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February 8, 2017, 12:00 AM

A word at mid-week 2/8

Good morning and happy Wednesday!

As you will recall, the Sunday lectionary readings are in the early part of Matthew's Gospel and over several weeks, we are being presented with sections from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. This "sermon" is actually a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus that serve as a kind of inaugural speech that sets the stage for the new message, the new covenant that he is about to bring. It is considered the first of five long sermons found in Matthew and takes place relatively early in the ministry of Jesus, after he has been baptized by John the Baptist and preached in Galilee.

Two weeks ago, we began this section in Matthew with the Beatitudes, which described how God sees our character, expressed as "blessings." These "blessings" gave us a new set of ideals that focus on love and humility rather than force and exaction; they echo the highest ideals of Jesus' teachings on spirituality and compassion. This coming Sunday, we are given the longest section in the Sermon, where Jesus reinterprets God's covenant with us. 

This week, we were presented with the metaphors of salt and light, which describe our value as human beings and followers of Jesus. We are salt and light by our very nature and when we live as salt and light in our places of work, in our homes, the way we parent, how we relate to others we preserve and point the way to God. There are a variety of, perhaps, small ways God has used you to be salt and light - through our words of encouragement to others, faithfulness in the way we conduct business, the relationships that we build through volunteering, and when we pray, protest, and make good on our promises. When we think we don't matter or can't measure up or don't have enough resources to make a difference, remember that a tiny, single, grain of sand never looses it ability to preserve and a single, microscopic beam of light never looses its ability to light the way. Small is what God most often uses to change the world!

Brother Curtis Almquist from the Society of Saint John the Evangelist put it another way: "The only way we can grasp Jesus' judgment of love is through the hands, and hearts, and words of other people who are the channels of Jesus' intervening, liberating truth. Jesus will reach us through other people. That's the only way." Please, see my sermon, below.

This coming Sunday, February 12, is Scout Sunday! There will be a bake-sale immediately following the 10:30am service. Please be as generous as you can. As you know, St. Matthew's has had a long history with the Scouts and this Sunday is the 62nd year of continuous support of Troop 161 by St. Matthew's! I hope to see all of you in church this weekend to celebrate with the Scouts!

Please scroll through the many announcements below. This is a packed weekend with the Waycross Fundraiser on Friday evening and the Soup Supper at Downey Ave Christian Church on Saturday to help raise money for Hope Counseling, one of our ministry partners.

Finally, the Vestry and I will be on retreat together on February 18. We are looking forward to the work ahead and discerning where God is leading us. We will be excited to share with you throughout all of 2017!

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank


Taking Inventory of Music & Fine Arts Resources

I continue to discover the unique character and quality of the St. Matthew's parish and it has been a rewarding treasure hunt. As Organist/Choirmaster, it is one of my tasks to provide avenues of artistic expression in a variety of ways. In the Creation story, God was wildly creative. As God's children fashioned in His image and likeness, we possess that same creative spirit. I would like to learn where those talents lie, whether they be musical, artistic (all media - painting, sculpture, photography, etc.), dramatic or poetic. Whether you consider your gifts to be extensive or modest, I want to know how you imitate the Creator. So please reach out to me and let me know about your gifts. I also would welcome tattling on your friends, especially if they are too modest to let me know directly. So if you like to sing (whether regularly or occasionally), play (or would like to learn) handbells or other instruments, dabble in the creative arts, write poetry/fiction or like to act, please reach out to me by clicking on the e-mail link or writing me a note leaving it at the church. The Creed of the United Church of Canada has always been a favorite of mine. It states, "We believe in God: who has created and is creating . . ." Yes, God is still creating us and making good use of his beloved to do so. Let me hear from you!

Dale Caldwell



February 1, 2017, 11:52 AM

A word at mid-week 2/1

Hello and happy hump day!

This past week we celebrated the 100th Annual Meeting at St. Matthew's! Thank you all who made this event possible - both those who attend and those who, over the past 100 years, made St. Matt's what it is today! 

Our Gospel lesson was the famous "Sermon on the Mount" or "the Beatitude" - one of Jesus' early sermons shortly after he was baptized, tempted, and called his first disciples. It was a sermon of sermons, one that would spark the great "Jesus Movement" that we share in today, over 2,000 years later! Perhaps at first glance, the sermon seems less of a rallying cry or a motivational speech and more like a sermon about brokenness and grieving and defeat. After all, Jesus says "blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are persecuted" and not "blessed are the powerful, those who overcome adversity, those who rule, those who have it all!" But, what Jesus teaches us is how to recognize blessedness when we see it - starting with ourselves and those around us. 

