Sunday Reflection & Rector’s Corner

 “Easter is both about Jesus and about us.” Luke 24:1-12

Easter is not just one day. It is a season of 50 days, significantly longer than the 40 days in Lent. Our Church’s calendar is designed this way to help us remember that we are called to GO and live a life that is centered more on resurrection joy than on fear. During this Eastertide, find ways to live into the Way of Love you have walked this Lent.

The end of our Lent journey is only the beginning, as we take all the transformation we have experienced and imagined and use it to join God in healing and reconciling the world. How will you GO and tell the story of the empty tomb out loud? How have you been changed and how might you change others? (From: The way of Love)

Easter Day Prayer:Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Rector’s MessageI would like to acknowledge the faithful stewardship of each and everyone of you. Your continued participation in the life of St. Michael’s give meaning to our mission and ministry. Again, “Easter is both about Jesus and about us.”. Let us come together and renew our common calling for our parish congregation as we approach its 60thyear of missionary work to the people of this community and to the wider Christian community.

Our collective story as God’s people based on the gospel of the risen Christ should continue to encourage us in bringing people to Jesus. Our church should be an instrument or a way to achieve this goal. My hope and prayer is that we will continue to be a church of the resurrection. This is not an instant joy in the life of our congregation. But it is the beginning of a joyous and victorious life as servants of the one, true and living God. Our God that we worship in our daily living.

My prayer is that God would give us the strength and will to roll the stone and experience a renewal of our mission towards growth and development.

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

The Venerable Louie Engnan

Rector

 

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Sunday Reflection & Rector’s Corner

The passage from Isaiah introduces an overarching theme of servanthood, suffering, and salvation. Often referred to as a Servant Song. The steadfastness of the servant in these verses begins with the humble and faithful acknowledgment of exactly whom he serves.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, it contains what many call the Christ Hymn. In it, we can hear the familiar tune of yet another servant song.As disciples of the one who emptied himself (v. 7), humbled himself (v. 8), and was obedient (v. 8), we are meant to echo that pattern, those actions, and that obedience. Or, as our Eucharistic prayer echoes, to be faithful servants of God “through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ” (B.A.S., 195).

The Gospel of Luke portrays this time in Jesus’ life as a time of great expectation and exultation. The people were expecting change, a major change, a change never seen before in their world. God was going to do something special in their time. God was about to transform their daily world of trouble into a perfect, holy, just city of grace—a New Jerusalem, a paradise where God’s will be done by everyone.

As Jesus rode into town on a colt, he brought to mind the image in Zechariah 9:9 of the promised king humbly riding on a colt. The people recognized this image and knew that this man was the king whom they had been looking for. They were rejoicing, celebrating the goodness of God who had given them their new king.

Faithful servanthood echoes throughout the Bible. We see it in Isaiah, but also elsewhere. What does faithful servanthood look like to you?

Rector Message: I would like to express my sincere apperciation to all members of St. Michael’s for participating last week at the second session of our preparations for our Parish 60thFounding Anniversary.

The conversation was focused on how we, as a church family, could develop further our mision and ministry. We have resolved, as a group, that from May to September 2019, we will reach out and invite at least two new peoeple every month to come to our church activities like worship, study, small group gatherings, fellowship and others.

In the next few months, this will be our focus as an intentional offering leading to St. Michael’s 60thyear.

This is just one of the identified priorities in our Mission and Ministry Development. We will share more as we move closer to our parish anniversary.

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Sunday Reflection & Rector’s Corner

John 12:1-8 “Mary Anoints Jesus” (N.R.S.V.) There is something disconcerting about Jesus’ response to Judas, because Judas’ question is one that many of us might ask. One would think that we would hear exactly the opposite from Jesus—that all of our resources should go to the poor. This is especially disconcerting when we see such disparity around income inequality that we do today. These moments when Jesus’ answers do not meet our expectations force us to continue to examine what discipleship means.

The timing of this passage is important as it comes right before Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of his passion. Mary anoints Jesus just as a king would have been anointed, foreshadowing his entrance and Jesus’ turning of this expectation on its head by washing the feet of his disciples, thereby re-framing our concept of kingship and leadership.

On the surface, Judas’ critique meets our expectations and Mary is indeed being wasteful, but John makes it clear that even if Judas is saying the “right” thing, his motives are impure and Mary’s actions are those of a true disciple. Where Judas uses the plight of the poor to enrich himself, Mary serves God through the abundance of creation and seeks a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Discipleship is about love and service to God, not saying the right thing in service to our own ends. The critique, like many of the difficult teachings of Jesus, is not about what we say, but why we say it and what is in our hearts. When we are discerning how best to utilize the resources of creation or how we can best use our time, talents, and treasure to further the mission of God, we must examine ourselves as much as we examine what happens around us. We are quickly approaching Holy Week, where our deepest flaws, sinful tendencies, and outright sins will be laid bare. As painful as this type of reflection can be, we take heart that the work of Lent and Holy Week culminates in the redemptive work of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection – good news indeed. (Daniel Burke)

 Rector’s Message:  A Warm Welcome to The Reverend Tellison Glover! On behalf of St. Michael’s Parish, I am so grateful for your stewardship in guiding our conversation this morning. I am also pleased to have this facilitated conversation. My hope is that we can continue to re-shape our mission as a congregation. Many communities and congregations have continued to evolve and transform to determine its ministry. We are not immune to these changes. However, I resolve that we can do something for our church, not only in the present but more so in the future.

