God Has the Whole World in His Hands -June 23, 2019 - 10am service

Special Family Service today 

Genesis 1 (from Desmond Tutu Childrens Storybook Bible); Matthew 6:25-34

 

We listened to the beautiful and beloved Creation story, as told to us in Desmond Tutu’s Children’s storybook bible. We listened to the beautiful and beloved scripture from Matthew, that is often read on Thanksgiving Day, and is often a go to – when one needs to be reminded to not let worry consume you…and to take one day at a time…

To take one day at a time…to stop, pause, notice…and remember…that it is God who gives us life…and in the gifts given in creation…we can’t help but be reminded of this Good News for all of Gods people…

God loves to delight us and surprise us, and give us reasons to be joyful! 

And God sends us signs and reminders of this every day. Especially, when we can stop worrying for a moment…stop, pause, and take a look at the beautiful world that is right outside our doorstep.

A good friend I knew, back in Nevada, had a wonderful gift for reminding us to do just that. In a conversation that I had with a mutual friend, the day after her death, I was reminded of this special gift of hers. She shared a story about when she was leaving the facility where our friend spent her final days. She noticed the flowers and the shrubs, and how beautiful they were, and she remembered that our friend loved to share her love and knowledge about flowers, and shrubs, and birds…and knew them all by name….

….and that she would always pause and make sure to point them out, wherever they were, and call their attention to them…perhaps reminding them and all of us…to stop worrying for a moment…look at what God has created and how he cares for them…the birds of the air…the lilies of the field…the grass of the field…look at this beauty in the world that He has created for us to enjoy…look at the beauty of His created world…that has been entrusted to our care…look, pay attention to their cycles of life and death, and resurrection….

Day after day, year after year…they have so much to teach us about the love of God, for all of creation…the birds, the trees, the oceans, the rivers, the stars, the animals (the elephant and giraffes, cats and mice, and bees and bugs)…and yes…we…his beloved children…who He has created all of this for….

We just need to pause, notice, and remember this…

We need not worry…

For it is God who gives us life… and in the gifts given in creation…and in Jesus, we can’t help but be reminded that it is abundant life, we have been given…

On the Seventh Day, God laughed and rested, and enjoyed his glorious creation. (from Desmond Tutu Childrens Storybook Bible)

May we pause today, rest in God, laugh with God and rejoice with God, by honoring God with our care of creation and celebrating with God, this glorious creation that reminds us of the abundant gift of life given to us, in Christ Jesus.

 

Let us pray: All things bright and beautiful – H405

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small,

all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all. Amen

 

Rev Julie Platson, Rector

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

2 Pentecost/Year C - June 23 2019 - 8am service

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a; Psalm 43; Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 8:26-39

 

Opening Prayer: O God, you come to us not in the chaos of the whirlwind, not in the roar of the earthquake, not in the crackling heat of the fire, but in the sound of sheer silence. Quiet our minds, bring peace to our hearts and stillness to our bodies that we might meet you in that silence. Help us to listen for your still, small voice. Amen ~ written by Rev. Heather A. Moody

 

What struck me, initially, in this morning’s readings, was the depth of someone’s despair and suffering…

We heard about Elijah, in the first reading…ready to give up on his life…

We hear about the man, who was filled and tormented with many demons…who thought Jesus was someone who was also going to torment him…and begged him not to…

It made me wonder…what was it in their lives that led to such despair and suffering? What was the tipping point…when it felt like they were dying a slow death, where they saw no chance of ever escaping the depths of deep-seeded fear, and persecution….

We know that Elijah was very devoted to God…but we also know, that he met a lot of resistance from those in authority and in power…who viewed him as a threat to their control over the law of the land…so much so…that Elijah was almost ready to give up…ready to give up on his faith…

But, then God, being God…sent an angel to reach out a hand, to touch him…to tell him…to get up and eat…be strengthened for the journey, and to gently lead him and guide him once again…back to His faith in God, liberating him from fear and persecution…and sending him back out on his journey to the next place God was calling him to go…

We don’t really know much about the man with demons, before his interaction with Jesus…other than, for a long time he wore no clothes, and lived in the tombs…and that from time to time, even in shackles and being chained up…he would break the bonds and be driven out by the demons to the wild…

But, we do see in today’s gospel, what happens after he meets Jesus…

We see what happens when Jesus notices him, responds to him, and asks him, “What is your name”?

