Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-- BCP, page 232


1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111;
Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

Dear gentle readers, my Emmanuel Church family: we come with this offering to the last installment of "Padre's Post." The time to say good-bye has come. This Sunday is my last day with you.

Words fail me to express my gratitude to you for the honor of letting me be your pastor, priest, and teacher these nine-plus years. When the 2009 Vestry called me to be your rector, none of us knew what our life together would be like -- though we all certainly had hopes and dreams.

I am here to tell you that the privilege of being your rector has been for me a joy and delight beyond my wildest dreams. We have walked in love with each other, worshipping God in beauty and holiness, through good and hard times, in joy and in sorrow, and as a people who are "forgiven, loved and free" (Hymn 304). We have prayed that God would make us instruments of God's peace. We have cared for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ; and we have also sought to care for those beyond the circle of our fellowship who are in need in this community.

Thank you for being who you are. Emmanuel is graced with people who strive to love God and to love their neighbor. You are a strong Christian community.  You have taken on the mission of embracing and welcoming all whom God loves. To practice unconditional love is to know the heart of God.

To love God, to love one another, and to love our neighbor as ourselves: this is the mission that Jesus has entrusted to all who follow him. It is God's mission. Therefore, it is far greater than any one person's involvement in that mission because it is grounded in the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!

Thank you for striving to be better people and for working to become a better community while accepting one another as we are. The Rev. Dr. Tony Lewis, my Greek and New Testament professor as well as an amazing human being, frequently reminded his students that, "Sin being what it is and people being who we are," we are far from perfect.

Or as our former Assistant Bishop, Francis Gray, once told us at diocesan convention, "If I ever found the perfect church, it would cease to be perfect the moment that I joined it." We have been together long enough to know that none of us is perfect and that as a community we are not there yet. Thank you for your patience with me about my own imperfections. I ask your forgiveness for them. Forgive each other's failings as well. We all have a lot of room to grow into the likeness of Jesus.

This week's collect sums up my prayer for you: May God continue to grant you grace to receive all the goodness that God has prepared for you and may you be strengthened to walk each day in the blessed imitation of Christ that will make you the full and complete human beings you can be because God desires and dreams your becoming like him. (See Philippians 1:6).
God will provide you with a rector whose own contributions will enhance your spiritual growth, strengthen you for service, and lead you to greater deeds that grow God's reign than you thought possible. Remember your name: God is with you.

"All will be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."  -- Dame Julian of Norwich (c.1417)

I take you with me in my heart and in my prayers.

Under the Mercy,

Father Daniel+

The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-- BCP, page 232


2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33; Psalm 130;
Ephesians 4:25-5:2; John 6:35, 41-51

Emmanuel is about to start a ministry new to us: Eucharistic Visitors. The Bishop's licensing guidelines describe Eucharistic Visitors this way:

A Eucharistic Visitor is a lay person authorized to take the Consecrated Elements in a timely manner following a Celebration of Holy Eucharist to members of the congregation who, by reason of illness or infirmity, were unable to be present at the Celebration. A Eucharistic Visitor should normally act under the direction of a Deacon, if any, or otherwise, the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation or other community of faith.

We are blessed by the ongoing ministry of Deacon Ed, who faithfully makes weekly pastoral visitations in nursing homes, homes, and hospitals. In the course of this work, of course, he often administers the Holy Communion from the Reserved Sacrament. I also take the Holy Communion to our people from time to time. Our new Eucharistic Visitors will provide a substantial expansion of the ministry of the parish by taking the Holy Communion to people whose "illness or infirmity" renders them unable to be present that day, from the Blessed Sacrament consecrated on that Sunday's services.

We are already blessed to have Lay Pastoral Visitors, people who trained for pastoral ministry through the Community of Hope program. They are spiritual friends who listen to and pray with our people who are in the midst of transitions in their lives, thereby extending to them the love and support of the whole people of God.
(The ministry of the Lay Pastoral Visitors, in addition to the pastoral work of the clergy, helps us all grow more in the likeness of Jesus. Until now, Deacon Ed and I made the referrals for these visits; he will carry on after my departure and then will work with the next long-term priest (Interim Rector) or permanent priest (Rector) the Vestry calls.)

I am delighted that Weldon Bagwell, Dee Childs, Maggie Kyger, Annette Paxton, Preston Sudduth, and Ann Yager are now licensed by the Bishop to take the Consecrated Elements to our ill or infirm parishioners as well. Deacon Ed has trained them to administer Communion on Sundays, directly after the day's celebration. As indicated by the Bishop, Deacon Ed is in charge of their supervision, making assignments, and coordinating with parishioners who, within the parameters established by the Bishop, cannot be present on that day.

We are what we eat. The Holy Eucharist is essential and indispensable to our spiritual life, as the 6th chapter of John's Gospel tells us. We hurt ourselves when we choose to be absent from church on Sunday. (I pray that we may say, "Give us this bread always," as people said to Jesus.) How much more, therefore, do our folks who are ill or infirm and thereby unable to attend, need the Bread of Life! I thank God that the Holy Spirit has put into the hearts of our Eucharist Visitors to help us make sure that none go without receiving the Holy Communion.

Talk to Deacon Ed if you'd like to be considered to have Eucharistic Visitors or if you know of someone who could benefit from receiving the Holy Communion at home on Sundays.

See you in Church.

Under the Mercy,