Eagles that Pray

October 8, 2008

St. John Parish Weblog – Always at the top

Filed under: Administrative — RGE @ 12:44 pm

This post will always be the first post you see.  To see the rest of the blog posts, just scroll down.  They are in order from newest  posts to oldest posts.

Eagles are most majestic in flight and soaring. Christians are most effective when engaged in ministry in Jesus’ Name and in the power of the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:7-11; Acts 1:8; Acts 19:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12).

This is the Parish weblog for St. John’s, Tulare, CA.  Here is the website.   If you are interested in assisting with this blog, please leave a message for Robert Sutton or Fr. Eaton.  And feel free to leave comments.

The current pix (posted 1-15-09) in the header shows a moment of proxy prayer during the summer of 2008 as we gathered to pray for the different Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Each person became a “proxy” for intercessory prayer, sitting in for a specific Province while 2 or 3 intercessors prayed with knowledge and in the Spirit for that Province. Proxy intercessory prayer is a regular part of our monthly Thursday Evening Prayer and Healing service, which begins at 6:00 pm. (updated 2/23/13)

August 10, 2012

Sermon, “Don’t be a missing puzzle piece, for God’s sake”, Aug. 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 2:17 pm

Sermon, ‘Don’t be a missing puzzle piece, for God’s sake” St. John’s Tulare, August 5, 2012

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

FOR WHAT EVER REASON, I had the greatest sense yesterday, and the day before, that God Almighty had unleashed his heavenly armies to do battle, to fight. And that battle was against those in the spiritual realm who were attempting to do harm of some sort against me, and my family.

Do you know why God would fight in order to save me, and Angela, and my family?

Because He has invested heavily in making sure Angela and I, and all my family, are a part of the family of God, the Body of Christ; and not only members of the Body, the Church, but also very importantly that we are in place, and are doing what God intended for us to be doing.

This all comes from His LOVE for us, of course; and the heavy investment I spoke of is of course the sending of His only begotten Son, who is ….. (wait for the congregation to say it)…. Jesus Christ, and who DIED to redeem me and Angela and all my family from the works of sin and death; His BLOOD for my soul.

There is a place for me to do the works of God because of His love.

It all begins by my believing in Jesus, and accepting His work for me. Then the Holy Spirit is called in to empower me, and help me get into the right place.

You could say that the Body of Christ is like a puzzle, that he has paid for this puzzle, and each piece in it. He has made it that I am a puzzle piece that has a very specific and intentional place for me to be, to make the puzzle complete.

God has made the same heavy investment in YOU. He is fighting for your soul and life, too. He loves you, too. And you, too are a piece of the puzzle of the Body of Christ for the work of God to be complete and moving forward.

You aren’t a Missing Piece, are you?

St. Paul, inspired obviously by the Holy Spirit, wrote,
“4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called ; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Listen to what he said. We are ‘the church’; we are ‘the body’. We are intended to be working together to accomplish what our heavenly Father wants us to do on this planet. We do that of our own free will because He has adopted us into the family. Being a part of that family gives us the privilege of working with the Creator to bring glory to His name. We are called to magnify our heavenly Father! As we do the things we are responsible for doing within the family or the body of Christ, we do glorify Him because we are accomplishing the united and all-encompassing, mission that Father has.

The first step of that mission is heard in the Gospel of John today:

26 Jesus said, “27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

First work is this: believe in Jesus Christ. Now.

Then, second, we hear about the work of Jesus Christ himself, and how we – as His body – have our work to do as well.

Paul wrote, 10 “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.”
That is, Jesus’ work is to FILL THE WHOLE UNIVERSE. How much more specific and all-encompassing mission can you get?

Then, third, as Jesus fills the whole universe, just as you heard read in vv 6 and 7, He gives spiritual gifts so that WE can fill the whole EARTH with His purpose:

So Paul wrote, “11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith
and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to tne whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

And that purpose again is to tell the whole world the Good News of Jesus Christ, and as we are telling the world, make new disciples for Jesus, who will in turn make their own proclamation.

But its not every person for him or herself, alone, solitary. No, we will be most effective – and not just effective, but doing it the way GOD wants us to do it – by being a Body that is at unity with itself, that has all the pieces together, that works to be built up in the faith TOGETHER.

So Paul continues, “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work..”

Just to repeat, again, God has a general-purpose mission for all of us, together, a universal plan for ‘the body’; ‘the church’. This is what we focus on together. This is where we need to be united. This must be our primary objective because it is important to Him.
Why is this important to Him?
Because He not only loves me, and loves Angela, and loves my family; he not only loves each of YOU, but He loves the whole world. The investment of giving his one and only Son, was for everyone then, and now and forever.

God loves people! He loves us! We all are His creation! No matter how broken, wrecked or messed up we are, we are still His favorite part out of all creation! So God has a universal plan for all of us because He loves people and He also has a unique plan for each of us individually.

So here we are, Here I am, Lord; here you all are.

Each of us has different gifts, talents and abilities. We all have different personality types and quirks. We all come from different, and often dysfunctional backgrounds. We have grown up in different neighborhoods and cultures. We have all had different experiences. All those things come together to make you who you are. Some of those things might be good and some might be bad but the Father brings all of you, the whole you, the unique you, to the table to fit into ‘the body’ (the church) so you can accomplish that specific thing He has for you to do. And you know what? The body needs you. The church needs you. You fit. You function. You belong in the body and there is a special place for you that only you and you alone can fill. Without you, the body does not function at it’s best. You are a separate, unique, different part of the church but you are necessary, you belong.

Are you a missing piece in this necessary puzzle of unity and work?

Bring to your mind right now a puzzle with all the pieces spread across your dining room or kitchen table, and you are putting it together, probably with some help from the picture on the box.

As you continue to work, you realize that some of the pieces must be missing. You see ‘spots’ or ‘holes’ where a unique puzzle piece will fit but you don’t have any more pieces. You can stand back and you can see what the puzzle is supposed to look like and now because you’ve studied the pictures, you can even see the picture come together they way it is supposed to look even though a few puzzle pieces are missing.

The puzzle is not complete. And you wouldn’t pass it on to anybody to also enjoy putting together because it is simply not complete. You might even just throw it away.

You have all been given something this morning that is precious to me. It is a piece to a puzzle that Angela and I have shared with each of our grandchildren, and our own children. I am going to take this puzzle home with me today after church. I am trusting that all the pieces will be put back into the puzzle, this important, teaching, sentimental, puzzle of familial value to me and Angela. Let me tell you, if there is a piece missing — except for Oklahoma which is hiding in our gameroom somewhere -1 will be upset, disappointed and sad, because not everyone took the time to fit their piece back into the puzzle, and the value and purpose of the puzzle will be thwarted and ignored. I can only hope in that case, that anyone who didn’t get their puzzle piece back into the puzzle will realize it sooner than later, and return it as soon as possible.

But, hey, no pressure, eh?

In the same way, the Body of Christ is GOD’s Puzzle, and you ARE the piece to His puzzle. And, sooner, God help us, than later, you and I all need to get into that puzzle, to not be the missing piece, so that we can be doing the works of God to fulfill his purpose. Be assured that God will himself not be pleased with his puzzle not being made complete from our lack of willingness to serve him. And, of course, St John’s will not be all that we have been called to do and be.

