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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:
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