Pray together

March 18

This memory came up today on my facebook feed from last year.

My husband and I welcomed Omar into our family last year when we hosted him as an Exchange student.

He is from Cairo, Egypt. He is faithful and passionate about his Muslim religion practices and prayer life.

This photo was from a presentation he gave at St Peter's about his religious beliefs and prayer practices. (I can’t figure out how to post the photo here)

Those of us in attendance that day, were blessed beyond measure, to spend time that afternoon, listening and asking questions.

I am reminded of an elder (at St Peter's) words of invitation to The Lord's Prayer at the St Simeon and St Anna Morning Prayer Service every Friday:

"Shall we pray together?"

International Women's Day

Prayer for International Women's Day

(By: Education for Justice)

Women are a reflection of the glory of God. Today we honor the women of all times and all places:

Women of courage.
Women of hope.

Women suffering
Women mourning.
Women living fully.
Women experiencing joy.
Women delighting in life.

Women knowing the interconnectedness of the human family.
Women honoring the sacredness of the relational, the affective.

Women quietly tending the garden of human flourishing. 
Women boldly leading the transformation of unjust global structures.

Women seeking Wisdom. 
Women sharing Wisdom.

Women receiving Love.
Women giving Love.

Women: life-giving.
Women: the image of God.

Loving God, we celebrate your faithfulness and love. On this day we commit ourselves to the promotion of the full humanity of all women everywhere. We know that whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is not of God.

Help us to be faithful to your call to love.
Amen.

SERMON - LAST EPIPHANY - MARCH 3

Last Epiphany Year C

March 3, 2019

Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99;

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-36 (37-43a)

 

Sequence hymn (LEVS 115) -10am service

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. Amen

When we turned the page to begin a new year on the church calendar on the first Sunday of Advent, we were invited to embark on a journey this year… to explore the ways the people of St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church are being called to live into our baptismal promises, by following in the Way of Jesus: The Way of Love, in our church, in our community, and in our world. I have been referring to a resource called, The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life, a framework of spiritual practices commended for use, by our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

We began our year-long journey of being introduced to the various practices, during the seasons of Advent & Christmas, with exploring the practice of Turn… Turning towards Jesus Pausing, listening and choosing to follow Jesusin walking the Way of Love…

The 2nd practice we have explored throughout the season of Epiphany has been the practice of Learn. We were invited to Reflect on Scripture each day, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings.

In this season of Epiphany, there were a variety of ways that people gathered here at St Peter’s to learn more about the scriptures, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings. On Mondays, scripture reflection time was held…a time for people to gather and discuss the upcoming Sunday scriptures. On Tuesday evenings, a group has been gathering to learn about Episcopal Beliefs and practices, in relationship to Jesus’ life and teachings. On Wednesday evenings, people have gathered for a Taize Service…a quiet, contemplative way of listening to the scriptures and teachings of Jesus’ life. On Thursdays, a group has gathered (and perhaps many of you at home) to read the entire book of Romans throughout Epiphany.

 On Fridays, those gathered for the St Simeon & St Anna Morning Prayer Service, read scriptures, and pray for the church, and especially for the young people and the children.

I know of many of you who explore the scriptures daily, through your own daily practices.

And of course here on Sundays, we are engaged in learning about Jesus’ life through our scripture readings, music, and prayer, and our time together.

The children gather for Sunday school a couple of Sundays a month to explore the scriptures and the teachings of Jesus.

So… what have we learned about Jesus’ life and teachings in this season of Epiphany?

(At the 10am service….I’m going to ask the children gathered this morning…to walk with me around the church as we look back on our journey throughout the season of Epiphany…they will follow along with a matching book that has weekly coloring page to match the picture/lessons learned with the picture on the wall)

On Sunday, Jan 6 – Epiphany Sunday…we heard the story of the three wise men following a star, following a light that led them to the place where Jesus, the Messiah, the Light of the World, had been born. We came face to face with the glorious light of God revealed to us, in Jesus, in the birth of a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

On Jan 13, the 1st Sunday after the Epiphany, we learned about Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan… and about when He was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." We renewed our own baptismal covenants on that day, marking a new beginning of our life in Christ, a life striving to Walk in the Way of Love, that Christ has taught us and shown us.