Here is my question to you: Are you the missing piece of the puzzle?

The Bible is similar to the pictures on the puzzle boxes. The same way we have looked at and have studied the picture on the box to find out where each of the unique pieces fit, we can look at the Bible to find out where and how we fit into the Body of Christ. And the Bible first tells us that Jesus himself has those gifts, and provides them to us through the Holy Spirit. So The more we seek Him and grow in our relationship with Him the more He will reveal to us and show us our unique place in the Body.

I could give you seven keys to discovering your ministry. But I will make such discovery very simple and focused just for today. I hope you will Listen to this carefully:

Seek Him.

Chase Him.

Relentlessly pursue Him and He will show Himself to you.

As He reveals Himself, you will find your fit in the puzzle, you will discover your unique place in the Body of Christ. For His Glory, our joy, and His Good News filling the whole earth.

Amen.

July 31, 2012

July 29 sermon – The Jesus of all History

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 10:11 am

Sermon for July 29,2012 St. John’s, Tulare, RGE+

Come Holy Spirit. Fill our hearts and minds to overflowing with conviction, faith and trust, and gladness. Amen.

We heard read this morning Ephesians 3:17 — “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

So then,,,,The reason to believe in Jesus – and everything He is and will do and has already done – is so that… Christ may dwell in your heart. Ahhh, so that’s why we should believe in Jesus.

And who is this Jesus Christ in whom we are to believe, and then who dwells in our hearts?

There is a timeline on the blackboard in the parish hall, a straight line from one side to the other. It has the name “JESUS” written on the line from one side to the other, almost making it look like someone was “crossing out” the Name of Jesus.
On the contrary, it was an important visual lesson for the confirmation class, as we memorized Hebrews 13:8, which I told the class was one of the great historical descriptive verses in the bible.
This is in fact what makes Jesus “Historical”, not just because we can say he existed from about the year 0 AD to 33 AD,
The verse says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

You know, it is one of the tests of our faith, our belief in Jesus, to in fact accept the written testimony of his first followers, and of the OT prophets. I’m sure you’ve heard from somebody who simply can’t accept the miracle stories, and made you feel like an idiot for being such a believer.
But, standing firm, you know it’s not just about believing a guy named Jesus with certain DIVINE attributes walked around Judah, and Samaria and Galilee. It includes the challenge of believing the written testimony of those same followers about the stories of miracles and healings and exorcisms and all the great works Jesus performed.

Like in today’s gospel lesson, where Jesus causes a miracle to take place in this feeding of an enormous crowd of people making use of only a paltry few loaves and fishes.

If it’s just a guy walking around talking profound teaching, then maybe I won’t think believing in these stories is really necessary, and so the challenge of belief in them is…pfft.. set aside.

Or Jesus walking on the water — mind you, swiftly enough to catch up with the boat that left the shore well ahead of him –.

If it’s just a guy walking around talking profound teaching, then maybe I won’t think believing in these stories is really necessary, and so the challenge of belief in them is…pfft.. set aside.

It is a fact of our faith, provided to us through the written testimony of those who were his followers, AS WELL as by a couple of ancient Roman historians, that Jesus of Nazareth lived.
“Jesus of Nazareth” – that’s how Jesus is identified by some of those who only wish to keep Jesus identified as a person who lived in the 1st century AD. Christians don’t deny such an identification. We accept the written testimony. And We would also refer to this real life Jesus as “Jesus of Bethlehem”. As well as “Jesus, the son of Mary, and of his —if you will — step­father Joseph.” Even “Jesus, son of David”, because we accept the genealogy that is provided for us in our written testimony.

We can believe such identity, and human existence. We might even TRUST the testimony to say he was a real person. Just like we presume that Sophocles, or Aristotle, or Darius, or any number of personages of world history actually existed because someone said they did. Or even that we can believe YOU exist, whatever your identity might be. By the way, what DOES prove your existence? Your Social Security number?

But that kind of belief does not lend itself to the BIGGER historical Jesus. The one who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. That’s the stuff of Beginning and Ending.
John in his gospel begins in chap 1 with such an historical statement, “in the beginning (which means when the beginning could be identified, He was already there) was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God. (And then comes the great pronoun) HE was with God in the beginning.

Our whole worldly existence, and all the history that can be gathered to describe that existence, is based on the existence already of Jesus, the Son of God, the Word of God, the only begotten Son of the Father.

When I ..when I try to comprehend such a huge historical concept of alpha and omega, of beginning and ending, and then look at the 33 years Jesus existed ON earth because he took on human flesh, it always puts the search for the “historical Jesus” who lived among us into a massively different perspective.

THAT’S the WHOLE Jesus, the whole HISTORICAL Jesus, again, Yesterday, and Today and Tomorrow, all at once, who has given me and you the opportunity to believe in. And that, ironically, is the Jesus who will die for me, and the one who will rise again for me, destroying that pitiful measure we call death in this existence.
You see, when I believe in SUCH A JESUS, my HISTORICAL JESUS is the Jesus of ALL TIME and ALL ETERNITY.

When THIS Jesus dies for me, it is a supreme sacrifice for all of MY history, NOW, and for ALL people at any time, any where, and when THIS Jesus is the one who will rise again for me, He is raising me to not just into his historical existence back to 2000 years ago, destroying that pitiful measure we might call death back THEN, but He is raising me into a new existence without fear of death FOREVER, and WHEREver He is.

So Now, with that understanding, I look again at the gospel stories of healing, of release, of restoration, of raising the dead, of exorcism, of divine wisdom, of authentic and powerful teaching authority, of changing water into wine, of walking on water, of feeding of 5000, of walking into a room with a locked door, of being transfigured on a mountain top, and more and more and more. John said it best when he said there is so much to write about this Jesus that there wouldn’t be enough room to store it all. Now I look at these Gospel stories with the understanding and belief in the Jesus of yesterday, today and tomorrow, and I see Exactly who I believe in, and WHO IS WORKING these miracles. It is God himself. Can GOD do miracles? You bet.

Yes, your Priest believes in these written testimonies. I rejoice in these written testimonies. I proclaim these written testimonies of the power and might of God through Jesus Christ his Son, our Lord.

And more, I rejoice in the specific testimony of God’s power and grace as written in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, especially one of my favorite verses, Ephesians 3: 20 and 21.
“20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

I am not tied down to even the wonderful, amazing, awe-inspiring, reality challenging miracles of Jesus from written testimony 2000 years ago. Because this Jesus Christ is also the same TODAY, and then TO<MORROW, our belief includes the possibility of what Jesus can do to make things happen in our lives, now and in the life of the Church, and in the life of the World that we can't even conceive of, can't even imagine, couldn't even wrap our brains around right now. But that's what you get when you believe in the Word of God. Living in you.

And, friends, this same Jesus Christ is seeking out hearts to fill. To live in. To dwell in. To provide abundant life.
Believe in that. Believe in him. Believe in the written testimony about him. Believe what you read in this collection of books and letters and proclamations about God, and about God who is Jesus Christ.

