Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
Week Commencing 27th July 2014
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Today’s Gospel; Matthew 13.31-33, 44-52
The parables of mustard seeds, yeast and a pearl.
This week's gospel continues the parables of Jesus as recorded by St Matthew. Today Christ invokes a pearl, hidden treasure and a mustard seed to indicate that the precious prize of faith is not actually a valuable physical thing, but faith itself. As such, it can be very small indeed, but nurtured, it can grow huge, enveloping, sheltering and inspiring others as well. But we must guard against slipping through the net it to the fire of judgement.
Rule of Life
When involved in spiritual counselling I am often surprised at the number of devout Christians who have never devised a rule of life. The question most asked is, ‘what is a rule of life?’ Simply put, a rule of life is a covenant we enter into with God and ourselves. This rule is not a law to follow, but the pattern of practice and discipline that helps us commit ourselves to living a full and balanced life, as well a measure to help us gauge our progress.
The component parts are simple:
1. Worship. All Christians are called to share and strengthen the life of the Body of Christ, expressed through common worship, especially in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. How do you participate in the rhythm of the church’s year, in your worship, study, and devotional life?
2. Prayer. The Holy Spirit inspires us in prayer that embraces the whole of life and draws us into intimate communion with God. What rhythm of regular prayer would help you open your heart to the love of Christ, and grow in intimacy with God?
3. Retreat. Times of the retreat enable us to celebrate the primacy of the love of God in our lives and to listen for God's voice. It is not just taking a break! It is withdrawing on the world to be at one with God. To put aside our iPhone and computer and just be at one with God and ourselves. If we cannot take a retreat, we might observe quiet days throughout the year, away from our usual activities for prayer, stillness, reflection and spiritual reading.
4. Giving. A balanced life asks us to express our gratitude for God’s generosity by giving of our time, abilities and money as a disciplined practice and not just when we feel so inclined. We must ask how might we best steward our resources to support the needs of the church, the poor and our life together?
5. Service. As we seek to follow Christ and abide in Christ's love, the conversion of our hearts bear fruit in mission and service. How is God calling us to use our gifts, abilities and interests in the service of others?
If you would like to discuss this further please do not hesitate to mention it to me.
Stewardship of Commitment
We are so lucky to have core of regular, dependable worshippers that one delights to see Sunday-by Sunday. Somehow we need to build on that core rather than flog it to death. It is always a difficult time in the growth of any church, when newcomers visit and see only a handful (relatively speaking) of people in a huge church building. I am currently looking at how we might address this situation so that when one enters the church, one is not faced with a liturgical walk of shame to the front of the church.
I guess the other major issue we are faced with is the question of church expansion. I read recently, and dismissed immediately, that rule No. 1 in church expansion: think in terms of getting 'unstuck,' rather than just getting bigger. The more I have reflected upon this the more I see the sense of such a statement.
It is an established fact that 80% of all churches in Canada average fewer than 200 attendees each weekend. Without major change in leadership style, congregational dynamics, ministry vision or some other significant aspect of church-life, churches that have existed for more than five years will be most likely to remain the size they are now, with only moderate growth over time.
One of the shame-inducing truisms floating around the body of Christ goes something like, "All healthy organisms grow." Lack of growth is seen as symptomatic of underlying sickness. That's not very helpful in the real church-world.
Most of us have been stuck somewhere, somehow; in the snow, up a tree we climbed in our pre-adolescence or on a tricky algebra problem. But somehow, we were able to free ourselves. When our tires spun uselessly in the snow, we tried different approaches; when the algebra equation withstood one thought, we assaulted it with another. Getting stuck forces us to adapt our approach to life. In fact, one theory of learning says the brain is wired to solve predicaments and true learning only happens when the mind tries to figure something out. God designed us to keep at it; knocking, seeking and asking; but to do so in close counsel with God.
We may find more solutions to what hinders St John’s from growing larger if we think in terms of getting unstuck, rather than just getting bigger. The point is not, I hope, just to have more people on Sundays. Our true aim ought to be to make disciples. If we remember the goal has never been to put on a performance in church per se, but to develop people with the tool called church, we can still find ways to get our people unleashed and our church unstuck.
While we must reject too clinical an approach to church growth, making it devoid of God's sovereign working, so too must we refuse to attribute all the growth of some churches to the arbitrary whims of God-sent revival. Thus, a healthy perspective on church growth leaves to God the things only God can do (the stuff we pray about), but willingly assumes responsibility for the things we can do something about. God gave me the teeth God gave me, but I brush them.
I have two suggestions and these are only regurgitated ones you have previously heard:
1. If each person/couple invites one other person/couple a miracle will occur.
2. If we all volunteered for one extra thing, we would be falling over each other, but we would avoid resentment fatigue!
Fr Michael Forshaw
I am most grateful to Fr Michael for leading our worship during my absence. Many of you will know Fr Michael from the year he was with this as our associate priest, which came to an end only when sickness overtook him. It's great to know that his health is much improved and we will certainly continue to remember him in our prayers. If during the course of my absence you require urgent pastoral assistance please contact the parish office and leave a message if no one is available.
