I’ve spent much of yesterday and last night watching....fill in the blank from words I heard (thugs?, terrorists?, rioters, protesters, etc).... storm the nation’s Capitol. I imagine you did, too. Frightening, angering, painful events — a shock to our souls and the nation’s soul.
Yesterday was the Feast of the Epiphany, a celebration of the “revelation,” of light, of love, of Jesus for and in the world.
Much we’ve not wanted to see what has been revealed yesterday. Ours was a sad epiphany.
The story that Christians read for Epiphany is from the Gospel of Matthew. It is a story of a beautiful revelation, a star leading those longing for peace to the birthplace of Jesus. And it is a story of imperial treachery. If you haven’t read it recently, open your Bible and read Matthew 2:1-12
Based on this passage, the Epiphany story, we are warned that the birth of the peace and justice is intertwined with the reality of imperial violence. As the beloved community comes into the world, evil kings will lie and murder — do anything — to stop the possibility of God’s dream made manifest here and now.
So what do we do?
Diana Bass Butler suggests....Be like the magi.
The wise men were, indeed, wise. This is the time to pause amid the yelling and figer pointing and remember the light of the star. Remember the angelic song of peace. Remember the longing of our hearts for a governance of grace. And remembering, we continue on following the star. We can kneel, worship, be overcome with joy. Even through Herod lies, God’s presence does not absent itself. Love is still here.
And then — once we let that truth fill us — we do not go home the way we came. Because there will always be some Herod whose fear leads to violence and death. We will leave this Epiphany by another road.
I don’t know where that other road will take us. But we can’t continue on the road we’ve been traveling. If nothing else, I’m glad we, St. Paul's, are on this journey together.
Yesterday was scary. Yesterday we saw ourselves at our worst. Yesterday showed us what thuggery looks like. It showed us a difference in how a group of white protestors are treated in comparison to black protestors. A woman lost her life. Officers were seriously injured. Critical national work was disrupted. Yesterday broke our hearts. We should never forget yesterday.
Today, we claim the promise of Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
Today, we buckle in and begin the hard work of building democracy again.
Today, we remember that yesterday was not who we are. We are better. We are kinder. We are braver.
Today, we give thanks to the law enforcement officers, reporters, and peace activists who stepped into the danger for the sake of the common good.
Today, we remind ourselves that more holds us in common than divides us as a people, a nation, and a world.
Today, we try to walk the Way of Love again.
We will find our way through this moment, though we may have hard days ahead. None of us will forget what we have seen. I pray we don’t forget what we have learned.
May God’s spirit be among us in these coming days.
There is much more, of course, to say, to express our pain, sorrow and outrage, to work for justice, in the coming days and weeks. Do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and your families today. Cry, swear, pray, lament. God is with us. Every feeling is holy. Look up for that star. Salvation is at hand.
Let us pray:
Our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry urges us to pray:
"....therefore I ask you now to join me in prayer for our nation, praying first from the prayers that accompany Morning Prayer:
Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
Govern and uphold us now and always.
Day by day we bless you;
We praise your name forever.
Lord, keep us from sin today;
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your love and mercy;
For we put our trust in you.
In you, Lord, is our hope;
And we shall never hope in vain.
- Morning Prayer II, Book of Common Prayer, p. 98
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered together under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one God and Creator of us all; to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever.
- For Peace, Book of Common Prayer, p. 815
Oh God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your son. Look now with compassion on the entire human family; and particularly this part of the family, in the United States, and those in our nation’s capital; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- For the Human Family, Book of Common Prayer, p. 815
On this day and at this moment, we pray for our nation. We ask God to heal us, to show us the way to healing, to show us the way to be one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power and the glory,
forever and ever.
And now, may the peace of God which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The blessing of God Almighty the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be on you and on this nation and on the entire human family and all of creation this moment and forevermore.
On top of everything else....
It is that time of year to consider becoming a member of the Bishop's Committee
and/or a delegate to our Diocesan Convention
The Bishop’s Committee is the elected governing body of the congregation. Along with the Vicar, the Bishop’s Committee is composed of elected members from the congregation, representing a diverse set of skills and gifts for leadership. In the Episcopal Church, the Bishop’s Committee has responsibility for the “temporal affairs” of the congregation, including the care of our buildings and finances, as well as choosing individuals to fill leadership roles in the congregation, and setting the vision for the congregation, along with the Vicar.