Arland Hultgren said,
"Christ cannot be simply a concept or a memory. The risen and living Christ comes to us in Word and Sacrament, and he seeks to find hearts in which to dwell. Where he is, there is love."

What rejoicing. Joy in the midst of the pain of living in this world. Joy in the midst of unbelief, and skepticism.
Do not listen to those who tell you that the historical Jesus of 33 years is the only existence or reality or historical identity of Jesus. Do not listen to those who tell you that it is ok to pick and choose from the bible what kind of Jesus you should believe in.

Come to this eternal Jesus, repent of what you have done wrong in his presence (and he his present, believe it), believe in him as your Saver from such sin, and believe in him as your Ruler, Guide, Law, King, and Light, and live the new life of consecration through your baptism.

Today at the 8am service we [8am: are going to baptize] [10am: baptized] a woman into such rejoicing, such promise, such belief, such eternal life in this Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God that one more soul has seen and heard, has believed and received the joy of new life dwelling in her, belief in the Great Historical Jesus of all time and eternity.

Let us pray
Lord Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today and tomorrow, the God of miracles, the provider of salvation; pour out upon us now your Holy Spirit so we may comprehend all your works, all your existence, all your love, and be filled up to all the fullness of God. Amen.

July 26, 2012

Sermon for July 22 — Where’s the Peace?

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 4:17 pm

Lord, let your Word always be spoken, and YOUR Word always be heard.
Let’s apply the Word of God and see if we can find some help… living in this helpless world.

We start with the Old Testament lesson..

Cedar was the rarest and most valuable timber. Perhaps David just felt guilty for living a life now of relative elegance and splendor in his new palace….. and over there was the Ark of the Covenant, and thus the imminent presence of the living God, stuck in a big tent.
And so he decided out loud to build a HOUSE for the LORD.
But that night, God informed Nathan – maybe even WOKE HIM UP to tell him something different.
He said “7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’”, and then,
10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. “
• So Does God think He needs a house? And if He wants one built (like he designed the
tent in the first place), will He not decide what He wants? No, God is not concerned for
HIS resting place. He is — in His heart of hearts, which is impossible to fathom how
profoundly expansive His heart is – He is concerned to provide a place of REST for HIS
PEOPLE. Even the prophet Nathan seems to have jumped the gun on that one.
• Robert Deffinbaugh:
“No matter how high and lofty our goals and plans may be, God’s plans are greater.”

Blessedly, Nathan is indeed a true and anointed prophet so that He is able to hear God speaking to him later, set the matter straight, and give him a word of prophecy for David, so that DAVID will get the matter straight, AND AT THE SAME TIME, amazingly, console David’s piety and concern to honor the Lord.
May every Church have a leader who is so pious and concerned for the glory of the Lord, and may every church have a prophet such as Nathan to hear from the Lord and help set things on their true and Godly course.
So, what do we learn from this?
One thing we learn is kind of the message that is heard with some tension between God and David, which is “don’t waste my time or yours, my money or yours, my energy or yours on projects that YOU think are important to me, without checking in with me first. Come to me, listen to me, let me direct you and guide you.” Oh that the shooter had done such.
Another thing we learn is that God loves us so much and wants so much for us and is willing to BE compassionate, and merciful and loving, that we should in fact expect to be given such love of his; that is, He WANTS US to be in peace and at rest. We have heard this message so many, many times, such as John 3:16, “that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever should believe in him will NOT perish, but HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.”
Still, It is a message we have an extremely difficult time holding onto, even if we have heard it before, or even if we have heard it at one time where we made a decision to change our whole life to accept it.
Another thing we learn, as we make use of the other lessons today, is that – even when we have the best or worst of intentions, and these intentions of any sort move us away from the basic foundation and relationship we need for living in this alien world of ours – turning to God is the answer for getting back to solid ground, and God wants us to do just that – complete with more blessings, and further assurance, and never the withholding of His love.
Even still, with such a powerful message from God, it is in fact a fragile and perilous life we live here on this earth. As the hymn says, “Christ is made the sure foundation..”, and we need to get on it, because, “all else is shifting sand.”
One of the things that literally destroys this thinking or this decision foundation in our lives is the catastrophic events that may have happened in our life, or in the lives of others, or we have committed ourselves, whether in your home, or your own city, or somewhere else in the world.
In other words, when life is shattered we question whether there is in fact any love or care or concern coming to us from this God who says he does.
I wonder how many people chose not to go to the movies this weekend because of what happened in Colorado?
Doesn’t this kind of meaningless, hateful, irrational, action and loss of life make us question the ability to live in peace ANYwhere, and ANYtime?
But at this very moment, this is in fact where we turn as Christians: to the ONE – and the ONLY One, mind you — who DOES act for us on our behalf, and for our benefit, our iovmg Father in Heaven, His Son Jesus Christ, and our trustworthy advocate and guide, the Holy Spirit.
Listen again as we hear the Word of God answer our question, “Where is the Peace?”
From the Epistle, “14 For he himself is our peace (that is, Jesus Christ), who has made the two groups one (Paul was referring specifically to the Jews, God’s chosen people, and the non-Jews) and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh (Jesus’) the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself ONE NEW HUMANITY out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. “
The PEACE we seek, the REST we seek, the CARE we seek, the LOVE we seek is found in God through Jesus Christ.
When you are not at PEACE, seek the cross of Jesus. When you are not at REST, seek the Father in Heaven, When you are not finding CARE and LOVE, turn to the Holy Spirit. Why? Because that’s what he gives.
And when we see and feel as in Colorado that the WORLD is in upheaval: Peace destroyed, Rest undone, the opposite of Care and Love acted out; we first turn to the One who gives it for our own reassurance, and then we pray and act for the same for that world in shambles as testimony and witness to what we know in our hearts ourselves.
Finally, let’s make some personal Christian application from what has happened in Colorado.
What can we DO for the people in Aurora? Sending blankets will not be helpful. But we can pray for an outpouring of God’s peace. Maybe write a letter of encouragement, or an email. Find someone you may know there, or have connection to through somebody else, and make a phone call. Then you are acting in Faith, and in Love, and you also may know that this is IN FACT what we have been called to do and told to do as Christians, as in the summary of the Law.
And then we pray for our enemies, that their hearts, too, will be changed.
Sometimes we need a little help in visualizing our prayers when we are interceding for far away situations and people. There is an amazing word picture brought to us in the Gospel
today that, frankly, I had reserved only for one particular moment in Jesus’ life. You remember the woman with the blood hemhorrage of many years, who pushed through the crowd as Jesus was walking by in order just to touch the hem of his robe — and she did — and Jesus “felt” power being released, — and she was released. Well, here is verse 56 of today’s Gospel again;
” And wherever he went they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.”
Not just one woman, but ALL those begging for healing just to touch the hem of his cloak –and all who touched it were healed. Hallelujah.
Right now, we can pray for Jesus — the God of healing, peace, rest, care, love becuase He is that and He wants to be that for us – to be walking through the destroyed lives of the people of Aurora, letting them touch even just the hem of his robe, that all will be healed.
And when your peace is shattered, see yourself in prayer also begging for and touching the hem of the robe of Jesus, because He is where your peace will be restored.

