Monday, June 23, 2014

Father Smith's Sermon: Not Peace, but a Sword 6/22/2014

Not Peace, but a Sword

Last Monday, very late, Terri and I returned from ten days in Guatemala. We enjoyed staying in the beautiful colonial city of Antigua where you can walk everywhere and the people are very friendly. It's a very international city because it brings people from all over the world to study Spanish. The pace of life is very laid-back and we both got some rest. It's always good to get home to your own bed!

We celebrated Pentecost and Trinity Sundays in Antigua in small, but very welcoming Episcopal communities. These two Sundays, one a biblical, the other a doctrinal feast, bring the liturgical year we started back on the first Sunday of Advent, to a kind of crescendo: what more can we say about God's revelation and plan in sending his Son Jesus to redeem us and teach us to usher in the Kingdom of God?

Now we enter upon the "Ordinary" time of the church year or the "green" season. God incarnate in Jesus, who lived among us, was scapegoated for the world's sins and put to death, and raised to life again, sending the Holy Spirit to now be our advocate and helper. During this "green" season of about 26 weeks our task now becomes how to live in such a way that the life and teaching of Jesus means something. When we realize this, there can be no business as usual for us.

It's not as though we haven't been thinking about how to live as baptized followers of Christ as we went through Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost. For the last several months I've shared with you from the scriptures a fundamental call to eschew all violence and the instruments of violence as Jesus did and embrace the effort to forgive and live in reconciliation with everyone, especially those who harm us. In other words, war is never the way to peace; being peace is the way to peace. This is Christ's way of helping us bring about, slowly, yes, but surely, the Kingdom of God.

While in Antigua, I read on the internet the tragic story of the young priest that was killed in Phoenix. I could relate to the story because I lived in a rectory with another priest, my pastor, when I was a young priest. I was on the second floor and he was on the third. We could hear each others movements and any commotion. So the story of a guy with a criminal and prison record making noise on church property and one of us coming out to see what was going on was pretty normal. The door of the rectory open, the bad guy beats the priest pastor who, with his hand hurt, runs into the rectory, and is able to retrieve his very powerful gun, a 357 Magnum. The experienced criminal disarms the priest (probably easily) and when the young 29 year old associate pastor rushes to the aid of his pastor, he gets shot and the bad guy flees, and the pastor comes to and gives Absolution and Last Rites to his young associate- now a martyr.

What is learned from this? Is it, go get your gun and shoot the bad guy, or, confront the bad guy and see what he wants or needs? He's probably needs money, food, or a place to stay. Especially when they let you of of prison you have next to nothing. Interjecting an instrument of violence (most police carry a lesser weapon than a 357 Magnum), brings about unneccesary and tragic death. Priest, and all followers of Jesus, are better at dialogue than shooting. Even if the priest would never have pulled the trigger and just wanted the bad guy to back off and leave, it's probably not the way to go.

So at the beginning of this "not so ordinary" season where the goal is learning how to live as Christ would have us, maybe the first teaching about eschewing all violence and instruments of violence is a place to begin. To not use violence ourselves, in word or action, or support others to do so on any level. Violence can never achieve a good end. It just doesn't, will not, work!

The main reason Central American parents are paying good money to have their children guided across our borders in huge numbers is because of violence and kidnapping in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. They'll pay any price to get their children out of there and into our governments hands and eventually to families of relatives already living in the United States.

But, with these thoughts in mind, isn't it ironic that in today's Gospel, Jesus says, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." Not Peace, but a sword? This is probably one of the most misunderstood sayings of Jesus ever! Jesus isn't talking about taking up the sword against our enemies. The sword Jesus is talking about in this gospel (full of difficult sayings) is the sword which draws a line in the sand and you have to decide how you are going to live your life: will you choose Jesus' way or not. And, sorry, if you choose Jesus' way you will cause division. Your decision will not be popular. People, your family, the closest ones to you, will disagree and line up against you, but God has your back, God has a count of the hairs on your head. Because of your decision there will be a little less violence in the world because you are not going to support it or add to it.

Someone recently asked: Does God have a plan "B"? Isaac is the son of Sarah, the Promise, plan "A". Ishmael, the son of Hagar the slave is not (interesting, Ishmael is looked upon by Islam as their connection to Abraham). The story ends with God consoling Hagar and the story saying that "God was with the boy." I'm telling you that I grew up and was mostly trained as a plan "A" guy, or maybe an "only one Plan" guy. But I'm discovering that God does have a plan "B" after all. God leaves no one behind. Grace is greater than all sin as St. Paul talks about in Romans. Each of us, baptized in Christ, must (not should) consider ourselves dead to sin (all violence and use of violence) and alive to God in Christ Jesus!

As we take a moment of quiet after the sermon this morning let us ask ourselves the question: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? . . . so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Christ has brought a sword. The line is drawn in the sand. Will we follow Christ or not?

Casa Maria reminder for Friday, June 27th

Casa Maria sandwich making is this Friday, June 27th at St Michael's Parish Center, 602 N. Wilmot. Kitchen opens at 5 PM; come anytime after that!

