I submitted an article for our local newspaper last night and decided to put a copy in the St. Andrew's blog as well. Enjoy. The guy in the picture is Tolstoy and I do not even pretend to be in his league.
This Sunday the gospel reading came from the book of Mark and it talked about how Jesus created such a stir when he visited a village. Even when he was looking for seclusion the crowds appeared. He was truly a religious rock star. People gathered around him hoping for a chance to touch his robe, to hear his words, to be healed spiritually and physically. Jesus offered them something new. He offered them a new covenant. He put a fresh face to Judaic law. He told them the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. He told them to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's. He said that whoever was without sin should cast the first stone.
Jesus told his followers there are really two simple things that God requires. Love God and love your neighbor. All you need is love. It is such a simple request and it is sometimes so hard to do. The people of the AME Church in Charleston showed the world their Christianity by their response to the senseless murder of their church members. They showed a love for their community and forgiveness when many wanted to express rage at this horrific event. We can also be led down a hateful path. One bad thing can lead to another and then to another. Before long you can find yourself in a place that is so dark it seems impossible to find your way out. There is a way out.
Last week I read to my congregation part of an essay by Reverend David Sellery. I share it now with you.
Start each day in the knowledge that we are God's beloved. We don't belong to the world. We are not Satan's creatures. To keep it that way, make a mental checklist of your vulnerabilities. Examine your conscience. Acknowledge your sins. Ask for God's forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Then forgive others as you would hope to be forgiven. Resolve to fill the day with the love of Christ. Then live his love. Share it. Spread it. Proclaim it. Rejoice in the Lord. Thank him for his saving grace. End your day the same way...reflecting, correcting, forgiving and thanking. Then get up and do it all again tomorrow.. another good day closer to home...another day delivered from evil.
Fr. Fred Steinbach
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church