Eagles that Pray

October 8, 2008

St. John Parish Weblog – Always at the top

Filed under: Administrative — brewsterbird @ 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.  If you are interested in assisting with this blog, please leave a message for Brewster Bird. 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 now individually encouraged by all Anglicans as our prayer team has changed and moved on.

June 14, 2016

Thank You

Filed under: Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 10:22 pm

Thank You for wearing Orange, for caring to share your loved ones and your thoughts.  The Junior Warden made an executive decision this June 14, 2016, to lower our standard ( that is , our nation’s flag) to half-mast, in honor of the fallen, fallen to all gun-driven violence to remain until June 19, 2016 where the flag will be raised to full height in honor of fathers everywhere. Check our Facebook page out!.

May 28, 2016

Weekly events

Filed under: Administrative,Box Notes,signboards,Uncategorized,Weekly Calendar — brewsterbird @ 4:22 pm

Eucharist or Morning Prayer

11:00 am Sundays


Book Study


12:00 Noon Thursdays


Rev. Dr. Day’s Office hours: Thursdays 11:30-2:00 pm or as needed.


Occasional visiting Clergy include Rev. Suzy Ward, Rev. Gail Bernthal,

May 22, 2016

looking for a choir

Filed under: A New Song,Box Notes,Need an Answer — brewsterbird @ 11:13 pm

We at Saint John’s are looking for a few good voices to form a choir.  We need at least 4 ( two altos and two tenors) will take one of each SATB. Please attempt to read music, however ear learners and sing-alongs also welcome. Please feel free to contact me through email or telephone-559-731-6948. Practices to be determined.

The Episcopal Church has formal liturgical music as well as a versatile hymnal with all sorts of music for the church seasons. We even sometimes sing fun stuff..( smile). We supply robes  and sometimes an organist(!) a capella is fun, too!


The Church is changing

Filed under: Reflections to Share,Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 11:04 pm

We give thanks to God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit during this Trinity Season. Rev. John M. Day has joined us and  our diocese has a new priest in the form of Rev. Gail Bernthal. Our Bishop, Rt. Rev. David Rice paid us a parochial visit this Trinity Sunday -Great Sermon as usual. Rev. Teri Van Huss assisted !.

We are grateful for the  Benson Family who celebrated the graduation from  college and high school of two of their youngsters!. The parish family of Saint John’s is grateful to have a worship space on the corner of Prosperity and Laspina streets in Tulare, CA. Join us for a book study this month- “God’s Secretaries” by Nicolson, about the making of the King James’ Authorized version of the Bible.  Thursdays at 12:00. Led by Fr. Day it is an in-depth study of how the KJV came to be. All are Welcome. Respectfully, Yours in Christ Jesus!, Brewster Bird


April 7, 2016

New Priest the Reverend Doctor John Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 10:35 pm

We at St. John The Evangelist Episcopal  Church, Tulare, welcome Rev. Dr. John Day and his family to our parish. His office hours are Thursdays and Fridays.


August 18, 2014

It is a New Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 12:03 am

Praise the Lord for today. We gather weekly at Saint John the Evangelizer Episcopal Church in Tulare California for renewal, prayer, and the Gifts Freely Given by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
We are Family Friendly, Welcoming to all, and appreciative of our Christian similarities and Episcopalian differences.
Peace of the Lord Be always with You!.
More next time!
William Brewster Bird
web person for Saint John Episcopal Church./ Tulare, CA. 5596363663

July 31, 2012

sermon – The Jesus of all History

Filed under: Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 10:11 am

July Sermon for St. John’s, Tulare

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, I believe 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 do not have to gaze only on 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 TOMORROW, 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 — Where’s the Peace? (Aurora)

Filed under: Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 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.

April 24, 2012

Robert’s Iris plot in full bloom, and counting

Filed under: Grounds,Thanksgivings! — brewsterbird @ 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.