Lord, thank you for bringing your peace and rest because you want to.
Help us to stay on track with you, and when we are not, to turn to you for assurance and hope.
Amen.

April 24, 2012

Robert’s Iris plot in full bloom, and counting

Filed under: Grounds,Thanksgivings! — RGE @ 8:09 pm

 

iris plot 4-24-12

Right next to the Bob Stringham Live Oak tree (not in view), and the new Fuji apple tree, with the neighbor Baptist church out building as a backdrop.  Something like 470 ryzomes were planted last year.

Just in time for the Porterville Iris Festival, where St. John’s assists one of our parishioner families, the Suttons (Sutton Iris Farm), with downtown tables where visitors can purchase rhyzomes, full color catalogs, cut stems, and be introduced to information about the parish.

April 8, 2012

Easter at St. John’s

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 7:10 pm

Some pictures from the morning service.

The Rector’s sermon as audio (19 minutes):
Listen to this Easter sermon

The transcript of the sermon:

Easter sermon at St. John’s, Tulare, 2012

O Lord, let your word always be spoken, and your word always be heard. Amen

Lots of good things have taken place around the grounds of our church, under the watchful eyes of our Junior Wardens, in the ongoing development of the Children’s Learning Center – you may have seen that big colorful play set provided that was provided through the estate of Dave Zorn’s father, in our preparation and devotions during Holy Week, in people’s lives as they have been challenged with the life and death of Jesus this Holy Week, big answered prayers in jobs, safety, reconcilitation, and in gracious giving, both with financial gifts, and with personal energy.
It’s been a good Holy Week. It’s been a good Lent, if you can call Lent good, it’s been good! (Muffled assent from congregation).

The culmination of so much has been today, this Easter day. The centerpiece of our Christian faith is this day. We have acted in such ways as to show our faith in God..

I suppose there are some things we do that we think is a pain as we do our preparations for Easter. I know sometimes the Altar Guild does not say things they otherwise would. (Laughter) But when they see wax on the floor from the Great Vigil service, and they know SOMEbody’s got to get it up, I don’t hear anything….but I know some things are being said. (laughter).

It was that time during the Easter morning service for the Flowering of the Cross and “the Children’s Lesson”. As they will be in a short while, all the children were invited on this particular Easter to come forward, and one little girl was wearing a particularly pretty dress. As she sat down I leaned over and said to her, “That is a very pretty dress. Is that your Easter dress?”
The little girl replied, directly into my little clip-on microphone right here, “Yes, and my Mom says it’s a real pain to iron.” (Laughter) Christ is risen! (Laughter)

One of my new favorite stories I want to get to in a minute.
I guess we all have our little sacrifices that we make, our own little crosses to bear as we come.
And that’s what makes Easter so important to us especially just in our lives as we live it out.

It is true, too, that so much is done for the sake of the Good News of Jesus Christ by so relatively few. And most pastors, recognizing lots of faces in the congregation that just haven’t been seen since last Christmas, or even last Easter, will probably try to insert into their announcements or sermons today something about the need for the real effort to join in the fellowship and worship of Jesus EVERY Sunday with the Body of Christ.
My new favorite story in that regard is from a man in his forties who shared that
A friend of his was in front of him coming out of church one day, and the Pastor was standing at the door as was always his practice to shake hands. He grabbed his friend by the hand and pulled him aside.

The Pastor said to him, “You need to join the Army of the Lord!”
His friend replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor.”
Pastor questioned, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?”
He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.” (Laughter)

I’m not buying that one.
[****note: after the service was over several people were heard to say to Fr Eaton as he was shaking THEIR hands that they guessed they were part of the “secret service”. That will probably be the thing they remember most from the sermon!]

But now that you’re all here……

I am especially interested in making a further reference to our 40 days of reading through John DeVries’ book, “Why Pray?” Right from the start of that book the author made it clear that there is prayer, and there is the consequence of prayer. Prayer is the core of a Relationship with God; in fact it is a Conversation with God, talking and listening. And if God is talking and we are listening we should presume that we will be moved and directed to consider something beyond ourself. Prayer, and Work go hand in hand. And Prayer goes first. Two feet. One goes first always. And the work follows

So how does this translate into a point of preaching for Easter?

Seems clear to me that this is what the life and passion and death and resurrection of Jesus show, as well. Is this not the celebration of God’s work of love for us? The outcropping of that Love? Is this not the perfect sign and miracle showing that God’s LOVE for US goes somewhere? Does something?

Jesus did not come to us just to be born of the virgin Mary. Jesus did not get baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River just to get wet. Jesus did not get crucified just because he got tired of living in this world. And Jesus did not rise from the dead just to prove himself. Nor did he send the Holy Spirit as a tip from heaven for earthly hospitality.

No, there was purpose; and we, as ambassadors of Jesus will also be asked to show in our lives the consequences, the actions, the behaviors, the risks of those who have the power and the grace and hope and love of the risen Jesus Christ in us — that is just living to get out and make a difference in this dark world. Right through you.

So here’s how it looks.

Just like Prayer and Work are the two feet of our lives in relationship with God,
So our faith in Jesus Christ who has died and risen again is in tandem with our sharing of that faith and belief in good works, and proclamation of the Good News, all in order for bringing others into the Faith.

The core of it all – the center of it all – is belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It really is as simple as that. Nothing else we do matters if Jesus did not die, and if Jesus was not risen.
First, it is all about Him.
And THEN come the testimonies of changed lives, and then the feel good stories illustrating that new life.

Are you with me? Oh, a “Yeah, verily” would be good right now.   (From the congregation, “yeah, verily!”)

And this, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is the central faith and testimony of the Apostles, and the Early Church Fathers, the Apostolic Fathers and teachers, and every proclaimer of the faith up to our present time.

One of the great theologians on the Passion of Jesus Christ in the 20th century, a man by the name of Hans Urs von Balthasar, wrote “A Short Primer For Unsettled Laymen.” His conclusion was this:

“Without a doubt, at the center of the New Testament here stands the Cross, which receives its interpretation from the Resurrection.
“The Passion narratives are the first pieces of the Gospels that were composed as a unity. In his preaching at Corinth, Paul initially wants to know nothing but the Cross, which “destroys the wisdom of the wise and wrecks the understanding of those who understand”(I Cor 1:19, 23, 25)………

“Whoever removes the Cross and its interpretation by the New Testament from the center, in order to replace it, for example, with the social commitment of Jesus to the oppressed as a new center, no longer stands in continuity with the apostolic faith.”

It is not being Christian, then, from his (Balthasar’s) perspective, to be someone who does SOMEthing. But first it is someone who believes in the death and resurrection and then, through that, is enabled to do something in Jesus’ name.

You see, the point is, a working relationship with God means nothing in terms of eternal salvation without developing a relationship with God in conversation, that is, prayer. And the same is true that our assurance of eternal life comes through what Jesus did for us, and not what we will do for ourselves, or even what we will do for God as if…….

