We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Videos, Pentecost 6, July 17, 2022

1. Prelude – “Sweet Hour of Prayer”

2. Gospel – Luke 10:38-42

3. Sermon – Dr. Lee J. Hill

4. Prayers of the People

5. Announcements

6. Offertory – “Because all men are brothers” Larry Saylor

7. Closing Hymn– In My Life Lord

8. From the reception for the Rev. Lee J. Hill

Sunday Links for July 17, 2022 – Pentecost 6

July 17, 11:00am – Eucharist

Mary and Martha

Guest preacher, the Rev. J. Lee Hill

July 20, 3:30-5pm – Village Harvest

Please email Andrea to volunteer at wakepogue.public@gmail.com, or (540) 847-9002. Pack bags 1-3PM, Deliver food to clients’ cars 3-5PM.

We had 24 in house and 7 online for Pentecost with Rev Lee Hill, Diocese missioner for racial justice and healing. His sermon was on the story of Mary and Martha a short story that appears abruptly in Luke when Jesus visits their home in Bethany. Both Mary and Martha serve, yet Mary understands the priority and necessity of choosing to be present with Jesus at his feet which was the key point to Rev. Hill. Martha is doing everything to get ready except be with Jesus. Jesus seems to favor Mary’s approach . Both of them were not typical of the time – Mary a female sitting with a prominent male guest and Martha a female head of household.

As of Sunday, we have collected 182 markers out of a total of 250 for donation to Caroline’s Promise for the news school year. We hope to make up the rest this week.

We celebrated BJ’s birthday. BJ is our bread maker for Sunday communion.

Another unique Sunday for music. Larry on guitar and Helmut on violin teamed up for the prelude, “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. Larry took the offertory, “Because all men are brothers”. The tune is Bach. Tom Glazer wrote the words in 1947. Peter Paul and Mary’s version in 1965 is probably the best known. It also fit the work and message of Rev. Hill

Lunch was held in the parish house in honor of Rev. Hill. A portion of the “Sacred Ground” group met with Rev. Hill during Lunch. Hill’s work is to encourage Sacred Ground as a prime responsibility. He is also promoting a second ground that is intended for Black and Indigenous populations. Another activity is help congregations handling racially related issues. For example, he is working with Little Fork church with a Confederal statue on their property.

Christ in the House of Mary and Martha – Johannes Vermeer

The painting is inspired by Luke 10:38-42 where Jesus enters the home of Mary and Martha. It happens after the Good Samaritan. The passage only occurs in Luke’s Gospel.

Martha greets Jesus but is preoccupied with tasks. Mary chose listening to the teachings of Jesus over helping her sister prepare food. Jesus is friends with this family who live in Bethany. Later, just before the crucifixion, Jesus will raise Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus.

The three figures are bound in a circular composition. Circular compositions were frequently employed to unite complex figure groupings and impede the viewer’s eye from straying aimlessly around the picture If, however, the implied circle becomes too influential, the observer may feel subliminally entrapped. As a remedy Dutch artists often included a sort of escape route Vermeer provided a similar visual relief in the half-opened doorway  to the dark recess of the upper left-hand corner of the composition.

The work is known for the handling of light and shadow. The play of light on different surfaces such as the loaf of bread or the different fabrics  (Mary seated) is noted. There is color contrast in Mary’s clothing. Martha is statuesque with her downcast eyes. She seems to ignore Jesus pointing. The painting seems to be echoing the last verse. But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Dutch interior paintings are their own genre in the 17th century. Many of the paintings focus on love and/or the virtues of domestic life, the latter appropriate for this painting.  The Dutch had fought a ware for independence culminating in 1648 The new Dutch Republic was the most prosperous nation in Europe and led European trade, science, and art. A distinctive feature of the period, compared to earlier European painting, was the limited number of religious paintings. Dutch Calvinism forbade religious paintings in churches, and though biblical subjects were acceptable in private homes, relatively few were produced.

This is one of the largest and  earliest surviving paintings by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). It is also his only known work of a biblical subject though he was a specialist of interiors. It was done between 1654-1656.

