Who showed hospitality?

Today the Church remembers Mary and Martha (and Lazarus in the Episcopal Church’s trial Holy Women, Holy Men calendar). Earlier today (7/29) I posted a link to a Jesuit site called Pray-as-you-go. The meditation offered for today (offered by the Jesuits) was on the Lucan text (Luke 10:38-42) describing Jesus’ visit to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. In the meditation we are asked: “Who showed hospitality?”

It is a fair and decent question. It is a reminder that it is as valid a question as “Who chose the better part?” Asking about hospitality is a reminder that Jesus needed both Martha and Mary. Jesus needed the hospitality Martha extended and he needed Mary to listen as he told the Good News. Ever since that day in Bethany the Body of Christ (the Church) has needed faithful men and women to both listen to the Word and then do the Word/work in the world. So it is today. We need to constantly strive for a balance in our being (listening) and doing.

As a further meditation on Martha and Mary I’d like to introduce you to Shawna Atteberry (“Writer. Storyteller. Poet. Feminist Theologian. Episcopalian. Married with cat”) and her blog. She has posted her own research and meditation involving Martha and Mary: The New Testament Church: Built by homemakers like Martha.

What do you think about the “Church’s one foundation” calling upon women to build the home and care for the household? What do you find most attractive in this story of Martha and Mary and Jesus? What do you find least attractive? Leave a comment here. Read about the New Testament Church and leave a comment for Shawna. Let’s talk and listen to each other as we strive to hear the Spirit.

Being the Beloved

In the past couple of weeks we have read and heard thrilling, comforting, and amazing words about who and whose we are and what that means from the Apostle Paul (his letter wasn’t just to the Christians in Rome, but to you and me as well). In a variety of ways we have heard “You are my beloved child.” (See Mark 1:9-11 and understand you are in Christ, these words are words addressed to you)

From Romans 8

all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. (v. 14)

you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (vv. 15-17)

God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spiritintercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (v. 27)

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (v. 28)

If God is for us, who is against us? (v. 31)

in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,39nor 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. (vv. 37-39)

Begin and continue the conversation (leave a comment, reply to comments)

  • Do you believe this? Do you believe that you are God’s beloved child?
  • Is it “easy” to believe this? “Hard” to believe this? “Impossible” to believe this? How does this statement “You are God’s beloved child” sit with you?

Need more prompting? Henri J.M. Nouwen presented a Sermon Series “Being the Beloved” at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA. I’m not sure what year this was presented (Henri Nouwen died in 1996), but the message is timeless. The series consists of 8 videos on YouTube (the link is to the first in the series; just above the video you will find a menu item “8 videos” which you can click and all 8 video links will be presented to you). I commend this series to you. –djr

LISTEN AND VIEW
Being the Beloved by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Hear what the Spirit is saying; A Reflection

Note: These words were first shared in the Forum handout on Pentecost (06/12/2011); I have updated them for posting. -Dan

It was early May 2007 when the Rev. Dr. Roger Douglas became the Interim Rector of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, CA. In his first Sunday with us he introduced me to the phrase “Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.” We used it that day as a concluding remark to the lessons appointed for Sunday worship. We responded, then, as now, “Thanks be to God.”

As with all change, I was not quite sure I wanted to go where he was leading, or do what he was asking (and that’s only on the superficial level of the words in worship— I hadn’t even reached the deeper level of meaning). The words were chosen in 1988 by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia as the customary conclusion to the Sunday lessons. Its usage has moved slowly through the church. Nineteen years and an ocean later the People of God in New Zealand became my teacher. Who could have known?

I have learned much since 2007 and know there is much more to learn. Here is a progress report about my learning from those “innocent” words “Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.” Here is a brief indication about why I have chosen this name for the Sunday Morning Forum at St. Margaret’s.

First, grow quiet; be attentive, so that you can hear. Hear what? Hear how?

Hear: hear with your ears, of course, but hear especially with your heart; yes, hear the words, hear the story, it’s a start, but hear also what is not spoken aloud, only whispered into your heart by the Spirit.

Hear: hear with a deep trust, a heartfelt trust, that these words, though spoken long ago, are indeed spoken by the Spirit for all ages and generations, they are immediate, they are for the moment, they are narrative for your story, not just “their” long ago story.

Hear: hear these ancient words in the chances and changes of your life and the world as it is today.

Hear: hear the words and the stories and wisdom rediscovering that, above all, the truth is that God will do more of the same, now, in your life and in our life together; moreover, in days still to come God will continue to do the same. It is important that we hear clearly so that we can speak truly and plainly to generations just beginning to hear the Spirit.

Hear: hear the Holy Spirit fire crackling in these words; these words are meant to set your heart on fire, for, these are no ordinary words, they are “Holy Spirit words,” hear them well.

Hear: hear what is being said to “the Church,” that is, to all of us gathered; hear by speaking and listening to each other in prayer, in song, in taking communion, in going back into the world “rejoicing in the power of the Spirit,” while loving and serving the Lord (in his people).

This is a beginning report. I’m still learning what it means to hear what the Spirit is saying.

One final comment: I am convinced that the Spirit can most clearly be heard in community. Thank you for helping me to hear what the Spirit is saying in this Sunday Morning Forum.

The Charter For Lifelong Christian Formation: Why we gather together in person and online

A Message from the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church

The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church issued the following letter at the conclusion of its three-day meeting at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, MD (Diocese of Maryland).

A Message to The Episcopal Church

from the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church,

meeting in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, June 14-17, 2011

these widowed boats,
the men who loved them
gone to their graves.

