Sunday, September 27, 2015

Half Time

Bob Buford wrote his book, Half Time in 1995. Its premise is that people live with two purposes in two halves of their life. In the first half they live in pursuit of success.  Money, fortune, and possessions are primary.  Whoever dies with the most toys wins, is the motto of the success-driven people in the first half of their lives.

In the second half our attention is drawn from success to significance.  Having achieved some model of success, and realizing that we are not made happy by the accumulation of stuff, or its pursuit.   We turn our focus and attention to significance—making a difference in the world, in our sphere of influence, or in our families.

If you find yourself searching for significance in the world, who is influencing how you see yourself.  How do you view the world around you—as sheep or wolves?  Or as something more nuanced—sheep, wolves, or sheep dogs?  If this is your world view, who are you?  Who is influencing what you are and how you see yourself?

Our gospel lesson today is mostly about identity—which Christians have struggled with throughout time. Is it any wonder we still struggle with “who we are?”  Wolf, sheep, or sheep dog?  The answer might depend largely upon how we answer the question not of “who we are” but “whose we are.”

Father Mark+

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Growing in Grace

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today we mark the beginning of a new program year in the church. After a summer respite we enter the fall refreshed and ready to begin again the task of directing our hearts and minds toward the Holy Spirit.  Much like the beginning of a new school year we anticipate new learning and the beginning of new life: transformational change.

But like learning new subjects, such change does not just happen. It comes through dedication, study, and exercise. In school we do not achieve high marks by willing their being. We increase our marks through diligent work on the subjects at hand; by setting ourselves at the tasks which lead us to growth and achievement. Some of those tasks prove easily achievable. Some of them prove to be difficult. And some are beyond our reach.

But, no one shrinks before work that is difficult and no one avoids the impossible if inspired and lead by the Holy Spirit. So as we begin the new program year we have an opportunity to choose how we will serve the church and our Lord in ministry and outreach. In the Parish Hall today, parish leadership has displayed many of our parish ministries for your consideration.

Examine, discuss, question, and compare the many ways our parish has to serve and be guided by the Spirit.  Let this year be the one in which it was said, everyone was engaged and no one was left behind. Let it be that everyone was involved in a ministry and all pursued the goal of discipleship through prayer, study, service, outreach, stewardship, and community.

Father Mark+