May, 7 2017:
Fr. Harry Allagree, ObJN.
Feb. 19, 2017: Seventh Sunday after Epiphany:
The Rev. Deacon Marcia Tyriver
NOV. 20, 2016
Jen speaking at the St Patricks 9 A.M. Eucharist
Sept. 16, 2016
Deacon Marcia Tyriver
This is a talk given on May 7, 2017 at St. Patrick’s by Fr. Harry Allagree, ObJN, a professed Oblate of the Order of Julian of Norwich, and a retired priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California. Fr. Allagree was first introduced to Julian and her Revelations of Love in 1994, and made his profession as an Oblate in June, 1997. Further information about Julian and the Order of Julian of Norwich can be found at www.orderofjulian.org."
Thomas Merton once wrote: “Julian is without doubt one of the most wonderful of all Christian voices. She gets greater and greater in my eyes as I grow older, and whereas in the old days I used to be crazy about St. John of the Cross, I would not exchange him now for Julian if you gave me the world and the Indies and all the Spanish mystics rolled up in one bundle. I think that Julian of Norwich is, with Newman, the greatest English theologian.” (The Complete Julian of Norwich, by Father John-Julian, OJN, Paraclete Press, 2009)
Proper 16: Amos 6: 1a, 4-7; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 6:6-19; Luke 16:1-13
One of the “Concerts Across America to End Gun Violence”.
Last Christmas my 9 year-old grand-daughter told me what her favorite movie was – A Christmas Carol. The version staring George C. Scott as Scrooge.
Remember the scary parts? Those parts that scared Scrooge into being compassionate?
The Ghosts and visions of Christmas Past, Present, and Future!
My young grandchildren were frightened, yet fascinated with them. But seeing Scrooge transformed into a jolly, generous man…..that was the best part!
Dickens’ Christmas Carol is a cultural icon. So is Scrooge. And isn’t it fun to say “Bah, Humbug!”?
The thing is…both Dickens’ novel and the parable in today’s gospel are morality stories. Both have the intent to move us from complacency to compassion to social justice.
The parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus was an old folktale. Probably one Jesus heard as a child.
It was told to scare people into compassion and social justice.
Compassion and social justice …that’s what the whole lectionary is about today.
The point of the gospel is that the rich man was quite satisfied with his own ease. His life was great! He didn’t even take notice of the beggar at his front door. He had no compassion for poor Lazarus and was not at all interested in social justice. He gives Lazarus no notice. There is no connection, no social consciousness.
When Lazarus dies, he is escorted by angels to the bosom of Abraham. When the rich man dies, he is doomed to the flames of Hades. Abraham has no time for the rich man’s pleading.
Each man has gotten his due.
No cool water for the rich man. No chance of warning to the rich man’s five brothers to mend their ways.
End of morality story.
In today’s lectionary Amos deals with the same call to compassion and social justice, …but not with story or folktale!
Amos was sent by God to give the indulgent Israelites a real scolding …and a dire warning. They were living luxuriously… complacent about the oppression of the poor…unconcerned with any social justice.
Amos accused them, “You are not grieved over the ruin of Israel.“
He warned them, “Therefore you shall be the first to go into exile, …and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.” No wonder Amos was banned…ordered out of the country by the king!
Indeed, 30 years later the exile came! It was believed to be God’s judgment. Assyrians captured them, the Northern Kingdom,…and eventually the Southern Kingdom too would be taken and exiled by the Babylonians.
How about today’s psalm and epistle?
Yes, the same theme of compassion and social justice.
From the psalm: “Happy are those whose help is in the God of Jacob…who executed justice for the oppressed, who give food to the hungry”.
And from the letter to Timothy: …all of us “are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous,
and ready to share”. And that famous line…”the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
It’s all familiar, isn’t it.
We know all this. But what can we do?
What can we do in the face of our nation’s several social justice problems? Problems that include:
3. Historically marginalized communities without equal protection under the law:
4. Frequent undervaluing and dismissive treatment of children, women, workers, immigrants, … Native Americans:
5. Racism…from which our national psyche is still not free…wounded as we all are, directly or indirectly, from slavery’s immorality, from Jim Crow laws, and from the lingering effects of the extreme harm of all that to all of us:
6. Inequity in health care and education:
7. Inequality in our courts:
8. Inequality in wages:
9. Needed reform in our prison systems;
10. Needed reform of our criminal justice system.
What can we do about all of this?
First of all, it behooves us to keep ourselves close to God.
Take time to sit with God and wait…listen.
This helps keep us clear away some of our own impulses and fears.
Then, as the OT prophet Micah said, “…do justice, love kindness, and…walk humbly with your God”.
