Wednesday, August 7, 2019

This very night…

In the name of God, source of all being, eternal Word, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

When my father’s aunt Virginia died he was at her bedside. At another time her lawyer assured me he’d had all the property assessed so each of the four heirs received an equal value, in property or money. My father and his three siblings were the four equal sharers in their aunt’s fortune. Much of the legacy included artwork - Japanese woodblock prints - and other valuable movables. My Dad told the others he’d take what was left after they’d made their selections: some of the ordinary furniture and kitchenware, and ‘whatever was left in the storage closet down in the carport.’ *

Uncle Dave and Aunt Virginia had had some wonderful things as a result of their prewar life together in Pearl Harbor, China, and Singapore. They had friends among the Nationalist Chinese leaders and with them had experienced the terrible inflation of the mid-1930s in Shanghai, when a wheelbarrow full of money would buy a head of lettuce. 

They had saved some of that hyperinflation currency as souvenirs, some of it still wrapped in printers’ bundles, thinking it would make a decorative covering for a room divider screen. Then they realized their old friends, now in exile in Taiwan, might feel offended by the reminder of what they’d lost. So Dave and Virginia stored away the money - a story we knew well.

*And so we went down into the carport, my father and I, and opened the door of the storage shed - and a fecund effulgence of peat, fertilizer, and lawn mower oil came forth. We looked in the back and pulled out a large cardboard box - a bushel carton - and looked inside it. And looked at each other, and laughed. And laughed again. He who laughs last laughs twice.

The gospel story begins with an inheritance - with a family, at least two brothers. Approaching Jesus as an arbitrator one brother says Master tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me - but Jesus will have none of it. 

That’s a story: a one-sentence parable. Don’t get hung up about your stuff. 

Here’s a story within the story: a man had a rich harvest and said to himself, “I’ll pull down the barns…”

Thinking he had piled up for himself a pretty good load - the 1st century equivalent of canned goods and shotguns, or a 401k, or self-righteousness, the 1st century moral equivalent. (It’s not about your personal sense of security. If you think it is, your Horizon of Security is too small.)

But “You fool!" This very night your soul itself will be taken from you. 

Marie Kondo, the best-selling novelist of self-organization, bids you ask this key question of every one of the material possessions in your closet: Does this object give me joy? Does it give you joy? Does an object give you joy? 

Are you on the right track with these questions? The wealthy farmer in our gospel story asked similar questions and answered them with a resounding yes! Yes, he told himself, you can relax, eat, drink, be merry: you will have abundance stored up for many years ahead. Sort of like the United States.

And then the reminder comes. God, no less, at the end of the story, says, “You fool! This very night your life is required from you.” It echoes the passages from Ecclesiastes and the Psalms that we might review here.

I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me -- and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity. 
(Ecclesiastes 2:18-23)

4 Why should I be afraid in evil days, *
when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,
5 The wickedness of those who put their trust in their goods, *
and boast of their great riches?
6 We can never ransom ourselves, *
or deliver to God the price of our life;
7 For the ransom of our life is so great, *
that we should never have enough to pay it,
8 In order to live for ever and ever, *
and never see the grave.
9 For we see that the wise die also;
like the dull and stupid they perish *
and leave their wealth to those who come after them.
10 Their graves shall be their homes for ever,
their dwelling places from generation to generation, *
though they call the lands after their own names.
11 Even though honored, they cannot live for ever; *
they are like the beasts that perish.

(Psalm 49:4-11)

Of course who is going to get your stuff then? —is a question that tells us we are on the wrong track altogether.

Our possessions may not store in barns - they may be merit or status, righteousness through works or validation through achievement and recognition.

Jesus tells the parable of the self-satisfied farmer, the Parable of the Rich Fool, that recapitulates and extends the teaching of the Preacher and the Psalmist. For it is not only that we strive and then we die and the wealth we may have accumulated pass on to another, it is that we have entirely missed the point of life. All this time we have been striving, anxiously, to achieve self-security, satisfaction with meeting our anticipated needs and desires, we have lost out on the real riches. The riches that come from life with God.

Maybe we need to look a little larger, beyond ourselves, to whence real security - and real abundance - lies: in joining in the life and love of God.

