"All of life becomes a liturgy” Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf I remember reading somewhere that each moment of our lives can help us connect to God’s presence in us: Our awakening in the morning begins our life that day, it is our birth in Christ; our morning shower brings us to our baptism and the washing away of our sin; we break our fast and connect with the wonders that God has made; we work and remember that God has given us the gifts and talents that we use each day. You get the idea. Zinzendorf left his home in what is now Germany and eventually came to Pennsylvania. His focus on a personal relationship and the connection of all Christians had ruffled feathers wherever he went. Yet he has left a lasting imprint on the Moravian Church that he helped found and on our understanding of what it means to live our lives “in Christ.” As you go through your life today, take a moment to consider how your actions connect with your life of faith. Linnae Peterson, M.Div.
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- Becoming ~ What do you want to become this day? I have a heartfelt desire to reach a state of loving acceptance of those around me, to live a Godly life so that my actions and sharing can be a healing balm to those that I meet each day. Barbara Mace, Parishioner (reprinted from May 2015)
- Dame Julian of Norwich Like many a medieval saint, Julian of Norwich led a life that sounds exceedingly odd to modern ears. She received a series of strange and other-worldly visions when she was around thirty years old; afterwards, she largely withdrew from the world, living as an anchorite (essentially a hermit) in a hut near the Church of St. Julian in Norwich, England, until her death around 1416. Dame Julian was not widely known in her day, and the record that she wrote of her visions appears to have been all but forgotten until modern English editions of it began to appear in the late nineteenth century. Her “Revelations of Divine Love” has since become a spiritual classic, and I number myself among the many who treasure this work. What speaks to me most about Julian’s “Revelations” is her sweeping vision of the all-encompassing, unstoppable love of God in Christ. Of her many quotable quotes, my favorite is this unconditional promise given to her in a vision of the Lord, a final word, if you will, on the vast sweep of human history: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Can you embrace that assurance today? Paul Peterson
- Wherever you are is the perfect place to awaken. This moment is the exact place to practice compassion and loving awareness. You have all the ingredients to breathe and find freedom just where you are. Jack Kornfield (Author, Buddhist Practitioner and one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West.)
- The office calendar next to my desk has the religious feast days on it. I wondered about the one yesterday - 'Monnica, Mother of Augustine of Hippo, 387'. Any time, the religious institution seeks to praise a woman and a mother, I get curious. So here's a little history for you all on one of the many important women in Christian history... From Holy Women, Holy Men Monnica’s life story is enshrined in the spiritual autobiography of her eldest son, in The Confessions of Saint Augustine. Born in North Africa about 331, of Berber parents, Monnica was married to a Latinized provincial of Tagaste named Patricius, whom she won to the Christian faith before his death. In her earlier years she was not without worldly ambitions and tastes. She grew in Christian maturity and spiritual insight through an ever-deepening life of prayer. Her ambition for her gifted son was transformed into a passionate desire for his conversion to Christ. After his baptism in Milan in 387, by Bishop Ambrose, Augustine and his mother, together with a younger brother, planned to return home to Africa. While awaiting ship at Ostia, the port of Rome, Monnica fell ill. Augustine writes, “One day during her illness she had a fainting spell and lost consciousness for a short time. We hurried to her bedside, but she soon regained consciousness and looked up at my brother and me as we stood beside her. With a puzzled look, she asked, ‘Where was I?’ Then, watching us closely as we stood there speechless with grief, she said, ‘You will bury your mother here.’ ” Augustine’s brother expressed sorrow, for her sake, that she would die so far from her own country. She said to the two brothers, “It does not matter where you bury my body. Do not let that worry you. All I ask of you is that, wherever you may be, you should remember me at the altar of the Lord.” To the question, whether she was not afraid at the thought of leaving her body in an alien land, she replied, “Nothing is far from God, and I need have no fear that he will not know where to find me, when he comes to raise me to life at the end of the world.” Recent excavations at Ostia have uncovered her original tomb. Her mortal remains, however, were transferred in 1430 to the Church of St. Augustine in Rome.
- 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
- 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