Sunday, December 9, 2018

John the Bulldozer

2 Advent  Cycle C     December 9, 2018
Malachi.  3:1-4      Song of Zecariah  
Philippians 1:1-11     Luke 3:1-6
Lectionary Link After reading the writings of the prophet Isaiah that are used to characterize John the Baptist, I respectfully rename him, "John the Bulldozer."

Winding roads made straight.  Valleys filled in to be made level.  Mountains and hills leveled to get rid of the climb.  All the work of a bulldozer.  And that is how the writer of Luke's Gospel used the prophet Isaiah to describe mission and work of John.

I like to watch the young preschool children walk on the Labyrinth.  Some follow the rules of the Labyrinth by walking in the path and so it takes several minutes to get to the center.  But then there are the children who walk across all of the lines and get to the center of the Labyrinth in the way that a crow flies.  They stand in the middle of Labyrinth and exclaim:  "I got here first."

John the Bulldozer would like this.  Why?  John saw that too many of the people of his time were given a long labyrinth that they had to walk toward God.  And they were not given any hope of making progress.   They were being told to walk through the wilderness and maybe you'd make it to the Promised Land, but probably not because there were too many mountains to climb, too many deep dark valleys and too many winding roads with no way of knowing what was around the bend.

What kind of detours and obstacles was the prophet writing about?  What kind of obstacle did John the Bulldozer have to clear away?

Many of the obstacles were religious obstacles and detours.  The history of the practice of religion is also the history of institutional obstacles which build and accrue and the original purity of religion is lost or covered up.  People get blocked from having access to God.  People get blocked from knowing and practicing the direct access to God that they have simply because of their being made in the image of God.

What kind of obstacles did the people in Palestine in the time of Jesus and John the Baptist face?  The main obstacle was that "official religion" was too much of a closed and exclusive club.  The requirements for membership in this "closed club" left many people unqualified.  But large numbers of those unqualified people became the curious  audience for John the Baptist and Jesus.

How did Judaism in the time of Jesus result in the need for religious reformers like John the the Baptist and Jesus?

Too many people in Palestine fell through the religious nets.  The religious netting had gotten very exclusive.  Since Palestine was controlled by the authorities of the Roman Empire, all of the people in Palestine had to play according to Roman Rules.  If one was a Jew in Roman controlled Palestine, how could one retain one's distinctive Jewishness and not become tempted to be compromised with the people who controlled the country?

The Jews in Palestine could become adherents of one of the religious parties, like the Pharisees or the Sadducees.  There were leaders, scribes, priests and rabbis to provide guidance for the appropriate religious behaviors.

The Gospels have very tough words for the Pharisees and the Sadducees.   These were the prominent parties in the political council called the Sanhedrin.  This council had to negotiate a very limited area of religious freedom for the Jews in Palestine.  They had to avoid upsetting the Roman authorities and so they needed to "control" their communities and avoid any public disturbances or anything that looked like a threat to public order.  People who drew crowds of people would draw attention.  Governors and kings like Herod and Pontius Pilate would warn the Sanhedrin, "If you can't control your people, then we will have to step in and do it for you."  This is, in fact, what happened in the crucifixion of Jesus.

I hope that we might appreciate the complexity of the situation for the Jews in first century Palestine.  The Sanhedrin need to control their communities as well as to preserve the purity of their ritual practice meant that many people were denied religious significance.  If they did not have status with God because they were not and could live in full observance of all of the rules that pertained in Judaism in the time of Jesus and John the Baptist, it left them like sheep without shepherds.

So shepherds like John the Baptist and Jesus arose.  They saw the crowds which did not have access to an understanding regarding their own worth and esteem.  "If we can't please the religious authorities; if we can be fully observant and compliant with all of the religious requirements how can we be regarded as God's people?"

This is where John the bulldozer comes him.  What did John do?  John simplified the religious ritual.  What ritual did he require?  He required baptism in the Jordan River.  But not just a ritual; he required repentance.  What is repentance?  The Greek word is "meta-noia."  It literally means the "after-mind," the "future mind," or the "renewed mind."  John only required a belief that one could be better today than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.  John only asked that people be committed to future perfection and he asked them to make this commitment by being baptized in the Jordan River.  What was the last barrier that the ancient people of Israel crossed to enter the Promised Land?  It was the Jordan River.  John the Baptist, by baptizing everyone, including Jews, was requiring an individual commitment to a new future identity.  And this was quite a radical religious reform.  But it was viewed as a prologue to all of the reform which happened because of Jesus Christ and his after-life effects in the early church.

To be God's chosen people, don't you need to be circumcised and be fully observant of all of the ritual purity rules?  Too many people were forced by their situation to live compromised lives with the Roman authorities and soldiers and they couldn't fulfill the religious rules of the parties of the Sanhedrin.

So, John the Baptist was regarded by the early church to be a bulldozer, and certainly as one who provided the way for Gentile Christianity.  The repentance and baptism of John the Baptist was a belief in a God of grace who was ready to meet anyone who believed in God's gift of living a better life.