Around the time that he painted this picture, Vermeer married Catharina Bolnes, the youngest daughter of a wealthy Catholic in Delft, Maria Thins. This match would have required Vermeer’s conversion to Catholicism, and the young couple soon moved in with the bride’s mother. Given its large size, it is likely that Christ in the House of Martha and Mary was a specific commission, possibly intended for a clandestine Catholic church in Delft or for a Catholic patron, perhaps even Vermeer’s mother-in-law.

Commentary, July 17, 2022, Pentecost 6

I. Theme – Surprises related to hospitality and the hidden presence of God.

“Christ in the Home of Mary and Martha” – Vermeer (1655)

The lectionary readings are here  or individually: 

First Reading – Genesis 18:1-10a
Psalm – Psalm 15
Epistle – Colossians 1:15-28
Gospel – Luke 10:38-42 

Today’s readings remind us of the surprises related to hospitality and the hidden presence of God. In Genesis , Abraham receives three heavenly visitors who speak of the imminent birth of Sarah’s son. Paul describes the mystery of reconciliation with God and its implications for the Church. Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha and reminds us of the importance of paying attention to God’s presence and words.

An extraordinary message runs through today’s scriptures. The theme is best expressed in the question put to Abraham: “Is anything too wonderful for the lord?”

Sarah laughed at the promise that she would bear a child in her old age; thus the name of this son of promise was given before his conception. It means “He will laugh”! The divine communication surrounding the birth of Isaac gives us the delightful feeling that God loves to surprise people. Isaac’s very name seems to convey that God’s joy in fulfilling the promise to Abraham would ring through the universe forever. In this way the messianic line was established by God’s miraculous power.

The scripture readings contain another miracle. The question in verse 1 of the psalm is not found in today’s reading, but it prompts the response contained there: “Who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?” The psalmist answers by saying that only those who lead a blameless life are entitled to abide with God. If this were the only message we had, we might despair, for not one of us would qualify. But if we leap from the psalm to Colossians, the “hope of glory” is electrifying news. Miracle of miracles—Christ dwells mysteriously within us. Through him we stand holy and blameless before God. We can now abide upon God’s holy hill.

Christ for us and Christ in us is a mystery we can never fully understand. Better we stand in humble awe and gratitude than to try to analyze God’s doings. It is enough to know that God’s steadfast love and mercy shine in God’s word and deeds.

The gospel passage continues the line of thought that there are moments when the most important thing we can do is immerse ourselves in the wonder and glory of God’s self-revelation and to enjoy abiding with God. “There is need of only one thing” for God to work miracles in our lives.

It would be wrong to over-generalize specific occasions in scripture. It is possible that the next time Jesus visited that household, Mary served while Martha sat at his feet and Jesus chopped the vegetables. The point is that we must be attuned to the lord’s visit in our own household. We need to strike a balance between serving and simply enjoying the lord’s presence in quiet attentiveness to God alone.

Today’s readings abound in possibilities, including the possibility that we will suffer serious consequences if we deviate from God’s vision. Openness to God’s vision opens us to lively and transformative energies and contributes to the healing the world. Closing off to God’s vision dilutes and weakens the divine energy available to us. We may consider ourselves spiritual, religious, or both but be heading away from God’s vision for our lives and our world.

II. Summary

First Reading –  Genesis 18:1-10a

Our second series is about God’s covenant and the ways God upholds the covenant, even when human beings do not

Today’s reading is both an epiphany story—an account of the lord’s appearance to Abraham—and an annunciation story—a proclamation of the coming birth, contrary to all human expectation, of a significant person. The precise identity of the “three men” is not clear; that is, whether all three are angels representing the lord in earthly manifestation (hence the shift from plural to singular in vv. 1, 13) or whether one is indeed the lord and the other two are attendants (18:22, 19:1).

Abraham’s reception of these sudden guests illustrates the hospitality of a nomadic society. It is through their hospitality and compassion that God’s covenant is made, the promise to Abraham and Sarah kept. We uphold the covenant with God made so long ago when we show hospitality and kindness to the strangers among us, for God has shown hospitality to us in the giving of this world, and kindness throughout the generations.