On Jan 20, the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Deacon Kathryn shared a sermon about the Miracle of the Water into Wine scripture that was part of the Wedding Banquet story in the gospel of John that day…she highlighted the servants, those who were asked to help, and how they responded when they were told to “do whatever Jesus asks”.

ON Jan 27, the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, the day of our Annual Meeting, we explored the 1st  Corinthians scripture about how the church functions as the Body of the Christ...here in the church, in the community and in the world…we explored the ways, all of us, equipped with our diverse gifts, are called to share in building up the body of Christ…by following Jesus in Walking the Way of Love…We listened to the scriptures that told us about Jesus teaching in the synagogue, and how he read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah that spoke to what His mission was..The children at Sunday school that day created a beautiful book of prayers (from the BCP) for healing and support…a book to give to those who may be homebound or ill…

On Feb 4th, the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany…we continued with our reading of 1st Corinthians…exploring the words: But strive for the greater gifts… And I will show you a still more excellent way….

What is that more excellent way? The Way of Love…that Jesus has shown us…The Way of love that has the power to lift people up, when reality, life, will sometimes pull us down. (Michael Curry)

On Feb 10, the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany, we explored the scriptures in which Jesus calls his disciples to go fishing….fishing for people…to go out there to proclaim the good news, by sharing our own authentic faith story, with one another…from the place in our hearts, from where we have heard God’s voice and his call to us – that voice that speaks to each of us – wherever we are…

On Feb 17, the 6th Sunday after the Epiphany, we listened to the words of Jesus, as he began his sermon on the plain….teaching us, all of those who were listening…about blessings and woes…reminding us…that Blessings and Woes….are a part of all of our lives…sometimes we are hungry, sometimes we feel well fed…sometimes we laugh…sometimes we weep and cry… sometimes, it feels as if the world is against us…or on other days, we feel like the world is on our side…The good news that was summarized that Sunday, was that we are loved and blessed as we are.

On Feb 24, the 7th Sunday after Epiphany ...just last weekend… we heard more of Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom of heaven, about the family of God,  from his sermon on the plain…they were very difficult teachings about loving our enemies, and forgiveness… Difficult, hard, uncomfortable…yes…but the good news I shared was that they need not keep us from striving to understand the live-giving ways of God, made known to us, through the love and witness of Jesus Christ.

 For this love is the greatest gift given to us... In Sunday school that day, the children learned other lessons about the kingdom of heaven…

one of which was the lesson about the Kingdom of heaven being like a precious pearl… And learned that in searching and finding the kingdom of heaven is a treasure worth more than anything anybody can imagine.

And finally, today is our last Sunday of the Epiphany Season, in which we have been focused on the practice of Learn…we have been reflecting on scriptures each week, that have helped us get to know more about who Jesus is, and how and why that matters to us, and to our lives now.

Our final lesson in the season of Epiphany, found in our gospel reading today, speaks about the Transfiguration.  The scriptures tell us that: Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"--not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"

From Weaving God’s Promises:

We call this {story} the transfiguration of Jesus, as if Jesus has been changed and suddenly becomes God. But this gospel is written from the disciples’ point of view. Jesus is not transformed. The change is not a change in Jesus. The change is in his disciples. They are now ready to see him as he is, in his glory.

Jesus is thus transformed, not by becoming who he is but by showing to his disciples who he in fact is and always was. They just hadn’t seen him before. Jesus has opened their eyes.

As we come to the end of this journey of learning about Jesus’ life and teachings, throughout Epiphany:

How have your eyes been opened?

How have the scriptures in this season helped you to see Jesus as He is and has always been?

 

And now what? What’s next?

