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Becoming The Beloved Community

 

On the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, February 26, the Church begins the transition to Lent through the observance of Ash Wednesday. We pray, “O God, who before the passion of your only­ begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory.” Three days later, we pray, “Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness.”

While I find it hard to believe that we are this close to Lent, I also am reminded that in every day of the Church year, we are afforded the opportunity to glorify God in thought, word, and deed. Epiphany is about Christ, who revealed his glory upon the holy mountain. Lent is about centering on and nourishing that Light within our own being to be and spread that Light with our lives.

With God’s help, may we respond radically to the Light and the Ash Wednesday invitation to observe a holy Lent “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word; and by making a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us pray before our maker and redeemer.” In our doing, both we and the world are bound to become who God calls us to be as the beloved community.

God’s blessings as we pray and try,

The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector

February 22, 2017

Evensong this Sunday. Information about the Rector’s sabbatical. Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday updates, plus all of this week’s News at St. Peter’s.

Recalling Our Strength

On the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, February 12, we offered an essential prayer regarding the source of our strength. “O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

Offering these words at the beginning of the liturgy was a timely, true, and humbling reminder that in our weakness, human beings can do nothing good. Our actual ability to glorify and please God in will and deed is rooted in the source of our strength: God. Whenever we rely on God and entrust our lives, present and future, to the One who created us, we come closer to experiencing a certain peace that surpasses human understanding.

In a world where patience and trust appear to be dying by the minute, the faithful are invited to recall our strength. Weakness will always be very much a part of the human condition, but so can strength. May this prayer of French priest, Teilhard de Chardin encourage us today and every day of this earthly life. “Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new… Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”

God’s blessings as we pray and try,

The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector

Salt of the Earth, Light of the World

In the gospel appointed for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany Jesus calls his disciples “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” In my first two weeks, as your Associate Rector I have witnessed the ways in which St. Peter’s has been a beacon of light and hope in our city. I have learned of your rich history of being a parish of radical welcome and justice for the most vulnerable in our society, and the ways in which our parish in continuing this gospel work. Again, and again I have heard of the ways in which various parishioners are modeling hope in the context of our society’s fear and anxiety.

Theologian Walter Brueggemann has shared three ways in which the Church can continue to practice hope and model hope for our larger society: through truth telling, through shaping public attitudes and policies, and through acting out an alternative way of being in the world. Dr. Brueggemann contends that Christians can act out an alternative way of being in the world by practicing hospitality, generosity, and forgiveness. This alternative way of being will not be easy in a climate of fear and anxiety, but it is the way of Jesus.

I am thankful for Walter Brueggemann and his words which will guide me as I seek to be more like our Lord. Most of all, I am grateful for St. Peter’s. For decades, this parish has witnessed to and acted out an alternative way of being in the world. St. Peter’s continues to be a place of hospitality, generosity, and forgiveness. I am thankful that I can learn from your example as I serve among you as pastor and priest.

May God give us all the grace and courage to practice hope and to be salt and light in our world.

The Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Associate Rector