Friday, August 29, 2014

Announcements For Week Ending September 6

Taizé is held Tuesday September 2nd in the church at 6:45PM Come to Taize service of Prayer, Readings and Meditation. All are invited to join is in this quiet and peaceful 45 minutes as the day closes.

Many thanks to all those who continue to generously donate to the small Central American children traveling with their mothers. The numbers of recent border crossers have declined considerably. Give to the Florence Project to ensure that unaccompanied immigrant children have legal support a they face immigration judges. About 500 of these children are still detained in Arizona on any given day. There is no public defender system in immigration. The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project is the only organization that provides free legal services to unaccompanied children, along with the thousands of men and women, who are detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Arizona. The staff from the Florence Project are available to speak with churches who want to assist unaccompanied children with social and legal services. Address is PO Box 654, Florence, Arizona 85132.

Parish Life invites you once again to go Greek! Join us on Thursday, September 25 at 6:30 PM at Fronimos Greek Café, 3242 E. Speedway Blvd. (Enter from the Walgreen’s parking lot at the southeast corner of Speedway and Country Club and follow the signs.) Menu prices range from $6 to $16 per entree.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sermon: Shiphrah and Puah in Tucson: White Privilege and the Power of One

Shiphrah and Puah in Tucson: White Privilege and the Power of One
A Sermon for Sunday, August 24th, 2014
By Mother Clare Yarborough

Lesson: Exodus 1:8-2:10    
Psalm: Psalm 124
Epistle: Romans 12:1-8    
The Holy Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20

Episcopal News Service photo: Ferguson merch Aug 15 20141.    The first I heard about the news out of Ferguson was from a cryptic remark on Facebook made by Mike Kinman, dean of Christ Cathedral in St. Louis, Mo on August 10. It said, “Sometimes events happen that compel you to tear up your sermon and start over.  Yesterday’s shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson is one of those events.”

At the time I sort of assumed that this was a local kerfluffle in St. Louis that needed to be addressed but would quickly subside.  Mike cares for his community and he’s in the forefront of trying to make systemic change for the better in St. Louis and its neighboring communities.  (Not surprisingly, he’s a St. Michael’s Eagle.)  So I thought it was natural that, of course, he would tear up his already written sermon to address a local concern—that’s the mark of a good pastor.

It wasn’t until the next day that I realized that the shooting of Michael Brown was not a small local incident, but one more chapter in a much larger story that implicates every one of us in this country. 

Another unarmed black youth shot by a white police officer in the name of self-defense.  His body lay on the street for hours, his mother prevented from going to him as it was a “crime scene”. 

You can imagine the rage that erupted as a result in that mostly black community with the mostly white police force.  You can also imagine the fear in the police force, the defensive reaction to the rage that resulted in the riot gear, the tear gas, the rubber bullets and the sound horns.

This, (of course), produced more rage, then more fear, and even more violence. 

2.    There came a time in Egypt where a king came to power who did not know Joseph.  And he said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

Bring out the riot gear!

Shiphrah, Puah, Jocheved, Miriam, Pharoah's Daughter, and the infant Moses - mural, Dura-Europos SynagogueAt first the fear simply led to enslavement.  Pharaoh needed builders and the Hebrew slaves built, first Pithom and then Ramses.  They became more numerous.  Pharaoh’s fear grew and so he instructed the midwives Shiphrah and Puah: “When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.”

The Scripture says that these two women feared God more than Pharaoh, and so they did not do what they were commanded.  They let the boys live and became the first non-violent “conscientious objectors” of Scripture.

When questioned, they adopted a nonchalant shrug: “Oh, it’s those Hebrew women, they aren’t like the Egyptian women, they are vigorous and have their babies before we even arrive!”  Thus,
Pharaoh’s fear is intensified—the Hebrews aren’t like us.  The Hebrews are the other

3.    Egypt and the Israelites.  Europeans and Native Americans.  Turkey and the Armenians.  The Nazis and the Jews.  The Killing Fields of Cambodia.  Montt and the Ixil Mayans.  The Hutu and Tutsi of Rwanda. 

