posted on, Jul 31, 2015

Click PICTURES for information about current ministries and events

Sunday School Art
Children’s Ministry
Youth on MT in NO
The EDGE: We are back! We resume August 2, 2015
StM-South Altar
It’s always food pantry time!
Prayers and Prayer/Pastoral Groups
Flats and Soaring
Current Events Calendar
Adult Education –
C.S. Lewis begins now!
St. Michael’s Day School


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Christianity, the Cross, and Conversion

posted on, Jul 31, 2015
In my sermon Sunday I talked about choosing either:  The Reverend Robby Vickery
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A false Christianity that seems to offer health and wealth in simplistic ways that will ultimately lead to disillusionment
    OR
An authentic discipleship that understands why the cross is the primary Christian symbol. It is a paradox–suffering and death lead to joy and life. All true faith must look through the lens of the cross.
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Richard Rohr puts it this way:
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Conversion is not joining a different group, but seeing with the eyes of the crucified. The cross is Paul’s philosopher’s stone or “code breaker” for any lasting spiritual liberation. God can save sincere people of faith inside any system or religion, if only they can be patient, God-trusting, and compassionate in the presence of misery, failure, or imperfection-especially their own. This is life’s essential journey. These trustful ones have surrendered to the Eternal Christ Mystery, very often without needing to use the exact word “Christ” at all (Matthew 7:21)*. It is the doing not the saying that matters (Matthew 21:28-32)**. 
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 *7:21 Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven.
 **21:31 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.”
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–The Rev. Robby Vickery


Racial Reconciliation

posted on, Jul 23, 2015

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.

Is God calling St. Michael’s to do something about this? YES, some of us, including Janne and me, believe.

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.
If you would like to be part of a group that explores what St. Michaels can do to nurture reconciliation in our city and our world, contact me Robby.
–The Rev. Robby Vickery


More Good Things We Are Doing …

posted on, Jul 16, 2015

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! The list below continues our celebration (begun in “Thoughts” last week) of many good things (scattered seeds) that our members are doing as faithful stewards of our God-given time and talent:
  • 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.
The listing this week and last should give us a sense of the breadth of time and talent stewardship going on within our congregation.

– The Rev. Robby Vickery


What We Do …

posted on, Jul 9, 2015

 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!
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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.
  • Dell Children’s Hospital, Stephen Ministry, IHN, Women’s Storybook Project, Westbank Library – Patricia Newton. 
  • Integration helper into League of Legends Competitive Community. 
  • Prep meals for MLF, leader with Pack 30 and Troop 30, coach, Sunday school Teacher, VBC – Elm family. 
  • Bingo @ Trinity Center, registrar for Westlake Girl Scouts, acolyte, VBC service camp, helping other whites understand what systemic racism looks like to blacks. 
  • Wounded Warriors, Cub & Boy Scouts, Dell Children’s & Scottish Rite Hospital, Emergency Response. 
  • Theatre for my school. 
  • Teach Sunday school, Chair of Ducks Unlimited Austin Chapter, CAFB, coach – Hoovers. 
  • Board of Boys & Girls Clubs and TX Land Conservancy; Friend of KLRU, Little Helping Hands – Grimes family. 
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK –
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--The Rev. Robby Vickery


Healing Ministry

posted on, Jul 2, 2015
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.”

So,
  1. Use the Prayer Partners that are available at the prayer desk behind the pulpit during the administration of the bread andwine. Tell the Partner in as general or as specific a way as you want what you desire prayer for (e.g. illness, family situations, employment). They will keep it confidential. God will hear and act.
  2. Prayerfully consider whether God is calling you to serve as a Prayer Partner. We could use several more in the rotation at both 9:00 and 11:00. Training is provided. God needs moredisciples who are “Ready, Willing, and Unable.” Contact me orJanne if interested in learning more.

–The Rev. Robby Vickery

 


Fathers & Father-Figures

posted on, Jun 25, 2015

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


Thoughts from our Deacon

posted on, Jun 18, 2015

Arrival (The Refugee)
a poem by Susan Husson
Executive Director
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 deaths.
The nightmares.
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.

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Learn more about Episcopal Migration Ministries.

