Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Monday, August 21, 2017
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Friday, August 18, 2017
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Monday, August 14, 2017
Friday, August 11, 2017
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Monday, August 7, 2017
Sunday, August 6, 2017
The sacramental rites include confirmation, ordination, matrimony, reconciliation, and unction. As you can see, not everyone is called to ordination, not everyone is called to matrimony. Yet, we recognize these rites as ways in which people experience God and God's grace. The Catechism doesn't leave it just to those seven ways though. One of the questions it asks and answers is "Is God's activity limited to these rites?" The answer is a resolute no. "God does not limit himself to these rites; they are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us." (BCP 861)
Sara Miles finds all of them are part of the life of the food pantry in different ways. Where do you see these sacraments in your life?
Friday, August 4, 2017
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Monday, July 31, 2017
Sunday, July 30, 2017
In Christian tradition, we have a long history of giving thanks through worship and praise. Unfortunately in some senses over the years, the personal nature of the Eucharistic act of gratitude has been lost. People don't associate going to church with being thankful for other aspects of their lives. However, there are ways of bringing this association back and making gratitude a daily part of Christian life. Keeping a gratitude journal or jar, sharing gratitudes with other members of the congregation, and reviewing your gratitudes help cultivate a new attitude and make it easier to give thanks to God for all the gifts He has given us!
Friday, July 28, 2017
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Monday, July 24, 2017
Sunday, July 23, 2017
While Spiritual Direction typically takes place in an established relationship, there are also retreats offered throughout the country at camps, retreat centers, monasteries, and convents which offer a more intense experience of spiritual direction, with sessions each day. Sometimes these retreats are offered in conjunction with specific topics in mind.
Spiritual Direction is not just a part of the Christian tradition, but also a part of the Jewish and Muslim traditions, along with many other religions. Having a spiritual teacher or mentor leads to stronger, deeper, and more durable relationships with God and has been considered a wise move for centuries.
Friday, July 21, 2017
For Sara Miles, who had been through wars before, going through war while being a Christian was much different than her previous experiences.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
How do you best understand the kingdom of heaven?
Monday, July 17, 2017
Sunday, July 16, 2017
So what does the Bible have to say about food?
In the beginning, God created vegetarians. Adam and Eve lived in the garden and only ate what grew in the garden. However, Noah was allowed to eat animals, though not blood. Later on though, Moses was given lots of dietary rules and restrictions about the food the people of Israel were allowed to eat. (Today, following the scriptural rules for eating and drinking as described in the Hebrew Scriptures is known as keeping Kosher.) Unfortunately, these rules started creating problems for people. When Jesus was alive, he sometimes ate and drank things that broke Kosher laws. By the end of Acts, Peter has a vision that opens up the rules of eating and drinking fully.
The Bible has lots of stories of people eating and drinking together. It includes parables which help explain some of Jesus' teachings through food. We cannot allow different kinds of food to separate us from one another. Grounded in our common need for energy and sustenance, food is something that brings us together as people of God.
If you'd like to read more, here is one great article about food in the Bible by Scott Munger.
Friday, July 14, 2017
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Monday, July 10, 2017
Sunday, July 9, 2017
The Baptismal Covenant is the part of the baptism service where the candidate (the person wanting to be baptized), is asked questions about their beliefs and desires when it comes to becoming a Christian. Not only does the candidate answer the questions, the whole community who is present answers as well, signifying the community and the solidarity of being in the body of Christ together. You'll also notice, nothing is done without God being involved. God is always present.
The Baptismal Covenant goes like this:
Celebrant (fancy word for priest): Do you believe in God the Father?
People: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
Celebrant: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People: I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Celebrant: Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Celebrant: Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers?
People: I will, with God's help.
Celebrant: Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
People: I will, with God's help.
Celebrant: Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
People: I will, with God's help.
Celebrant: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
People: I will, with God's help.
Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
People: I will, with God's help.
These questions can be found in the Book of Common Prayer starting on page 304, or online at BCPOnline.
Friday, July 7, 2017
Thursday, July 6, 2017
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Sometimes the goal of helping other people means having to set aside your own priorities. Sara Miles describes the response she got when she introduced St. Gregory's to the idea of starting a food pantry in their sanctuary.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Monday, July 3, 2017
Sunday, July 2, 2017
This is the story of how the Feeding America organization got started. People realized that instead of throwing out still good food, they could store it in food banks, who could organize to hand it out to the people who needed it most.
At St. John's, we work with Feeding America through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Erie. "Feeding America’s mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage the country in the fight to end hunger.""Second Harvest is a member of Feeding America, a network of food banks and food distribution programs in the United States. This membership allows Second Harvest to cooperate with other member food banks, to receive food from national corporate food donors, and to benefit from national publicity and mutual support."