A new beginning… a new season in the church year is about to begin…the season of Lent…

And, now…it is up to each one of us…to carry with us, within us, this glorious light of Jesus that we have seen, and all that we have come to learn and understand about Jesus throughout the season of Epiphany, into our next season of the church year which begins this week, on Ash Wednesday…

And I have a gift for everyone…to take home…to mark the days in our next journey together…our journey through the season of Lent…

This “Join the Journey Through Lent 2019 poster” has daily suggestions, questions, scripture and prayer prompts to reflect on in our season of Lent. You can color on it, read it alone or together, as a family…hang it on a wall in your home somewhere…But, use it…use it as a way to pray during this holy season of Lent…

Use it as a way to learn more about Jesus…in yet another season of His life and ours…

 

Closing Prayer/Hymn: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (#97/Maranatha Praise Book)

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. Amen.

 

 

Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

 

 

 

 

SERMON: 7 Epiphany Year C

7 Epiphany Year C

Feb 24 2019

Genesis 45: 3-11, 15; Psalm 37:1-12, 41-42;

1 Corinthians 15: 35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38

 

Opening Prayer: (Renew Hymnal #91) Open Our Eyes, Lord

Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus, to reach out and touch him, and say that we love him. Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen, open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus. Amen.

I love this sequence hymn, (prayer) for its simplicity and directness…especially when it comes to trying to make sense of Jesus’ teachings and some of the other scriptures in the bible. Sometimes Jesus’ teachings sound poetic and lovely, and we have no trouble connecting with the message he is trying to get across to His listeners. But other times, his teachings are quite simple and direct…and not so lovely sounding…and they really don’t leave much wiggle room for interpretation. But, we as human beings, have some pretty strong minds and wills…so we are quite adept at filtering out what we think He is saying, and finding creative ways, to dismiss some of his more difficult teachings, as only pertaining to certain people, in certain times, and in certain places.

Our brain’s default, is often to “hear” and “see” what we already know…and feel comfortable with…So, I do think our challenge…in learning new things, considering and accepting new teachings…does call for us to pray to God, to open wide our eyes and our ears…and especially our hearts and our minds…to consider these uncomfortable teachings...these basic and direct teachings that Jesus is longing for us to understand.

IN today’s 1st reading from Genesis, we may shake our heads in disbelief, wondering, how in the world could Joseph ever return to his family, to his brothers who did the unthinkable, first plotting to kill him, but then decided instead to sell him into slavery… and the brothers also caused years of deep heartache and suffering for their father, lying to him and telling him that his son Joseph was likely killed by a wild animal. And how unthinkable, or impossible, that Joseph not only returned to his family, his brothers…but he forgave them…he chose to love them again…having been sent by God to return to them to save them from starvation and poverty…Imagine having to forgive and love and bless the very people who abandoned you and cut you off from your livelihood? Difficult, very difficult to imagine…yet with the love of God poured into Joseph’s heart….we saw how that was possible…Joseph had mercy upon his brothers, forgave them, making room for love to reconcile and heal their family.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in today’s gospel is equally hard to digest. As if the Blessings and the Woes that Jesus spoke about last week were not confusing enough. Today, Jesus continues with his Sermon on the Plain when he was speaking to the crowds gathered…the apostles, his disciples, and many others who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases

This time, he is tackling the very uncomfortable topic about loving your enemies, and forgiveness…

Lets take a look at Jesus’ words in the gospel again…this time…I am going to ask you to repeat after me the words that we just heard a few moments ago….I ask that you listen to your own voice…and listen for how the Spirit is nudging you… I ask that we all listen to each other…all of our voices speaking together…and be aware of how the Spirit might be at work in all of us, seeking to unite us, and reconcile us to one another, our enemies, those we need to forgive, and our own need to be forgiven…

Luke (6:27-38)

(Follow along in your insert, and repeat each line after me)

Jesus said, "I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

Congregation repeat

If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.

Congregation repeat

Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.

Congregation repeat

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Congregation repeat

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

Congregation repeat

 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

Congregation repeat

If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

Congregation repeat

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.

Congregation repeat

Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Congregation repeat

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Congregation repeat

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.

Congregation repeat

Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.

Congregation repeat

A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

 Congregation repeat

These are some pretty basic and direct words from Jesus today. Difficult to digest. Hard to make sense of. Easier said, than done.

