Today, Fr. Rob shared with us the simple, yet profound, truth that nothing can ever change the fact that God loves us. Click below to listen….
Today, Fr. Rob shared with us the simple, yet profound, truth that nothing can ever change the fact that God loves us. Click below to listen….
We had a great turn out for our annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner! We enjoyed delicious pancakes and sides along with wonderful conversation. You see more photos from the event here.
On Ash Wednesday, we began Lent a season penitence, prayer, fasting, and giving. During the service, Fr. Rob made the sign of the cross with ashes upon each person’s head saying, “remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The ashes remind us of our mortality and the cross reminds us of Christ’s redemption for us all. Find out more about our Journey to Easter here.
Today everyone received a “Journey to Easter” packet filled with information on how we will be traveling together through the season of Lent. Here’s a look at what is inside the packet and how each part will guide us to Easter.
For more information about Lent or Easter at St. Peter’s please contact the church office.
Last week our Lego Builders Club created their newest Lego Short! They retold the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man from Mark 2:1-11. Everyone worked together to build the various parts of the short. To find out more about Lego Builders Club click here.
O God, speak peace to your people and shine the light of your love on the hearts of those who truly turn to you. Amen
Almost from the very beginning of time mankind has existed in a world of strife and fighting. Fear and hatred have ruled. Adam and Eve fell. Cain…kills his brother out of jealousy in the first few pages of human history. Mankind’s relationship with his maker is not immune from this strife. Adam and Eve hid from God; fearing God is now at odds with them, they hid from him-pushing him away.
The relationship marred, they no longer walked with God in the cool of the garden, but at the very beginning God planted seeds of hope and redemption. Genesis chapter 3 says the offspring of Eve will crush the head of the serpent. God wants mankind to be at peace; both with him and with each other, so… God became Immanuel.
He became God with us. God down in the dirt and mire. God in the fear and strife. As Johnny Cash would say, “God in the mud and the blood and the beer.” God did this not only to restore mankind to each other and himself, but also be with us in our pain and strife.
I remember one night after my mother was killed and I had returned home from the hospital, I went out and sat on the porch and cried. My dad came out, sat down beside me, put his arm around me and we cried together. Neither of us said anything… there were no words to be said… they had all been said. After a while, dad and I got up and gave each other a hug and we went back into the house. That was the thing…more than anything else… that help me to be able to go on with life after mom’s death…Dad with me. Uncomplicated. Just a relationship of love sharing pain together. That’s want God has done for us.
Listen again to today’s Gospel reading…
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” Matthew 1:18-25
God with us. This is no small thing. God come down to us. God himself, not a messenger, took on flesh to be with us. To live with us in our suffering and pain. To join with himself our strife. To so consume our suffering and pain that it killed him!
He did this to bring us peace. Peace with each other. Peace with him. God with us brings us back to the relationship mankind had with him in the beginning…walking with him in the cool of the Garden. God has made peace, real peace, lasting peace. This is what the birth of the Emmanuel means…PEACE.
This is what we wait for this Advent. This is what we wait to see fully actualized and this is the message Christ has called us to share with all those around us: That God so loved the world that he became Emmanuel, to join in our pain and to bring peace to all mankind.
We had a wonderful visit with St. Nicholas on December 6th. We sang carols, heard stories of Christmas traditions, and each child received a treat to take home. We also collected several hats and gloves to donate to local resource centers. Thank you to everyone who joined us!
On Friday, November 11th, we hosted our annual Veterans Day Soup and Chili Supper. The event was started over 20 years ago as an avenue to say “Thank You” to our local veterans. This year’s event was truly memorable as the Canton community rallied together to raise money for our local veterans and the family of Sgt. Douglas Riney. Throughout the night crowds continued to flow through the VFW hall quickly filling up seats. It was abundantly clear that the success of the night was possible because so many in the community joined us in giving back to the veterans. WBYS and Walmart donated to the raffle, the local Girl Scouts served attendees, bused tables, and were ready to help wherever they were needed, families donated various desserts, and countless volunteers gave their time before, during, and after the event. Overall, we raised $1,300 for local veterans and served “Thank You” dinners to 36 veterans. It was a beautiful and uplifting night to see our community come together to say “Thank You” to our local veterans for their service.
Last Sunday, I shared with you all an adapted sermon from Bishop Robert Barron on the meaning of the Gospel. It’s a beautiful, yet challenging message on what it means to follow Christ. You can watch the video here.