The history of genocide is a long and bloody one.  Although there are some overall patterns of how a single population is first defined, then marginalized and then systematically persecuted—each genocide seems to leave its own distinctive mark.  Some erupt almost spontaneously, such as Rwanda and Cambodia, others develop gradually over time—moving so slowly that it’s hard to actually identify the Tipping Point into wholescale mass slaughter.

Not every genocide has a Kristallnacht. 
But all usually have a Ferguson, and not just one, many.  There has to be a well-defined other to be feared.

Ferguson is Ferguson because it is not an isolated incident.  Mike Brown is not the only young unarmed black man shot because of being in the wrong place at the
wrong time, mouthing off the
wrong words to the
wrong person. 

This has happened too many times.  Too many times this has been the end result of a situation that could have been resolved in so many other ways.

Except time and time again we have the same end result because that we have a
•    a history of oppression and persecution,
•    A history of threats and intimidation
•    A history of fear that has created a deadly dance of violence between black and white in our country.

4.    We are invited to a different dance. 

Instead of dancing with Pharaoh, we have the opportunity to partner up with Shiphrah and Puah and dance with God.

So how do we join in when it looks as though the dance floor is in another part of the country? 
How do we know in fact whether we are dancing to the right tune when there are conflicting reports about what actually happened at the time of the shooting, and its aftermath?  How do we know we are picking up the right rhythm to this dance?

First, I think we have to realize that whether we realize it or not, we are on the same dance floor regardless of whether we find ourselves in Ferguson or Tucson.  White privilege looks the same across the country.  It’s so embedded in our cultural DNA that most of the time we aren’t even aware of it—
•    We turn on the tv and most of the people will look like us. 
•    We don’t have to scrounge to find toys for our kids that have the same skin color or eye color. 
•    We can walk along the sidewalk without hearing car doors lock as we approach.  Or women nervously cross the street. 
•    We can even pretend that white privilege doesn’t exist because if we choose, we can surround ourselves pretty easily with other white people.

And so we benefit from the same set of circumstances that created a Ferguson.  And we, like it or not, are on the same dance floor.  The first step to doing anything about it is to recognize the privilege and the fact that we did not earn it, we were born with it.  We can feel a little guilty about having something we did nothing to obtain—but quite frankly, guilt is useless if it does not spur us on to action.  So we are obligated to acknowledge the advantage of white privilege and the power it gives us, and then use it to act.

And the first action we can take with this privilege and power is to SHUT UP and LISTEN.  We need to listen to the voices of those who live in other realities.

•    Listen to the mothers who have to tell their sons NOT to run down the sidewalk lest it attract too much attention from the authorities.  Listen when they tell you how their hearts are in the mouths every time they hear of a shooting until they see their own sons come through the door safe and sound.
•    Listen to the youths who all too often are stopped by police just because they look as though they might not have a valid driver’s license. 
•    Listen to the young women who leave history class during a movie on the Civil Rights Movement because the police are turning fire hoses on men who look just like their dads and granddads. 

When we feel their pain and their anger and their fear, then it is easier to replace our fear with compassion and empathy.

Then we are ready to dance with God.  We will be ready to stand up and witness that we human beings are ALWAYS going to have more that unites us rather than divides us.  We will be ready to act on the truth that there is no “other” when we are all children of God.

We do not have to journey to Ferguson to make this point.  There are ample opportunities to witness here in Tucson: ample opportunities to listen to stories of oppression with compassion and empathy! 

5.     Shiphrah and Puah were not exactly considered privileged by the standards of Egypt—not when compared to Pharaoh.  But they were able to make their own moral decisions and act accordingly within the sphere of their influence.  The moment came when their sphere of influence coincided with Pharaoh’s interests.  Where before they had limited power, in the birth room they had all the power.  

They chose compassion over fear.  Life over Death. 

And the boys lived.

None of us know when we will be called to moral action.  We do know for sure is that we have the power to choose: compassion over fear, God over Pharaoh. 

There may be more Fergusons in our future as a nation.  What we can do here is our best to keep our Tucson Compassionate, Kind, and Free of Fear.

