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Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Basil’s

June 7, 2017

IN GRATITUDE

The readings we have heard are those of the day, and at first, they may seem out of place for a Mass of Thanksgiving such as this, but I can assure you they are – in fact – most appropriate.  Some how, Scripture always is. . . once we allow ourselves to be taught rather than think we have something to teach.

It is the Psalm that guides our interpretation this evening:  “The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord”  it is easy to see how this can be applied to Jesus, but since you most likely don’t know much about Tobit, I would like to explain why his witness is so appropriate for us this evening.

Tobit lived in Nineveh under the reign of King Sennacherib – who was a great military leader, ruled with a steel fist, and built the city into a modern marvel at the time.  However, as you know, in its quest for greatness, the city fell far away from God.

Tobit was a righteous man who not only remained faithful to God when all else fell to worshipping idols, but also had a great reverence for the souls of the just, burying those slain by the King.  For this, he was stripped of his properties and exiled.  After a long period he was allowed to return, which is where our reading picks up.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time (Tobit 2:9-14, Psalm 112; Mark 12:13-17)

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Pentecost 2017

June 4, 2017

CHANGED

As the father has sent me, so I send you.   As I was sent, so you are sent.  As a result of what you have learned, of the relationship that you have known, you are to go out and share your experience of God.

I do not think there is a single person is this church who is not aware of the overlapping messages presented to us today, for we are aware of what this commissioning means for us a global, universal church as well as what it means for us as a parish.

Over the past four years, we have had a remarkable experience of church – this is as true for me as it is for each of you.  The temptation is, for us, just as it was for the disciples – feeling that they could not recreate it, the disciples wanted to return to what they knew before.  It was easier for them to go back to their old lives, to be satisfied with what existed before they met Jesus.  And they tried – they just couldn’t do that.

Because how can you be satisfied with once was when you have lived for what is possible?

CLICK HERE for the readings for Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-14; John 20:19-23)

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The Ascension of the Lord

May 28, 2017

RISING PAST OUR LONELINESS

The Ascension is most closely related, in meaning, to Christmas, for both are incarnational.  At Christmas, what it means to be God became fully a part of what it means to be human.  In Jesus, the human and divine become united in the person and life of one man.  That’s what happened in Christmas.

At the Ascension, this human being – the person and the resurrected body of Jesus – became for all eternity a part of who God is.  The life of a single human being is forever joined to the life of God the Father, the one who created the heavens and the earth.

It was not the spirit of Jesus or the divine nature of Jesus that ascended to the Father.  It was the resurrected body of Jesus: a body that the disciples had touched, a body that ate and drank with them, a real physical, but gloriously resurrected body, bearing the marks of nails and a spear.  This is what ascended.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Ascension of the Lord (Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Matthew 28:16-20)

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6th Sunday of Easter

May 21, 2017

LOVE & PROMISES

Our Gospel today speaks of actions and consequences.  It speaks of love and promises.  But it is our second reading that offers us a path about how we are to love God and one another, and how we are to keep God’s commandments.

John tells us in the Gospel:  If you love me, you will keep my commandments; and you will be sent the Holy Spirit to guide you, because the world will not always understand what you are trying to do, or why you are trying to do it.

Of course, like everything else in the spiritual life, we must be open ourselves to receive the Spirit, which often requires a great amount of trust, and careful attentiveness.  To understand the presence of the Spirit; to understand that we are not alone, requires a particular kind of unlearning and retraining of the senses – which is why we come here.  Here we learn how to see and hear beyond the senses.  Here we train our heart to feel the presence of God.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Acts 8:5-8,14-17; Psalm 66; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21)

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5th Sunday of Easter

May 14, 2017

POLISHED STONES

When I was a teenager, my father decided to build an addition on to our garage so we could keep our boat at home rather than pay for storage.  We had a two-car garage and the plan was to double the size of it by putting an addition onto the back allowing for two cars, then a boat and another car along with room for the tools.

My parents have since moved from my childhood home and movers, at the time, commented that it was the only move they could remember where there was more in the garage than the house itself!

In any case, because garage addition was going to pass over a utility line, my father didn’t want to pour concrete.  Instead he wanted to lay cobblestones so that they could be removed if they ever had to be without destroying the entire floor.

Now you may remember, my father is an engineer, so this isn’t simply a matter of throwing stones down on the ground and moving along.  Especially because this floor would support vehicles, it had to be just right.  So for weeks, he enlisted my help as we leveled the floor and then on our hands and knees, equipped with levels, toothbrushes and funnels, we proceeded to create a stone floor that would rival the pyramids!

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter (Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12)

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4th Sunday of Easter

May 7, 2017

A VOICE BEYOND WORDS

There is a saying I have always loved:  God has no grandchildren.  In other words, you do not enter into a relationship with God by virtue of someone else.  You have to come to God on your own terms, in your own way and in your own time.  Try as we may, we cannot do the work of another person’s soul.  Anyone who has ever tried, knows this to be a cardinal truth.

What we can do is create environments for those we love and care about to better hear and listen to the voice of God – to the voice of the Good Shepherd, who is calling us into belonging – into the sheepfold.  This is the hard work of parents, especially.

This work is easier when we are younger since a child is naturally disposed to wonder.  Unlike ourselves, children are not nearly aware of the past or the future – they do not harbour grudges or carry the baggage of regret; they do not worry about what may or may not happen as a consequence of what action we may or may not decide to take.  Rather, our children teach us how to be present.  They teach us how to live in a moment aware of all that moment offers – and in doing so, they demand our attention so we may not miss it.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Acts 2:14,36-41; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10)

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2nd Sunday of Easter

April 23, 2017

THE PEACE OF COMMUNITY

This is one of those Gospels that gets painted with broad strokes, but the context and details are very, very important.

It is the evening of the Resurrection.  The Apostles are in the upper room, hiding out of fear that their association with Jesus would result in their own crucifixion.  Then, Jesus appears to them offering them peace.

Peace is one of those tricky words – a lot like love.  Peace doesn’t mean no conflict – peace means that we will not lose our ground should conflict occur.  Peace does not mean clear sailing or an easy path; the peace of Christ means that though bad things may happen, we trust that all will be as it needs to be, allowing our heart and mind to be at ease.

Then Jesus breathed to Holy Spirit into them.  And why did he do this?  (So that they may forgive one another).

In other words, in community, we find our peace.  In community we receive that which is necessary to forgive.

CLICK HERE for the readings for the Second Sunday of Easter (Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 118; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31)