Bulletin Insert: Epiphany 1(A)

Every week the Episcopal Church offers a Bulletin Insert (online and as a PDF). This is from the Bulletin Insert for Sunday, January 8, 2017 (The Baptism of our Lord). ~Fr. Dan

The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord is celebrated each year on the Sunday following the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. The event of Christ’s baptism is recorded in all four gospel accounts:

  • Mark 1:9-11
  • Luke 3:21-22
  • John 1:29-34
  • Matthew 3:13-17

Read more here: Bulletin Insert: Epiphany 1(A)

For further reading

 

Giving voice to our Baptismal Covenant

Baptized with water and the SpiritWe live by our Baptismal Covenant (Book of Common Prayer 304-305). Among the questions and promises:

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? (Our Response): I will, with God’s help.

On April 26, 2016 the bishops of North Carolina responded to recent legislation in North Carolina (HB2) that “overtly discriminates against LGBT people and goes further by cutting back on protection against discrimination for anyone in the state.” Their response comes as they fulfill their responsibilities as baptized persons and as bishops of the church. Here is the introduction to their letter. I encourage you to read their entire letter as you consider how you are to live into the promises you’ve made as a baptized person.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In our baptismal covenant, we commit “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” For many, this is the most difficult promise in the covenant, as it calls us to move beyond our differences, expectations, fears, prejudices and misunderstandings about other people and meet them where they are. At times, it means standing up in the world and speaking truth to power, knowing that there will be resistance. This promise takes us out of our comfort zone and into the uncharted territory of God’s grace.

In the highly polarized and political environment in which we live, we may be tempted to take sides on an issue or to back off entirely and be silent. But the issue of discrimination is not partisan, nor is it secular. The practice of discrimination by a state or institution limits, even prohibits, us from respecting the dignity of another human being. It inhibits our very capacity to care for one another and to work for the common good. This affects all people.

Read the entire letter here: North Carolina bishops issue statement regarding HB2 as reported by Episcopal News Service (ENS).

Here is an opportunity to “change the world” — use it

Part of taking action on behalf of others is being informed. Then, part of effective action is joining with others to enhance the action taken (you know, “strength in numbers” and so on). I would like to introduce the Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) Blog to you by sharing from today’s post. You will see that the blog is intended to be “a forum for discussion, sharing and community.” Be informed.

Then, as we enter the season when gifts are given, hear Rob Radtke’s appeal. Rob is the President of ERD. He has donors who will match every donation made through November 30th up to $500,000. Consider a gift that will be twice as large (with the help of others) and do a world of good.  Then, make a gift. Here is Rob’s introduction:

It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning, there’s a chill in the air and the holidays are rushing toward us. And as I write, we’re over halfway through our 2011 Matching Gift Challenge. Just as they did last fall, some extremely generous donors are again matching every donation we receive through November 30, dollar for dollar – up to a total of $500,000.

As I’ve mentioned previously, it’s generally not my policy to ask for donations on our blog. I try as much as possible to honor the goal of this space: to be a forum for discussion, sharing and community. But once again, I’m making an exception because of this remarkable opportunity.

Thanks to our special donors, a gift today will go twice as far to reach people living in extreme poverty and hunger around the world. You’ll be able to provide double the amount of emergency relief supplies for those affected by disaster, two times as many meals for hungry school children, or twice the number of life-saving malaria nets and training to protect families.

via Episcopal Relief & Development.

Photo: ERD blog

Have you ever heard of EYE?

Would you like to hear a “good” story about the generation of (Episcopal) Christians now finding their voice and their gifts? Read on, here is an excerpt and a link to the larger story.

EYE: the Episcopal Youth Event is a triennial gathering of youth and adults from every Province of the Episcopal Church. EYE 2011 took place June 22-26 in St. Paul, MN. I have been able to attend and participate in 2 of these events and can tell you the energy and enthusiasm is life-changing.

For three solid days — from early morning to late night — 730 Episcopal youth, supported by more than 300 adult advisors and 50 bishops, were immersed in a comprehensive program designed to enrich and empower the next generation of leaders in the Episcopal Church. More than 50 workshops shared knowledge, stories and skills on subjects such as prayer and spirituality, effective Bible study, youth ministry and mission trip planning. Presenters included church leaders like Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton; the Rev. Angela Ifill, Episcopal Church black ministries officer; the Rev. Winfred Vergara, Episcopal Church Asian American ministries officer; and the Rev. Bob Honeychurch, Episcopal Church officer for congregational vitality.

Two daily plenary sessions presented keynote speakers that included Sutton, Rodger Nishioka of Columbia Theological Seminary, Episcopal missionary Cameron Graham Vivanco and the Rev. Luke Fodor, Episcopal Relief & Development’s network coordinator.

Fodor challenged the participants to “reframe the way we think about mission and our role in it,” suggesting it “is not possible for us to do mission” but that rather “mission is something that God does through us. God is the missional agent in this world.”