School's out! It's a GREAT time to bring children to a family friendly Community Service Event. WE NEED YOUR HELP! EXTRA EGGS PLEASE! Bring friends!

Please bring 2 OR 3 dozen peeled eggs. We don't get extra eggs from the School students in the summer. Please bring medium sized boxes for transporting the lunches. Fruit boxes from Costco or banana boxes are ideal. Experience the satisfaction that comes from helping others!

NEXT CASA MARIA: FRIDAY JULY 25th . Mark your calendars for 2014! Casa Maria is every 4 weeks...
June 27th
July 25th
Aug 22nd
Sept 19th
Oct 17th
Nov 14th
Dec 12th

Monday, June 16, 2014

News from Guatemala, plus Fw: Big decision for church on global warming

Thought this might interest some of you. All is well, wet, worked with the hospital and social worker in Nebaj today to work out a plan for an almost-6 little girl from Pal who has a heart defect. We ended the first walking "gira" in Pal last Friday, were the first to detect the problem, returned to Nebaj Saturday. Tomorrow we head to the Costa Sur. We will pass through Xela to change buses and have arranged to meet with M.D. Episcopal Priest Roberto Armas, whose church is there.

We used a tiny amount of your money to reimburse the young father for bringing the daughter from Pal to Nebaj today. She needs to go to the capital (Guatemala City) for an echocardiogram, and we'll use a bit more to help with that. The father has never been so far, and the social worker is attempting to arrange for a young nurse who works in Pal with "Extension de Cobertura" to accompany them. "La Capital" can be daunting, even for experienced travelers.

There were THREE articles in yesterday's Prensa Libre about child migrants and the huge increase in numbers. One interpretation -- breadwinner parents already in the U.S. think that Obama is quietly changing the policy and are trying to unite the family.

Thanks to all. Here the word is that, if El Nino arrives, weather will be drier than usual -- may help our walking, but not overall country conditions. I hope it means Tucson will have a real rainy season.


-----Forwarded Message-----
From: "Michael Sherrard, Faithful America" Sent: Jun 16, 2014 11:48 AM
To: Ila Abernathy
Subject: Big decision for church on global warming

Dear Faithful America member,

Last week, one of America's most historic seminaries, Union Theological, unanimously voted that its $108 million endowment will no longer be invested in fossil-fuel companies.

This is what it looks like when Christians take the lead in protecting God's creation. And make no mistake, this is a fight where Christians must take the lead, by setting a moral example of how to end our addiction to carbon pollution.

This week, the Presbyterian Church USA will vote on whether to divest its $10 billion in assets from fossil fuels -- which would be a huge leap forward for the divestment movement and tell a powerful story about how Christians are living out their faith.

Will you join in letting the Presbyterian Church USA know that thousands of us are praying they'll have the courage and commitment to divest from fossil fuels?

[1]Tell Presybterian Church USA: Divest from fossil fuels.


-- Michael and Aaron

For more information:

[2]"Committee will consider overture to divest from fossil fuel companies," Presybterian Church USA, June 12, 2014

[3]"Union Becomes the World's First Seminary to Divest from Fossil Fuels," Time, June 10, 2014


Visible links

Friday, June 13, 2014

Announcements through June 21, 2014

** St. Jerome’s Writing group will meet Tuesday, June 17 at 10:00 am in the Womble Library.  

** ECW - Ladies mark your calendar for THIS Wednesday, June 18th meeting and “Pot Luck Luncheon” at 10:30 am in the Parish Center. This will be our final meeting for the summer until we resume in September.

** Ready for a Mexican Fiesta? Parish Life invites you to join them, on Thursday, June 26th at 6:30 pm, at the Casa Del Rio Restaurant located at 1060 S. Pantano, corner of 22nd and Pantano. Entrees range from $7 - $12 each. Sign ~ up sheets are located in the back of the church.

** The Summer issue of The Messenger is out!  Click here to download your copy.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Announcements for Week Ending 6/15/2014

Knitters and Crocheters will meet this Saturday in the School Art room at 10:30 am. Simply bring your craft and a sack lunch (if you wish). Join us for fellowship and lively conversation while working on your craft. All are invited.

ECW Meeting ~ Pot Luck Luncheon ~ Wednesday, June 18th at 10:30 am. Ladies, you are invited to join us for our last luncheon and meeting before our summer break. Beverages and dessert will be provided in the cool Parish Center.

Ready for a Mexican Fiesta? Parish Life invites you to join them, on Thursday, June 26th ~ 6:30 pm, at the Casa Del Rio Restaurant located at 1060 S. Pantano, corner of 22nd and Pantano. Entrees range from $7 - $12/ each. Sign-up sheets are located in the back of church.

Guatemala News: Ila and other volunteers have made it safely to Guatemala and got started right away, procuring badly needed medical supplies for Maya villages. Meanwhile, Father Smith and Terri have made it safely to Guatemala for a 10-day vacation. Follow the Smiths' adventures on heir blog, Sojourns With Steve.

The Burial Mass for Lorene Paschal has been set for Saturday, June 28 at the 8:30. Burial will take place here at St. Michael’s. A Reception will follow the committal. May Lorene’s soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. †