After almost 60 years of faithful ministry, I think we have to look at our congregation’s life cycle to determine where we are as a people. This will give us a better idea of our mission priorities. Then, look at some possible next steps and available parish and/or diocesan resources.

St. Michael is a small congregation. But we have proven in many occasions that we are capable of responding to the needs of our church (people and building). I encourage you to reflect and focus more on our Mission and Ministry outside of our Sunday morning life.

The church is here all around us because God is bringing people from around the world to enrich cities, communities, suburban areas, rural areas and urban areas. It’s everywhere we look. How can we rejoice in that grow and recognize how connected we are as a group to the people around us?

The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you. Luke 17

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Sunday Reflection & Rector’s Corner

31Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”’Luke 15

Spirituality is a Relationship: Who are the “others” in your life with whom you are called to be in relationship?Spirituality is never a private affair; it always brings us into connection with others. We are called to love by Jesus and to be in relationships of love, to be loving toward others, even toward our enemies.

We begin perhaps with those whom we find easy to love, with our family members and our friends; and how do we want to nurture those relationships? What can we do to foster intimacy and to grow closer together? What can we do to express our love and to protect our love and to nurture our love in these relationships?

The Christian message always brings us beyond those who are easy to love and challenges us to love God in the stranger, to find Christ in the stranger, in the outcast, in the marginalized, in the poor, in the oppressed.

Consider the following questions for your reflections this week.

  • How am I called to relate to my enemies and how am I called to be in relationship with them, to pray for them, to love them?
  • What does that mean for me and how will I put that into practice, as it were, in my life?

Spirituality is always very practical. It has to do with how our faith impacts how we live from day-to-day and how we interact with people.

We are commanded by Jesus to be a people of Love! (From the SSJE)

Rector’s Message:  Many thanks to all parishioners for coming out and participating in our first ever bowling and fellowship. It was a joy to see all of you gathered and continue to strengthen our relationship as a church family. A special thank you to Dave and Mavis Reynolds for organizing this event. Would anyone in the congregation be interested to organize our next church fellowship/event?

Last week, I spoke with one of our parishioners, Aster G., with regards to their participation in our Sunday Worship Service. She said that life is just too busy for her and her family. However, she remained committed to St. Michael’s and affirmed their membership to our church. My hope is that we could assist our parish in reaching out to other members of our church. Please encourage them to come back and participate in the life and mission to St. Michael’s. Perhaps, you could arrange for your rector to do a home visit. This is just one way on how you could help grow our church.

I would like to reiterate an announcement asking all parishioners to come on Sunday, Apr. 7th, and participate in a guided conversation, after the 10am Service, about implementing the identified mission priorities of St. Michael’s. Our focus is to continue to develop our ministry for the future.

11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”Ephesians 4

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Sunday Reflection & Rector’s Corner

WHAT IS FASTING? Fasting and spiritual purposes cannot be separated because they are intricately intertwined. Fasting is a gift that God has given to the church in order to help us persevere in prayer. Fasting draws us closer to God and gives power to our prayers.

People have been fasting since the ancient days of the Bible. The Bible records numerous accounts where people, cities, and nations have turned to God by fasting and praying. Some people fast for faith and spiritual reasons. here are several specific reasons that the Bible tells us to fast.

  1. To be Christ-like. (Matthew 4:1-17; Luke 4:1-13).
  2. To obtain spiritual purity. (Isaiah 58:5-7).
  3. To strengthen prayer.(Matthew 17:21; Mark 9:17-29;

Acts 10:30; 1 Corinthians 7:5).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught a lesson about how to fast and how not to fast. 16 ‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6: Fasting should make us humble instead of proud. In the end it is not our works, but our hearts that matter to God. God promises to reward openly those who fast and pray in secret. (Winfield Bevins)

Rector’s Message:  You can tell that it is Spring Time. You can see that beautiful flowers are staring to blossom. You can see that some of trees are starting to bloom and of course it won’t be long before you can smell the mulch/fertilizer that people will use in their gardens, yards and in their flowerbeds.