Difficult, hard, uncomfortable…yes…but they need not keep us from striving to understand the live-giving ways of God, made known to us, through the love and witness of Jesus Christ. For this love is the greatest gift given to us...May our hearts be opened to receive this gift and trust in its power to heal and transform the most difficult moments when we are called to love our enemies and to forgive those who have caused us or others great suffering

The psalmist tells us today: put your trust in the Lord, take delight in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord, be still before the Lord…and wait patiently for him…If nothing makes sense today…don’t give up…

Begin again tomorrow morning, every morning… put your trust in the Lord, take delight in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord, be still before the Lord…and wait patiently for him…for God’s mercies are new every morning… begin again with asking God to open your ears, eyes, hearts and minds to hear what the Spirit is trying to teach you…about the saving power of God’s love…

And perhaps, a good place to start, tomorrow morning…is to read this scripture once again…Read it slowly, line by line…write down some things that come to mind after each verse…let God’s Word work on you, not only, tomorrow, but throughout the week…allow it to inspire in you…a path forward….in walking the Way of Love…that Jesus is teaching us…

One last offering I commend to you today is another way to consider the teachings in today’s scripture…The practice of the Daily Examen…

This practice is a great daily discipline, most often used at the end of the day, in the evening...but it can be especially helpful, I think…to help us be honest with ourselves when it comes to the uncomfortable and difficult teachings of Jesus today, about loving our enemies, and forgiving others..

 

The Examen is a method of reviewing your day in the presence of

God. It’s actually an attitude more than a method, a time set aside

for thankful reflection on where God is in your everyday life. It has

five steps, which most people take more or less in order.

Here it is in a nutshell:

THE EXAMEN

Ask God for light.

I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.

Give thanks.

The day I have just lived is a gift from God. Be grateful for it.

Review the day.

I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.

Face your shortcomings.

I face up to what is wrong—in my life and in me.

Look toward the day to come.

I ask where I need God in the day to come.

Version of the Examen from A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer by Jim Manney © Loyola Press      www.ignatianspirituality.com

 

Ask God for light, Give thanks, Review the day, Face your shortcomings, Look toward the day to come.

 

I close in prayer and song this morning, with probably the most difficult and uncomfortable part of the Examen…to face up to our shortcomings….

Lift Every Voice and Sing II - #176 An Evening Prayer

1       If I have wounded any soul today,

          If I have caused one foot to go astray,

          If I have walked in my own willful way,

          Dear Lord, forgive!

         

2       If I have uttered idle words or vain,

          If I have turned aside from want or pain,

          Lest I offend some other through the strain,

          Dear Lord, forgive!

         

3       If I have been perverse, or hard, or cold,

          If I have longed for shelter in the fold,

          When thou hast given me some fort to hold,

          Dear Lord, forgive!

         

4       Forgive the sins I have confessed to thee;

          Forgive the secret sins I do not see;

          O guide me, love me, and my keeper be.

          Dear Lord, forgive!

          Amen.

 

 

Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

 

 

 

 

 

List of some Lent 2019 Resources

 

·        Living Well Through Lent 2019: Practicing Forgiveness with all your heart, soul, strength and mind - https://www.livingcompass.org/lent

 

·        Lent Madness – have fun while learning about the saints

https://www.lentmadness.org/

·        Lenten Meditations 2019 (Episcopal Relief & Development)

        https://www.episcopalrelief.org/church-in-action/church-campaigns/lent

·        d365 - Devotionals 365 days a year - https://d365.org/

·        United Thank Offering Lenten Calendar

https://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/documents/uto_2019_lenten_calendar.pdf

 

·        Life Transformed: The Way of Love in Lent https://www.episcopalchurch.org/life-transformed

·        Church Next: Walk in Love, a 5-Course Curriculum with Scott Gunn and Melody Shobe

https://churchnextblog.wordpress.com/

 

FOR FAMILIES AND CHILDREN

·        Building Faith - https://www.buildfaith.org/

·        Grow Christians - http://www.growchristians.org/

·        Lent in a Box

https://familyministrytools.org/2018/11/09/coming-in-mid-january/

BOOKS

·        A Resurrection Shaped Life: Dying and Rising on Planet Earth by Jake Owensby