Secondly, realize that both the national and local church have things in place in which we can participate.
Episcopal Relief and Development helps in the nation and world to get people on their own feet with gifts of seed for them to grow food, animals to provide milk and eggs, and financial aid to drill wells, for example.
The Episcopal Public Policy Network is a voice to guide us with social justice issues.
Locally, here at St. Patrick’s, our wonderful Outreach Committee actively creates projects to earn money to help with inequities. They create chances for us to serve the community by donating to and distributing food at FISH. We are thankful for the wise and careful distribution of financial help to local, national, and world causes, which our Outreach Committee manages. I am impressed by St. Patrick’s generous outreach…by its response to social injustices.
How about the way we relate to one another here at St. Patrick’s?
Acts of kindness and help abound. …including supportive phone calls; delivering food where it will help both peoples’ tummies and their spirit; and providing rides when needed.
Praying for one-another. Thank you to the Daughters of the King who maintain daily prayer vigil.
Just the way we talk with one another …and the way we listen to one-another can bring healing care and validation. This ripples out into the world.
But at this point I want to speak to you as your deacon.
What is a deacon?
Historically, deacons were created in the early church because there was more to do than the priest could do. So deacons were named to serve those in need. Deacons help with liturgical duties…preparing the bread and wine for consecration, and “cleaning-up” after it is distributed.
(That’s why our stoles twist around to the side so as not to get in the way the way a priest’s stole might!)
Just as you are not paid for your ministries, deacons are not paid. You and we are “servant ministers”. Deacons are assigned to a church by their bishop and moved at the bishop’s discretion.
One of our ordination vows is to “bring the church to the world and the world to the church”.
One of my current main ministries is working with co-chairperson Miriam Casey to increase awareness of how we can help diminish the epidemic of gun violence in our culture. We thank The Rev. Jennifer Hornbeck, the vestry, and the congregation for their support of our work. With gun violence and with all social injustices, we can see what’s happening.
Remember the Zulu greeting and response Jen has taught us?
“I see you.”
The reply to which is “I’m here.”
The victims of social injustice are telling us “I’m here!”
The wounded victims of gun violence, as well as the dead victims, tell us,
We can tell them all… “I see you. I will help.”
Or, as we say in our baptismal vows, “I will, with God’s help”.
This is being an active peace maker.
It is being quick to love …and making haste to be kind.
For, as the Swiss poet and philosopher Henri-Frederic Amiel famously said, “Life is short, and we do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us, so be quick to love and make haste to be kind….”
Add to that what our contemporary, the Rev. Dr. Wm. J. Barker II says. (His is a gigantic voice today …a voice of prophetic moral vision. He is our Amos!)
He warns us that, “Systemic injustice is never corrected by sentiment. It takes legislation.” That is, it takes our work for social justice.
Lord, help us do this.
May our heart’s response be, …“I will… with God’s help.” AMEN.
OCT. 9, 2016
Deacon Marcia Tyriver
Proper 23: Ps 111; 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c; 2 Timothy 2:8-15; Luke 17:11-19
I live in Oakmont… and there’s a sign there that amuses me every time I see it.
It’s next to the lawn-bowling green.
It’s only four words… with no punctuation.
… “Green reserved bowlers only.”
Green reserved bowlers only!?
Now, that’s ostracizing almost everyone …unless you are both green… and shy!
But, if you put a period after “Green reserved.” …and continue with “Bowlers only,” then it communicates… “This green is reserved. It is only for bowlers.”
No ostracizing intended! Just protecting the green…with the sign “Green reserved bowlers only”.
However, today’s gospel story of the ten lepers clearly involves ostracizing.
Lepers were forbidden to come into the city. Excluded from living with others. People were forbidden to walk close to them. It was the law to stay at least 6 feet away from them! If the wind was blowing, you had to stay at least 150 feet away.
They were marginalized. Legally unclean. Ritually unclean.
The Book of Leviticus mandates “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’”
In Luke’s story, there are ten lepers. But one of them was doubly ostracized… doubly victimized…
Not only was he a leper, he was a Samaritan, not an Israelite.
Samaritans were a mixed-blood race created by Israelites left behind from the first exile. They intermarried with the Gentiles who were brought-in by the occupying Assyrians.
Samaritans were so reviled by the Jews that they were not allowed to help rebuild the temple. Since they were held in such enmity, they resorted to building their own, rival temple. Their religion was an adaptation of Judaism.
At the very least, they were suspect.
Mostly, they were vilified.
We can assume there was prejudice by the other nine lepers against the Samaritan in their group… that he was snubbed despite their common suffering.
Jesus saw all ten from afar.