We see what happens when the demons tormenting the man beg Jesus, to set them free….

We see what happens to the man, when his demons are set free…

We see what happens to the man, when Jesus heals him…

We see a new man, a man transformed by the love of God, sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed, in his right mind again… with peace in his heart…stillness in his body…

We see a new man….one with an eager desire to follow Jesus and go with him in the boat…

But Jesus tells the man…this is how you can follow me: “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you."

Go out and proclaim the good news to someone else…go tell it…. everywhere!

So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

That’s how we follow Jesus, too.

We give thanks for the mercy and love of God in our own lives. And we honor that by the way we live our lives, by loving and serving others. And we are eager to share this love with others. Because, we have seen for ourselves, how this love has the power to uplift, to heal and to transform one’s life.

I’ve seen it in the lives of children who were suffering and feeling unloved, whose parents had abandoned them, but now through the love of a new family, they are flourishing and growing up, and being transformed in so many ways.

I’ve seen it in the lives of those who were stuck in the deepest place of grief, with no hope of digging their way out…with no hope...for wanting to go on…but, it took one person…to reach out their hand…one person to notice them…and walk with them…and gently lead them forward into new territory…I’ve seen how their faith has set them free to love themselves, and others…once again…

I’ve seen how teens lives have been changed, by the love and compassion of caring adults.

I’ve seen how people who have been stuck in a struggle with drug and alcohol addiction have been given life again, with the love and support of others, on their daily work of recovery…

I’ve seen how those who are lonely, and isolated, have been brought into the land of the living again, because someone has noticed them, acknowledged them, listened to their stories…and affirmed their belovedness….

What about you?

Where have you seen others, proclaiming the good news of God’s love?

Recall a moment, when you were on the receiving end of this love and good news…

Where have you been a witness to healing in other’s people’s lives?

Recall a moment, when you experienced healing…

Where have you seen the faith of others restored, by the love and compassion shared by another?

Recall a moment, when you thought your faith was lost…but then it was restored through the love and compassion of another person…

When have you found yourself overwhelmed by God’s love…in the sound of sheer silence?

Recall a moment, when your heart was overwhelmed by God’s love and overflowing with gratitude…

 

And now Go…Go share this good news…go tell it – EVERYWHERE!

 

Prayer:  (words adapted from the Purple Marantha Praise Chorus Book) #185 – Lord, I Will

Lord, I will. I will love you, I will praise you. I have made up my mind to bless you. Lord, I will.

I will love your chosen people. I have made up my mind to bless them. Lord, I will.

I will follow you and serve You. I have made up my mind to live by Your Word. Lord, I will. Amen

 

Rev Julie Platson, Rector

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

 

Gods love is amazing

June 18, 2019

Luke 20:19-26 (GNT)

https://www.biblestudytools.com/gnt/luke/passage/?q=luke+20:19-26

Reflection:

God’s love is amazing…

As often as human beings may try to find a loophole in Jesus’ proclamation of the Good News of God’s love….there’s no way the truth and power of God’s love can be tricked into being something other than God’s radical love for all of humanity…even the so-called enemies… and those who spy on Him seeking to corrupt his message of love in the world…

Spying on Jesus?

Really?

What was he doing that was so awful?

Loving those on the margins…

Loving and caring and feeding the poor…

Loving and caring for the lonely…

Loving and caring and healing the sick…

Loving and caring for the outcasts…

Loving and caring for all God’s people…

 

Did they hear him telling people not to pay their taxes or pay their bills?

Of course not…And he saw right through the spies intention to trap him and trick him…

These spies said to Jesus, “Teacher, we know that what you say and teach is right. We know that you pay no attention to anyone's status, but teach the truth about God's will for people.  Tell us, is it against our Law for us to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor, or not?”