The church and any organization can accrue much in our histories.  We can begin to carry lots of baggage and slowly the task of carrying our baggage make us forget that we are really here to make the journey directly to God; we are not here to do luggage shopping.

The message of John the Bulldozer and the season of Advent is this:  Go directly to God and God's grace.  The church and religious ritual are the after effects of doing this.  The church is to be a gathering of people who are committed to help other people believe in repentance,  that is, to believe that their lives can be better in the future.  And we proclaim Jesus Christ as the one who can inspire us and help us on this road of repentance.

Let us get out our Advent bulldozers and see what we need to clear from our lives, especially the things which have distracted us from going straight to the love of God in Jesus Christ.

Little boys love bulldozers.  We can love John the Baptist and John the Bulldozer too, as we look to reform our lives toward perpetual excellence.  May God help us to find the most direct path to God today.  Amen.

Aphorism of the Day, December 2018

Aphorism of the Day, December 9, 2018

The church and any organization can accrue much in our histories.  We can begin to carry lots of baggage and slowly the task of carrying our baggage make us forget that we are really here to make the journey directly to God; we are not here to do luggage shopping.

Aphorism of the Day, December 8, 2018

The importance of John the Baptist was articulated by the early church as it explicated the outcome of the success of Jesus Christ in his post-resurrection mode.  In face of the rejection of Christ by many in the synagogues, the community of John the Baptist were more likely to convert to the Jesus Movement and so John the Baptist and his community are presented as a "seamless" transition to the Jesus Movement.  The emphasis upon "individual" repentance for spiritual validation rather than the automatic validation through birth into Judaism was a prelude to the individual faith event that Paul saw as the validation of Gentile inclusion in salvation history.  John the Baptist's stress on "individualism" in matters of faith was seen as a set up for the Jesus Movement which moved far beyond the synagogue community.

Aphorism of the Day, December 7, 2018

Repentance is a word that for some has a bad reputation.  It is associated with the one's past sins for which one is supposed to grovel in penitential reparations.  The word itself is very "futuristic."  The Greek word is "meta-noia," or the after mind, the future mind or as St. Paul wrote, "be transformed by the renewal of your mind."  Repentance is literally the renewal of one's mind which expresses what education really means.  Such a view is based upon the location of the "mind" as being a command center which works with the emotions and the will to expedite what one actually does with the entire body language of one's life.  The mind might be an interior place where the synthesis of language events collects information and creates the interior hierarchies which results in the volitional expression of the priorities of one's life to the point of driving the words and deeds of one's life toward the coalescing of the character of one's life.

 Aphorism of the Day, December 6, 2018

In hagiography, the most made-over saint of all is probably Nicholas of Myra who after many cultural make-overs to be the Dutch Sinterclaus, became the most famous secular saint in the world, the commercial world.  One could say he is the Mad Saint, aka the Madison Avenue saint whose Americanization has elevated him to rivaling popularity with the Christ Child at Christmas.  Santa Claus has been exported around the world as lots of country need American Christmas excess to build all of the trinkets which the mythical Santa Claus delivers, not with angels, but with flying reindeer and elves.  If one believes that the Virgin Birth is fantastical, what about Santa Claus?  At what age does a child reach doubt about the reliability of empirical verification of Santa in your household?

Aphorism of the Day, December 5, 2018

One of the schizoidal results of people who limit themselves to biblical piety or who try to privilege biblical language to equality with empirical verification in all applications, is that one is trying to cram rounded poetry into the square hole of places where it does not fit. "All flesh shall see the salvation of God."  What does that literally mean except a poetic aspiration for everyone who ever is born to know an enlightened original health as intended by the One who is the greatest?  What is empirical about aspirations is that people have aspirations which come to poetic verse; what is expressed in poetry is the fact that people are constructed to have all manner of imaginations which function for their existence.  The human task partly involves how to weave the imaginations as they arise out of the great imagination maker, Language itself.

Aphorism of the Day, December 4, 2018

The long history of religious faith in societies at different times means that institutions grow and accrue lots of extraneous practices and pieties which subtly become elevated in importance even to the point of covering up what is central to faith.  Reformers like to return to the quickest route, "as the crow" flies.  John the Baptist was regarded to be such a reformer; no more long journey on a curvy path with detours, no more high mountains or low valleys to impede the direct arrival.  If John the Baptist were a piece of machinery, according to the Isaiah passage, he would be a "bulldozer."  He was to make the path straight and direct.

 Aphorism of the Day, December 3, 2018

How does the Gospel of Luke describe the ascendance of John the Baptist in becoming a "bridge" person to Jesus of Nazareth?  Luke wrote, "the word of God came to John."  The word was "like" the words of the prophets but it was unique in its "liturgical" innovation.  John made everyone including the Jews go through what had heretofore been required of proselytes to Judaism; he made everyone undergo "mikvah" or baptism in the living waters of the Jordan.  To treat his fellow Jews as proselytes to Judaism was a prologue to the redefinition of the church being the new Israel.  John could be seen as a "bridge" to Jesus, but he also could be understood as one who began to initiate the re-interpretation of the themes of Hebrew Scriptures in a way that eventually could no longer be called Judaism in Gentile Christianity.

