Celebrate your Easter with a service at St. James! Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
Saturday, March 31 at 7:30 PM Easter Vigil and Holy Eucharist
Sunday, April 1 at 10:00 AM Flowering of the Cross (bring flowers from your garden!)
at 10:30 AM Easter Service with Festal Holy Eucharist
Continue your Spiritual Journey by joining us for special services this Holy Week!
Monday, March 26 at 6:30 PM Holy Eucharist of the Reconciliation
Tuesday, March 27 at 6:30 PM Holy Eucharist of the Renewal
Wednesday, March 28 at Noon Healing Service with Holy Eucharist
at 6:30 PM Tenebrae Service (no Holy Eucharist)
Thursday, March 29 at 6:30 PM Maundy Thursday with Holy Eucharist, Foot washing & Stripping the Altar
Friday, March 30 at 8:00 AM Morning Prayer
at Noon Stations of the Cross
at 6:00 PM Stations of the Cross
at 6:30 PM Good Friday Service with Holy Eucharist
Saturday, March 31 at Noon Holy Saturday Liturgy at the Columbarium (in the Chapel)
In short, “run, hide, or fight.” I have participated in several training sessions on how to respond to an “active shooter.” This is a difficult topic to deal with in church, but we all know that such things happen in churches and, at the same time, we have some reluctance to talk about what to do. They happen in schools, too, so even our young children are familiar with the possibility and with what to do in the event of a “lock-down.” Conversations are ongoing among several members of our parish about preparing a plan to deal with mitigating this threat (and other risks as well). The following points will serve as an initial plan of response that should improve our chances of survival.
First, when you become aware that someone is shooting, run. During any emergency, most people run to the door through which they entered. That door might be blocked by the shooter or it might be blocked by other people trying to run. It is best to always notice all of the exits whenever entering a building or room—make a habit of it. In our worship space, there is an exit to the left of the lectern at the bottom of the stairs. It opens to the north and the parking lot. Run north and scatter between the houses. Another exit is to the right of the pulpit. It opens to the south. You will need to turn the deadbolt above the doorknob. Get in touch with 911. If you are being shot at while running, don’t run in a straight line. It is much harder to hit a moving target than a stationary one, so your chances of survival have improved just because you are moving.
Second, if you cannot run away, then hide. Find a closet, utility room, or other space. If the shooter has to go looking for people, then his rate of killing has slowed and more people are likely to survive. If you have gone into another room, such as the conference room in the church office or the gift shop, consider barricading the door. If the shooter comes to that door, then jump out the windows. All of our windows are new and easy to open. The sliding part, after opening, can be lifted out. You might break some bones, but students at Virginia Tech who did this survived.
Third, if the first two options are not possible, then fight. How in the world can unarmed people resist a man with a firearm? The point is to slow down the shooter’s rate of killing until the police arrive. Episcopalians are especially well armed in this regard. Throw prayer books and hymnals at him. If many people do this then he will not murder as many people in a given amount of time. This might sound like a sure way to die, and some will, but all of the mass shootings have shown that just hiding under a desk or pew will result in getting shot. The Virginia Tech shooter even put targets in rows on the ground and was observed slowly walking by and shooting each one, which is exactly what he did to the students who tried to take cover under their desks. If you fight and slow down his rate of killing, your chances of survival have improved and you have improved the chances of others too.
“Duck and cover” is precisely the wrong thing to do. “Run, hide, or fight.”
I recommend this excellent and brief article from the Wall Street Journal.
November 2017 bulletins and newsletters at St. Peter & All Saints Episcopal Church, Kansas City, MO
Wednesday, February 28th was our first Lenten Wednesday soup supper and Contemplative Mass. That’s because of the weather the week before. We had 30 people for the soup supper, study on Compassion, and then the Contemplative Mass. It was a beautiful celebration of community, study, and worship.