The detailing of Abraham’s obsequious courtesies are meant subtly to give hearers two important notions about the grand status of the patriarch. He was wealthy enough to play the very generous host with the best of his contemporaries, and he was spiritually keen, sensing that his visitors were disguised angels. His life was imperfect, and he needed God, of course; his protracted childlessness is a constant reminder of that. Thus the visitor’s prediction that Sarah would have a son within the year is really the point of this story

The lord then renews the promise of many descendants (12:2, 13:15f), now specifying the birth of a son (15:1-6) to Sarah (17:15-21) in the spring (v. 10). As Abraham has typified the natural virtue of hospitality, so he also typifies the theological virtue of trust in the lord’s promise. The meaning of Isaac’s name is here explained by Sarah’s incredulous laugh.

Where is Sarah? She is the key here, for even in the midst of the duties and hiddenness assigned to her sex, she will be the bearer of the promise and the wonder. In the final verse of the reading, one of them (are there two traditions here) indicates a return at some future time, and a promise of a future son. This announcement is made to the man, not the woman, and yet it is the woman who will share the culture and the traditions of her lineage with her child.

Psalm –  Psalm 15   

Psalm 15 is a short song of praise, reminding those who are faithful that God is their strength and stands by them. They shall not be moved. To the faithful, God’s presence is with us—we do not need to go to a sacred location—God’s tent is over us, God’s presence is with us, when we are faithful and trust that God is with us.

This psalm presents a brief entrance rite for someone desiring to enter the temple for worship. The pilgrim’s question about who can enter (v. 1) receives a response from the temple personnel describing the attitudes and behavior required for worship. Regardless of the circumstance or time certain standards are invoked: blameless life, right doing (justice), and honesty.This portrait of an ideal worshipper can still act as a guideline for our approach to the altar of the lord today.

Epistle-  Colossians 1:15-28

Paul strongly presents the supremacy of Christ over the universe and in the Church (vv. 15-20). Then he applies the meaning of Christ’s cosmic victory specifically to his audience. The purpose of Christ’s death is to reconcile every person to God. . Christ is the principle of creativity, novelty, and evolution. But the ‘indicative’ description of what God has done for humans in Christ is inescapably joined to the ‘imperative’ discussion of what humans are to do in response.

The situation in Colossians is hinted at here – ” And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him.” The church at Colossae may have adopted the notion of the “elemental spirits” and their role in daily life. The author condemns such influence lifting up Christ as the chief point of creation

Paul’s teachings are primarily counter-cultural to the empire (Romans 8:38-39 for example shows that nothing can separate us from God’s love, not powers or rulers or height or depth—seemingly counter-empire than this passage). Still, this passage suggests that Christ came to make peace with all, creation, God and humanity, and it is a beautiful image of Christ that was probably an early church hymn.

The theme of rejoicing in suffering is very Pauline (Romans 5:3; 2 Corinthians 11:30, 12:9; Philippians 2:17, 3:7-10). “What is lacking” may be the manifestation elsewhere, especially among the Colossians, of the suffering of the cross in the present life of the Church.

Paul reminds them of a common theme of the early Christian preaching. The “mystery” of God’s purpose, formerly hidden, is now revealed in Christ. It is revealed in history’s recent events, including Paul’s own ministry. The purpose of this revelation is that everyone may become “mature,” literally whole, complete or perfect, in Christ. This was a term used in the Greco-Roman world for those initiated into the mystery cults or those who through self-discipline and study of wisdom had reached advanced levels of insight. Paul uses the word to emphasize that there is no special caste or elite in Christianity but the Christian mystery is Christ’s abiding presence in the community, (the “you” is plural).

The plan calls for Christ to be revealed to the Gentiles and for them to accept Christ into themselves as their hope of glory. Paul’s contribution, further specified, is to admonish and teach everyone, so to prepare them to be offered more perfectly to God.

Gospel –  Luke 10:38-42 

The story about Martha and Mary is the second in the section on the characteristics of the disciple (10:25–11:13). As the story of the Good Samaritan showed how the disciple should act to the neighbor, so today’s story shows how the disciple should relate to Jesus. Also similar to last week it’s about “seeing and not seeing.” It is not only those who come from a distance (the lawyer) who have difficulty seeing who and what Jesus is, but it is also those intimate with him, Mary and Martha, who may have the same difficulty

The story has links to the first lesson which is about hospitality. Luke takes it a step farther and remembers and emphasizes things Jesus did that defied the customs and expectations of his people.

The story is almost an enacted parable. Martha (whose name is the Aramaic word for “mistress of a household”) receives Jesus as her guest, and undertakes the duties of hospitality. Her sister Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, in the traditional position of a rabbi’s disciple (Acts 22:3), a shocking place for a woman to be.

