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November 30, 2016, 6:44 AM

A word at mid-week, 11/30

A "BIG THANK YOU" to all of you who made my birthday so special during coffee hour this past Sunday!!!!! The food was so good and so plentiful that some even asked if I could have multiple birthdays each year! 

The first words we hear at the beginning of Advent, at the beginning of a new Church Year, come from the Prophet Isaiah. His words come from a vision as he "sees the word of God coming to him." Advent is about waiting and the long-expectation of the coming of this new and unimaginable vision. But, as followers of Jesus, we do not wait around, sitting idly by waiting for something to happen - we make things happen!

Isaiah casts God's vision of the world - a vision that we work with God to bring about. It can seem like a daunting and perhaps unbelievable vision where the world will be a place that "they will beat swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks...where nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will people train for war anymore." It is a vision that stands the test of time because it is God's vision that he has been (and continues) to bring about and invites us to help realize this vision. Please see my sermon, below.

In addition to God's vision for the world, God also has a vision for us, as a faith community. This past year, the Vestry and I worked on and crafted a strategic vision for St. Matthew's. It was a good way to begin this year of transition with you. To rediscover and revitalize our purpose as a small, family-sized Episcopal parish on the east side of Indianapolis. What is God's plan for us? Can we see the Word of God coming to us, like Isaiah did? What does the vision hold? What are the hopes and dreams we have? What will it take from all of us to bring about God's vision for St. Matthew's?

As we move toward the end of 2016 and look forward to all that lies ahead in 2017, it is an important time for us to really consider and reflect on who we are and who we believe we are called to be as a parish. I asked the Vestry to pray and reflect on the following questions, and I am now asking each of you to do the same:

  • If St. Matthew's did not exist, what difference would it make?
  • How has St. Matthew's specifically and concretely changed your life?

I invite each of you to bring these two questions to your daily prayers each day during this Advent Season. As you do, see what surprising ways that God's vision will come to you!

God's love to you all!  Fr. Frank

November 23, 2016, 12:00 PM

A word at mid-week, 11/23

Happy mid-week to all of you! 

I wish to thank everyone for your cards, emails, prayers, and well-wishes for me and my family these past two weeks surrounding my father's death. It was a great outpouring of love which helped to hold me up during this time. Thank you all.

This past Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King; the last Sunday of the Church Year. The Gospel of Luke presented us with the scene of Jesus' crucifixion. Perhaps a fitting image for the feast of Christ the King. Jesus did not come among us to be another ruler or leader, he came to establish a new order of things. His power and might is shown, not through brute force, but through boundless grace and mercy and love. Because of his love, which was perfected through his resurrection, we are given a second chance at life. A second chance to mend broken relationships, to turn our life around, to choose to be better. Please see my sermon below.

A special note: When I talk about second chances, I am not suggesting that you or I should let abusive situations continue, hoping that they will change. Further, second chances do not give us permission and are not loop holes for us to continue bad behavior. Rather, second chances come from God's love of us, that he died for us so that we might live. This is something far greater than repeating bad behavior and broken promises over and over. It is about our human dignity that was restored in Jesus.

Advent is upon us! There are several things you will notice this year during Advent:

Advent Lessons and Carols

The 3rd Sunday of Advent Robert Bolyard and the Choir will lead us in a traditional celebration of Advent Lessons and Carols. For this specific Sunday, there will be ONLY 1 SERVICE AT 10:00 AM. FLOUR DE LIS will provide us with some goodies for Coffee Hour!

Advent Bulletins

The services will have a different flow, different wording. Advent is not quite the penitential season as Lent is, but given that it is a season of preparation there is a penitential quality to it. Also, music, especially service music, will be simpler in form so to make our way toward the Christmas season.

Sanctuary Decor

The theme of waiting, expecting, anticipation will be created through a special design for the sanctuary. Thank you to Nancy, Kaye, and Zella for this idea! Also, MEMORIALS are still welcomed in honor or memory of your loved ones. We are no longer doing the weekly altar flowers, but your donations will help support the cost of beautifying the sanctuary each week. So, please continue to give memorial contributions as you have done in the past. Your memorial contribution will be listed in the weekly bulletin.

Adult Forum/Sunday School

We will be watching and reflecting on the video series from The Work of the People called, The Waiting. Come and join us for this special offering.

God's love to you all!  Fr. Frank

November 16, 2016, 7:49 AM

A word at mid-week, 11/16

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have emailed and texted me your prayers and concern for my dad, Albert. He continues to steadily decline. Yesterday he could still talk and recognize people. However, today he is no longer responding to verbal stimuli. He is in a comatose state but his body is not showing signs of pain and appears to be at peace.Though a person can never accurately predict, we expect that he will die before the week's end. I will keep you posted on his condition.

Also, please continue to pray for Lester Burkeen and Bill McFarland who are both still under medical care.

Since the Day of Pentecost, Luke has continued to challenge us to grow in faith through a vari
ety of stories and parables and sayings of Jesus. This past week, we were called to see things as Jesus sees things - to be the very eyes of the Gospel in our world - to have a vision
that pierces through what seems to be beyond hope, that brings about the hope we have in God, and that sees God at work even when it looks like God does not have the upper hand. Please see my sermon, below.

