Weekly Reflection

The weekly reflection can be found in the weekly email newsletter or here on the website. 

Scroll down for this week's weekly reflection. 

Turn Around! Repentance

12/3/20

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Second Sunday of Advent BCP 211)

One of the many things that has come to light during this year is the full depth of what it would mean for our country to truly repent of the sin of racism, and how we haven't managed to do so yet. This coming Sunday in the Gospel reading we will hear the call of John the Baptist by the River Jordan asking people to confess and repent. John was not the first and he hasn't been the last prophet sent by God reminding us to repent and return to God.

What does it truly mean to repent? The root word for repentance in Hebrew means to turn around. Repentance means a fully life change. When we recognize and confess our sins, we name them and acknowledge our sinfulness. However, truly repentance requires the further step of changing our lives so we can live in a different way, one without the confessed sin. True repentance is always harder than confession, which is hard enough!, because it requires us to change our lives.

The sin of racism is for many a hard sin to get the mind around. As a systematic institutional problem in our country, racism can be hard to see when you've lived in it all your life. At the root is the disconnection born of not recognizing other people as God's children. True repentance of the sin of racism involves acknowledging our own lack of recognition for certain other people as God's children and treating them as such. While the call of John the Baptist for repentance speaks in many parts of our lives, our disconnection from each other also keeps us disconnected from God. As we prepare for the coming of Christ in Christmas, we hope to return to loving connection with God and our neighbors.


Give Thanks!

11/26/20

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Thanksgiving Day BCP 246)

I still have kale growing in my lettuce bed. After the last couple weeks of cold temperatures and a few frosts, I'm not sure how its still growing, but I am trying to enjoy the blessing of fresh grown kale from my garden. It reminds me that even though things can be harsh, there may still be blessings waiting for us. Through all the troubles and frustrations, there are still reasons to give thanks for this year.

Certainly this year has been rough, hard, frustrating, and troublesome (or however you would like to phrase it, I have to be somewhat diplomatic in a religious reflection). With the pandemic, the struggles with racism, and the election tension, many of us are feeling a little beat up going into this year's holiday season. Even the Thanksgiving holiday, when looked at historically, is harsh and frustrating, since the early settlers forced their indigenous neighbors to act, speak, and dress like themselves. Yet, the underlying reason for Thanksgiving, giving thanks to God, is still very important and we have plenty to give thanks about, even this year.

If you're reading this, the chances are you still have shelter, food and water, you have connection to the church and community, you have power, heat, and sanitation systems. You may be sick, but you have access to healthcare and others who will help you heal. If you are reading this you have a community of neighbors you can always reach out to, in times of joy or sorrow to share. All these are reasons to give thanks. Whether you eat a turkey leg or some tofurkey this week, let God know about all the things you are grateful for, as we give thanks in community for all the blessings we have been given.


What does it mean to be Free?


11/19/20

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Proper 29 BCP 236)

What does it mean to be free?

The Collect for this coming Sunday, the last Sunday of our liturgical year, prays that we all may be freed from sin and brought together under Christ. In this year, a year full of struggles around freedom and personal safety for many, the question about what it means to be free is poignant. Many people feel that true freedom is being able to do whatever they want whenever they want, despite other people. However, at no time in human civilization, has that been the definition of freedom. Freedom has always been impacted by social and cultural rules.

While I don't know the heavenly definition of true freedom, the rest of the pray gives me a clue. True freedom in Christ involves community, we are all brought together under Christ's rules. Which means our freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want is impacted by our place in the community and Christ's rule of love. True freedom in Christ then is not complete freedom from any laws or social definitions. True freedom works through our outpouring of love for each other and God. Many of us want to proclaim our freedom now, however, we are not all truly free until all those who are held captive by sin, other people, or death are released. Through our Trinitarian God, we cannot be free until our whole community is free. Until all people are free to share God's love in the way they best can.