John Rockefeller the American oil tycoon and founder of Standard Oil is considered to be one of the richest Americans of all times and possibly the richest person in modern history. In today’s dollars he was worth $336 Billion. That’s Billion with a B. Rockefeller was once asked “How much he needed to live comfortably?” He replied “Just a little more than I get.” With all his wealth, Rockefeller still wanted more.
In Sunday’s passage from 1 Timothy, Paul addresses an issue we are often uncomfortable considering. Paul gets into our pocketbooks. He brings up money. These are dangerous waters. Most of us, myself included, don’t want to think about these things. We often want God to stay out of our wallets and out of the ways we manage our money. Thank God the church has given us the lectionary, so that we must come face to face with text we would rather not consider. In this text, Paul urges us to be content with what we have. He reminds us we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out. I’ve heard it said another way, “He who dies with the most toys, still dies.”
Paul warns us that many who desire to be rich fall into a trap. Like Rockefeller they want more and more. Often that desire consumes them and causes them to do shameful things for the love of money. Some, Paul says, even fall away from faith in Christ because of this desire to be rich.
Paul tells us the antidote for this is to seek righteousness, godliness, faith, love, faithfulness and gentleness. He urges us to fight the good fight and take hold of eternal life. But love of money is not the main issue that Paul is addressing.
The love of money is only the presenting issue here. The real issue, the root issue, is one that has been addressed at other times in the biblical text, both in the Old Testament and in the gospels.
Isaiah cried out, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isa. 55:2)
And Christ himself address this root issue. In John chapter 4, Jesus tells the woman at the well:
If you knew the gift of God and who it is that ask you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water. . . Everyone who drinks this water [the water from this well] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I will give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
You see the root issue is seeking life apart from God.
Apart from his love and kindness. Seeking these things that do not truly satisfy. Becoming consumed with consuming. With getting more. With having the next thing. Believing that these things are true riches. Grasping for life and yet being devoured. It’s not that money is evil. Money in itself cannot be evil. The LOVE of money Paul says is the root of all kinds of evil. The trusting in it more them trusting in Christ and his true riches.
Christ wants so much more for us.
I’m reminded of a story I heard about a golf pro who spent some time with a king in his palace. They played golf every day and enjoyed the luxuries of the king’s many golf courses. When it was time for the golf pro to return home, the king insisted on giving him a gift. The golf pro said, “Thanks, but just being here has been such a gift. There’s nothing I need.” The king insisted, so the golf pro said he could use a new golf club. The whole way home, the golf pro dreamed about the beautiful golf club the king would give him. Once he was home, time passed and he had almost forgotten about the gift. One day, a FedEx driver dropped off an envelope from the king. It was a deed to a golf club and the golf pro was the owner. The king had an even better dream for the golf pro than he could imagine for himself.
Like the king in this story Christ wants better things for us. He longs for us to have riches that last. He wants us to have life real life. He doesn’t want us to be devoured by that which does not satisfy. C.S. Lewis said, “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”
Money isn’t evil, but to become consumed with it is to be in danger of losing eternal life.
Paul tells Timothy,
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. [1 Timothy 6:17-19]
You might be thinking don’t worry Father I’m not rich.
But consider this – on the worldwide income index by Pew Research Center, every person in this room would be middle to high income. Globally a family of 4 that has a household income of just $15,000 a year would be considered middle income. Most of us are rich compared to a vast number of people in this world. And even to some of those in our own community. So we all must consider this.
And to us Paul says,
If you’re wealthy don’t flaunt it. Don’t think you’re better than other people. And don’t put your hopes in your money but put your hope in God. He says also “Do good!” Help others. Be rich in real riches, the riches of Good Works. Get wealth that can never be taken away. Paul urges us to do this “That we may take hold of that which is truly life.”
Don’t take hold of that which will devour you, that which is not life and is in fact death, BUT take hold of that which is truly life – Christ Jesus our Lord and seek his kingdom, a kingdom of love and joy and peace and kindness and service to others.
In our gospel a week ago, Jesus answered the grumblings of the scribes and Pharisees with two parables one about a lost sheep and the other about a lost coin. Regrettably, our reading stopped there and we missed the story of the two lost sons. This story is often called the parable of the Prodigal Son. For now, we’ll set that story aside, other than to say that it presents to us two lost sons. One who comes to know he is lost and is then found by his father, and the other who doesn’t know he is found and is therefore lost.