We can be the Shiphrah and Puahs of the Old Pueblo—

and do what we can to keep our Michael Browns safe so that they can go home to their mothers at the end of the day.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Casa Maria and Other Notes from the Parish Office

boiled egg
CASA MARIA News: The Last Gasp of Summer!

Friday Aug 22nd - it's time again for Casa Maria sandwich making!
Kitchen opens at 5pm, come anytime after that!
St. Michael's Parish Center, 602 N. Wilmot
BRING FRIENDS!!  COME join the fun!

Please bring 2 OR 3 dozen peeled eggs  We NEED extra eggs!

We need medium sized boxes for transporting the lunches.
Fruit boxes from Costco or banana boxes are ideal.

YOU ALL have been so FAITHFUL since April! THANKS ARE NOT ENOUGH! In Sept we'll have student help.

JILL will deliver the sandwiches.**  (Thanks to KARL for July!)
NEXT CASA MARIA: FRIDAY SEPT 19TH. Mark your calendars for 2014. Casa Maria is every 4 weeks...
Aug 22nd * Sept 19th * Oct 17th * Nov 14th * Dec 12th


Some of you may know that our faithful driver for Casa Maria, Steve Coulter passed away on July 31st. Steve recruited volunteer drivers and proposed a yearly schedule to share the delivery responsibility so lunches would be arrive at Casa Maria promptly. Steve also served as Junior Warden at St. Michael's for many years, keeping the buildings sound and dry and the landscaping beautiful!

Steve was scheduled to deliver the lunches to Casa Maria this Friday. We are blessed that his loving and caring wife Jill has taken upon herself to do what Steve would have done. Thanks to Jill, to Steve and to God!

Steve's life will be celebrated on Saturday Sept 13th, 11 AM at St. Michael and all Angels Church.

PS. If you would like to lighten the load by becoming a driver once or twice a year, please let us know and we will add you to the schedule!  


Please note:  The Parish Life gathering at Fronimo's has been changed to THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28TH AT 6:30.

THIS THURSDAY.....AUGUST 28, Parish life invites you to Viro's Real Italian Bakery, 8301 East 22nd Street, at 6:30 pm.  A special Spaghetti Dinner will be served.  Cost is $7 per person.  Join us for good food, lively conversation and fellowship. All are invited.  Sign-up sheets are i n the back of church.


This Sunday, after the 10:15 am Mass, you are invited to a Mexican Lunch of chicken enchilada, beans and rice. The meal is prepared by Maria, a member of Mision San Miguel, to raise money for past-due house payments.  Several months ago, Maria's husband fell from a roof and broke eight ribs and his spine in three places and is unable to work.  They have three children and their son was confirmed here last year. Maria is working three jobs in order to keep their family afloat.  They are behind three months in their house payments.  The lunch is a free will offering.  The suggested donation is $5.  (Checks may be made out to Mision San Miguel with "Maria" place in the memo.)  Lunch will be served from 11 AM until 3 PM in the Parish Center. All are invited!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sermon: Faith Overcomes Resentment

Faith Overcomes Resentment
A Sermon for Sunday, August 17th, 2014
By Father John R. Smith

Lesson: Genesis 45:1-15
Psalm: Psalm 133
Epistle: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
The Holy Gospel: Matthew 15: (10-20), 21-28

Last Sunday I shared with you the need to “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.” This flowed from the somewhat humorous Gospel story of Peter walking on the stormy sea toward Jesus. Peter sets out looking at Jesus, but when he realizes his situation and feels the strong winds and the turbulent waves at his feet, he takes his eyes off of Jesus and flounders and begins to sink and cries “Save me, Lord!”

This Sunday we again see the importance of trusting God and God’s Son Jesus as we consider the topic of resentments. (Here I shared a list of resentments around divorce, race, other religions, forms of suffered abuse, against power, the poor, immigrants, refugees, sexual orientation, etc.)  Have you had any deep-seated resentments in your life?  I have.  Has that resentment ever caused you to hold back forgiveness from the person or persons involved?  I’ve dealt with that.  Have you?