May 27, 2011

Bishop Talton’s Easter 5 sermon – Tulare

Filed under: Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 5:37 pm

As with Bishop Lamb’s sermon,  Bp Talton’s sermon is posted here 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.”
Hopefully that should explain the bishop’s references.

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 — brewsterbird @ 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.


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.

Our primary concern as Christians should be 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.

January 31, 2011

A prayer to be a willing witness to and for Jesus Christ

Filed under: Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 4:02 pm


So here is the prayer for “Willing Witnessing”, as written by Dr. Gil Stieglitz.


Pray this prayer:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I am ready to tell people about you and the positive changes you have made in my life. If you want me to share my faith this week, arrange meetings and conversations so that other people will bring up the conversation.  I will share my faith with them if you have them bring it up.

Thank You, Lord Jesus.”

And, in case you are not “ready”, a prayer to get you to the status of being willing to pray the previous prayer!  (making liberal use of the Collect for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany) :

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,  give me grace to answer readily the call of my Savior Jesus Christ and so desire to proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that I and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and for ever.   Amen.

Just remember – you are, in fact, by Jesus’ direction, to be ready.

January 1, 2011

Sermon For January 1, Feast of the Holy Name

Filed under: Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 5:30 am

The First Day of the New Year is also the Feast of the Name of Jesus.  This would have been in fulfillment of the circumcision to take place the correct number of days after Jesus’ birth.  When Jesus  was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The Collect for the Feast of the Holy Name can be used as a collect for Mission, said together every Sunday after the Collect for the Day, the main petition being, “…you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world” (BCP, page 213).

The Name of Jesus must continue to be lifted up before the World, so that they might see, and hear, and come to receive the saving power of Jesus Christ in their lives.  And there is power in the Name.

The veneration of the Holy Name was encouraged in the 1100’s by the example of Bernard of Clairvaux, who apostrophized it in many sermons,  just prior to . But the greatest promoters of this devotion were Bernardino of Siena and his follower John Capistrano in the 1300’s. “They carried with them on their missions in the turbulent cities of Italy a copy of the monogram of the Holy Name, surrounded by rays, painted on a wooden tablet, wherewith they blessed the sick and wrought great miracles. At the close of their sermons they exhibited this emblem to the faithful and asked them to prostrate themselves, to adore the Redeemer of mankind.” The practice of showing the monogram of Jesus over gates and above doors largely begins with their exhortations, which  The tablet used by St. Bernardino is venerated at the basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli at Rome.  This monogram of the name of Jesus consisted of the first three letters of his name from the greek language, showing as i, h, s.
See this wall decoration representing that same wooden tablet:

As a devotion today,  January 1, with your family, or by yourself, consider first your name, why it was given to you, and what meaning it might have in your family, or the meaning the name itself has.  Then talk about the name of Jesus, and what it means, and especially what it means to you.  If you are not sure about the meaning of your or your family names, do an internet search.  Just type into a search engine box, such as Google, your name followed by a comma, followed by the word name, and you will find what you are looking for.

Include in your devotion how you might share the name of Jesus with someone else today, or this week.  Include in your devotions one or more of the bible readings for the day for the daily office:  Ps. 103; Ps. 148; Gen. 17:1-12a, 15-16; Col. 2:6-12; John 16:23b-30,

or for the Holy Communion, Numbers 6:22-27, Psalm 8,  Galatians 4:4-7 or  Philippians 2:5-11, and Luke 2:15-21.

Finish your devotion using prayers from the Prayer Book for the Holy Name, and for your family, and for our parish for this new year.   If you don’t have a prayer book at home you should consider purchasing one (there are several gift Prayer Books at the church); again use the internet and search for Collect, family (or Parish, or Holy Name).


