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Saturday, October 31, 2015

FROM THE NATIONAL CATHEDRAL - Episcopal, Washington D.C.: ¨Extrodinary progress toward Equality in the Human Condition¨ - ¨What can be done about extreme Inequality¨



 HERE: October 28, 2015: The Nancy and Paul Ignatius Program 


¨Extrodianary progress toward Equality in the Human Condition 1980 to 2020¨


Lawrence Summers


¨What can be done about extreme Inequality¨ 


Christine Lagarde


Our economic system has created vast amounts of wealth and opportunity. Indeed, the free market is a defining aspect of America’s identity. But in recent years it has created troubling levels of inequality. Companies by and large are doing well: stock market valuations are high, and corporations are flush with cash. But the benefits aren’t being widely shared. Few good jobs are being created. And the disparity between rich and poor is becoming far greater.
Is that an acceptable by-product of the free-market system? Or does society need to rethink its priorities? And how should faith-based communities respond? To help answer these questions and lead the way forward, this year’s Ignatius Forum will bring together a prominent panel of experts:
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund and France’s former Finance Minister Lawrence Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary and ex-President of Harvard University

The panel will be moderated by Adi Ignatius, editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review Group. Gary Hall, Dean of Washington National Cathedral will introduce the program and set the context for the conversation.The Nancy and Paul Ignatius Program was created in recognition of Nancy and Paul’s service and commitment to Washington National Cathedral and the inspiration they have given to so many to “focus on things that matter.” The fund dedicated in their names helps support this annual program on issues of importance at the intersection of faith and public life.

TOMORROW AT ST. ALBAN/ANTIGUA: All Saints Sunday - Holy Eucharist - Renewing Baptismal Promises - Nehermiah - Book of Revelation - Matthew 13



Dear Friends:

Tomorrow, the feast of All Saints, we will offer thanks in Holy Eucharist for all of our loved ones who now live with God and also renew our own baptismal promises that make us part of their number.  Hopefully, every one of our St. Alban's community can join us for this special day!  

John+

For bible study this week, we'll be reading in Nehemiah about the the return of the exiles to Jerusalem and their difficulties there.  The Samaritans had taken over Jerusalem and were not living the Law.  Nehemiah and Ezra got everyone back on track insisting on living the Law and also that the poorer folks, coming home to nothing and just trying to survive, be looked after by the wealthier folks who had resources.

In the New Testament, we'll be reading in the Book of Revelation.  The message of Revelation is important for our day as it was in the first Century for persecuted Christians:  God is ultimately in control of creation and history.  When human beings create wars and woe instead of peace, these actions become God's judgement upon us.

In the Gospel, study Matthew in Chapter 13, and following, about the need to re-orient ones life to God.

Happy studying!  If anyone has reflections or questions to share, please email me.  


Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.


The Reverend John Smith, Vicar.
5235-6674 cell telephone (502 country code)

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES YOU!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

NEWS - The Episcopal Church U.S.A.: Live streaming of the enthronment of Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop-elect scheduled for All-Saints Sunday, the National Cathedral, Washington D.C.

curry_2

The Right Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop-elect of The Episcopal Church (U.S.A) interviewed:

http://www.episcopalcafe.com/presiding-bishop-elect-interviewed-on-pbss-religion-ethics-newsweekly/#comment-316993

The link to the live streaming for his enthronment on ALL-SAINTS Sunday will be here:

https://www.youtube.com/user/wncathedral

There is also supposed to be translation in Spanish, but I couldn’t find a link to that. You can also download the printed program and follow along with that. I hope this is helpful to you.


El enlace a la transmisión en vivo está aquí:

https://www.youtube.com/user/wncathedral

También se supone que es la traducción en español, pero no pude encontrar un enlace a eso. También puede descargar el programa impreso y seguir con eso. Espero que esto sea de ayuda para Usted.

