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And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
by Joni Mitchell ©Siquomb Publishing Company
The rhythm of nature’s seasons has always been important in my life. Spring, summer, fall, and winter each come with their own joys and challenges and I love them all (well, except the Texas version of summer).The year circles around, again and again, in the rhythm of life.
Our lives follow this pattern as well. I have known the new life and promise of spring in so many ways, including my childhood in Denmark, growing up with my siblings, grandparents teaching me about life by living it, the wonder of education, and my immigration to the USA with learning to live in a new country and culture.
And the summertime of my life was so abundant for me. It was monumental for me to discern my vocation to the priesthood; the great gift of my Virginia Seminary education informs and enriches every aspect of my being. When I was made a priest in 1995 it literally changed my being and I will be a priest in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church forever. It was a joy to watch my children grow up to become really nice grown-up people and I treasure their friendship.
And summer leads to fall and harvest. Twenty years of ministry as a priest at Trinity-by-the-Sea in Port Aransas, Our Savior in Aransas Pass, St. David’s in Austin, St. Alban’s in Waco, and here at St. Michael’s, week after week standing at the altar presiding at the Holy Mysteries and knowing I am one of the blessed people whose work is their vocation. I have been privileged to be part of so many lives – in the good times and in the worst of times. Seeing my children find the loves of their lives and form their own households makes me happy. And I find much joy in seeking to be as wonderful a grandparent, “Bedste,” as my grandparents were in my life.
Many of you know that I love winter very much and I believe I am now called to live fully into the winter of my life. There are so many things I love to spend time doing: knitting, sewing, painting, writing, reading, cooking and, most of all, being with family and friends, both in Austin and other parts of the world. At this time in my life, after sixty-some years, I long to have time to just revel in the fullness of the moment, to do, to rest, to be, without always having to check the clock or the calendar or the preaching schedule.
Having prayerfully considered all of this, I am now planning to retire from active parish ministry. My last day at St. Michael’s will be All Saints’ Sunday, November 1, 2015. I am so thankful to each of you and to the whole church for having called and loved this priest into being. I ask your prayers for St. Michael’s and for me as we each begin a new time of life, trusting that God will do for all of us more than we can even begin to imagine.
The Rev. Janne Alrø Osborne
All the clergy of the Diocese of Texas gather every fall for two days of continuing education, worship, and business. For many years Brother Curtis Almquist of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) has been invited to the conference to serve as a spiritual director for it. When he has presented some teaching, I have always been impressed with the wisdom he presents in a quiet, calm yet passionate manner. So, I always look for his quotes in the daily meditations I receive from SSJE. Two are shared below:
We say in our own baptismal vows that “we have been baptized into Christ,” and we believe that Christ has come to live within us. Which is to say, we see with the eyes of Christ, and hear with the ears of Christ, and speak with the words of Christ, and feel with the sacred heart of Christ.
Can I see the homeless man “working” the intersection with the eyes of Christ? Can I hear the news reports about earthquake victims in Nepal with the ears of Christ? Can I speak to the clerk in the store who messes up my purchase with the words of Christ? When someone criticizes me (maybe justifiably, maybe not), can I feel this with the sacred heart of Christ?
What is it about this power of resurrection that won’t stop, won’t quit, won’t go away for anyone or anything? We place Jesus in a tomb. We anoint his body. We wrap him up. We seal the tomb. And we expect him to stay dead. But that is not how it works.
Have you seen the Terminator movies? In them it seems like nothing can stop the killer robot. Jesus is the opposite of the Terminator, the Lifenator. Nothing can stop him from pursuing you and me. “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” Why do I sometimes flee so desperately from someone trying to give me life. Because I want life on my terms. As Br. Curtis says, “But that is not how it works.”
– The Rev. Robby Vickery
Jesus invited people: “Come follow me.”
Diana Butler Bass, in her A People’s History of Christianity, offered insight into how we follow Jesus and how we, like Jesus, invite others to follow:
“Come follow me” was intimately bound up with the practice of prayer [bold mine]. For prayer connects us with God and others, “part of this enterprise of learning to love.” Prayer is much more than a technique, and early Christians left us no definitive how-to manual on prayer. Rather, the desert fathers and mothers believed that prayer was a disposition of wholeness, so that “prayer and our life must be all of a piece.” They approached prayer, as early church scholar Roberta Bondi notes, as a practical twofold process: first, of “thinking and reflecting,” or “pondering” what it means to love others; and second, as the “development and practice of loving ways of being.” In other words, these ancients taught that prayer was participation in God’s love, the activity that takes us out of ourselves, away from the familiar, and conforms us to the path of Christ.”
If we do not know how to invite others into a relationship with Jesus, maybe we are not praying enough, not following the two-fold process enough:
Within the next 24 hours spend 1/6th of an hour at least (10 minutes) in prayer. Ponder love and how God is calling you to practice it.