Friday, June 30, 2017
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Monday, June 26, 2017
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Friday, June 23, 2017
In an early conversation with a friend after her conversion, Sara Miles tries to describe what it means to pray.
""When you told me to pray," Jose would remember later, "it was incredibly earnest. You said prayer was like having this intense, profound longing that you just had to be with. That you put the longing in the hands of God, in a certain way. That it was important to be receptive to the unfulfilled, and not fill it or deny it." (page 70)
In what ways do you pray?
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Monday, June 19, 2017
Sunday, June 18, 2017
(The theological differences of transubstantiation, full union, real presence, are not what I am debating now.)
The history of traditions around the Eucharist, the giving thanks to God, is long and wide. Some churches celebrate with unleavened bread, some with leavened bread. Some churches use wine, some use juice. Some traditions specify who is allowed to participate, specifying that those who wish to do so must be baptized in their church, some churches accept the baptisms of other churches, while some churches allow anyone to participate whether they have been baptized or not.
The Episcopal Church has traditionally required people to be baptized before they are allowed to participate in Holy Communion. For some time, the requirement was also that people be confirmed. During revising of the Book of Common Prayer, eventually the requirement for confirmation was dropped. Lately, (the last twenty years) there has been some discussion about whether the church should drop the requirement for baptism for participation in Communion. The idea is called Open Table and suggests that since Jesus ate and drank with all manner of people, not asking whether or not people are baptized, that we should too. There is also some wisdom about experiencing what being a part of the community looks, feels, smells, sounds, and tastes like before they join.
The church that Sara Miles ends up going to in San Francisco, St. Gregory of Nyssa, has gotten special dispensation from their diocese and the larger church to practice Open Table as an experiment in theology.
Friday, June 16, 2017
Thursday, June 15, 2017
"What I learned in those moments of danger and grief informs what I now call my Christianity. It was a feeling of total community with others, whether or not I was like them, through the common fact of our mortal bodies. We all had bodies that could suffer and be killed; we all had hearts that could stop beating in an instant. In war, I looked at other, different people and saw them, face-to-face--and, seeing them, felt a we." (page 39)
Jesus taught that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Perhaps he should have also told us to pray for those we persecute. When do you feel the greatest sense of community?
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Monday, June 12, 2017
Sunday, June 11, 2017
In the early church world, the Greek philosophers had great influence. People would walk and travel hundreds of miles to sit at the feet of some of the great philosophers. There were teachers who were all over the spectrum from those who believed that experience through the body was the only way to knowledge all the way to the other end where only internal knowledge from asceticism and denying the bodily experience was accepted.
The Gnostic tradition was developing at the same time as the Christian tradition and in many times and places, the two coexisted and co-mingled. Many of the early ascetics of the Christian tradition were under the influence of some of the Gnostic ideas about needing to transcend the body in order to experience the divine. Some of those who were exiled from the church because they went as far as to say that Jesus was not a part of the Trinity, merely a human being who was teaching his disciples how to become divine.
Today, the Gnostic influence can still be seen in the Bible and in the world around us. There are some passages from Paul's letters that are understood to be included because he was trying to fight against the Gnostic influence. However, the idea that human beings can transcend their bodies is still one that comes up. The incarnation and resurrection appearances teaches differently. Our bodies are part of us, even when we are experiencing the eternal and divine.
Friday, June 9, 2017
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Monday, June 5, 2017
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Personally I have a couple of pilgrimage stories. As a teenager in the Journey to Adulthood Sunday School program, my class made a pilgrimage to San Francisco and the one of the Redwood Forests. Directly after seminary, before I started my first paid job in ministry, I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, walking the land which Jesus and millions of other Christians have walked.
What's your pilgrimage story?
Friday, June 2, 2017
Thursday, June 1, 2017
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Monday, May 29, 2017
Before the first chapter, before the prologue, the author, Sara Miles shares a note with all her readers.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
The purpose of a summer virtual book study is to take off some of the pressure of a regular book study. You can take this book at your own pace. Another good thing about a virtual book study is that wherever you and your book and your favorite device go, you can participate!
I will be posting quotes, questions, stories, pictures, and histories on this blog and on other St. John's social media outlets (check our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram sites). The posts will go Sunday through Friday, with a break on Saturday, throughout the months of June, July, and August. The chapters are short, the reading is interesting, and the stories are real.
In August we will have a review, in person, at St. John's during the Formation Hour, 9:00 am. The review is to gather together and think back over the discussions, ideas, thoughts that come out of the book study. I'm sure there will be some really good discussions ahead!
If you need to order the book, you can find it on Amazon.
If you want to participate and need help purchasing a book, please let me know!