But Jesus saw through their trick and said to them, “Show me a silver coin. Whose face and name are these on it?”

“The Emperor's,” they answered.

So Jesus said, “Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.”

The message is clear…God is love…and His love is amazing…nothing can keep that truth from being proclaimed…

Go ahead and be a spy today…but be on the lookout for all the ways you see God’s love at work in the people around you…

Trinity Sunday/Year C

Trinity Sunday/Year C

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16: 12-15

 

Opening Prayer: Come and seek the ways of Wisdom, she who danced when earth was new. Follow closely what she teaches, for her words are right and true. Wisdom clears the path of justice, showing us what love must do.  Amen. (vs 1 from Come and seek the ways of Wisdom)

 

On the church calendar, today is the 1st Sunday after Pentecost…Pentecost was the Feast Day we observed last Sunday…on which we celebrated the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, another advocate, being sent to God’s people, after Jesus’ departure from this world… The gift of the Holy Spirit to teach us everything…and remind us of all that Jesus has revealed to us about God’s love…through his words and actions….

Today is also referred to as Trinity Sunday…a day set aside to acknowledge the glory of God’s love revealed to us in “three persons”…Father, Son and the gift to the people of God: The Holy Spirit…

There is so much information out there on this Doctrine (this teaching) of the Church: theological discussions are happening across the board, new teachings emerging, old teachings being questioned, new and old ideas taking place in conversation among the religious scholars…a lot of discussions, but we are still left wondering and with no one clear answer or no one clear understanding of what the Trinity really means…for all of us…

But, there is one thing that many can agree on lately...and that is the acknowledgement…that the Trinity…might be best explored through the lens of mystery…an open-ended journey of discovering where and when and how we see God’s love at work in us, and in the world about us…an open-ended journey of discovering where God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

And as I stop for a moment, to imagine what that journey of discovery might look like…I imagine that I would need to make time to sit with God, getting to know Him through the stories found in the scriptures…and just sitting quiet, surrounded by His presence...

I imagine, that every day, I would have lots of questions…and days that I don’t understand anything that I am reading…days that I have no clue what I’m supposed to do with these words I am hearing…I imagine, the smile, and the joy, and the hope that arises in my heart at times…as I connect with some past words that I recall from an earlier time in conversation with God...words that I didn’t understand then…but on this day…some new meaning is revealed to me…and His love is revealed to me, in the stillness, in the scriptures, in my prayers..

I imagine some moments of doubt…or really, I should be saying…many moments of doubt…as I spend time with the Gospels, considering Jesus’ teachings…and how seemingly impossible it feels like at times, to entertain the thought of following in his footsteps and The Way of Love he proclaimed to others…through his radical love, compassion, mercy and grace that he shared so abundantly with everyone… And in other moments, when I consider these seemingly impossible teachings of Jesus, I catch myself wiping tears from my eyes, as I remember those times, when I have been on the receiving end of this radical love and compassion, through others, who perhaps doubted as I did…but instead...through their words and actions, did reveal, that with God’s love at the root and heart of all that we do…He lives and moves in each one of us today…

I imagine other moments, in the quiet of the morning by myself…or in the noisy activities and interactions with others throughout the day…

I find myself wondering…where is God in all this?

When I think about the violence happening all over the world, the divisions between people that seem to widen with each passing day...I find myself wondering…where is God in all of this?

When I think about the overwhelming grief that afflicts people throughout their lives, when a loved one is suffering or dies…I find myself wondering…where is God in all of this?

And at those times…when I feel anxious…I want to know...I need to know now…I need to know when all this violence is going to stop…I need to know how all these divisions will be healed…I need to know when all these tears will be dried up…

And then, right then, in the midst of my exasperated cries to the Lord…God’s love comes around full-circle to give me that moment of peace and trust in Him again….I am reminded, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, that He is right here, right now…in all the messiness of the world…He has been there from the beginning…and will be there to the end of the ages…

Where is God in all of this? He’s right here…and will always be…

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus said to his disciples: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

We still have so many things to learn…there is so much more to this life than what we have yet to imagine…

As I consider the mystery of the Trinity today…I am especially drawn to the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, and its role in bringing us around full-circle, ever-turning our hearts towards God and his love…and ever-turning our hearts towards others, and encouraging each one of us, to reach out to love one another, as Christ has loved us…thereby reminding one another…of the hope we all share in the glory of God: as Father, Son and Holy Spirit….