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1DP0ud5lU4

 

·        Living the Way of Love: A 40-Day Devotional, by Bea Sullivan

https://www.churchpublishing.org/livingthewayoflove

LENT 2019 at St Peter's by the Sea Episcopal Church

Lent/Easter 2019

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

611 Lincoln St   Sitka, AK

747-3977; stpetersbytheseak@gmail.com

stpeters-sitka.org

 

·        Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper -  March 5 (5:30pm-7pm)

·        Ash Wednesday Services – March 6 @ Noon and 5:30pm

·        Sunday Services: 8am and 10am

·        Sunday March 17 – one service @ 10am - Special choir guests - The Meistersingers

·        Sunday school – March 10 & 24

·      Special Family Night - March 31 – 5pm

·        Mondays: Scripture Reflections @ 11am

·        Tuesdays: Walk in Love: Inquirer’s/Newcomer’s Forum @ 6:30pm

·        Wednesday Night Prayer Service (New Zealand prayer Book) @ 5:30pm
The service will be a quiet, contemplative service using prayers, scriptures, and reflections from a Lenten Devotional (Living Well Through Lent 2019: Practicing Forgiveness with all Your Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind)

·        Thursday Book Group – Begins March 7 @ Noon

A Resurrection Shaped Life: Dying and Rising on Planet Earth (by Jake Owensby)

·        Lent Quiet Day Retreat – March 16 (10am-1pm)

·      Holy Week Services:

*April 14 – Palm Sunday – One service at 10am

*April 18 (Maundy Thursday) – Holy Communion Service at 6pm

*April 19 (Good Friday) – Service at Noon

*April 20 (Holy Saturday) – Service at 9am

  • April 21 - Easter Day Service  - One service at 10am

 

6 Epiphany Sermon - Feb 17 2019

6 Epiphany Year C

Feb 17 2019

10am service

Jeremiah 17:5-10 (NIV); Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 11: 23-26 (NIV); Luke 6:17-26 (NIV)

 

Opening Prayer: God of blessings and woes, bless us this day with lives filled with love, caring, generosity, and deep, abiding hope. We pray that your kingdom will dwell among all people, and that we may be instruments of your love and your grace. Open our hearts with the joy of healing a world filled with brokenness and pain. In the name of the one who taught us the ways of light and love, be in our worship and in our very lives. Amen.  (from the Abingdon Worship Annual 2019)

The last several weeks, we have focused on our invitation to follow Jesus, in walking the Way of Love…we have explored the idea that all of us have unique gifts, and ways that God uses each one of us, throughout our entire lives, to spread his love and compassion and care with others we meet….to build up the body of Christ, through loving God, one another, and all of creation…

Today’s gospel reading in Luke follows the part in the story, when the scribes and Pharisees were angry about Jesus’ teaching and healing on the Sabbath day…and they were discussing what to do with him…

Then, the scriptures tell us: that Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Today’s gospel continues with Jesus, coming down from the mountain with his newly called apostles, to stand on a level place, to speak to the large crowd of disciples and other people who came from many places, to hear what Jesus had to say, and to be healed of their diseases.  We sometimes refer to this passage today as the beginning of Jesus’ sermon on the plain. We have also heard today’s particular passages referred to as the “beatitudes.”…meaning blessed…

He begins his sermon, with words about being blessed:

Jesus, looking at his disciples, says: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

And then, as Jesus often does, he gives us another example using opposites, an upside down, topsy-turvy look at what he is trying to help us see…and perhaps, break open our hearts a bit more to make room for a new way of looking at the world around us…as we consider his teaching from a different angle…from the angle of “woe”…a place of sorrow or distress..