The scriptures this Sunday teach us the only way we can truly be healed from resentment.

We continue with the Joseph story.  Joseph, favorite son of Jacob who receive the multi-colored coat, was hated by his jealous brothers, who threw Joseph down a pit to die.  When the brothers thought better of it, they hauled Joseph out and sold him as a slave to some traders on their way to Egypt.  Joseph was a bright, good-looking fellow and he gets his first job in Egypt working for Potiphar, a regent of the Pharaoh.  Potiphar’s wife wants to seduce Joseph to lay with her and when he refuses, she runs out and yells rape.  On her word, Joseph is thrown into jail, even though completely innocent.  Can you see how resentment could grow in Joseph’s life?

Later, Joseph gets a chance to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and he is so successful Pharaoh lets him out of jail and Joseph is made Master over all of Egypt.  He virtually has the same power as the Pharaoh.  All this happens just in God’s time, you could say, so when his brothers, sent to buy grain in Egypt because of a severe famine in Israel, Joseph has power meet their need and sell them grain.  Now Joseph was no saint, but he did have a strong faith in God’s providence.  His resentment was such that he could have sent his brothers off hungry, with nothing to bring home, but because he believed God had a plan for him to be in power and to be in a position to help his family, and the resentment and hurt he had was let go and he was able to reconcile with his brothers and even see his father Jacob again.  And the proof of his healing was that he forgave his brothers from the heart!

Faith in God overcame deep resentment and hurt.

In today’s Gospel we see the same dynamic in play.  A few verses earlier, the Pharisees have caught Jesus’ disciples eating without washing their hands.  They complain to Jesus that his disciples are not following the traditions of the elders.  Jesus then tells them that it isn’t what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth.  This is offensive to the Pharisees and Jesus’ disciples tell him how much Jesus has just offended the Pharisees. The Pharisees resentment against Jesus builds up even more.  They think they teach the Law of God, but they refuse to recognize the fulfillment of that Law standing in front of them.  Their resentment festers and grows.  They want Jesus to die.

Juan de Flandes - The Canaanite Woman asks for healing for her daughter, c. 1500Then, continuing on his travels, a Canaanite woman approaches Jesus to ask for healing for her daughter.  Jesus ignores her.  She asks again.  The disciples want her sent away.  Jesus adds that his mission is to the lost sheep of Israel, not her ilk.  But the pagan woman persists.  Jesus basically calls her and her people “dogs.”  But then she comes back and says “even the dogs eat the scraps from the Master’s table.”  Jesus is conquered.  Jesus acknowledges her faith in him and heals her daughter “instantly.”

Just think of the resentments this women had:  being put down as a complete pagan and called a dog.  Yet clinging to her faith in this Jesus, those resentments lost their power.  She and her daughter were healed.  She could have walked off in a huff, flipped Jesus off, but instead hung in there with faith in the person of Jesus.  She didn’t take her eyes off Jesus- she believed in him.

I think most of the problems of the world, divisions between people, and wars, are the result of deep-seated hurts and resentments.  Only faith in a loving God, or those who incarnate the presence of a God of love in the world (us!), can heal those resentments and open the way to forgiveness and reconciliation.

So if we have any lingering resentments that we are holding on to, today is an opportunity to be healed and forgiven.  Perhaps have that intention when you come to Holy Communion and express your faith in Jesus.  Even if you think Jesus or one of his representatives (maybe a priest or other Christian person) has let you down and called you a dog, hang in there with faith, don’t blow God off, like so many have, stay right here and be healed.  


Stepping Up to Women's Bible Study! - and More

OK ladies! It is that time again when we are starting our new study! So excited! Come join us Wednesday evenings at 6:30 to 8pm at St Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, Tucson AZ Love to see you there! All ladies are invited. - Terri Smith

Women’s Bible Study begins this Wednesday, August 20th at 6:30 pm in the Parish Center. This year we will travel thru the Psalms of Ascent, known specifically as psalms 120 ~ 134. Once again we will explore the great festivals and key elements that help us better understand worship and a life of faith and fellowship. Books are $15 and can be ordered ahead of time. Please contact Nancy in the office. (7 books are available now) You may also buy a book the first night of the study. Say it, work it, pray it. See you there!

