Look at this interactive photo of Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome!
I am just filing things away and responding to one last email. It feels a bit surreal- I realize what a big part of my life this ministry is! I am ready for rest and adventure.
As I take one last look out my office window I see the labyrinth green, lush and sun bathed below and decide walking it will be my last act of official work.
May God bless us all this summer! I will see you in September!
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Getting ready to write blog posts
Here’s what do do to get ready.
Writing a blog post
- Find some WiFi if you can if you’re uploading photos
- Open the BlogPress app.
- Tap the Write icon on the lower left.
- Give your item a title by typing it in the Item box.
- You can ignore the Location item.
- Then write the text of your item in the blank area below Location.
- To include a photo, click the camera item in the upper right.
- Then take, or choose, the photo you want included.
- Tap the little blue i next to the title.
- Tap the Categories item, and tap Martha’s Blog (orwhatever category you choose) so it’s checked.
- Then tap “< Options” at the upper left,
- then “Done” at the upper right,
- then “Save”
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It is our congregation’s duty and delight this spring to send Lydia Jones, a young adult and recent university graduate, to work in the Teach For America corps. Here is a form of commission and blessing for her.
This is adapted from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and Occasional Services of the Lutheran Book of Worship.
Lector: Hear these words of the prophet Isaiah:
The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens— wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. (50:4-5)
Pastor: N., you have been chosen to serve in the Teach For America corps because of (among many other things) your “deep belief in the potential of all children and your commitment to do whatever it takes to expand their opportunities,” and your “respect for individuals’ diverse experiences and the ability to work effectively with people from a variety of backgrounds.”
Your first taste of teaching was right here in the atria of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I know the people of our congregation are proud of you. Like you, we have high hopes for this next chapter of your life. On behalf of the people of St. Paul’s Church, we now ask you …
Member: Will you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength?
Teacher-to-be: I will, with God’s help.
M: Will you love and care for your neighbor as yourself, and will you love and care for yourself as for your neighbor?
T: I will, with God’s help.
M: Will you faithfully love and serve the children and families of the community into which you are being sent, seeking and serving Christ in all persons?
T: I will, with God’s help.
M: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
T: I will, with God’s help.
And you, people of God, will you support and encourage N. as she goes forth to do these things? Will you pray for her and help and honor her for her work’s sake?
Congregation: We will, with God’s help.
Pastor: Almighty God, who has given you the will to do these things, graciously give you the strength and compassion to perform them.
Let us pray:
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, for you sent your Son into our world to proclaim your kingdom and, by his death and resurrection, to reconcile all people according to your gracious plan. We bless you and praise your name forever.
Blessed are you, O Lord Jesus Christ, for you preached good news to the poor, proclaimed liberty to the captives, healed the sick, and set free the oppressed. We bless you and praise your name forever.
Blessed are you, O Lord, Holy Spirit, for from you come words of justice, wisdom, knowledge, and comfort. We praise you for these gifts of grace you have given to your servant N., and we pray that the world you love may never lack for gifts like hers. We bless you and praise your name forever.
Bless this your servant, O Lord, in the work you have called her to do, so that, by the power of your Holy Spirit, she may show your love to all people and glorify your name. Amen.
The Rev. Martha Hubbard writes an occasional blog post. You can read them here:
[catlist name=martha pagination=yes orderby=date order=desc date=yes dateformat=”l F dS, Y “excerpt=yes thumbnail=yes]
The Rev. Ollie Jones writes an occasional blog post. You can read them here:
[catlist name=ollie pagination=yes orderby=date order=desc date=yes dateformat=”l F dS, Y “excerpt=yes thumbnail=yes]
I don’t usually find myself at a loss for words. And most of the time when sitting down to prepare a sermon the words flow pretty easily. Not so this week. I had so many ideas about how to preach this last sermon before sabbatical, but the words that came surprised me because they are so few. They are words from Jesus to us in this morning’s Gospel lesson from John: I will not leave you orphaned.
When I go through times of change and transition I can get a bit antsy. What will the new situation be like – who will be there – what will happen – it is garden variety fear of the unknown. And Jesus listens and says “I will not leave you orphaned.” He said that to his first followers all those years ago in the days leading up to his death, and he says the same to us today – I will not leave you orphaned. And it is true – whatever transition or change of life we are in, Christ’s Spirit is ever present with us, and he has given us each other in community in his Spirit, so we are never orphaned.
