August 13, 2022
Dear PJs Community,
Our sermon this week will be something different than what we are used to. Rather than a typical sermon, we will be led in reflection and meditation by Sarah Hill. Sarah and her husband, Isaac Mukwaya, are our resident yogis, and they led our Yoga and Meditation series during Lent. Those who were able to attend all agreed that it was a deeply meaningful experience to be on the floor of our sanctuary, moving, meditating and discussing certain passages from scripture.
Our service this week will also be something different than what we are used to. Our long-term "supply +" priest, Rev. Nathan Empsall, is away. He is engaged in the important work of confronting the anti-democratic, racist forces of Christian nationalism. Since there will be no priest present to celebrate the Eucharist, we will have a "Morning Prayer" service.
Also, the Gospel reading for Sunday shows us a side of Jesus that is different than what we are used to. In Luke 12 we find Jesus in a foul mood.
"I Came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindeled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on five in one household will be divided:
father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law,
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
The Rev. Kate Heichler, in her Water Daily blog, writes: "It's hard not to see these texts through the lens of the deep divisions in our country and world. We get a sense of danger and deep disappointment. If division is what Jesus was after, he'd be happy in America at this moment in our history. We are defined by many thing other than our divisions, but our fault lines keep gettin more pronounced, our positions dug in, fissures widening. This cannot be God's will for us, can it? From where we stand, it appears he is referring to his spiritual battle with the forces of evil and the human structures and systems that allow evil to have it's sway. Jesus did come into this world to do battel with the powers of evil - that is the fight he wants his followers to join him in. Each time those who would be his disciples capitulate to injustice, tolerate intolerance, benefit from systems rigged in favor of the white and wealthy, fail to love our neighbor as ourselves, we recede from that fight. And every time we make a different choice, an inconvenient or even sacrificial choice, we help usher in the reign of true peace Jesus brought into this world."
This is why Rev. Nathan's work is so important and why we will pray for his safe return. Read more about it here: https://www.thedailybeast.com/author/rev-nathan-empsall.
I would like to share this prayer excerpted from a poem by Mary Oliver:
God of the soil, from which and for which we live:
Grow in us the faith to trust in your care even in the midst of pain. We are never alone,
even in your midst, and yet so often we seem astray and estranged.
God of the earth, grow in us the resolve and capacity to be agents of healing love and liberating justice. Amen.
Brian Fillmore, co-warden
PJs Wardens and Vestry