Sometimes we simplify this story down to how Martha was distracted and Mary was not. Sometimes we assume that Mary was stronger and was willing to discard her gender-role by society to be a disciple of . Jesus. We see ourselves in these two women. We have times when we are able to sit and listen and follow Jesus whole-heartedly. And then we have times when we are frustrated because the work is not being done that needs to be.

Martha’s attitude of anxiety and care is rebuked, not her actions. It gets in the way of an enjoyable evening among friends. She is distracted about many things. However, without her Jesus would not been fed. In contrast, Mary is totally focused on Jesus. This is her, and perhaps Martha’s, calling in the present moment. Martha is so fixated on details of dinner that she, like many hosts and hostesses, forgets the reason for the meal altogether

The story has usually been interpreted as an allegory, perhaps in the early Church contrasting the ministry of service to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1-6) or a Jewish Christian emphasis upon works (the Letter of James) to a Gentile Christian emphasis upon faith (Paul); or (in the medieval Church) contrasting the active life to the contemplative life.

Gospel, July 17, 2022 – Mary and Martha

“Christ in the House of Mary and Martha” – Vermeer (1655)

The Gospel reading is here.

Let’s set the scene. We are in the long travel narrative in Luke (9:51 — 19:28). Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (9:51) and instructs those who would follow that the journey must be their first priority (9:57-58). Jesus sends the seventy ahead with no provisions for the journey and insists they depend on the hospitality of those in towns who welcome them (10:1-11).

Immediately preceding the stop at Martha’s home, Jesus tells a story about a man on a journey who is beaten and left to die. He is saved by an unexpected merciful neighbor (10:30-37). The story of “the good Samaritan” confirms that the journey to Jerusalem is dangerous, and that disciples might welcome the compassion of someone who, in other circumstances, would be considered undesirable.

This week we are in a seemingly peaceful setting – Jesus is invited into the home of Mary and Martha who live with their brother Lazarus in Bethany not far from Jerusalem. This is only reference to Mary and Martha in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). The two sisters and their brother, Lazarus, figure prominently in the fourth gospel, but hardly at all in the synoptics.

This is one of 3 mentions of this family:

1. Jesus was their guest – this week. Luke 10:38-42

2. John 11:1-44 When Lazarus had died, Jesus came to Bethany. Martha, upon being told that He was approaching, went out to meet Him, while Mary sat still in the house until He sent for her. It was to Martha that Jesus said: “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

3. John 12:1-8 About a week before the crucifixion, as Jesus reclined at table, Mary poured a flask of expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet. Mary was criticized for wasting what might have been sold to raise money for the poor, and again Jesus spoke on her behalf.

On the basis of these incidents, many Christian writers have seen Mary as representing Contemplation (prayer and devotion), and Martha as representing Action (good works, helping others); or love of God and love of neighbor respectively.

Martha like the Samaritan is welcoming and is doing what women then were supposed to do – getting the house ready for the visitor. However, she is overwhelmed. We don’t how many guests there are. Where Jesus goes there are at least 12 other guys following him…and then the gravity and reality of the invitation comes crashing down on her. She is distracted. By contrast, Mary is sitting at the master’s feet, intent on listening to him but not lifting a finger to help.

Martha wants Jesus to tell Mary “get with it” and help out. Instead Jesus turns the tables and praises Mary saying “Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”  

So what’s going on here ?  There are a variety of interpretations 

1. The Kingdom is being brought to all and in particular women

Jesus is crossing Jewish cultural bounds – he is alone with women who are not his relatives;  a woman serves him; and he teaches a woman in her own house.

Women were not supposed to sit with teachers as the disciples did.  Mary is assuming a male role – at the feet of Jesus.

In the first century, rabbis did not teach women. Outside of being instructed in their proper gender roles according to custom and law, women received no education.

Both in the previous story, the Samaritan and this story, they are moving beyond boundaries. The Samaritan for Luke illustrates the second commandment (‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’). Mary exemplifies the fulfillment of the first commandment. ‘You are to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your energy, and with all your mind.’   

2. How do we deal with rivalries ?

The Martha and Mary story is just another in a series of instances of the disciples letting rivalry get in the way. This is similar to James and John and their discussion of  “whom is the greatest?”  in Mark, Chapter 9.