Aphorism of the Day, December 2, 2018

Jesus said that the trees on the leaves change and they mark a seasonal change and we can read these natural signs.  He also invited us to learn how to read more complicated signs found in human life cycles both personally and as communities of people.  The oft fickleness of human behaviors, though repetitive in nature, are not also so easy to read and predict as are the cycles of nature.  A goal of living is to attain the gradual actuarial wisdom from our observation of probable outcomes so that we can wisely ponder how to respond to the next transitions which await us in our lives.

Aphorism of the Day, December 1, 2018

The cultural effect of deconstructive postmodernism is to live on the surface of everything.  Why?  In the postmodern world, there is no "inner world of ideals," and no "deep structures" because the access to the "inner world" can only be achieved by generating more "surface" signifiers about the "previously known signified" within the classic and modern systems of processing reality.  The solution may be to re-hierarchize the importance of the language signifiers regarding interiority.  With language we can elevate the importance of the language of the value of interiority (since language is essentially INTERIORITY),  particularly as signifiers represent human solidarities which speak on behalf of what love and justice can mean for everyone.

Quiz of the Day, December 2018

Quiz of the Day, December 9, 2018

Which of the following words would be fit the meaning of repentance?

a. penance
b. education
c. piety
d. ritual

Quiz of the Day, December 8, 2018

To which church did St. Paul write to address the concern that members have about the fate of people who predeceased the return of Christ?

a. Corinthian
b. Thessalonian
c. Philippian
d. Galatian

Quiz of the Day, December 7, 2018

Which saint was chosen to be bishop before he was even baptized?

a. Clement I
b. Ambrose
c. Basil the Great
d. Athanasius

Quiz of the Day, December 6, 2018

Santa Claus is derived from whom?

a. Nicolas of Cusa
b. Pope Nicolas I
c. Pope Nicolas II
d. Nicholas of Myra

Quiz of the Day, December 5, 2018

Which of the following is not true regarding Clement of Alexandria?

a. he knew the apostle Peter
b. Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem were his pupils
c. he believe Plato gained knowledge from the Egyptians
d. he confronted what has come to be called Gnosticism

Quiz of the Day, December 4, 2018

John of Damascus is not known for which of the following?

a. being an iconoclast
b. supporting the Assumption of Mary
c. serving an Islamic Caliph
d. was in favor of icons and their devotional significance

Quiz of the Day, December 3, 2018

Who was a co-founder of the Jesuits who was a successful missionary to Asia while riding the coat tails of Portuguese colonial power?

a. Alfonso Salmeron
b. Francis Xavier
c. Ignatius Loyola
d. Peter Faber

Quiz of the Day, December 2, 2018

The writer of the Epistle of Peter wrote that for the Lord, one day is like a thousand day and thousand days are like one day.  Where in Hebrew Scriptures can this exact saying be found?

a. Proverbs
b. Psalms
c. Isaiah
d. Jeremiah

Quiz of the Day, December 1, 2018

What writer immortalized Nicolas Ferrar's community of Little Gidding as a place "where prayers have been valid?"

a. C.S. Lewis
b. G.K. Chesterton
c. Charles Williams
d. T. S. Eliot

Friday, December 7, 2018

Sunday School, December 9, 2018 2 Advent C

Sunday School, December 9, 2018   2 Advent C

Topic: The Role of John the Baptist


Why is John the Baptist important in Gospels?   There is much information about John the Baptist in the Gospel.  That must mean he was important.

John the Baptist was a popular preacher and prophet.  There were many people who followed him.  There was something like a “John the Baptist Church.”  But John the Baptist died; he was killed by King Herod.  His friends and the members of his community were sad.  What would they do?  John the Baptist baptized Jesus and Jesus became the leader for those who used to follow John the Baptist.

When you are in first grade and really like your first grade teacher, you want to keep your first grade teacher forever.  But when you go to second grade, you have another teacher and at first that might make you sad.  You might miss your first grade teacher.  But as you learn new things from your new teacher you learn that you can like more than one teacher.  You learn that you can graduate to a new teacher.

John the Baptist was the first teacher of many of the people who later graduated and became students of Jesus Christ.  During Advent, we always read about how John the Baptist was the first important teacher for many of the followers of Jesus. 


