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Our vision at St. Michaels is to be “an ever-widening, ever-deepening circle of reconciliation in Christ.” Such is on the homepage of our website not once but twice! And we are not making this stuff up. The Catechism, on page 855 of The Book of Common Prayer, says, “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” St. Paul says, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Are the relationships between the various races of Austin what God would have them be? NO.
Since the tragic murders of nine black parishioners at Emmanuel (= “God with us”) A.M.E. Church in Charleston, there have been talks in the church community of Austin about what God might be calling to happen here in Austin. What form might this take at St. Michaels? Who knows but we shall never know if we do not intentionally pray, talk, work, and pray some more. To this end, the following is happening:
- Some of us are meeting with local black leaders.
- Ora Houston, the only black Austin City Council member and a long-time member of St. James Episcopal Church, will preach here on Sunday, September 20 at the 9:00 and 11:00 services. St. James is by far the most racially diverse Episcopal church in Austin, and we have a recent history of working with them on projects.
- Also on September 20 our adult Sunday school lesson following “Hazardous Saints” will be on Sojourner Truth. She was an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She was born into slavery in New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826.
- National Charity League – Shannon & Elly Abikhaled.
- Created a Rice alum physicians group to endow undergrads to travel to Africa to work on biomed engineering solutions to health problems – Shannon & John Abikhaled.
- Introducing my great niece to “The Way” – Bonne Bourland.
- Ensemble VIII board; opera board emeritus – Nell Dale Sanders.
- Fund & manage family foundation; bridge board of McAllen; UT scholarships; treasurer of SMEDS – Jan Klinck.
- Board of charitable foundation; support a poor family from Reynosa; encourage Weight Watcher members; give to UTeach at UT – Sally Klinck.
- Help with grandkids; stay in touch with lonely friends; remember BDs; pray.
- Medic firefighter; BSA asst. scout master – Chris Ham.
- KW Cares board; grandmother, mother, sister, friend; St. Jude’s Life Works.
- Board President of Peace through Commerce; Co-founder and president of Austin Chapter of American Creativity Assoc.; board of U of Hawaii alums of TX; leader of St. Mi’s prayer group and Seeker book study – Phyllis Blees.
- VBS; singing – Julius Tabery.
- Soaring for Song; visiting lonely neighbors – Ron Tabery.
- Board of Ensemble VIII; WHS Baccalaureate Committee.; raising righteous boys; playing organ – Gena Tabery.
- Getting to know and share with coworkers through a small group – Sarah Doran.
- Teaching & encouraging small children.
- Started and running a company that donates 10% net profits to children’s shelter; make Kiva microloans to women – Camille Gaines.
- Hospital chaplain; NOVA.
- Austin Pets Alive – the Guesses.
- Board of VSA TX; Austin Children’s Services & SafePlace – Sarah Koestler.
- Mentor grad students; rescued senior dog – Ben Koestler.
Or, better put,
What God Does Through Us …
Several weeks ago I preached a sermon on my being pleasantly surprised by all the good ministries our parishioners are involved in, many of which I am clueless about. Some folks believe that it is not “ministry” unless someone in a collar does it or that it happens on church grounds. Nothing could be further from the truth!
In the sermon I asked the congregation to briefly write down on 3X5 cards some of the ministries they are involved in and as an outward and visible sign of offering these back to God, to drop the cards in the offering plates. I said that I wanted to share these with the whole congregation and such is below. Remember, these notes were not to be exhaustive but rather to give us a sense of the height and breadth of the stewardship of time and talent of our fellow parishioners. Sometimes folks shared their names; others are anonymous.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK –
--The Rev. Robby Vickery
Both the gospel reading last week and this week emphasize that in the presence of Jesus believers get well. The reading this week further emphasizes that followers of Jesus are to be about this healing ministry also.