The hope that does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Keep wondering, keep asking questions, keep listening, keep seeking God in all the ways you can…keep praying for Wisdom to teach you and guide you..

 

Closing Prayer: Voices Found - #60 Come and seek the ways of Wisdom

Come and seek the ways of Wisdom,

she who danced when earth was new.

Follow closely what she teaches,

for her words are right and true.

Wisdom clears the path of justice,

showing us what love must do.

 

Listen to the voice of Wisdom,

crying in the marketplace.

Hear the Word made flesh among us,

full of glory, truth, and grace.

When the word takes root and ripens,

peace and righteousness embrace.

 

Sister Wisdom, come, assist us;

nurture all who seek rebirth.

Spirit-guide and close companion,

bring to light our sacred worth.

Free us to become your people, holy friends of God and earth.

 

Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Gracious Visit

Reflection

“If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace.” Luke 19:42 (CEB)

 

If only: I had slowed down, and spent more time in silence

If only: I had stayed there longer to listen more deeply

If only: I didn’t turn the other way, when the Spirit was leading me into a new place

If only: I had laid down my burdens and worries, trusting in God’s guidance

If only: I could open my eyes, my ears, my mind and my heart to acknowledge the peace of Christ, right there in the midst of my life…

“You didn’t recognize the time of your gracious visit from God.” Luke 19:44 (CEB)

No more “if only’s” for me today…

Today, I begin anew….I will open up the doors and windows in the temple of my heart…to be a place of prayer, a place of welcome, a place of hope….a place where I will recognize the love and peace of God, when she makes her gracious visit.

The Day of Pentecost

The Day of Pentecost/Year C

June 9, 2019 

Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:25-35, 37; Romans 8:14-17; John 14: 8-17 (25-27)

Opening Prayer: The Hymnal 1982 - #513 Like the murmur of the dove's song

Like the murmur of the dove's song, like the challenge of her flight, like the vigor of the wind's rush, like the new flame's eager might: come, Holy Spirit, come. Amen.

I’d like to begin with a story this morning…one that woke me up this past week, to the presence of the Holy Spirit, made known to us, in our daily lives…sometimes like the murmur of the dove’s song, and sometimes like the vigor of the wind’s rush…

Friday morning, just as my husband, Loyd and I were preparing to head out for our morning walk…the power went out…I had been working on my laptop computer, and the screen started to turn lighter, as it does, if I don’t have it plugged in…so I checked the power chord to make sure I hadn’t pulled it out by accident, and then I looked up, and noticed the overhead fan slowing down...that’s when I first realized, that the power had gone out…

We headed out for our walk to town, to unlock the church…and as we walked…we couldn’t help but notice, the profound quietness…It was enlightening to contemplate, that even though we don’t always hear the buzz of the everyday electric energy pulsing through our lives every day… the absence of the “electrical energy” in the air…was so profoundly evident…that one could not help but sense that something was not there…and at the same time… the feeling that something was there…Even the birds and the other early morning sounds of nature that we usually hear, were also quiet…

All the way to the church…the absence of the electric current in the air…just kept me wondering in silent awe…

As we returned home…and walked in the back door…I flipped on the light switch…because of habit…momentarily forgetting that the power had been out…but what a surprise…when the light came on...the electricity was back…

Whew! A sigh of relief now…and we immediately went to work re-setting blinking clocks, and looking throughout the house, to see where other electric powered things may need to be turned on or off now…having forgotten what may have been on, when the power went out….

After finishing up our morning routine, Loyd leaving for work first…I’m now in the quiet again, save the electric energy flowing again…I was still wondering what I had experienced earlier in the morning… “What does this mean?”