What might happen if we took the Sermon on the Mount to heart? Could we change the world? Could we face into all that might threaten us? The disciples embraced their blessedness and began to see it in others, the way Jesus did. Their community became a place of blessing to those who the world refused to bless. They loved those that the world treated as unloveable. And, they redeemed those that the world cast aside. By taking Jesus' commandments ("blessed are those...") to heart, they saw that God's kingdom was right in front of them as they honored each other as God's children, as they bore each other's burdens, and as they bound up wounds. And, you know what happened? The world around them changed and transformed one deed, one act, one step at a time - and we have the last 2,000 plus years of stories and ministry as evidence of this truth! What might be possible for us? How will our deeds, our actions, our steps change and transform the world? Please, see my sermon, below.

There is a lot of information in this week's Word at Midweek. The column to the left has the January Vestry Minutes and the Annual Meeting Minutes for all that would like to read more. 

Congratulations to Greg Staab, Rector's Warden, Jeff Weir, People's Warden, and Celeste Sheets-Eaton, Vestry Member.

Thank you to outgoing Vestry Members: Natalie Weir, Don Runyon, and Zella Rosene! Thank you for your service to St. Matthew's, especially these past 3 years! 

BIG THANK YOU goes to Bill McMahon who has served for ten years as St. Matthew's treasurer and is retiring from that role. The Vestry elected Natalie Weir to serve as Treasurer.

I also want to thank many of you who spoke to me about appreciating the St. Matthew's Most Valuable Congregant Awards! Every adult parishioner received the award plus the stories and naming of many attributes and gifts such as, child care, committee work, leadership positions, positive attitudes, Altar Guild work, Bible Study participation, willingness to help on building projects, food preparation, working with building partners, the Book, Yarn, and Prayer Club, Daughters of the King, meaningful participation in adult forums, managing Servant Keeper, volunteering for liturgical ministries, generous donations for outreach, health care programming, generous and welcoming spirits, webmaster work, photography assistance, many sorts of music ministries, social media savvy, contributions to Waycross and other Episcopal entities, office assistance, newsletter preparation, prison ministry, groundskeeping, energy and enthusiasm, and staying strong in the face of numerous obstacles. And the list could go on and on!!!

Finally, I received word today that ICAN (Irvington Churches Advocacy Network) was presented with the first portion of two of the Episcopal Fund for Human Need grant of $250. The plan for distribution of this grant is to be able to financially assist neighbors in need with an additional $25 per financial request, so instead of $75 towards rent/utilities, ICAN will be able to give $100.

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank




January 25, 2017, 6:46 AM

A word at mid-week 1/25

Welcome to mid-week and T - 4 days until the 100th Annual Meeting at St. Matthews! 

REMEMBER: 1 SERVICE at 9:30AM followed immediately by the Annual Meeting

We will provide coffee and a few light refreshments such as coffee cakes, donuts, fruit, and juice. Come, worship together, enjoy some goodies, fellowship, and attend the 100th Annual Meeting!

This past Sunday, the Gospel summoned us to re-imagine where and how God is calling or leading us in life. Often, we equate our occupation (job or profession) with vocation (feeling of being called or led in a certain direction or toward a certain thing). When we hear the call of the first disciples, we realize that Jesus wasn't calling them into some kind of work or job, but rather into a special relationship with himself, with each other, and with all the people they will encounter in their lives. Jesus issues that same call to us and to be in those relationships the way Jesus was and is in relationship with us, by bearing each other's burdens, caring for each other and for the vulnerable, holding onto each other through thick and thin, always with the hope and promise of God's abundant grace.

Jesus called ordinary people right in the middle of their ordinary lives to be in relationship with the ordinary people all around them and through that, did extraordinary things ... and he still does!

Br. Mark Brown of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist reminds us: 

"We can embody the love of God, but we do this as frail human beings made in the image of God. And, as God is sovereign, so we are created with a kind of personal sovereignty of our own that even God does not violate."

Indeed, I believe it is because of this personal sovereignty with which each of us ordinary human being are endowed, that enables God to do extraordinary things with and through us. Please see my sermon, below.

As an added treat this week, we have also included Fr. Steve's sermon from the previous Sunday!

Tomorrow evening, St. Matthew's will host the closing liturgy for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at 7:00pm. There is more information below. We hope to see all of you there!

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank




January 18, 2017, 6:39 AM

A word at mid-week 1/18

Greetings and happy mid-week to all of you!

Last Sunday, as we continue to move in the light of Epiphany, the Gospel of John provided yet another look at Jesus' baptism. John's perspective differs greatly from that of Matthew, Mark, and Luke in that he does not focus on the events of the baptism as much as he does on the significance and importance of Jesus' baptism for our lives. In John's account, we hear John the Baptist pointing not toward himself, but to Jesus - Behold! Look there! He is the Lamb of God who came to save us and free us from the bondage of sin! John tells us that Jesus comes to "baptize" to "wash us" in the Holy Spirit and by doing so, we are transformed.

