Come and See our Keynote speaker Emily Keniston, Director of Faith Formation for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, talk to us about finding God after the Pandemic. Streaming on St. John’s in Barrington YouTube Channel starts at 9am on Saturday, March 18th. Click here to access stream: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoC6LP37Ql_ovQTMm9Qw9wQ
Let us know you are coming at Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/prayer-vigil-for-peace-in-ukraine-tickets-290939316327
The Order of Service is here.
I’ve been reading and working through the implications of Rene Girard’s insights into human relationships for years – particularly the way that Girard unlocks a new way of reading the biblical texts. If you’ve heard me preach or teach over the years you probably know how major an influence Girard has been on my thinking.
There’s a wonderful resource “Teaching Non-violent Atonement” that’s been posting a regular Wednesday sermon that demonstrates how a preacher can use Girard’s ideas to communicate the meaning behind the texts. For the last few weeks there have been sermons on Galatians (which we’ve been reading in the RCL on Sundays). This is a quote from this week’s sermon post:
We have always assumed “works of the Law” referred to Jewish religious practice alone but Rome was the real law-giver in the world and those who worked for Rome were doing the works of the Law. But you wouldn’t want to say that out loud. Who killed Jesus? The Romans did, in cooperation with local Jewish authorities. Both Roman and Jewish law attempted to bring what they saw as righteousness through violence, exclusion and death. Their goal was to purge the world of evil as they saw it when evil was in themselves and in their method of bringing “peace”.
Jews along with all other defeated peoples know this, Paul argues.
And the faithfulness of Jesus Christ that Paul says is the alternative to law, what is that? Notice I didn’t say faith in Jesus but rather the faith of Jesus. The faith of Jesus is his allowing Roman and Jewish Law to judge, condemn and execute him as a criminal, though he is the Son of God, in obedience to his father and as an expression of their love for us. Jesus did this to show us how the law works to condemn, knowing this was the only way to expose what we humans could not see. Talk about faithfulness; Jesus goes to his death, forgiving us on the way, out of faithfulness to God and love for us all. In this way his faithfulness seen on the cross makes us right with God.
Paul saw this on the Road to Damascus when he had an apocalyptic in-breaking of truth that turned his violent and law-working world upside down.
via Wednesday Sermon: Division Undone (go read the whole thing)
Given the events of our own day, where we’re seeing strange pairings of groups that ought to be in complete opposition to each other coming together to make common cause against the “other”, I’m finding that re-reading Galatians in this particular light is incredibly enlightening.
It’s beyond our bearing. Another mass shooting has happened, this one the deadliest in our country’s history. Someone was given access to enough weapons that 49 people were shot dead and nearly as many wounded in one attack by one man in one place. There was an armed police officer outside the club where the people were killed but that didn’t stop this shooter.
This time it is the LGBT community that is grieving their friends and their children who have been cut down. In the last few years it’s been the parents of school children, fellow parishioners after a bible study, social workers mourning their co-workers after a staff party, and the many others whose stories no longer have had enough shock value to gain national attention. No matter who it is, the tears are the same, the shock is the same, the elected leaders pledges are the same – and nothing seems to change.
This morning, after the shooting and killings in Orlando at Pulse, people are sharing their frustration that prayer isn’t enough. And by itself, it isn’t. But it’s the place we as Christians start. It’s the place from which we move. And that movement has to be out into a world that is reeling, shocked, weeping and devastated with pain beyond bearing. As followers of Jesus we are asked to move out toward the people who are persecuted and harmed and to take our place standing beside them. And we are asked to surround them with the kind of community that will start to slow the violence – to make these sorts of events a memory and not our future.
We do this with the simple tools God has given us. Prayer. Bread. Wine. Healing oil. And the tools that build community. Listening. Pot-luck dinners. Food drives. Homeless shelters. It’s nonsense in the eyes of the world, but it’s what God would have us do. Jesus showed us that these things change the arc of history.
Because as we stand with the victims and the persecuted, as we feed them and pray with them, as we give of ourselves on their behalf, we are creating a community that Jesus tells us will be impervious to the hatred and assaults of the evil forces of this world which seem to have the upper hand on dark days like today.
So today we pray. Tomorrow we move.
-The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely
Bishop of Rhode Island
On Tuesday night I was asked to open a meeting of law enforcement and community representatives, and clergy that was set to discuss the federal grand jury process. It’s part of our Rhode Island response to what happened in Ferguson last year.
I used the following prayer to get us started. (I thought the prayer was worth sharing.)
God of Justice, God of Reconciliation, God of the outcast and the downtrodden; We come before you this evening as a community committed to finding a better way forward than we have yet seen.
Lead us out of our present wilderness with your strong sure hand into a new land that will empower us to live as a community that is known for living into our best selves, a community that believes and puts into practice the goals and dreams upon which our country was founded.
Be with our speakers now. May their words help us to see the truth of what we have and of what we lack. By the power of your Spirit give us the courage to change. By the gift of your Holy Wisdom help us to find a path forward.
We ask all of this in your Holy Name on behalf of all your Children.