Rev'd Fr Michael Fuller
Clergy on Holidays
Father Michael Fuller is away on holidays until August 9th. Fr Michael Forshaw will be leading the service on July 27th and August 3rd. Bible study classes will resume late in the summer. Wednesday Morning Prayer will continue during his absence but not Evening Prayer or Eucharist. Please contact the office if you have a pastoral emergency. We have arranged for pastoral coverage during this time. We wish Fr Michael a well-deserved rest!
No Evening Prayer or Wednesday Eucharist While Fr Michael on Holidays
Please note that there will be no Evening Prayer or Wednesday Eucharist while Fr Michael is away.
They will resume on August 13th
Music this Week
Jesu dulcis memoria
In the Renaissance, the term hymn generally referred to a sacred, strophic poem (not of Biblical origin, as a psalm) with short, rhyming phrases. They were sung to chants during the Divine Office, a series of daily prayer services distinct from the Mass. Occasionally the chant would be replaced by a newly composed setting of the hymn text for polyphonic voices (i.e. the voices function independently, not moving simultaneously). In 1581, Victoria published a volume of thirty-two such hymns. However, the present Jesu dulcis memoria is not found in that volume, and modern scholarship questions the authenticity of its attribution to him. There are indeed certain moments of dissonance and part-writing that don’t seem quite like Victoria.
The text of Jesu dulcis memoria is generally attributed to the twelfth-century monk St. Bernard of Clairvaux, though this attribution is also uncertain. The full poem consists of between forty-two and fifty-three stanzas, in each of which all four lines rhyme. The single strophe set here was used for the Vespers (evening) service on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, soon after Christmas. Most hymn settings of this type would incorporate the traditional chant into the choral texture, but no chant source can be found here. Notwithstanding its spurious attribution and unusual approach, this setting of Jesu dulcis memoria is a brief but beautiful example of Renaissance polyphonic hymnody.
Jesu dulcis memoria, Jesus, the sweet memory,
dans vera cordi gaudia: giving, to true hears, joy;
sed super mel et omnia, but above honey and all else,
ejus dulcis praesentia. sweet is his presence.
St Anne: Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Commemoration 26 July
We remember a woman of Israel named Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her story first appeared in an apocryphal writing called “The Book of James,” as part of a mythical account of Mary’s childhood. According to this legend, Anne was the childless wife of a man named Jo’-a-chim, whose neighbours would not let him join in public worship because he had “begotten no offspring in Israel.” Grieved by the reproach, Jo’-a-chim went into the desert to fast for forty days and forty nights, leaving Anne to deal with her own grief at home. One afternoon, “she put on her bridal garments, and ... went into her garden to walk there. And she saw a laurel tree and sat down beneath it and implored the Lord” to grant her a child. God heard her prayer and sent an angel who said: “Anne, Anne, the Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive and bear a child, and your offspring shall be spoken of in all the world.”
And so it came to pass that she conceived a child in her womb; and when the time was fulfilled she gave birth to a daughter and named her Mary. Anne turned her bedchamber into a sanctuary, so that nothing unclean according to the Law of Moses might touch her child; and when Mary was three years old, her parents brought her to the temple at Jerusalem and presented her as a virgin dedicated to God’s service.
Because of this story the figure of Anne came to be venerated throughout the Church, and even today many pilgrims are drawn to her shrine at Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré in Quebec. By her legend she takes her place as a symbol of all childless but faithful women who, after years of prayerful longing, have at last been able to conceive and bear a child — and who have given thanks to God by seeking to protect their child as a truly sacred gift.
Stewardship in Community
The Benedictine Way - A one day reflection
This stewardship conference is about creating pathways to discipleship through our baptismal promises and the Marks of Mission. It is framed in the Benedictine way, which all of us experience as an ongoing conversion of life as we listen for God’s direction and find stability and support in our faith community. The day will be led by Bishop Melissa and the Reverend Marilyn Hames. Please let Fr Michael know as soon as you can that you will be attending to enable us to organise carpools.
Saturday October 18, 2014 9:00am - 4:00pm
Parish of St. Dunstan , Aldergrove
Garden Party in Tsawwassen
Saturday, September 6th, 3:00pm
Summer and I would like to invite everyone involved at SJS to our home for a potluck tea / early supper. Please talk to me after church on Sundays this summer, or leave a message for me with the office if I am away.
Karin Fulcher and Summer
Choral Evensong September 28th
Christ Church Cathedral
To celebrate our Cathedral's 125th Anniversary and to commemorate the Feast of St. Michael and all Angels there will be a Choral Evensong with a Massed Choir from the Diocese at 3:30pm on Sunday September 28th at Christ Church Cathedral, 690 Burrard Street at West Georgia. I do hope that many of us will join in this celebration, in addition to our own celebration of St Michael & all Angels at 10am here.
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