This Lent we are on a journey to Jerusalem to be with Jesus at his death and resurrection. Beyond this Lent we are on a journey of life toward Our Lord and the heavenly kingdom.
Lent is a journey we take every year with Christ through the wilderness. Traditionally, Lent has been a time to prepare for Easter by extra prayer, self-examination, self-denial, study, and acts of charity. Many have simplified this by saying that in Lent we give up and we take on. Through giving up, we open space for God within us; through taking on, we invite God in.
Deepen your faith this Lent by adopting a practice for the season.
Advent starts a new church year. There may be four Sundays in Advent, but our Sunday lectionary readings point us to three primary stories for the season: the end of time (1 Advent), John the Baptist (2 & 3 Advent), and Mary (4 Advent). These stories help us prepare for Christ’s coming, Christ’s advent, into the world. Advent is a wonderful time for introspective reflection and these stories of Advent give us a wonderful launching pad for this task.
Olivia and I are part of a play group in the summers that is connected to our church. We've been going for the past 3 summers, and as we attended our last one of this summer, I reflected on how much this group means to us. To me, especially.
When Betsy Halpern and Katharine Hunt tapped me to head up Family Night Shelter, I was fairly new to St. Mary's. I had volunteered a few times at Saturday Breakfast but had no firsthand knowledge of the Night Shelter program. But I felt a deep sense of gratitude to our congregation and our wonderful church.
Presently our church, as a member of the Refugee Resettlement Coalition of Lane County, is supporting the hosting of a Syrian refugee family. Now, let’s roll our time clock back to the 1970’s: the Vietnam War and consequent refugees from both Vietnam and Cambodia.
St. Mary’s Refugee Committee invites you to take part in this Refugee Resettlement Coalition of Lane County (RRCLC) Relief Kit project. Our committee, which includes some great cooks, will be hosting coffee hour after each service on June 18. At that time, we will collect new bath towels and other bucket items, as well as funds for the RRCLC Relief Kit project. There will also be information available about RRCLC and the plight of refugees around the world.
Recently, St. Mary's Earth Stewards decided to look into local options for counterbalancing carbon outputs, and began working with local organizations to develop the necessary relationships. We agreed that the Long Tom Watershed Council (LTWC) and McKenzie River Trust (MRT) would be the two most appropriate organizations (due to geographic overlap, mission, efficacy, capacity, etc.).
In her book, The Soil Will Save Us, Kristin Ohlson recounts the story of being able to push a 4-foot pole down into a farmer's corn field up to her knuckles. She was able to do it several times in different places, proving that the farmer, Gabe Brown, had completely transformed his soil from the Dust Bowl desert he had purchased into a farm that had become easier and cheaper, not harder and more costly, to run.
Wherever we walk, whether it’s the railway station or the supermarket, we are walking on the earth and so we are in a holy sanctuary. Thich Nhat Hanh.
Before the movie Finding Dory, there was a charming Disney Pixar Short called Piper (trailer above). A mother sandpiper is encouraging her little piper baby to learn how to forage food for herself. Sandpipers go down to the ocean and when the wave is out, they search for little clams. Bubbles indicate where some of them are, so the sandpipers look for those bubbles and quickly dig and eat before the wave returns. The young sandpiper isn't so sure about having to forage for herself. She wishes her mama would still just feed her, but with some encouragement she tries. It all goes south when a wave completely soaks her. Eventually though, she meets a family of little crabs, and the child in that family teaches the piper a different technique than the sandpipers use: the crabs burrow a little down into the sand, so the wave can't knock them off their feet. Then they are able to see underwater for a brief moment the great abundance of food that the wave has exposed and will be re-covered as soon as the wave recedes. There is so much more food available than the standard piper technique of looking for bubbles identifies. The piper is no longer afraid of the water and is able to harvest the bounty for herself and others using this improved technique.
A written description does not do the story justice; I highly recommend take six minutes to watch it (https://itun.es/us/HFKUeb). Piper has all of the classic Pixar elements: stunning animation, perfect music and sound effects, and a focus on challenge, fear, courage, and growth. I think it is also a metaphor for the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God is like a sandpiper who is deathly afraid of the ocean and unable to collect the meager harvest, until the day she meets a crab who teaches her how to brace herself in the sand and see the riches that the ocean holds, producing food that was thirty fold, sixty fold, even one hundred fold the average, enough to share with her family and sandpiper neighbors.
Jesus teaches us that the kingdom of God is already among us and within us. We need to learn how to see it. We need to open our eyes. Just like that little sandpiper, we can brace ourselves in the sand and open our eyes when the waves of life roll over us, so that we can see the abundance of God's grace in the midst of all of the difficulty. God's grace is sufficient to nourish us as we face any challenge.
Someone I know recently told me something that Ram Das said: "If you ever begin to think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your family."
This suggestion speaks to the dynamic within prayer and contemplation that is challenged by daily life….. the natural conflicts that occur, the intermittent chaos, sprinklings of upheaval, anxiety and fear about security in its many forms,
This summer, I applied for a Doctor of Ministry program at Virginia Seminary. It is a low residency doctoral program that integrates theory and the practice of ministry in your parish. It is not designed for you to go teach in an educational institution, but to serve better as a priest in your parish.
Our Holy Land pilgrimage has ended. I am writing these initial reflections while on the plane home. The thirteen of us had a wonderful time exploring the life, time, and places of Jesus. We learned not only about the past - the historic stones - but about the present - the living stones - our sisters and brothers in Christ in the Holy Land. There are many challenges here, but their hope and faith is inspiring. Time and again, I heard the local Christians thank us for coming. Our presence there was an act of solidarity with them and brought them hope.
Greetings from the Holy Land! Or the Land of the Holy One as many Christians here call it. A group of thirteen of us from St. Mary's are here walking in the steps of Jesus. We have joined with 29 others from England, New Zealand, and the US, for a wonderful pilgrimage with St. George's College.
What does living in the present moment look like? How do we practice living in the presence of God RIGHT NOW? Why is it so difficult?
“We carry within us the wonders we seek without us.” - Sir Thomas Brown (1643), Religio Medici, §15
During his sabbatical Bingham will be praying the Office of Morning Prayer every morning. A great way for the parish to support him and for all of us to walk with Bingham through his time of reflection and renewal is to join him by saying Morning Prayer ourselves. There are lots of ways to participate.
Our rector’s sabbatical begins after the Ascension Day service on May 5th. Bingham+ will be gone for almost three months, returning the first week of August.