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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, June 22, 2012

Friday Focus: Jesus Calms a Storm

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? - Mark 4: 35-41

The Hubbell telescope is as much a spiritual blessing as it is a scientific breakthrough. For the scientific community it is a window into the workings of a universe far greater than ever anticipated. For the Christian community it is all that and more. It is an awesome demonstration of the power of God who presides over an infinite and expanding universe, yet in his love cares about our every thought, word and action.

Look at the images captured by Hubbell and then think: the God who set these cosmic storms in motion billions of years ago, the God who calmed the stormy Sea of Galilee two thousand years ago, cares infinitely about the storms that rage within you and me today. No one makes a passage through this life without storms. And if they are not perilous in actuality, our pride has the ability to create tempests in tea pots, magnifying petty fears, creating turmoil from minor or imagined slights.
There was nothing minor or imagined about the storms that rolled over Horatio Spafford. The Chicago fire destroyed his family fortune. His four daughters, aged five to eleven, were lost at sea. His wife was driven mad by grief. He was a prime candidate for despair and who could blame him? But Spafford lived in Christ and Christ in him. Traversing the same stretch of ocean that claimed his children, he wrote as he prayed:
When peace, like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hath taught me to say,
It is well; it is well with my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part but in whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Spafford went on to literally walk in the footsteps of Christ. He took his recovering wife to the Holy Land and, like Job, they started their family anew. Together they served the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities of Palestine with orphanages, soup kitchens and hospitals. In tragedy they clung to Christ and in triumph he bore them home.
In today’s gospel the frightened followers asked: Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him? They would soon learn the answer. The Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer, God made flesh had come among them. And all the storms or all the plots, the might of Rome or the gates of hell…none would ever prevail against him or those who cling to him. No astronomer’s telescope or psychiatrists couch has ever found a storm that could not be calmed by the love of Jesus. His peace awaits us… a prayer away.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Utilizing What the Creator Gave Us

The Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices put out a wonderful email today, chock full of ways to be good stewards: of our environment, our talents, our resources - including  parishioners.

Here are the links for the articles related to various facets of stewardship:; individual skills; (on parish clergy actually using their leave/vacation time); (letting go of practices and programs that don't work); (new practices causing excitement in parishes); (your parish going very green); (fitting ministries for service).

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