Martha asks Jesus to intervene. “Tell her then to help me.”   Martha has considered by some to be a “control freak.”

Jesus doesn’t mince words in his response. Calling her by name not just once but twice, in a manner that sounds more like a parent than a friend, he describes the situation.

The rivalries that we live in are the things that distract us. Jesus calls us out of these rivalistic relationships and into the Kingdom. Without the rivalry we can still attended to the daily demands of life, but maybe without seeing ourselves as victims of someone. 

3. A further study in hospitality 

Hospitality, sharing a meal in particular, is a prominent theme throughout Luke and how one is received or not.  In the narrative world of Luke, hospitality is multi-dimensional. According to this gospel account, we see hospitality from the perspective of receiving hospitality as well as extending it to another. Hospitality in Luke’s world is not limited to sex, religious preoccupation or county – it is open to all.

In this story, we expect Jesus to affirm the one who welcomes them into her home and prepares all that is needed to make them comfortable.

Yes, serving is encouraged too and follows naturally from following Jesus. This serving, however, is not drudgery, and is not to be accompanied by anxiety, distraction, worry, and trouble.  

This story is a clarification of hospitality in the Samaritan story. Both Mary and Martha are doing.  Doing is not the only thing. Eternal life is not gained in just the doing, but in the receiving – in hearing and believing.

4. Another alternative?

Mary & Martha’s story is a story about priorities and choices.  

It’s about choosing to make God a priority in our lives and not merely the façade of God in our lives a priority.

Often we get consumed with making sure everything is in its place and there is a place for everything.  

What is the most important thing we should be doing in the context of our daily activities ?

It’s about choosing to allow God to shape us into the people God needs us to be and then allowing God to use us to impact those around us in healthy, up-lifting, God-inspired ways.

What God wants for us is to become comfortable at his feet and “engage in the task” of sitting and listening as he reminds us of how really good life can be – even when life is not going as we have planned. And as we sit and remember what God promises, then we can go out and do as God wants. 

In Eugene Peterson’s, The Message, Jesus’ words to Martha are, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it – it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

“Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

What really matters is how these two responded to God’s presence in their midst.

Thinking about God’s word as the “main course” in the feast of Life, however, doesn’t give that immediate sense that listening is better than doing. Instead, it places these two activities in balance. The word calls for us to both sit and listen AND to go and do. 

Since this story is about “turning the tables” one further extension of that is to consider Jesus the host and not Martha. Jesus is the host, not Martha or Mary or anyone of us, and he spreads the word like a banquet to nourish and strengthen us. The word has within it commands both to sit and listen, and to go and do. We “sit on our salvation,” but then scatter into the world and work of daily life. 

We must balance the role of food-preparer with that of friend and listener. Her actions are actually causing separation from Jesus at the same time she is drawing her into the home. 

As with previous weeks, there is an urgency involved.

The key is that there is an urgency to the kingdom. In Chapter 10 we saw several weeks ago, there is no time to rest; no time to bury the dead, even a parent; no time to say goodbye to family; no looking back (10:57-62). it. We might consider Martha’s concern for hospitality as similar to the “distractions” Jesus names at the outset of the journey to Jerusalem. Seeking God’s Kingdom is the first priority above all else, even the common customs of hospitality. 

If you look carefully, Jesus doesn’t say anything about not cleaning house or preparing dinner. He is not saying people should not have “many things” to do. Martha’s issue is not that she is a busy person. She is distracted by her many tasks and missing the fundamentals of having a chance to hear the gospel.  

Like the lawyer last week in the Good Samaritan, Martha is focused on “me.” “Why do I have  to get the house ready, while Mary gets the best role.”  We see this is in many churches. “Why does so and so get to do this while I alway have to wash dishes.”

 The author of the blog “Theological Stew gets the heart of the matter: “But here’s what I see in this. Martha was so busy with her eyes on what Mary was doing that she wasn’t being faithful to her own calling. The interesting thing is that Martha could have been just as close to Jesus doing what she was doing as Mary was sitting at his feet. She just didn’t see it.”