 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Blessings and Woes….a part of all of our lives…sometimes we are hungry, sometimes we feel well fed…sometimes we laugh…sometimes we weep and cry… sometimes, it feels as if the world is against us…or on other days, we feel like the world is on our side…

The kingdom of God, the family of God, that Jesus is talking about in his statements about blessing and woes speaks to us, about our life and relationship to one another in this family. He points out to his listeners…that yes…sometimes,  in this family, there are people who are hungry, that are in need…and that those of us, who may not be experiencing hunger presently…are called to be mindful of the neighbor who is hungry, and reach out by sharing as we are called…And at times, there are those among us, who are grieving, while others are celebrating and laughing…and remembering how very quickly our roles in supporting another person in grief, will certainly be switched around in a split second…

At other times, we are called to be mindful, that there are people among us who are being excluded, for a variety of reasons…not just because we are trying to spread the good news of God’s love for ALL his people… on account of the Son of man..

They may be excluded because they are struggling with addiction…. Others face judgment, and ridicule for staying in an abusive relationship…yet others may be unemployed, struggling to get work and provide for their families, and unfairly labeled lazy…There are others who may be oppressed and discriminated against on the basis of their race, culture, religious views, personal identity or lifestyle…

There are people among us, who may feel excluded from receiving the love and blessings of God, as they strive to live into the person that God has created them to be…this may be all of us, at different times throughout our lives…

God’s love is for all people…which means, all of us,  should be taking a look at our own words and actions, in relationship to our neighbors around us…are there ways we are unintentionally excluding others…are there ways we can share more with others…are there ways in which we can listen more deeply to the needs of others… are there times we can learn to be more patient with another when we don’t understand the choices they are making…are there ways that we can get out of the way, with our expectations of another, and just love them and bless them, as we have been loved and blessed by God, and allow them to grow and flourish into the child of God, that God created him or her to be?

For me, that’s an important take away from Jesus’ sermon on the plain today… are there ways that I can get out of the way, with my expectations of another, and just love them and bless them, as I have been loved and blessed by God, and allow them to grow and flourish into the child of God, that God created him or her to be?

I don’t think Jesus’ purpose was to tell us who is in and who is out. I don’t think he was telling us that we have to behave a certain way, in order to be blessed. And I don’t think he is telling us, that that is our purpose or mission in life either…to judge others in that way…

The good news I am hearing today, is that we are loved and blessed as we are. We are being called, right from the place we find ourselves in now, to trust in the Lord’s blessing…be like a tree planted by water, sending out its’ roots by the stream… be sowers of God’s love and blessing. ..be people who plant seeds of hope in other’s lives…be encouraged and uplift others with the Good News that God’s love and blessings are for all people.  Be loved and blessed. Be who you are.

Invite kids up/Read story: Be Who You Are, by Todd Parr

After the story:

*Tell the kids that knowing we are loved and blessed can make us happy…truly happy!

So, let’s sing a song about celebrating being happy:

If You’re happy and you know it:

Clap your hands

Stomp your feet

Shout Amen!

 

Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Epiphany Sermon

5 Epiphany Year C

February 10, 2019 

Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 138, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11;

Luke 5:1-11

 

Opening Prayer:  Loving God, you have called forth disciples and prophets to live and speak your word. Give us ears to hear, lives to respond, and voices to proclaim the good news of salvation, which we know in our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Textweek.com)

This is surely one of those Sundays when I feel like a “fish out of the water”. I am looking out at all of you, sitting in the pews: Many of you have lived in Sitka your whole life, or other areas of Alaska. Many of you have spent long days, long nights, long weeks and months, fishing year after year, to provide for your family, and for those of us who are the recipients of the fruits of your labors - those of us, who are grateful to enjoy fresh fish that is locally caught. I think to myself – I am unworthy to even begin to unpack today’s Gospel reading from the perspective of the fisherman, most especially from Simon’s perspective in today’s story.

I’ve only been in Sitka for about 4 years. I moved here from the desert, having lived there for 30 years. We didn’t come across too many people fishing in the desert.

Before that, though…I did live by the ocean...I was born in Florida, and my family eventually moved to Massachusetts and Cape Cod, where I grew up, before moving to Nevada in 1985.

But even though I grew up near the ocean, and there were lots of people in my area who fished for a living, my personal interaction with most of them was pretty limited….I just knew that’s what some people did for a living there.