August 17, 2009

Sermon: Thanksgiving and Praise leads to hearing from God

Filed under: Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 8:50 am

Thanksgiving and Praise leads to hearing from God

August 16, 2009        St John Episcopal Church, Tulare, CA
transcription from recording, edited into manuscript.  Sermon time: 20 minutes

Year B (RCL) :
I Kings Chap 2, vv 10-12; and Chap 3, vv :3-14 (Lorraine Zorn)
Psalm 111 (led by Lay Reader Judy Wilds)
Ephesians 5:15-20 (Organist Margaret Sutton – filling in for absent scheduled lector)
Praise the Lord together singing Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia…  (3 x )
John 6:51-58  (RGEaton+)
Jesu esto mihi jesus, Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia…  (3 x )

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

It would not have been good if Solomon had begun his royal career in a more self-centered, God-ignorant manner. In fact, it would have been a disastrous thing.
But  Solomon did apparently do some right things in worshiping the Lord, and answering God’s question rightly, and so we also learn in this scripture reading from First Kings chapter 3 of the benefit to him as King, to him personally, and to the whole Kingdom of God’s People, the Jews;
and even more so as Christians we see Solomon’s question and answer and worship as directly affecting the salvation of the whole world,  for the continuation of the line of David that would lead to the promise of God, in the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.  It’s not quite so simplistic, but for the points from the lessons today we can say, “No Solomon, No Jesus.”

And so we give thanks to God for the grace of these moments given to Solomon and his responses.   We give thanks…….. (“Yeah verily” from the congregation)

Now that is exactly the action, the thanksgiving and worship to God,  that happened right before God spoke to Solomon in his dream, as we heard “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the statutes of his father David” and then in vs 4 “The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar” (see note at end of sermon on why Gibeon).

In fact, as the scripture text clearly implies, these actions of worship predisposed Solomon’s heart and his mind and his spirit to allow him to hear from God, because “that night God spoke to him in a dream.”
And that would be my first point to you, that praise and thanksgiving and adoration as worship do indeed predispose the heart and the soul and the mind and the spirit to hear God’s word spoken to them.  If you will praise him …you will hear him.

No longer is it necessary in Christ, by the way, to offer a thousand burnt sacrifices and offerings on your part in order to hear from God.  Hallelujah!  (Hallelujahs from the congregation)

But start now on the daily worship that is necessary in order for us, for  you to hear from God.

Now, the Liturgy, whether Holy Communion or Morning Prayer, does have praise built into the first moments of our worship together before we ever hear from “the Word of God”, and exactly for that purpose:  Praise, and Word of God.
Sometimes, though, we enter into our worship on Sunday mornings and any other time, with less than predisposed hearts and minds and spirits, – I’m saying that as nicely as I can – and the Word of God goes – I’m saying this as nicely as I can –  right over our heads…., and before you know it, we are praying the Prayers of the People with less than grateful hearts and humble spirits!  And that demands the question of whether we are truly prepared to receive the life-giving Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Holy Communion on that day.

So just to be sure, and to make this point, we acted that  out this morning when even before our first hymn we held hands or laid a hand on each other together and I offered on your behalf  thanks and praise to God aloud  for God himself, and for each other, and for this parish, and for God’s presence.  This is a “shaking up”sometimes that is necessary in order for us to understand what it means to give thanks and “enter into his gates with thanksgiving.” That action that we did this morning predisposed our hearts and minds and souls and spirits for our act of praise and worship this morning, and is helping you even now to hear the Word of God more clearly.  Hallelujah..

This is an essential part of the message of today’s lessons, and of the essentials of a disciple of Jesus’ life with him.

Let me say it again in different words, If you as a disciple of Jesus, and we as a body of disciples of Jesus, do not make thanksgiving and praise and adoration intentional, priority parts in our worship of God, daily,  then I am afraid we will be less than disposed – perhaps less than capable – of hearing God speak to you , to me, to us, whether in our dreams or in any other manner.

And God help us all if that is the case.

