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 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 - May 21, 2017

Sliders

"Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit."

It is pretty easy to forget about the Holy Spirit, if we ever even get him in the first place. As I have been planning the direction of this article, I think maybe I have come up with a title for these: Sliders. These articles are like little bite sized sandwiches, tasty little reflections to chew on, but without a whole lot of substance. This title really comes from today's topic, the Holy Spirit, because there's not nearly enough space on this page to even begin to do it justice. And I've already wasted a whole paragraph, and probably won't even keep this title. Maybe Bites would work better?

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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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Reflection - June 25, 2017

”Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.”

In college, we lived by an honor code, with an entire system of education and accountability to ingrain the principles of that code into our lives. As a freshman, I took the oath: “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.” It was a pretty radical commitment on a college campus, even in my day, but it laid a foundation of expectations and a building block of integrity. 

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Reflection - May 15, 2017

"Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." 

In January 1984, Huey Lewis and the News released a single called "I Want a New Drug." I was 12 years old at the time and somewhat naive, but I loved the song. For five years, every time i heard the song, I sang along with it, "I want a new truck." At eighteen, I was shocked when a friend corrected my singing and told me the actual lyrics because, in all truth, I really wanted a new truck!

In communication theory, there is a sender, message, medium, and receiver. A breakthrough in this theory came with the understanding that no matter what the intention of the sender, how accurate the message, or how clear the medium was, communication only really happened if the receiver understood the message. 

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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 - June 4, 2017

"...when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear..."

Fear is a powerful thing. It can also be a complex thing with phobias, fear, terror, anxiety, and worry. We may have an extreme irrational aversion to something like heights or spiders. We may have psychologically maladaptive behaviors related to a specific situation, like interpersonal conflict, or deep seated personality traits related to psychological disorders. It may be possible to learn from these types of fear and with natural human resources like counseling or medication to overcome these fears or disorders. If you suffer from anxiety, I do encourage you to seek help. Fr. Adam, Carrie Williamson, or myself can assist you with a referral and support you along the journey. 

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