A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Easter

By: David H. May, Rector

 

 

It amazes me how quickly the big advertising agencies switched gears in the middle of March and started making commercial reflecting how our world had changed on a dime. I think I saw the first one maybe a week after we all started staying put. It was a commercial for a big mobile phone company reminding us that they were there for us to keep us all connected. The commercial was a series of employees assuring us that they were there and I remember I got a little choked up at their sincerity. Since then, most commercials take into account this different world we’re living in. But not all of them. There are still a few pre-Coronavirus commercials mixed in. When I see one of them, with crowds of people in a ball park or big groups of people in a window replacement store, happily mixing and mingling and shaking hands or hugging, it’s jarring – I feel like I’m looking at a world I remember, sort of. It’s disorienting because it’s only really a couple of months ago. But it might as well be an age ago.

So just a little time watching television these days gives us a glimpse of who we were and who we are now. When I see those pre-quarantine commercials, I wonder how can we ever get back there? Or even, can we get back there? I don’t know. Maybe we can’t. But even if we can’t, we will go forward.

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The Door is Open to Reshape our Future…

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, May 3, 2020

By: Wayne Dementi

We last met as a congregation in the church on Sunday, March 8. It was in the ensuing week that the world around us came to a staggering halt.

In our parish community we connected through technology as we continued our journey through Lent into Holy Week. We heard Christian Clergy around the world observe that what we were experiencing with Coronavirus was very similar to what was experienced during Holy Week itself – described as separation, uncertainty, and fear.

It is becoming clear that this “staggering halt” gives us an opportunity that we have never had before – the door is open to reshape our future together. This opportunity is evident in all aspects of our lives, and it certainly presents itself to life at St. Mary’s, too. Practically everything we practice is up for a fresh approach. I am reminded of our most generally accepted avenues of service: mission, ministry, worship, discipleship, and fellowship.

COVID-19 has affected each and every one of those areas. We have the challenge, and joy, of exploring how each of these might look in the future of St. Mary’s.

What now?

If our recent COVID-19 experience during Holy Week 2020 resembled the scriptural account, I wondered if the Gospel readings for the weeks after Easter offer some insight. What did they do? Here are some key words, and phrases, that caught my eye from each reading leading up to Pentecost:

+ John 20: 19-31 – “As the Father has sent me, I send you.”
+ Luke 24: 13-35 – “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon.”
+ John 10: 1-10 – “The sheep will follow the shepherd ‘because they know his voice.’”
+ John 14: 1-14 – “The one who believes in me will also do the work that I do, and in fact, will do greater works than these.”
+ John 14: 15-21 – “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever.”
+ John 17: 1-11 – “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

Indeed, we are in a period of reflection now, similar to the days and weeks following Easter in the scripture. We are strengthened by the insights offered by the Gospel during the period we are in now. We are ZOOMING and we are working hard. Through it all, though, we are also realizing that we have the unique opportunity of listening for God’s call in revealing our new life together in His Glory.

“Good Grief” with Vic Maloy

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

“Good Grief” presentation by Vic Maloy

 

Eldergarten presents an Adult Formation offering from Vic Maloy titled “Good Grief.” Please set aside about 40 minutes to listen above to Dr. Vic Maloy’s timely, thoughtful and poignant presentation on grief and loss – something we have and are experiencing right now – and best of all, hope. Vic was supposed to be our Forum speaker for two sessions during Lent and had he spoken, there would have been time for questions and answers. We can still ask him questions once you have listened to his presentation by emailing them to Eleanor at wellforde@gmail.com. Please send them by Friday, May 8. Eleanor will compile them and present them to Vic who will answer them in a follow-up presentation sometime in May.

A Stranger along the Road

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, April 26, 2020

By: David May, Rector

What’s next? When does this end?! What is life going to be like afterwards? We’re all asking these questions and I don’t think there’s one person who knows the answers. This uncertainty is taking a toll on people. One of the ways you can hear that is just how exhausted people feel. I think there are lots of reasons for this. But one of the primary ones is just the plain old stress everyone is feeling. We’re all making this up as we go along without quite knowing when we can find new patterns and a new normal that will begin to ease the stress of the uncertainty we’re all living in.

We’re exhausted because of the emotional ups and downs everyone is experiencing. By the way, if you think everyone is doing just fine except you – let me be the first to disabuse you of that! Everyone is doing the best they can, but everyone is feeling this – often deeply. There is grief and loss and fear in all of us. It’s hard not to project negatively into the future because of the uncertainty.

Which brings us to this luminous, strange, breath-taking reading we have from the gospel according to Luke this morning. If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and read it now before you go any further with this reflection. The reading is Luke chapter 24 verses 13 through 35. It’s often called the Emmaus Road story and it tells another story from that first Easter Day. Two of Jesus’s disciples had left Jerusalem for the town of Emmaus about seven miles away. We don’t know why they were going to Emmaus. I’ve always sort of thought that they just needed to get out of town, get away. When Jesus was executed, everything that they had hoped for had been taken away. They had followed him and watched the world turn to love because of him. But now that was over. Grief and loss and fear were all piled on top of each other.

But along the way, something happened. A stranger met them. As they walked along together, they told him about all they had lost including the hope that God was changing the world through Jesus. Then the stranger reminds them that God’s story always means that love will sacrifice itself, pour itself out, to save God’s people. Which helped them to remember what they knew was true but thought they had lost.

Then we hear some of the most beloved words in all of Holy Scripture. When the two disciples reach their destination and the stranger seems to be walking on, they say, ‘Stay with us….’ He does and comes into their home, sits at the table, takes the bread and blesses and breaks it. They see that they are with the Lord. They know it is Jesus. And then, he is gone from them.

It is natural to be exhausted by the ‘chances and changes’ of this world we are in. It is natural to be exhausted by stress and worry and fear. It is natural to even lose hope, and just ‘get out of town’ if not physically then emotionally and spiritually. But we serve the One whose love for all of us has changed the world and who we will run into ‘on the way,’ in all those ways that we know when our hearts are kindled again with his Gospel. And when we say, ‘stay with us,’ he will.

A Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter

By: Eleanor Wellford, Priest Associate

 

My first reaction after reading this morning’s story from Luke was to wonder if the two men walking on the road to Emmaus were observing proper social distancing! That’s the kind of world we live in right now.

My next reaction was to wonder about who these two men were making the 7- mile trek from Jerusalem to Emmaus; and why we only know the name of one of them. Why did the risen Lord choose to appear to these two particular people? And why did it take them so long to recognize who he was?

I’m not so sure I would have been as hospitable to the stranger who appeared out of nowhere as these two men were. He interrupted their conversation, called them foolish after they unloaded the burden of their hearts to him and then overwhelmed them with a lengthy interpretation of Scripture. I’m pretty sure I would have been put off by him and happy to see him go his own way; but those two men weren’t.

They were intrigued by the stranger. Luke told us that these two traveling companions were sad as they recounted with each other the awful events of the last couple of days. Their hopes for a Messiah had died on the cross with Jesus. But something the stranger said made their hearts burn within them, exposing a deep hunger that began to be filled by what Jesus was teaching.
Jesus offered them a broad brush of biblical history. It was a history of human life, suffering, death and most importantly, rebirth. It was a story of order created from chaos, of freedom from slavery, of desert times becoming fruitful times, of destruction becoming construction. Maybe Jesus was trying to put his own story into a context that would help the two men focus less on the current events and more on how God has been with all who suffer – throughout history.

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