And for the skeptics out there, all you CSI officianados, looking for the proof of the Resurrection, you won’t find it. Eventually you will have to come to believe the eyewitness of those who saw it all, and all recorded for us in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Now, I have lots of proof of the presence and power of the Risen Jesus Christ here in the ministries of this parish. But as for that day, those days, that 3rd day…

Trying to prove the resurrection carries with it an inherent difficulty from the Jewish perpsective. As Bishop N. T. Wright said,

“One of the most striking differences between Christian belief and pre-Christian Jewish belief is that nobody expected the messiah to be raised from the dead — for the obvious reason that nobody expected the Messiah to be killed in the first place.”

How can you build a proof on something if the very first thought wasn’t even on people’s minds.
And so it becomes a scandal, “… a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles”. (1 Cor 15)

If you have not, or if you have been unwilling, will you believe now? Believe because you have been told what it was then. And believe because you have witnesses. And believe because you desire hope; and you desire to be a person through whom God lets his love and grace and power flow to a world needing to hear the same good news.
Listen to the news that comes to you from various media forms… is there any doubt that the world needs the life and light that the risen Lord Jesus alone can bring? And in him, through us?

And so now we move on quickly to the other foot, if belief is one, then the actions of Christians is the other. The consequence of the resurrection of Jesus being made real in us – where God living in us should be expected to be seen right now, right here. Right wherever you are! Here is one of those illustrations of what it can gloriously look like for Christians:

You know the movie, perhaps you saw it, “Blind Side”, starring Sandra Bullock
The story of the professional football player, Michael Oher, now with the Baltimore Ravens

A story that has the same characters repeated all too often, but not with the same outcome.
A down and out high school kid from an extremely broken home, and having lived in extremely vile and dark environments, until seen walking along the road one day by the wealthy Tuohy family, especially the compassion of the wife and mother of the family. There’s a U-turn in the car, and that begins a relationship.

About a year later, Michael Oher moved in permanently with the wealthy white family. Before Oher’s senior year in high school, the Tuohys — with daughter Collins at a private school and a younger son, Sean Jr. — they became his legal guardians.

At one point in the movie, Michael, who has decided he has no other place to be except with them, is provided a bedroom by the family mother. He said, as he stepped into the bedroom, “I’ve never had one of these before.” She said, “What? A bedroom of your own?” And he said, “No, a bed.”

At that point something comes crashing into her awareness about a change that is taking place in him, and in her, about what’s happening at how she has become a vehicle for bringing something new and life giving.

In a recent interview during the recent playoffs, Michael says,

“They’ve got big hearts,”….. “To take somebody from my neighborhood into your house? Nobody does that. I don’t think I’d even do that. I’d help you out, but with a daughter and with all the violence and drugs where I come from … they didn’t have to do that. I owe a lot to them.”

I won’t tell the whole story, and it definitely is a feel good story. But what is so evident at critical parts of the story is how Michael was living in literal, physical, emotional, darkness. And then he stepped into the light.

And that was because of this family, and somehow being a Christian family allowing God’s love to work through them. That’s a Resurrection story.

Was it a chance encounter seeing him that first time walking along the road?
Sean, the family father, says the generosity was not the result of any epiphany or even as much as a family meeting.

“We think God sent him to us,” Sean says. “Earthly explanations don’t make sense.”

And neither does the resurrection, and its work in us.

This was not a one-day-it-was-darkness, and-one-day-it-was-light-kind-of-thing.

Referring to Holy Saturday, Alexander Schmemann said,

“Popular piety usually reduces Holy Week to one day — Holy Friday. This day is quickly replaced by another — Easter Sunday. Christ is dead and then suddenly alive. Great sorrow is suddenly replaced by great joy. In such a scheme Holy Saturday is lost.

“In the understanding of the Church, sorrow is not replaced by joy; it is transformed into joy. This distinction indicates that it is precisely within death that Christ continues to effect triumph.”

To conclude, we turn to Paul. For Paul, Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of those who sleep; and we who celebrate him as our contemporary are charged to work with him on his kingdom-project in the present time. 1 Corinthians 15 is a spectacular chapter, but one of the most remarkable verses in it is the last verse, where Paul says, “therefore get on with your work ..in the present, because in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” That is at the heart of the meaning of the resurrection. Because God is already making his new creation, all that you do in Christ and by the Spirit is part of that new world.

The things you do, the things you care about, the things you show in love, the laughter, the joy, the things you do to bring light into the darkness, they are not in vain, because Jesus is alive. His resurrection sets the scene and sets the platform for all that we will do.

If you‘ve been holding back because you weren’t sure whether something you were going to do, or thought about doing, or not sure of what you will do yet, is going to be helpful, or is a seed that won’t grow, or it is a hope that won’t be seen ….. Do It.
Because it is not in vain. Because Jesus is alive. And he has provided for us the light of the resurrection. You as his followers are the Risen Jesus in the world: Your hands, your feet, your laughter, your eyes, your minds, your hearts, Your compassion.

So let us watch and hope and pray for the moments that come to us from God,
and the opportunities we see first, that we can work. For the sake of the Risen Jesus.

Amen.

April 6, 2012

The New CLC Playground playset

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 7:06 pm

The new playground equipment was installed by Dave Zorn, Matt Zorn, Kent Hudson, and Fr. Rob Eaton on Thursday, April 5.

April 2, 2012

Palm Sunday pix, the Sanctuary, and day after

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 11:26 pm


Click on the pix to see more detail. The photos have not been edited. Ambient light in sanctuary caused whitish downplay of more vibrant colors.
The palms on the Reredos shelf come from three different families. Fr. Rob and Angela Eaton prepared the arrangement in thanksgiving for the birth of their newest grandson.
The second picture is what the whole grounds of the church looks like from Sunday through Friday, to remind us of the glory and of the grief of the Passion of Jesus.

April 1, 2012

Holy Week schedule for St. John’s

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 7:04 pm

Monday – Morning Prayer
Tuesday – Morning Prayer
Wednesday – Morning Prayer; Morning Bible Study; Seder Meal
Maundy Thursday – Noon Eucharist (Renewal of Ministries, Stripping of the Altar); Parish prayer vigil begins
Good Friday – (Noon Ecumenical service); Good Friday liturgy (with Stations of the Cross)
Holy Saturday – Morning liturgy; Great Vigil (Ministry of the Word)

Easter – one service at 10am

February 17, 2012

Sermon for Mission Sunday (Last after Epiphany)

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 4:29 pm

The sermon at St. John’s on February 19, 2012, will be the fourth in our series based on the book “Why Pray?” (John DeVries).  But I did write a sermon for the Sunday theme across The Episcopal Church regarding Mission.  It is posted at the website “Sermons That Work”.

September 19, 2011

Burial Office homily: No Fear

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 3:50 pm

Homily for Jack Theige Burial Office,
“No fear”
St. John Parish Church, Tulare, CA
Saturday, September 17, 2011
The Rev Robert G Eaton
lessons and psalm taken from the Burial Office, Rite Two, 1979 BCP (with rubrical adjustments to Romans)
Lamentations 3:22-26;31-33
Romans 8:14-25, 37-39
John 14:1-6

I’m giving a Jack Theige sermon today, 2 hours long with 17 separate points. (Pause for anticipated nervous laughter – people knew Jack had the ability to talk for long periods!)   Not really. But now that you’ve experienced a bit of fear, I can continue.

