July 30, 2005

The Mustard Seed

Father Ted's sermon last week used as its basis the parable of the mustard seed. He expanded on the theme of something great and wonderful and sustaining growing from a very small and humble beginning. He also spoke of our need to identify our "mission," that which we are called to do as Christians for other people in our community and the world. We're all encouraged to reflect on what we might concentrate on as our mission in the coming weeks as we get ready to welcome new people, and new opportunities for service when the new school year begins. The Groundwork materials (print out PDF here) will come into play in this discernment process, and we as a congregation will be meeting and discussing our options, hopes, and fears.

The parable of the mustard seed has become a kind of shorthand for starting something on shoestring, and also for service to others. A Google search on the phrase "Mustard Seed" yields links to The Mustard Seed Foundation
, a Christian grant-making foundation, Mustard Seed Communities, an aid organization for handicapped and abandoned children, and Mustard Seed Associates, a Christian "intententional living" organization with ties to the environmental, peace, and fair trade movements.

All these things lead back to the same tiny seed. A childhood memory is always triggered when I hear the parable of the mustard seed: my mother owns an old necklace that has a round crystal globe containing a mustard seed, set around with a sterling silver band and chain, very much like the one in the illustration. She was given the necklace by an elderly aunt when my mother was going through a "rough patch." She is a woman of faith who can talk to God as easily in her garden as she can in a church - for her, the seed stands for her faith that from the tiniest beginnings, anyone can accomplish absolutely anything.

Since the readings were omitted last week, here it is:

Matthew 13:31-33,44-49a

Jesus put before the crowds another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."

He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age."

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Readings Sunday July 31

The readings for tomorrow include the famous "loaves and fishes" feeding of the multitude.

Nehemiah 9:16-20
Psalm 78:1-29 or 78:14-20, 23-2
Romans 8:35-39
Matthew 14:13-21

The Collect

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Old Testament

Nehemiah 9:16-20

Ezra blessed the Lord, and said, "Our ancestors acted presumptuously and stiffened their necks and did not obey your commandments; they refused to obey, and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them; but they stiffened their necks and determined to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them. Even when they had cast an image of a calf for themselves and said, `This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,' and had committed great blasphemies, you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness; the pillar of cloud that led them in the way did not leave them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night that gave them light on the way by which they should go. You gave your good spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and gave them water for their thirst.

The Psalm

Psalm 78:1-29 or 78:14-20, 23-25
Page 694 , BCP
Attendite, popule

Hear my teaching, O my people; *
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

I willmy mouth in a parable; *
I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.

That which we have heard and known,
and what our forefathers have told us, *
we will not hide from their children.

We will recount to generations to come
the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the LORD, *
and the wonderful works he has done.

He gave his decrees to Jacob
and established a law for Israel, *
which he commanded them to teach their children;

That the generations to come might know,
and the children yet unborn; *
that they in their turn might tell it to their children;

So that they might put their trust in God, *
and not forget the deeds of God,
but keep his commandments;

And not be like their forefathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation, *
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The people of Ephraim, armed with the bow, *
turned back in the day of battle;

They did not keep the covenant of God, *
and refused to walk in his law;

They forgot what he had done, *
and the wonders he had shown them.

He worked marvels in the sight of their forefathers, *
in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.

He splitthe sea and let them pass through; *
he made the waters stand up like walls.

He led them with a cloud by day, *
and all the night through with a glow of fire.

He split the hard rocks in the wilderness *
and gave them drink as from the great deep.

He brought streams out of the cliff, *
and the waters gushed out like rivers.

But they went on sinning against him, *
rebelling in the desert against the Most High.

They tested God in their hearts, *
demanding food for their craving.

They railed against God and said, *
"Can God set a table in the wilderness?

True, he struck the rock, the waters gushed out, and the gullies overflowed; *
but is he able to give bread
or to provide meat for his people?"

When the LORD heard this, he was full of wrath; *
a fire was kindled against Jacob,
and his anger mounted against Israel;

For they had no faith in God, *
nor did they put their trust in his saving power.

So he commanded the clouds above *
andd the doors of heaven.