Did You know.........Each Wednesday at 10:00 am in the Womble Library, classes on Church History take place. These informative sessions include a video and lively discussion, facilitated by Peter Schmidt. No sign-up sheets, no commitment, just how up. All are invited and we would love to meet you!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Announcements Through August 28, 2014

You are invited to join us for a quiet forty-five minutes of Taizé Service of Prayer, Readings and Meditation, this Tuesday, August 19th at 6:45 pm in church. This is perfect way to end a busy day.  All are welcome.
Interested in Church History? You are invited to a discussion group in Church History facilitated by Peter Schmidt. The group meets each Wednesday at 10 am in the Womble Library. Join us for videos, lively discussion, conversation and fellowship. No sign-up sheets, no cost, no committments, just show up, you'll be glad you did.

Women’s Bible Study

Begins this Wednesday, August 20th at 6:30 pm in the Parish Center.
This year we will travel thru the Psalms of Ascent, known specifically as psalms 120 ~ 134.

Once again we will explore the great festivals and key elements that help us better understand worship and a life of faith and fellowship.

Books are $15 and can be ordered ahead of time. Please contact Nancy in the office. (7 books are available now) You may also buy a book the first night of the study. Say it, work it, pray it. See You There!!!

Ενορία ζωή σας προσκαλεί να πάτε ελληνικά
Parish Life invites you to go Greek!
Join us on Thursday, August 28th at 6:30 pm
Fronimos Greek Café
3242 E. Speedway Blvd
(enter from the walgreen’s parking lot at the southeast corner of speedway and country club and follow the signs)
menu pricing ranges from $6 to $16 per entrée
please contact the church office if you need a ride!

Many thanks to all those who have generously donated to the small Central American children traveling with their mothers. The numbers of recent border crossers have declined considerably. Other ways to help these children as well as the unaccompanied minors will be featured in today’s bulletin and weeks to come.
  • Support mothers and fathers who are detained in immigration detention centers in Eloy and Florence, AZ. While separated from their children, women and men can benefit greatly from the support of community members who write and visit them while they await their immigration hearings before a judge. Spanish is helpful but not essential. Contact Marjorie King
at to learn more.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin ~ TODAY!

Come celebrate with us at St. Michael's!

Holy Eucharist at 6PM TONIGHT

"Pot Luck Dinner" to Follow in the cool Parish Center.

All are invited to bring a dish to share, or not, just join us!

All are invited! We'll be happy to see you!

Also, you are invited to join with the Society of Mary in the recitation of the Rosary at 7:45 am Saturday morning in honor of Saint Mary the Virgin. Rosaries will be available.

Many continued Blessings!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Don’t Look Down - a Sermon by Rev. John R. Smith

Don’t Look Down
A Sermon for Sunday, August 10th, 2014
By Father John R. Smith

Lesson: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
Psalm: Psalm 105, 1-6, 16-22, 45b
Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
The Holy Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33

This past week the Church celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration on Wednesday, August 6. August 6 is also the anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima. The Transfiguration commemorates Jesus taking Peter, James, and John up a high mountain where they get a glimpse of Jesus’ luminous glory and divinity. This Gospel is also proclaimed each year on the Last Sunday of Epiphany, so we hear it twice, which underlines its importance.

If you remember, Moses and Elijah appear alongside Jesus in this epiphany to the “Pillars” Peter, James, and John. That these two are included in the vision is understandable: Moses was given the Law and Elijah was foremost of the early prophets of Israel. What they have in common is they both dealt with idolatry.  When Moses comes down the mountain, after his dialogue with God and receiving the Law, he finds his people and the leaders he left in charge dancing around a Golden Calf they made in their impatience. He summarily orders the idols destruction and the execution of all the worshipers of it. And you might remember the Elijah story when he confronted the 600 prophets of Baal and challenged them to a contest to see which God was more powerful and real: the Baal (which means Lord) or the God of Israel. It was a fire contest. The prophets of Baal called down fire from heaven on their wood stack and nothing happened. Elijah has water poured on and soaked into his wood pile and when he calls down fire it ignites instantly to everyone’s amazement! Elijah then orders the 600 prophets of Baal to be put to death.