Thanks to Brother Tom Hudson

Monday, October 26, 2015

WE GATHER TO BE HEALED OF OUR BLINDNESS: ¨The sin lies not with the blind man at all, but with the ones who righteously excluded the blind man, and others like him, from society...¨ The Reverend John Smith


New Glasses 

As you know, Terri and I have been taking Spanish classes six hours a week each.  We're not in a classroom, but instead each of us has a assigned teacher for one on one instruction.  It's a great method.  For the first three months my teacher was "Pattie."  Pattie wasn't getting enough hours of work so she had to go to work elsewhere.  Pattie and I had a good rapport so it was hard to see her go.  This week I received a new teacher "Matilda."  She and I hit it off just fine.  Her "especialidad" is writing backwards or upside down as she teaches, so what she is explaining appears perfect to the student.  It was very helpful to me- I liked it.

An insight for me after this class was this:  Jesus writes backwards/upside down for us so we can get the meaning of his example and teaching and put it into practice in our lives.  He puts it there in black and white for us to see- with no craning of necks!

We don't probably think so, but we are more fortunate than the disciples who went around with Jesus in the flesh.  They had a hard time seeing what Jesus was really about, what he was trying to accomplish.  We have plenty of time for reflection on the story and time to act if we see and then choose to follow.

The story of the healing of the blind man Bartimaeus comes near the end of a section of Mark's Gospel: chapters 8-10.  This section begins and ends with the healing of blind men.  So what we have today is more than a miraculous physical healing, but is part of Jesus' attempt to help, over time, his disciples to see the meaning of coming death and Resurrection.  But unfortunately, they remain "blind" to its significance.

Perhaps the key to today's passage is found in the prophecy of Isaiah in chapter 6:  The people having eyes do not see and having ears to not hear.

The physical healing of blindness in the story points to a much more important goal of Jesus:  that people really see why they are in this world, see how they should live together, and see where this world is headed:  God's kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.

All the stories of healing blindness are related.  The greatest of these is in John chapter 9:  the story of the man blind from birth.  The question asked Jesus by the disciples was:  Who sinned, this man, or his parents?  With this question Jesus redefines what "sin" really is.  For centuries before and during Jesus' ministry, believing people thought any physical defect, especially blindness, was a moral defect.  This made the person with the defect unpure and an automatic outsider from family or the community.  (I think strides have been made in this way of thinking in our day, but when I pass crippled folks on the street and see how everyone passes by them without a thought, I wonder.)
Getting back to Jesus' redefining of sin.  (We're talking real serious sin 
here, real "mortal" sin, sin unto death! Not the eating meat on Friday variety.)  In the dialogue that ensues with the Pharisees concerning sin, Jesus says clearly that neither this man, nor his parents, sinned, one or the other, as everyone thought.  Instead, the sin lies elsewhere.  Where? For Jesus, in the very expulsion and exclusion of these so-called defective ones from the community.  The sin lies not with the blind man at all, but with the ones who righteously excluded the blind man, and others like him, from society.
Jesus has no problem at all with moral defect or failure.  Jesus forgives such cases easily- he is very comfortable with sinners and has table fellowship with them.  Whether it be the woman caught in adultery or today's blind man there is no problem:  he can free them to new life readily and they respond, like the last line of today's Gospel:  Immediately he regained his sight and followed Jesus on the way.

So if the greatest sins aren't what people think they are:  like adultery, stealing, coveting, or physcial malodies (various diseases, like cancer or AIDs), what is the great sin, unto death, etc.?  For Jesus, the greatest sins in the world have to do with the expulsion and exclusion brought about by judgments made by those who claim to see, but in truth are blind themselves. This is the real Sin of the world.  Sin which leads to more and more death in this world because of persistent blindness, fear, and greed.

What Jesus knew and we are learning (hopefully), is that the whole world has been blind from its birth (clay/mud from spittle used to heal in one of the stories connects with creation) until the coming of Jesus and his death and Resurrection.  Jesus, the Light of the world brings the possibility of sight to the world, but is rejected by those who claim to see, but are really blind.

Even with Jesus' redefinition of sin, we remain sinners.  We believe in the forgiveness of our sins as we pray in the Creeds.  We admit our blindness regularly in the Confession and receive absolution to start fresh again.  All human beings, including us, are blind, but real culpability happens when we take part in wrong judgments and participate in the exclusionary mechanisms of our world.

We gather at the altar today asking to be healed of our blindness, receiving new glasses (or corrective lenses) and Jesus will forgive us and feed us with his Body and Blood in Thanksgiving to his Father and Our Father.  

Amen!
John+


Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.