“My brothers and sisters, fear not. We all fall short of the glory of God, but God always works through us. Mission is not about us, but is about God and the others we meet when God is using us to build the Reign of God,” he said. “When we begin to think about mission in this way, mission becomes less and less about us. As we shed our baggage of fear, anxiety and the silent lies that suggest we don’t matter, then mission becomes more and more about God and our fellow humans.”

What was said to these young leaders is equally true for us: “reframe the way we think about mission and our role in it, for it is not possible for us to do mission, rather mission is something that God does though us. God is the missional agent in this world.” In the closing service of Holy Communion participants (young and old) heard an exhortation which is as true for us as it was for them.

Explaining that lay persons, like bishops, priests and deacons, are “the ministers of the church” (Book of Common Prayer, page 855), Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, invited participants to “jump into the waters of baptism.” [A video of Anderson’s address is available here.]

“We are the baptized. And the true claim of baptism, as our courageous ancestor JennieWylie Kellerman said, ‘is to wade in the water and be immersed in our Lord’s perverse ethic of vulnerability and gain through loss.'”

“He was not passive. Jesus troubled the waters. That’s our job if we are to follow Jesus. Our job is to upset any status quo that stands in the way of peace and justice, to question and do something about anything that stands in the way of a reconciled world,” said Anderson. “That’s why we are committed to mission. It’s our job to turn this world upside down; to turn over the tables; to look outside ourselves with fresh eyes and then help others see the kingdom of God.”

Read the ENS article: Episcopal youth enriched and empowered for mission

View and listen to Bonnie Anderson’s Address here

Reflect further – leave a comment

  • What do you think about God working through you to build the “Reign of God?” Are you ready? Do you need to be ready? Do you need to trust God for the grace to accomplish things through you?
  • In what ways do you “upset any status quo that stands in the way of peace and justice?
  • In what ways have you invited God (Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier) into your life so that you may, word and example, benefit others?
  • What aspect of the Baptismal Covenant do you find challenging? comforting? easy? difficult?

Start a conversation, keep a conversation going, leave a comment.

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)

————————————————

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.

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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.

The Abundant Life in a cup of coffee

Sherry has been doing important research for our group. I am proud to share the results of her research and invite you to consider how we might make a difference “for good” in our little Sunday Morning Forum. –Dan

COFFEE WITH A CONSCIENCE

You may be surprised to discover that you can savor a great cup of coffee while supporting a great cause.  Coffee is the world’s second most traded commodity.  By buying Fair Trade coffee, every cup of coffee you consume makes a positive difference in the lives of poor coffee farmers around the world.

WHAT IS FAIR TRADE?

Fair Trade certification guarantees that farmers who grow and process the beans receive a fair price, which keeps small farmers in business. 

Fair trade standards encourage sustainable agriculture practices for disposing of hazardous wastes, minimizing water use, avoiding erosion, and conserving the soil.  Fair Trade farms must also meet labor standards such as paying a minimum wage to workers.

WHY ARE WE, AS EPISCOPALIANS, INTERESTED IN FAIR TRADE?

Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD) partners with Pura Vida Coffee, a Seattle-based company, in committing to using their resources to do as much for coffee farmers and their families as possible.  Together, they give back to the coffee-growing communities in the form of health, education, and infrastructure projects.  ERD and Pura Vida are helping to create strong and sustainable communities.

More about the partnership between Pura Vida and ERD: Bishops Blend
A short video about Pura Vida and its vision

WHERE CAN I BUY FAIR TRADE COFFEE?

Finding Fair Trade coffee is as easy as looking on your grocer’s shelves for containers with the Fair Trade Certification logo, a click away for online shopping at Pura Vida: Create Good, or by phone at 877.469.1431.  ERD and Pura Vida have partnered to produce a delicious organic, shade-grown coffee called Bishops Blend, the purchase of which not only guarantees fair wages to coffee producers, but 15% of the purchase price of each bag  goes to support ERD’s mission of responding to poverty, hunger, and disease around the world.

Sherry Wollenberg is Co-facilitator of the Sunday Morning Forum at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, CA.

A question for youKnowing more about Fair Trade coffee, about Pura Vida and about its partnership with ERD, what are some things we (individually and/or collectively) can do as we strive to promote “justice and peace among all people,”  as we “respect the dignity of every human being”? (from our Baptismal Covenant) Leave a comment or share your comment in the Forum on Sunday. –Dan

Great 50 Days of Easter

Great Fifty Days of Easter
The feast of Easter is a season of fifty days, from Easter Eve through the Day of Pentecost. From early times the Greek word pentecost (fiftieth day) was used also for the whole Paschal season. During this season there is no fasting. The Council of Nicaea (325) directed that Christians are to pray standing. The word “alleluia” (praise the Lord) is said or sung repeatedly, which contrasts sharply with the season of Lent when the alleluia is omitted. The color of liturgical vestments and hangings is white or gold.

—An online Glossary of Terms maintained by The Episcopal Church

Handout p. 1