Moses and Elijah provide a great contrast to Jesus. Jesus who goes to the Cross demanding no persons death, forgiving those who will put him to death, and instead will offer himself in death for the sins and idolatry of the world. And the Voice from heaven declares “This is my Son, the Beloved, Listen to Him.  In other words, God is telling the three leaders of the three great Christian communities of the early church:  Be lead by Jesus’ teaching and example. Listen to Him.

For the first few centuries followers of Jesus were focused on Jesus example and words. No Christian would be a part of taking life in any form. And in those times people dealt with the same kind of issues we deal with today, human nature and response being pretty much the same. But over the centuries, mostly due to fear and the “rational” desire to “preserve our way of life,” we’ve accumulated so many arguments for not listening to Jesus or following his example. Or, perhaps more accurately, we prefer to practice a kind of moral religion where we determine good and evil without any real reference to Jesus.  We revert, as Joseph’s brothers did, to jealousy and hatred for our brother. (Granted, Joseph didn’t do himself any good in their eyes by playing up the favor Jacob had for him!) So the brothers try to get rid of Joseph, and as things work out, they end up needing their brother and he ends up, after some intrigue, forgiving them. In this important regard the Joseph story parallels Jesus’ story: both were made scapegoats by their own people and both end up forgiving those who sought to harm them.

I believe that the one thing that will get us through the our own difficult time (Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, the Sudan, immigration and refugee crisis) is by refocusing on the person of Jesus and his teaching, acknowledging God, as the General Thanksgiving in the Prayer says:  Not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days.

We can learn from today’s Gospel:  We’re all in the boat together, but the wind is blowing and the sea is rough.  It’s easy to be afraid in such a situation. So, when something or someone approaches us. We yell “It’s a ghost!”  We’re ready to defend ourselves. But the One coming toward us is Jesus, who says: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” It’s almost comical, if it wasn’t so serious, but
Boucher, François, 1703-1770, Peter Tries to Walk on Water impetuous Peter, the one who would deny the Lord 3 times, recognizes that it’s Jesus, and asks Jesus to command him to walk to him on the water. Jesus says: Come! So Peter, jumps out of the boat, starts walking toward Jesus, but then looks down at the turbulent waves! The moment he takes his eyes off of Jesus he falters and begins to sink crying out: Lord, save me! 

Whatever happens, no matter how afraid we are, we must not support the lashing out at the object of our fear.  Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus at all costs. And, when we’re tempted to look down, rather than to focus on Jesus, his hand will be there to catch us and hold us up.  We have nothing to fear. Don’t look down! Look up---at Jesus!

A song I sing with the children:  Here Comes Jesus

Here comes Jesus
See him walking on the water
He’ll lift you up
And he’ll help you to stand now
Here comes Jesus
He’s the master of the waves that roll
Here comes Jesus
He’ll make you whole.


Eggs and Diapers: The New Fish and Bread - a sermon by Rev. Clare Yarborough

Eggs and Diapers: The New Fish and Bread
A Sermon for Sunday, August 3rd, 2014
By Mother Clare Yarborough

Lesson: Genesis 32:22-31    
Psalm: Psalm 17: 1-7, 16
Epistle: Romans 9:1-5    
The Holy Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21

I.    Back from three weeks on the East Coast! 
I ate lobster three times, caught up with old friends, went to church three times (saving the bulletins for future reference), and did my best to avoid newspapers, newscasts and all other conduits of Current Events.

In fact, for three weeks the most earth-shattering news to come my way was the trade of Jon Lester and Johnny Gomes to the Oakland A’s, which pretty much smashes any hopes of a berth on the playoffs. 

So, a good time was had—a time of lazy mornings, cooler temperatures, reconnecting with friends and family.  Thank you for allowing me and Father Smith to have these times away to rest and restore ourselves. 

