St. James' Episcopal Church
Goshen, Indiana

Our 158th Year


Thursday, July 26, 2007

 

Sermon for St. James' Day 2007


Sermon for July 29, 2007
St. James’ Feast day
St. James’, Goshen
Arthur Hadley

What fun to have the Sunday service as a part of the parish picnic celebrating St. James’ day. The few things we really know about St. James is that his brother’s name is John. Both James and John, from Galilee, were early followers of Jesus. We heard in the Gospel I just read that their mother came to Jesus and wanted a special favor; she wanted James and John to be granted to be at the right and left hand of Jesus when he came into his Kingdom. Apparently she thought the Kingdom would we right then and there in Galilee. That is what lots of Jesus’ follower were hoping. They wanted a Messiah that would liberate them from Roman domination right here and now.

We often want God to do something for us right here and now. And we can not think of God doing something bigger and more important than satisfying our immediate wants and desires.

Jesus tried to expand the thinking of the boys mother, I can not give you what you ask for; it is not mine to give. Can James and John drink the cup I will drink of? The guys say oh yeah we can do anything you can do…. I suppose that since this in a relaxed picnic we could all burst in to a refrain from Annie Get You Gun: “I can do anything you can do, I can do anything better than you.”

Jesus agreed that James and John would drink of the cup he would drink. Which leads to the other thing we know about James. Like Jesus, James was executed by Roman authorities. John on the other hand is the one Apostle that died in old age and prepared the most poetic and theological of the Gospels. Both James and John drank deeply of the cup of Jesus.

We come to the communion table to drink of the cup of Jesus. We do this as a reminder that we became a part of the Body of Christ at our baptism. In Baptism we are buried as Jesus was buried and we are raised up out of the water washed clean of sin as Jesus and endowed with the Holy Spirit as Jesus was at his Baptism. We drink the cup of Jesus nurturing his body, his hands, feet, eye, ears and spoken word, in order to do the work of Jesus in the world today.

St. James went on to be the patron Saint and Evangelist of Spain and Portugal. Santediego de Compastello, became the great point of pilgrimage for not only Iberia but for western Europe. And it is still a point of pilgrimage. As pilgrims we travel to a distant holy place picnicking along the way in order to feel the realness of Drinking the Cup of Jesus.

As we picnic now let us drink of the Cup of Jesus.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

 

Parish Picnic Sunday July 29th


Mark your calendars!

Parish Picnic Sunday July 29th, 2007!

The Celebration of the Holy Eucharist will begin at 11:00 AM, with lunch follow at the

Swartley Residence

601 Maplecrest Drive

Goshen, IN

Everyone is welcome to attend!

Any Questions? Call Dave Swartley: 574-215-0043


 

Sermon for July 22, 2007


Sermon for July 22, 2007
St. James’, Goshen IN
Arthur Hadley

The Old Testament story today is Abraham receiving the three strangers, and the annunciation that Sara will have a son born in her old age. This is a pivotal story in our religious history. Abraham and Sara had been promised descendents that would out number the stars in the sky and sand in the sea, but in all of their long and adventurous life: being told by God to go west into a promised land, they left Ur and traveled northwest up the Euphrates river, then west across the mountains to the Mediterranean Sea, then south along the coast past the promised land into Egypt and then back to the promised land. But Sara had no children. How could God’s promise of descendents out numbering the stars and sand be fulfilled?

The three strangers appear, and are greeted with customary desert lavish hospitality: water to drink, and wash, fresh baked bread, and meat. The three guests bring a special gift - a hostess gift: Sara will bare a son! Sara laughed at the news; how can this be, I am an old woman. And the strangers responded, is anything impossible for God.

This famous Old Testament story is echoed in three places in the Gospel.
First, in the Annunciation: Mary is greeted by an angel announcing that she will have a son who will be the Messiah. Mary is not a old woman like Sara, but a Virgin - How can this be. Nothing is impossible with God. Mary the mother of Jesus sang the Magnificat: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior….

