posted on, Apr 24, 2015
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Thoughts from the Rector

posted on, Apr 24, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt 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

Our Bishop is Coming

posted on, Apr 16, 2015

Robby Photo
This is a Big Deal. We are an Episcopal church, and the word “Episcopal” means “Bishopal” from New Testament Greek for “overseer.”
The Episcopal Church is organized with dioceses as the primary unit (not the parish). Each diocese is overseen by a bishop. We are in the Diocese of Texas which covered the entire state when it was organized in 1849 but has since subdivided into six dioceses. The Diocese of Texas now covers the southeastern quarter of the state (57 counties), basically from Longview down to Waco, Austin, and from here to the coast at about Matagorda Bay. Indeed, the “mother” (founding) church of the Diocese/state is Christ Church, Matagorda.
Our bishop now is the Right Reverend Andy Doyle. (“Right” before “Reverend” indicates a bishop.) He is the 9th Bishop of Texas. [It just occurred to me that I have served under more than half (5) of the Bishops of Texas.] He will be with us at the 11:00 service on April 26 to preach, confirm, and preside at the eucharist.
PLAN TO BE THERE. This is the day to be reminded that we are not just a congregation doing our own thing on the west side of Austin in the early part of the 21st century. We are part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church which started that first Easter Day and has been commissioned and empowered by the Spirit of the risen Christ, the Holy Spirit, to witness to the reconciliation of God and humankind in the coming kingdom. This is a worldwide mission that we are part of, and it will continue until Jesus comes again. And our Bishop is our sacramental (“outward and visible”) link with this ancient and future church and mission. CELEBRATE THIS.
Sign up to come to the luncheon afterward. Bp. Doyle will be sharing with us about his “Dream for the Future of the Church.”
Radical Idea: Invite someone who could use a church home and mission to come with you to this service on the 26th.
Even More Radical Idea: 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. on 4/26.”

– The Rev. Robby Vickery

Easter: A Season, Not Just a Day

posted on, Apr 9, 2015

We are now in the Great Fifty Days of Easter, from Easter Day (including the Eve) until and including Pentecost Day:

  • The liturgical color is celebratory white.
  • The Paschal (i.e. Passover) candle shines at all services.  It was lit at the beginning of the Great Vigil on Easter Eve as a symbol of Jesus’ passing over from death to life that night, and because he has passed over, so shall we.  The only time the Paschal candle is lit outside of the Great Fifty Days is for a baptism or funeral, when we want to emphasize Christ’s victory over death for us.
  • The “Alleluias” are back in our responses and songs.  We “fast” on alleluias during Lent so that we can celebrate all the more with them when they return in Easter.  “Alleluia” = “Hallelujah” = “Praise Jah[weh]” = “Praise the Lord”.

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


posted on, Apr 2, 2015

Robby Photo
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:
  • They were looking for Jesus. 
  • They were trying to do the best they could offer him: anoint his body with spices as a final act of loving care. 
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”).
– The Rev. Robby Vickery

Palm Crosses

posted on, Mar 27, 2015

Palm Crosses

African Palms USA, an outreach ministry of St. Johns Church of Olney, Maryland, was founded in 1965 by Father Alan Talbot, an Anglican missionary in Masasi, Tanzania who sought a way for poor farming families to augment their income and improve their living conditions. The result was turning a simple hand-woven palm cross into a great source of income and humanitarian aid. The net 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 takePalm Cross 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 Palmscrosses 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.


Things I Love about the Episcopal Church

posted on, Mar 19, 2015

  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“:

  1. The way the liturgy soaks into your being.
  2. The way the liturgy invites me to worship with my whole being, bridging the false divide between body and soul.
  3. The way it anchors my faith when no act of will on my part can.
  4. The way it embraces orthodoxy without rigidity.
  5. How it makes room for those who’ve been burned out, worn out, or otherwise cast out.
  6. The way you can simply be, if that’s all you can do.
  7. The way their worship can be deeply moving without resorting to emotional manipulation.
  8. How the “shared cup” matters more than “shared dogma.”
  9. The way everyone is welcome as a full participant, even children.
  10.  How it reminds me that I’m part of something bigger.
  11.  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?

– The Rev. Robby Vickery


posted on, Mar 12, 2015

Baptismal Font with Water

One Church – Two Altars


Right now we are in the midst of observing a holy Lent, but we need to note something on the horizon: our diocesan bishop, the Right Rev. Andy Doyle, will visit St. Michael’s on Sunday, April 26. He will confirm, preach, and preside at the 11:00 eucharist that day. If you are interested in presenting yourself to the bishop for confirmation, contact Janne to learn how to prepare for this important spiritual step.