I’m thinking about the reading from Acts today…the vibrant vision of the variety of people from all over, who had traveled to gather together to celebrate with others on the Day of Pentecost…The account of the coming of a sound like the rush of violent wind, filling the entire house….and what looked like tongues of fire, that appeared among the people, resting upon each of them… filling them with the Holy Spirit…The Holy Spirit giving them the ability to speak in other languages…and to the amazement and astonishment of the devout Jews, and religious people from other countries who were there…all were able to understand what was being said…all able to hear in their native languages about “God’s deeds of power”….

In my mind, I envision a chaotic looking, and sounding scenario from the start…with the sound like the rush of a violent wind, the tongues, as of fire, with everyone, filled with the Holy Spirit, talking at the same time in different languages…but all describing the same thing…stories about the great things God has done…And then I imagine…after taking a step back for a moment…taking in a different view…or finding that quiet center for a moment, perhaps that murmur of the Dove’s song speaking, the Holy Spirit’s song, prompting the question of those gathered, “What does this mean?”

Then, Peter, speaks up to shed some light on the question…and all I can think of for a moment…is Linus, from A Charlie Brown Christmas, who, in the midst of the chaotic and joyful scene when everyone was dancing and playing music instead of practicing the Christmas nativity pageant, Linus stood up and shed some light on Charlie Brown’s question, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus answers… “Sure, Charlie Brown…I can tell you what Christmas is all about”…and he proceeds to share the story of Jesus’ birth, according to Luke…

So, when those who were amazed and perplexed as to what was happening and saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

Peter speaks up, “I can tell you what all this means”….and He shares the words of the prophet Joel that speaks about the coming of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people:

‘This is what I will do in the last days, God says:

    I will pour out my Spirit on everyone.

Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message;

    your young men will see visions,

    and your old men will have dreams.

 Yes, even on my servants, both men and women,

    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

    and they will proclaim my message.

 I will perform miracles in the sky above

    and wonders on the earth below.

There will be blood, fire, and thick smoke;

     the sun will be darkened,

    and the moon will turn red as blood,

    before the great and glorious Day of the Lord comes.

 And then, whoever calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.’

Acts 2: 17-21 CEB

 

IN our gospel reading today, we hear more about the coming of the Holy Spirit and what it all means for us…

Philip and the others are still struggling with whether or not they’ve seen God. Jesus assures them, that if they’ve been paying attention to the things he’s been saying, and the works he’s been doing…that they have indeed seen the Father, they have indeed, been witness to all the great things God can do….

Jesus has been an advocate…he has been the voice of God, and has shown them the glory of God while he has been with them…but now, He is preparing them, for his leaving…and assures them, that another Advocate will be given to them, to be with them forever…

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”

So, what does this all mean?

Perhaps it means…that on those days, when it looks like the world is chaotic and confusing and no-one is listening to one another, or seeking to understand one another…when everyone seems to be speaking a different language that keeps them from communicating with one another or striving to love one another….perhaps it’s in that moment, that we will be nudged and reminded of the gift of the Holy Spirit that has been sent to be with us…sometimes…like the sound of the rush of a violent wind and tongues, as of fire….to remind us that the Love of God is with us, always…and is working in all of us, to reconcile us to one another…and to heal and unite us in love for one another…

Perhaps it means….that on those days, when it feels as though God is absent from our lives…by God’s grace, and mercy…we are nudged and reminded of the gift of the Holy Spirit that is sometimes sent to us like the murmur of a dove’s song….the gentle Spirit that reminds us that we are held safe in the palm of God’s hands…and reminds us…that we are all loved…and never alone…

Perhaps, there will be other days like this past Friday, when the power went out… and I couldn’t help but notice, the profound quietness… and how, in the absence of the “electrical energy” in the air…it was so profoundly evident…that even as I sensed that something was not there… I was comforted in the experience of knowing and believing that something was still there…something powerful and life-giving…and assuring…  a peace that Jesus spoke about: “Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

I will continue to wonder at times what it all means…

The Life, the death, the resurrection, the ascension of Jesus, the sending of another advocate, the Holy Spirit…

I will continue to wonder and pray for the Holy Spirit to come upon all of us…to help us understand, to teach us, and remind us of all Jesus’ words and works…that have always pointed us towards the love and peace of God…that have always  assured us…that God is always with us…and will always be….

