Reflection - August 27, 2017

“Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.”

Odd, really. Following Peter’s confession of faith and subsequent designation as the rock on which the church would be built, receiving the authority of the keys of the kingdom, it’s as if Jesus is saying, “But whatever you do, don't tell anyone!” Why?

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Reflection - August 20, 2017

Dear St. Patrick family,

I want to thank you for your prayers and patience as I get closer to surgery for the stenosis in my lower back, which will be on August 29. I am especially grateful to our staff, deacons, Fr. Oz and Fr. Adam for their assistance and compassion. It is truly humbling for me to experience so many tangible signs of love and care. Thank you.

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Reflection - July 30

"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."

Failure? Mistakes? Distractions? Regrets? Betrayal? Hardships? Heartbreak? Pain? Suffering? Injustice? Violence? Tragedy? Death? Can all things really work for good? It's not too hard to believe in the good when everything is going well, or at least fair-to-middling. Sure. I'll step out onto the water and walk by faith when the skies are clear, the sea calm, and the breeze gentle. 

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Reflection - July 9, 2017

Dear St. Pat Family,

I love being your pastor! I am grateful for the love, prayers, and care that you have shown me, especially through the difficult time that I had last summer with my neck surgery. The staff and, especially, Fr. Adam did an amazing job of ministry last year during that time. That surgery went well, although there was some minor permanent nerve damage. Apart from that permanent damage, I have fully recovered from that surgery.

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Reflection - August 12

“Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD;the LORD will pass by. 
There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; 
after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 
after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; 
after the fire, a tiny whispering sound.”

Violent wind, earthquake, fire. Unequivocal, powerful, majestic. This passage from The First Book of Kings in the Old Testament is one of the great instructions in the spiritual life. It is surprising, at the time it was written and today. The powerful natural phenomena of wind, earthquake, and fire would be the expected domain of God. The surprise is that God, the LORD, was not in any of those, but in the “tiny whispering sound,” or as some translations say, “a still small voice.”

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Reflection - July 23, 2017

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed 
that a person took and sowed in a field. 
It is the smallest of all the seeds, 
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. 
It becomes a large bush, 
and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”

If you drive to St. Pats from Shelbyville Road along North Beckley Station Road, it’s hard to miss the small grove of bamboo on the left. If you've never noticed it, be careful if you go looking for it: Beckley is dangerous enough. Anyway…

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Reflection - July 2, 2017

"Whoever receives you receives me, 
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man
will receive a righteous man's reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink
because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."

On television, it’s easy to hear preachers sharing the message of the “prosperity gospel.” This is the idea that personal economic security and gain are part of God’s saving action among believers. God intends to bless us with health and wealth if we first believe, confess our belief, visualize our success, and give our money to the church. If we do these “righteous actions” God will reward us financially. It's a matter of faith. 

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Reflection - August 6, 2017

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.”

Most of the time, the world passes by and we are left by faith to trust that God is with us. We don’t always get to see the divine so clearly as the disciples did in today’s gospel. We trust, especially through the Eucharist and the other sacraments, that God is here, but it is rarely as explicit as it is for Peter, James, and John.

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Reflection - July 16, 2017

"A sower went out to sow. 
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. 
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. 
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. 
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. 
But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. 
Whoever has ears ought to hear."

We have the privilege in today's gospel, if we read the longer version, of hearing Jesus explain one of his own parables. It is a worthy spiritual exercise for us to imagine which type of soil we are: hard packed path, rocky ground, thicket, or rich soil. How do we receive the Word of God? Does it bear much fruit in our lives? 

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