Keri Van Zyest - Acting Bishop's Warden
Dan Wosonski - Treasurer and Member
Tricia Seifert - Clerk and Member
Serving on the Bishop’s Committee includes the following responsibilities:
- To pray for our Church and its leaders.
- To regularly attend the worship services of the church.
- To observe the canons of the diocese and the national church.
- To support the Vicar.
- To provide leadership for the congregation.
- To attend monthly Bishop’s Committee meetings.
- To set goals and implement priorities for the upcoming year and beyond.
- To be willing to serve on a committee.
- To formulate and manage the financial operations of St. Peter’s
- To oversee the physical plant and the grounds.
- To arrange for elections to the Bishop’s Committee.
- To attend and support special events at St. Paul’s.
- To participate in and support diocesan programs and activities.
- To incorporate new members into church life and help to equip and motivate all members for their ministries.
- To attend a yearly Retreat.
- To make a financial pledge to the life of the Church.
AND – we have fun!!
If you are interested in serving, please contact any member of the Bishop’s Committee to learn more.
Delegate to the Diocesan Convention
The job of a Convention Delegate is to provide a link between the congregation and the Diocese by representing the congregation both at regional and diocesan levels, and by reporting back to the congregation on events, actions and decisions that occur. The dates for this year's convention are October 28-30. If it is held in person, we will meet in Santa Fe. If, due to the coronavirus we cannot meet in person it will be conducted as it was last year, virtually.
SELECTION OF CONVENTION DELEGATES
A lay delegate should be someone who can represent the congregation and vote on its behalf on a variety of subjects. A member of the Bishop's Committee or a retiring warden often makes a good delegate because of intimate knowledge of the workings of that congregation. The Vicar and Bishop's Warden are automatic delegates. We need to elect two other people and one alternate.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS A CONVENTION DELEGATE
Delegates and warden represent their congregation at the annual Deanery Assembly, and at any other meetings of the region.
Delegates represent their congregation at the annual Diocesan Convention and any specially convened conventions.
Delegates advise their vestry/mission committee and congregation of issues pending before the Deanery or the Diocese, seek their opinions, and report back to them when actions are taken.
All delegates and alternate delegates should reserve the date of their Deanery Assembly and the Annual Convention on their calendars, as well as the dates of any other meetings (such as Deanery steering committee meetings or special hearings).
All delegates should report back to the congregation as a whole as well as the vestry/mission committee after Deanery meetings and after Convention. This can take place in a forum, annual meeting, Bishop's Committee meeting, or through a column in the newsletter, etc.
Pray about this and see what God is saying to you.
Stay safe, warm and well.....Shalom,
Hymn of the month by Beth Kerzee
January 2021 Hymn of the Month
I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
Words: Kathleen Thomerson, 1970.
Music: Houston: Kathleen Thomerson
"I want to walk as a child of the light.
I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world.
The star of my life is Jesus.
Refrain: In him there is no darkness at all.
The night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.”
From time to time, a hymn captures our imagination because of its simplicity and transparency. Such a hymn is “I want to walk as a child of the light.” In singing this hymn, we feel the spirit of Epiphany unfold.
Kathleen Armstrong Thomerson (b. 1934) is a native of Tennessee. She wrote the hymn during the summer of 1966 during a visit to the Church of the Redeemer in Houston, Texas, the location providing the origin for the tune name HOUSTON. Her musical education took place at the University of Texas and Syracuse University, with additional studies at the Flemish Royal Conservatory in Antwerp. She has studied with several of the most noted organists of the twentieth century.
Ms. Thomerson directed music at University United Methodist Church in St. Louis and was on the organ faculties of St. Louis Conservatory and Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. From 2004 through 2013, she served Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas. In addition to this hymn, she contributed tunes for hymns by Patricia B. Clark in their joint collection, A Taste of Heaven’s Joys: A Collection of Original Hymns (2005).
A musician with such a distinguished musical pedigree does not usually compose a gospel hymn of such elegant simplicity. A folk-like melody conveys a text based upon a wide range of scriptural allusions and biblical images. Methodist Hymnal editor, Dr. Carlton Young notes some biblical passages that support the text: Isaiah 42:6c, “I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.”; Malachi 4:2, “But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings”; Revelation 21:25b, “And there will be no night there,” and 22:5b, “They need no light of lamp or sun.”
