Sep 302012

Have you ever been caught up in your own struggles? Have you ever gotten confused and lost in your own ideas of what you should do – of what you have to do – of what you think is right? When the light finally dawned on you, did you realize how wrong and clueless you were?

This has happened to all of us. It’s happened to me. (I’m thinking of a couple of incidents where I tried to fix my family’s car by myself.)  It’s still happening in parts of my life.

At its worst this kind of confusion is called the Dunning-Kruger effect. David Dunning and Justin Kruger are psychology professors at Cornell University.  They did some experiments – on their long-suffering college students – that proved this: people who lack competence in a field of human endeavor often …

  1. Underestimate the skill level of genuinely competent people,
  2. Overestimate their own level of skill, and
  3. Underestimate their own inadequacy.

We’ve all seen this in others.  I’ve survived Dunning Kruger disease myself a few times (even if the car didn’t come through so well).  Maybe you have too.  I think you know the symptoms: a sneaking suspicion that somebody we work for is an idiot? A “don’t bother me with these details” kind of frustration?  Maybe we even get the feeling Moses had in our first reading:

If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once–if I have found favor in your sight–and do not let me see my misery.

The good news is that Dunning Kruger disease is curable: when we get some training and work with good mentors, we quickly figure out where we stand. Our self-deception goes away. We quickly start to appreciate the depth of competence and mastery we can aspire to.

But the cure isn’t easy.  It takes laying aside the “kill me now” drama and getting to work.  Who among us who knows a student has not said, “Stop griping about your teacher and your textbook already. Just try to do your homework, please?” Who among us has never griped about a teacher or mentor or boss?

We know it’s hard to lay aside the drama. Even Moses had a hard time doing it. The Lord had to personally change the subject to get him to move on.   The same can happen for us. When we can move on, the steps our paths take to gain mastery are clear.

Practice, wonder, humility.

1. Gaining mastery takes practice: write the essay, do the problem set, memorize the vocabulary, practice your scales.

2. It takes opening up your heart to awe and wonder: That’s amazing! How did Herman Melville ever dream up Captain Ahab? How did Johann Bach make that cantata sound so wonderful?  How did Albert Einstein ever realize that the whole relativity deal was as elegant as E = mc2? How did Jesus of Nazareth manage to summarize the whole teaching of the Law and the prophets as “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself?” Wow! Wow.

3. Gaining mastery takes opening your soul to humility and willingness to struggle:  When will I be able to speak Spanish well enough that people don’t pat me on the head like a child? Will I ever be able to play that Miles Davis riff on my trumpet? Maybe if I practice everyday!

In my case it also means going to Gary the car mechanic to say “help!” when I need to. It involves recognizing the mastery of others and asking for help.

Step by step: Practice, wonder, humility, practice, wonder, humility. It’s a lifelong journey.

After enough of those steps we start to gain competence and experience, and our natural arrogance starts to fade. Mastery means knowing our stuff, and knowing our limitations.  That’s good.

But there’s another side to all this practice, wonder and humility. There’s something positive about the innocence of inexperience. Overconfidence is sometimes necessary and vital. In the organized creative professions like design, moviemaking and engineering,  the people with lots of experience sometimes say to each other: “Let’s hire somebody fresh out of school: they’re too dumb to know this job is impossible so they’ll just do it.”

I wonder if that’s why the Lord called Moses? He wasn’t completely naïve when the Lord called him. He already had some experience in confronting the Egyptian bullies. He’d killed a slave driver, and was hiding out in the wilderness.

But we know he struggled with the leadership work the Lord had called him to do. The only way the Lord got him to cooperate at all at the burning bush was by promising him that his brother Aaron and sister Miryam would do all the talking. But the Lord needed him, Moses, and not someone else. The Lord, and the Lord’s people, needed everything that Moses was as a person: passionate, tough, fearless, and just clueless enough to agree to the impossible task of leadership required of him.

So out he went, full of the arrogance of inexperience, to confront Pharaoh and rescue God’s people. And, not surprisingly, when they got hungry they lost faith in his ability to rescue them. In his cluelessness he thought he should personally be taking care of everything they needed. But he could rely on God to help him when he needed it. In our reading he needed help with the most important part of leadership – sharing the work and sharing the power. And God provided that help.

Jesus’s disciples were inexperienced, too. They knew all about fishing, and about working hard. But Jesus didn’t choose them for their sophistication or skill in working with people. If they’d truly understood what he wanted from them when he said “follow me and I’ll make you fish for people,” they might not have followed.  They were, like the fresh-out-of-school design engineer, just dumb enough to take on the job. They were the ones Jesus needed, and not someone else.