The Reverend John Smith, Vicar.
5235-6674 cell telephone (502 country code)

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES YOU!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

PARA SIRVIRLE...¨The disciples were full of the weakness of the human condition, just like we are. Thank God, we are so fortunate Jesus liked to hang out with sinners!...¨ John+

Reflecting on my experience of people saying "Para Sirvirle" to me, I think of the origin, probably of divine nature, of this practice:  Almighty God and the Life and Ministry of Jesus himself.  God, in Jesus is so holy, so divine, so not-needing to hold onto his divinity, that he can serve us- if we let him, and be at our service
The Rev. John Smith

As I've shared before, this green "ordinary" season of 26 weeks is all about learning to live the Christian life.  This week is no exception, but with an unusual twist.  The last line of the Gospel still lingers in our ears:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.

Today's Gospel begins with the disciples James and John asking Jesus for special positions in his kingdom.  "We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."  They along with all the other disciples have missed the point of what Jesus has been trying to teach them:  they refuse to receive what Jesus is teaching them with child-like trust.  They are concerned with looking out for number One, and, James and John are even betraying the other disciples by secretly asking certain favors for themselves.  The disciples are so human, while Jesus is full of divine love in everything he says and does toward their humanity (and ours!).

How is this?  Jesus, in his divinity, has the all glory and honor.  In truth, Jesus rules the earth already.  Jesus needs nothing.  He doesn't even need divine dignity, and because of all this, he is free to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.

It's interesting to note, that James and John, in their bold request to Jesus, very embarrassing in itself, is changed in a later parallel in Matthew, to having the mother of James and John make the request.  The woman takes on the embarrassment of the question upon herself.  No one can fault a Jewish mother for asking the best for her boys!

Getting back on track:  God needs nothing from us, even our tremendous offer of service (with a few perks, we hope).  But God does need one thing from us absolutely:  our love, from an intimate, interior life with him.  Didn't he say it:  Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened?  Jesus humbles himself, lowers himself to our level, even below our level, to be our servant.  He will take all the pain and violence of the world on himself.

Some historical background to the above verse:  In Jesus' time there were many kidnappings and small wars going on continually.  Many were held captive and enslaved.  There was no way out unless someone, a savior, came along who would pay ransom for release.  This is the context of Jesus' remarks.  This is not about paying a ransom to his Father so that we could become lovable to God despite our sins. (St. Anselm's theory of Atonement) No, the ransom Jesus paid was to humankind and to free us from the cruelty we impose on each other.  As Isaiah put it:  He was brused for our iniquities.

The disciples were full of the weakness of the human condition, just like we are.  Thank God, we are so fortunate Jesus liked to hang out with sinners!  He came for them, not the ones who thought they were righteous.

So what is the message this Sunday in ordinary time?  What shall we do?  Most sermons on this text, including many that I have given, have concluded with the point:  Jesus served us, so now let us go serve others in his Name.  Haven't you heard this many times?  Problem is, yes, we do try to serve others sometimes, but we know we fail most of the time, so what happens is we build up more and more guilt in ourselves.  We come to church where we are encouraged to do good and most of the time go a way with more guilt than we started with as a result of our failure to accomplish not so much at all.  No wonder people don't join us in great numbers!  Who wants more guilt?

So let's do the opposite!  Let's let Jesus serve us, ransom us from our various captivities and guilt.  Let's let go of what we usually think:  I've got to do more, but I don't really.  Instead, let Jesus serve us, free us, feed us, like in the Holy Eucharist today.  This is why Jesus came into the world!  Para sivirles! Let's not be like Peter who said:  You're not going to wash my feet Jesus!  Let him!  Let's let Jesus be Jesus for us-- and see what happens!  Let's start today.  Let's see what happens!  

Amen!

John+


Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.


The Reverend John Smith, Vicar.
5235-6674 cell telephone (502 country code)

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES YOU!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE: Welcome to the Season of Creation!

Prayers of the People, In the Beginning,1st Sunday in the Season of Creation '15

for Sunday, October 11, 2015 ~ Readings: Gen 1:1-31, Ps 33:1-11 [from the Anglican Chant by John Randall]Pope Francis*John 1: 1-14 [from “The Message”]

Welcome to the 
Season of Creation!