What Mary gets that Martha doesn’t

Colossians 1:15-29 – “Christ in You” “This mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but now is revealed to God’s saints… is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” —Colossians 1.27-28 A poem by Steve Garnaas-Holmes “Never mind the lonely trek across the desert to find your elusive teacher, nor does your Savior have to come to you. The Beloved lives inside you, breathing here, moving in you, moving you, the silence shimmering in your lungs, the heat rising, pulsing, pushing, straining to get out and love this crazy world. “The life in you is of God. The Chosen One is in your blood, your flesh, even your wounds, bleeding sometimes, and when you bleed you bleed glory, and when you are weary the splendor of God rests, and when you suffer the Gentle One silently accepts your lashes, and quietly rises again and again. “The Beloved lives inside you, working miracles, or speaking to you in that silent language, or sometimes sitting still, eyes closed, with a little smile, or maybe just relaxing, looking around, being at home. We have to look inside to see our own unique gifts that are a part of our community . These appear in soul searching as a result of our faith if we take the time to search them out. And we have to be ready to receive the gifts of others as well. Martha as well as May has the opportunity to receive God’s grace through faith through their identification with Christ. Martha needs to see that she needs nourishment. She needs to be “renewed in faith and strengthened for service.” Jesus is the host with many gifts to give. We have to take the time to “get it.” This scripture represents Paul’s dealing with those in Colossae who believe that obedience to the law through the Torah provided the basis for God’s promised blessings. Not so, says Paul. When a person believes in Christ, Christ enters into their being and they receive, as a gift, the full benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection. Thus with “Christ in us” we possess the “hope of glory.” We can all share in his glory It was his effort to preach and incorporate the Gentiles into the body of Christ.

The Spiritual Side of Apollo 11

On  July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Although faith and science have often been in conflict in the past and many see the mission as only a triumph in science, there are examples of faith a part of the Apollo program.

One of the first acts performed on Apollo 11, after first landing on the Moon, was a celebration of the Communion by astronaut Buzz Aldrin. In 1969, Buzz Aldrin was an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church in Houston, where he was given the communion kit that he took to Sea of Tranquility. Upon landing on the Moon in the Eagle LM, Buzz made the following announcement to Mission Control:

“Houston, this is Eagle. This is the LM pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, whoever or wherever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the last few hours, and to give thanks in his own individual way.  

Aldrin reported later  “ In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.

“Eagle’s metal body creaked. I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements

It is especially fitting and poignant that Buzz also read Psalm 8: 3-4:

3 “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;

4 “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals[a] that you care for them?”

Each year since 1969, his church, Webster Presbyterian,  holds a Lunar Communion service to commemorate Buzz Aldrin’s celebration on the Moon.

The mission also carried goodwill not only with the message “We came in peace for all mankind” but also left a special disc. The company Sprague used a photo-etching technique using lithographic thin films to create a long-term alternative to microfiche to engrave letters (scanned and reduced 200x) from the leaders of the world’s nations.   Each letter was photographed, and optically reduced to the point where each letter was ¼ the width of a hair! 

Some like Buzz Aldrin carried their religion to the moon but at least two others felt the tug of religion on their return.

Jim Irwin of Apollo 15 felt the presence of God during his 67 hours on the Moon’s surface. In his autobiography Destination Moon he wrote:   “Before the flight, I was really not a religious man. I believed in God, but I really had nothing to share. But when I came back from the moon, I felt so strongly that I had something that I wanted to share with others, that I established High Flight, in order to tell all men everywhere that God is alive, not only on earth but also on the moon. “

Astronaut Alan Bean recounts another experience on Apollo15, “I can remember when he and Dave were riding along on their rover near the end of their 3rd EVA and Dave said, “Oh, look at the mountains today, Jim. When they’re all sunlit isn’t that beautiful?” Jim answered, “Really is, Dave. I’m reminded on a favorite biblical passage from Psalms: ‘I look unto the hills from whence cometh my help.’ But of course, we get quite a bit from Houston, too.

Mary Magdalene (July 22)

 “Noli Me Tangere” (Touch Me Not)
 – Correggio (1534) 

In Bishop Curry’s book Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus, he writes “We need some crazy Christians like Mary Magdalene and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Christians crazy enough to believe that God is real and that Jesus lives. Crazy enough to follow the radical way of the Gospel. Crazy enough to believe that the love of God is greater than all the powers of evil and death.”

