Thursday, October 28, 2004

A Message from Father Smith

Confessing Christ in a World of Violence

(this is a teaching by a number of theologians that I respect; you might find it helpful- Fr. Smith)

Our world is wracked with violence and war. But Jesus said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matt. 5:9). Innocent people, at home and abroad, are increasingly threatened by terrorist attacks. But Jesus said: "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). These words, which have never been easy, seem all the more difficult today.

Nevertheless, a time comes when silence is betrayal. How many churches have heard sermons on these texts since the terrorist atrocities of September 11? Where is the serious debate about what it means to confess Christ in a world of violence? Does Christian "realism" mean resigning ourselves to an endless future of "pre-emptive wars"? Does it mean turning a blind eye to torture and massive civilian casualties? Does it mean acting out of fear and resentment rather than intelligence and restraint?

Faithfully confessing Christ is the church's task, and never more so than when its confession is co-opted by militarism and nationalism.

- A "theology of war," emanating from the highest circles of American government, is seeping into our churches as well.

- The language of "righteous empire" is employed with growing frequency.

- The roles of God, church, and nation are confused by talk of an American "mission" and "divine appointment" to "rid the world of evil."

The security issues before our nation allow no easy solutions. No one has a monopoly on the truth. But a policy that rejects the wisdom of international consultation should not be baptized by religiosity. The danger today is political idolatry exacerbated by the politics of fear.

In this time of crisis, we need a new confession of Christ.

1. Jesus Christ, as attested in Holy Scripture, knows no national boundaries. Those who confess his name are found throughout the earth. Our allegiance to Christ takes priority over national identity. Whenever Christianity compromises with empire, the gospel of Christ is discredited.

We reject the false teaching that any nation-state can ever be described with the words, "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." These words, used in scripture, apply only to Christ. No political or religious leader has the right to twist them in the service of war.

2. Christ commits Christians to a strong presumption against war. The wanton destructiveness of modern warfare strengthens this obligation. Standing in the shadow of the Cross, Christians have a responsibility to count the cost, speak out for the victims, and explore every alternative before a nation goes to war. We are committed to international cooperation rather than unilateral policies.

We reject the false teaching that a war on terrorism takes precedence over ethical and legal norms. Some things ought never be done - torture, the deliberate bombing of civilians, the use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction - regardless of the consequences.

3. Christ commands us to see not only the splinter in our adversary's eye, but also the beam in our own. The distinction between good and evil does not run between one nation and another, or one group and another. It runs straight through every human heart. We reject the false teaching that America is a "Christian nation," representing only virtue, while its adversaries are nothing but vicious.

We reject the belief that America has nothing to repent of, even as we reject that it represents most of the world's evil. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

4. Christ shows us that enemy-love is the heart of the gospel. While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8, 10). We are to show love to our enemies even as we believe God in Christ has shown love to us and the whole world. Enemy-love does not mean capitulating to hostile agendas or domination. It does mean refusing to demonize any human being created in God's image.

We reject the false teaching that any human being can be defined as outside the law's protection. We reject the demonization of perceived enemies, which only paves the way to abuse; and we reject the mistreatment of prisoners, regardless of supposed benefits to their captors.

5. Christ teaches us that humility is the virtue befitting forgiven sinners. It tempers all political disagreements, and it allows that our own political perceptions, in a complex world, may be wrong.

We reject the false teaching that those who are not for the United States politically are against it or that those who fundamentally question American policies must be with the "evil-doers." Such crude distinctions, especially when used by Christians, are expressions of the Manichaean heresy, in which the world is divided into forces of absolute good and absolute evil.

The Lord Jesus Christ is either authoritative for Christians, or he is not. His Lordship cannot be set aside by any earthly power. His words may not be distorted for propagandistic purposes. No nation-state may usurp the place of God.

We believe that acknowledging these truths is indispensable for followers of Christ. We urge them to remember these principles in making their decisions as citizens. Peacemaking is central to our vocation in a troubled world where Christ is Lord.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Announcements for Week Ending October 31st, 2004

Check Out the Ongoing Parishioner Photography and Painting Art Show in the Parish Center. This possibly may be the start of a St. Michael's parish activity where artist may show, demonstrate, educate, and promote their artistic gifts. For more information about this program, please contact Kelli Peacock or Bob Bennet.