        The Season of Creation 
originated in the Anglican Church of South Africa in 2008 and is designed for us to explore our faith from a Creation perspective. We are to realize our place in the order of God’s creating and to see and act upon the need to care for our entire life-support system - the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil in which we grow our crops - not merely humanity, but our total environment, as it pertains to ALL life. 
         From the early days of the Season of Creation at SsAM [www.SsAM.org], we established that “the primary aim of the events of the season is to enable adults and youth to celebrate and experience the inextricable link which binds together the destinies of all of God’s creatures.” It is a moment of pause to remind ourselves that God calls us to see “what great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions” and for us to renew our commitment to making real the biblical vision of the earth at unity with itself. It is a vision of human beings of all races, backgrounds and walks of life in local communities and among the nations of the earth, living together in love and peace with justice for all. "As disciples of Christ, we are called through our Baptismal Covenant, to be instruments for the healing of our broken world," and with a renewed commitment to personal and communal prayer and action.
         We will use Biblical and other readings that pertain to the specific theme of each of the 6 weeks. The alternate readings used will follow the prayers on this page.  

     We begin this Season at the BeginningProfessor Wangari Maathai,** 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, describes the Book of Genesis as "the book for environmentalists." "If we had been created on Tuesday," she said, "There would have been nowhere for us to stand! God, with infinite wisdom, waited until the last day!" 

READ ON/PRAY ON thanks to Christina Brennan Lee
HERE:



Saint Alban Episcopal Mission (English) meets for mass every Sunday at 10:00 A.M. (see welcome letter at sidebar) at Casa Convento Concepcion, 4a Calle Oriente No. 41, Antigua, Guatemala.


The Reverend John Smith, Vicar.
5235-6674 cell telephone (502 country code)

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES YOU!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A MESSAGE FROM THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH - Santiago de JERUSALEN, CHIMALTENANGO: ¨Every day vendors toss their garbage including produce too damaged to sell in a heap for the garbage truck to collect later. Every day dogs and the poorest of the poor people root through this refuse looking for something to eat...¨ Phyllis Manoogian+





A MESSAGE FROM The Reverend Phyllis Manoogian from CHIMALTENANGO, GUATEMALA, CENTRAL AMERICA

“Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.”
Jesus’ conversation with the Gentile woman found both in Matthew and in Mark, speaks not of real dogs. Jesus is commenting on her outsider-ness and that first he has come to serve the people of Israel. But in a literal sense I see this scene every day at either end of my little street here in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. My street doglegs a block between the official market with its maze of stalls and the grassroots market that has sprung up in the streets. Every day vendors toss their garbage including produce too damaged to sell in a heap for the garbage truck to collect later. Every day dogs and the poorest of the poor people root through this refuse looking for something to eat. These people truly compete with the dogs who wander the streets for something to eat. The woman pictured here is using a crowbar in her search, both to snag whatever eatable treasure she finds and to fight off dogs that might compete for that morsel. 

The Episcopal Church Santiago de Jerusalén is working towards changing this picture forever with a center of learning for local children. From now until the end of this academic year in October, Padre Miguel Salanic has invited 25 first graders who are at risk of not advancing to the second grade to come study at the church three days a week with a professional teacher and a staff of volunteers. He dreams of an enrichment program during their vacation months of November and December to insure they maintain their progress. Come January, 2016, the second floor of the church will ring with the voices of pre-schoolers engaged in learning and preparing for the public school education that awaits them. Most of their parents sell in the marketplace and almost all represent the indigenous people of Guatemala.

Unemployment is chronic and vast here. Today’s children need every advantage they can get to succeed as adults. Without an education they will inevitably struggle all their lives. Help Padre Miguel extend a hand to these children with your prayers and financial support. You may send your check to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church designating the Deacon’s Discretionary Fund (2300 Bancroft Way; Berkeley, CA 94704-1604)
 
Gracías! Díos les bendiga! 


The Reverend Phyllis Manoogian
phyllismanoogian@yahoo.com
SPECIAL NOTICE:

Join the Reverend Phyllis Manoogian as she leads St. Alban Mission, Antigua, Guatemala in Prayer with Communion (English)..  Sunday, October 4 and October 11 at Ten in the morning, Casa Convento Concepcion.