II.    Jesus wasn’t so lucky in today’s Gospel. 
He tried to get away…but the crowd found out!  So here’s the story again—retold and put into the context of the rest of the bigger story.

In the section immediately before this, we hear about what happened to John the Baptist.  How he was arrested and imprisoned and finally served up on a silver platter to Herod Antipas.  The story is gruesome, even depraved, and must have been hard in the telling and in the hearing.

I can imagine Jesus’ wanting to scurry away and be alone.  How hard it must have been to hear how his mentor, cousin, friend had died!    How sobering to realize that yes indeed, this is what happens to prophets and saints, anyone who dares to speak Truth to Power.  Jesus got in a boat and went to a deserted place, also translated to a lonely place, or an out-of-the-way place…a place to cry, to pray, and to remember.

We’ve all been to these places.  In fact, most of the time you don’t need a boat to find such a place.  Nor a plane.  Nor a car.  Sometimes you don’t even need to leave the room to find that tragedy picks you up and drops you in a lonely and desolate place.

The crowd found Jesus out in that lonely place.  Perhaps he really was such a celebrity that there was nowhere for him to go without the crowd following.  Or perhaps they came for more than just a celebrity sighting.  Perhaps they came because they too were looking for a desolate place to be.   Jesus was not the only one to mourn the passing of John.   John baptized the entire Judean countryside, after all.  They flocked to John to hear his message of repentance.  They eagerly heard the message of preparation.

But they also heard the news of a banquet, a dancing girl, and a head served up on a silver platter.  If Good News travels fast, Bad News travels even faster!

Suddenly, Jesus had company out there in the lonely and desolate place.  With John’s death, the Kingdom of Heaven didn’t look so near.  Another good man extinguished simply because of a silly promise made to a little girl,

and God was silent.

Jesus Mafa collection, Jesus Multiplies the Leaves and FishMatthew’s Gospel said that that Jesus had compassion on the crowd.  “Compassion” in English is a rather soft word, in the Greek the word connotes a much stronger response—and a better sense might be a translation that says “When Jesus saw the crowd, he was heartsick.” 

So he healed them to remind them that God was still present.  The Kingdom was still nearby.

“Lord, it’s getting late.  Send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves,” said the disciples.

“You give them something to eat,” was his response. 
“We have nothing,” they responded.  “except for five loaves of bread and two fish.”

He tells them to bring the food to him, organizes the crowd to sit down on the grass, and then takes the food, says a blessing, breaks the bread and tells the disciples to pass it out.  And not only was there SOMETHING rather than NOTHING, there was a LOT of SOMETHING...actually there was an abundance.  There were such an abundance that each disciple had to get out a basket and gather up the extra food.  12 baskets in all. 

Herod’s banquet ends in a death.  Jesus’ banquet?  5,000 well fed men (plus women and children) and enough leftover for another day.  And that’s the story.

III.    My family tries to make a habit of going to Casa Maria every month to help out with the sandwich making frenzy.  I have a pretty good idea of how much goes into making 1,000 egg salad sandwiches.  A lot of bread.  A lot of eggs.  A lot of hands.  I have no idea how two fish and five loaves multiplied into enough for everyone, nor how 12 men managed to serve 5,000 plus people—the logistics alone make my mind boggle. 

But this is what I do know.  It doesn’t matter how it happened.  It doesn’t even matter whether I know that this story happened in exactly the way it’s told in Matthew.  Or Mark.  Or Luke, or John---it occurs in all of them actually. 

Every last evangelist tells this story. 
It is important for us to know this story.
Not because, I think, it’s about Jesus, but because it is about ourselves.

We are the disciples and we need to have this story absolutely seared into our DNA as Christians.  As followers.  As disciples.

Because we are always going to have 5,000 people camped out on our lawn waiting for dinner.  That’s just the world. 

Women and children at the bus station.  Gaza and Israel lobbing rockets at each other.  Western Africa in the midst of a devastating epidemic of Ebola. 

There will always be something absolutely horrible going on in the world and we will never be adequate to the task of fixing it all!

