Wednesday, July 22, 2015


O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

July 26
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 12

2 Samuel 11:1-15
Psalm 14
Ephesians 3:14-21
John 6:1-21 

Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sources and Resources - Year B

The Bible

The Book of Common Prayer (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979)

The Hymnal 1982 (New York: Church Publishing, 1985) 

David Adam,
Clouds and Glory: Prayers for the Church Year: Year A (London: SPCK, 1998)
Traces of Glory: Prayers for the Church Year: Year B (London: SPCK, 1999)
Glimpses of Glory: Prayers for the Church Year: Year C (SPCK, 2000)

John Barton, ed.,
Oxford Bible Commentary (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)

Richard A. Burridge,
John, The People’s Bible Commentary (Abingdon, OX, UK: The Bible Reading Fellowship, 1998, 2008)

Fred B. Craddock, John H. Hayes, Carl R. Holladay, Gene M. Tucker,
Preaching Through the Christian Year: Year B (Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International)

Arthur J. Dewey, The Word in Time. Rev. ed. (New Berlin, WI: Liturgical Publications, 1990).

Robert D. Fuller,
Homilies from the Heart, Year B (Tucson, 2010).

Christopher Irvine,
The Pilgrims' Manual (Glasgow: Wild Goose, 1997)

Thomas Keating,
Meditations on the Parables of Jesus (New York: Crossroad, 2010)

Scott M. Lewis,
The Gospel According to John and the Johannine Letters. New Collegeville Bible Commentary. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005)

David B. Lott, ed.,
New Proclamation, Year B, 2009, Easter to Christ the King (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008)

David B. Lott, ed.
New Proclamation, Year B, 2012, Easter through Christ the King (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012)

Ched Myers,
Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus
(Maryknoll NY: Orbis Books, 1988) 

Lesslie Newbigin,
The Light Has Come: An Exposition of the Fourth Gospel 
(Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1982)

Herbert O'Driscoll,
Prayers for the Breaking of Bread: Meditations on the Collects of the Church Year
(Boston: Cowley Publications, 1991)
Herbert O'Driscoll,
The Word Today: Reflections on the Readings of the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B.
(Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 2001)

Marie Noonan Sabin,
The Gospel According to Mark. New Collegeville Bible Commentary.
(Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2006)

Scott Gambrill Sinclair,
The Past from God’s Perspective
(North Richland Hills, TX: BIBAL Press, 2004)

Scott Gambrill Sinclair,
A Study Guide to Mark's Gospel: Discovering Mark's Message for His Day and Ours
(North Richland Hills, TX: BIBAL Press, 1996) 

Wade, Susan, Ricci Kilmer, and Christine Sine, eds.,
Waiting for the Light: An Advent Devotional / Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas
(Seattle: Mustard Seed Associates, 2011)

Nicholas Thomas (Tom) Wright,
Mark for Everyone, (London: SPCK)
John for Everyone (London: SPCK)
The Cross and the Colliery (London, SPCK, 2007)

The Lectionary Page

The (Online) Book of Common Prayer

Oremus Bible Browser

New English Bible.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, 1989.

Michael D. Coogan, ed.,
The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Third Edition
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)
Augm. 3rd ed., 2007

M. Jack Suggs, Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, James R. Mueller,
Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible, with the Apocrypha
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)

Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, eds.,
The Jewish Study Bible
(New York : Oxford University Press, 2004)

Iron River National Fish Hatchery, accessed September 1, 2012.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

migrant spirituality reading list

Suggestions for Further Reading – Migrant Spirituality
(Cadged from Marjorie King, Suzanne Hesh, Bob Phillips, and Roxanne Ramos)
Readings about migrants in Southern Arizona
Ferguson, Kathryn, Norma A. Price, and Ted Parks. Crossing with the Virgin: Stories from the Migrant Trail. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010.
Regan, Margaret.  Detained and Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire. Boston: Beacon Press, 2015. This Tucson Weekly columnist takes an intimate look at the people ensnared by the US detention and deportation system, the largest in the world.  Using volatile Arizona as a case study, with special attention to the separation of families and the treatment of women, she conjures up the harshness of the detention centers and travels to Mexico to report on the fate of deportees stranded far from their families in the United States. The book is a humanizing and rare glimpse into the lives of those caught up in the US immigration enforcement cycle.
Regan, Margaret.  The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands.  Boston: Beacon Press, 2010.
Urrea, Luis Alberto.  The Devil’s Highway: A True Story. New York: Back Bay Books, Little, Brown Publishing, 2004.