Donald Nicholl used to quote the saying that ‘in the end the only tragedy is the tragedy of not becoming a saint’. (Léon Bloy)

You have heard it said that Jesus died for our sins - but Jesus lived that we might be saints: people who live in faith, who trust in God for their daily bread, and all else.

Jesus was willing to accept the consequences of witnessing to the truth with absolute integrity. He would not back down in the face of fear or terror. And that is why we remember him in times when we need someone we can completely rely on, that we can absolutely trust, not because he wasn’t afraid but because he was and he stayed, and he’ll stay with you.

“The peace of God, it is no peace, but strife closed in the sod. Yet let us pray for but one thing—the marvelous peace of God.” (Hymn 661)

We are called to the service of love. “Love in reality, as opposed to love in dreams, is a harsh and dreadful thing.” (Dostoevsky) 

And yet it is in that service that we find perfect freedom, in that in-security that we find hope.

Thérèse of Lisieux, who didn’t have much, knew that she had obedience… and something more: she had love. 

A young nun in a tubercular convent in northern France, she realized what matters is not what we have - good or bad - but what we do with it; that the duty of the present moment is the freedom of the present moment, because it is in the present moment that we encounter LOVE - the divine love of God. 

This comes whether we have much at all in the way of possessions, for we have all that matters. 

Thérèse of Lisieux lived to the age of 24, the last two years with TB, and hoping to receive what she finally lost - a feeling of God’s presence. Instead she kept faith while in the desert of unknowing, and in the end reached joy.

How can we give joy? What gives us joy? Collectively it is easy to plan our bigger barns, to put poles around their edges and put up the side walls, satisfying ourselves that we are snug within our self-made enclosures. But perhaps like the rich fool we have too limited, too narrow, a horizon of security. 

We have barns, big barns, and we are building bigger: but in the doing we may pull down on our heads the security that really matters. We may say to ourselves, it is our toil and knowledge and skill and pain that has gotten us this inheritance, and we do not want to split it with anybody. Brother or no.

And yet we treat our world as if it were ours not only as stewards but as owners. As plaything or resource bin, not as our home and our care. 

As if we made it out of nothing. As if it were not the legacy we have received - that we are to pass on. The judgment - no, the consequences - of seeking our own security at the expense of others, is beyond our comprehension. 

What we do know is that we are called to something more than possession, more than self-security or ease: we are called into the fellowship of the living God, and there we will find real treasure, real peace, real joy.


May today there be peace within you.
May you trust in God
that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this assurance settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
Amen.

— St. Thérèse of Lisieux


(http://thereseofdivinepeace.org/ accessed August 2, 2019.)

Thanks to Gildas Hamel and Suzanne Guthrie for insights included in this sermon.

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2019 August 4

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 13
. Year C.

Luke 12:13-21.

Grace Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, Tucson, Arizona.





The Prodigal Son, Gerrit Van Honthorst, 1622 (the young man's new "friends" prey on his wealth.) Eating, drinking, and making merry... [http://www.edgeofenclosure.org/proper13c.html]


Monday, June 24, 2019

about me

The Rev. John Leech is an ordained Episcopal priest. He preaches and celebrates at Episcopal churches in Tucson, and serves on boards of community organizations. Previously he was pastor of an Episcopal church in the Seattle area, and before that served on the staff of the cathedral in Sacramento. His theological education began in the religious studies program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and continued at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Seattle University, and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He joined the on-call chaplain staff at Tucson Medical Center in spring 2019.

Friday, June 7, 2019

That's not my Tombstone.





The New Yorker magazine posted 
a story online on June 3rd, 2019, about modern-day vigilantes and re-enactors of the old days of the Wild West. The author visited Tombstone as a tourist, and paid her way into such tourist attractions as Boot Hill Cemetery, the Bird Cage Theatre, and the reenactment of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

That's not my Tombstone.


Visitors come to the southwest and they find what they are looking for.


It's an old story. These days, we call it confirmation bias.


In the case of Tombstone it's a place easily associated with a colorful past. For many visitors Tombstone is a place of stories of the old, wild west. Of rustlers and gunmen.