 

Closing Prayer: The Hymnal 1982 - #513 Like the murmur of the dove's song

1          Like the murmur of the dove's song,

            like the challenge of her flight,

            like the vigor of the wind's rush,

            like the new flame's eager might:

            come, Holy Spirit, come.

           

2          To the members of Christ's Body,

            to the branches of the Vine,

            to the Church in faith assembled,

            to her midst as gift and sign:

            come, Holy Spirit, come.

           

3          With the healing of division,

            with the ceaseless voice of prayer,

            with the power to love and witness,

            with the peace beyond compare:

            come, Holy Spirit, come.

 

 

Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

 

 

 

 

 

SERMON for 7 Easter

7 Easter/Year C

June 2, 2019 

Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 97; Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21; John 17: 20-26

 

A Prayer of Invocation (based on John 17)

~ from One in Love and Mission, written by Rev. Susan A. Blain (adapted).

 

Mysterious God, You reveal yourself in Jesus, your Beloved Child who gives us a glimpse of your glory and invites us to share in the unity of all that is Holy: the holiness that is You, your creation,  your people, united in the Spirit that breaks through all boundaries of fear and injustice.

Meet us here today, O God, and teach us to be one:One in love for each other, One in understanding with all who find in Jesus the Way to You, One in peace with all who find other paths to your Truth. We ask all this in the name of Jesus, whose fervent prayer was ever: “May they all be one.” Amen.

 

When you hear that prayer, Jesus’ fervent prayer, “may they all be one”…what does that bring up for you?

What words of hope and promise do you hear in these simple words of prayer?

How does this prayer challenge you in envisioning this oneness that Jesus is praying for?  Especially, when you look at all the daily news that keeps focusing on how much we are all so divided and disconnected from one another…

Is it possible for you to hear these words of prayer, afresh and anew…as a song and a prayer that has the power to unite us in love for one another?

Is it possible for you to imagine a world, in which there would be no more hunger, no more divisions, no more hatred, no more, “us vs them”?

Is it possible for you to imagine…and hope in Jesus’ fervent prayer: “May they all be one”?

I believe with all of my heart and soul and mind…that prayer has the power to open a way for us, to become this one, diverse family, united by the love of God, revealed to us, in Jesus Christ, and in his fervent prayers for us….

I believe with all of my heart and soul and mind…that prayer has the power to set people free…from the things of this world that makes us fearful, and afraid….the things of this world that hold us hostage to anger, and violence as a way of life…

I believe with all of my heart and soul and mind…that when we believe and hold fast to the hope and prayer of oneness in Jesus’ fervent prayer…that nothing…can separate us from the love of God….nothing can keep us from singing the songs and praises of God…whose love has the power to unite us, all…and open up a way of freedom…that sets us all free to love one another, as Christ has loved us…

This past week, those gathered for the Book group, finished up the last 2 chapters of The Way of Love: Pray…

Chapter 5 focused on the question: How can I pray when I’m angry? It was noted that for some people, anger and hurt and grief can draw some closer to God, and the desire to pray fervently for God’s help and comfort…

For others…the anger and hurt and grief drives them away from God and other people who care for them…These are the times, when the fervent prayers and faith of others, has the power to carry them, and hold them close, in the abiding presence of God…when they may doubt that God is there…or that others really care…

Chapter 6 was entitled “Becoming Prayer”. The chapter spoke about prayer and imagination. In the first pages of this chapter, the author reflected on an excerpt from “Through the Looking Glass”.

Here is that excerpt: The Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass said that she had learned to imagine six impossible things before breakfast every day and wanted Alice to try it.

We might want to argue that, because nothing is impossible, her statement was a contradiction of itself. Imagination is a door to adventure, and never limited by numbers. Even if you were chained to a wall in a dungeon, you could, in imagination, run through a field of dandelions. Or juggle flaming swords. Or talk to God face to face. Or any number of amazing events; why stop at six? A few things may have been enough for the Red Queen, but the person who longs for God and is learning to “do” prayer uses imagination in every second of prayer, done or spoken.