Now, the question in the dream that God brought to Solomon was, “What is it that you want?”
More specifically, in the text, “”Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
What a wonderful statement.  From God, it’s kind of the genie in the bottle in the question, isn’t it.  Do you have something in mind in your own being?

And Solomon answered, “Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David.  But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.”
(Mind you, Solomon is a full grown adult male.  He is not physically a child.  So you understand the humility and vulnerability that he is bringing before God in this prayer).

“8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
“10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.”

The Lord was pleased in what Solomon had asked: he asked for a discerning heart to govern God’s people and to distinguish between right and wrong.  And so began the legendary career of justice and discernment for justice that led to the phrase we use to apply to similar judgments even today, “the wisdom of Solomon”   Even though it would be more like “the wisdom of God given to Solomon”.

Now before we get to the final part, here is my question to Solomon.   Why, O King, did you wait until you heard from God in a dream before you prayed your prayer?  What otherwise would have kept you from uttering this otherwise humble prayer for God’s mercy and wisdom?  Why did you wait?!

Solomon might have begun his royal career by presuming that since he was a prince, and since he was his father’s chosen successor, and since the God of his father David wanted Solomon to be the successor to the throne of Israel and rule the People of God, and since his succession to the throne included not a dominion from scratch but a dominion of already great means both financial and political,, and since the enemies of his father were now completely disposed of …
that since all these things were a very visible part of his new identity as king he might have presumed that he didn’t need anything beyond himself to be a successful king.

And all these presumptions might also have been the heavy layering he allowed over a very basic fear he had of actually being the king of Israel.  Despite my speculating on the presumptions,  we can see in the first few words of Solomon’s prayer, that God speaking to him in his dream could easily have had the effect of cutting through those presumptions to his own fears, “I don’t know what to do, and I need your help to do it.”
And, brothers and sisters, I am strongly suggesting to you as implied in this scripture text that it was Solomon’s first instinct, that acted-upon desire to give thanks and praise and worship the Lord which caused him to have the predispostion for this grace-filled  moment  to cut right down to humble pie, rather than ask the Lord instead for the trappings of the office of King.

He heard God speak to him in a dream and it cut right through all of his fears, right down to where he needed to be in the first place.  “God, help me.”
And it all began with praise and worship and adoration and thanksgiving.

How often do we allow the things of our lives to so cover us that we need someone to come in and to wake us up or to shake us up or to bring that hard word that helps us to get through to the right question, when if we were listening to God in the first place he could have very gently said, “Ask me for what you want.”  And our ability to be humble
(from our praise and adoration) knows exactly the kinds of questions we need to ask.

It was the presumption of the day that kept him from asking the question until he snapped out of it by God speaking to him in the dream.  And his praise and worship led to it.

This is a very big lesson to learn for all of us.  Again, do not let the presumptions and fears of our own lives stop you from making, or hiding away, the very prayer that Solomon made to the Lord.   In fact, because you are Christians, followers of Jesus, brought to new life through the Holy Spirit,  you may presume that God is asking you that very question this very moment.  You don’t have to wait for the dream.

Jesus said, “If you abide in me, ask of the Father and he will give it to you.”

Just to remind you, And God said to Solomon, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

And you get to answer.

Now learn from Solomon, and especially from Jesus, how to ask of the Lord.   First remember that The Lord dwells in the praises of his people.   God is jealous for the worship of his people. And he will reward it.   Spending time in God’s word helps us to know God’s will which ultimately informs the priorities of our prayers. And we are able to ask the right questions, offer the right prayers.

11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”

Jesus said the same thing, “Ask and it shall be given….seek and you shall find…..knock and the door shall be opened…..do not run after the things the gentiles run after, but seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be given to you as well.”  That’s good news.

God knows our needs, and what pleases US.  Our first step, though, is to please God, and this can be done through  our praise and thanksgiving and adoration which will make us more open to hearing from God, and allow us to make our requests in honesty, vulnerabile humble adoration and submission.