Our gospel passage from this past Sunday comes to us in this context and must be understood with this in mind. On first blush, this parable is confusing and difficult to understand. In fact, I struggled with whether or not to leave the lectionary behind and preach on the two Lost Sons or to delve into this often misunderstood and complex passage. Obviously, I chose the latter. So let’s dive right in.
He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:1-13)
Now that you’ve read the passage maybe you can understand why I was hesitant.
What’s going on here? What is Jesus talking about? Is Jesus saying that we should be shrewd with money? And what does this have to do with the parables he just told in the last chapter of the Lost sheep, the lost coin and the Lost Sons?
If you’re like me you might be thinking right now that it seems about as clear as mud. To understand what’s going on here and to discern its meaning we must recall the context this parable is found in. You’ll remember in last week’s gospel Jesus began these parables to answer the scribes and Pharisees grumblings about him associating with tax collectors and sinners.
In these three parables preceding our passage on Sunday, Jesus shows the contrast between the Lost and the found.
To the lost he says, “I will find you. I will bring you back and you will not be lost anymore.” To the found he says, “Recognize that you are found and rejoice that the Lost are found as well.”
This is the key to understanding this passage.
You see the manager was found by the rich man whose money he managed. He had the trust of the rich man. He controlled his business dealings. All he had to do was to be faithful with the rich man’s money, but he became unfaithful.
He wasted the rich man’s possessions and in doing so he became lost. He lost track of what was entrusted to him. He lost sight of his master. Finally, he loses his position.
He becomes so desperate not wanting to be on the outside looking in. He knows he can’t work and he won’t beg. Faced with the urgency of the situation he formulates a plan. He becomes shrewd. He calls the rich man’s debtors to him
Verses 5-7 say:
So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.
This was a very shrewd man. He knew this would place him in the good graces of the master’s debtors. He knew they would not easily forget what he had done for them. However, he also knew this would put the master in a very difficult situation.
You see The Jews were not allowed to lend money at interest, but many people found a way around this by lending in kind with oil and wheat and other commodities. It seems that what the manager deducted from the bill was the interest that the master had been charging his debtors.
This of course elated the debtors, but at the same time it tied the hands of the master. If he reviled what the manager had done in forgiving this part of the debts, he would have to show his own impropriety in charging interest.
When faced with losing everything, faced with being on the outside, with being lost, the manager throws caution to the wind and cuts the interest off the bill to win for himself the good graces of the debtors.
Now as we continue to uncover what this parable means, it’s important to remember who Jesus is answering with this parable. As we noted earlier Jesus is addressing the Scribes and the Pharisees. Those who had been entrusted with the law of God, who were his chosen people, who are the “found” in these parables.
In this parable God is the Master and Israel the manager.
Jesus says to them don’t you see that you, like the manager in the parable, have been entrusted with the riches of God? Don’t you see that you are found? Don’t you know, you haven been entrusted with the riches of God and it’s slipping away from you?
The situation is urgent!
Throw caution to the wind! Don’t hold on! Let go like the manager let go of the interest. Let go of the laws that you have built around God’s commands. It appears Jesus is addressing those who are hearing this parable. The Jewish elite of his day. Most of Jesus sharpest criticism in the new testament is directed at the spiritual elite, the religious leaders. Those who are the “found.” He warns them not to honor God with their lips, and dishonor him with their hearts.
We find ourselves in the same position today as the religious leaders were in back in Jesus time. We have been entrusted with the riches of Christ Kingdom. We are the “Found.” As the Old Hymn Amazing Grace says: “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” So what is there in this parable that we in the church can learn?
We must love God more than we love our traditions.
Don’t get me wrong I love our traditions. Our traditions are one of the things that drew me into Anglicanism.
When we focus on the minutia and being perfect we often lose the love of others. I was once reprimanded by a priest because he believed I had folded the corporal (little white towel) wrong. Our traditions are good, nonetheless we must not hold onto these things at the risk of losing the one who our traditions point to. We must not hold on to the unwritten rules that turn the lost away.
N.T. Wright said
We must “…sit light to the extra regulations which we impose on one another . . . which are over and above the gospel. The Church [he says} passes through turbulent times and frequently needs to reassess what matters and what doesn’t.
Christ calls us again to ask what matters and what doesn’t.
What are the extra regulations which we impose on one other? What things are we loving more than Christ? What are we holding on to that we must let go of? We have been found. We must become shrewd. So shrewd that we will do whatever it takes to be faithful managers. To carry the message of God’s grace to the lost. That they too may be found.