A SERMON PREACHED BY
THE VERY REVEREND CANON
(1LT SEP, USAR & LTC RET, RCSO; DEAN EMERITUS, CHICAGO SOUTH AND ST. MATTHEW'S CENTRAL BROOKLYN DEANERIES; CANON, ST. PETER'S CATHEDRAL, KIGEZI DIOCESE, THE CHURCH OF UGANDA)
ALONZO CLEMONS PRUITT,
TSSF, MSW, M. Div., D. Min., D. D.
THE CHURCH OF ST. JAMES THE LESS, NORTHFIELD, ILLINOIS,
THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF CHICAGO,
THE EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST,
THE YEAR OF OUR LORD, TWO THOUSAND SEVENTEEN,
BEING OCTOBER 8TH
May the words of our mouths, and the meditations of
our hearts, be always acceptable to you, O Lord,
our Strength and our Redeemer. AMEN +
it seems like........
it seems like we are again and again standing behind the
curtain, with Dorothy, The Wizard, the Scarecrow, and the Lion,
being the Tin Man and hearing ourselves say, “And now I know I have a heart, for I can feel it breaking.”
The horrid news of the massacre in Las Vegas is a
nightmare come to life all by itself, but when one considers this madness took place not long after hurricanes inflicted death, and destruction that will take years to repair, and after two earthquakes, while forest fires continue to blaze, and war with North Korea perhaps coming any day, it is possible to see this as a time like none we can remember at all, and to wonder why so many tragedies this summer and this fall.
Who can make sense of madness? What could be said that would explain the commitment to kill unarmed, unknown, human beings? And how can one comprehend the level of hate descended to, to march through Charlottesville, seeking to terrorize Blacks and Jews? And if once it was wise to wear hoods and so hide, today's miscreants let us know who they are, not fearing retribution from near or from far. And if the Mayor of Las Vegas refuses to say the shooter's name, we can only begin to understand her deep, deep, pain.
A 66 year old woman named Jamey Eller said that she and friends dropped to the ground when they first heard what some thought were firecrackers.
“We began to crawl”, she said, “we did not know where we were going”.
We can certainly understand her not knowing where to go, on a day that began like so many others, just seeking to hear music, she witnessed the death of sisters and brothers.
And the bullets rained down and the screams went up.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus, days after the slaughter, still shocked and hurting, we thank God that we know where we are going.
WE ARE GOING TO LOVE.
We are going to caring and peace, to understanding, and the ease, that often takes place when people feel tenderness is the currency exchanged between them. We, like St. Paul, are pressing “on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”
We know, like the writer of the Song of Solomon, that “many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it”, and so the crashing waves of hatred and madness, the devastating flood waters that have taken both lives and land, will not overcome us, if we make love our stand.
Please take a moment, and look around the church. Please look at the people next to you, and the people in front of you, and the people around you. Please take just a moment and look.
Did anyone see anyone who does not deserve our kindness and respect? Did anyone see anyone who is so thoroughly and completely loved and understood, so carefully and consistently listened to, that we need not take the time and effort to bring peace and warmth to their lives?
A further aspect of the tragedy in Las Vegas is that other desperately needy people and places will be crowded off the stage of the world's attention, and focusing on the latest devastation will cause earlier ones to lose even a mention.
The Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, born in France but a gift to the whole world, once wrote,
“PARADOXICALLY, I HAVE FOUND PEACE BECAUSE I
HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DISSATIFIED. MY MOMENTS OF
DEPRESSION AND DESPAIR TURN OUT TO BE
RENEWALS, NEW BEGINNINGS.”
It was never necessary for me to take the Graduate Record exam. Since I had a Master's in Social Work when I entered seminary, and I earned a Master of Divinity when I began my doctoral work, it was determined that the assessment of my ability had already taken place.
A friend who did take the exam told me that what made the test so difficult was that one only had a certain amount of time for each section of the test, and this induced a particular tension.
We sometimes live as if we have all the time in the world to deeply or better love the people we care for, as though tomorrow is assured, and as though when it arrives, both we and they will be there.
