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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Proper 25 (RCL) Faith, Hope and Charity

Teachers and preachers, feel free to borrow from this piece with a simple attribution. No other permission is required.

Joel 2:23-32; Psalm 65; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14

Collect for Proper 25
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of
faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you
promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Like many currently attending or received into the Episcopal Church I started life being raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. Being from that tradition, when the words Faith, Hope and Charity come to mind, specific images come to mind. Many a young girl has been given a charm bracelet or necklace with 3 charms attached. [Can I have a show of hands of those who either owned one of these pieces of jewelry or know what the symbols are]. Since this isn't a game show, I'll let you in on the answers. An anchor represents faith, a simple cross represents hope and a heart represents charity.

There are some obvious links between the readings today and the symbols that are related to their content.

Faith would certainly anchor (I couldn't resist) the people Israel in the psalms 'roaring seas' and that same anchor kept them steadfast and grounded throughout the trying times retold in Joels writing. The anchor of faith strengthened Paul throughout his various travails - whether on land or sea, on the road or chained in prison. The same anchor of faith was in the very soul of the tax collector who, while knowing full well the contempt in which he was held by his contemporaries, was moored in the harbor of the temple where all prayer was welcome.

The Hope of the people Israel was that they would come to a land that God would provide for them. Though dominated by one conquerer after another, Hope led them forward, through desert and sea, captivity and inner struggle. Part of their Hope was realized when they made it to 'the promised land'. Their other Hope was incarnated in the person of Jesus, the Christ. The cross of Hope was the incentive for Paul to run the race and fight the good fight. The Hope of mercy drew the tax collector to the temple to pray.

In each of the readings, the thread of Charity - Caritas - Love of God runs true and through. God's Charity and Love provided Israel with a place to live and wonders to marvel at and be grateful for. Charity gave Paul the grace not to wish evil on his persecutors. God's Charity and Love forgave the sinner in the temple who pleaded for mercy: he went home with a renewed heart of love and a clean slate.

The much quoted passage from 1 Corinthians, often read during the celebration of a marriage, says it far more eloquently than I ever could:
'And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.'

Love and charity are so great because they move us beyond our individual selves. Love and charity are so great that they move us to do beneficial things for others, without obvious compensation. The unique qualities of love and charity are that the more we give them away, the greater our reserve of them becomes.

This sermon is now over. Once we leave this place we will ALL have the opportunity to practice what I have now preached: Faith, Hope and above all, Charity Love. Amen.


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