– The Rev. Robby Vickery
- A renunciation of evil or even an exorcisim
- A washing with water
- A laying on of hands by the episcopos =overseer=bishop
It is Thursday before our Bishop comes to our 11 o’clock service.
Have you taken me up on my suggestion in last week’s “Thoughts” to invite someone who could use a church home and purpose to come with you to this service?
Have you taken me up on my suggestion in last week’s “Thoughts” to post on your social media (e.g. FB, neighborhood e-newsletter, tweet)–”Bishop of Texas coming to St. Michaels Episcopal Church on Lp 360 11a.m. this Sunday”? (I practiced what I preached in my neighborhood e-newsletter.)
As of now it looks like 19 people will stand before the Bishop and answer his question,
Do you renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?
Candidate: I do, and with God’s grace I will follow him as my Savior and Lord.
Then they will individually kneel before God, the Bishop, and the whole congregation. The Bishop will place his hands upon their head and say a prayer to which we shall all add our
Amen. The ancient and wonderful confirmation prayer is:
Defend, O Lord, thy servant N. with your heavenly grace, that s/he may continue thine for ever, and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until s/he comes to thy everlasting kingdom. Amen.
The Rev. Robby Vickery
– The Rev. Robby Vickery
We are now in the Great Fifty Days of Easter, from Easter Day (including the Eve) until and including Pentecost Day:
The ultimate temptation the Devil can offer you and me is:
“IF YOU DO THAT [or DON'T DO THAT, as the case may be], THEN I WILL KILL YOU.”
Jesus showed that first Easter morning that the Devil could not make that threat stick for Jesus (for more than three days!), and the risen Jesus promises that the Devil cannot make it stick for you or me either. So, what have we got to be afraid of? We are free to witness to the ultimate triumph of the mercy and justice of the kingdom of God.
– The Rev. Robby Vickery
“DO NOT BE ALARMED; YOU ARE LOOKING FOR JESUS OF NAZARETH, WHO WAS CRUCIFIED. HE HAS BEEN RAISED; HE IS NOT HERE. LOOK, THERE IS THE PLACE THEY LAID HIM.“ – MARK 16:6
Thus the young man said to Mary Magdalene and the other women when they came to the tomb.
The women were looking for a dead body. In that sense, they did not “get it.” However, they were doing a couple of things right:
Then they got the best news ever delivered to anyone!
So, this Eastertide [old fashion way of saying Easter season, for Easter is a season of 50 days, not just a day] let us learn from the women and go looking for Jesus, looking not for a dead teacher of wisdom but rather for a living brother. And when we find him, or more like it, when he finds us, let us offer him our best. We can take comfort in that we do not have to “get it” perfectly. We can misunderstand; we can sin. But let us look for Jesus and offer ourselves, our souls and bodies, and what we have (our “spices”).
HE IS ALIVE! HE WILL FIND US.
– The Rev. Robby Vickery
proceeds from the sale of the crosses, and all donations received, are returned to Africa in the form of non-denominational self-help grants to meet basic human needs. The grants committee awards numerous grants up to $5,000 based on need. Past projects receiving the grants have included disaster and refugee relief, medical and public health programs, education, and agricultural assistance, primarily in east Africa.
The crosses are produced by villagers in Tanzania. Entire families take part in the project. Palm cross orders ranging from 50 to 10,000 are shipped nationwide to over 3,000 churches, church related groups, chaplaincies, and individuals. And all of this is done primarily by volunteers. African Palms‘crosses are made from dried branches of the dwarf palm Hyphaena coriacia. The crosses are hand-woven, and neither the trees nor the crosses are chemically treated and are environmentally safe. They can serve as a reminder of your part in helping people in Africa help themselves.
We at St. Michaels have been talking a lot over the last several years about disciples of Jesus being not only welcoming of people when they visit church but also of inviting them to church. If we are going to invite someone to church, we need a pretty clear idea of why we would invite them.
A couple of weeks ago I came across a blog by Ben Irwin who has moved from a more “evangelical” church to an Episcopal church. He listed and elaborated on “11 things I love about the Episcopal Church“:
- The way the liturgy soaks into your being.
- The way
the liturgy invites me to worship with my whole being, bridging the false divide between body and soul.
- The way it anchors my faith when no act of will on my part can.
- The way it embraces orthodoxy without rigidity.
- How it makes room for those who’ve been burned out, worn out, or otherwise cast out.
- The way you can simply be, if that’s all you can do.
- The way their worship can be deeply moving without resorting to emotional manipulation.
- How the “shared cup” matters more than “shared dogma.”
- The way everyone is welcome as a full participant, even children.
- How it reminds me that I’m part of something bigger.
- How at the altar, we’re all the same.
Ben is not saying that any of these are only true of Episcopal churches, nor is he saying that they are all true of all Episcopal churches. He is speaking of his experience.
So, what of your experience? What do you love about the Episcopal Church as you have experienced it? Do you agree with any of the above? Would you add other points?
And last but not least, do you know anyone who might love these too that God is calling you to invite to come to church with you?