They did follow, with their arrogance of cluelessness. And here in Chapter 9 of Mark, on the way to Jerusalem, we hear them struggling with their cluelessness. Last week we heard about them arguing about which one of them was the greatest. This week we hear them, in their insecurity, wondering why somebody else was horning into the job they thought was exclusively theirs: John said,

Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.

So, in today’s reading we hear the disciples talking past Jesus and Jesus trying to get their attention.

I have to say, this is a hard gospel reading.

If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell., And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

It makes the life of following Jesus sound quite dangerous. It always makes me fear that I’m not pious and pure enough. I fear, if justice were served, I’d be hopping on one foot with an eye missing. I fear I’m not, so I’m getting away with something. It’s a doubly hard reading because it’s true: we’re all getting away with something. Jesus is telling us that we’re personally accountable for how we take care of each other – especially the little ones, the powerless ones. He’s right. It’s a big responsibility, and not one that we can live up to by ourselves. Most of us have accidentally or intentionally tripped up somebody with less power than us and made them stumble. Guilty as charged, Lord. Have mercy!

Jesus isn’t just talking to you and me, though.  He’s also talking to those disciples. He’s talking to the ones he called to follow him because of their courage, not their mastery. They obviously have Dunning Kruger disease: they’re incompetent and clueless. Jesus is holding a child in his lap as a sign of the mission of mercy and healing they share.  But they have the same problem of leadership that Moses had. They’re trying to take the whole burden on themselves. They don’t understand that they are

Both  vital to God’s mission of lovingkindness, healing, and mercy

And by themselves not nearly up to it. John is complaining to Jesus that some stranger is infringing their monopoly. Remember, they’re clueless: it’s not really their monopoly. It’s not about them, it’s about the people who need healing. Jesus needs to get their attention. So he reminds them that their ministry is pointless if it’s centered on them: they may as well sink in deep water.

With the child in his arms and the hard words he’s calling them back to the discipline of practice, wonder, humility, practice, wonder, and humility. That’s the discipline that overcomes their foolishness – the same foolishness that led them to follow him in the first place.

It’s the same necessary foolishness that you and I share. With cynical wisdom you and I can easily say, “forget it, there’s no way God’s realm of justice and mercy can come true in this world.” But, like those twelve, God needs us and not somebody else. Like them, we’re naïve enough to keep trying anyway.  And here Jesus, who first called us to try, is now calling us – with unmistakable words – to the continual discipline of practice, wonder, and humility, and it’s for the sake of the life of the world.

In Jesus’s+ name, Amen.

 Incompetence, Courage, Mastery: Sermon for September 30, 2012  Posted by on Sun, 30-Sep-12 Sermons Comments Off on Incompetence, Courage, Mastery: Sermon for September 30, 2012
Sep 232012

Back in the year 2000 the International Olympic Committee in attempt to encourage participation by developing nations issued special invitations to several athletes who otherwise would not have come to the games. One of those athletes was a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea named Eric Musumbani.   Musumbani had no coach, and had never had a swimming lesson, yet on one of the first days of the games, there he was on the block at the Olympic pool ready to swim in the 100 meter free style time trial as a huge crowd looked on.

          The other two swimmers in that time trial – which was for the slowest swimmers in the field – were disqualified for jumping the gun.  So that left Musumbani to swim all by himself.  The gun sounded and he dove in.  His form was not what one is accustomed to seeing in the Olympic pool and many in the crowd laughed, thinking it was some kind of a joke.  But Musumbani swam on and his determination and commitment to finish the race brought the crowd around. Though it took him almost double the qualifying time to finish the 100 meters, the crowd was on their feet cheering him as he touched the wall.  He told reporters later that the crowd’s cheers made him wonder if he had indeed won a metal. 

          This week I remembered that Olympic moment again as I encountered this Gospel lesson, and I heard Jesus’ words, “Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and servant of all.” What athlete doesn’t come to the Olympic games with the dream of somehow overcoming the odds and winning gold?  And yet most don’t win a metal – most come away with less and some come away being considered the least.  Like Musumbani.  It was only the strange coming together of circumstances at the pool that day that resulted in him being noticed then held up on prime time television for all the world to see.