 


St. Michael’s Episcopal Day School Has a New Director

posted on, Jun 11, 2015

Robby hereI 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:

Rebecca Jane Hope, M.A. Ed. comes to us with 15 years of experience in the field of early childhood education. She has previously held positions such as Center Director for Clif Bar & Co.’s onsite child development center “Base Camp” in CA, Site Supervisor with Stepping Stone School here in Austin, and New Center Development Manager with Children’s Creative Learning Centers. In that role, Rebecca got the opportunity to work with many highly acclaimed Reggio Emilia centers, including The World Bank Child Development Center in Washington, DC and Boulder Journey School in Colorado. In addition to opening Clif Bar Base Camp and the Reggio-inspired 2200 Penn Child Development Center for George Washington University, she has conducted Reggio Emilia curriculum and pedagogy training workshops for early childhood educators at centers across the country.
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Rebecca is the product of a small school herself, with just 12 students in her high school graduating class at Spring Street International School, where students traveled overseas together for 3 months of the academic year. She went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Multicultural and Urban Education from Santa Clara University, and a Master’s Degree in International and Comparative Education from UCLA. In addition to the aforementioned roles in the early childhood field, Rebecca has led overseas relief and development trips throughout South East Asia, and held positions with such organizations as Teach For America, America Reads, Head Start, and Stanford University CDCs.
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In her spare time Rebecca enjoys hiking and rock climbing, in addition to live music, theatre, museums and indulging in the arts of all kinds. She lives in San Marcos with her 2 year old daughter, Piper and her husband Jason, a longtime fire fighter, safety manager and jack-of-all-trades. Rebecca eagerly awaits meeting all of the SMEDS community, and settling in to the long term service of our children and families.
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– The Rev. Robby Vickery


The Catechism

posted on, Jun 4, 2015

Robby here
A catechism is a series of questions and answers used for instruction, especially for instruction in the basic concepts of Christianity. This is an ancient means of conveying such principles. In 1st Corinthians 15:3 Paul says, “For I catechized you as of first importance what I in turn had been catechized in.” Thus, within a handful of years after the resurrection the fledgling New Testament church had already developed a formal means of instructing newcomers to the faith.
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The Episcopal Catechism is found on pages 845-862 in The Book of Common Prayer. Note how short and basic it is. There is not much detail. You or I might have wished that some of it were phrased differently, but it is good basic instruction. Be it tennis, investing, or discipleship, we need to review the fundamentals from time to time. Below is a portion of the Catechism from p. 855.
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Q.    What is the mission of the Church?
A.    The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
Q.    How does the Church pursue its mission?
A.    The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.
Q.    Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
A.    The church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.
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How are you doing pursuing YOUR mission?
– The Rev. Robby Vickery


posted on, May 28, 2015
Robby here

The primary goal of our Capital Campaign in 2012 was to pay off our commercial loan: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! YAY! This past Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, we prayed as follows and then literally burned the mortgage in the courtyard after each service.
Gracious God, we give you thanks for blessing the family of St. Michaels with this facility. May we ever be good stewards of it to the honor of your name and to the nurture of our entire community.
We especially give you thanks today for the financial stewardship of the family of St. Michaels. On July 31st, 2002 we took out a note for $2,500,000 @ 5% interest to finance the part of the construction that the sale of our old site and the initial capital campaign could not cover. By your grace and the sacrifice of the people of St. Michaels on April 21st, 2015 the note was paid off. As we burn this mortgage this Pentecost Day, may the fire of your Holy Spirit fall upon us that our hearts may burn with a desire, freed of paying for the construction, to witness to the love and mercy of your coming kingdom with our time, talent, and treasure. In the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
If you, like the Vickerys, have a portion of your capital campaign pledge still outstanding, it is still needed. The secondary and tertiary goals of the campaign were to have the reserves to pay off our Crump Foundation loan at 2% (with a still outstanding balance of $100,000) and to build up the maintenance reserve so that we could do some major repairs without having to have another capital campaign.
Even more importantly, as you finish covering your capital campaign pledge, we hope you will prayerfully consider increasing your operating pledge. This is what the Vickerys are going to do. St. Michaels has been running operating deficits for several years and no longer has the reserves to do so. St. Michaels as a church family is called by God to offer programs and grants that witness to the love and mercy of God’s coming kingdom.
                                                                 
– The Rev. Robby Vickery

 



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