CACINA

Homily for Holy Trinity Parish, Herndon, Va. on February 18, 2018 the 1st Sunday in Lent

Posted in Called, change, christian, forgiveness, homily, religion, Restoration, Resurrection, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on February 18, 2018

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First Sunday in Lent (February 18, 2018)

Inclusive Lectionary Text

Readings: Genesis Chapter 9 verses 8-15 / Psalm 25 verses 4-9 / 1 Peter 3:18-22 /

Mark Chapter 1 verses 12-15

Friends, as we must remember in light of recent events, we must hold fast and secure to the thought that our God has not and will not forsake us in light of these recent tragedies. The 17 lives lost in Parkland, Florida, a horrific tragedy as someone said to me recently, “we have become so desensitize to it’. As many have voiced, when is this going to stop? Not taking away from this, but it brings to mind all those who die each and every day due to some kind of violence. Violence in our major streets, violence done to women, people dying in worn torn countries, when does it end? Also past mass shootings in our country that have occurred at concerts, night clubs and schools. Everyone everywhere is asking that same old question, “Why?”

Watching the local and national news, I have been very impressed by the young students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas H.S. who, not only going through this tragedy, but have become student ambassadors for change. This is not only for themselves and the community but for the country. They are trying to make a difference the best way they can or know how.  They are challenging not only themselves, but politicians on all levels.

I agree, as some of you may be thinking, not one entity or individual or party is to be blamed but the blame, the onus is on all of us. We all have a part in it. Maybe we all have allowed it. God has promised to shield us by not letting such occurrences happen from God’s standpoint. The rainbow has been the covenant that we are God’s and God belongs to us. The rainbow has not protected us from each other, has it? Where there is complacent behavior, disaster is sure to follow. When and where it comes or in what form doesn’t matter, but it finds its way to us.

This does not mean that we must live on pins and needles but to be mindful more than ever before of the climate we are in today. As the psalms tell us God’s ways will ultimately prevail. Sisters and brothers we must continue to be faithful not only to God but to ourselves and others.

One student in particular David Hogg has been a vocal voice, if you have noticed him on the news circuit. A student at the school, David obviously has not been complacent. It doesn’t matter where they all were before but they have all unfortunately become immersed into this debate. To me David has shown outstanding leadership by working as a team in organizing along with other students and parents taking a positive action to make change. In the scriptures, it shows that the example we are to be following as a community. Is the example of Jesus, doing, living and working together in community making a difference. Even Jesus himself knew that he couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to do it alone. He needed the help of others and God.

rev. Michael Theogene

Saturday after Ash Wednesday (February 17, 2018)

Inclusive Lectionary Text

Readings: Isaiah Chapter 58 verses 9-14 / Psalm 86 verses 1-6 / Luke Chapter 5 verses 27-32

Friends, as we all remember recently in our political climate, especially for the last presidential race, how we were all making disparaging remarks. Mostly everyone was at opposite ends on who should be the next president. Whether you were Republican, Democrat, or Independent, etc., it was hard at times to hold a conversation without beginning to reach at someone’s throat. People found it easier to only speak politics with those who agreed with their thoughts of view.  What good was that?

Sisters and brothers, I don’t profess to have been perfect at this, but I think I may have done better than some, certain times. At work, where my office was divided on both sides and on multiple issues, I recall that we would have conversations on issues in a peaceful manner. What I remember most was that we would force ourselves to do it in a patient manner giving time for the one speaking to really voice their concerns. Besides me, other co-workers would help facilitate this. Sure we had at least one or two who were really fiery and at odds with everyone else, but we managed to do it.

Where is the middle ground? All our intentions should have moral values and the focus should be “What is best for our people, not our party”. We are not going to be able to get everything we want. Can we find compromise? Can we listen to the other who has a different point of view? Is it possible that I may learn something different and perhaps open my mind or add more information to what I may know already?

We can’t just stay with those who just think like us. We have to go not only to the ones we feel comfortable with, but also to the ones we do not agree with. No one person or party is to blame, we all are sinners, we are all virtuous, we are all righteous and yes, we are all called to repentance. A change of not only heart, but also of mind and then and maybe then we not only focus on big stuff or little stuff but on everything that needs our attention.