The fig tree in our story is one that should be bearing fruit. The owner took the time to plant it, care for it and he expected to be able to come up to it at the right time of the year and harvest figs from it. He wasn’t into ornamental fig trees. He wanted a fig tree that would do its job. He wanted a fig tree that would do what fig trees are supposed to do.

The gardener, likely a skilled gardener, has the prudence to understand that fruit does not grow immediately. Growing figs takes time, bearing fruit requires patience – and appropriate nourishment. While it may be tempting to chop down the parts of ourselves that seem like they are taking forever to heal or grow up, maybe we need to ask what nourishment we need, instead. What compost is necessary to add to our roots? Time with friends? Scripture? A Sabbath rest? In addition to the repentance that is required of us, what else do our trees need? We may see the unhealthy nature of our soil, but how do we increase its wellbeing?

From what must you turn and repent? What about your church community? What does healthy soil mean to you? What do you need in your life to enrich it?

 

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Sunday Reflection & Rector’s corner

Sunday reflection:

Prayer: In the early Church, Lent was a time for catechumens (those who were preparing to be baptized) to learn about the Christian life. In particular, the church describes the role of prayer in Christian life, including the seven types of prayer:

  • Adoration: We lift up our hearts and minds to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God’s presence.
  • Praise: We praise God, not to obtain anything, but because God’s Being draws praise from us.
  • Thanksgiving: We offer gratitude to God for all the blessings of this life, for our redemption, and for whatever draws us closer to God.
  • Penitence: In penitence, we say we are sorry, confess our sins, and make amends and life change wherever possible.
  • Oblation: We offer ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for God’s purposes.
  • Intercession: We bring before God the needs of others.
  • Petition: We present our own needs, that God’s will may be done.

Each of these forms of prayer will help you grow and bring you into a closer relationship with God. In fact, Scripture tells us that even when we don’t know how to pray, “the Holy Spirit will intercede for us” and teach our heart how to pray in “sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26)

Rector’s Message:  You may have noticed that we have started to change the reading of the Psalm during our worship Service. The new pattern will now be a responsorial reading. I will begin by

reading the full verse and the congregation response by reading the next full verse. Then, we carry on until the concluding prayer.

I would like to thank our parish representative to the Diocesan Stewardship day. Our parish has had a number of conversations and workshops about this topic. I just wonder if there is any interest from the congregation about doing something about these materials.

The Bible Study group members has been so faithful and consistent in their participation to this nurturing ministry of our parish. I am also wondering if other members would be interested in participating a day time meeting. Please let your rector know if you may be able to participate in forming a new daytime bible study group.

A few words from the brothers that I would like to share with all of you. “God, the Chief Gardener of our souls, invites us to grow into fullness of life. Just as stakes and lattices nurture the growth of young plants, so too can spiritual disciplines support the flourishing of our whole being. Explore a tool from monastic spirituality called a ‘Rule of Life’ to cultivate your relationships with God, Self, Others, and Creation.”  (SSJE Lenten Reflection)

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Sunday Reflection & Rector’s Corner

Sunday Reflection: Jesus is tempted by the devil in the wilderness. He is challenged to turn stones into food, to jump from the top of the temple, and to gain all the world’s wealth and glory by bowing to the tempter. But, he resists, using God’s word as his guide.

What is interesting about the readings for this week is that the focus, rather than being on Jesus’ temptation, is on God’s care, protection and provision for God’s people. When the temptation narrative is placed in that context, our focus shifts dramatically – and importantly – away from fear of failure or succumbing to evil, and on to God’s resources that are at our disposal to keep us strong and faithful. Let us make this week about God – God’s care, God’s Word, God’s protection, God’s provision – which means that we can rest assured that whatever we may face, “the best of all is ‘God is with us’” as Wesley said.

The three Lenten disciplines emerge – fasting (to confront our consumption and appetites); giving of time, abilities and resources (to confront our love of power and pride); prayer (to confront our self-dependence and security issues). As individuals, and as faith communities, embracing these practices – not just in Lent – is the easiest way to confront the evil within and without. As Mother Teresa famously said: “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

What Is Lent? Last Wednesday, the church begun its observance of the Lenten Season, the 40-day period before Easter. The period of 40 days, which traditionally does not include Sundays, commemorates the “40 days and 40 nights” (Matthew 4:2) that Jesus fasted in the desert and then resisted temptations from Satan.

The word “Lent” comes from an Old English word for “spring,”and is derived from the German word “lang,” meaning “long,” because during this season before Easter, the hours of daylight become longer.

The Book of Common Prayer explains Lent in this way: “In the primitive church, it was the custom to observe with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, to prepare for the same by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided also a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when such persons as had, by reason of notorious sins, been separated from the body of the faithful, were reconciled and restored to the fellowship of the church by penitence and forgiveness.”

(Book of Common Prayer, pp. 611-612)

The Church invites us to observe Lent “by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and alms giving, and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”

(Book of Alternative Services, p. 282)

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