It doesn’t sound too good up front, but the benefits are out of this world.

Yes, as Paul says in Ephesians 5,(which lets us know nothing has changed in the ways of human beings)
….the days are evil.  And you know that.

It is hard enough to contend against the World the Flesh and the Devil, as we see the world around us seem to deteriorate day by day; and as we contend with our own ease of sinning, of working against the life in the Spirit; and as we contend with the spirit world in our prayers and in our witness to Christ.

It’s hard enough to deal with that outside of ourselves as Christians and the Body of Christ. It does not help us IN the Church of the One True and only Lord Jesus Christ to have those with voices of leadership undermine and even desecrate God’s very Word.

So what do we do?   Is that not something we can take to the Lord in prayer as well?

The first and most important action on our part will be to accept the good news of God’s undeserved grace and mercy in Jesus Christ – so, start with, believe in Jesus; be a disciple; choose to learn from him and His Holy Spirit;  receive your nourishment from Him.

And then we must be reminded of how to act in the face of such persecution and heresy, including this priority which we have been pointed to today, start with praise and worship of God:

When in trouble start thanking the Lord;
When you are worried, start Praising the Lord;
When things are not going well, go to worship the Lord God.
That is always the first and foremost thing, and that will predispose your hearts and minds to hear from God about the things that you are struggling with and dealing with in your life.

These lessons today assist us in inspiring us to be such lovers of God, and to expect God to want to hear from us.

Let me turn it around just a minute before I close.

What Solomon did NOT do, what Solomon did NOT ask for, What Solomon had the grace to AVOID asking God was something like this:

“Now, O Lord my God, you have made me King of Israel! , DUH!  And since I am the King and must protect myself, I ask for long life for myself, and I will need all the money and wealth that you can possibly give to me, because I deserve it, and I need you to take care my enemies – all of them – and slaughter them, cut them into a thousand little pieces, and then may the fleas of a thousand camels infest the armpits of their relatives. . Amen….O God, bring it about!”

Is that what Solomon prayed?  (No!)  Do you pray that kind of prayer?  (No!) No? Actually, probably.   Somewhere in your life you have probably said to God, “God, take all my problems and destroy them, and give me everything I deserve.”  (Pause)
Nope, first come before the Lord and say,
“I am not able to handle the things that come my way.  I need your strength to do it.”
And that prayer will come about because you have already been praising and thanking and worshiping and adoring the Lord for you to have the grace to make that prayer.

You see, it is more like “Seek the Lord”, my friends, “while he wills to be found.”

So now we are reminded of all this as Paul sums it up very nicely,

“ ……. the days are evil.”  He said.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  (Hear from God!) :
>  be filled with the Spirit.
>Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
> Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Whatever new thing you are embarking upon right now.
Whatever major decision you are entertaining right now.
Whatever struggles are happening in your hearts and minds and spirits right now.
Go to the Lord in prayer and praise, and know that
God loves you and desires your love of him,  now through his Son Jesus Christ.

So first and always, give thanks to the Lord and praise and worship him, not just to get an audience with God in prayer, but as a life discipline and choice of heart..
And now bring your hearts to the Lord in humble adoration and admission of vulnerability and answer his question, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you”


Note re: Gibeon: The Tabernacle was located at Gibeon for some time, and it was there when David began making preparations for the building the Temple in Jerusalem, a project that was later completed by his son Solomon, as allowed by God.

“And Zadok the priest, and his brethren the priests, before the Tabernacle of The Lord in the high place that was at Gibeon” (1 Chronicles 16:39 KJV)

“At that time when David saw that The Lord had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite [see Jebusites], then he sacrificed there. For the Tabernacle of The Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon. (1 Chronicles 21:28 KJV)

April 3, 2009

Bishop Lamb’s Lent 5 sermon at St John’s

Filed under: Uncategorized — brewsterbird @ 12:43 am

This is a transcription from tape recording.  Bp Lamb gave his sermon without notes.