This seems that what I have said does not go with the readings but I believe it does.  We all need a “physician”. Let’s stop blaming others. Maybe we have no one else to blame but ourselves for allowing the things that go on. Maybe something to think about?  What do you think? Lenten Blessings!

rev. Michael Theogene

Friday after Ash Wednesday (February 16, 2018)

Inclusive Lectionary Text

Readings: Isaiah Chapter 58 verses 1-9 / Psalm 51 verses 1-4, 16-17 / Matthew Chapter 9 verses 14-15

Friends, what is it that God simply requires of us? I think what God requires of us is to love and do justice. We are called to live in the present moment and to be grateful for what we have now, and to celebrate what God has given us. We need to be mindful of those in our lives and not take them for granted, regretting it after they are gone,

So often we are complacent, doing nothing. It is time for us to be mindful and by prayer to listen what it is God is asking us to do.

When tragedy hits, like those who lost their lives and the injured in South Florida, caused by the lack of love resulting in gun violence,  too often we have seen this in our nation. Whether directly or indirectly we are all affected and want to find something to do to make it better. Wanting to go there and help, donating money to a “Go Fund Me” page, giving blood. We all mourn with those innocently lost. We feel helpless yet even a simple prayer could be what is required.

rev. Michael Theogene

Thursday after Ash Wednesday (February 15, 2018)

Inclusive Lectionary Text

Readings: Deuteronomy Chapter 30 verses 15-20 / Psalm 1 verses 1-4, 6 / Luke Chapter 9 verses 22-25

Sisters and Brothers, we know what happens to us when we get out of sync. We get out of touch, maybe becoming complacent drifting away from God at times. We lose our steps but eventually find ourselves back on track again. As our readings tell us, it is a matter of life and death in choosing life we are prosperous. Happiness to delight in God is by remaining in conversation with God knowing that God’s justice is really God’s mercy and compassion. God wishes to continue the conversation, never forsaking us leaving us to our own failures, if we choose it.

I am reminded by family and friends who are in recovery when I am present as a support member. As I have attended past celebratory meetings when a coin is attained, at the end of the meeting when all gather together embracing each other, shoulder to shoulder, the following is recited “Keep on coming back. It works if you work it, you’re worth it. Keep coming back.” After all, it’s kind of hard for God to keep a one way conversation going. Do the step work, talk to God!  Do the steps. It doesn’t require much. You may not be in recovery but allow God to challenge you, it works.

rev. Michael Theogene

ASH WEDNESDAY (2018) Cycle ABC

Inclusive Lectionary- Joel Chapter 2 verses 12-18 / Psalm 51 / 2 Corinthians Chapter 5 verses 20- Chapter 6 verse 2 / Matthew Chapter 6 verses 1-6, 16-18

Friends, we hear the message of prayers, fasting and alms giving every lent. For good reasons because it invites us to check ourselves as a yearly reminder that it’s not all about me but about all of us. God shows us continually to leave our egos at the door. Sisters and brothers, God reminds us that we can’t do it alone. We can’t only be about me and not the other person. It also does not mean for us to solely rely on others or have others rely on us alone. God is speaking as God has continually spoken to send the message as often as God repeatedly does, that without God, we can do nothing.

God who is non-pressuring, who wants to be fully engulfed, engaged in all matter of being, wants us to know that, yes, God is present, whether we want God or not. If we do wish to meet God where God meets us, at any level, we will find God waiting to embrace us to be one with God.

As hectic as life becomes, even if we may have felt drawn away, it is never too late to reconnect with the source of all being. Lenten Blessings, God bless!

rev. Michael Theogene

The Long and Short of Mark 1

6th Sunday Ordinary time, 2-11-18

Lev 13:1-2, 44-46; Ps: 32:1-2, 5, 11; 1 Cor 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45

This is the last Sunday before the start of Lent. For the last three weeks, we have had sequential readings from the Gospel of Mark.  In fact, we have read nearly all of Chapter 1.  Mark has given us a great deal of information about Jesus, the purpose and style of his mission, his unique authority to teach and heal, and his intensity and power.  Today, I want to recap these readings, because I believe they are an excellent entry into Lent as well as a very solid base for expanding the ministry of Holy Trinity.

The first 14 verses of Mark tell us about the baptism of Jesus and his time of temptation in the desert. Jesus’ first words recorded by Mark are, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” You will remember that when the ashes are placed on your forehead on Ash Wednesday,  one or both of these things are said, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”  (Now we know where that came from.) The second one is not as familiar, maybe because it seems a little vague; we may not be sure what is being asked of us.