As we all know, fear is a common enemy when we are faced suddenly or even gradually with our own mortality, when we are faced with death. That fear can take many forms, and it runs the gamut of our emotions, of our behaviors, and our personalities, good or bad; that is, fear pushes our buttons, to use an old phrase; a more clinical phrase would be “acting out.” You are blessed if you have an honest, truthful, and hopefully, compassionate friend who will tell you when you are acting out, and can point you back to the besetting issue. Which in this case, I have raised as the Fear of Death. Otherwise without such a friend, we are left to the sincere but eventually unhelpful sayings of others who are observing, but don’t know what else to say or what to do — God bless them — such as, “Well, we all deal with it in different ways.” They may be, and they may not be, actually “dealing” with it. The phrase is ultimately not helpful.

I’m sure you’ve seen it happen in others. Acting out. I’m not sure you’ve seen it happen in yourself — so make sure you have some good friends.

What about those people, though, who seem to be able to face death head on, to take it in stride, or at the least, to come to grips with their fears and then face them? How do they do that?
If they are not acting out in some way, aren’t they just being in denial?
If they say they are not afraid, are they just protecting themselves emotionally by lying to those who are asking, or just to themselves?

For instance. How do you explain the actions of the Marine sergeant who took an armored Humvee not once but – what – 5 times into sure and certain death in order to attempt to save his comrades, both American and Afghani? His old school teachers seem to suggest the possibility of bullheadedness. Don’t worry, I’m not going to make any allusions in that category to our beloved Jack.     (Ed: smile. During the actual giving of the homily, it was apparent at this point that very few – 125 in attendance – still were ready for any kind of humor from the pulpit. So after an appropriate pause for timing, I said, “That was a joke.” And then people laughed.)
Did Dakota Meyer have some special knowledge that he would not be killed, and so the fear of death did not slow him down? Not by his own admission. He was quoted as saying, “I didn’t think I was going to die. I knew I was.” He figured he was a goner, but he’d try to get as many of his fellow soldiers out as possible before that happened, especially those of his own unit. The courage to overcome the fear of death, as Sgt Meyer described it, had to do with a connection, a human connection, “Those were my brothers”, he said, “And that’s what you do for your brothers.” Wow, what a sense of bonding. And, of course, the whole Marine Corps in proud response is saying, “That’s how we roll.”

Where does that courage come from? The military training, some innate energy, a wisdom of understanding the benefits of death? Yes, the benefits of looming death.    Is that possible?

In our scripture for today, we are reminded, if not already informed, of how Christians are supposed to face their death.
There are assurances, there are promises, yes, there are even benefits. So, we too, must rely on training to become mature Christians. That’s why we listen to the scriptures during a burial service. To be informed, and thus to have informed responses, when it comes to us.

We begin with Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 8, where he too, makes the point of a connection, both an human connection and a divine connection, which can give us and should give us courage. In fact, Paul is quite adamant that our human fears of our own demise are quite out of place with our faith. Paul goes so far as to say that any innate ability to be courageous in the face of the fear of death is actually brought through the work of God in us; that is, when we believed in Jesus, and the Spirit of God brought us into relationship with God, as was said by St Peter, as well, and by Jesus to Nicodemus, when you are “born again.” Courage in this case is spiritual DNA. Why?

Paul wrote,

14  For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba,  Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

This does not mean we cannot be sad (for God himself created us with the capability to cry), or have our regrets (God created us with the ability to remember) . But as a Christian there is a new priority for our hopes, and there is a new understanding of how we perceive death. It is not necessarily an intellectual assent, although for some it could be, and that might explain some of Jack’s later years. It is not necessarily an emotional bravado, nor a disregard of the physical. The answer, of course is in resurrection. And the answer is in our Faith in Jesus Christ, and in a God we can trust. And HIS… BONDING…. with… US!

Paul is clear:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And that means death itself cannot tear apart our bond with God through Jesus.

That, you see, is a new paradigm, and a new priority for our observations of the world around us. In everything that we do.

Jesus taught that there is something to look forward to on the other side of not life, but other side of death.
A place with him forever. And in that eternity, a new body. depending on the condition of yours right now, Thank God for that new body when you get it!   (Smile)

So now that we have seen where our new found courage comes from in order to overcome the fear of death, we can now settle into a healthy growth as mature disciples of Jesus Christ. What once was not seemingly logical, now becomes a possibility. And in that maturity, we can accept that every situation in our lives as those situations come to us, are moments for reflection and growth. And that includes facing our death. And so we can see some benefits made available to us as our own death, or perhaps the death of someone so very close to us, comes into focus.

What ARE the benefits of looming death?
Well, I think we can see some of these in Jack Theige himself over the last few years of his life.

As he faced death, or the possibility of death much earlier than he and Wanda had hoped for,

(1) The validity of his own Faith in the risen Lord Jesus came into focus and into review.
That, my friends, is one benefit of facing death. What is my Faith in Christ? Where am I going?  What promises do I  actually hold? Where is Jesus in my life, and where am I in His life?

And Jack  answered those satisfactorily.

And once that becomes more clear, and perhaps even brought to a moment of repentance, and confession of the lack of our faith, and now a pastoral moment of renewal and absolution, as it did for Jack, a new benefit arises, which is,
(2) I want to do while I still have breath what I can to help build up the Body of Christ, and the Kingdom of God. And Jack found the reading of Scripture in Church on Sundays as his answer. You can ask the family how high a priority those moments became for him. And as you see, as this was what he knew he could do, he received the further personal benefit of being immersed in the Word of God.

(3) a third benefit of the awareness of death in us, may take just a couple more moments of reflection:

In Lamentations we heard,

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Every day, goes the saying, is a gift from God. Use it wisely. That is to say, that this death which is awaiting us — and we can count on it — has not already consumed us before this time, this day!  We are all here, in the flesh today, so that we might have and take the opportunity to say, as does the author of Lamentations:

24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

Shall I say it again? Here’s the benefit:  The fact that you are facing death at all means that you are Not Dead Yet..….. you are still alive!
Make room, then, for the Lord, which of course leads us back to the first benefit of looming death, the risen Lord Jesus coming into view,crystal clear. The promise is true to all, whether found in the Old Testament, or the New Testament, thus affirming the consistent Nature of our God, that, as again we heard in lamentations,

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

My friends, should it be a surprise for you all to know that death is on its way to you?  What then shall you do?

Well, you can follow the holy example of Jack Theige, as imperfect as he was:

1) Seek the Lord; renew now your faith in Jesus Christ, if only for the sake of your own resurrection

2) consider the work before you die for the Risen Christ in accomplishing his goals and objectives,

3) realize that you are still alive, and this is a gift from God.

The Lord be merciful to us all, and grant us preparation of our souls.

September 8, 2011

Pre – 9/11 Remembrance and Prayer

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 11:21 pm

Dear Parish Eagles and Friends,

This message serves two purposes this week.

1) As announced last Sunday (September 4), to remember the atrocities and tragedies of 9/11, and to pray for the protection of our nation from those who would wish to do further harm, there will be a 30 minute candlelight gathering on the west lawn of the church on Saturday, September 10th, at 7:30 pm. We hope you will join us in remembrance and intercession.