Also, this past week, we celebrated Veteran's Day in a special way at the 8:00am service. We had special music from Buzz Hollett, a Presentation of the Colors, reading and reflections from two different writers, a Litany for Veterans, and a Cup Cake Coffee Hour provided by Flour De Lis!

This coming Sunday is the Pledge Campaign
In-gathering. This is a REMINDER to bring your PLEDGE CARDS (if you haven't already submitted one) and your GRATITUDE JARS. We will bless both of these at Holy Eucharist this Sunday.

In the coming week, we will celebrate The Reign of Christ or what is also known as Christ the King. It is the last Sunday after Pentecost, the last Sunday of the liturgical or church year. It is a fitting feast to celebrate Christ as King when we begin the following week, Advent I, to prepare to welcome the "new born" King! I hope you will join us for worship and all the exciting things planned for Advent.

As we look ahead and realize that Christmas is around the corner, please keep an eye out for our Angel Tree families again this year. Also, I have 3 letters from three different families aside from Angel Tree asking for Christmas help. If you are willing to "adopt" one of these 3 families, please let me know.

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank

November 9, 2016, 12:00 PM

A word at mid-week, 11/9

This past Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of All Saints and Allhallowtide - the triduum encompassing the observances of All Saints' Eve (Halloween), All Saints' Day (All Hallows') and All Souls' Day. This is a time when the Church remembers the dead, including martyrs, saints, and all faithful departed Christians. Some might refer to these celebrations as "thin places."

In the Celtic tradition places or experiences that give us an opening into the nearness of God's presence are called "Thin Places." There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller. As Christians, it is good to visit the thin places in our spirituality. 

Our Scripture passage offered us Luke's version of the Beatitudes where the use of "blessing" translates as being "on the right road." We are on the right road when we realize that everything we have is a blessing. When we know the heartache of loss, of failure, of setback and find healing and the ability to make a comeback, we are walking the right path. And, we are on the right road when we share out of our abundance and know it in our hearts that it is all blessing and when we stand up for what is right and good even when its unpopular or when others may go against us. Being on the right road is the road that Jesus walked and they are thin places because they bring us nearer to the presence of God. Please see my sermon, below.
 A few people gathered on Monday evening to pray on the eve of the election. We gathered in the sanctuary lit by the Paschal (Christ) Candle and offered Evening Prayer along with suitable prayers for our nation, for an election, and for peace from the Book of Common Prayer.

As of this writing, the election results are not yet in. Regardless of who your candidate was or the outcome of the voting, this election season has been highly divisive and emotionally charged. Our task that lies ahead is to help bring healing and love by bringing people together through the sharing of the Good News of our Gospel.

Please pray with me:
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 827, from the Book of Common Prayer

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank

November 2, 2016, 12:00 PM

A word at mid-week, 11/2

Welcome to mid-week!

Sunday's Gospel brought us Zaccheaus up in the sycamore tree. What at first might appear a bit like a farce about repentance and salvation, actually challenges some of our most cherished assumptions about God's character. 

Throughout Luke's Gospel, in story after story we see Jesus meeting all kinds of people from all walks of life. And, he meets them where they are. He comes to them - makes the fist move to come close - and lives are transformed.  

In the story about meeting Zaccheaus, we learn that the word comes to us; that Jesus comes to us. So many times we want to focus on Zaccheaus and his actions, but it seems to me that one of the most - if not THE most important parts of the story is this theme that Jesus meets us where we are. And, this is a wonderful image of grace that God is always coming to us first. God is always making the move toward us first. God is always widening the circle to include others and that is the gift of grace that God calls us and says, "come!"

Sometimes, we are motivated to do good work and care about justice and act with integrity to make ourselves right with God, but our Gospel challenges us about God's grace. That God comes to us and out of love makes us holy right where we are just like he did with Zaccheaus who continued his life as a chief tax collector!

And, when we experience loved in this way, it leads us to repentance and the freedom to be in relationship with others in the same way. While this Good News might be hard to digest, God's mercy and love greatly exceeds our need or our expectations. Thanks be to God. Please see my sermon, below.

Crop Walk Results: Thank you crop-walkers. Your efforts raised $1,500!!!! Way to go!

Sunday, November 6 we will celebrate The Feast of All Saints, All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, Hallowmas,Feast of All Saints, or Solemnity of All Saints, is a festival celebrated in honor of all the saints, known and unknown. 

The celebration of All Saints' Day (Nov 1) and All Souls' Day (Nov 2) stems from the belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the "Church triumphant"), and the living (the "Church militant"). 

In earlier history, the celebration would begin at Vespers on the evening of 31 October, All Hallows' Eve(All Saints' Eve), and ends at the close of November 1. It is thus the day before All Souls' Day, which commemorates the faithful departed. In many traditions, All Saints' Day is part of the triduum of Allhallowtide, which lasts three days from 31 October to 2 November inclusive.

Monday, November 7 at 6:00 PM we will celebrate Evening Prayer in observance of the diocesan-wide Light a Candle, Pray for the Nation event. 

God's love to you all! Fr. Frank

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