He rained down manna upon them to eat *
and gave them grain from heaven.

So mortals ate the bread of angels; *
he provided for them food enough.

He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens *
and led out the south wind by his might.

He rained down flesh upon them like dust *
and winged birds like the sand of the sea.

He let it fall in the midst of their camp *
and round about their dwellings.

So they ate and were well filled, *
for he gave them what they craved.

The Epistle

Romans 8:35-39

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

"For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Gospel

Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves." Jesus said to them, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." They replied, "We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish." And he said, "Bring them here to me." Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

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in Readings

July 13, 2005

Photos Galore

It was an incredible day in many ways - incredibly hot, incredibly hard work, and incredibly cool when the classic cars finally roared in and took their places on the lawn.

Full-size photos have been uploaded to the church gallery page, but here is a selection of the highlights. Click on the image to go to its page on the gallery site.

All the PT Cruisers lined up in the best spot on the site: the shady corner closest to the driveway.
Linda Milner and her grandson Michael got to go up on the lifting platform of Hoffman Estate Fire Department's Truck 22. Two trucks from HEFD came for a community education appearance; the second truck stayed longer, but left in a big hurry with sirens wailing, lights flashing, and the horn blaring. It was very exciting and it wasn't all for show; they returned to thank us for the invitation to put on a demonstration later, after they attended the scene of a minor traffic accident.
Linda and Susan share a laugh while in the background Katie works the raffle table.
Father Ted and Doreen kept their cool somehow at the baked goods table; Doreen's strategy was literally to "think cool." Earlier in the morning, Fr. Ted had presided at a very short outdoor Eucharist for the show crew before he headed over for the early service at St Columba's

He stayed in the clerical collar almost all day - now that's dedication to the cloth.

A truly fine wine-colored Mustang.
Nanette brought beautifully decorated cookies that were shaped like cars, trucks, and even fuzzy dice. The box alone was incredibly creative.
Remmer drives to the finish line - the only other section of the site with shade for several cars. There he set up a little area for his Ford, his futuristic tractor, and his camp chairs.
The incredible futuristic streamlined tractor. Definitely the most unusual vehicle in the show.
Katie! We need more Diet Pepsi! We need more Diet Pepsi!
By this time it was essential to drink lots of water and wear a hat, but Mark braved the heat while David wandered around taking photos.
If you look closely, the Corvette Club members have moved into the shade of the second fire truck. Seen from the lifting platform of the first truck. David also got to go up so he could take photos.
Of course, we couldn't have done it without Tim, grilling in the sun (in more ways than one, poor guy).

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in Episcopal | Reaching Out

July 11, 2005

Readings for Sunday July 17

Proper 11: The Sunday closest to July 20, BCP

Wisdom 12:13,16-19
Romans 8:18-25
Matthew 13:24-30,36-43
Psalm 86 or 86:11-17

The Collect for today:

"Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."

Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

Jesus put before the crowd another parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, `Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, `An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, `Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, `No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!"

Of note in the coming week is the feast day of 4 saints of the Episcopal church - Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriot Ross Tubman. Together they are commemorated on July 20th, and are celebrated as "Liberators and Prophets." Further information about them may be found via the linked page.

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in Readings

July 07, 2005

Prayers for London

Reports are still sketchy at this point, but there were at least 4 explosions on the London Underground and London Transport buses this morning at around 9am London time. From official announcements, it's being treated as a possible terrorist attack, timed to coincide with theng of the G8 summit.

An award-winning blog about the London Underground is being updated continuously. It may be found at London Underground Tube Diary - Going Underground's Blog.

UPDATE: I amng comments on this post so you may add your prayers for the people of London and for visitors to that great city who have been caught up in today's tragic events.

For Peace Among The Nations

Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

For our Enemies

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And finally, let's not forget one of the reasons for the G8 summit in the first place:

For the Poor and the Neglected

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From The Book of Common Prayer

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in Prayers of the People

July 03, 2005

The Holy Rollers Are Coming


There's less than a week to go until our fundraiser, Holy Rollers Classic Car Show!

The registration form can still be downloaded here (Adobe Acrobat PDF format).

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in Reaching Out
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