Migration and the Church
Brown, Robert McAfee. Unexpected News: Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984. 
Carroll, M. Daniel R.  Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, Baker Publishing, 2008.
Campese, Gioacchino, CS. El Via Crucis de Jesus Migrante, The Way of the Cross of the Migrant Jesus. Liguori, MO: Liguori Press, 2006. 
De La Torre, Miguel A. Reading the Bible from the Margins. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2002.
Groody, Daniel G. and Gioacchino Campese, editors. A Promised Land, A Perilous Journey: Theological Perspectives on Migration. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008.
Kim, Fr. Simon C., compiler. El Via Crucis: The Migrant’s Way of the Cross. Liguori, MO: Liguori Press, 2013.
Maruskin, Joan M.  Immigration and the Bible: A Guide for Radical Welcome. New York: Women’s Division, The General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, 2012.
Myers, Ched and Mathew Colwell. Our God is Undocumented: Biblical Faith and Immigrant Justice. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2012.
Shaull, Richard and Richard Falk. Naming the Idols: Biblical Alternatives for U.S. Foreign Policy. Meyer-Stone Books, 1988.
Soerens, Matthew and Jenny Hwang Yang. Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate, Westmont, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009.

Bowden, Peg. Land of Hard Edges: Serving the Front Lines of the Border. (Tucson: Peer Publishing, 2014)
Dear, Michael. Why Walls Won't Work: Repairing the US-Mexico Divide. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013)
Oscar Martinez, The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail. (Verso, 2013)
Montoya, Mace. The Deportation of Wopper Barraza: A Novel. (2014)

Cross-Border Tour Suggested Reading List (Border Community Alliance)
A Culture of Cruelty: Abuse and Impunity in Short-Term U.S. Border Patrol Custody, No More Deaths, 2011,
The Devil’s Highway: A True Story, Luis Alberto Urrea, Bay Back Books 2005
Documented Failures: The Consequences of Immigration Policy on the U.S.-Mexico Border, Michael S. Danielson, American University, Report prepared for the Kino Border Initiative Nogales, Arizona, U.S.A. and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico with funding from Catholic Relief Services of Mexico,
La Frontera: The Border, blog by BCA board member, Peg Bowden,
Manifest Destiny | Luis Alberto Urrea | Orion Magazine
Mexico: What Everyone Needs to Know, Roderic AI Camp, Oxford University Press 2011
Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070: A Case Study for State-Sponsored Immigration Policy, an honors thesis by USF graduate student and BCA/FESAC summer 2012 intern Ryan Murphy is available by contacting BCA at the address below.
Why Walls Won’t Work – repairing the US-Mexico divide, Michael Dear, Oxford University Press, 2013.
Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, The United States, And The Road Ahead By Shannon K. O'Neil, Oxford University Press, Inc. 2013

Border Community Alliance
In partnership with Fundación del Empresariado Sonorense A.C. (FESAC)
La Entrada de Tubac / 2221 E. Frontage Rd., Building F, Suite 201 / Tubac, AZ / 520.398.3229
Mail: PO Box 1863, Tubac, AZ. 85646

Kino Border Initiative (KBI) Movie List 
By: Roxane Ramos
Over the past two decades, many films have addressed the trials and struggles, hopes and dreams of families and individuals who cross the U.S.–Mexico border to seek a better life and to be with loved ones. In addition to the titles listed below, there are also My Family (1995), Sin Nombre (2009), and A Better Life (2013).
Now a classic and one of the first movies about the struggles and hardships facing those who choose to migrate to the U.S., El Norte (1983) by Gregory Nava relates the experience of a teen-aged brother and sister who flee the violence of their home in Guatemala for the promise of a better life in Los Angeles.
Among the four narratives Alejandro González Iñárritu includes in Babel (2006), one details the interwoven lives of a San Diego family and their undocumented Mexican nanny and how crossing the border to attend a family wedding can result in painful and irreparable consequences.
Under the Same Moon (2007), directed by Patricia Riggen, makes palpable the dire and complicated decisions faced by separated families. An adolescent boy leaves Mexico after his grandmother dies to seek out his mother who works as a maid in the U.S.
In Who Is Dayani Cristal? (2013), actor and activist Gael García Bernal retraces the journey of a migrant who died along the stretch of desert known as “the corridor of death,” providing a rare view of what migrants experience on el camino. Each year 400–500 migrants lose their lives during the crossing. For more information about the tragedy of migrant deaths in the desert, please see this article from the KBI July issue of Passages:
Documented (2013), a film by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist José Antonio Vargas, recounts Vargas’s experience of migrating to the U.S. at the age of 12 from the Philippines to live with his documented grandparents. Vargas speaks out about his undocumented status in the hopes of illuminating the challenges of mixed-status families and advocating for policy change.