My own immediate family, were not involved in the fishing business…but my brother and grandfather did occasionally do some summer fishing. My grandfather used to buy old boats, to fix up, and keep for a few months before selling them again. I have fond memories of him sitting down by the harbor in Harwichport, enjoying his lunch every day.

I have special memories of walking to the pond with him and my brother and sisters, down the street by his house, with a stick and a string, to do a little fishing…nothing we ever kept.

And…I do have some relatives who live in Gloucester and Rockport, MA, where several of them have been involved in the fishing industry over the years, whose life’s work has been out in the dark, and deep waters of the ocean. Every summer, when I was growing up, we had a family reunion there, and got to listen to lots of stories about their work, and I had the chance to spend a week with extended family members, whose lives seemed to be so very different from my upbringing, and family life on the Cape.

But, I realize now, how those once a year stories, and experiences with my cousins and aunts and uncles, have been embedded and grafted into my heart…and still, to this day…bring me comfort, gratitude, blessing and a deep sense of peace….memories that enable me to believe in the love and faithfulness of God, for all people, in all times, and in all places…

Looking back on that one week in Gloucester and Rockport every summer with my relatives, has helped me understand that even though our day to day lives appeared to be so very different from each other, we shared so much in common: we all had fears, struggles, sorrows, heartaches…we all laughed a lot, shared joys, and desires and dreams and hopes for ourselves and our loved ones…

So…yes..I feel unworthy to share my thoughts on the gospel reading today from the perspective of Simon, or James or John…but I can share my perspective, and my wonderings, as a fellow sojourner in this world, as someone who is in the “boat”, with you...striving to make sense of this sometimes, difficult and confusing and wonderful world, we find ourselves in..

That’s all any of us are called to do…to share our own authentic faith story, with one another…from the place in our hearts, from where we believe we have heard God’s voice and his call to us – that voice that speaks to each of us – wherever we are – calling our attention for a moment – even in a fearful moment – most often in a fearful moment – to stop – listen – listen to the words of Jesus – Do not be afraid…

Each of our readings today, included a “call” message. Isaiah’s call, Paul’s comments on his call, and then Simon (and James and John’s) call…each one of them, were called in the midst of where they were, each one of them, perhaps taken by surprise…each one of them, perhaps, experienced a moment of fear, unbelief, or unworthiness…and yes, even those things we thought were most important..but when they said, yes with their hearts, when they opened up their eyes, ears and hearts, to the miracle and mystery of the saving grace of God’s love they were witness to, in that moment…something changed in them, something transformed them…to boldly take a step forward, leaving everything behind: the worries, the fears, the weariness, the feelings of unworthiness…all left behind…to answer God’s call to them… believing that God had chosen them for something greater than what they had yet to imagine…

 In today’s gospel reading, this is the good news I’m hearing today:

There were people eager to hear some good news…not just any good news…but the good news that Jesus had been teaching everywhere he went… the Word of God’s love and faithfulness for his people…a love that has the power to free people from the bondage of sin and suffering, calling them instead…to an abundant life, revealed to us in Jesus’ teachings and miracles…

Jesus got into the boat, belonging to Simon…and asked him to put out a little way from the shore…and from there Jesus spoke to the crowds who were gathered to hear the life-giving Word of God…

I believe Jesus chose Simon’s boat that day…knowing that He and his partners James and John had worked all night long fishing, and had caught nothing. I believe he knew just how tired they were, that they had toiled and worked themselves to the bone, all night….but still had to clean up everything afterwards, they still had to get everything set for the next day, they still had to summon up the strength to work tomorrow, the next day, and the next…wondering and worrying whether there will be any fish tomorrow…they were exhausted, perhaps discouraged…perhaps feeling depleted and empty…

I believe Jesus chose Simon’s boat that day….because sometimes we don’t know that we need to hear the good news of God’s love for us…But Jesus does…and it is precisely in those moments of exhaustion, weariness, discouragement, and unworthiness, that through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, God’s voice does call out to us…and reveals a new way forward…a way forward that invites us to follow Jesus, in walking the Way of love…paying attention to the miracles that are unfolding right before our eyes…right in the midst of the most difficult times in our lives…

So, yes…Jesus was speaking to the crowds, but he was most certainly speaking to Simon, too…..intentionally choosing him that day, to assure him…that God’s love and faithfulness is with him, for all of his days…

Simon and the others were amazed, perhaps stunned, perhaps unbelieving, perhaps fearful, scared to death, of the abundance of fish that were caught in their nets, when they responded to Jesus’ words, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."