And that is what they expect to find when they visit. That, and some modern-day vigilantes.


Put the two together and call it a continuum.


There is some explanation for that equation, but that is not my Tombstone.


Let me tell you about my Tombstone.


For six months a couple of years ago I was the vicar of Tombstone. That is, I was the priest who served Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Tombstone. Like many a predecessor of mine I arrived from the direction of Benson. Approaching from the northwest the first sight I had of town was of the steeple of its church. For 137 years that has been a prominent feature of the town.


And I'll tell you about it through its people. Four sets of them.


First, the pastor and people of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church. When the town was new, things were a little dusty, and leaders of the community called a young seminarian to lead the effort to organize and build a building for the church. Over six months of effort, using plans by Richard Upjohn and with the aid of resident mining experts, the congregation laid a solid stone foundation. The members of the congregation, including their young minister,  made adobe bricks on site, and put them in place. They've been there ever since. And the church, the living church that is composed of its people and its leaders, thrives. Their pastor now is the Reverend Heather Rose.

As vicar I used to pull on my boots and put on my hat and walk down the wooden sidewalks of the old town. "Here comes another one," I heard once. Apparently some visitors thought I was a re-enactor. An understandable mistake - but I was just walking the bounds of my parish. On Sunday morning sure enough you could find me at the liars' table in the O.K. Cafe on Allen Street. There is a picture over the table - I'm the one in the black clericals, my hat is on the table. In that group is someone whose family has been there since before the church was built. My closest relative in town has been there a much shorter time than that.


Second, the founder of the Tombstone Hearse and Trike company, Jack Feather. A few years ago he called my cousins in Eureka, California, and invited them into an extraordinary project. Two crews made almost entirely of veterans, in northern California and southeastern Arizona, built a replica of Abraham Lincoln's hearse. They delivered it for the 150th anniversary reenactment (there's that word) of the funeral procession to the 16th President's final resting place in Springfield, Illinois. It's in the museum there now.


Third, the single parents I met who work in the businesses on Toughnut Street and Allen Street. You wouldn't know it, as they serve you a beer or a sarsaparilla, but they have children to raise that are growing up in the local schools. They drop them off on the way to work and pick them up at the end of the day.


And fourth, there are those guys at the liars' table at the O.K. Cafe on Sunday mornings. Dressed up, some of them, as the period characters they portray on weekends, they get together and, well, tell stories. They are part of the town. Don't be surprised to see the mayor, or the tourism director, thereabouts, discussing what next to do for the community.


These people are all part of the living community. They are my Tombstone, the town I came to know in six months as vicar of Tombstone, one in a long line of ministers that continues. This fall that town, and the church, will celebrate Endicott Peabody Day, celebrating that young seminarian who came to town on a dusty stage 137 years ago, and the people who built the church, and the building they built, and the town so blessed it thrives.


https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/06/10/the-wild-west-meets-the-southern-border


Photograph by Jon Donahue. Used with permission.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Praying for the President


Michael Gerson began his June 3, 2019, Washington Post column, "Franklin Graham has played his ultimate Trump card," by telling us, 


'I pray for President Trump at least once a week. “Grant to the president of the United States,” says the Book of Common Prayer, “and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will.”*


Granted this was the only lead-in, and the bulk of the column was about something really quite different from this prayer, but by the end of the piece, we come back to that same need.


Praying for the nation and the head of state has been part of Anglican tradition since the first English prayer book; American Episcopalians have been praying for the President since 1776, when the Rector of Christ Church Philadelphia got out his prayer book and where his prayer book said "king" he pencilled in "president."


That said, it is not always an easy prayer to say -- often those prayers are offered bemusedly or begrudgingly, with glad affection or through clenched teeth.


But perhaps when we least feel like saying them is when we need those prayers the most. For his sake, for the country's sake, and for our own.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/franklin-graham-has-played-his-ultimate-trump-card/2019/06/03/22a50b18-862b-11e9-98c1-e945ae5db8fb_story.html


 

________________________________________


*That's from the 1928 BCP. In the 1979 prayerbook, Rite II, Prayers of the People Form I, says,


For our President, for the leaders of the nations, and for all in

authority, let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, have mercy.

