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February 15, 2017, 8:48 AM

A word at mid-week 2/15

Happy day after Valentine's Day and welcome to Mid-Week!

It was nice to see so many Facebook posts of how people were celebrating Valentine's Day and reading some pretty nice remarks about their mates! Coupled with spring-like weather in the middle of February, I hope it was a special day for many of you. I know that holidays - any holiday - can be difficult and painful for many as well. If this is true for you, please know of my thoughts and prayers for you.

It was nice to see such a large gathering this past week for Scout Sunday. The church was full and the energy was palpable! Two more scouts approached me with news that they are on track to becoming Eagle Scouts and wanted to share their ideas for projects with me. It is great to witness the formation that these young boys and teenagers receive from Scouting and the 62-year relationship between Troop 161 and St. Matthew's. And, the Cub Scouts are well on their way planning and preparing for the Pine Wood Derby event!

As we move through this season in the glow of Epiphany light, the Lectionary continues to provide us with portions of the Sermon on the Mount - Jesus's defining sermon from which all other teachings and healing will flow. If we were to summarize the Sermon on the Mount in a single sentence, it would be something like this: How to live a life that is dedicated to and pleasing to God, free from hypocrisy, full of love and grace, full of wisdom and discernment.

This week, Jesus fulfills and reinterprets God's Covenant and in particular its Ten Commandments, contrasting with what "you have heard" from others...The Greek word for "fulfill" used in the New Testament means, "to carry on with." So, Jesus is reminding us what is at the heart of the law; what the law is really asking of us. At the heart of the law, at the heart of the teaching on murder and adultery and divorce and oath taking is that our relationships matter to God. How we treat one another in our families, in our churches, in our places of work, in the grocery store, on Facebook, in conversations, each and every relationship we have matters to God! 

Rules and structures are important because they help define limits and boundaries and give order to life. But, doing everything right or living by the letter of the law is not necessarily what God is most interested in. God is more interested in how you live out your life every day in all of your relationships. What difference would it make to you and the way you live your lives if this were true? What would you do differently if it mattered to God how you are relating and caring for one another? What would change in your life if your relationships mattered to God? Please see my sermon, below.

There were two homework assignments this week:

  1. Calling to mind a relationship that sustains you and is important to you, reflect on what makes this a good relationship. Then, give thanks to God for that person and the relationship you share with them.
  2. Calling to mind another important relationship to you but has suffered some damage, hold that person and the relationship in prayer. Offer the brokenness to God asking for help and healing. Reflect on what action you can take to move the relationship to greater health.

I hope these practical "assignments" are proving meaningful to your faith life. I encourage you to take these things to heart and to remember that I pray for each of you every week and that I am praying for you as you reflect on these two important relationships in your life.

Time is flying and we will be deep into Lent soon enough! 

  • On Tuesday, February 28 we will celebrate Shrove Tuesday with a pancake supper. More details to follow soon, but if you are interested in helping with the event, please talk with Martha Cooper and Carolyn Kirkendall! Thank you Martha and Carolyn!!!
  • On Wednesday, March 18, St. Matthew's will host the Irvington Lenten Soup Supper and Prayer Service The Soup Supper begins at 6:00pm followed at 7:00pm by the Prayer Service. Martha Cooper has volunteered to help organize the Soup Supper. If you are willing to help, please talk with her ASAP! Thank you Martha!!!

We will resume the Adult Forums/Sunday School at the start of Lent using the series, The 5 Marks of Love. Stay tuned for further details!

Finally, I ask your prayers for the Vestry and me as we gather this coming Saturday for an all-day retreat. I believe there is much potential for growth and vitality ahead of us and it will take a lot of hard work, clarity of discernment, and a willingness to learn from failure in order to bring these possibilities and potentials to fruition. 

God's love to you all, Fr. Frank

Anthem Premiere This Sunday

Nearly from the beginning of its existence, the Christian church has been a haven for the nurture of the arts. Consider stained glass that has taken your breath away. You have surely seen altars and appointments that have engendered a sense of awe and reverence. Religious textile art and paintings have brought new perspectives to biblical stories. Heaven-ascending architecture and the deep tones of an organ can take us to the near presence of God. The Holy Spirit has spoken through all art forms which bring us to ineffable worship and praise. 

This Sunday, St. Matthew's will experience the premiere presentation of Thomas Strickland's anthem Teach Me, O Lord written for the Centennial Celebration. In the context of the church, Tom's musical pursuits as an organist and composer were early on nurtured by his parents Ruth and Charlie Strickland and encouraged by former St. Matt's organist Adele Haritonoff, who regularly took him to area organ recitals. 

The church by its nature will continue to foster inspired art, confirming God's never-ending creative work. 

Dale Caldwell

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