We are The Episcopal Church, and the word “Episcopal” comes from the New Testament Greek word “episcopos” which meant “overseer.” The New Testament church took this Greek word and used it for the church office we have come to know as “bishop.” Hence, we are “The Bishopal Church.” Our bishops, especially our diocesan bishop, are our sacramental link with the larger church, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

Not only will our bishop worship with us on April 26, but he has asked to be able to dialogue with the whole congregation at a luncheon that day. Bp. Doyle is trying mightily to help our Diocese of Texas, with its 150+ congregations, to be effective instruments of Jesus Christ in the 21st century. He has observed that the church does not need to be “tweaked,” it is actually functioning very well as a 17th century institution.

So, whether you attend the 7:459:00 (at 360 or South), 11:00, or 6pm, start planning now to be with us for lunch on April 26. Celebrate that we are part of something far bigger, older, and more profound than any one congregation can be. Details about signing up for the luncheon will be available soon.

– Robby Vickery

One Church – Two Altars

posted on, Mar 6, 2015


Missed y’all, but for medical reasons I was in Santa Rosa, California on Sunday, February 22. I found a gorgeous redwood Episcopal church to attend only 3 miles from our hotel. The architecture was not the only appealing aspect of the church. As I walked into the 8AM service, I passed numerous homeless folks who were leaving, having found shelter and food there the night before. I had an 8:45 physical therapy treatment/training so I had to leave at the Peace without having received communion yet, but it was good to gather with brothers and sisters in Christ to pray and listen to God’s Word together.

Many of you have told me that you have prayed for my health. Thank you! I have hope that the PT I learned how to do for myself will bring relief over the coming months.

I missed many of y’all again last Sunday (March 1) as I drove not to 1500 N. Capital of TX Hwy. but to 3700 Convict Hill Rd to take part in our first Sunday worship service for our new south Austin congregation. We worshiped and had Christian education, and it was clear the Holy Spirit of Christ was there. Still in my vestments, I made it back to St. Michaels-360 in time for most of the prayer of consecration at the 11AM service.

One thing is clear as we start the new south congregation: already thin service rosters for things at St. Michaels-360 like:

  • Altar Guild
  • Greeters
  • Acolytes
  • Readers
  • Healing Ministers

need to be replenished to replace those who have started ministering at St. Michaels-South. Are you called to these ministries? You might be; you might not be. Lent is a good time to look at the things that we are saying “Yes” to that God might be calling us to say “No” to and things that we are currently saying “No” to that God might be calling us to say “Yes” to. God calls us to both service and sabbath (holy rest), but not busyness. Send an e-mail to The Rev. Janne Alro Osborne or me for details about signing up for one of the ministries.
–Robby Vickery

Keeping Sabbath

posted on, Feb 27, 2015

Thoughts from the Associate Rector, Janne Alro Osborne …

Do you sometimes feel your life is like one of those jugglers frantically racing from one pole to another first trying to spin the plates then trying to keep the whirling plates balanced? A flurry of movement is followed by a time of keeping up with all the spinning plates ending with desperate moments of trying to prevent the crash.

Do you long to feel more like a dancer responding to music? Flowing from movement to movement with a sense of wholeness and beauty, able to keep your balance as you live in harmony with the rhythm and tempo of the music?

A holy and ancient way to meet that longing is to learn and practice some ways of keeping sabbath. You can begin right now:

  • Recall the creation story when we are told that each day God followed a rhythm of work and recognition of the particular work as good. Read Genesis 1:1-2:3 to learn of Gods work and rest (shabat).
  • Try taking one minute sabbaths off and on throughout your day, making time to appreciate the work you just did. Even if it was an activity you did not particularly enjoy. Recognize it as good.
  • Set aside some time each evening before bed to remember your day, to celebrate your work of that day, and to offer thanksgiving to God.
  • Develop of weekly ritual of sabbath. Consciously prepare for how you will keep some hours of rest in God. Turn off your electronics or at least silence them. Delight in the knowledge that Gods love for you is not based on how much you accomplish nor on how hard you work. Give thanks that God delights in you because you are exactly you.


For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

In returning and rest you shall be saved,

in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

– Isaiah 30:15



As Lent Begins …

posted on, Feb 19, 2015
Let us take off the masks we wear
And kneel before the Lord.

My Lord, you know who I am.
The mask I wear may fool the world,
but it does not fool you.

The baubles I hold dear
are but dust to you,
Creator of the stars that shine
like a million diamonds in the night.

The excesses I consume
deaden me.
The wounds I hide
stifle me.

Help me as I renounce
that which does not serve me
and fall to my knees before you
to beg a mercy I do not deserve.

God of light, Lord of the universe
hear me, free me, heal me.

Keep your name upon my lips
so that when I tell
your holy text to the world
that longs to know you
my heart will hear your voice.


-Network of Biblical Storytellers, Int’l.