Among the things we are reminded of by the Route 91 Harvest Festival is that not even our next breath is guaranteed, much less next week.
Are we doing all we can to love those we love? Are we doing all we can to love God by caring for people we don't know, but who are known by God?
Have we put love on automatic pilot, and so knowing that butter pecan ice cream is our dear one's favorite, we just assume that that is the delight of choice when comes the time to make a selection. Is it possible that for this birthday, what they really want is to try pralines and cream, or our embrace of their new dream, or to partner with them in some adventurous scheme?
Dare we part without a hug and a kiss, or letting them know that when not at our side, they are greatly missed? And is it possible that if someone had invited the shooter for dinner one Thursday night, our land would not be awash in blood or know the terrible blight of being in the throes of darkness?
And even if that madman was unwilling to alter his evil agenda, aren't there people in our lives, and in the world we cannot refuse to invite if Jesus has been invited to our hearts?
President Nelson Mandela once said,
“NO ONE IS BORN HATING ANOTHER PERSON BECAUSE
OF THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN, OR HIS BACKGROUND,
OR RELIGION. PEOPLE MUST LEARN TO HATE, AND IF
THEY CAN LEARN TO HATE, THEY CAN BE TAUGHT TO
LOVE, FOR LOVE COMES MORE NATURALLY TO THE
HUMAN HEART THAN ITS OPPOSITE.”
Mindful of the lesson from Matthew's Gospel, this morning, I wonder if for some of us, the three people beating the heir, are all one person; one person who is assaulting himself, the three concurrent realities abusing herself.
Some people still beat themselves with the memory of what they did wrong in the past, or of how at one time they could not do something, and so they still limit and punish themselves for what...........once........was.
And it seems there are some who beat themselves today for what they are not, or do not have. A neighbor or a colleague or a family member has a riding mower, or a high paying job, or a son who is a doctor, and some, not having these blessings, berate themselves in their present moments for the blessings they do not have, for the different achievements of their own children.
And yes, it is clear there are those who mistreat themselves when considering what tomorrow will bring. Will I have enough money, will I find or keep true love, will I be loving cared for in the winter of my years?
Drinking from the well of doubt, they are poisoned, and live within ongoing attack.
One writer suggested that
“TO BELIEVE IS TO BE IN ONE MIND ABOUT
ACCEPTING SOMETHING AS TRUE. TO DISBELIEVE
IS TO BE IN ONE MIND ABOUT REJECTING IT.
TO DOUBT IS TO WAVER BETWEEN THE TWO, TO
BELIEVE AND DISBELIEVE AT ONCE, AND SO BE
IN TWO MINDS.”
Senator Robert Kennedy quoted George Bernard Shaw when he said that,
“SOME SEE THINGS AS THEY ARE AND ASK WHY?
I DREAM THINGS THAT NEVER WERE AND ASK,
As has been noted, to make your dream come true, you have to stay awake!!!
Awake to the truth that we all benefit from your love; awake to the truth that only God needs no improvement in loving; awake to the truth that reliving the past, bemoaning the present, and doubting what can be in the future, are their own forms of slow and painful death.
Awake to the truth that God's love for us calls us to serve others.
You are a gift of God that has a value beyond measure. You are beautiful and capable and strong. You are God's answer to the questions in the world and in the world around you.
What you achieve is only limited by what you choose to be believe, and if you can conceive a better life, a finer way, a brighter day, these will surely be yours.
There IS a darkness that prowls for us as a hungry lion, but God's love, and your love, are stronger than any foe, and brighter than a million midnights.
And we are wise to again and again consider how we might best love others, but wise too, to reflect on how we might better love ourselves.
We might shun doubt and consider the much we can do without; we might consistently speak and only shout as runs are scored or great wine poured.
There is only one you in all the world, and God, who so deeply loves this world, decided it would not be complete, unless you were in it.
A Sister of ours, a member of this church to whom I took Holy Communion this past week, said she was almost afraid to go to sleep at night for fear of awakening to more bad news tomorrow.