Although this transformation happens internally, in the depths of our character, our spirits, people throughout history often signify the manifestation of this change in various ways; perhaps, most notably by changing one's name. Simon is called Peter - the rock, the foundation. I recall living in the monastery at St. Meinrad. When a monk professes solemn vows, he is given a new name to signify and to magnify the change or transformation that is taking place in his life. It is, indeed, a powerful manifestation of God's spirit at work in us.

This week, I want to call your attention to a new addition to the weekly email. Dale will be frequently contributing some reflections. Some of these will be personal in nature, some theological, some educational, and some conveying a spiritual reflection about music ministry. I hope you will enjoy these!

We are quickly approaching the 100th Parish Annual Meeting. Please help folks remember that we will only have ONE SERVICE at 9:30am followed immediately by the Annual Meeting. There is information below about the proposed changes to the By-Laws. We will also elect new Vestry members, hear highlights from 2016, talk about future goals and plans, and celebrate our achievements. We will keep reports to a minimum and promise not to be boring!!!!!

Pictured here is a sampling of from a set of Stations of the Cross that has been generously gifted to St. Matthew's from Ann Boruff in memory of her husband. The set has been ordered and we are hoping to have them by (or near) the beginning of Lent. 

 

Finally, we are trying out a new bulletin format beginning this Sunday. With the new format, the readings will be included in the body of the bulletin, eliminating the inserts. Also, there is enough space with this new format to include Announcements. So, you will be able to take your bulletin home along with the weekly Announcements! We hope this new format is easier to use and that you will have the information you need all in one!

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank




January 11, 2017, 7:12 AM

A word at mid-week 1/11

Good morning and happy Wednesday!

I hope this week has been filled with lots of ways that you are finding the holiness in ordinary life! If you have a story to share, I would welcome hearing it. If you recall, on the Feast of the Holy Name, I issued a challenge for us in 2017 to find holiness in your everyday life. I hope it can be more than a fun idea and that you really do notice how God really does make ordinary things and ordinary places and ordinary people like you and me, holy!

This past week, we celebrated the feast of The Baptism of the Lord. Peter set the bar high for us in the reading from Acts, to be ready at a moments notice to share your faith in both word and deed in a way that others can readily see and understand! It's our "discipleship elevator speeches!" We also remembered the practical importance of our baptism. In it, we are brought into the family of God. Through it, we are made sons and daughters of God. And, by it, we are certain that we are enough! This does not mean that we shouldn't take care of ourselves or work for improvement or better ourselves, but it does mean that our inherent worth as a human being doesn't depend on our looks, our successes, our failures, our heartaches, our status, or the level of our intellect. In Baptism, we hear God's voice say to us, "In you, I am well pleased!" And, like Jesus, we can't stay and bask in this glow for too long, because - as St. Matthew writes - dripping wet, we immediately are driven from the baptismal waters and out to the wilderness, equipped with our faith to survive and thrive! Please see my sermon, below.

Also, this week, we welcomed Dale Caldwell as our new Organist/Choirmaster. As Dale continues to onboard to life at St. Matthew's, please take an opportunity to say hello and welcome him. We offered blessings to Fr. Steven Giovangelo on the 40th anniversary of his ordination as well as blessed the red hats for new infants in support of an initiative by The Yarn, Book and Prayer Club to help the American Heart Association kick off this year's "Little Hats, Big Hearts" campaign. They have been collecting knitted or crocheted red baby hats to be distributed to babies born in hospitals throughout Indiana during the month of February.

The Yarn, Book, and Prayer Club also distributed newly knitted scarves to the Alhamwi women last night at the start of their meeting. They were thankful to receive such "warm" gifts! Thank you YBPC!

Thanks also goes out to the Altar Guild for transforming the sanctuary from Christmastide to Epiphanytide! Thank you for all of the hard work that goes into beautifying our worship!

This coming Sunday, I have asked Fr. Steve Giovangelo to be a guest preacher. I hope to see all of you there!

Starting in this week's "A Word at Mid-Week" I am adding a section for Bible Study. I am using a reading plan that will cover the entire Bible over a two-year period. I will supply a few notes and commentary to help give context. I hope you will enjoy it and find it spiritually nourishing.

Finally, this coming Sunday there WILL NOT be an Adult Forum. The group finished book one of the Pilgrim series as well as the Advent video series. We will resume the following week with a new series. Stay tuned!

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank


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