KBI Reading List By: Roxane Ramos
The list below covers only a small selection of the books available about the migrant experience, immigration and border life. They include works of fiction, non-fiction volumes, art books, memoirs, and children’s books, and all help to inform us about the issues of immigration, cultural challenges, family separation and even basic survival.
The Devil’s Highway: A True Story
 Luis Alberto Urrea, Little, Brown and Company, 2004.
Enrique’s Journey
 Sonia Nazario, Random House, 2006.
The World of Mexican Migrants: The Rock and the Hard Place 
Judith Adler Hellman, New Press, 2008.
Dead in Their Tracks: Crossing America’s Borderlands in the New Era 
John Annerino, University of Arizona Press, 2009.
Crossing With the Virgin: Stories from the Migrant Trail
 Kathryn Ferguson, Norma A. Price and Ted Parks, University of Arizona Press, 2010.
Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.–Mexico Border
 Rachel St. John, Princeton University Press, 2011.
Run for the Border: Vice and Virtue in U.S.–Mexico Border Crossings 
Steven Bender, NYU Press, 2012.
The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail 
Oscar Martínez, Verso, 2013.
Up Against the Wall: Reimagining the U.S.–Mexico Border
 Edward S. Casey and Mary Watkins, University of Texas Press, 2014.
Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon
 Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa (with Mim Eichler Rivas), University of California Press, 2011.
Crossing Borders: Personal Essays 
Sergio Troncoso, Arte Público Press, 2011.
Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University
 Francisco Jiménez, HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015.
The Land of Hard Edges: Serving the Front Lines of the Border
 Peg Bowden, Peer Publishing, 2014.
Women Hollering Creek and Other Stories
 Sandra Cisneros, Vintage, 1992.
The Long Night of White Chickens
 Francisco Goldman, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1992.
Under the Feet of Jesus
 Helena María Viramontes, Plume, 1996.
Mother Tongue 
Demetria Martínez, One World/Ballantine, 1997.
The River Flows North
 Graciela Limón, Arte Público Press, 2009.
The Madonnas of Echo Park: A Novel 
Brando Skyhorse, Free Press. 2011.
Ambos Nogales: Intimate Portraits of the U.S.–Mexico Border
 Lawrence Taylor, School of American Research Press, 2002.
Crossings: Photographs from the U.S.–Mexico Border 
Alex Webb, Essay by Tom Miller, Monacelli Press, 2003.
Curating at the Edge: Artists Respond to the U.S./Mexico Border
 Kate Bonansinga, University of Texas Press, 2014.
Children: My Name Is Jorge (poems for ages 4–8)
 Jane Medina, WordSong, 1999.
My Diary from Here to There/Mi diario de aqui hasta allá (for ages 7–10)
 Amada Irma Pérez, Children’s Book Press, 2002.
From North to South/Del norte al sur (for ages 6–9) 
René Laínez, Children’s Book Press, 2010.
In my Family/En mi familia (for ages 7–12) 
Carmen Garza, Children’s Book Press, 2013.
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale (for ages 6–9)
 Duncan Tonatuih, Harry N. Abrams, 2013.

Return to Sender (for ages 8–12)
 Julia Alvarez, Yearling, 2013.

Monday, July 6, 2015

to share the blessing

In the midst of human life, suffering, striving, celebrating, or simply seeking the presence of God, and in the light of the Gospel, we ask:

Where is God in all this? He is in the midst of the people, to lead them, to heal them and comfort them, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57: 15, 18)

And this word goes out to all the world: “Peace, Peace, to the far and near,” says the Lord; “and I will heal them.” (19)

Jesus gathers the humble and contrite, heals, comforts, and leads them, revives their hearts and spirits, and gathers them into one flock, one fold. He is the good Shepherd.