Sabbatical is a controlled experience of transition for us as clergy and congregation. Three months of me being away with my family and you all journeying on here with Ollie. Then my family and I will return and our partnership of ministry will continue. But life will never be just the same as it was; because God has designs for us to work on together that we cannot view just yet. And that is as it should be. What we do have is this time of sabbatical during which we are called to reflect on how our connection to God through the spirit of Christ and with each other weaves us into this living tapestry of grace.
Part of my sabbatical preparations was to take a weaving class. I did that on Monday evenings in March and April, and I absolutely loved it. Just last week I bought my own loom so I can continue with this new found passion! And as God would have it, our Sr. Warden, Olyce Moore, who could not be here today as she has a long standing commitment to be with family this weekend – as God would have it, Olyce grew up as the daughter of weavers and is graciously sharing one of their tables looms with us for the sabbatical so that anyone here who would like to, can have the experience of weaving on a loom.
This is the sampler that I wove in my beginner weaving class and I chose to make it a woven family tree because our family sabbatical theme is tracing our family threads. Each colored band here represents a member of our extended family. I let each person who is still alive choose the color that they wanted to represent them, and then I just randomly selected a weave pattern for each person. What amazed me as I looked closely at the finished product for the first time were the connections I began to see between our family members. It was interesting to see who chose similar colors, or where similar patterns occurred, or where divergent colors and patterns occurred. As I looked at each band of color and pattern I was struck by something in each that spoke to me about the essence of the person it represents. For instance the pattern I had chosen to represent my maternal grandfather ended up looking a lot like the dots and dashes of morse code – this stood out because my grandfather was a ship’s captain and morse code would have been very important to him in his lifetime. And then as I was stood back and looked at the piece as a whole I was struck by how beautifully the colors and patterns fit together.
As I look around here this morning and each every Sunday morning, I see that we are nothing short of just this sort beauty and pattern as we come together as Christ’s body in this place. So we have nothing to fear as we go into this time of sabbatical. We may encounter surprises, our plans may get bent to fit more fully the Master Weaver’s design, but we will never be orphaned, because God’s spirit weaves us together as gifts to one another in Jesus name.
OK, enough words – I want us to have some fun with this too! Who here would like to have some fun? OK I need about 20 volunteers. I need five of you along that side aisle, five of you along the other side aisle, five of you across the back of the church and 5 of you across the front. As they are moving into place I invite the choir, Mark, Ollie, the LEMs and acolytes to all come down and sit in the congregation so you all can be of this. Now, I want to explain how this will work, so listen carefully. In just a moment – after these instructions – I am going to toss this ball of yarn to one of you 20 volunteers, but I am going to hold on tight to the end of it. Your job is to catch it, and then throw it to one of the other 20 – preferably somewhere across the room, but as you do, be sure to hold on tight to the yarn before you toss the ball, so you remain connected to it, and the next person will catch it and hold onto their spot and then toss the ball to the next and so on and pretty soon we will have a good web going…. Now as this is going on, when the yarn is stretched between two of these 20, if you in the congregation are seated near the yarn, just gently grab onto it, so you are connected and as the web grows we will bet everyone connected…
OK here we go…. Quite the wild weaving isn’t it? May this remind us that we are all connected in Christ’s Spirit which never orphans us. As I am woven more closely together with my family in this sabbatical time I pray you will be more closely woven to each other also – all to God’s glory, and in Christ’s name, Amen+
On weekends when I was growing up, I could usually find my dad working on projects in and around our house and yard – repairing shutters, paneling our family room, painting the porch, gardening, mowing, raking – these are just a few of the things I remember him doing. And I often tagged along and helped as I could, hungry for the unfolding excitement of each task, and enjoying the time with him.
I remember being awed by how my dad seemed to intuitively know what job needed to be done and when. It wasn’t that all of these jobs went smoothly – sometimes the unexpected would happen, and what had first looked to be a half hour job ended up taking the better part of a day – complete with frazzled nerves and some grumbling on Dad’s part. But he persevered and completed each job sooner or later.