Facts from Living Discipleship:Celebrating the Saints:

  • We know Mary was from Magdala in Galilee (thus the surname “Magdalene”).
  • Luke reports that Jesus cast seven demons out of her (8:2). After her healing, rather than returning to her home, Mary Magdalene followed Jesus for the rest of his life and ministry. While she followed Jesus, she also helped provide financial support (Luke 8:1-3). Unlike most of the other disciples, she was present at his crucifixion, remaining faithfully with him as the others fled and hid (John 19:25). She then accompanies Jesus’ mother to bury the body of Jesus (Matthew 27:51); she is the only one of his followers who is there when his body is laid in the tomb (Mark 15:47).
  • All four gospels report that Mary Magdalene was the first witness to Jesus’ Resurrection. As if that were not enough, she is the one who is commissioned by Jesus to go and tell the other disciples this good news (John 20:17-18, Mark 16:9-11). For this reason she is often called “the apostle to the apostles.”
  • From John -John 20:1-18 Early on Sunday morning (“the first day of the week”), before dawn, Mary Magdalene (witness to Jesus’ death and burial) comes to the tomb and finds that the “stone” door has been rolled back, so she and those with her (“we”, v. 2) tell “Peter and the other disciple” (traditionally thought to be John) that they suspect that someone has removed the body. The “other disciple”, apparently younger, outruns Peter (v. 5). But the orderliness of the “cloth” (v. 7) and “linen wrappings” show that the body has neither been stolen nor spiritualized. John, when he sees, comes to trust that God is active; by implication, Peter does not understand yet. They do not yet understand the significance of what is occurring (v. 9), of how it fits into God’s plan, because they have not yet fully received the Holy Spirit.

    The remainder of the reading (vv. 11-18) concentrates on the experiences of the solitary Mary Magdalene in the garden: her weeping (v.11a); her sight of two angels inside the tomb and her response to their question about the cause of her tears (vv. 11b-13); her sudden sight of the ‘gardener’ whom she failed to recognise as Jesus (v.14); Jesus’s identical question to that of the angels, with the additional and significant, ‘Whom are you looking for?’ (v. 15a;) and Mary’s uncomprehending response (v.15b). She recognizes Jesus when he calls her by name. But something has changed: they are in a new relationship: “do not hold on to me” (v. 17). Since he has not yet reached his goal of returning to the Father she must not cling to him or try to keep him to herself (v.17a). Significantly, Mary again becomes an ‘apostle to the apostles’, charge with a message of promise (ascension) as much as of fulfilment (resurrection), conveyed in a manner that highlights the deepened relationship his followers would enjoy with the risen, ascended Jesus as his brothers and sisters, and with the Father as his beloved children (vv.17b-18).

  • Many believe that Mary Magdalene also became a leader in the early church, and her influence on some forms of Christianity lasted well into the fourth and fifth centuries. Some traditions propose that after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Mary Magdalene followed the Beloved Disciple John to Ephesus, where she died. Another (late) tradition tells of her journey to France by way of boat with Lazarus.
  • There are a whole lot of Marys in the New Testament! This makes it difficult to know who is being described in certain passages and has led to much confusion about Mary Magdalene. The extra-canonical Gospel of Philip captures this confusion well: “There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary his mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. For Mary is his sister and his mother and the one he is joined with” (59:6-11).
  • Regardless, Mary is singled out as Magdalene in the New Testament twelve times, more often than most of the male apostles!
  • Mary Magdalene’s special status as a close friend and benefactor of Jesus is supported amply by New Testament evidence. One significant text is the so-called Gospel of Mary. In this text, the disciples repeatedly affirm her status as someone whom Jesus loved more than all the other disciples. She is given a place of authority and teaches Peter, Andrew, Levi, and other followers about the mysteries of the kingdom of God. After Peter rebukes her, Levi replies, “Peter you have always been hot tempered. Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why he loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect Man, and separate as he commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said. And when they heard this they began to go forth to proclaim and to preach” (9:6-10).
  • It is commonly believed that Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute. Although the New Testament in no way suggests that she was, some important early church fathers, notably Ephrem the Syrian and Saint Gregory the Great, depicted her as such, and the image stuck. Some have suggested that they did so intentionally out of spite, as Mary Magdalene was an important figure in some forms of heterodox Christianity