No longer are some insiders, others outsiders. All are within the embrace of the one, true, living God.

What are people willing to do to share the blessing?

As soon as they came ashore, the people recognized Jesus and rushed all over the countryside and began to carry the sick around on their beds to wherever they heard that he was. (v.55, J. B. Phillips paraphrase)

They chased him! They pursued him. They carried others, hoping for healing.

We are assured in Christ of that healing, that hope — through God’s continuing presence, leading, comforting, and reviving our hearts and our spirits.

What were Jesus, the disciples, the people—and what are we—willing to do to share the blessing? Not just to share in it, but to share it with others?

The disciples
heard the message from Jesus,
spread out among the villages—
packing light, like messengers bearing urgent dispatches— 
proclaiming, teaching, exorcising, anointing and healing,
preaching repentance,
taking the risk of rejection,
accepting the hospitality that is offered,
(without attempting to ‘trade up’),
to return, regroup, and report …

The people
followed Jesus,
sought him out wherever he might be,
hurried to be there,
(ahead of him at the lakeshore)
recognized Jesus when they caught sight of him,
to carry the sick to be healed,
touched his cloak-edge—
trusted in his power to heal.

The people followed, recognized, rushed,  carried, trusted, and were healed.

And they listened to his teaching.

The teaching, the healing, the comfort, and the leading: this is all fulfilling the promise of God. And so is the people’s response.

What was Jesus willing to do to share the blessing?

Jesus went from home,
was baptized,
retreated to pray,
taught in the synagogues and on the hillsides,
proclaimed repentance and a new way of life,
healed the sick and cast out demons,
(raised the dead, fed multitudes, restored speech and hearing and sight, … but refused to give a sign!)

Jesus welcomes children, blesses them—

He gathers his people and comforts and leads them.
He gathers his disciples and teaches them—
and sends them forth.
He teaches the cost of discipleship.

Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem,
(knowing where he was going – and why)
enters the city,
teaches in the Temple,
heals at the Pools,
disputes with his opponents,
prophesies the end of the Temple,
blesses bread and breaks it,
accepts arrest,
submits to trial,
carries the cross…

What do we do to share the blessing?
To share in it, and not only that, to share it with others?

The disciples took the risk, listened to the call, went out among the villages and spread the good word. The people ran to where Jesus was, bringing the sick, to share the blessing.

Where is the blessing— not only to have but to give— for us?

Where are the challenge and the celebration, the comfort and the call to conversion?

What are we doing to share the blessing?

With each other in the fellowship-community?
With each other turned outward?
To our towns, the surrounding villages and countryside?
Our county, our region, our state?
Our diocese and larger communion? Our nation and our world?

We pray, give, and act.
We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and the people in prison.
We work to end hunger, poverty, disease, and the conditions leading to imprisonment.
We work to make God’s presence in the world manifest, and real.

O God, powerful and compassionate,
you shepherd your people,
faithfully feeding and protecting us.
Heal each of us, and
make us a whole people,
that we may embody
the justice and peace
of your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

(Closing prayer is the Prayer of the Day from the Lutheran (ELCA) book of worship.)

July 19
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 11

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Here is the collect for the seventh Sunday after Pentecost from the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of South India (a 1947 ecumenical amalgam of Methodists, Episcopalians, and their ilk) adapting Ephesians 2.19-21 (from this Sunday's lections):

O almighty God, who has built thy Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone;  Grant us so to be joined together in the unity of the Spirit by their doctrine, that we with all the Saints may be made a holy temple acceptable unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Psalm 89:20-37
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

St. John's Episcopal Church
19 Sowles Ave.
Bisbee, AZ 85603
Phone: 520-432-7006
The Rev. Richard Aguilar
9 a.m. Sunday (Lance Ousley, Stewards Stirrings)

The readings for 8th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 11B  include: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a and Psalm 89:20-37, and Ephesians 2:11-22; and Mark 6:30-34, 53-56.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


“You mean to tell me they changed the Hymnal too?!??”

That was my friend Christopher’s response. I had just showed him something he hadn’t seen before: The Hymnal 1982. And just before that, he’d shown me his beloved copy of … Hymnal 1940. I kind of laughed at him. And called him Rip Van Christopher. It had been so long since he’d been to church that he ‘missed the memo’ on all the changes after the adoption of the 1979 prayer book.