(BCP, 483)

Other forms have more inclusive intentions, such as

We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations
of the world;
That there may be justice and peace on the earth.

(Form III, 387)

Guide the people of this land, and of all the nations, in the
ways of justice and peace; that we may honor one another
and serve the common good.
Silence
Lord, in your mercy
Hear our prayer.

(Form IV, 388) 


Rite I has 

We beseech thee also so to rule the hearts of those who bear
the authority of government in this and every land [especially
                     ], that they may be led to wise decisions and right
actions for the welfare and peace of the world.

(BCP, 329) 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Creation Care


There was a landowner who put his top employees in charge of his holdings. He said to them, “Take charge of it – and take care of the place. Bring your families to live on the land, and enjoy its produce. Serve it faithfully, and from its care you will live abundantly.”

So the servants came on board. They lived on the land, and raised families there. They were as fertile as the land itself and they grew in numbers. And it was theirs for the taking – to take charge of, to take care of, or to take advantage of – and with the land they served as their home they would live in hope and abundance, or in fear and scarcity – it was up to them.

What will they say when the landlord comes? How will they be with him? As servants entering into joy, or as sad stewards with empty fields, exhausted resources, and mistreated fellow creatures, to show for their stewardship?

 
Let us remember our special mandate as human creatures to care for the earth: not just to multiply and fill it – but to tend it. We are the stewards, the workers in the garden, of this green and gold, and glorious, blue white planet. It is our home, but not as owners – not as exploiters – but as chief tenants. We are the live-in caretaker of the apartment house, so to speak, not the landlord.

We look forward to the return of our landlord, with joyful expectation but also some anxiety. Our anticipation is mixed with feelings of loss and grief – and even guilt. In our Christian hope we turn to that landlord and yearn for his presence.

We are deluding ourselves if we think our self-assumed pose of superiority to the rest of creation is something mandated in the Bible.

So what is in the book?  
 
Genesis 2:15 (CEB): The Lord God took the human being and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it.
 
Take care of it - not wreck it! We are chosen, yes, and special, because we are called to self-understanding, to knowledge (as partial as it may be) of our place in the cosmos, and our role as stewards of the earth.

Genesis 2:15 (CEB): The Lord God took the human being and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it.

In other words, we are both to cultivate the land and to take custody of it as servants of the Lord. We are stewards of the earth, caretakers and custodians.

We are God’s representatives, or images, in creation, so exercising that stewardship is a servant role, subservient to the true land Lord of the universe. We have power to alter the world but we depend on the earth and its life for survival.

Our “rule” is subordinate – submissive to God and God’s will for creation – God’s will, not our own.

Take care, take charge. Fill the earth, be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth. And delight in it.


Sunday May 26th 2019. Creation Care Pledge Workshop. Grace St Paul’s, Tucson.

In Genesis 1:26-28, God says, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.” God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.

As the notes to the Common English Bible inform us, to take charge – to rule as a master over servants, or a king over subjects – is a way of characterizing human power and authority over the rest of the animal world. But that in itself does not say anything one way or another about how that power is exercised, whether in caring for creation or ruling harshly over it.

visions

The passage from Acts (16:9-15) for the sixth Sunday in Easter, year C, begins:

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading
with him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

The call echoes in the experience of a later messenger, as he tells of his life and the grace of God ...

After many years I finally returned home to my family in Britain. They took me in — their long-lost son — and begged me earnestly that after all I had been through that I would never leave them again. But one night while I was at home I saw a vision while sleeping — it was a man named Victoricus, among to me as if he were arriving from Ireland. With him he brought a huge number of letters. He gave me one of them, and I saw that the first words were “The Voice of the Irish.” When I began to read this letter, all of a sudden I heard the voices of those Irish who live near the woods of Foclut near the Western Sea They called out to me with a single voice: “We beg you, holy boy, come here and walk among us!” I felt my heart breaking and was not able to read any more — and so I woke up. But thanks be to God, because after many years the Lord made their prayer come true.

("Confession," Philip Freeman, Saint Patrick of Ireland, Simon & Schuster, 2004, 182-183.)