As some disasters disperse, others come to take their place.  Addressing the world’s pain is like playing Whack-a-Mole at the amusement park.  Except that it’s not a recipe for fun,

it’s a recipe for despair.

Especially for disciples who think they have nothing to give, and so want to send the problems away to the closest village. 

But…as Jesus points out—it’s not up to the disciples to judge adequacy of their resources.  So what if there isn’t enough to feed 5,000 men (plus women and children)?  If there’s something—anything—to give, then sit the people down, take the time to thank God you have something to give, and start passing it out. 

What started out as a recipe for despair will turn into a glimpse of God’s Kingdom. 

IV.    There’s a story I found on the internet, and like most good internet stories it’s been passed around so many times that it’s almost impossible to track down where and when it occurred.  But nonetheless I believe it to be a true story much like the feeding of the 5,000 is a true story.  What it teaches is True even if all the circumstances surrounding it are not.  It is supposedly told by a social worker who lived and worked in the Appalachias:

“The Sheldons were a large family in severe financial distress after a series of misfortunes. The help they received was not adequate, yet they managed their meager income with ingenuity – and without complaint.

“One fall day I visited the Sheldons in their ramshackle rented house where they lived at the edge of the woods. Despite a painful physical handicap, Mr. Sheldon had shot and butchered a bear that strayed into their yard once too often. The meat had been processed into all the big canning jars they could find or swap for. There would be meat in their diet even during the worst of the winter when their fuel costs were high.

“Mr Sheldon offered a jar of bear meat to me. I hesitated to accept it, but the giver met my unspoken resistance firmly. “Now you just have to take
this. We want you to have it. We don’t have much, that’s a fact; but we ain’t
“I couldn’t resist asking, “What’s the difference?”

His answer proved unforgettable.

“”When you can give something away, even when you don’t have much, then you
ain’t poor. When you don’t feel easy giving something away even if you got
more’n you need, then you’re poor, whether you know it or not.”

V.  Most of us have something to give. 
Eggs for egg salad.  A packet of size 4 diapers.  A car to ferry supplies.  An ear to listen.   Completely inadequate, but nevertheless something.   Therefore we are blessed, blessed by God to have something to give.  Strangely, the more we give—the more we find things TO give.  The richer we become.

The world is large.  The pain is immense.  There are 5,000 men (plus women and children) camped out on our doorsteps with more arriving daily.

It’s time to keep breaking out the bread and the fish, the eggs and the diapers and get busy passing them out.  We’re disciples of Jesus, so that’s our job.

God will take care of the abundance. 
After all, that’s his job.


Thursday, August 07, 2014

Announcements for the Week of August 10-16th and beyond

Feast of St. Mary the Virgin Celebrate with us beginning with the Holy Eucharist at 6PM on Friday, August 15, following by a “Pot Luck Dinner” in the Parish Center. You are invited to bring a dish to share, casserole, salad, vegetable, fruit or dessert, etc. Just a great way to spend a Friday evening, attending Mass, joining with good friends, lively conversation and delicious food!

Women’s Bible Study Begins August 20th at 6:30 pm in the Parish Center. This year we will travel thru the Psalms of Ascent, known specifically as Psalms 120 ~ 134. Once again we will explore the great festivals and key elements that help us better understand worship and a life of faith and fellowship. Books are $15 and can be ordered ahead of time. Please contact Nancy in the office. (7 books are available now) You may also buy a book the first night of the study. Say it, work it, pray it. See you there!

Parish Life invites you to go Greek! Join us on Thursday, August 28th at 6:30 pm Fronimos Greek Café 3242 E. Speedway Blvd (enter from the Walgreen’s parking lot at the southeast corner of Speedway and Country Club and follow the signs) menu pricing ranges from $6 to $16m per entrée. Please contact the church office if you need a ride! SIGN ~ UP SHEETS IN BACK OF CHURCH

The flowers on the altar today are given to the glory of God and in thanksgiving for seventeen years of marriage by Peter Schmidt and Sherry Terrell. May God continue to richly bless them on their life’s journey. Amen