St. Matthew's Episcopal

Rector’s Blog

 

First Sunday.JohnX.

Why We Need A Set of Blue Paraments  2011

Every detail in the Eucharist can help us experience the presence  of God.  When we are in church, what we see, smell, taste and touch can help  us move into the presence of the Divine.

The color purple is the color for Lent, a time of penitence and fasting in preparation for Easter.  But Advent is a time of anticipation, of hopefulness and expectation for the celebration of the birth of our Lord.   The color blue was used liturgically in medieval England (sometimes called Sarum Blue).  Blue is also the color for Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Celebrating Advent using the liturgical color of blue can remind us that Advent is a time for quiet waiting, a time for preparation for the birth of Jesus – we  experience this birth in many ways – and the color blue helps focus our attention and our hearts on how we be more intentional as we “wait” for God.

There is another reason for using the color blue.  Blue is the traditional color for Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She was the very first to say “yes” to God.  And so we honor her and her grace and courage by using a color for Advent that is associated with her.

Mary is a very important figure for St. Matthew’s.  We have a Mary Chapel.  And now we can furnish that Chapel with the color of Mary – not only for Advent, but for the entire liturgical year.

As you may know, I have a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother.  In my opinion, our beloved Episcopal church tradition needs to grow more fully into an understand of just how important Mary is in the development of our spiritual lives.

So, now that we have a blue set, we are able to do two things:  First, we can now distinguish our observance of Advent from our observance of Lent.  And we are able to honor the woman who is the only one among us who could stand at the foot of the cross and say:  “This is my body, this is my blood.”

Please join us on Sunday November 27 at a combined 10:30 am Eucharist.  We will be gratefully acknowledging the contributions of our parishioners and the blessed memory of those ‘great cloud of witnesses.’  Father Jim Edwards will be assisting Mother Robin who will be dedicating a priest’s stole to the glory of God and in memory of Fr. John X. Jobson.

October 2011

As some of you may already know, I have been discerning a call to join a religious order.  This is nothing new for me – at least ten years ago, I became intrigued by Father Jeremy Bond’s membership in the Order of the Resurrection.  And over the years, I’ve been quietly looking to deepen my call to the priesthood through a more radical commitment.  The Episcopal Church has many amazing and wonderful religious orders, but I became intrigued when I came across the Anglican Order of Preachers.

As a part of our discernment for being accepted into the order,  my companion postulants and I are reading selected writings of early Dominicans.  The text, in addition to being a biography of the order’s founder and father, Dominic, is also a fascinating compendium of writings by many who knew and loved the man whose zeal for Christ led him to start a new way of belonging to God.  The fascinating part about these stories is that they are very much an encomium (Greek for “praise” of a person’s life) that follow the same pattern as the Gospel stories depicting the life of Jesus.  Only one letter known to have been written by Dominic survives – the rest of what we know about the life of the founder of the Order of Preachers is told by those who knew him in life.  In the same way, what we know about our Lord and Savior has been given to us by those who lived and ministered with him.  The stories of St. Dominic also describe some of the more mystical and miraculous qualities present in the life of the saint.  One legend relates how when Dominic’s mother was pregnant with her son, she dreamt that she gave birth to a puppy who leapt out of her womb with a flaming torch in its mouth in order to “set the world on fire” by preaching the word of God.  Scholars tell us that the legend probably developed after the order became known as Dominicanus – since a play on the Latin (Domini – Canus) can be rendered “the dog, or hound of the Lord.”

Dominic was born in Castile, Spain in 1170, becoming a priest early in life.  Two missionary trips to Denmark with his mentor Diego, bishop of Osma, sparked in Dominic a fervent zeal for evangelism.  Both he and Diego set off preaching in France, barefoot and begging for bread from door to door – just as St. Luke’s Gospel (9:3) exhorts those who are sent out to do the work of God and “take nothing for (our)  journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money ….”

In the introduction to our text, we are told that “The Dominican Order exists in order to be useful to other people, and it has always had to be prepared to adapt its own style and behavior to fit the requirements of those it seeks to serve.”  I believe this statement suggests the perfect validity with which the Anglican Order of Preachers calls those into community – in the twenty-first century, both women and men are still seeking to serve God in a specifically Dominican way.

While there are many “specifically Dominican” ways to serve within the Anglican Order of Preachers, the most compelling for me is the focus on preaching (as you can imagine), but also the attention given to study as a way to God.  But this kind of studying is not something to be done alone and in an ivory tower.  As I see it, the Dominican way of study is intrinsic to communicating with God, to interacting with the beloved community and to putting into practice what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Such study enables the Dominican to more gracefully preach the Gospel.   For Dominic, preaching was not standing on a street corner and admonishing those to believe and be saved.  Rather it was a quite revolutionary call to return to our Christian apostolic roots: to go where God’s people are and to be with them.  Instead of seeking to draw sisters and brothers away from the world and into seclusion, St. Dominic sought to bring brothers and sisters together to be “sent out” into the world.  Preaching for St. Dominic is not what one “does” but is a complete way of living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am very excited to be in this process of discernment, and feel confident that God’s grace will continue to guide me – whatever the outcome may be.  And as I learn more about St. Dominic and the Anglican Order of Preachers, I am blessed to be able to share my journey with you.

Faithfully,

Mother Robin

P.S.  For more information on the Anglican Order of Preachers click HERE.

 

 

August 2011

During my first sermon back from vacation, I spoke about the “three” bodies of Christ:  the body Jesus was in during his time on earth; the mystical body of the Eucharist; and the body made up of many members whose faces we can see every Sunday in Church.

I like to think that “church” is many bodies, many faces.  And most folks know that I make a big deal out of reminding all of us that “church” is not just a building, nor is it just what we do for a little over an hour on Sunday.  (Can I see a show of hands for those of us who took me literally?)

Point is:  Church is not JUST what we do for a little over an hour on Sunday.  Showing up at 8 and/or 10:30  is an essential component of being who God is calling us to be and become.  Unless the Church body shares in the real and present body of Christ and then shares that body with one another both inside and outside the boundaries of “church” and “Sunday,” Church becomes just a pointless “little over an hour on the Lord’s day.”  No wonder folks can find a hundred other things that will trump Church every time.  (I’m including everyone here:  I’ve got a priority list, too!)

The great spiritual leader Gandhi tells a story about hearing a man say he wanted more than anything to know God.  So Gandhi took him to the river and held the man under the water until he struggled and finally popped up gasping for air.  Gandhi said:  when you want God as much as you wanted that air, then you will know God.

When we yearn to see the beloved faces we haven’t glimpsed all week  (yes, even the ones who annoy us and who are hard to get to know, or get along with, or are just plain stubborn) THEN our priorities will be Holy Spirit filled!  When we hunger for that spiritual intimacy with Christ and that spiritual intimacy with one another, Church will overflow and spill out all over Sunbury and beyond and Sunday will be one amazing Celebration!!

What do you think, beloved St. Matthew’s?  Are you excited to find out what happens when we take our party outside of Church and into the world?

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