2) To remind you of a new venture for the parish in online internet bible study.
Find it at

http://stjohnstularebiblestudy.wordpress.com

You are encouraged to make use of these lessons, which will be posted once a week. They roughly are equivalent to a weekly bible study, but in this form, you work on it as you can, and at your own speed.

If you have ANY questions during your bible study, please feel free to post a comment, or talk to Fr Eaton or to George Sutton directly, who are the ones monitoring the online internet version of this study.

Thank you, and God bless you.

Fr. Rob Eaton
George Sutton

May 27, 2011

Bishop Talton’s Easter 5 sermon – Tulare

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 5:37 pm

As with Bishop Lamb’s sermon, I intended to post Bp Talton’s sermon for those who were not able to be in attendance.
This is the transcript of the 10 am service sermon. He makes reference to the children’s sermon, and later to the “sheet”, which was a large roll of paper left on the nave floor from the children’s sermon. It was described as the journey of life to the kids. The basic questions were, “Where do we want to be for ever?” The answer being “heaven”, and that was written with a marker on one end. The next, “Where does the journey start?”, the answer being “With me”, and so the word “You” was written on the other end. The next, “How do we get there?”, the answer being, “Through Jesus”. And a gateway was drawn in the middle of the sheet on the floor, with the name “Jesus” on it. The money quote was from the Gospel of John, as Jesus says, “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life.”
That should explain the bishop’s references.
RGE+

Bishop Chet Talton at St. John’s, Tulare, May 22nd, 2011, Morning Prayer

As we gather on this day to sing praises to God, which we are doing,
even dancing our praises to God — I saw you dancing! [the bishop pointing to a parishioner toward the back of the church, laughter]
dancing our praises to God, who is the Lord of all might. (yes)
we gather this morning in all of our places in this diocese, this church of Jesus Christ,
to celebrate who we are, as we remember who we are.
This, the , uh, children’s sermon, and – uh – the …gospel reading for today, the singing, and the dancing, is the sermon that I have. And so I could sit. (laughter)
But let us pray that God will speak God’s word in some way through these words that I will say.

1:27 My wife asked me a question not long ago, she asked it of, about my mother, who has been… dead for many years, and who she did not know. She wanted to know, though, how do my children resemble my mother?
And I tried to think of my mother and think of my children. The truth is that my four children look differently from one another, and none of them bears a striking resemblance to my mother in any way, so that if you were to see her and see them you would say this is the grandmother of these grandchildren.
But then I thought more deeply about how each of my children might carry characteristics which are those that are like my mother in some way.
2:43 I have a daughter who has a wonderful sense of humor, and she tells stories just as my mother did.
I have another daugther who speaks slowly and she pauses as she speaks just as my mother did. (ed: and just as Bp Talton did in this sermon)
And then there is another of our children, who doesn’t…its not that she looks so much like my mother, but its when she looks at you in a certain way, or when you look at her from the side, when I do, then I see my mother, as she looked.

We do carry characteristics of our families. We might have the Johnson nose, there might be a Johnson nose, or a Smith chin. In my family its these ears… that I have passed on, I’m sorry to say, to grandsons and granddaughters.
And so we do, we do share similar characteristics with those in our families, to whom we are close, emotional, social, physical, intellectual, spiritual characteristics.

4:40 Now, Jesus is gathered in the upper room with his disciples and they are sharing a last time together. They have the Passover meal together and …Jesus ..knowledgable of what will soon befall him, however the disciples are not. They don’t know that Jesus is soon to be arrested. They don’t know at this moment that they will deny him, although Jesus will soon tell them that….that they will betray him, that they will run away when he is arrested. Yet, Jesus takes a towel, ties it around his waist and moves among his disciples and washes their feet.
And then he says to them, “Do you know what I have done for you?” He says, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If then your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, I have given you an example, for what you are to do also. What I have done for you, you should do for one another.” And then he says, “A new commandment I give to you, Love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

7:11 This is the family characteristic. This group has become a family. WE are a family, the family of Jesus. Jesus says, “This is how people will know you, by this family characteristic. Love one another. In this way people will know that you belong to me.”
Then Jesus says to his disciples, knowing what is to befall him, that he is going away, and that where he is going, they cannot follow. But then he says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there is much room. If it were not so would I have told you, that as I go away I will prepare a place for you, a dwelling place.
The disciples would get this understanding..

8:50 In Jesus’ time when a young couple married, they didn’t leave home and go away the way young people do today and set up housekeeping on their own someplace. They would, they would live in the father’s house and they would build a room onto the father’s house,
and they would dwell in that room in the father’s house, so in the father’s house there were many rooms, there was room for everyone.
And so when Jesus says, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms there is a place for everyone. I am going away,
but I am going to make a way for you so that where I am there you may be, you may be also”.

There was, there would be a place for all,,,, in the face of all this trouble that Jesus is faciing. He tells his disciples now, let not your hearts be troubled.
For I am going to make a place for you in my father’s house.
It will be a dwelling place with room for all

10:19 How might this family of God as we gather here this morning knowning what trouble we face …trouble with our futures, health, survival even, some, for some decision made long ago that has caused trouble and struggle in life since that decision was made. … Trouble, concern with children, with spousal relationships, with the powers and principalities of this world which struggle against the children of God.
What trouble do you face?
Jesus and some of his followers — remember this?– in scriptures when they were being tossed by a violent sea, Jesus was sleeping, then Jesus awakens, Jesus says to them “Do not be afraid.”

12:15 The most often repeated command in the scriptures, I believe, aside from the commandments, is that: “Do not be afraid” “Let not your hearts be troubled.” “Do not fear.”
Jesus tells his disciples in this violent storm, “Do not be afraid”, and then Jesus calms the waters.
Do you remember when Mary discovers that she is with child in the scriptures and she is greatly troubled because of this… and then an angel comes to her and says to her, “Mary do not be afraid. You have found favor with God.”
Remember when Jesus was born in the shelter where he was laid, and the shepherds were gathered around, the scriptures says, and it says that the glory of the Lord shone upon them, and they were very afraid. And it says that an angel came and said to them, “Do not be afraid. For behold I bring you good news of great joy. For to you is born this day a savior, who is Christ the Lord. Do not be afraid.”

14:00 So here, Jesus says to his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” This is Jesus’ word to his discples, in the presence of the trouble that he was in, knowing that his followers would be plagued with trouble and struggle as they attempted to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Let not your hearts be troubled.”
He said, “I am going ahead of you and I will make a place for you, and where I am you might come to that place on that sheet.
How do we get there? We get there through Jesus who is the way, who is the opening, who is the means of salvation, and Jesus says moreover,
“I do not leave you alone. I will come with you.
I am the way, and I am the means.”

15:38 So, …….. what are we to do?
Share the family characteristic: Love one another. In that way, they will know that you belong to me. And moreover, in the course of this life, Do not be afraid.
“Trust in God”, Jesus said. “Trust also in me In my father’s house there is much room. And I go to make a place for you.”
Not even death holds fear for us, for we know that we go to God.

Let not your hearts be troubled.
In my father’s house there are many places. I go to make a place for you.