          Then Jesus took a little child, put it among the disciples, and taking it in his arms, he told his disciples, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me, but the one who sent me.”  In Jesus day – even more so than now- children were among the most powerless of society.  And so the disciples, who had been arguing about greatness and with it of course power, were redirected by Jesus to radically shift their focus and to open their arms to the powerless.  He held the child up to teach us that “to love things heavenly” as our collect for the day puts it , implies not just meditative contemplation but also attention to the least and last of our world in such a radical solidarity that we become the least. “Those who would be first must be least of all and servant of all.” He tells us.

          Quite an affront to us, this Gospel.  Here we are among those who are in many ways the first in our world – from a nation that brings home a lot of gold.  We are among those who are first in terms of power and privilege in our world.  So if we take this Gospel seriously, we may really begin to feel uncomfortable. 

          Have you heard the story to the man who falls over the edge of a cliff and on the way down manages to grab a branch that stops his fall?  Hanging in midair, he calls up to heaven in desperation, “Is there anyone up there?” A voice answers, “Let go of the branch, I’ve got you.” The man hangs there in silence for a moment, looking up and then down at the yawning gulf beneath him.  Finally he looks up and yells, “Is there anybody else up there?”  In a way this Gospel lesson makes me want to yell, “Isn’t there some other Gospel lesson for today up there?” God yells back “I gave you the Proverbs lesson on the Good Wife.”  I hang for a moment and I say, “OK, I’ll stick with the Gospel passage!”

          All joking aside, I think this passage from Mark really is meant for us today.  What I want to suggest is that what we have in mind as we read it is what is important.  If we have in mind the dominant message of our world that resources are scarce and must be protected, and that one should always seek to be among the greatest, then this Gospel can sound pretty scary.  In that mindset we may hear Jesus in this Gospel saying that we who have a lot of material resources and power have to give them up in a massive redistribution of wealth process that we fear will move us from the list of “haves” to the list of “have nots”. 

          But there is another alternative.  It involves ridding ourselves of the fearful scarcity thinking that so infects our world, so that we can hear this Gospel as I believe Jesus would have us hear it.  If we can have faith that God has provided the world with enough resources for everyone, if we share, we hear this Gospel quite differently.  Gone in the narrow definition of people as “haves” and “have nots”, and in its place is the perception that all people have within them exquisite resources, and that material things are just one part of the human economy. From this vantage point, gone are the linear understanding of greatest and least, first and last.  In their place is a vision of what greatest and least, first and last mean in God’s realm;  a vision without lines or hierarchies;  a vision of God surrounded by a circle in which all people come to stand shoulder to shoulder.  In such a circle, with God at the center, truly the greatest are least and the least are greatest- the first are last and the last are first- because there is no distinction between them.  But this is not just a vision of the great hereafter.  This is a vision Jesus calls us through this Gospel to strive for in this world.

          Having heard this Gospel in this alternative way, I discover that when I let go of the branch of my security – that I have been clinging to so tightly like the guy who fell off the cliff- when I let go of that branch,  I find that it is really but a short drop to the ground below, where I find waiting for me, God who does not strip me of all that I have but rather teaches me to use all that I have in ways that benefit not only myself but also those around me who appear to be in more need than I am.

          For me this all has practical ramifications.  It means pledging to my church, giving to other organizations that also work for justice and peace in our world.  It means paying my taxes and when I can giving directly to individuals who is in need of financial help.  What I have found is that as I dare to give more away it becomes easier to give and I feel the desire to give more.  And of course this is not just about money.  For me it also means that I must make time to put my body in motion to benefit others. Sometimes it means working for political change that will bring economic justice and equity to our society. Sometimes it’s working on an Among Friends meal, or joining in a walk-a-thon for an organization that serves the least in our society.  Sometimes it means giving a listening ear to someone who is in trouble, or standing up for someone who is being picked on because of their gender, race, sexuality or some other aspect of who they are.  Sometime it means speaking up for children and youth when they are not give n a voice. 

That is my list. What does yours look like? What does being a servant of others mean in your life?  Whatever the particularities it takes on for us, what I think it always involves is risk.  The risk of not always striving for ourselves as our world encourages us to do in so many overt and subliminal ways.  It involves the risk to put ourselves in the less valued position of least of all and servant of all that we might discover the great riches that await us there. 

Eric Musumbani did not take gold home to Equatorial Guinea from the 2000 Olympic Games, but he did take home honor derived from giving his all to finishing his race.  May we bring such honor to our ultimate homeland as we seek to serve among the least and the last; as we reach for the day when all people stand shoulder to shoulder in peace around the throne of God.  In Christ’s name. Amen+

 The Last Shall Be First: Sermon for September 23, 2012  Posted by on Sun, 23-Sep-12 Sermons Comments Off on The Last Shall Be First: Sermon for September 23, 2012
Sep 162012

“Who do people say that I am?… But who do you say that I am?”