If someone calls you and says, “I have good news – our baby boy was born this morning,” you understand that not only is the message good news, but the baby himself is good news. The Jews had waited about 1,000 years for the arrival of the Messiah.  Now, Mark tells us, the Messiah, Jesus, is teaching and healing and present with his people.  Not only do we find the announcement good, but Jesus’ message is good news, as is his very self.  “Gos” means good and “Spel” means story, or news.   Jesus, and all he says and does, is the gospel.   We are to repent and shed our sin along with shedding the attitude of waiting.

Jesus acts this out by calling Simon, Andrew, James and John from their fishing nets, and “immediately” they leave their boats and go with him.   For them to do that was very counter-cultural, even disrespectful of their family, and, frankly, just plan weird, even for us.  When is that last time you put down your pen on your desk and walked away from your job?  Can you imagine the power in Jesus’ command to, “Come with me”?  Have you ever felt anything like that?  Has God ever put that kind of message in your heart?  What would you do to enliven and built up Holy Trinity if that happened to you?

And then, Jesus, along with his followers, went to the synagogue. Jesus teaches there, “as one having authority”…and not just as a scribe, or scholar.  He commands an unclean spirit to leave a man, and it does.  Everyone is astonished and amazed.  Interesting, isn’t it – the unclean spirits know and obey Jesus in an instant, and we, well, often not so much.  Is it because we haven’t grasped what he asks us to do?  Or do we not know him well enough?

Jesus is then on his way to Simon/Peter’s house the same day. He restores Peter’s mother in-law to health; not only health, but a position of dignity and even fame.  As a widow in declining health, she is a burden on the family and is fearful for the future.  Jesus (immediately) “helpers her up”, says Mark.  What an understatement!

She is able to be a hostess who exceeds the high bar of Mediterranean hospitality. The house becomes the site of all kinds of healings, and her own healing will be known as long as the Bible is read.  Her life had been changed, forever different.  Do you doubt that Jesus could change Holy Trinity into a thriving place of worship and impact the community?

Next, Jesus touches a leper and says, “Be made clean.” This story is full of implications. First, the story came to us in Greek, and Greek uses verbs in ways that we don’t.  In this case, “Be made clean” means, “Someone else will make you clean.”  In other words, God is doing the healing.  Jesus is not claiming this power as his own, just as he does not offer to heal the widow, but helps her move away from the sick bed.  It is a great portrayal of Jesus as the obedient and humble son acting as the conduit of God’s power.  We can be the conduit of God’s power, which is often found in humble prayer, worship, and obedience.

Second, just as “a cold” can mean many possible illnesses, a “leper” in that day could have many different skin conditions. But they all had one thing in common: the person had ugly sores on their body.  Any type of physical disfiguration was suspect then, and made the person “ritually unclean”.  No animal with any physical imperfections could be used for sacrifice in the temple.  Likewise, no person with sores could worship in the temple.  To add insult to injury, the cause of illness was presumed to be sin. The person was blamed for their own illness, and they were viewed as moral pollution in the community.

Because it was seen as a “sin” issue, the Priest banished lepers and declared them healed. The isolation and blame could be worse than the sores.  This leper somehow knows and believes in Jesus.  Jesus, evidently, was a cafeteria Jew, because he followed the Jewish law in Leviticus and sent the leper to the priest; but he touched the leper in pity, thereby breaking another law as he restored the man to wholeness.  Jesus put himself at risk of being mobbed by suffering people in hopes of healing.  He told the leper to be silent, not wanting a reputation as a miracle man/ wonder worker.  Remember, he came to urge repentance and belief.  He knew his goal.  What is our goal, here in this parish?

So, to be like Jesus, we must be short on presumption and long on pity. We must be dependent on God’s power and know it.  We must use God’s eyes to see past the sores on skin and see the sores of the heart.  We must focus on our goal and honor the directives of God, not culture.  With prayerful discernment we must be prepared to act for the glory of God when we are called.  Old presumptions may require repentance, and belief may need to be strengthened.  Our path forward as a church may bring us change, but we can trust it will be “Good News”.

Why Did Jesus Heal Her?

Posted in christian, forgiveness, homily, inspirational, redemption, Restoration, Uncategorized by Rev. Martha on February 2, 2018

5th Sunday Ordinary time Feb.4, 2018

Job7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147: 1-6, 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39

Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963, is credited as one of the main points of emergence for the feminist movement.  She encouraged many other women to enter professional jobs and employment in business, industry and government.

It was a seismic shift for the American culture which produced a broad range of response. Some screamed that a mother taking young children to day care was an evil rejection of nature and responsibility.  Some demanded that all women must be employed to find their dignity and purpose.   Women had to find the difficult balance between the extremes of being limited in their options or trying to lead both the life of a corporate leader and the mom who did everything.