By M. Kei (an award-winning poet who lives on Chesapeake Bay)

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Models, paintings and photographs of “widowed boats” line the halls of the Maritime Institute, some showing vessels caught in mid-explosion, others detailed in all their newly launched beauty and power. Scripture often uses the sea as a symbol of danger and chaos, and the boat or ship as a symbol of the safe place God creates for God’s people–a symbol for the church.

For the last three days the Executive Council has met among these powerful symbols to talk of hard financial issues and church decline and growth, to address elephants in the room, and to speak truth to one another in love.

The Presiding Bishop began her opening address by saying she was seeing a “significant rise in readiness for mission . . . for connection to needs beyond the local congregation.” The President of the House of Deputies spoke of the need for courageous change and called for a structure that “supports mission and ministry at the most appropriate level – congregation, diocese, province or church center.”

These have been reoccurring themes in the addresses of the Executive Council’s chair and vice chair this triennium as they have repeatedly urged the Council to be creative risk takers in addressing the challenges facing The Episcopal Church.

Read the entire Message: NewsLine.

———————————————————–

A question for youForum participants: do you know any of the elements of our St. Margaret’s Mission Statement? Would the Presiding Bishop see a “significant rise in readiness for mission…[and] connection to needs beyond [St. Margaret’s]” in you? in our congregation? These are questions for personal consideration as well as communal (Forum) consideration.

Begin the conversation now, leave a comment here.

Praying and believing

Lex orandi, lex credendi

Lex orandi, lex credendi (Latin loosely translatable as “the law of prayer is the law of belief”) refers to the relationship between worship and belief, and is an ancient Christian principle which provided a measure for developing the ancient Christian creeds, the canon of scripture and other doctrinal matters based on the prayer texts of the Church, that is, the Church’s liturgy. In the Early Church there were about 69 years of liturgical tradition before there was a creed and about 350 years before there was a biblical canon. These liturgical traditions provided the theological framework for establishing the creeds and canon. Source: Wikipedia

If you want to know what a community believes, listen to how it prays; if you want to know what an individual believes, listen to that person pray. This is my version of the meaning of lex orandi, lex credendi. If we assume a community or an individual is going to be honest when speaking to God, then we listen to the prayers and gain insight into belief. Likewise, the more a community or an individual prays in a certain way, the stronger becomes the belief, belief becomes more mature, better articulated; there is a dynamic interchange between mind and heart and faith in the act of praying.

In Anglicanism, the worship of the people of God plays a very distinctive role, being the principal arena not only of supplication and praise but also of theological experimentation and formulation. This relationship of worship and belief is often discussed under the Latin tag, lex orandi, lex credendi—’the law of praying is the law of belief’.  Source: W. Taylor Stevenson in The study of Anglicanism, John E. Booty, Stephen Sykes, Jonathan Knight, p. 187

Lex orandi, lex credendi: A Latin phrase often used in the study of liturgy, it means “the rule of prayer [is] the rule of belief.” The phrase describes the pervasive pastoral reality that habits of prayer shape Christian belief. Official provisions for worship can thus have a determinative role in shaping Christian doctrine. Source: Glossary of Terms maintained by the Episcopal Church

1124 The Church’s faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles – whence the ancient saying: lex orandi, lex credendi (or: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, according to Prosper of Aquitaine [5th cent.]) The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition. Source: The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church

Throughout our study the group will share the prayers that shape our faith and thereby reveal the faith that shapes our prayers. We invite you to share your prayers with others in this (online) Forum.

The Apostles’ Creed

Listen to the Apostles’ Creed sung by a choir of Tongan youth in the Uniting Church Sydney Australia.

What is the Apostles’ Creed?

The Apostles’ Creed is the ancient creed of Baptism, it is used in the Church’s daily worship to recall our Baptismal Covenant.

An Outline of the Faith: The Book of Common Prayer, p. 852

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

For further reading and reflection

The Symbolum Apostolorum was developed between the second and ninth centuries. It is the most popular creed used in worship by Western Christians. Its central doctrines are those of the Trinity and God the Creator. It has been called the Creed of Creeds.
Legend has it that the Apostles wrote this creed on the tenth day after Christ’s ascension into heaven. That is not the case, though the name stuck. However, each of the doctrines found in the creed can be traced to statements current in the apostolic period. The earliest written version of the creed is perhaps the Interrogatory Creed of Hippolytus (ca. A.D. 215). The current form is first found in the writings of Caesarius of Arles (d 542).
The creed was apparently used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. Hence it is also known as The Roman Symbol. As in Hippolytus’ version it was given in question and answer format with the baptismal candidates answering in the affirmative that they believed each statement.

Source: http://www.creeds.net/ancient/apostles.htm

Note: the link will take you to a page devoted to the Apostles’ Creed including additional links to the text of the creed in Latin and Greek, historical notes and much more

About Supplemental Resources

We are limited by time in our Sunday morning gathering. We’re not able to discuss all the readings of the Sunday. Attending to the Spirit our discussions sometimes take us in directions we couldn’t have planned for or predicted.

Resources for reading at a later time, resources to supplement our study, resources tracked down because of the conversation on Sunday morning are often handed out to participants in the forum. This new category “Supplemental Resources” is being created today (5/21/2011) to make this additional material available to you who are participating through this blog.

As often as possible we’ll include the material in the post. Sometimes we will upload a PDF for download. We’ll also do our best to provide a generous supply of links to information we have found helpful in hearing the Spirit.

By clicking on the “Supplemental Resources” link in the title bar you will be taken to those posts which contain only supplemental materials and resources. Likewise, by clicking on the other links you will be taken to posts which contain material for those categories (Year A Readings and General Interest as of 5/21/2011).