Speaking of artistic gifts - St. Michael's has a new blog for parishioners' art, photos, essays, poetry, meditations, prayers, etc. Check it out! Better yet, contribute! The web address is http:/ Please email your contributions to Karen @

"Therese [of Lisieux, also know as the Little Flower] - Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Soul" movie in Tucson, to be shown at the Foothills Cinemas inside the Foothills Mall Friday, October 29, through Thursday, November 4th. Tickets may be purchased by stopping in at the theater's box office or calling the box office at 742-5050. Tickets will be on sale Wednesday, October 27. Show times to be announced. $8.50 for general admission; $5.50 for matinee, $5.25 for seniors/children 3-12 years of age.

Naco Wellness Initiative Clinic is asking for donations of blankets and warm jackets (all sizes) to be distributed to the next two regular clinics November 13 and December 11. Please bring any extra blankets and jackets to the church office during this drive. These will then be transported to Naco, Arizona. For more information on this project, please call Anita Klever.

Casa Maria volunteers will meet this Friday at 6:30 PM, in the Parish Center, to prepare sack lunches. Your help is needed - the volunteers can always use a few extra hands and shelled hard boiled eggs. Join them for fellowship and to help with this good work.

ECW Casserole and Bake Sale next Sunday after the 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM services in the Parish Center. For more information, please contact Dolores Braren.

St. Michael's Godly Play Group’s Family Mass and Picnic is next Sunday. Family Mass will be celebrated in the Godly Play room and the BYOL (Bring Your Own Lunch) will be held in the park immediately following the Mass. Beverages will be provided. All parents and those interested in the Godly Play program are invited to participate. For more information, contact Libby, Karen, or Gigi.

United Thank Offering (UTO) continues year round every day - the mission of United Thank Offering is to invite people to offer daily thanks to God. The discipline starts at home by dropping coins into a special blue box container for each thanksgiving offered. Please pick up your UTO box located at the ushers' cabinet and become a UTO participant.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Announcements for Week Ending October 23rd, 2004

Vestry Meeting this Tuesday starting at 7:00 PM in the Parish Center. All parishioners are invited to attend this important parish function.

ECW Meeting this Wednesday - the Episcopal Church Women of St. Michael's will meet in the Parish Center at 10:00 AM. All women are invited to attend and hear the group's plans and activities. Also, ECW will have a casserole and bake sale Sunday, October 31 after the 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM services in the Parish Center. For more information, please contact Dolores Braren.

Next Sunday is Campus Christian Ministry Sunday - Fr. Jeffrey Reed, Chaplain of the University of Arizona's Emmaus Collegiate Chapel, will be our guest at the 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM services. Come hear about this ministry to undergraduate and graduate students in our community.

Derechos Humanos' annual Perigrinación (Pilgrimage) from St. John's Church to San Xavier Mission Saturday, October 30 (closest Saturday to Dia de los Muertos). We remember our common humanity with those who have died crossing the border, honor indigenous cultures, also cherish "this fragile earth, our island home." We'd like a small St. Michael's contingent. About 8 miles, if you walk all the way. Support vehicles will follow. Assemble at St. John's at Ajo Way and 12' Avenue 8:30 AM. Be a part of St. Michael's contingent, call Ila, or just come.

Habitat For Humanity - construction of the 11 homes continues Wednesday through Saturday of every week starting at 8:00 AM. Site is at Balboa and Laguna (near Glenn Street). Work is still mainly framing, roofing, foam insulating, stucco prep and clean up. Call Byron Brandon for details.

Angel Food candy making 2004: "The heavenly aroma abounds" - We are that point on the calendar where SSt. Michael's parishioners will start making our wonderful English Toffee dipped in chocolate, rolled in toasted macadamia nuts and macaroon coconut, then boxed in a beautiful red and gold metallic printed gift box. Volunteers are needed November 1 through November 6! Volunteer sign up sheets are located on the ushers' cabinet. Please sign up where you can, and bring friends, too. Orders are now being taken. For your convenience, an order form will be on the ushers' cabinet (and reproduced on this page) in the coming weeks. Share the goodness and sweetness of St. Michael and All Angels Church!

Calling all St. Michael's young people - beginning this Sunday, a new High School youth group is starting at St. Michael's. Anyone in High School is invited to attend. Please meet at the back of the church after the 10: 00 AM service where we will decide where to go for lunch! Also, today marks the kick off for the Rite 13 youth group. Anyone age 101/2 to 13 is welcome to come. Class will be from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM on Sundays. Come and grow with us in God's presence. Parents of you there will be an informational meeting in the Parish Center at 7:00 PM this Thursday to answer questions you may have about these programs and for you to meet Kaytee first hand. Please attend and bring your children so we can all get to know each other. For more information, please contact Kaytee or the church office.

