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Genesis 2: God’s Essence

The gates are open. A beautiful paradise, the best of all gardens in the world, is now opened to Adam and Eve, to possess, to enjoy, and take charge of. Everything in it belonged to them into whom God breathed life, the Godly Essence.

This garden becomes the ground of all possibilities. It is not only that the garden becomes all that is possible but it becomes the place where God puts His complete trust in us. God rests after God entrusts us with everything that he created. The priced creation is once and forever given to the fragile man to work with and then build.

God believed in the man and the woman, the feeble creation, the creation into whom God breathed his potential and power, to do the right thing regardless of the possibility of him doing the wrong thing. It is blind faith in human potential. That is because God knew what we are capable of if taken full responsibility for what is entrusted to us. The seed of the greatest act is planted in the heart of man. God trusted what God created.

The nakedness of Adam and Eve is the authentic human condition. It is that which attunes our heart to God’s, the stripped off self that is pure. When God looked at them, the nakedness of their heart showed the purity of His creation. They fall into a sleep, a rest from everything around, into a moment of return into the essence of God. In sleep, they returned their power back to the creator. The naked sleep in God becomes the consent man gives to God every day, from day one, so God can continue to rip open human condition to form a new life, here that of Eve.

God believed in the humankind, in you, to be the bearer of new life. He invited and instilled in us the need to till the ground of our hearts, minds, and world. God invited to break open, put back together, to plant, to grow and to multiply just like what He did in six days. He was ready to watch the story unfold again and again.

By calling us to work with Him, God calls upon mankind to be the bearer of life in all form. The story of the tree begins here, from the first tree to the last, the Tree of life of which we are to eat unlike the tree of death of which we are asked to keep away. It is wisdom, the Lord tries to teach us, to know the difference between keeping away and keeping close. But it did not matter what we did, God still let us be partners of the work of creation.

God rested because God entrusted. Maybe all of us will rest if we can entrust our cares and worries into the hands and hearts of those whom we love most. Maybe the reason for the rest was more like a reason for trusting. While the man was formed of the earth, like the potter’s hands that moves through every grain of sand, God’s hand has been through every fiber of our being. Even though God created all of what we know of, God empowers man to name and claim the creation as our own handiwork. That’s trusting. God trusts us to co-create.

The divine essence is divine trust. If the breath of God within us is sufficient for God to trust us, I believe it is sufficient for us to trust the one another. Just like Adam and Eve, I am sure those in whom we put our trust, will fail us. But God does not stop there. God’s behavior is counter-cultural and illogical. That is where God’s essence is different from ours and God’s breath continues to give life. The essence of God, God’s breath in us, the trust he has in us, is proven to be unconditional and forever.

Genesis 1: Divine DNA

I dare say, God is like every other parent in the world. We share God’s DNA. God plans for the birth of a child, and the life beyond. He has already carved you in His palms. The whole creation, especially mankind, was not an accident that God regretted. It’s like you and me when we named our children before he or she was born. Did you not wonder before your child was born, how he or she would look like? Is he going to be more like you or your spouse? What will he become when he grows up? All these dreams and hopes, I am sure I am making God more like a human, must have been in God as well.

I say so, because God, in the end, created you just like him. Image of God, the character of God, was imprinted into a human soul. God claimed each and every person, for that reason everything He did, as God’s special work. Everything was found to be good and worthy of God’s love and care.

The whole story of the first chapter of Genesis is simple, God planned you and for you. You did not just happen and God does not ever regret who you are. You became part of God’s DNA. There may be some genetic mutation in the body, but not in the spirit we share with God. It is eternal and was planned to remain essential to the human condition. Psalms 102: 25 speaks about long ago, God planned every detail of what you are and your surroundings will be.

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR

Like others in St. James Parish, on Sundays I kneel and sincerely confess my sins to our most merciful God.  I long ago memorized this Confession of Faith knowing I have been forgiven and go on to participate in the Holy Eucharist.  Recently, as I pondered that Sunday’s Confession of Faith, it occurred to me ask myself, “What is my duty as a Christian, wasn’t it to be more?  I couldn’t honestly admit that I truly loved my neighbor as myself.