So today we hear the story of Simon/ Peter’s mother-in-law. It tells us that Peter is not the simple fisherman.  He has a wife.  There is no mention of children, but the idea of Peter, Jr., drifts thru our minds.  Is this a peaceful house or is the mother-in-law having some kind of stress reaction to Peter’s coming into the house with a bunch of hungry men?  We could construct lots of different scenarios, but this is a reading from the Gospel of Mark, and Mark tells his stories in a straightforward way.  We will not be graced with more details.

However, we do know that Jesus is “immediately” told that Mrs. Peter’s mother is sick with a fever. Here we meet the first problem with culture.  We shrug, and say, “So?”  Put her in the car, take her down to the Minute clinic, get her some antibiotics and she’ll be fine by tomorrow, right?  Wrong, of course.  This is 30 AD.  No car, no urgent care, no diagnosis, no pharmaceuticals.  Just fear of what might be wrong, fear of long term disabling decline.

And Jesus “grasped her hand and helped her up”. The fever was gone and “she waited on them”.  Under our liberated breath, we mutter, “Couldn’t they have just gone to the store or drive thru and gotten something to eat?  Did he heal her just so she could fix them dinner?”

Well, as harsh as it sounds, it is a reasonable question. Why did Jesus heal this woman? And knowing that a horde of people who were physically and psychologically sick were about to gather outside the house, why would Jesus submit this woman to having “the whole town gathered at her door”?  To find the answer, we must put on the brakes, back up, and reset the clock.  One of the least productive things we can do to a good Bible story is to interpret it in the light of today instead of understanding what was happening in that day, in time past.  That is how to understanding what Jesus’ intent was with the Mother-in-law, and with us.

In that day, a woman worked from sun up to sun set to feed and clothe the family. From growing the food to preparing it to keeping the fire going to hauling water, to raising sheep for wool, weaving cloth, sewing clothing, washing  – you get the idea, sort of.  I doubt if any of us have ever had to create food, clothing, and shelter, everything, from scratch.  It is over-whelming to a 21st century suburban middle class American when you think about it.

The point is that women then had no other options available to them. And did you miss the fact that Peter’s mother-in-law would be a widow, or she would not be living in his house?  She was totally dependent on her family, and without them she would die, quite literally, of starvation or lack of shelter.  In exchange for life itself, she is more than eager to take on the tasks of the household and take pride in using all those skills she learned through the years.

But she was sick, and suddenly not an asset but a burden. She was terrified.  Was Jesus restoring her to health for his convenience?  No! Not at all. He restored her to her place in society, a place where her dignity was secure and she could be admired for her skills.  She was freed to be able to provide hospitality to her guests and the community; she was eager to share this with the whole village.  She, an older woman, was the center of a miracle, the first sick person to be healed by Jesus, the example that everyone would remember.  She was no longer just a widow whose prime had passed; now, she was someone.

Jesus continued to cure, to heal, to restore the sick to their places of wholeness.  That is an idea that transcends culture and time.  In our day, being productive in a job offers people independence and a boost to self-image.  When someone is released to go back to work after an injury or illness, once again enjoy their place in society and feel they are “part of life”.

The same is true for spiritual healing. In fact, we could talk about Jesus’ time on earth by thinking about redemption and restoration.  His death on the cross was a “one-time forever victory” which redeemed everyone. He “saved” us and opened a way to God’s love and forgiveness.  His teaching and actions restored us to how God created us to be, and he commanded us to continue that restoration with others.

It is the first responsibility of the Church to share the message of the Good News of Easter with people.  Discipleship begins when people discover the freeing power of redemption, by being re-connected with God’s forgiveness.  Worship and prayer are not an obligation; instead, worship & prayer are the natural language of those who are redeemed.

The second responsibility of the Church, that is us, is the work of restoring the sick, the addicted, the poor, the marginalized, the lost, to wholeness. We call that outreach, or mission.  Restoration is also called the “coming of the kingdom”.  If “saving the world” is redemption, then “changing the world” is restoration.  Deep love and dynamic caring are not a social norm; instead they are the natural behavior of the restored.

Those are big ideas, but crucial ideas to the growth and success of Holy Trinity and any Christian community. I will be sharing concrete and practical information about them with you in the weeks ahead. So, remember what Jesus did after he healed this widow – he prayed.  Please pray for our church that it may be a place of redemption and restoration.

 

 

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