On the day that Jesus was asking these questions he knew there was a buzz spreading about him – people were talking and speculating about this person who was clearly more than a simple carpenter from Nazareth.  Interesting how his friends and closest followers respond to that first question Jesus asks – Who do people say that I am?  They tell him that people are saying he is John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the other prophets.  So, the teaching and healing Jesus has been involved in leads people to think of the great figures of their faith from the past.  They use those great past figures to make sense of what they see in Jesus – to give him identity – to define him.

But Jesus presses past this larger speculation about his identity and asks those who have lived closely with him, day in and day out – But who do you say that I am?  I like to imagine a significant silence in the group at that moment – a significant silence borne of the certainty that they have never heard of or known anyone quite like Jesus – a silence that speaks volumes about how he moves their faith experience beyond the prophets who had come before him.  Then Peter, in his role as spokesperson for the others, finds words for what was going on in that silence – and says, “You are the Messiah.”  As I imagine it Peter does not say that with any sort of iron clad certainty at this point in the Gospel.  Rather I think his words bespeak the “Ah ha!” moment they were all having – the moment in which they realized that this man, their friend and teacher is something new and long-awaited in their faith tradition – this was the one come to save Israel.  This Jesus is the Messiah!  And once the word tumbles from Peter’s lips and is out there among them it changes everything – they move from being a band of friends and followers into the life of discipleship.  An in the second half of this gospel reading Jesus gets serious with his disciples about what that life will require of them – no stroll in the park for sure!  Their lives will become cross-shaped if they stick with him.

But this morning I want to stick with the first part of this passage – with these two questions, “Who do people say that I am?… But who do you say that I am?”  because, as members of his mystical body, they are questions for us also.  Through this Gospel Jesus calls us to first to be aware of what people of our day and age say about his identity.  The definitions of Jesus around us abound!   Some say Jesus is God in a human body; others say he was a great prophet, teacher and healer, but not divine; some say he is a fictional character; others believe he is irrelevant in this modern age; some say Jesus is the one who will make you fabulously wealthy; still others think he is their property alone, and on their side over against others who do not fit neatly into their narrowly defined in-group of believers.  As you go through your daily life, who do you hear people saying Jesus is?

And where do we find ourselves in this field of answers?   Through this Gospel Jesus asks us, “Who do you say that I am?”  Isn’t it wonderful how Jesus brings the focus back to us?  We can so easily get focused on what other people believe that we forget to ponder deeply our own answer to the question – Who do we say Jesus is? What is it that we believe about Jesus?

Marcus Borg, a well-known Biblical Scholar of the last 20 years, has written something that I find very compelling when it comes to pondering this second question from Jesus, Who do you say that I am?  Borg wrote this:

“For those of us who grew up in the church, believing in Jesus was important.  For me, what that phrase used to mean, in my childhood and into my early adulthood, was ‘believing things about Jesus.’  To believe in Jesus meant to believe what the gospels said about Jesus. That was easy when I was a child, and became more and more difficult as I grew older. 

          But I now see that believing in Jesus can (and does) mean something very different from that.  The change is pointed to by the root meaning of the word believe.  Believe did not originally mean believing a set of doctrines or teachings; in both Greek and Latin its roots mean ‘to give one’s heart to.’  The ‘heart’ is the self at its deepest level.  Believing, therefore, does not consist of giving one’s mental assent to something, but involves a much deeper level of one’s self.  Believing in Jesus does not mean believing doctrines about him.  Rather, it means to give one’s heart, one’s self at its deepest level, to the post-Easter Jesus who is the living Lord, the side of God turned toward us, the face of God, the Lord who is also the Spirit.

          Believing in Jesus in the sense of giving one’s heart to Jesus is the movement from secondhand religion to firsthand religion, from having heard about Jesus with the hearing of the ear to being in relationship with the Spirit of Christ. For ultimately Jesus is not simply a figure of the past, but a figure of the present.  Meeting that Jesus, the living Jesus, who comes to us even now – will be like meeting Jesus again for the first time.” (From Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, p.136-137)

Did anyone ever say to you when you were a child “actions speak louder than words?”  That was a favorite truism in our family.  In the life of faith, our actions are often our first witness to what we hold to be true and real in our hearts.  How we live and move in this world is the sermon that we each preach every day.  So who do we say that Jesus is through our lives?  What if we are the only Jesus that someone else ever sees? What words of hope, healing and resurrection assurance is our life preaching and giving witness to?