During Advent, we learn about how important John the Baptist was because his community became the first churches of Jesus Christ.
What does a blocker do in football for a running back?  He pushes and shoves tacklers out of the way so the running back can run far with ball.
 What do we use bulldozers and earthmovers for?  We used them to build straight and level roads so we can get places quicker in our cars.
 Today we read about a man named John the Baptist.  And John the Baptist is a person who was like a blocker or like a bulldozer.
 He was like a blocker, in that he pushed aside everything, to prepare a way for Jesus Christ.  He was like a bulldozer in that he was trying to help people come directly to knowledge of God.
 John the Baptist lived a very different life.  He camped out all of the time.  He lived out amongst the wild animals all of the time.  He probably slept in caves.  He wore a camel hair robe and do you know what he ate:  He ate grasshoppers and honey?
John came and he wasn’t very popular, because he saw some things that were wrong that needed to be corrected.  And no one likes to be corrected, do we?  When our parents or teachers correct us, it is not always fun.  But why do they correct us?  Because they want us to be better.
 John the Baptist corrected people, because he believed that they could be better.  And he really wanted them to be introduced to Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ was a important gift from God to us.
  Today, when we think about John the Baptist, let us remember that sometimes we need to be corrected so that we can get better. What If we never were corrected, then we could not get better.  It does not always feel good to be corrected, but remember we do want to get better.  And the only way to get better is to have someone show us how.
  Jesus Christ showed us how to be better.  He showed how to love God with all our hearts and how to love our neighbors.  Let us be thankful today for the people that God gives to us to help correct our behavior so that we can become better.  That is what the season of Advent is about: Correcting our behavior so that we can be better.  Amen.

St. John the Divine Episcopal Church
17740 Peak Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Family Service with Holy Eucharist
December 9, 2018: The Second Sunday of Advent

Gathering Songs: Light a Candle; He’s Got the Whole World; This Little Light; Jesus Stand Among Us; Lord I Lift Your Name on High

Lighting of the Advent Candle:   Light a Candle
Light a candle for hope today, Light a candle for hope today, light a candle for hope today.         Advent time is here.
Light a candle for peace today….
        
Liturgist: Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
People: And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and for ever.  Amen.

Liturgist:  Oh God, Our hearts are open to you.
And you know us and we can hide nothing from you.
Prepare our hearts and our minds to love you and worship you.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Song: He’s Got the Whole World (Christian Children’s Songbook # 90)

He’s got the whole world; in his hands he’s got the whole wide world in his hands.  He’s got the whole world in his hands; he’s got the whole world in his hands.
Little tiny babies. 
Brother and the sisters  
Mothers and the fathers

Liturgist:         The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.

Liturgist:  Let us pray
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Litany Phrase: Alleluia (chanted)

O God, you are Great!  Alleluia
O God, you have made us! Alleluia
O God, you have made yourself known to us!  Alleluia
O God, you have provided us with us a Savior!  Alleluia
O God, you have given us a Christian family!  Alleluia
O God, you have forgiven our sins!  Alleluia
O God, you brought your Son Jesus back from the dead!  Alleluia

A reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Liturgist: The Word of the Lord
People: Thanks be to God

Liturgist: Let us read together from Canticle 16

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; * he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, * born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old, that he would save us from our enemies, *  from the hands of all who hate us.

Litany Phrase: Thanks be to God! (chanted)

Litanist:
For the good earth, for our food and clothing. Thanks be to God!
For our families and friends. Thanks be to God!
For the talents and gifts that you have given to us. Thanks be to God!
For this day of worship. Thanks be to God!
For health and for a good night’s sleep. Thanks be to God!
For work and for play. Thanks be to God!
For teaching and for learning. Thanks be to God!
For the happy events of our lives. Thanks be to God!
For the celebration of the birthdays and anniversaries of our friends and parish family. Thanks be to God!

Liturgist:         The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke
People: Glory to you, Lord Christ.

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

Liturgist:         The Gospel of the Lord.
People: Praise to you, Lord Christ.

Sermon:  Fr. Phil

Children’s Creed

We did not make ourselves, so we believe that God the Father is the maker of the world.
Since God is so great and we are so small,
We believe God came into our world and was born as Jesus, son of the Virgin Mary.
We need God’s help and we believe that God saved us by the life, death and
     resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We believe that God is present with us now as the Holy Spirit.
We believe that we are baptized into God’s family the Church where everyone is
     welcome.
We believe that Christ is kind and fair.
We believe that we have a future in knowing Jesus Christ.
And since we all must die, we believe that God will preserve us forever.  Amen.

Litany Phrase: Christ, have mercy. (chanted)

For fighting and war to cease in our world. Christ, have mercy.
For peace on earth and good will towards all. Christ, have mercy.
For the safety of all who travel. Christ, have mercy.
For jobs for all who need them. Christ, have mercy.
For care of those who are growing old. Christ, have mercy.
For the safety, health and nutrition of all the children in our world. Christ, have mercy.
For the well-being of our families and friends. Christ, have mercy.
For the good health of those we know to be ill. Christ, have mercy.
For the remembrance of those who have died. Christ, have mercy.
For the forgiveness of all of our sins. Christ, have mercy.

Liturgist:         The Peace of the Lord be always with you.
People:            And also with you.

Song during the preparation of the Altar and the receiving of an offering.

Song: This Little Light of Mine (Christian Children’s Songbook # 234)

This little light of mine.  I am going to let it shine.  This little light of mine, I am going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel, no.  I am going to let it shine.  Hide it under a bushel, no.  I am going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Don’t let anyone blow it out; I’m going to let it shine.  Don’t let anyone blow it out, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Shine all over my neighborhood, I’m going to let it shine.  Shine all over my neighborhood, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Doxology

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Prologue to the Eucharist

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, for to them belong the kingdom of heaven.”
All become members of a family by birth or adoption.