Here the Greek word Luke uses for “saw” is harao. It means more than just seeing. The word means understanding!
Seeing them, Jesus understood how they felt being ostracized.
He understood their suffering.
He understood their humiliation.
However, this time he did not touch them to heal them as he had done with another leper.
Instead, he stayed within Jewish law and tradition.
Tradition was that if a leper were healed it was to be done by a prophet or a “man of God.” Jesus did that, and then he sent them off to their priests, because it was solely the priest’s role to inspect a leper, to name the severity of his affliction, to quarantine him appropriately, to examine him seven days later, and eventually, after repeating this cycle as needed, to pronounce the leper healed… or not.
Even after being pronounced “clean,” what followed was days of ceremonious bathing, washing clothes, and animal sacrifices for reparation before the victim could return to his home.
Jesus “followed protocol” by sending the ten lepers to their priests for inspection and proclamation of cleanliness. Notice it says priests… plural… for the Samaritan could not have had the same priest as the Israelites. Although all ten lepers were healed as they left Jesus… only the Samaritan turned back to thank him.
Then, overcome, the Samaritan sank face-down before Jesus, in submission and awe.
He praised and thanked Jesus.
He chose to return to Jesus, rather than to go back to the system of laws, to the rules of purity, and to the rituals of sacrifice.
He chose to discontinue following the power of “the establishment.”
He put his faith in this new compassion, in this new acceptance... in Jesus.
In that, his faith made him well.
The word Luke chose here for “well” is sozo, which means to be saved… to be rescued.
Indeed, with or without leprosy, the Samaritan was now living in the grace of God’s love…because of his new faith.
He was now emotionally well, spiritually well, and psychologically well.
Now he was loved.
Please don’t get caught here in the trap of misinterpretation. This does not mean that if we are sick or if we don’t get well it’s because of our lack of faith!
Certainly living in faith does help our health. But even when sick, even when mortally ill, when we cannot be physically healed, our faith can heal our souls.
Our soul can be made well… made well by gratitude, hope, love… by faith.
It is the love of one another and of God “our most holy and beloved companion” that keeps us well.
Well... despite the world’s turmoil.
Well… despite the vulnerabilities of our bodies.
Well… despite whatever circumstance in which we find ourselves.
We need not live in chaos. We can live in hope.
We can live in God, who loves us, created us, redeems us, and sanctifies us.
Christ lovingly gave his life, showing us the victorious strength and peace of non-violence.
This has changed the world.
This will continue to change the world.
Generation by generation. Culture by culture. In God’s time. We hold onto that. We love and remind each other of that.
Accepting our mortality, we know that life after our earthly life is good.
Love is eternal. God is eternal. We are part of that.
This is the real miracle… the fundamental miracle that we are more than ourselves.
We are part of one another. We are God’s.
So, the Samaritan leper received a double healing. Healing from his leprosy, yes, but the transforming healing miracle was his new life in faith.
He was saved by his faith in coming to Christ. As Martin Luther said, justified by faith, not works.
Sometimes we have a hard time accepting that.
Today’s Old Testament lesson tells us Namaan had a hard time accepting that!
Namaan was a commander in the army of the King of Damascus. However, he had a “spot” of leprosy. Maybe he’d been able to evade having the spot inspected because of the power of his rank.
At any rate, he was not yet ostracized. Elisha, the prophet, a “holy man,” was summoned and sent a messenger to tell Namaan what to do to cure his leprosy.
But the remedy was too easy for him to accept.
He railed against Elisha, who had not come to him in person.
He raged about being told to wash in the Jordan and not in one of the “better” rivers of Damascus, his homeland.
The grace of the cure was too easy for him to accept. He wanted more fireworks.
He felt he needed to work harder to get it… mistrusting the simplicity of the way in which the gift would come. It came from God, not from Namaan’s own heroic efforts.
His servants persuaded Namaan to come off his attitude and just accept the easy instructions.
After his cure, he too returned to thank “the man of God.” He confessed his faith.
Our faith rescues us and saves us.
This is the sense of the word “well” Jesus used when he told the Samaritan his faith made him well.
It is the same sense as this meditation by Howard Thurman (Meditations of the Heart), who wrote:
“I do not seek the comfort of a guarantee that all my tomorrows will be safe and sure, (nor)…that strength will be mine at a single time to carry all my need in the days ahead. This would be too much, too much for such a one as I. I rest this day in God.”
It is the same sense as the psalmist who said:
“O Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I do not occupy myself with things too great and marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother.
My soul is like a weaned child that is with me.
O, Israel, hope in the Lord,
from this time forth forevermore.”
May we also hope in the Lord… forevermore. Amen. (ps. 131)