I am not saying that words are unimportant  I would not be a preacher if I believed that.  But as St. Francis of Assisi is remembered to have said to the friars under his supervision – “Go out into the world and preach the Gospel, and use words when necessary.”

On this our homecoming Sunday we gather after a season of growth and refreshment to join our hearts together again in the mystery of God alive among us and within us in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If we have met Jesus again for the first time, we are drawn to return here each week to connect with others who have also found abundant new life through relationship with him.  Our lives have been transformed in amazing and miraculous ways and we need a community of others around us who have been touched that way too.  So we come here to deepen the relationship with Christ and the other members of his body.  That is the Gospel we proclaim and are ready to share, so that others might meet him again for the first time too. And we share this Gospel not by attacking anyone with words, but rather in his Spirit, we seek to live and serve in ways that will make others want to come and see what the holy source is that we are drawing such life-giving water from.

Let us pray for God to lead us in this way;

Dear Lord, we believe that when we turn our lives over to you daily, you reveal yourself through us in ways we can’t even imagine.  We, gathered before you today, recommit ourselves to your service.  May your good news be told and retold through us that others who long for you may meet you again – for the first time.  In your name and for your sake we pray.  Amen+

 Who do you say that I am? Sermon for September 16, 2012  Posted by on Sun, 16-Sep-12 Sermons Comments Off on Who do you say that I am? Sermon for September 16, 2012
Sep 092012

Last Monday I took off for a few hours to putter around the harbor in my old kayak. I was over by the Salisbury marsh on the opposite side of the river from here. It’s a nice place to visit and interesting to watch on a summer day; the shorebirds live their lives and do their thing without being chased around by people and dogs.

But of course it was Labor Day. If you’ve ever been in a little boat around here, you probably know Labor Day as Speedboat Day. There I was at the edge of the marsh when once in a while a huge wave of speedboat wake came rolling in. Each wave splashed me, bounced my little boat, and then washed, with a gentle sigh, into the long grass in the marsh and ceased to be. And the birds sat on the shore and watched.

Now, in some places when big waves hit the shore they bounce back. Then the water gets choppy and sloshes around. It’s a great opportunity for somebody in a kayak to take an unexpected swim. But that didn’t happen last Monday. I got a little wet, but not all wet. The edge of the marsh just embraced each wave as it arrived, calmed it down, and turned its little bit of violence into perfect peace.

That long grass at the edge of the marsh got me to thinking about God’s grace and love for humanity, and how that might work for us. Is the noisy harbor full of roaring boats and their wake the realm of this world? And, is the marsh the realm of God? Are they apart from each other?

What does God’s grace do for us? Does that grace soak up the noise and shock waves you and I generate when we roar around in this world? Does the God embrace all the works of our hands and hearts – both the good things we do and the foolish things – and calm us into perfect peace? Is living in the realm of God just like living in the realm of this world — but only safer, without the chance of being thrown into the water when speedboat wake capsizes our little boat?

What do you make of that question: Is the realm of God the realm of perfect tranquility? Is it set apart from the realm of the world? While we ponder that, let’s move on to the Gospel reading.

Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go– the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mark 7:24-30 NRSV)

I’ve read Gospel this passage from Mark many times. Every time I read it I’m scandalized. Every time I wonder, “Really? Can this be?”  Is Jesus treating this mom and her sick kid this way? Can’t he politely say something like, “sorry, I don’t heal non-Jews,” or “it’s my day off?” Why does he have to insult these people?

How can he imply that they are dogs? That’s a big insult in the Middle East. Is this really Jesus being snarky to some random foreigner? Except it’s worse: he’s the foreigner: he’s visiting their city.

The gospel writers may have been scandalized too.  Matthew repeated Mark’s account, but he chose to change the ethnic identity of the woman: he called her a Canaanite: a tribe that’s historically enemies with Israelites. Matthew also made it a public event, with the disciples telling him to send her away because she’s annoying them.  Maybe those changes make his hard words seem more acceptable.

Luke and John dealt with it the easy way: they left this incident entirely out of their Gospels.

So, not even the Gospel writers were comfortable with this story. He calls her a dog! This certainly doesn’t reinforce our romantic image of Jesus as Wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace. It shakes us up.

He said: “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “Even the dogs get the children’s crumbs that fall from the table.”

