A Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

By: Eleanor Wellford, Priest Associate

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t know the story about the Good Samaritan. Most of us probably heard it first in Sunday School when the basic lesson of good and bad behavior was taught. But there is much more to this parable than that; and like all of Jesus’ parables, there are lessons in them that we adults have a hard time learning.

On the surface, today’s story is about a man who was traveling alone on a dangerous 7-mile stretch of road from Jerusalem to Jericho and who was robbed and beaten and left for dead in the ditch. Two men passed by and didn’t help the man at all. A third man came along and cared for him, dressed his wounds and took him to an Inn where he was safe for the night.

When we go below the surface, we learn that the man lying by the side of the road was a Jew; that the first man to pass by him was a priest; and that the second one was a Levite. The third man who actually helped him was a Samaritan. Once we begin to know a little more about who these characters are, it’s only natural that we would have expectations about how they should behave. And Jesus knew that his listeners would do that.

We would expect the priest and the Levite, both religious men and well-respected members of society, to have stopped to help the dying man. And we would have expected the Samaritan – an outcast of society who shouldn’t even have been on the same road as the other travelers – to have gone nowhere near the suffering Jew. But we would be wrong on both counts.

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Embodying Christ’s Love to our Neighbors

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, July 14, 2019

By: Ashley Cameron

The Episcopal Church and the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry are inviting all to reflect, discern, and commit to The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life. It outlines six practices to engage and live “the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love.” These practices are Turn-Learn-Pray-Worship-Bless-Go-Rest which don’t need to be followed in that order but are there to provide guidance, rhythm, and inspiration.

The “Go” practice was fully witnessed a couple weeks ago through St. Mary’s VBS On-the-Go camp. The practice is written in the title! St. Mary’s rising 4th and 5th graders were tasked with going out to go beyond their circles and comfort to witness the love, justice, and truth of God with their lips and their lives.

This camp sends them out to new places in our wider Richmond community. Two weeks ago, they went to Peter Paul Development Center to pack snack bags for our hungry neighbors to take home; to Pony Pasture to clean up along the James River; to Shalom Farms to harvest organic, healthy food for those lacking access; to GoochlandCares to assist in the food pantry and clothes closet; and to Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church to serve lunch to the homeless.

“Send them into the world in witness to your love,” the Book of Common Prayer says. This was being lived out throughout the week, but it was the most evident on Friday at Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. St. Mary’s group of 17 was broken into small groups to rotate throughout stations of preparing lunch, creating sleep mats out of plastic bags, sorting out clothes in the closet, serving lunch to over 100 homeless people, passing out new t-shirts, and then cleaning up the space afterward. It was a long day for these nine and ten-year-olds but they completed it with eagerness, enthusiasm, and joy!

At one point, two kids were “missing” from a group activity. I wandered into the parish hall to check on them only to find them diligently going around to make sure the last remaining few still eating lunch received their allocated two pieces of candy.

How are we showing compassion for one another? Brother Curtis from SSJE speaks of the generosity of spirit in everyday life and how simple kindness is continually found in the Gospels. This was never clearer than the simple kindness of a ten-year-old passing out candy to an elderly, homeless man and embodying Christ’s love in the world and to our neighbors.

“We GO to listen with humility and to join God in healing a hurting world. We GO to become Beloved Community, a people reconciled in love with God and one another.”

God’s Math

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, July 7, 2019

By: Amelia McDaniel

I was horrible at math in school. I do know that the equal sign means that there are two values that are balanced, the same, on either side of it. 2+2 is the same as, equal to 4. Last week we had some impressive numbers to add up around here.

4 VBS Committee Members
60 kids in VBS
18 kids in On the Go
32 Adult Leaders
23 Youth Leaders
5 outreach sites visited
200 snack bags packed for the children at Peter Paul Development Center
100 towels collected to help with their swim lessons

But there is no way that by counting the people and items donated the sum would ever equal or be balanced with the sum of those wonders. Watching these children and the youth and adults who come to lead and learn alongside them for the week is beyond compare; no possible way to balance that equation. There is a whole lot of being human that gets stuffed into the week. Laughter and silliness. Some tears. Some bandaids and hugs. Singing and dancing. Lots of water balloons and goldfish crackers. Lots of stories told and some remembered. Most of all there is lots of grace—so much grace.

Many thanks to everyone who helped in the making of VBS and On the Go. The leaders who dreamed it up and led the charge – Ashley Barlow, Fran Jones, Rochelle Jordan, BethAnn Romeo, Patsy Simril, Liz Williams and Catherine Ashman – and the many, many adult and youth leaders who came forward to help make the week full of love.

I may be horrible at math, but I like God’s math.