Christian hope is one of the most important virtues your imagination can capture.

And once we capture it, this hope, in our prayers, what will we do with it?

Do we dare to imagine and believe in the fervent prayer of Jesus, that we all may be one?

Do we dare, to become this prayer, and go out into the world to proclaim this good news…through our words and actions?

·        By praying for and supporting the grieving widow

·        By praying for and supporting the lonely

·        By praying for the survivors of abuse, and working to support a way forward, encouraging healing, healthy and respectful relationships among all people…

·        By praying for those struggling with addictions, and supporting them in their work of recovery

·        By praying for an end of the way of violence as a solution to our divisions and struggles to understand one another…and to pray for justice and a way of peace that builds bridges of understanding and a way forward together…

Do we dare to be as bold and hopeful with our prayers as Paul and Silas were in our reading from the Acts of the Apostles’ today…when they continued to pray and sing hymns, in the midst of their being beaten and thrown into prison….

Do we dare to become that fervent prayer of Jesus, for all the world to see, sharing it freely and abundantly, in hopes of spreading the good news that all may be one…that all may be set free to love God and one another…

Jesus prayed on our behalf, and on behalf of all those who may not yet have captured the Holy imagination, the promise of hope in a different way of being in the world together… and for those who have yet dared to hope in a world where all may be one, diverse family…united by the love of God….

 

We pray every week…thy kingdom come, thy will be done…on earth as it is in heaven…

Come, Lord Jesus…Come…

This is our fervent prayer, too…

Jesus promised, before he left this earthly place, that we would not be left without  a prayer, without help, without a comforter, without an advocate…we were promised…that the Holy Spirit would be sent to us…to keep that fervent prayer and song alive in our hearts and imaginations…for us…and to be shared with all the world…

That’s a good reminder for us…that we were never meant to navigate this world alone…We were created out of God’s love for the world and his people, to love one another, and all of creation…it has always been about being one family, uniting us together as one…one family under the banner of God’s love…

IN the hope and promises fulfilled in the hearing of this good news today – Let us continue to pray and sing our hymns to God….Let us use our Holy imagination and faith, in daring to believe and hope in Jesus’ fervent prayer: “May they all be one.”

 

Let us pray: My Life Flows on in Endless Song

My life flows on in endless song; above earth’s lamentation, I catch the sweet, though far off hymn that hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to the Rock I’m clinging. Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing. It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to the Rock I’m clinging. Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

What through my joys and comforts die? The Lord my Savior liveth. What through the darkness gather round? Songs in the night he giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to the Rock I’m clinging. Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing! All things are mine since I am his! How can I keep from singing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm while to the Rock I’m clinging. Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

 

Rev Julie Platson, Rector

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska

 

 

 

 

 

WORSHIP: TRAVELING THE WAY OF LOVE

In worship, we gather with others before God, hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ, giving thanks, confessing, and offering the brokenness of the world to God. But what does it mean to worship in a non-traditional setting? How can we be responsive to neighbors who might never walk through the red doors? St. Lydia’s shows us how to worship in the language of their neighbors.

This video was produced The Episcopal Church Office of Communication in partnership with the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

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4 Easter - Good Shepherd Sunday

4 Easter Year C

May 12, 2019 

Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30

 

We are well into the Easter Season now. Today…is the 4th Sunday of Easter. We’ve been singing and proclaiming our Alleluia’s…We’ve been singing our hymns that proclaim that Jesus is alive! And today, on this 4th Sunday of Easter we celebrate Jesus, as the Good Shepherd.

