Monday, September 22, 2003

European Pilgrimage
For High school Students of St. Michael and All Angels

Escorted by Dr. Elizabeth Zegura and Fr. John Smith
June 10 to June 25, 2004

June 10 American Airlines Tucson to London (over Dallas)
June 11 Arrive in London
June 12 London
June 13 London
June 14 London
June 15 London
June 16 Travel to Paris
June 17 Paris
June 18 Night Train Paris to Florence, Italy
June 19 Florence
June 20 Afternoon Train Florence to Rome, Italy
June 21 Rome
June 22 Rome
June 23 Rome
June 24 Rome
June 25 Return from Rome to Tucson

This will be a great trip! Join this pilgrimage to the center of our Anglican heritage and the major sights of London, Paris, Florence, and Rome. Enjoy a “backdoor” approach to travel that puts you in close touch with the culture and people of the places we visit. Prices include roundtrip air and transfers, hostel accommodations, and breakfast and lunch or dinner each day. The cost is $2300 per person. To reserve a place, please make out a check for $200 to “Pilgrimage 2004” and give to Alicia Basemann, our parish secretary c/o Fr. Smith by October 10th. Early registration is enabling us to get a very good airfare and value for this trip! There is the possibility of raising some of the money needed for this trip as individuals or as a group. Group meetings will be held for detailed planning and preparation. Talk to Fr. Smith for more information after mass on Sunday or at 886-7292.
A fun event for the entire family at the English Faire all day this Saturday from 9 AM to 6 PM. Enjoy visiting the English Townes representing Canterbury, Stratford-Upon-Avon, York, Oxford, and London Towne featuring jumble (rummage, English tea room, antiques, collectibles, art gallery, crafts, all- kinds-of-book sale, graphologists, bake sale, church tours with 3- artist pipe organ concert, and religious books and articles sale. There will be a children's area with face painting, jumping castle, games, and other activities. Free admission; free parking!

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Fr. Smith's Sermon Sunday September 21

Last Sunday, Episcopal School Sunday, it was great to see so many of our parish day school children among us: reading the lessons and Gospel, serving God at the altar, greeting people at the door as ushers. There were four student ushers stationed at the front door and I had baptized each one of them! It blew my mind to think that now these children, whom we had welcomed into the household of God, were themselves welcoming people into the church!
In God’s loving way with us, it is no surprise to me that last Sunday, where children were the highlight and center, is followed by this Sunday’s Gospel reading of Jesus, who, overhearing his disciples arguing about who was the greatest among them, set a child in the midst of his disciples to teach them, and now us, something most important about our following of Him. And that something is humility: being so sure of who we are as God’s children that we can let go of personal prerogative and the judging of others. In the eyes of many appearing weak, but in the Kingdom, finding real strength and the door to true peace in this world.
“It is impossible to overestimate the value of true humility and its power in the spiritual life. For the beginning of humility is the beginning of blessedness and the consummation of humility is the perfection of all joy. Humility contains in itself the answer to all the great problems of the life of the soul. It is the only key to faith, with which the spiritual life begins: for faith and humility are inseparable . . . If we were incapable of humility, we would be incapable of joy because humility alone can destroy the self-centeredness that makes joy impossible . . . A humble person is not afraid of anything . . . Since perfect humility implies perfect confidence in the power of God, before whom no other power has any meaning and for whom there is no such thing as an obstacle. Humility is the surest sign of strength.” (Merton, Seeds of Contemplation)
If there is one virtue that we can open to in our day when we so easily are disturbed by scandals in peoples lives (sometimes our own!), the church, and the concentric worlds that surround us, that virtue is humility. Jesus knew that humility was a foundation virtue for his disciples and for everyone that would follow and serve him. Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, for our salvation.
Humility is the key to all the other virtues especially faith, hope, and love. Think about it: How many people can’t open to the gift of faith in Christ because they won’t accept any Lord over their lives but themselves, or, are tripped up (that really is what scandal means) by something in the church that caused them sadness (like seeing Jesus’ disciples argue about who the greatest one was!). Only the letting go of personal prerogative and the judging of others which is humility is the only way to open to faith in such a person.
But how can humility as a foundation virtue lead beyond faith to hope and love? This is very important, because humility can not be turned on and off like a switch. We think: Oh boy, now I’m going to be humble! Everyone will see my humility and think I’m great (which I am really). Such “chosen” humility is truly only skin deep! One little thing happens to bring turbulence to our “humble scenario” and we’re off and running with disgust, anger, and a “I’m outta here”.
Humility that is turned on and off is, to borrow a word from Wisdom this morning, “convenient”, but it is always false. A humble person can live with lots of inconvenience. False humility, on the other hand, is the breeding ground for all the problems James is talking about (James 3:16ff.) But if humility can’t be turned off and on, where can we get it? We must, as in everything, look to Jesus.
Jesus spoke to his heavenly Father in childlike, trustful and intimate way. Just like a child with his or her father or mother. The secret to humility is learning to say “Abba”. This is what children say so easily. All they have is complete trust in mommy and daddy. What Jesus is teaching is that in order to enter the Kingdom of God you have to learn to live “Abba”, to become again like a child: living in simple trust every minute of the day, in everything. Here and now. A child has very little tendency to live in the past or future. For the child the past hurts and future expectations are overshadowed by the present. With no ingrained anticipations or apprehensions the child does not demand that things happen one way or another. The living out of an utter trust in God is the beginning of real conversion and the experience of living with Abba God in childlike confidence, safe under his protection and conscious always (with our very next thought) of his tremendous love is the direct fruit of humility.
So the Good News this morning is that each of us is invited by means of this simple story to recognize once again that in the last analysis we cannot save ourselves, and, freed by our Father’s love for us, we can accept and choose to put our trust in God as a loving parent. It is paradoxical, but someone who really a sense of their own worth, who can deal with a diversity of people, can cope with all the curves that are thrown in life, who in many ways is strong and successful adult, should freely choose to rely on the Father’s love. This is holy humility. This is what it is like in the Kingdom. This is our way if we choose to accept the “Abba-nature” infused in us by the Holy Spirit and take the radical step of being changed, as the first disciples were challenged to do, to live as child-servants of God.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

This is our brand new "blog" to help everyone know more about what's happening at St. Michaels. Stay Tuned for more! Fr. Smith