But, it was precisely in the midst of those mixed emotions, and trusting enough to go where Jesus was asking them to go, that Jesus’ words and actions became the healing balm that soothed their souls, softened their hearts, and allowed for the Holy Spirit to revive their souls once again…

Jesus assured Simon (and the others who heard him say), “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching people.”

It was their turn now… to deliberately choose to reach out in love to others as Jesus had chosen to show his love for them…they left everything, and decided to follow Jesus.

They decided to follow Jesus, because they now believed and knew from their own personal experience, that indeed Jesus is the One…

He is the one in whom we have received the life-giving Word of God’s love, and that others need to hear, too…It is this love, that has the power to reconcile us to God, one another, and all of creation.

In a world that is currently experiencing great division, and fear…we ourselves, are all being called now, we are being chosen by God, in this time and in this place…wherever we are, whomever we are… to share the healing balm of Jesus Christ…so that others know, and we ourselves know…that deep down, we are not so different after-all… we all have fears, struggles, sorrows, heartaches…we all yearn to laugh and experience joys…we all share many of the same desires and dreams and hopes for ourselves and our loved ones…

It is our turn now…to share our own authentic faith story, with one another…from the place in our hearts, from where we have heard God’s voice and his call to us – that voice that speaks to each of us – wherever we are – calling our attention for a moment – even in a fearful moment – most often in a fearful moment – to stop – listen – listen to the words of Jesus – Do not be afraid…stop – listen to the heart-cries and hopes of our neighbors…and share the good news of God’s healing balm…

There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead

to heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work’s in vain,

But then the holy spirit revives my soul again.

There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead

to heal the sin-sick soul.

This is what I take away from the gospel story today….

What about you? You, the tired fisherman, you, the weary parent, you the worried soul, you, who can’t see the end of our troubled times, you who is tired from the long journey of grief…

What good news, from your perspective, did you hear today? And with whom will you share it this week?

HYMN:  Lift Every Voice and Sing II - #203 There is a Balm in Gilead

 

Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

The Good Book Club

Week of January 28

This week: Romans 8:9—10:4

Paul continues his letter with an emphasis on our obligation to live in the Spirit – bathed in the rivers of living water. When we live in the Spirit, Paul says, we live as a child of God. To help explain this idea, Paul offers a metaphor of adoption. Commentators say that in biblical days, a son once adopted no longer had claim to his old life (and family) but gained all the rights and privileges of the new family. Any debt was wiped clean, all past forgotten. So too when we are adopted by the Spirit, living anew as children of God, all debts are wiped clean. That doesn’t mean we won’t suffer. We will. But in joining Jesus in suffering, we also are able to join him in glory as all creation awaits. In other words, life won’t be easy but God’s help in difficult days is an enduring promise: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

In Romans 9, Paul moves a bit off his main theme of God’s love revealed to us in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit and into problems with Israel—once the beloved chosen and now rejected and cursed. He discusses both sides of the coin: this is God’s will, and this is the fault of the Israelites, who stumbled, who did not seek God’s goodness by faith. In the following week, we’ll dive deeper into Paul’s response about Israel but for now, I urge you to read and re-read Romans 8:38, which I think could be considered the entire letter’s “nut graph”—what journalists call the heart of the story, the main point in a nutshell.

Paul writes, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Nothing. That is good news, indeed.

For Discussion:

How do you know if you are living in the Spirit? How can you invite the Spirit into your life?

Where is the Spirit leading you? What is keeping you from following?

What does it mean to you to be a child of God?

Do you think Romans 8:38 is the heart of Paul’s letter? Why or why not? What does this verse mean to you personally?

(forward day by day)