So, why do many churches today not emphasize healing more? I fear that we have become too “sophisticated” and “enlightened” for such “primitive” beliefs. And pastorally we do not want to get peoples’ hopes up and then dash them if healing in the way they want to be healed does not happen. In this week’s epistle, St. Paul himself appeals to God three times to be healed of a “thorn in the flesh,” and Paul receives a clear “No” from God. Paul, whom God used to heal others, does not get his own healing, and he has to come to terms with that. I’m experiencing a “No” or at least a “Not yet” in my own life right now.
Even if the answer is sometimes/frequently “No,” the clear witness of scripture is that God intends wholeness and health for God’s people. “You do not have because you do not ask.” So let us ask! As a seminary professor of mine put it, “Storm the gates of heaven with prayer.” I also like the way former Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple put it, “All I know is that good things happen when I pray that do not happen when I do not pray.”
–The Rev. Robby Vickery
Last Sunday was Fathers’ Day. I realized that it has been over six years since my father died and eight years since I lost him significantly to the “fog” of dementia.
Heavenly Father, through the grace of your Son, Jesus the Christ, continue to pour your love and mercy upon my father. I look forward to the day Dad and I are reunited in your kingdom.
How much does our experience of our earthly fathers shape our understanding of our heavenly Father? How much does our experience of our heavenly Father shape our understanding of earthly fathers?
After my father, the man who had the most influence on my life was my tennis coach, Tut Bartzen. He retired from the “amateur” tennis circuit in about 1961 to become the pro at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth where I was playing. Tut won the U. S. Clay Court Championship in singles five times and in doubles four times. Representing the United States in Davis Cup play Tut NEVER lost, going 16-0 in matches. He was ranked eighth in the world in 1959.
Tut did not just teach tennis. He taught a way of life: work hard, compete hard, don’t beat yourself, control your emotions, if you are not sure your opponent’s shot was out, you call it in, and trust God. Yes, trust God. Tut was a devout Roman Catholic who went to mass daily. Tut taught me (between the ages of 10 and 15) that a boy without much athletic ability but with hard work and smart play could become a good tennis player and a good person. So, I will miss the 11:00 service this Sunday to drive to Fort Worth for a reception at Colonial honoring Tut. I and folks I have not seen since high school will thank this father-figure.
– The Rev. Robby Vickery
Arrival (The Refugee)
a poem by Susan Husson
Interfaith Refugee Ministries, New Bern, NC
Pharmacist, cook, driver, lawyer, mechanic, housewife,engineer.
We are old.
We are toddlers and teens.
We are parents.
We are young and single.
We come out of terror and the shambles of our country wasted by war.
In weariness of soul and body, we come.
In deepest sorrow, we come.
In hope and fear we come.
With dreams, we come.
We have no other place to go now, no other home, no other life.
Our homes, empty shells.
Our families, scattered or dead.
Our neighbors and friends, enemies.
Our country, shattered.
We struggle with our baggage, seen and unseen.
Some you carry for us; some, we will always bear alone.
The sudden terror.
The inexplicable sadness.
One long journey is ending as our plane lands.
We pause at the steps, terrified, breathless. What now?
Someone points to a doorway.
Hesitating we begin to move so slowly.
We enter a dim hall and walk towards the light.
Strange accents fill our ears, we see incomprehensible signs.
Suddenly, the hall widens, the light seems too bright . . .
A crowd of people waits. For us?
We see smiling faces, friendly eyes.
We glimpse balloons, flowers,
A sign in our language! It says we are welcome.
Strangers step forward to greet us with smiles, hugs, and tears.
We feel the love,
We sense the compassion,
Their warmth surrounds us, supports us.
Our new life is beginning.
Learn more about Episcopal Migration Ministries.
I am pleased to share that Saint Michael’s Episcopal Day School (SMEDS) has a new director. She is Rebecca Hope, and she will start full time August 1. She has already started very part time. We look forward to her continuing to build upon the great foundation laid by her two predecessors, Kathy Lapsis and Dana Carvalho. Keep her in your prayers. Her bio is below: