Monday, October 24, 2016

The Jesus Prayer: " Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

Sermon October 23, 2016, a summary, The Reverend John Smith

The Way to Joy

This Sunday's Gospel is the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the Temple. The Pharisee, a good and righteous man, prays to God, making a case for his personal righteousness. The Tax Collector prays from the back of the Temple, saying only "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." Jesus says that the Tax Collector went home righteous and not the Pharisee. Why? The Pharisee actually thnks he is "not like other people." He lives in a righteous, unrighteous, us them, good evil, dualistic world. The Tax Collector simply expresses his need for God's mercy and knows that everyone, including the Pharisee, needs this same mercy. He is one with all men and women in this need for God. He makes no judgments on other people, he is like everyone in need of God's forgiveness and love.

Do you remember reading in highschool j.d. salinger's Franny and Zoey? In the book is mentioned another book, the Way of the Pilgrim. The latter speaks of a young man's search for how to pray "unceasingly" as it says in Ist Thessalonians. A Russian holy man, teaches the young man the Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. This prayer comes from the prayer of the Tax Collector in the Temple. Millions of people pray this prayer everyday. Rather than being depressing proclaiming our sinfulness, it leads to a deep peace and joy. You become one with all humanity in everyone's need for God love and mercy.

Jesus invites us not to wallow in our self-righteousness that cuts us off from other people and is full of striving, rivalry and worry over who's in or who's out, but to acknowledge our need for God, and everyone elses, even our enemies, and allow this truth to well up true joy within us. This is Good News!


St. Alban
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)


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

SUNDAY PREVIEW - SPECIAL EDITION: Pray for all the people of Haiti as Hurricane Matthew descends upon them (and the TEC dioceses of Haiti, Dominican Republic and Cuba* - The Episcopal Church/Province IX)

Prayers of the People: The Very Beginning, 1st Sunday in the Season of Creation '16

For Sunday, October 9, 2016, Readings: In the Beginning* (©Mark Earey), Psalm 148, Sura 7:54 The Qu’ran**, Luke 17:11-19

In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 
  In the empty void and crushing darkness, God spoke light into being. 
[Mark Earey]

 Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights...sun and moon...all you shining stars...Praise him heaven of heavens and you waters above the heavens...for he commanded, and they were created.
[Psalm 148:1, 3, 4]

 "Your Guardian - Lord, is God, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days...He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command."  [Sura 7: 54, The Qu'ran]

 Then [Jesus] said, "Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" [Luke 17:18]

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 [], 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.
         This year, as a special feature of our season, the Earth Charter[] will form a special context or backdrop of our observance. It provides an opportunity for our parish and its individual members--including our youngest members -- to make specific personal and institutional commitments for the healing of our planet, and to join the movement of millions around the world who endorse and commit to its principles.
         The Earth Charter is a product of a decade-long, worldwide, cross-cultural dialogue on common goals and shared values. This project began as a United Nations initiative, but it was carried forward and completed by a global civil society initiative. It was finalized and launched as a people’s charter on 29 June, 2000 by the Earth Charter Commission, an independent international entity, in a ceremony at the Peace Palace, in The Hague. A global consensus statement of values and principles for a sustainable future, the Charter has at its core an ethic “of respect and care for the community of life as a whole in all its biological and cultural diversity…The Earth Charter adopted the concept of universal responsibility in part because it complements the idea of universal human rights. 
         We will use Biblical and other readings that pertain to the specific theme of each of the 7 weeks. The alternate readings used will follow the prayers on this page.  

         We begin the 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!"

Christina Brennan Lee 


*Province IX of TEC and the diocese of Cuba are in formation together

Sunday, October 2, 2016

REKINDLE THE GIFT OF GOD: "God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and of self-discipline." The Reverend John Smith

Quality or Quantity?

        I think I like quality.  For example, if I wanted to buy a rug, I would like to buy a hand-made oriental or Guatemalan rug than buy a factory-made rug from Walmart.  Of course, some might say that if you have to cover a cold floor to keep your feet warm, and you don’t have much money, buy the Walmart rug.

        Many folks like quantity.  They like to have plenty of something, like money, extra things, lots of stuff.  If have one or two of something is good, three or four or more of the same thing is better!  This is probably the ordinary human experience.

        How do these reflections apply to faith?  In the Gospel today, Jesus’ disciples ask him increase our faith!  They want more faith.  They are quantifying faith.  The most common statement I’ve heard people say is I wish I had more faith.  This is what the disciples are really saying.

        Jesus surprises them by saying it’s not that they need more faith, but to use the faith they have even it is as small as a mustard seed.  Using just the faith they have they could command a mulberry tree, with its vast root system, to be uprooted and be planted in the sea.  Even a small amount of faith can do this!  Jesus definitely puts his emphasis on the quality of faith over the quantity of faith.  But what does that mean for us who usually talk in terms of needing more of something?  What is Jesus getting at?

        When we have even a mustard seed of faith we can live in a way that defies ordinary human experience.  For example:

-Violence strikes us, and instead of responding with righteous violence in holy revenge, we try to uncover the complaint against us and repent;

-Our resources are limited and we feel we have a right to keep what is ours, but we share generously any way;

-God seems to be absent in all the violence, and we can’t see the Kingdom taking root in the world, but we trust and live a life of thankfulness.

In other words, we are fools for Christ’s sake and live a life that defies ordinary human experience:  When most people value the strong, powerful, and wealthy, we refuse to sacrifice the weak, the powerless, and poor.  That’s just what we do with our faith, even if it’s only like a mustard seed!

        Faith allows us to live in the Truth that sets us free.  This is the vision that Habakkuk is talking about:

        Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise . . . The wicked surround the righteous—therefore judgment comes forth perverted . . . Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. 

        Daily life moves fast, we’re running here and there, we have faith, the Truth is there, in big letters, but we can miss it as we run by, mimicking the ordinary human response of the world around us to life’s challenges and tragedies and never truly experiencing freedom.

        When Timothy, a person of faith who had shed many tears in his following of Christ, was tempted to give up, Paul exhorted him

        For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and of self-discipline.

        You have faith.  I have faith.  No one has perfect faith.  What the Church has always believed is that when we are gathered together, especially at the Holy Eucharist, the community gathered has a fullness of faith.  This is a school of faith where we learn a way of living in the Spirit which defies ordinary human experience.  We learn to repent, forgive, show mercy, to give to others, and love everyone as a sister or brother of the one Father, Source of life and Truth.  
St. Alban
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)