It’s good to be a part of this congregation. It’s been a while, although I was here for the funeral of your beloved rector emeritus in October.

Anybody know what today is? The 29th of March, 2009? You know where we were … a year later? [referencing the Special Convention in Lodi, end of March 2008, where St. John’s made its protest, see the Surrounded weblog] We have come a long way my friends, and I rejoice greatly in the distance that we have traveled together. Thank you to all of you.

In talking over the services this morning Rob asked …..or mentioned the fact that he had read my Friday newsletter [Friday Reflections] and realized that I was probably going to be looking at this opening of the gospel today for my sermon. So he put it on the sign [without asking, the day before, see signboard photo] and he was right on, like usual, absolutely.

The whole context of this Sunday is to really move us into an understanding of the new covenant, the new covenant that is Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. And in this new covenant there is a whole new way of relating to God through the actions of our Lord.

So we have the Old Testament reading [Jeremiah] about the new covenant;

We have Paul’s [Letter to the Hebrews] comments about Jesus being the high priest not of his own choosing but because of the choice of his Father and being sent by his Father.

And then the beginning of his Gospel today that then allowed Jesus to talk about what was going to happen to him and that how his death and resurrection would be the core of the new relationship with God.

That as I shared in the Friday newsletter, I am so much taken by the incident that begins this Gospel reading today.

The Greeks from the area of Galilee were probably very much secular people, very secular people. They were most likely “believers” but believers who had not accepted all of the Jewish tradition. We see these same kinds of people being referred to in the Acts of the Apostles as people who had taken on the moral code of Judaism and lived it; uh, they participated in the Feasts, but they did not become Jews. There are other theories that they were very secular and they were just looking for a way to understand Judaism as a political context.

But it.. it.. it feels to me and seems to me that this is a much more of a context of seekers, of people  seeking a new deeper relationship with God.

They obviously heard about Jesus, they heard him. We know they had listened to him, and they were affected, in a way that was unique to them, by who Jesus was and what he was saying, how he was engaging with the people.

And so they asked if they might come and see Jesus, if they might meet him, if they might have the chance to..to speak with him. And remember, these are Greeks, they are foreigners. Most of the very uh.. conservative Jews of that day would have nothing to do with these people. They were considered foreigners. They were to stay away. They could be on the edges, but you only talked to them when you kinda had to….

And they came to Philip.

And the Gospel mentions clearly that Philip is from Bethsaida, a place in that area of Galilee where there are many people, in different contexts.

Something about Philip invited them to speak with him.   They might have known him, they might have had contact with him, they might have known his second cousin, whoever that was.. But there was something that drew these foreigners to Philip so they could ask this question, “We would like to see Jesus.”

Philip, being Philip, goes and gets his buddy Andrew – and the two of them are really a pair, you rarely see one without the other – And they go to see Jesus.

I think these opening verses are.. are such a statement about evangelism for us as members of this Tradition that I don’t know how we could look away from them.  There is the context of a relationship between Philip and these people that allowed them to risk asking the question. And I think that is such a core of where we need to be, to be open to all of God’s people, to listen to them, and in whatever way they begin asking the question, “We would see Jesus”, we are in position to respond to them.

I believe that the basic core here is that Philip and Andrew have their personal relationship with Jesus. And if we are going to be evangelists, sharers of the word, we have to have that same kind of relationship with Jesus:

We have to know him.

We have to follow him.

We have to believe in him.

And then we need to engage, to open ourselves to Not to be closed, not to live our lives in such a way that people can’t enter into our lives to ask the question.

I think we can learn a lot from this Gospel today.

Not only about the new covenant based in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, but our role in sharing the good news that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who came to that we might have life.

It has normally been my custom to stop what I’m saying and to see if anyone has a comment that they would like to make either on the reading or on what I said or should have said.

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