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. *
Are you a favored one of God? Mary did not expect to be favored one of God. Angel appeared to her and told her without a choice that she is the favorite of God. She only had a choice to say Yes.
To know if we are the favored one we need to look at the blessings we have received and that is the easy part. Many times it recognizes what a blessing is the hard part. Usually, blessings are pretty easy to recognize because we have an idea of what blessings are.
Here is what happened to Mary after she was called the blessed one. She was told that God had found favor with her and she needs to brace up and be ready for the incredible gift she is being given. Then she is told what that gift is. A child. She is not married yet. She is a teenager. And she has a child. There is no man involved. And we know how we will look at such a girl when she says she doesn’t know the man. She hadn’t been with a man.
The so-called blessing here is not a great social standing. Not a proper marriage. Not a good health and no morning sickness. It is that she is going to give birth to a child whose father is an innocent man and then he is going to be the son of God.
In our world today we will call such people delusional. Because we have an idea what blessings look like. The point is, blessed ones are those who can take the day as it comes. It is the serenity with which we can face the day as is planned by God. Blessedness is simply letting God do what God can do, and when God does it, we accept it.
There are several people in the Bible we read about those who were blessed and favored by God. Starting with Abel. He found favor with God. Well. Didn’t end well. Did it? He was killed by Cain.
Noah: Found favor in God’s sight. Well. That didn’t go too good because he had to figure out how to survive.
Abraham: I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. He was invited to sacrifice his own child. That’s a bummer.
Joseph: God favored him and shown special love. Didn’t end well, ended up in the well.
Israel: God finds favor with the people of Israel, and therefore he brought them out of the land of Egypt. And then what happened? They wandered through the wilderness for the next forty years. Wow. That’s favor in God’s sight.
Job: Hmm… He was the favored one.
We have to redefine what it means to be in favor of God. And we probably need to open our eyes, shed our shells in the eyes and see where God is leading us.
St. Theresa of Avila would say “no wonder you don’t have too many friends. Those whom you love you break their every bone”.
However, once we see the favorability of God, we might choose nothing else. Paul the Apostle did. All the apostles took the favor of God and got killed for it except John.
God favors his chosen and gives them the wisdom to redefine their life. God makes it easy for people to see in death is life, in forgiveness is happiness and in letting go is the freedom.
So today I want to invite you to rejoice in this day and your call. Because is the best make up you can ever have. “Be like a tiny bird with a big song.” (Jerry Van Amerongen.) “One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar.” (Helen Keller).
We are right around the corner from the manger of Christ. We are eager to know what this new season brings to us and what can we be excited about. The birth of Christ and all the celebration that goes with it, in reality, is all about new life. We all love new life, and we all can put away those moments of darkness and depression behind and rejoice. Human beings love stress free, happy and joyful moments.
I want to wish you a merry, blessed Christmas. I want to tell you; we are in a new and exciting time in the life of St. James. We are growing and changing. We are becoming new every day. Christ is among us, and I want to encourage you to experience the Lord in the community. Belong and Believe!
We will launch a new website on Christmas morning. I had been working on this site for two months. We will announce the easy to remember address on Christmas Morning! I also want to share with you of the several new programs coming in 2018: Four new worship services each month, contemplative retreats through the year, musical offerings at various times in the year, Christian formation activities and more. There is now, even more, a reason for people to come to St. James and belong. We will provide more opportunities for those who are seeking a non-invasive, spiritually abundant community to belong. I need your help to spread the word. Share our new website with your friends, on Facebook and with those who are seeking a new community.
Once again a blessed and joyful Christmas. May the choicest blessings of the Little Child of the manger be upon you and your family.
Today I want to talk to you about feeling unworthy before God. Or should we feel unworthy of God?
You know it is a complicated question for me. Here is the reason. I am a free thinker, in the sense that I believe that God should love me, and God should care for me, and God should do everything right for me because in the end I am of God and God has created me. God has a responsibility to take care of me. God must make sure I am successful and blessed in life. So, God can not just sit idle and make me fail. I am worthy to stand before God because God is my father. The list goes on and on.