Baptism is a celebration of birth into the family of God.
A family meal gathers and sustains each human family.
The Holy Eucharist is the special meal that Jesus gave to his friends to keep us together as the family of Christ.

The Lord be with you
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to God.
It is right to give God thanks and praise.

It is very good and right to give thanks, because God made us, Jesus redeemed us and the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts.  Therefore with Angels and Archangels and all of the world that we see and don’t see, we forever sing this hymn of praise:

Holy, Holy, Holy (Intoned)
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of Power and Might.  Heav’n and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 
Hosanna in the highest. Hosanna in the Highest.

All may gather around the altar

Our grateful praise we offer to you God, our Creator;
You have made us in your image
And you gave us many men and women of faith to help us to live by faith:
Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachael.
And then you gave us your Son, Jesus, born of Mary, nurtured by Joseph
And he called us to be sons and daughters of God.
Your Son called us to live better lives and he gave us this Holy Meal so that when we eat
  the bread and drink the wine, we can  know that the Presence of Christ is as near to us as  
  this food and drink  that becomes a part of us.

The Prayer continues with these words

And so, Father, we bring you these gifts of bread and wine. Bless and sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Bless and sanctify us by your Holy Spirit so that we may love God and our neighbor.

On the night when Jesus was betrayed he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his friends, and said, "Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me."

After supper, Jesus took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and said, "Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me."

Father, we now celebrate the memorial of your Son. When we eat this holy Meal of Bread and Wine, we are telling the entire world about the life, death and resurrection of Christ and that his presence will be with us in our future.
Let this holy meal keep us together as friends who share a special relationship because of your Son Jesus Christ.  May we forever live with praise to God to whom we belong as sons and daughters.
By Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory
 is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen.

And now as our Savior Christ has taught us, we now sing,

Our Father: (Renew # 180, West Indian Lord’s Prayer)

Our Father who art in heaven:  Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done: Hallowed be thy name.

Done on earth as it is in heaven: Hallowed be thy name.
Give us this day our daily bread: Hallowed be thy name.

And forgive us all our debts: Hallowed be thy name.
As we forgive our debtors: Hallowed be thy name.

Lead us not into temptation: Hallowed be thy name.
But deliver us from evil: Hallowed be thy name.

Thine is the kingdom, power, and glory: Hallowed be thy name.
Forever and ever: Hallowed be thy name.

Amen, amen, amen: Hallowed be thy name.
Amen, amen, amen, amen: Hallowed be thy name.

Breaking of the Bread

Celebrant:        Alleluia! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
People:            Therefore let us keep the feast.  Alleluia!

Words of Administration

Communion Song: Jesus Stand Among Us, Renew! #17

Jesus stand among us, at the meeting of our lives, be our sweet agreement at the meeting of our eyes; O, Jesus, we love You, so we gather here, join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.
So to You we’re gathering out of each and every land.  Christ the love between us at the joining of our hand; O, Jesus, we love You, so we gather here, join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.
Jesus stand among us, the breaking of the bread, join us as one body as we worship Your, our Head.  O, Jesus, we love You, so we gather here, join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.

Post-Communion Prayer

Everlasting God, we have gathered for the meal that Jesus asked us to keep;
We have remembered his words of blessing on the bread and the wine.
And His Presence has been known to us.
We have remembered that we are sons and daughters of God and brothers
    and sisters in Christ.
Send us forth now into our everyday lives remembering that the blessing in the
     bread and wine spreads into each time, place and person in our lives,
As we are ever blessed by you, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Closing Song: Lord I Lift Your Name on High, Renew! #4

Lord, I lift your name on high; Lord, I love to sing Your praises.  I’m so glad you’re in my life.    I’m so glad you came to save us.  You came from heaven to earth to show the way, from the   earth to the cross, my debt to pay.  From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky; Lord, I lift your name on high!

Dismissal:   

Liturgist: Let us go forth in the Name of Christ. 
People: Thanks be to God! 



  


Sunday, December 2, 2018

We Are Living Always with Transitions

1 Advent C      December 2, 2018
Jer. 33: 14-16     Psalm 50:1-6
1 Thes. 3:9-13   Luke 21:25-31
Jesus said, "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near."

This is a natural sign metaphor that Jesus used about reading the events of our lives.  And we are always reading the events of our lives, personally, as family, as community, parish, nation world and cosmos.

What do the signs of nature teach us?  That events repeat themselves.  A new event is a new occurrence in time but for us it always looks like something that has happened in our past experience.

It's late fall, and the leaves are brown and red and falling on the ground.  Yes, we've seen it before and we could have predicted it.  And we're prepared for it with our rakes and blowers.  On the level of our planet big events happen; earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, volcano eruptions.  And these events in nature can be traumatic and catastrophic for people who are located at the wrong place at the wrong time.  People of the past have interpreted such large scale catastrophes  as God's wrath and punishment.