I hardly knew my neighbor at all and suspected she might not be wholly lovable. Living alone in the adjoining half of the duplex Fr. Jos arranged for me to rent, I knew she must comply with the terms of the lease as do I.  She is rarely home and I assumed she spent much time with the fellow whose bright red pickup was often in her driveway.  Once or twice when I saw the familiar truck I tentative rang the doorbell and asked if he would carry a heavy parcel from my car and he always willingly did so.

How nice, I thought, maybe Kim and I could be friends.  She seemed to be cordial enough but always preoccupied and never seemed to be home.  Further, she appeared to usually be too busy to take a turn at moving the joint trash container to or from the curb on trash pick-up day.  When I decided to have a ton of gravel delivered to be spread on my side of the front area near the building and asked if she wanted me to order enough for us both, she declined although once commented that she had noticed me spread the gravel on my side and then around the tree in our joint front yard.  But did that mean we were really neighbors?  Our landlady arranged to have the lawn mowed but we are expected to remove the leaves that fall from the tree in Autumn.  I don’t know what kind of tree it is, but the leaves didn’t turn a lovely shade of red or yellow this past fall.  They just clung to the branches until one day I walked out the front door to an unexpected sight.  On her side of the walkway, there was a tiny cluster of leaves bunched neatly together.  My side was covered with at least an ankle-deep heap of leaves blanketing my whole side of the walk.  How, indeed, could this have happened, particularly since she was rarely home?  After calming myself down from righteous indignation, I grabbed several large plastic lawn bags and spent several hours gathering the leaves into said bags and was off to the recycling center near Lone Pine and Battlefield that Vickie had introduced me to.

So much for the leaves, but I didn’t forget the neat little bunch still remaining on the other side and so life went on.  That is until a few weeks before Christmas when my cell phone rang as I wandered the aisles of Aldi’s.  It was Kim inquiring if I was at home and to which I advised her of my current whereabouts.  In response she replied that there had been a delivery for me that had been left with her and I should pick it up.  After hauling my groceries from the car I rang her doorbell.  Immediately the door swung open and before me stood Kim, attired in a tee shirt and sweat pants.  My eyes were drawn to the gray tee shirt that had the word “Jesus” displayed on the front!  The only words I can recall saying were, “You’re Christian?!”

“Yes,” she calmly replied as she handed me a lovely poinsettia.  “Our landlady always does something wonderful for us a Christmas and this is for you.”

Talk about being embarrassed.  Kim is my neighbor!  After offering a “Merry Christmas” to each other I took my poinsettia and returned to my side of the duplex.  It was then I accepted that Kim is a hardworking Christian woman who spends many hours working and what free time she has, enjoys it with a person who means a lot to her.

While the leaf issue remains unresolved, everything else fell into place.  The next Sunday as I knelt for the Confession of Faith, I really listened to what I was saying and have a renewed understanding of who and what my neighbors are.  My neighbor is Kim next door.  It is the African American truck-driver down the street.  It is my old high school classmates I have lunch with once a month and long-time tennis pals I also occasionally share a meal with.  It is the homeless man blessed enough to have a home at Eden Village and the homeless women to which I donate a few personal items each month for the Safe to Sleep Project.  It is the native American children the “Wrapped in Prayer” knitters made sweaters for one year and regularly make prayer shawls for the ever present unfortunates that struggle with illness.  And, thanks be to God, it is the wonderful people of St. James Parish who are more than neighbors, they are my family.

By Louanna H. LeCompte

Don’t Make A New Year Resolution!

We are a few days into the New Year. I don’t know how many of you have made a New Year resolution. But if you have, that’s a good thing. If you haven’t made a new year resolution, I think that is good as well.

Sometimes facing life as it comes is the best resolution of all, i.e., not to think about all that you are going to do and not doing; not to worry about all that might happen in life but always worrying about it regardless. No matter what the resolution is, we have a tendency to go the opposite direction and then regret because we went the opposite direction. Just like the new year, let there be a new day every day. God blesses every day and therefore, let us make it blessed by living in it. The only resolution needed in the new year, even though I said not to have one, is to live the day as it comes.