What if the people in your life were excited to go to sleep because they were happy to anticipate the way you would love them in the new day? What if you longed for tomorrow because it is another opportunity to better care for yourself and for all the things of God?
Our pains and problems are invitations to love. Invitations to seek God's love, and invitations to share it, for when darkness comes, only in God are we able to bear it.
Mass shootings, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and floods.....we do not know all the reasons “why” but we do know love will conquer if only we will try.
+ IN THE NAME OF GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON,
AND GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT, WITH GRATITUDE FOR
THE HOLY CROSS OF CHRIST. AMEN +
This Sunday, September 24th & October 1st
Learn about the spiritual dimensions and responsibilities inherent in building racial justice with a video class from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. This class will be presented over two weeks and hosted by Father Alonzo. No need to "sign up" just show up! Learn more below!
Learn about the spiritual dimensions and responsibilities inherent in building racial justice. Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, provides a sobering yet hopeful outlook on both the sin of racism and the reconciliation of working towards a more just world.
A seldom-discussed but essential element in combating the racial turmoil of our age is rooting our efforts towards building racial justice in spirituality.
So says Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, and keynote speaker at the Trinity Institute's 2016 conference, Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice. In this class, Bishop Curry offers four video presentations addressing different aspects of racial injustice. They include:
Thirty Worthy Minutes: Learn about Labyrinths – Sunday September 17th 9:15am – 9:45am
Labyrinths have been an integral part of the spiritual culture of many societies and religions worldwide for over 4,000 years. During the middle ages, the Catholic Church adopted labyrinths to help parishioners understand the mystery of Christ. Explore these ancient tools with local labyrinth expert Neal Harris and our own Glen Tracy and find out why St James the Less is passionate about building our own labyrinth in the new garden next spring.
Lunch and Labyrinths! A Fresh Encounter! Sunday October 15th 11:30am – 2:30pm
Join us in an outing to Relax4Life at 26402 N Edgemond Ln, Barrington, IL 60010 (http://relax4life.com) where local labyrinth expert, Neal Harris, will meet us and give us a brief introduction to walking labyrinths at 1:30pm, and then we are free to walk one or more of their labyrinths at our own pace. Come and encounter God in these sacred spaces! All are welcome!
We plan to eat lunch on the way to Barrington, so we are fortified for the labyrinth walking! Everyone would need to pay for their own lunch - restaurant to be determined.
Please let Sue Babbs (email@example.com) know if you plan to come walk with us, whether you will be joining us for lunch also, and if you would like to car pool.
Our 2nd Annual Golf Outing in scheduled for Sunday, July 16th at Willow Hill Golf Course (1350 E. Willow Rd., Northbrook).
Short Game Clinic
At 1:30 p.m. there will be a Short Game Clinic taught by Bob Dickman,
Illinois PGA Teacher of the Year.
9 Hole Golf Game
2:30 p.m. Shotgun Start
A 9 hole "shotgun start" at 2:30 p.m. After wrapping up the 9 holes, we will head back to the church for a potluck dinner, replete with outstanding golf prizes!
This year we can accommodate 32-40 people (up from 24 last year), so bring a friend or two -- but just let us know! We will have a few "rangers" to help monitor play, making sure all golfers keep up with the group ahead!
The fee for the clinic, golf game, and dinner are
$25 if walking, $35 with a cart.
A sign-up sheet is available in the Parish Hall,
you can also RSVP by clicking the button below!
Signup deadline is Friday, June 30th.
If you have any questions, please contact
Jim Carini, Phil Montross, or Ron Valentine!
Sunday, June 18th @ 10:00 a.m.
Lutheran Church of the Ascension
Come and worship in community together with 3 Northfield Churches (St. James the Less, Lutheran Church of the Ascension, and Northfield Community Church)! We will also have a joint choir for this service, and a rehearsal date will be announced soon.
The service will be followed by a delicious Father's Day BBQ! The menu is BBQ chicken, salads, potato chips and beverages. The Dairy Queen Cart (our favorite!) will provide the ice cream for dessert. St James the Less is responsible to bring chips and beverages.
