translating” I actually need to do to apply it to Christian community and the church. Reading about leadership development or strategic planning or engaging better with customers all help me think in new ways about how I, as rector, can serve St. Matt’s (and other parishes before St. Matt’s) to the utmost of my ability. So, if you find all this intriguing (or confusing), seek me out and I am happy to share more. Peace, Nancy
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If you're not a Star Wars movie fan then you might not understand today. Today is Star Wars day, May the Fourth, as in 'May the force be with you' - a little play on words. The first time (and many subsequent times), I've heard this phrase, I automatically respond in my head 'And also with you'. The rote memory of our prayers is deep. It is an automatic reaction written in us - a call to respond. When we hear the Lord's Prayer, the Nicene Creed, and yes, The Peace, we have the need to pray along. So I say to you this morning - The peace of the Lord be always with you. Kelly Kennerson
Every morning, I start my day by thanking God for this new day, and all my blessings, as well as this version of Saint Teresa’s prayer: May today there be peace within May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you May you be content knowing that you are a child of God Let this presence settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love It is there for each and every one of us. Saint Teresa of Avila Rosemarie Fry
The Collect: Almighty God, who gave to your apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Collect: Gracious God, we bless your Name for the vision and witness of Sarah Hale, whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement. Make us grateful for your many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. Sarah Josepha Buell was born in New Hampshire in 1788 to Captain Gordon Buell and Martha Buell, both of whom were advocates for equal education for both sexes. In 1813 she married David Hale, a promising lawyer who shared her intellectual interests. In 1822, David died four days before the birth of their fifth child. Sarah Buell Hale wore black for the rest of her life and to support her family she turned to her considerable literary skills. In a year a volume of poetry appeared, followed by a successful novel, Northwood: A Tale of New England, which was the first American novel by a woman and one of the first dealing with slavery. The success generated by Northwood enabled her to edit the popular Ladies’ Magazine, which she hoped would aid in educating women, as she wrote, “not that they may usurp the situation, or encroach upon the prerogatives of man; but that each individual may lend her aid to the intellectual and moral character of those within her sphere.” In 1830, she published a book of verses for children aimed at the Sunday school market; it included the now-famous “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” originally called “Mary’s Lamb.” Following the examples of her parents, she labored consistently for women’s education and helped found Vassar College. Her publications, including the influential Godey’s Lady’s Book, promoted concern for women’s health, property rights, and opportunities for public recognition. Hale’s influence was widespread, particularly for middle class women, in matters of child-rearing, morality, literature, and dress. Although the editor of Godey’s instructed her to avoid party politics in the publication, she dedicated much energy to causes which could unite North and South across party lines. She worked diligently to preserve Bunker Hill and George Washington’s plantation home, Mount Vernon, as American monuments. She is perhaps most famous for the nationalization of the Thanksgiving holiday, toward which she worked many years and which finally received presidential sanction under Abraham Lincoln. Her work, in both the women’s and national spheres, was exemplary for its conciliatory nature, its concern for the unity of the nation, and for her desire to honor the work and influence of women in society. From Holy Women, Holy Men
Our Lenten adult ed series used a booklet from the Society of St. John the Evangelist called, “Meeting Jesus in John.” One of the meditations was by Br. David Vryhof in which he said, in part: "I remember when I was in college, I worked with children who had special needs. And I remember one evening being at supper and watching a young boy who was struggling to cut a piece of meat, but his hands lacked the strength and coordination to be successful in the task. And finally he looked up and asked for help. And one of the staff members came around behind him, wrapped her arms around his, put her hands over his, and helped him cut the meat. And I thought that was an apt image for our relationship with God. When we realize that we can do nothing on our own, that we are dependent on God’s life and strength within us, then we yield ourselves to that strength, and God’s strength becomes one with our strength, so that we can’t tell where our strength leaves off and where God’s strength begins. It all becomes one." What a beautiful image of how God enfolds us and gives us strength when “we yield ourselves to that strength.” What is keeping you from yielding to that strength? Peace, Nancy
Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. -Mother Teresa
There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way. Thich Nhat Hanh
A mosaic of St Marks body welcomed into Venice, at St Mark's Basilica, Venice The Collect for the Feast Day of Saint Mark the Evangelist: Almighty God, by the hand of Mark the evangelist you have given to your Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank you for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. From Holy Women, Holy Men A disciple of Jesus, named Mark, appears in several places in the New Testament. If all references to Mark can be accepted as referring to the same person, we learn that he was the son of a woman who owned a house in Jerusalem, perhaps the same house in which Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples. Mark may have been the young man who fled naked when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul refers to “Mark the cousin of Barnabas,” who was with him in his imprisonment. Mark set out with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but he turned back for reasons which failed to satisfy Paul (Acts 15:36–40). When another journey was planned, Paul refused to have Mark with him. Instead, Mark went with Barnabas to Cyprus. The breach between Paul and Mark was later healed, and Mark became one of Paul’s companions in Rome, as well as a close friend of Peter’s. An early tradition recorded by Papias, Bishop of Hieropolis in Asia Minor at the beginning of the second century, names Mark as the author of the Gospel bearing his name. This tradition, which holds that Mark drew his information from the teaching of Peter, is generally accepted. In his First Letter, Peter refers to “my son Mark,” which shows a close relationship between the two men (1Peter 5:13). The Church of Alexandria in Egypt claimed Mark as its first bishop and most illustrious martyr, and the great Church of St. Mark in Venice commemorates the disciple who progressed from turning back while on a missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas to proclaiming in his Gospel Jesus of Nazareth as Son of God, and bearing witness to that faith in his later life as friend and companion to the apostles Peter and Paul.
Mother Theresa was once asked about her prayer life. The interviewer asked, “When you pray, what do you say to God?” Mother Teresa replied, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.” Believing he understood what she had just said, the interviewer next asked, “Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?” Mother Teresa replied, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.” There was a long silence, with the interviewer seeming a bit confused and not knowing what to ask next. Finally Mother Teresa breaks the silence by saying, “If you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I’m sorry but there’s no way I can explain it any better.” ----------------------------------------------- Prayer often is seen as the act of asking for divine intercession in the troubles of life, to gain healing and relief for family, friends and institutions we know and love. This is understandable, as we do whatever we can to relieve the pain and suffering in our known world. Yet, there are other realms, both within our closest being and beyond our known experience, that can benefit from such practice, and I am deeply moved by this glimpse into the spiritual perspective of Mother Theresa. Bob Jones