On that account, let us have one resolution, and that is to live every day joyfully. Let no one take your joy away. Even when things go wrong, life hasn’t gone wrong at all. Because we don’t know what is ahead of us and let not the past weigh us down too much. Let this year be a year filled with surprises as it happened to the people of Israel at the birth of Jesus.

Living Life Every day!

We are moving forward. With every New Year, we are advancing to the greatest of all the mysteries in the world, the fullness of Christ in our lives. What that means is no matter how the New Year turns out to be, we are still on a journey to realize the potential and possibility of God in our lives.

This also calls us for a journey of awareness through the things that happens in everyday life in the New Year. Christ’s cause will be advanced to its fullness regardless of our cooperation. Therefore working with God will be a good thing to do, because it helps us to be on track in life.

Every surprise that comes along the way will help us to live in the moment and live for the day. Not for the future and life eternal. It is a shame if we are preoccupied with life eternal and forget what is present here and now. Just because of the preoccupation for life after, we forget to live life present.

So make a resolution in life that every day will be the best day of your life. If every day is lived out as the best day as possible, then every day of the future will be better than the day before. So no worries. Live joyfully.

Christmas Is Here To Stay!

Today is Christmas. Christ was born as a human child two thousand years ago and today we celebrate that birth again. The reason Jesus is celebrated, I believe, is because he celebrated the lives of those around him.

Regardless of the rules and regulations, he had to follow he never failed to keep them aside when it came to caring for another human soul. His concern for the other was not for life eternal, but life present. He lived with and for those who around him at the time. Therefore his life became meaningful for those who came after him.

Life eternal is defined quite differently by Jesus by his living it fully. Birth of Jesus defined the possibility of a fuller life without fear for the future. Christmas opens the doors for the fullness of living as human beings. That means it can be in any life situation we are in, whether it is in poverty, wealth, clarity or confusion.

Christmas is here and now in whatever you find yourself to be in. Merry Christmas. For Christ was born at the most inconvenient time, place and people. Still, made it to resurrection in the end. We all have a chance to make it to the end regardless. Live fully and therefore we can love fully.

The Magic Of Christmas!

The mystery of Jesus’ birth is incredible because it comes with all kinds of interesting details. The angel Gabriel in person and in dream, the star in the east, the birth in the fields, the choice of the first visitors to the manger, the magi, escape from someone trying to kill him, and list of mystery surrounding the birth of Jesus goes on. Now we have added a few more to this list by bringing in a magical Santa clause and now there is Mrs. Clause, the reindeer that can fly, the slay bells and it goes on and on.

So this whole story of the birth of Jesus is something out of this world and beautiful. Children are the most beautiful and innocent of all people in the world. That’s why Jesus asks us to be like little children. Because children in their innocence believe in these stories of Santa, Flying Reindeer. This is a magical season because the mystery captures us beyond our imagination. The mystery of Christmas and Christ is magical because it defies human rational. Christmas escapes human constructs. Even the world that does not believe in Jesus is fascinated by the magic of the season.

We are invited to become part of what we do not understand and believe in the mystery of God’s power in our lives. God emerges from what we do not understand. And that is why we call it, “Tremendum et fascinans”. Tremendous and Beautiful things make faith come alive, because they are beyond human paradigms.

It is better put by J.M. Barrie, a 20th century writer, “I am not young enough to know everything”. We have lost our innocence to believe in everything and know everything as mystery and therefore believable. We are grown over the age of believing in the fascinating beauty of God and all that are Godly.

Faith is a mystery because you don’t have a clue about it while you believe it.

Hope is a mystery because it is still in the future of which you have no clue about.

Love is mystery, because you fall in love with people you don’t know why?

Everything that is beautiful in this world, remain beautiful because they don’t make absolute sense to us. The great wonders, the great arts, the great music and all of it contain in themselves the properties of Magic and Mystery and therefore remain aloof from human understanding.

Its like staring at Michael Angelo’s Pieta over and over.

Its like standing at the Niagra and still can’t get away.

Its like listening to Mozart a thousand times.