Yes, that was Patrick of Ireland, in the fourth century of our era. He like Paul followed the call - the leading of the Spirit - in a way we might, maybe, find strange: through the figure of a dream. When the saint awoke, like the apostle, he gathered the images of the dream and heard in them a direction.


2019 May 26
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Year C
Acts 16:9-15
Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
John 14:23-29
Psalm 67

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Lydia

CEaster6 2019 

The Conversion of Lydia, the first disciple in Europe. 

In the name of God, the merciful, compassionate, and wise. Illumine us and breathe on us, Spirit of God, that we may like your apostles of the past bring the joy and truth of your blessing to all your creation. May all the peoples praise you and may we be glad in the pleasure of your world. 

Have you ever been surprised by where you have fetched up: on an unexpected shore, in an unfamiliar place, with people you didn't know, with a job you did not want? 

The companions of Paul, familiar with the eastern shore, were not prepared to cross from Asia Minor into Europe. But that is where the wind blew them; that is where the spirit led. They had been wandering all over Turkey trying to find their way — but the Spirit of Jesus was making other plans.

Philippi meant exposure for them - to a new part of the world: Europe. They are being drawn toward Rome. 

Because the Roman world was so open for trade and travel, much more than past or even future times would allow, Paul and his companions were able to move freely. 

But the movement was more than physical travel. They are moving from one culture, one language, toward another. Philippi had a colony of Roman veterans, veterans from a hundred years of war. So now they were bound to meet Latin speakers from the western part of the empire. They are in the empire now.

The spirit is way out in front of them, guiding them, leading them - like a pillar of cloud or light. 

______

Driven by the Spirit, Paul and his companions arrive in a principal city in Macedonia: Philippi. There they seek out people of prayer. And down by the river they find them: Jews — and Gentiles God-seekers worshiping alongside them. 

Among them, and I believe prominently among them, is Lydia. She is a woman of means and substance, a business woman, a dealer in luxurious crimson purple cloth. She is leader of her household. Most importantly, she is a God-fearing woman, worshiping God as best she knows how, and seeking to know more.

So she listens closely and attends to what these travelers are saying. They come, Paul and the others, from across the seas, where they have followed - or been guided - by the Spirit of Jesus to a new continent, a new scope of adventure for the message they carry.

The message they carry brings fulfillment, a completion for God-fearing men and women like Lydia of what they had sought without knowing the name of what they sought.

God-fearers like Lydia were Gentiles, not converts entirely into Judaism but close - wanting to be close enough to learn what this teaching from now-Roman Palestine had that would fill the empty place that was left unfilled by what they had known before. 

Lydia, a woman of piety and hospitality, invites into her household and under her roof, these travelers. They bring as gift what they know of Jesus, of the Way, the Way that she will now follow. She is the first Christian in Europe, the first person to turn and take steps on the Way that the Spirit marks out.

When the women went down to the river to pray, they encountered the bearers of the message of Jesus. For them it was liberation and fulfillment. Fulfillment of long awaited promises - they could sense something they had been looking for - a key to how to live, a completion of all they knew, as people who sought God and served God's creation as best they knew how. 

Now they knew. It was Jesus who they had been looking for - and Jesus who had been looking for them. And so they followed the way.

Lydia - following a pattern the apostles knew in Palestine - welcomed them into her home, and there they dwelt while they stayed in the place. And so the message spread to a new continent. 

The Spirit continues to mark out the way, for her, and for these travelers. For Philippi was on the Via Egnatia, a major Roman road that led from Byzantium, at the eastern edge of Europe, west across Macedonia and Greece; and from there, by sea and by land, to Rome.  

From this small beginning, from her hospitality, and the house church established in her home, comes the beginning of the church in Europe. Her house becomes the home base for teaching and worship; and from that home base and that city, the word spreads.

What if the disciples had failed, turned back? What if Paul had simply rolled over, "it's only a dream" …? What if Lydia had not opened her heart and her home?

Perhaps the word would not have reached us. But it has… What if we…?

The story is told as if the disciples did it all. 

“Do everything as if it all depends on you,” Mother Teresa of Calcutta advised, “then leave the rest to God.” (Malcolm Muggeridge, “Something Beautiful for God”, BBC, 1969)

But what paved the way?