Signs also occur that need to be read in our human cycles.  New things occur but the new things are like what has happened in the past.

The experience of time means that life is always in transition.  An event ends and a new one occurs.  But the meanings that we place upon transitions are not the same.  When I brushed my teeth today it was a new event but it has less significance than events like births, graduation, marriage, serious sickness or illness, effects of aging and the big transition, death itself.

On the social level, wars and plagues occur, invasions, crimes happen, and people take land from other people by force.  When catastrophic violence and oppression occurred for the people of the Bible, there arose in their communities people who would provide a visualization of a future beyond the circumstances of traumatic events of oppression.  Prophets, seers and wisdom teachers offered people visions of hope; they offered a future.

Jesus told people they needed to learn to  read cycles, because if they understood the very habits of time, they could always believe in a future.

We always, at all times live in transition.  The now is a transition between what was and what will be.  And transitional seasons in our lives can be experienced as significant changes of all sorts.  Change of location, change of people, change of occupations, changes of health, changes of available resources.

The words of Jesus are advice to us to be ready.  Just as we are ready for the leaves to turn red in the autumn and fall from the tree, so we have to be ready for all of the human cycle stuff too in our lives.

And in the catastrophic stuff of our lives we need words of hope; we need words to assure that we will always have a future.

As old as the writings of the Bible are and even though they contain so many details of ancient society, there is a universal message in the Bible, that we should use for our inspiration.

The writings of the Bible present many metaphors of futurism.  Futurism is needed in special ways when current times are so difficult.  Since much of the Bible was written in difficult times much of the writing was written to comfort people and to visualize an end to the suffering in this life.

You and I live toward the future as well and we too, need many strategies both for planning, readiness and sheer survival of some difficult times.

In our strategic planning based upon the habit of anticipating probable outcomes, we need the various wise words which are found in the words of biblical people who lived with faith based upon a hope of always having our future.

We ponder the immediate future; what we will do next.  We ponder an intermediate future; we may have a one year, two year, three year or five year plan.  We should be pondering the future which is determined by what our physical health will allow us to do.   We ponder the time of our deaths and what is beyond death.  The further out we ponder, the more mystery we have to deal with.  So why speculate or offer vision about our deaths and after lives?

We know that after we die, we will be preserved in the memories which we leave with people.  But the memories of most people will only last as long as people and history books.  We resort to a final source of afterlife in God as a meaningful inspiration for our living with hope now.

Advent is a season to ponder transition, waiting and readiness.  When we begin Advent, we know that Christmas will come just as certain as anything that we observe as a calendar date.

The early church proclaimed that the birth of Jesus Christ was something that the entire world had waited for to give us a directional sign of our human future.  The people in the time of Jesus suffered some great oppression.  The people of the early church went in and out of persecution and suffering depending upon their situation;but they believed that the Risen Christ within their lives guaranteed their future beyond whatever they were facing.

This Advent season may find us individuals, families and parish in times of transition.  What does Jesus say?  Do trees grows leaves in the spring and summer.   Of course they do.   Do transitions happen for us of all sorts?  Of course they happen to us.  Accepting the normalcy of transitions is the first stage.  The next stage involves visualizing hopeful outcomes, even if they may be significantly different from what we now know.  But remember the parting words of Jesus to his disciples when he left this world:  Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

So whatever, our future will be that we have the promise that Christ will be with us.  And that is more than enough if we are willing to accept it.  During in Advent season, we await the celebration of Jesus as Emmanuel, meaning God with us.   God is with us is the reality that enables us to survive many transitions.  And each of us have already survived many transitions on many levels in our lives and we will continue to make it through transitions in our lives. Let Advent hope assure our faith, that we will keep surfing on the waves of the transitions of our lives.  Amen.



Friday, November 30, 2018

Sunday School, December 2, 2018 1 Advent C

Sunday School, December 2, 2018      1 Advent C

Learning to Read Signs

Discuss the signs which occur in natural because of anticipating regular cycles.  When one puts a seed into the ground one waits and looks for a little leaf to poke out of the ground.  When one see blossoms then one can expect to see fruit.  There are other sign which we read like when it is cloudy, and when the clouds are dark, it is more likely for rain to follow.  We know that when we see smoke we just assume that it comes from some kind of fire.

Jesus asked his friends to learn to read what was happening in their lives so that they could be prepared to make the right response. 

Some times we need to have special signs, signs given by our laws to keep us from hurting ourselves.  For example, a Stop sign is not a natural sign; it has been invented by people and we use Stop signs to keep people from running into each other in their cars.

The Bible is a book of signs.  It gives us lots of “Stop,”  lots of “Don’t do this”  signs, and lots of “Please do this” signs.  Why?  Because the Bible is a book to help prepare us to live our very best.  It is a book that gives us the signs of how we are to treat each other.  It is a book of warning about what can happen to us if we don’t follow the signs for living a good life.