“I want to walk as a child of the light” communicates deep conviction and personal sincerity, while avoiding any hint of pretense. The first-person perspective invites the singer to join Christ, the Light of the World, in discipleship – a journey of faith. The second line of each stanza deepens this commitment:
Stanza 1: “I want to follow Jesus.”
Stanza 2: “I want to look at Jesus.”
Stanza 3: “I want to be with Jesus.”
The theology of this hymn outlines sanctifying grace, the perspective of the Christians as they move toward perfection in the faith, becoming transformed in the image of Christ. Each stanza adds greater luminosity to this walk. In the first stanza, “God set[s] the stars to give light to the world.” Christ in turn becomes the “star of my life.” References to stars support the hymn’s appropriateness for Epiphany. Stanza two expresses the desire to “see the brightness of God.” The “Sun of Righteousness” illumines “the way to the Father.” The final stanza extends the journey toward the “coming of Christ,” an eschatological direction toward our future hope.
As in most gospel hymns, it is the refrain that carries the essence of its meaning; and in this refrain, with its scriptural allusions that virtually quote from Revelation 21 and 22, this hymn is distinguished from many earlier expressions of discipleship. While a deeply personal expression of piety, the poet roots her devotional expression firmly in Scripture, avoiding the maudlin and simplistic notions of some gospel songs.
The simplicity of the music and text does not imply a simplistic faith. “I want to walk as a child” reminds us of one of the paradoxes of our faith, that we need to become as a child to fully understand the realm of God (Matthew 18:2-4).
Written by: C. Michael Hawn,University Distinguished Professor of Church Music, Perkins School of Theology, SMU.
It is also a time for discernment.
The Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande invites you to consider a new way for DRG Congregations to support asylum seekers as we partner with Episcopal Migration Ministries in being a pilot diocese for the Neighbor to Neighbor program.
Neighbor to Neighbor is a new network designed to connect asylum seekers with Episcopal congregations in local communities across the US. Led by Episcopal Migration Ministries and the Rev. Cristina Rathbone, Neighbor to Neighbor seeks to provide a way for Episcopalians to accompany, assist and support asylum seekers who live close to them, and is committed to offering congregational groups training and support as their relationships with these newest neighbors develop and grow.
This discernment time will help us to dream together about how we could best welcome people into the work of loving our newly arrived neighbors as ourselves through the ministry of accompanying asylum seekers.
Welcoming our neighbors as we would welcome Christ is more than a political issue; it is a question of our identity as followers of Jesus, as members of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement, and as people who made promises at our baptisms:
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
To these questions, we answer together with a resounding, “We will, with God’s help.”
During this time of discernment, we will actively invite God’s help to enter into our decision about joining Neighbor to Neighbor. There is no single right conclusion to this process. Reaching out to asylum seekers who have moved close to you is just one small way to make the world a better place. We believe it is an essential way and that, grounded in real-time relationship, it honors the incarnation power of us all. But there are as many ways to help usher in God’s Kingdom as there are people on this earth, and it is important that you find the way that works best for you and your community.
If St. Paul's chooses to join Neighbor to Neighbor, we will embark together on a series of trainings including: a course in anti-racism that has been specifically designed for accompanying asylum seekers, Safe Church training if needed, neighborhood mapping instruction, and an introduction to trauma- informed service. First, however, we ask that you take a little time to listen and learn and speak your own truth in the knowledge of God’s love for all.
If this is something you feel called to ponder, please let Fr. Mike know and we will set up a time for a group to go through the process of discernment.
For January 13 @ 7 pm central time
Session 2: Mark 2:1-4:41
In advance of the next class, I encourage participants to:
If interested, please sign up at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The needs of paying the the church bills, funding our ministries, and proclaiming the Good News continues during this Pandemic. Please consider making a monthly gift.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!---to all of you who have contributed and continue to contribute to our virtual collection plate. Some of you have made it a monthly donation through our "Donate Button. Either way you have done it....it is greatly appreciated.
For those of you who have not checked out how easy it is to donate on line....Go to our website-http://stpaulsmarfa.org- Go to the bottom and find the "Donate" --click on it and fill in the blanks.... OR go to https://www.dioceserg.org/donate and continue to support our mission and ministry.
ALSO---Thank you, thank you, thank you for all who have mailed in pledges and donations.
Things to do to benefit the church and the community during the Coronavirus Restrictions
1. THE MARFA FOOD PANTRY IS EMPTY! - Keep bringing food donations...our doors are open 24 hours and you will find a basket at the back of the church.
2. Pray for Rudy and Allison.