This was an empire that, like none before it, allowed the movement of goods, capital, and people freely from the Euphrates and the Nile to the far shores of Europe. Jewish people of the Diaspora, for one, spread out across the Roman Empire. 

By road or by sea travel was unrestricted like never before. That freedom of movement, with relative safety, was unprecedented. And now along its paths, its roadways and seaways, came the Christians with their message. And Lydia was the first to know. 

But who paved the way?

The Spirit had made Lydia ready - her heart was open.

* * *

In the gospel Jesus warns his people that he is going away and they will not see him anymore. In the book of Acts none of the people in the conversation have ever seen Jesus in the flesh. 

And yet they have come to believe that in him God was fully present as in no other human being. In him was embodied the fullness of divine life. God with us. 

And this is part of the gift of the Incarnation. God comes to us. In the person of Christ God is present. And through his Spirit he is present to us. No longer need we learn another language or go to another place to seek God. God reaches us here in our own heart language and speaks to us - and we to each other.

This is the moment of transformation: of conversion, of translation, of incarnation. God becomes present in us, dwells within us and among us… if we, like Lydia before us, open our ears and our homes and our hearts, and invite God to make his dwelling place in us.

***

Visions led these messengers into new lands, perhaps not the ones they'd have chosen for themselves. 

Often and again the spirit leads the people of God by a way we do not know to a place we do not expect. But the spirit is way out ahead of us. And the Spirit is our guide and teacher and comfort.

That is what Jesus promises when he promises the disciples: I am going away but I am coming to you. An Advocate, a comforter, will accompany you, will guide you, will teach you and remind you all I have said, and you will come to understand it, as you came to know me in the breaking of the bread.

For that is how we experience God, isn't it? in the guiding of the Spirit, of the breath of God. For the Father is unseen and (we anticipate an upcoming feast here) Jesus ascends and is seen no more. Then comes the Day of Pentecost, the day of flame - of inspiriting power - when people from all over the world begin to hear the word in their own tongues. Not the tongues known by the speaker, but the languages of the hearers; foreigners in a foreign land having brought home to them the universal message of freedom. 

And that is one meaning of Incarnation. That God is present to us and we to God not by our becoming strangers to ourselves, learning a new language that is not the language of the heart, but that God speaks to each of us in our own heart language, as God came to us in the flesh in a particular person, not abstract but oh so human: Creation is good and God is with us.

* * *

Jesus says, “Peace I leave you, bequeath to you, the peace of God I give you.” This is no simple greeting, no casual Aloha and farewell: Jesus is telling his disciples that shalom, the deep peace of God, is present with them. Whether he is there in Spirit or in flesh, that peaceable kingdom is already finding its place in them.

There are no limits to the spread of Christian faith, to territories of the heart. Peace, deep peace, is available to all. 

A sister wrote: “I find it comforting to think God comes to each of us in our own ‘heart language.’” The good news comes to us each in our own language - that is part of the message of Pentecost. The rest is - now go and spread the word. And now go - and live the life. The life of freedom and grace — and ADVENTURE.

He is the Way. Follow him through the land of Unlikeness; 
you will see rare beasts and have unique adventures.
He is the Truth. Seek him in the Kingdom of Anxiety: 
you will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.
He is the Life. Love him in the World of the Flesh: 
and at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.

(Hymn 463/464, W. H. Auden, For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio (1942))


__________

God-fearers: A class of persons mentioned in the Acts (e.g. 10: 2) as religious, probably adherents of the synagogue but not yet proselytes (who had been admitted to full membership by circumcision). 
[“God-fearers.” In A Dictionary of the Bible. , edited by W. R. F. Browning. Oxford Biblical Studies Online, http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com/article/opr/t94/e769 (accessed 25-May-2019). ]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbgfQ48hWuY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XElGDuCUUd4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX7M9psH0rM

https://www.saintpatrickcentre.com/st-patricks-confessio


2019 May 26
Year C

Grace Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, Tucson, Arizona. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts and the works of our hands be acceptable offerings in your sight O God.

From the Facebook page of
The sermon from Rev. John Leech for May 26, 2019, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, is now available for download in audio format: https://gsptucson.tumblr.com/tagged/sermon