St. Michael's 9th Advent International Bazaar, December 4th and 5th - parish artist and service groups, if you would like a table to sell holiday goods, please contact coordinator Ila Abernathy now. Typically, 25 to 30 parish and socially committed community non profit groups participate. Want to help plan, publicize, and make the event special? Contact Ila.

St. Michael's Primavera / Five Points meal team needs help - a meal is served on the I" Tuesday of eacch month to 3 0 residents in the Five Points Transitional Program. Volunteers do not have to visit the site unless they choose to help serve the meal. We need volunteers to help supply salad, bread, and dessert. Please call Byron or Lynette to discuss this easy way to reach out to other.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Episcopal School Sunday

the Gospel dramatized

The Gospel Dramatized:
"What were you arguing about on the way?"

"Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."

The Fifth Grade Choir demonstrates that "You Gotta Sing."

a little artistic license with the ushers

Distributing the Eucharist

Alan Schultz plays the organ

"Have a nice day!"
Headmaster Patrick Brown with Mullvaney Scholarship Winner

Ryan Valdez, winner of the 2004
Cynthia Mullvaney Scholarship,
with Patrick Brown, Headmaster

See the Episcopal School Sunday Page
and right-click to download pictures.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Sermon: A Letter from St. Francis

Dear John:

I wanted to write to greet you and all your parishioners at St. Michael’s on the occasion of your blessing of the animals. The animals you bless symbolize all the creatures of God and the deep respect and care we must have for all life: yes, for the animals, but especially for each and every human being.

I did not always have this respect for life and the peace it brings. A change occurred in me after I was captured in war and was a prisoner in Perugia. I found a copy of the Gospel and read Jesus’ teaching: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be children of God; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those cursing you, pray for those who abuse you; Take up your cross and follow me. I had heard the Gospel before, but never taken it in my heart. God’s grace helped me live no longer out of my fear, but, instead, embrace the Gift of Peace. I only had a mustard seed of faith, but that was powerful enough to move the mountains of my fears.

I had found myself in the same situation the prophet Habakkuk was, crying out: O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise . . . The law becomes slack and justice never prevails. Today you and your people are in the same situation as your country engages in wars on many fronts. I came to the conviction that all war is a failure. Even if you "win" there is tremendous destruction, tremendous cost and tremendous suffering. It’s failure of diplomacy. In a sense it is the failure of civilization. It’s the failure of civilized people to find a way of living with each other, to find a way of resolving our differences and conflicts that minimizes damage and maximizes the value of life.

War brought about my conversion and maybe it will do the same for your country. Only love can cast out the fear which causes us to strike back. The Great Soul Mahatma taught the futility of revenge and asked: Will you find the real courage to open your heart and offer love instead of fear whenever you "feel" attacked? Remember Alexander Solzhenitzyn who wrote from prison: If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

My dear John, there are two keys to becoming a person of peace and a promoter of world peace. Both keys are discovered only in the strength of true humility. The first key is the willingness. The willingness to be peaceful. As my prayer begins: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. I always repeated this a few times to myself at the first sign of turmoil within me or around me. I breathe into the words and realize Christ is within me and in the situation and even in my enemy. This last realization was always the hardest part for me. I could accept that Christ was trying to act through me, but it was much more difficult to see Christ in my attacker or the creator of the turmoil around me. I remember what the poet Longfellow wrote: If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each person’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility against us.

That is where the second key comes in: Seek not to be understood, but to understand. Seek to understand someone else’s viewpoint or reference. Try to understand their pain, their intent. Christ is present in them and their suffering even if they do not know it. Everyone is potentially a child of God and brother or sister of Jesus.

I’ll close for now, praying for all of you at St. Michael and All Angels. Remember the two keys that open the doors to lasting peace. Learn, as I did, that in order to create peace in our world we have to BE peace.

Your friend in Jesus,


Blessing of the Animals

Feast of St. Francis 2004 - Blessing of the Animals, 10:00 AM Mass

All of these pictures, and a number of others, can be saved to your hard drive in two sizes. For the smaller, most edited versions (shown here a little smaller than they are), right click the picture and select "save image as...." For the larger, less edited, usually darker versions, go to The titles are the same for both versions of each picture.

More or the smaller, edited pictures can be seen on the community page. and Karen's personal blog, and downloaded from

I'm sorry the pictures weren't better. The battery was running low, and I should the camera to flash regardless of how much light was available.


in line to be blessed
Blessing 1

Blessing 2 Blessing 3

Blessing 4Blessing 5

Blessing 6Big and Small