When we go to school we often have to face Judges.  The Judges at school are the tests that we have to take.  The tests show us how much we learn or did not learn.

Jesus said that we will all have to face a Judge in our lives.  He called that Judge the Son of Man but his friends knew that Jesus was also the Son of Man.  If we have a good relationship with Jesus as our Judge and are always learning from him, then we will not have to fear Jesus because we know that he will be a loving Judge who will only want us to work at getting better.

Let us begin the season of Advent by learning to read the signs for how we can live better lives.  And let us know that we are always getting ourselves ready to meet the very best Judge of life, Jesus as the Son of Man who we know and love and who we are delighted to perform the deeds of our lives for.

A Sermon


  Jesus said, "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near.” 
  Jesus told his friends that they needed to learn how to read signs.
  There are natural signs and there are signs that we make.
  What is the red sign that has 8 sides on the road?  What does that sign mean?
  There are natural signs too.  What do dark clouds and wind mean?  What does smoke rising in the air mean?  What does the changing of the color of leaves mean?  What does it mean when leaves have fallen off the tree?
  How do you learn to read signs?  You look and watch and when you see it happen over and over again, you learn.  You also learn from your teachers and parents how to read signs.
  There are also signs that we have to learn to read when we are with each other.  For example, what might happen if we say something that is not nice to someone?  It might hurt their feeling.  It might make them cry.  What happens if you push or hit someone?  It might hurt them.
What happens if you eat twenty candy bars all at once?  You will get a sick tummy.
  So we have to learn to read the signs of how to live good lives.  We have to learn the signs of living bad lives, so we can learn to live better.
  God gave us the 10 commandments as a sign of how to live a good life.  And if we don’t follow these signs, we can get into lots of trouble.
  We are in the season of Advent, the first season of the Christian year.  The season of Advent is season of preparation.  It a season of learning how to read the signs of God in our lives.
  Jesus Christ is the greatest sign of God to us.  He was given to us to show us how to live.  During the season of Advent, we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ and to look forward to future coming again. When we see love and kindness, we can be sure that we are reading the sign of the presence of Christ in this world.  Let us learn to read the signs of God’s presence in our world, so that we can avoid making some serious mistake.  If we learn to read the sign of God in our lives, we can avoid making some serious mistake.  Let us during the season of Advent learn to read the signs of God in our lives.  Amen.

St. John the Divine Episcopal Church
17740 Peak Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Family Service with Holy Eucharist
December 2, 2018: The First Sunday of Advent

Gathering Songs: Light a Candle; Prepare the Way of the Lord; Eat this Bread, Wait for the Lord; Soon and Very Soon

Lighting of the Advent Candle: 
Song: Light a Candle
            Light a candle for hope today, Light a candle for hope today, light a candle for hope today.              Advent time is here.
            (Sing twice)

Liturgist: Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
People: And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and for ever.  Amen.

Liturgist:  Oh God, Our hearts are open to you.
And you know us and we can hide nothing from you.
Prepare our hearts and our minds to love you and worship you.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Song: Prepare the Way of the Lord (Renew! # 92)
Prepare the way of the Lord.  Prepare the way of the Lord, and all people will see the salvation of our God. (sung as a canon)

Liturgist:         The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.

Liturgist:  Let us pray
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Litany Phrase: Alleluia (chanted)

O God, you are Great!  Alleluia
O God, you have made us! Alleluia
O God, you have made yourself known to us!  Alleluia
O God, you have provided us with us a Savior!  Alleluia
O God, you have given us a Christian family!  Alleluia
O God, you have forgiven our sins!  Alleluia
O God, you brought your Son Jesus back from the dead!  Alleluia

A reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Liturgist: The Word of the Lord
People: Thanks be to God
Liturgist: Let us read together from Psalm 25

Show me your ways, O LORD, * and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, * for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.
Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love, * for they are from everlasting.


Litany Phrase: Thanks be to God! (chanted)

Litanist:
For the good earth, for our food and clothing. Thanks be to God!
For our families and friends. Thanks be to God!
For the talents and gifts that you have given to us. Thanks be to God!
For this day of worship. Thanks be to God!
For health and for a good night’s sleep. Thanks be to God!
For work and for play. Thanks be to God!
For teaching and for learning. Thanks be to God!
For the happy events of our lives. Thanks be to God!
For the celebration of the birthdays and anniversaries of our friends and parish family.
Thanks be to God!

Liturgist:         The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke
People: Glory to you, Lord Christ.

Jesus said, "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. "Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

Liturgist:         The Gospel of the Lord.
People: Praise to you, Lord Christ.

Sermon:  Fr. Phil

Children’s Creed

We did not make ourselves, so we believe that God the Father is the maker of the world.
Since God is so great and we are so small,
We believe God came into our world and was born as Jesus, son of the Virgin Mary.
We need God’s help and we believe that God saved us by the life, death and
     resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We believe that God is present with us now as the Holy Spirit.
We believe that we are baptized into God’s family the Church where everyone is
     welcome.
We believe that Christ is kind and fair.
We believe that we have a future in knowing Jesus Christ.
And since we all must die, we believe that God will preserve us forever.  Amen.