Could Jesus and this mother be speaking the truth about the Realm of God here?  If so, it’s not the same realm of God I thought I saw on the edge of the marsh last Monday. It’s not the neat and tidy Realm of God that soothes and soaks up all the troubles we human beings stir up in the world.

They’re talking about a place where little kids are messy. There are hungry animals under the table in this place. Food is precious: parents, children, and dogs, all pay attention to the crumbs. Is it important to children to have enough to eat? Yes, of course.  Is it also important to them to see how happy a dog can be when it gets a bit of food? Yes. The realm of God they’re talking about is made from give and take. Compassion and peace don’t stand still in God’s realm, they flow. They flow from creature to creature.

There’s enough compassion and peace to go around, but there isn’t so much that nobody cares about them and everybody thinks they’re entitled to them.

In the same way, the realm of God is not only that beautiful shore in the Salisbury marsh. It’s also the noise of people having fun in the harbor. It’s not only the wave calmed by the marsh grass. It’s also the rolling wave splashing the guy in the little boat and knocking his hat into the water. The realm of God is alive and full of power. It’s messy. It has give-and-take. It favors the telling of truth over smooth words. It certainly has enough power to splash you in the face and get you wet. It’s not perfectly safe.

We’re about to baptize three people.

We’re going to do the baptism rite safely, you know. We’re going to do it right here, with a little water. Some people will get a little wet. It’s possible the folks in the first couple of pews will get splattered a little. But our way of baptizing isn’t the only way. John the Baptist baptized Jesus by dunking him in a shallow river. Some parts of the Christian world dunk people in deep rivers, or even in pounding ocean waves. That’s a good way: it shows the power and activity of the realm of God. Our way, though, is just as good. The full power of the Holy Spirit of God comes with just a little water, or a lot. These three will get what Jesus got when John baptized him. They will get welcomed into the living, breathing, realm of God.

Both that mom in Tyre long ago and the ones being baptized today know they need something and they have the courage to ask for it. They know their lives need the creative power of God, the redeeming power of Jesus, and the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit. They know they need to live in the realm of God. It’s not perfectly safe, or perfectly polite, or perfectly quiet, in God’s realm. But they know they need it, and so do all of us.

You’re in a place where there’s enough compassion and peace to go around, and you’re with people who need you to share it with them, and want to share it with you.  The realm of God is here, now. In Jesus’s + name.

Sep 052012

Following the lead of the Episcopal Church, here are some guidelines for contributing to the St. Paul’s Church conversation online, both on and on our Facebook page and on other social media.

Welcome!  We hope that you will make connections, find and share information, and engage in conversations here.

No personal information

Besides your name, please avoid including personal information.  This is a public website, and any information may be linked to your name and published on the Internet.

No selling

Please do not market your wares here, no matter how useful or wonderful.

Be nice

Our church’s social media pages need to be safe places to engage in conversation. Please remember that these pages belong to a congregation, and think of them as a place for fellowship. Show tolerance for divergent opinions.

No personal attacks or insults. Jesus called the Syrophonecian Woman a dog. But he is Jesus, and we are not.

We understand that there can be many varied opinions on an issue, and we welcome all views and ideas.

Although these pages are monitored, we acknowledge that occasionally something inappropriate may find its way onto it. In most instances, we will send you a notice if we feel if something you posted is a violation of the guidelines. We reserve the right to remove inappropriate posts immediately. Subsequent violations can result in being blocked from this page without warning.

If you see something you feel is inappropriate, call or write the church office, and we will deal with it.


This should be obvious, but we still need to spell it out. is owned by a third party unaffiliated with St. Paul’s Church; you use any third-party web sites and materials at your own risk. St. Paul’s Church is not responsible for and does not endorse any content, advertising, products, advice, opinions, recommendations, terms of use or privacy policies, or other materials on or available from third parties, including Facebook. Any opinions expressed by Facebook fans are those of the persons submitting the comments and do not represent the views of St. Paul’s Church.

We reserve the right to block any commenter who posts content, or whose Facebook page contains content, that is, in the sole opinion of St. Paul’s Church staff, inappropriate or offensive. We may also block any commenter whose posts constitute testimonials, advice, recommendations, or advertisements for products or services, or any commenter who posts content, or whose Facebook page contains content, that is promotional in nature.

If you have any questions or concerns about this, please call or write the church office.

 Guidelines for Posting  Posted by on Wed, 5-Sep-12 Contributing Comments Off on Guidelines for Posting