Second in the Birth of Jesus: The three strangers are now Magi, or Kings, and they come with gifts foretelling the life of the baby Jesus: Gold for his Kingship, Frankincense for his Divinity, and Myrrh for his death and burial.

Third in the Gospel story today about Jesus visiting the home of Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus in Bethany. Last week we talked about the road up from Jericho to Jerusalem. Bethany is very near the top of the climb, only a few miles east of Jerusalem. Bethany means house of figs; there is a little rain each year and fig trees grow well. Just a little higher and closer to Jerusalem at the very top of the climb from Jericho is Bethpage, house of ripe figs, where Jesus mounted a donkey to descend the Mount of Olives to enter Jerusalem.

In the gospel story today, Jesus is visiting his friends Mary and Martha. Martha is acting very much like Sara: busy, busy fixing bread and meat to eat, making sure the guest room is ready, filling the water jars, getting the best wine out of the cellar, fresh figs and olives on the table. But Mary is quietly listening to the teachings of Jesus. Martha was doing what was expected of women: work, worry and weep. Life is hard. Mary was doing the unexpected studying and learning the word of God. Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not doing what women were expected to do, and Jesus said, Mary has chosen the greater part. Women were not relegated to the role of work, worry and weeping. Jesus liberated women to worship, study and joy.

Here are three tenets of Faith given by God to women in the Bible:
To Sara: Do not doubt the power of God; nothing is impossible for God.
To Mary: Accept the challenges God presents to us.
To Martha: Do not accept the societal norms as being what God want you to do.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

 

Sermon for July 15, 2007


Sermon for July 15, 2007
St. James’, Goshen IN
Arthur Hadley

We have just heard the familiar story of the Good Samaritan, about a man going up from Jericho to Jerusalem. Jericho is perhaps the oldest continuously inhabited community in the world, going back in time at least 5,000 years. The Jordan River with fresh water flows through Jericho into the dead sea. So Jericho is about 1200 feet below sea level, surrounded to the north with the fertile and irrigated Jordan valley, to the east is a mountainous desert in what is now Jordan, to the south the uninhabitable salty Dead Sea and beyond the Sunni Desert. But east of Jordan up through the desert mountains is Jerusalem. Jerusalem is 1,300 feet above sea level. Do the math. Jericho is 1,200 feet below sea level, and Jerusalem is 1,300 feet above sea level. So to go up to Jerusalem from Jericho is 2,500 feet up in less than 20 miles. The traveler is going up hill in a hot desert on a twisting turning gravel road. The only way to make a living in desert between Jericho and Jerusalem was to take from travelers. There is one small oasis between Jericho and Jerusalem; an place for travelers to rest, drink from the fresh water spring for a price to the inn keeper.


Click for larger photo.
Road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

I traveled the modern paved road up from Jericho to Jerusalem. Along the way I could see the old road and the one oasis. I was there in January, and there had been some very rare rain. The hills had some hint of green; in fact there were tiny wild flowers blooming between the rocks. But mostly just dry rocks.


Click for larger photo.
The oasis along the road.

I had been in Nazareth, Capernaum and along the Sea of Galilee before coming down the Jordan to Jericho, just as Jesus had traveled the same route. Except I traveled in an air conditioned van. Jesus walked. I rode in comfort up the way from Jericho to Jerusalem.

The Samaritans were Israelites that did not suffer the exile in Babylon along with the Jews. The Samaritan were disdained by the Jews. Remember when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan women and the disciples were shocked. Well a good Jewish boy did not speak to a woman that was not a relative, and no good Jewish person, man or women would speak to any Samaritan.

So in the Gospel story Jesus told, a man was going up from Jericho to Jerusalem. Robbers attacked him, stripped and beat him, and left him for dead along side the road. A priest, a judge and a sub deacon walked by the beaten man but did not stop to care for him. One of those despised Samaritans stopped, cleaned the wounds, gave drink and clothed the beaten traveler. And then took him to the oasis inn and paid for his care and recovery.

Now who was the neighbor? The commandment is to Love God and Neighbor. Not the priest, nor the judge and not even the sub deacon, but the despised stranger who cared.