Its like watching the fireworks many times over.

And there are a lot more things you do again and again and again and still not gotten enough of it. That is because we all like what we don’t understand or define.

So today I want to invite you to believe in the magic of Christmas. Because you will be a whole lot happier when you can believe like the children, who are innocent and pure in their hearts waiting for the reindeer to fly and Santa to come down through the chimney.

Christmas is about letting go of our control of what is possible in our minds to what is possible for God. Christmas is about letting God’s magic make our miracles, just like we were created out of nothing. Just like we love without reason, we believe without proof, we hope without evidence. When faith, hope and love are lived out in a world of mystery, they become magical, transformational and powerful.

So once again what is magic? Magic is the powerful explosion of a mystery right in front of our eyes. Magic is produced by the hard working, the unassuming, humble, prayerful, beautiful and life changing people.  And the cast is today’s magical story is Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, Magi, The animals and bystanders. And the Magic of their first belief in the mystery of God, then their hard work, long journey, cold nights is Jesus, is a savior for the world. And it makes no sense to us still.

When you begin to believe without proof, hope without evidence, and love without reason, then Christmas is here and it is everyday of your life. Wish you a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

Gift Of Time

We are quickly approaching the special day of Christmas. Most of us have celebrated this particular feast day as long as we can remember. We know what is coming and we anticipate all the traditions that come within our own families and our own church. There is really nothing new but we make an effort each year to make it new and special.

For those of us who have lived their childhood and are now in their adult years, many of the family traditions that take place have happened time and time again…..maybe 20 or 50 years. It is easy to lose energy and excitement about the presents we may give or get for Christmas. It might get harder to show enthusiasm about decorating or baking but these celebrations have become a way of celebrating relationships, love, and friendships. The celebration becomes a time to renew appreciation and affirm the good in others. Christmas renews our faith and becomes a focus in the shortened days of winter.

      So today, I want to invite all of you, young and not so young in age but at heart, to find a way to spend some quality time with those whom you love – listening, smiling, laughing, nodding your heads, eating together, and just being together. Why not give “time” as a gift to the other in your lives rather than spending your time in shops and roadways? Why not look into the eyes of the other to see where they are for real and experience what is going on in their hearts?

I want to wish you a blessed week ahead. Spend a little less time in the busyness of the holidays and more in the presence of those whom you love.

Ministry Sign UP

If you are in the list of approved ministers at St. James Episcopal Church, please take a moment to sign up for ministries you can serve on Sundays. Click on the link to check all the open dates. Check the sign up box against the ministry that you are interested in, click “submit” at the bottom of the sign up page, enter your name and email address. You will receive a reminder email automatically 3 days before the date you signed up for.

Click here to Sign UP

How to Solve The mystery of Trinity!

We are now in the season of Lent. It is a time for a deeper look into our lives, and make necessary changes from within. Sometimes the changes we make are small and simple, but the impact they may have in our lives is greater and powerful. For example, taking a cup of coffee or tea or a glass of water on a regular basis may not sound like a big thing. But doing it at the same time on a regular basis will form a ritual, which will span into the rest of our lives.

We all need rituals of some sort to help us calm us in a chaotic world. Rituals have the power to settle us into some routines that sometimes we take comfort in when everything else goes haywire. So, finding that ritual is a big deal and makes that happen on a regular basis makes it even more transformative.

We are blessed with a community with rituals and practices of faith. Every time I think of church I think of the Holy Trinity. When I have trouble understanding what Trinity is, I now look into what church is. That’s because I think of Trinity as a community just the same way I look at the church.

Do I understand what church is? Nope. Not all the time. It is hard to understand all that happens in a community, but at the same time once we become part of the community on a regular basis we find the community of believers formative, transformational and at the same time challenging. Church will call us to look into ourselves deeper and harder if we are honest with ourselves.

So my call to you today is, *be part of your worshipping community.* The church is a place where we truly find ourselves. It is only then we will find God. Until we see who we are, we may not find who God is. God is always and will always be present in the community. The mystery of Trinity can be solved. It’s not that hard. *It’s a matter of letting God find us in the community. *