Rip Van… was actually kind of appropriate. Just imagine how Christopher would have felt if he’d gone to sleep, beloved prayer book and hymnal in hand, in 1770 or so, and woke up in 1790.


The response would be shock – anguish – even disgust. Certainly disorientation.

Not immediately – but once they got to the prayers of the people – and the prayer for the King was replaced by a prayer for the President. President? What’s that? Some kind of meeting facilitator? Is there a whiteboard in the house? Some group-process newsprint? What is going on!!?

Change happens from time to time. Even in the church.

But every once in awhile there comes a time of change. Even to the hymnal. Or the prayer book…

In the summer of 1776 the pastor of Christ Church, Philadelphia, I am told, got the news from down the street, from the building now called Independence Hall:

“When in the Course of human events…”

And so he took out his pen and his prayer book and found the places in the prayers where the sovereign and the royal family were mentioned, and he struck out “king” and wrote “president”… so I am told.

As Massey Shepherd put it, “At the time of the American Revolution the English Book of 1662 was in use, of course, in all the Anglican churches in the colonies. The success of the Revolution necessitated changes in the prayers for civil rulers…” (OAPBC, xx)

What a shock it would have been to a man reared on the prayer book of 1662 – and its strong foundation in an established church of England. And now only just over a hundred years later, with the memory of King Charles’ head and the ghost of Bonnie Prince Charlie thought safely laid to rest, there was an upheaval – a revolution.

From now on, no established church at all – not yours or mine.

We can only imagine …

… Imagine a world when something new was coming into being, and something old was lost.

Maybe it isn’t that hard after all. Not this summer...

Sometimes we lose something precious – and sometimes, when we realize what we are going to say good-bye to, we are glad to see it go. It could be a practice – or it could be an attitude. It could be a prejudice – or an unexamined presumption.

No matter.

Time to let it go.

In times of great change, Herb O’Driscoll once said, we can be mourners of the past or midwives of the future.

We are in the midst of change. Today – and all our lives.

Sometimes like my friend Christopher the change comes as a shock, the cherished object suddenly an heirloom of a past. A past we hardly knew as past.

Disbelief? Comic incredulity on our faces… but it’s gone.

How are we to live now?

Imagine him coming home, the son of Mary, coming home to Nazareth. We all know him, the carpenter. We know his brothers – name four – and his sisters. We know the little house where he grew up, the stone across the door, the Roman pavement out front where he’d play in the street, as a little boy. And now he says the world is about to change – he, of all people.

Where did he get all this?

What he says to us is worse yet – outrageous!

Repent – and repent means turning. Change your ways.

This repentance will not be televised, or announced in the town square. It will begin within you.

It will go beyond you. It will gather thousands to riverbank and hillside. To hear him of all people proclaim the good news.

Good news, my friends, is not always welcome.

That is certainly the case with Jesus, that day in his hometown.

He even wisecracked – in response to their incredulity – with the commonplace, a prophet is not without honor except in his own country.

And he had brought the message home. They did not know him as a prophet. They did not know him as a messenger of God. They knew him as a little boy, and as a man handy with his hands.

But now those hands were at other work than carpentry. They healed the sick with a touch. They cast out demons. They carried the good news with them of the coming of the kingdom of God.

It goes beyond “strike out king and write president”. There is more going on than replacing one George (the Third) with another (Washington). It is a whole new way of being.

Strike out self and write Messiah. Strike out empire and write Shalom. Strike out sin and judgment and write love and grace. War – and write peace.

Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Acceptance – and welcome – of the stranger, and of yourself.

Where there was no trust – most of the people of Nazareth that day Jesus came home – there was no healing. Only where there was trust – where people believed in him enough to come to him – did Jesus do any healing work that day. From there, however, he went on – and took disciples, students, with him.

We know that to them he gave authority – and they carried on the work in his name.

Out there in the villages they found belief, and trust, and hope – not everywhere – and they brought healing, cast out fear, and said the words of hope, and of change.

Change – turn – repent. And believe. And know that the kingdom has come among you. Peace be with you. Shalom.

Friedrich Schleiermacher somewhere defines religion as a sense of absolute dependence, that is, dependence on God (the absolute!) and that is good news, that is liberty, and true independence.