Our worship services the past few months…I would even venture to say going all the way back to All Saints Sunday, the Advent season, the Christmas season, the season of Epiphany, the season of Lent, Holy Week, and now Easter… have highlighted so many different ways of worshiping together….so many different ways of listening and learning together…so many different glimpses into the life and death and resurrection of Jesus…

Every season of the church year, has its own gifts to give us…

If someone were to ask me what my favorite season of the church year is…or what my favorite church service was…it would be hard for me to answer…because they all have something to teach us…they all have a story to tell….and if we allow ourselves to be fully present as we worship together, listening to scriptures, singing together, praying together, breaking bread together….we may come to see that these stories, are a part of our shared stories too…

And the more we come to understand, that we are all connected and part of a bigger story, of God’s love for all his people and all of creation…the greater the opportunity for us to hear God’s voice more clearly…when the Shepherd calls our name, when Jesus calls our name…and invites us to come closer, to get to know him more deeply, and to trust enough to follow where he leads us…

Our psalm for today…Psalm 23….The Lord is my Shepherd….is a well-known and favorite psalm for many people…

It’s a psalm that is often read at funeral services and memorial services…as well as our reading from Revelation today…for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes….

If there is any one shared story, that reminds us how intimately we are all connected, it is at the worship service when we gather together to say good-bye to our loved ones whose mortal life has ended, and commend them to God’s keeping, and comfort those who mourn with our care, our compassion and our love; with the hope that abides in each one of us.

Through our belief in Jesus’ resurrection, we do indeed have hope in life eternal. We do indeed believe that death does not need to have the final say, as we recall and proclaim the mystery of our faith every week in our Eucharist service: Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again.

We long to see signs of his resurrection and we often do, in the lives of people all around us, in those people who nourish us and love us and encourage us. And surely, in this season of Spring, there is abundant new growth, in the greens and in the flowers, that are bursting forth with signs of new hope and resurrection life.

We are witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection story….here and now…and throughout all the seasons of our lives… Because He lives…this story lives in us, too.

Each one of us. Every day. Every Season.

So, for today…if you were to ask me what my favorite church service is…I would answer that today is my favorite day….Because I love that we can be so closely joined together in the shared reading of Psalm 23.

I love that this psalm has the power to bring comfort and strength to so many people. I love that this psalm gives hope to so many people, when they don’t even know how much they need it.

I love that this psalm can lead us to the place where we can once again, be still, and hear the voice of the shepherd who wants to hold us close in the palm of his hand, not allowing anyone or anything to separate us from the love of God.

I love that this psalm has the power to remind us, all…that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, the Good Shepherd…we’ve been told plainly…we’ve seen it in the many stories of his life and teachings that are shared in the scriptures…

I love that this psalm offers a powerful vision for us to abide in…we have these beautiful scriptures to hold fast to…with hope…and assurance…

And finally…I love that all of us have gathered here this morning to worship together…knowing that we all come to the table from a different place in our lives today…

Some may be feeling joyful today for their mom or another person who has nurtured and encouraged them throughout their life….some may be remembering a beloved woman in their life, who has joined the long line of saints that have gone on before us… some may be struggling today…while others are celebrating…so many different lives and so many different stories to share today…yet…still we gather here together….as one Body…united by the Love of God, revealed to us, in the Risen Christ…

No matter where we find ourselves in the bigger story today, the story of God’s love for his people and all of creation…The words of psalm 23…whatever translation or paraphrase or hymn verse that we love…are meant to fall upon our hearts and ears today…reminding us that we have a shepherd who calls us by name…and assures us that God is always with us, in all the seasons of our lives… Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Lift Every Voice and Sing II - #104 The Lord Is My Shepherd

1          The Lord is my Shepherd, no want shall I know;

            I feed in green pastures, safe-folded I rest;

            He leadeth my soul where the still waters flow,

            Restores me when wand'ring, redeems when oppressed.

           

2          Through the valley and shadow my death though I stray,

            Since thou art my guardian, no evil I fear;

            Thy rod shall defend me, thy staff be my stay;

            No harm can befall, with my comforter near.

           

3          In the midst of affliction my table is spread;

            With blessings unmeasured my cup runneth o'er;

            With perfume and oil thou anointest my head;

            O what shall I ask of thy providence more?

           

4          Let goodness and mercy, my bountiful God,

            Still follow my steps till I meet Thee above;

            I seek by the path which my ancestors trod,

            Through the land of their sojourn, thy kingdom of love.

 

Rev Julie Platson

St Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church

Sitka, Alaska