Is there anyone among you who feel that? Or don’t you think I am telling the truth here? Is there a parent out there who do not want their children to be successful, happy and blessed? If you are, I don’t know what kind of a parent you are. I wish success and greatness for my children. I want them to be the best and most successful.
When my child comes to me saying he is unworthy of my love, I want to shower him with my love and my care. What reminds me here is the story of the prodigal son, and I would call it the prodigal father. The father who lost control and made the return of his lost son into a huge feast. He made him feel worthy again. Father made him a prince in the household while the son thought of himself as unworthy to walk into the house of his father. Somewhere in the back of his mind, the son knew, his father could not spare him his love. All it required is for him to recognize how unworthy he is before the abundance of love.
I have several more examples that come to my mind in the scriptures.
There was a centurion who came to Jesus one day and said, ““Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.”. Matthew 8:8.
He knew what power meant. He was a powerful man, and he did not have to stoop down before this layman, who does not apparently have any power in the world and seek his guidance. But the centurion says, “I am unworthy of your attention,” could you please.
Don’t we ask our children to say please if they want us to do something for them? Why? We all want the other to have some humility, some grace and some understanding of one another. We want people to recognize our limitation without the help of the other.
To feel unworthy is not a bad thing. It is the right thing to do when we know we don’t deserve all that we say we deserve, if not for the grace and kindness of the other. We get what we get many times because someone else is kind to us and caring for us.
I have a house to live in because you are kind to let me have it. I have a place to work today because you are kind to call me. I can go a long way if I have some humility to work with.
You know where the river flows? Rivers are always in the valley. Am I right? Where the nomads settle? Near the rivers. Why? Because water brings life. Low lying areas have water in them, and they produce fruits and flowers. They make trees grow.
It is humility that makes the Spiritual life meaningful. It is knowing that we are unworthy that makes us beautiful people.
I hate proud people, people who think they know everything and they are everything, and without them, the world will end. Nobody is indispensable. We all can be dispensed with. Let nobody believe we are so important in this world that this world won’t’ be a good place without us. God has a place, and that takes into consideration the totality of the wellbeing of the world. We have a choice to become one part of the story and not the whole story. We only have one role to play, and if we play it right, we will have a place in the puzzle.
The beautiful world we live in a world that looks like a puzzle. If I do not place myself in the right place of the puzzle, then I won’t complete the whole picture. If I think my place in the puzzle is not most important I am wrong. I am important, and I need to fit into the puzzle to complete the picture.
So knowing our place, and our potential is a wonderful thing. But having some humility to know that God can still complete the puzzle without us, is wisdom. You don’t need to come under my room to make a difference in my life, just your thought, your kindness, your love and your look, your smile would all do.
Make someone feel worthy. It can be done with a simple smile, a genuine text, a sympathy card and the list goes on. The spiritual life of worthiness and unworthiness needs to be addressed in the context of who we are in the eyes of God, nothing more and nothing less as St. Francis would say.
Righteous people are those who will ask when did we see you hungry and thirsty. We are unworthy, but you gave us a blessing.
Peter said, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man”. Did Jesus go away? Would you leave your children when they admit they made a mistake? Will you not walk with someone who is aware of his failure and mistake? We will do, and we should all do.
Feeling unworthy is a blessing. Being unworthy is not. We are worthy of God’s love; our being is in need of God to function well. But knowing we don’t work well without God is this feeling of unworthiness, and that is what we call humility. Like Peter who asked Jesus to depart him. Like the centurion who said, do not come under my roof, like John the Baptist who said, I am unworthy to untie the string of his shoes, like Paul who said,” I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle.”
Feeling unworthy is a blessing.
Being unworthy is not.
Feeling unworthy is a start to grace.
Being unworthy is a lie.
Our being deserves God.
Our feeling of unworthiness helps us experience God better.