Litany Phrase: Christ, have mercy. (chanted)

For fighting and war to cease in our world. Christ, have mercy.
For peace on earth and good will towards all. Christ, have mercy.
For the safety of all who travel. Christ, have mercy.
For jobs for all who need them. Christ, have mercy.
For care of those who are growing old. Christ, have mercy.
For the safety, health and nutrition of all the children in our world. Christ, have mercy.
For the well-being of our families and friends. Christ, have mercy.
For the good health of those we know to be ill. Christ, have mercy.
For the remembrance of those who have died. Christ, have mercy.
For the forgiveness of all of our sins. Christ, have mercy.

Liturgist:         The Peace of the Lord be always with you.
People:            And also with you.

Song during the preparation of the Altar and the receiving of an offering.

Song: Wait for the Lord, (Renew # 278)
Wait for the Lord, his day is near.  Wait for the Lord, be strong, take heart.

 Doxology
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Prologue to the Eucharist
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, for to them belong the kingdom of heaven.”
All become members of a family by birth or adoption.
Baptism is a celebration of birth into the family of God.
A family meal gathers and sustains each human family.
The Holy Eucharist is the special meal that Jesus gave to his friends to keep us together as the family of Christ.

The Lord be with you
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to God.
It is right to give God thanks and praise.

It is very good and right to give thanks, because God made us, Jesus redeemed us and the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts.  Therefore with Angels and Archangels and all of the world that we see and don’t see, we forever sing this hymn of praise:

Holy, Holy, Holy (Intoned)
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of Power and Might.  Heav’n and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 
Hosanna in the highest. Hosanna in the Highest.

All may gather around the altar

Our grateful praise we offer to you God, our Creator;
You have made us in your image
And you gave us many men and women of faith to help us to live by faith:
Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachael.
And then you gave us your Son, Jesus, born of Mary, nurtured by Joseph
And he called us to be sons and daughters of God.
Your Son called us to live better lives and he gave us this Holy Meal so that when we eat
  the bread and drink the wine, we can  know that the Presence of Christ is as near to us as  
  this food and drink  that becomes a part of us.

The Prayer continues with these words

And so, Father, we bring you these gifts of bread and wine. Bless and sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Sanctify us by your Holy Spirit so that might love God and our neighbor.

On the night when Jesus was betrayed he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his friends, and said, "Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me."
After supper, Jesus took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and said, "Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me."

Father, we now celebrate the memorial of your Son. When we eat this holy Meal of Bread and Wine, we are telling the entire world about the life, death and resurrection of Christ and that his presence will be with us in our future.

Let this holy meal keep us together as friends who share a special relationship because of your Son Jesus Christ.  May we forever live with praise to God to whom we belong as sons and daughters.

By Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory
 is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen.

And now as our Savior Christ has taught us, we now sing,
(Children rejoin their parents and take up their instruments)

Our Father: (Renew # 180, West Indian Lord’s Prayer)
Our Father who art in heaven:  Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done: Hallowed be thy name.

Done on earth as it is in heaven: Hallowed be thy name.
Give us this day our daily bread: Hallowed be thy name.

And forgive us all our debts: Hallowed be thy name.
As we forgive our debtors: Hallowed be thy name.

Lead us not into temptation: Hallowed be thy name.
But deliver us from evil: Hallowed be thy name.

Thine is the kingdom, power, and glory: Hallowed be thy name.
Forever and ever: Hallowed be thy name.

Amen, amen, amen: Hallowed be thy name.
Amen, amen, amen, amen: Hallowed be thy name.


Breaking of the Bread

Celebrant:        Alleluia! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
People:            Therefore let us keep the feast.  Alleluia!

Words of Administration

Communion Song: Eat This Bread , (Renew # 228)
            Eat this bread, drink this cup.  Come to me and never be hungry.  Eat this bread, drink this cup,
            come to me and you will not thirst.

Post-Communion Prayer

Everlasting God, we have gathered for the meal that Jesus asked us to keep;
We have remembered his words of blessing on the bread and the wine.
And His Presence has been known to us.
We have remembered that we are sons and daughters of God and brothers
    and sisters in Christ.
Send us forth now into our everyday lives remembering that the blessing in the
     bread and wine spreads into each time, place and person in our lives,
As we are ever blessed by you, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Closing Song: Soon and Very Soon, (Renew # 276)
Soon and very soon, we are going to see the king; soon and very soon, we are going to see the king; soon and very soon we are going to see the king.  Hallelujah, hallelujah, we’re going to see the king.
No more crying there, we are going to see the king; no more crying there, we are going to see the king; no more crying there, we are going to see the king.  Hallelujah, hallelujah, we’re going to see the king.
No more dying there, we are going to see the king; no more dying there, we are going to see the king; no more dying there, we are going to see the king.  Hallelujah, hallelujah, we’re going to see the king.

Dismissal:   
Liturgist: Let us go forth in the Name of Christ. 
People: Thanks be to God!