We are called to Love God, and our Neighbor. Even the most despised persons you can think of are our neighbors.

Thanks be to God.


Friday, July 6, 2007

 

Sermon For July 8, 2007


Sermon for July 8, 2007
St. James’, Goshen IN
Arthur Hadley

Yesterday was July 7, 2007, or 07, 07, 07. Some folks can read into the Bible mystical meanings of numbers that would portend some great meaning. 666 was somehow the sign of the devil, and 777 was sign of good of even God. In New York there was a fancy restaurant called the top of the 6’s, the street address being 666; some thought it was the restaurant of the devil and great evil would come to anyone going there. Well, been there and done that; fortunately the bill went to friends that could afford it. But no evil done.
Did you notice anything particularly wonderful that happened yesterday? Not only was it 777, but it was also the Sabbath, another 7.
Well, numbers do play an important role in the Bible. And when we read numbers they may be referring to another time when the number was used. Let’s look at the Gospel for today. What are the numbers. Oh Look 70; those 7s just keep showing up. Jesus chose 70 men to go out and represent him, his teachings, and his healing power. Where else were 70 men chosen to go out and represent, teach and heal? Yeah, Moses complained to God that the load of governing all the Children of Israel was too much for him to do by himself, and God said to Moses, Choose 70 elders of the people and some of you power will be given to them to help represent, teach and heal. So Jesus was acting just like Moses. Moses had received that ten commandments from God, and he had trouble getting to people to know, follow and obey the Law of God. Jesus simplified the Law to a simple: Love God and Love your Neighbor. Over the 1500 years from Moses to Jesus the law had increased from 10 commandments to hundreds of laws, and thousands of interpretations of the law. Jesus simplified the law: Love God and Love neighbor. But Jesus also needed help in spreading the good news that Life has become much easier.
Paul really worked at explaining the new understanding that Sin has been forgiven, Death has been overcome, We now live by Grace not by Law. Circumcision or un-circumcision makes no difference. The Law has been fulfilled and we now live by the Grace of God as children of God, Joint heirs with Jesus, the Christ, in resurrected life with God.
What is the other number? Jesus sent the seventy out two by two. So what? When were others gathered, and saved by the grace of God, and then sent out again two by two to repopulate a new creation? Yes, the Noah and the Ark story. In the flood story, the world was sin filled and God told Noah to build an Ark and fill the ark with pairs of all of the animals, and the great flood came and washed away the sins of the world. When the flood water went down the animals and Noah’s family went out to repopulate the world. One time when I was telling some children the Noah story, a little boy holding a plastic likeness of a tyrannosaurus Rex stopped me in mid sentence by saying’ Oh that explains why there are no more dinosaurs; they would not fit on the Ark. Hey, it works for me.
So back to the Gospel for today. Jesus is acting just like Moses sending out 70 elders of the people to represent, teach and heal. But there is more. Jesus in acting like Noah, sending them out after the sins have been washed away, two by to two to repopulate the forgiven, redeemed world where all persons are Children of God, joint heirs with Christ in Resurrected life with God.

Thanks Be to God.

Monday, July 2, 2007

 

St. James' Weekly

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week has been a gift from God.
Last Sunday evening we were expecting 50+ at Jimmy's Place, and we had a record 83+ including a few adults. I actually lost count!
One parishioner from Saint James said, "I am so proud our church is doing this" i.e., reaching out to kids.
I was in complete awe as the kids kept coming in the door. I truly believe Saint James Church is meeting an extremely important need for youth in this community. Thanks be to God.
Thank you so much for your moral support and prayers for Jimmy's Place. We an all take pleasure in unwrapping this special gift God has given us.

****

Monday evening the Saint John the Baptist service had 23 in attendance. The liturgy and music was wonderful and a blessing.

****

I visited with Sarah Taft Saturday morning. She continues to have much pain and discomfort, but also continues to maintain her positive attitude. Please continue to pray for a healing for Sarah.

God's peace and blessings,

Dave Swartley
Director of Parish Services

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