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What Happens Now?

I know many of you were surprised by my announcement that my ministry at St. Barnabas is coming to an end.Keeping the details of discernment private is an unfortunate aspect of our deployment process, but it is done so that trust is not violated should a call not happen, and the priest remains in his or her current position. I do want to assure everyone that my departure is not because of something that did or did not happen. This entire process was guided by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit was insistent that it is time for me to leave.And I want to go when things are good!
That being said, I am physically present at St. Barnabas for 6 more weeks and there is a lot of work we need to do!  I am here and available to meet with anyone who wants to talk.  If you have any questions that I can answer, I will do so.  There are baseball games to be watched, graduation parties to attend, worship to be offered and ministry opportunities to be explored.  This is not a time to reflect, but a time…

The Good Shepherd

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I attended The General Theological Seminary in New York City.  The main worship space is called the Chapel of the Good Shepherd and is presided over by 9 large marble statues, with this depiction of Jesus as the Good Shepherd in the center.  It is a hauntingly beautiful statue that I spent many hours looking at, trying to discover all its mysteries.  I only discerned a few while I was a student, so I still love gazing at it and reflection on it.
This Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Easter, is know as Good Shepherd Sunday, when the Church remembers the promises Jesus fulfilled when he called himself “the Good Shepherd.”This year it is also Mother’s Day, and I think it is very fitting for us to consider how Jesus is both our Shepherd and our Mother (as Anselm of Canterbury called him).
When we look at the Good Shepherd statue, it is not difficult to meld the two images of shepherd and mother together.Jesus is looking at the lamb he is tenderly holding in his right arm, almost as a mother would…

The Prayer Chain and the Prayers of the People

One very important component of our daily worship is offering prayers to God for ourselves and on behalf of others.  I recently wrote a blog about the different forms of prayer during Lent as we walked the Way of Love, so I won’t rehash that again (if you are interested, you can easily find the post here.) However, that post did not talk about the ways to access the Prayer Chain at St. Barnabas or how to add someone to the formal “Prayers of the People” we offer during Sunday worship.
When I came to St. Barnabas in 2011, there was a core group of people that offered prayers for people and situations on a regular basis called the “Prayer Chain.”People could send an email to prayer@stbarnabs-sbnj.org and that group would be notified.Our Office Manager at that time kept a book that she printed out 2 or 3 times a year that had information on those prayer requests.After she left that position, the printed version of that booklet discontinued, but access to the “Prayer Chain” through email…

The Way of Love – GO!

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Luke 12:1-5
After a very busy Holy Week (the week before Easter), I want nothing more than time to rest. Indeed, as I mentioned last week, rest is an important and necessary part of our spiritual life and formation.Jesus modeled for us that rest was not a luxury, but an integral part of a healthy pattern to life.And Jesus also taught us that after resting, there is much work to be done and we must GO and do it!
During Holy Week and Easter, the Church reminds itself of the awesome events that brought Jesus to the cross …

The Way of Love – Rest

And on the seventh day God finished the work that God had done, and God rested on the seventh day from all the work that God had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that God had done in creation. Genesis 2:2-3
Rest is fundamental and foundational in our faith.God ordained it in creation when even God rested on the seventh day from all God’s labors – creation is hard work!And yet we live in a day and age where there never seems to be enough time for rest – true rest, a time of respite and renewal.As the secular world demands more and more of our strength and energy, nothing seems to be left over to offer to our rest and refreshment.Rather our attention is caught up in screens of some sort – playing video games, binging TV or movies, even watching sports – it’s all DOING something rather than BEING.And yet we are called human BEINGS, not human DOINGS.
As with most aspects of life, unless we make time for it, it will not happen…

The Way of Love – Bless

“I will bless you . . . so that you will be a blessing.” Genesis 12:2
As children, we learn to say, “God bless you” after someone sneezes – or, if you are like me, it sounds more like a one syllable word, “Gablesyu.” Originally, the saying was to help ward off sickness and offer support, but over time this response has becomes habit rather than a courtesy. And in this day and age of quasi-political correctness and fear of offending anyone (or admitting we believe in God in the first place!), we might say something less “religious” like salud (Spanish: to your health) or gesundheit (German: health) when someone sneezes. How multi-cultural of us. Unfortunately, such responses remove us from our God-given power to offer our neighbors a blessing.
Similarly, in our Episcopal tradition (from our Catholic heritage), one of the attributes bestowed upon priests at ordination is the ability to offer God’s blessing on people (and to a lesser extent, things).The unintentional consequence of this …

The Way of Love – Worship

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”  Psalm 29:2
The next ancient practice in following Jesus is worship.Worship is a unique activity that invites mortals – the created – into a sacred space with the divine – the Creator.It acknowledges our need, our dependence, on God to be loving, liberating, and life-giving.We made the time to show our love and adoration through prayers and music, hearing the Word of God and reflecting on it, and then (in our tradition) enacting the sacred Feast to which we are called to partake and take with us into the world.
Our Catechism offers this reflection: Q. What is corporate worship? A. In corporate worship, we unite ourselves with others to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God’s Word, to offer prayer, and to celebrate the sacraments.
As a sacramental church, we believe in the sanctity of the seven Sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a Penitent, and Unction [anointing with oil for …