Can We Borrow Your Cooler?
As mentioned above, our church is responsible for bringing drinks and chips, but this also means we will need some coolers to carry the drinks and keep them cold! If you have a cooler that we may use, please bring it to the Parish Hall (labeled with your name) anytime before June 18th. For more information please contact Linda Jensen, Sally Neuert, or Anita Ruesch.
One Service @ 10 AM followed by Town Hall Meeting.
The Town Hall follows worship in the Parish Hall and is presented by the Vestry (governing board). The focus will be to update and invite parish response on FOUR important items:
1. Updates on the Capital Campaign Projects.
2. Meet the Rev. Alonzo Pruitt who will be our visiting priest during Rev. Lisa' sabbatical and learn about sabbatical parish activities.
3. A potential 2018 Mission Trip
4. Consider installing a Loop Hearing System in our sanctuary for those struggling with hearing loss.
April 30th | 10 AM
Experience the Holy Eucharist through the music of the Fab 4!
Why a Beatles Mass?
Our hope is that you will hear, sing, and read the word of the Eucharist from a fresh perspective! We honor and respect the music of The Beatles, not as a pinnacle of religious work, but as a vehicle through which we can come together, be unified, and experience God who made us all and blessed humankind with the capacity to make, play, and sing music!
Silent Auction & Brunch!
Along with the Beatles Mass is our annual Silent Auction & Brunch -- our major outreach fundraiser! Come and bid on fantastic items such as: Weekend Getaways in Door County, Cubs Tickets, Golf Packages, Skeet Shooting Events, Dinner Packages, Landscaping Packages, Custom Oil Paintings and much more! The Fundraiser Brunch takes place directly after the Beatles Mass and is $20 per individual or $50 per family.
The six Sundays prior to Easter will include creative proclamations of the Gospel. Brooke Sabia will enact the Woman at the Wll, kClare will lead un in a Godly Play version of Nicodemus and music ill illuminate the story of Lazarus' rising -- to name a few plans.
The Early Church Fathers deemed the six gospels assigned in the lectionary during this Lenten season as the most important for Christian Formation and are especially set aside for baptism or reaffirmation of faith. These rich teaching of Jesus offer spiritual knowledge and bring new insight in every telling. The hope is by creatively proclaiming these vital scriptures, we will discover something new together of God's outreaching friendship toward human kind.
April 9th | One Service @ 10 AM
April 13th | Agape Meal and Holy Eucharist @ 6 PM
Noonday Worship | St. James the Less @ 12 Noon
Worship @ The Grove | 2:15 PM
Taize Service | St. James the Less @ 7 PM
April 16th | Worship at 8 & 10 AM
followed by and Easter Egg Hunt!
Paul Wadell is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. Norbert college in De Pere, Wisconsin. He is the author of several books on friendship including the one that we will be using this Lent, Becoming Friends: Worship, Justice, and the Practice of Christian Friendship. Paul became interested in exploring the importance of friendships for a good and flourishing life, first because throughout his life he has been blessed with wonderful friendships, and secondly because he discovered philosophers and theologians who saw friendships as pivotal for our moral and spiritual development. For more than thirty years he has reflected on the riches and blessings of friendships and his interest in the subject has only grown stronger.
Paul Wadell will be with us on March 18th at 9:00 a.m. to discuss "Celebrating Friendship -- Why Thinking About it Matters" and "Good Things good Friends Do For Us." On March 19th at 11:30 a.m., Paul will discuss "Growing Together in Christ -- Friendship in the Christian Life". Childcare will be provided on March 19th.
Read Paul's Book!
Paul Wadell's book Becoming Friends: Worship, Justice, and the Practice of Christian Friendship is available in the Parish Hall for $20. It is also available as an eBook from Amazon.com. Rev. Lisa will use this book to guide conversations during 30 Worthy Minutes on the Sunday's in Lent @ 9:15 a.m.
Click here to Sign Up!