So we gather in great joy to give thanks and to celebrate what God has done for us.
Through Jesus Christ.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

March 21, 2011

Planned Parenthood: Please be extremely careful

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 11:46 am

“If we can change what happens in the home, we can change what happens in the world.”
Jill Greer, Director of International Planned Parenthood.

After the latest sensational failures of Planned Parenthood personnel (and thus training, and in moral parameters) in the United States alone, it would seem Planned Parenthood would just keep their mouth shut.

But part of the Big Lie strategy is to keep on telling the Big Lie, marching on past collateral damage (implying and often proving it is in fact a big lie), which, in the care of women after an abortion, is water under the bridge to PP.

Just a couple of thoughts from someone who has been burned in the past by seemingly innocent language and terms that ended up being loaded with agenda:
Who is “we”? What happens in “the home” that is targeted for change? Why are the members of that “home” being considered powerless as agents of their own change, that is, that someone else — apparently self-appointed — feels the need to make the “changes” for the people in that home?
And repeat questions for second half of quote.

The quote is taken from comments made at a United Nations gathering. As people who highly value family, we should be grateful for the work going on by various groups who are actively pro-family. Who, you might ask, would ever be anti-family?!

But the things that are being promoted at such high level conversation and influence have in fact proclaimed the family unit as a no longer useful institution, and, to many, the source of too much pain and suffering and repression. And lack of enlightenment when it comes to “gender” issues. Even our own Presiding Bishop was quoted (and I am paraphrasing) as saying that intelligent people have fewer kids, and that is why The Episcopal Church has a lower baptism rate, as compared to, say, Roman Catholics. All that in the context of over-population of the world. The implication being that others in the world, including Roman Catholics, just aren’t as smart as “we” are. Is that really the issue?

On the other hand, reports from a few years ago in Uganda, and now from Zimbabwe, are that abstinence actually works as a deterrent to pregnancy, and the huge problem of the continued spread of HIV/Aids. Go figure. And to think that “…for the bible tells me so.” In this case, preaching and instructing biblical moral value is more effective than simply being intelligent.

I know FULL well that rhetoric emanates from every side of contested issues. But I would direct your attention to what I just read, the “Family Watch” newsletter, not really aware of their purpose and work until today, because what they are doing in presentations on the Status of Women at the UN matches the variety of anecdotes which affirm their work.
It is easier to read stories about people, of course, so I’ll direct you to their website page of anecdotal good and bad stories. And then if you will click on the “Newsletter” link in the left margin you will find ample discussion of their current work and struggles among delegates, ambassadors, observers, governmental attaches, and other advocates and lobbyists at the United Nations.

My primary concern as a Christian spiritual counselor and pastor is that women (and men) who have had abortions cannot expect the emotional and physical effects of the abortion to be, again, just water under the bridge. If you have had an abortion, or were instrumental in the decision for someone else to have an abortion, I encourage you to contact me, and confidentially we will talk it through, and pray for any private hurts, pains, shame and grieving that still need to be dealt with in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

RGEaton+

March 15, 2011

Lent personal reflection doesn’t mean stopping the every Sunday ministry of welcoming — and the Lenten schedule this week

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 11:56 pm

March 15, 2011
St. John’s Eagles and friends,

Welcome to Lent.

Before I get to the Wednesday (and rest of the week) schedule, let me say a couple of things.

I’m hoping you were instructed and challenged by Robert Sutton’s first homily on Sunday.
Robert will need your feedback, both positive and negative, in order for him to understand the impact of his address to you. If you feel uncomfortable doing that in conversation with him, you may provide me with your feedback and I will pass it on, when he and I sit down for our own review with the recording.

Thank you to everyone who stepped up to do the work of gathering and worshiping and leading worship on Sunday. I missed being here. By the way, the Episcopal parish I visited while away for my dad’s 80th birthday, which is not unfamiliar to me and includes parishioners that I have known for years, had one major flaw (at least) noticed when I even stepped inside the front doors to their narthex: Not one person welcomed me or introduced themself to me. I was flabbergasted. The church is about the size of 400 or so in membership, and probably 100 or so were at the main service. That is to say, there were plenty of people coming and going and talking and ushering and, yes, Looking, in the narthex, which is basically a wide lobby doubling as a passageway to both classrooms and the parish hall. And yet no personal contact. I am very grateful that in our parish a newcomer can’t get in or out without several of us making intentional contact. Now, I realize that that is something that needed to be fostered here, but I am glad all the same that we are doing it right by welcoming every poor soul who dares to attend a worship service at St. John’s. God bless the forerunner of gifted welcoming at St. John’s, Isabel Aguilar, may she rest in peace. May more of us take on the MINISTRY of welcoming and shepherding newcomers. Is that perhaps where the Glory of God might shine through you?? Ask the Lord that question during these 40 days (plus Sundays!).

WEDNESDAY
7:15am Morning Prayer (that would be a good discipline to take on, daily Morning Prayer at St John’s)
10:00 am Bible Study (we are currently working on the 6th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews – that would make a good Lenten discipline to join us for indepth bible study)
4:30 pm Catechism Class for 4th to 6th graders (but not this week – starts next week)
5:25 pm Stations of the Cross in the church (another powerful Lenten discipline)
6:00 pm Soup and Bread Supper (this week potato leek soup, Madison Rickert’s favorite, and yes, another great Lenten tradition and discipline), including:
6:35 pm SINGING with the RECTOR – if you play guitar bring it along
6:50 pm Intergenerational review of familiar bible stories using animated videos and short discussion.
7:45 pm Prayer and go home.

On Thursday, March 17, at 7:15am, there will be a Holy Communion service commemorating St. Patrick.
At 5:30 pm every Thursday is the Evening Prayers and Healing service. Come and recieve prayer for whatever ails you. The Lord is mighty to save.

On Saturday, March 19, at 3:30 pm will be a funeral service for Glen Burdick. Not many family members will be here — St. John’s is the local family. Hope you will attend.

And then at 6:00pm on Saturday is our annual St Patrick’s Potato dinner (and don’t worry, other things to eat too) and Bunco Game! Proceeds will go toward an educational project in “The Episcopal Church in the Sudan”.

Fr. Rob Eaton

February 28, 2011

Glen Stanton: “The Christian divorce rate myth (what you’ve heard is wrong)”

Filed under: Uncategorized — RGE @ 11:22 pm

Very glad to see this weblog post challenging the validity of the over-used comment of frequency of divorce among Christians being “the same” as the general rate at least in the United States. The references to several authoritative research groups and their studies is extremely helpful.
I’ve always questioned such comments of high divorce rates among “Christians” because our experience at St. John’s simply does not bear out such an equality of statistics. In the 21 years I have been here as Rector, the “rate of divorce” (that seems egregiously impersonal, doesn’t it?) has been approximately 2%. One couple was active and involved in the parish. Two individuals were peripheral members as they divorced their spouses. I know of 2 couples who left St. John’s and then got divorced, but not immediately. Still, maybe they should have stayed.
St. John’s is a safe place, a place of faith and security, pointing always to the strength of Jesus Christ in all aspects of our lives.
Alleluia for all of our marriages, our families, our individuals, our relationships.

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