In his service is perfect freedom. Because we are dependent absolutely on him there is no need for fear of earthly powers. The prophets could speak out knowing the one they spoke for was their only security (truly the only one there is).

Because the Lord is my shepherd, my shepherd-king, I need fear no principality or power. Despite all his wanderings and all his torments and all his protests – boasts as he calls them – of these humiliations as qualifications for his apostleship, Paul knows his one true home is in Christ. That is where his safety is.

That is why power is made perfect in weakness. Sheltering in the cleft of the rock that is faith, clinging to that solidity that is paradoxical weakness, we are empowered – and free.

And so we celebrate our Independence Day. We celebrate independence from not only the sovereign of Great Britain or some other empire, but independence – liberation – from the kingdom of anxiety that would hold us in its sway.

And in that perfect freedom we too can go out into the world, taking no credit to ourselves for our security, but understanding that every step we take we are in the presence and power and under the mercy of the living God.

“Take no staff for the journey.” – I used to like this one. I thought it meant being independent, stepping out in faith. Kind of like a long-distance hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail. Or – always relying on “the kindness of strangers” – like the guy who wants a free ticket to a Dead show, holding up a sign that says, “I need a miracle.”

But take no bread, no money, no spare tunic – it does not mean taking a plunge like a bungee jumper hoping God will hold you up – or extraordinary coincidence.

It means acknowledging your dependence, accepting your weakness, admitting your need – and your connectedness.

You are not alone. Not any more, not if you have brothers and sisters in faith. Not alone – if you have an awareness that in your weakness is an openness to the strength of God.
“It is when we accept our weakness that the power of Christ is best able to dwell in us.” (Brinton, 120) God does not call the equipped; God equips the willing.

“My grace is sufficient for you...” … And in fact our dependence is absolute. In a sense that is what religion is – recognition of our dependence… on the Absolute.

We are so used to Self-Reliance, to trying to be independent. “Take care of yourself,” we say – when it is not ultimately possible. For a while, you can ride the range alone – but where are you going? Why are you out there in the first place?

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So power comes through the indwelling of God. My own power is nothing – my weakness is no more than a gift.

I am made whole in his brokenness. I am made strong when I accept that I am weak indeed, save for his grace. Amazing grace.

We have to be humble before one being – the ultimate one – and be grace receivers. It’s so much easier to hold on to pride as a grace giver – but we have nothing to give that we have not first received – and we have received no gift that we are not to pass on. 
The gifts we receive from the hand of Jesus are not to cherish, hold onto, or brag about. 

They are to use – and ultimately they become gifts in the giving. The gifts from God are gifts for others. (The church is only the church if it is for others.
The disciples, the first students of rabbi Jesus, fanned out among the villages on his mission – to call for repentance (that is, turning), to heal, to cast out – and perfect love casts out fear – to proclaim in word and deed the coming-in kingdom of God.
In all they do in those early days – casting out, healing, and preaching – they are heralding something new. As they were sent out, we are sent, too, into God’s world, to live and proclaim and be the good news. A change is coming. And it is good.
We are called to respond by a complete change of heart – of direction.
Good news is not always welcome, but whether it is received or not, be faithful in the giving. Speak the good news, but even more, be the good news. 
Then having done your work as if everything depended on you, leave the rest to God. (Mother Teresa of Calcutta)


Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, 1979)

"... thy kingdom come..." click on: Herbert O’Driscoll – 10:30 Service January 31, 2010

For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17-18)

“The common element in all religious affections, and thus the essence of piety, is this: the consciousness of our absolute dependence, i.e. the feeling of dependence on God.”  Schleiermacher, Friedrich. D.M. Baillie (Translator). The Christian Faith in Outline. 1831. accessed July 2, 2015. Pastor Stephen Springer of Dove of Peace Lutheran Church, Tucson, provided this definition from memory during text study last week; the reference verifies his recollection.

Henri G. Brinton, New Proclamation, Year B, 2009. Easter to Christ the King. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009. 120.

Massey H. Shepherd, Jr. The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary. New York: Oxford University Press, 1950. xx.

1. Sufficient grace. 2. Absolute dependence. 3. Self-reliance (we try to take care of ourselves, but “we are all beggars”). We are receivers of grace, of God’s hospitality. 

"God equips the willing" adage courtesy Lance Ousley.