Often a trip to the hardware store was required, so off we would go in his car to H. G. Page Hardware where you could get just about anything under the soon including the kitchen sink! As we walked through the well stocked aisles I would breathe in the pleasant lumber scented air and marvel at how Dad knew just what to select from each shelf. How did he do that? Looking back now I realize that he had a plan in mind, but back then I was just amazed – it seemed like magic the way he assembled all the needed materials to get that job done!
God is like that! God has an uncanny way of bringing all the right stuff together to keep his gracious purposes moving forward. I think that is what the writer of the First Letter of Peter had caught sight of and was expressing in these words we heard read in our second lesson this morning:
“Come to the Lord, a living stone, though rejected by mortals, yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: ‘See I am laying in Zion a stone, a corner stone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame’… Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1Peter 2: 4-6, 10
We are no longer nuts and bolts, boards and nails, brick and mortar, all neatly stacked on shelves. We, who were not at people, are now a people who have known God’s mercy. We are a people who are joined together by Christ our cornerstone, into a spiritual house. God in Christ has called each of us, with our own set of gifts and limitations, to join together to become part of a larger structure. God, like my Dad in the hardware store, has a plan in mind, and has carefully selected each of us to fulfill part of that plan.
We, with our human perspective, may wonder, “Why has God chosen me?” and if we are honest we may look around and wonder why God has chosen some of these other people also! We may look around this parish, or the larger Episcopal Church and see people we don’t like, or agree with, or approve of, and wonder, “Couldn’t God find better materials than this to keep God’s house in order?” It is then we must remember that we do not have the master plan in front of us. My guess is that God’s plan is a bit different than that of human builders. Human builders seek the finest materials they can afford to use in their work – quality being their criterion in the selection of materials. I imagine God selects building blocks for the realm of God in a different way – I imagine God’s criterion in that selecting is love.
I think of Jesus as a stone that God has dropped into the pond of our temporal and material existence. Outward from that stone drop spread rings of resurrection energy, spreading, spreading, until they take in everything and everybody. In Christ God is reconciling all that is to Godself , because God has been madly in love with creation from before time began.
So if we look even the least bit interested in being involved in God’s great building project, God will take us down from our shelf and lovingly find a use for us in this great work of reconciliation. We may seem impractical, but God does not mind. Those things that seem most impractical to the human mind may become miraculously practical under God’s touch. And we who have witnessed this are like I was as a child in the aisles of H. G. Page Hardware – awed by God’s ability to know just what and whom to select.
It should not surprise us then that these lesson come to us this morning as we have our annual parish Time & Talent Fair. The Parish Hall is set with information tables about all the various facets of our parish ministry – Christian Education, Our El Salvador and Among Friends ministries, Property Committee, Worship Assistants of all kinds and much more. During fellowship time after this service, leaders from these areas will be at the tables to answer questions and share scrumptious goodies with you to go with your coffee or tea.
Maybe you have been part of God’s great building project here at St. Paul’s for many years – maybe you have worn many hats and been involved in many ministries – so maybe it is time to try on a new hat and take part in something new. Or maybe you are fairly new to the parish and this will be one of your first time exploring more deeply what we ministries we share in as a parish. There are plenty of opportunities to become more involved.
It is easy to say to ourselves, “I already have more than enough to fill my calendar and my time is so stretched already.” I know how that is and I honor and support healthy limits. However, I also know that being involved in our shared ministry will bring spiritual growth to you that is priceless. So I invite you to consider taking something else off your plate to make room for taking something new on here, because I don’t want you to miss out on the transforming power of participating in Christian ministry which will change your life in amazing ways. The first step is to come to the fair this morning and simply listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to lead you to something that is just right for your gifts and your life situation – believing as I do that Christ’s promise to us in this morning’s Gospel is not just for the here after – believing as I do that Christ has prepared a place for each of us here and now at St. Paul’s Church and is longing to draw us more fully to himself through our shared ministry.
Jesus’ final words in the Gospel are “Whatever you ask in my name I will do it.” When preaching on this passage once the great Episcopal Bishop Phillips Brooks exhorted the faithful with these words:
“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger people. Do not pray for tasks equal to your power. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.”
May God receive the glory for the miracles occurring among us as we are willingly build into the household of God in this place, in this generation. In the name of the Master Builder and Weaver. Amen+
Boston’s LGBT Pride 2014
For plans: http://facebook.com/thecrossingboston
Sermon for Sunday May 11, 2014