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, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Father’s Day Prayer

We give thanks for fathers.

We give thanks for those fathers who have striven to balance the demands of work, marriage, and children with an honest awareness of both joy and sacrifice. We give thanks for those fathers who, lacking a good model for a father, have worked to become good fathers.

We give thanks for those fathers who by their own account were not always there for their children, but who continue to offer those children, now grown, their love and support. We pray for those fathers who have been wounded by the neglect and hostility of their children.

We give thanks for those fathers who, despite divorce, have remained in their children’s lives. We give thanks for those fathers who have adopted children, and whose love and support has offered healing.

We give thanks for those fathers who, as stepfathers, freely choose the obligation of fatherhood and have earned their stepchildren’s love and respect. We give thanks for those fathers who have lost children to death, and who, in spite of their grief, continue to hold those children in their hearts.

We give thanks for those men who have no children, but cherish the next generation as if they were their own. We give thanks for those men who have ‘fathered’ us in their roles as mentors and guides.

We give thanks for those men who are about to become fathers; may they openly delight in their children. And we give thanks for those fathers who have died, but who live on in our memory and whose love continues to nurture us.

We give thanks for fathers.

Amen
 

Adapted from a prayer by Kirk Loadman-Copeland

Midsummer’s Night – June 21-24

Midsummer’s Night, Celebrate Light and community-  

We pass Midsummer’s Night in June . European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice, or that take place on a day between June 21 and June 24, and the preceding evening

 The Midsummer’s night celebration began in pre -Christian times when it was believed that forces could slip between this world and the next at a time when there was more light than at any time of the year. Fires were lit to ward off the evil spirits.  

We may think of Midsummer’s Night in terms of Shakespeare’s play of the same name. Ironically, most of the play takes place in a dark forest in a wild, mysterious atmosphere, rather than in the light, in which the magical elements of Shakespeare’s plot can be played out. One of the subplots involves the brawl of the ferries, Oberon and Titania which creates a disturbance in nature.  

Midsummer’s Night is the pagan celebration of the solstice. The Compline service is the Christian celebration. It is more general and can and is said daily by many in the world.

The ancient office of Compline derives its name from a Latin word meaning ‘completion.’  Dating back to the fourth century, and referenced by St. Benedict, St. Basil, and St. John Chrysostom, Compline has been prayed for continuously since then.

The practice of daily prayers grew from the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at set times of the day known as zmanim.

Catholics set up official prayers at the times of the day during the middle ages. The monastic prayer cycle was designed as a means of devoting the whole of one’s daily life to the LordIt is called the liturgy of the hours. Compline was at 7pm

The compline service is documented in the Prayer book, one of the additions of the current book.  It can be done in many  ways, particularly bringing prayers from other sources, such as the following.

Prayers at the Close of Day

There are many Anglican prayer books in the world- at least 50.  The Prayer book is a treasure trove of spiritual richness.  Each has unique prayers as we conclude our day. Here are a sample:

From the New Zealand Prayer Book:

Support us, Lord, all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work done; then Lord, in your mercy, give us safe lodging, a holy rest and peace at the last. God our judge and our companion, we thank you for the good we did this day and for all that has given us joy. Everything we offer as our humble service. Bless those with whom we have worked, and those who are our concern. Amen”

“Holiness; make us pure in heart to see you; make us merciful to receive your kindness and to share our love with all your human family; then will your name be hallowed on earth as in heaven. 

“It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be. “

From the Book of Common Prayer (1979)

“O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.” 

“Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.”

From the Celtic tradition

“Renew me this night in the image of your love, renew me in the likeness of your mercy, O God.” – Celtic Benediction, J. Philip Newell

“May the peace of the Spirit be mine this night; may the peace of the Son be mine this night; may the peace of the Father be mine this night. Amen” –  Celtic Worship Through the Year  

From the Canadian Prayer Book

“Merciful God, we have not loved you with our whole heart, nor our neighbours as ourselves. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, forgive us what we have been, accept us as we are, and guide what we shall be. Amen”

“To you before the close of day, Creator of all things, we pray that, in your saving constancy, our guard and keeper you would be. Save us from troubled, restless sleep; from all ill dreams your children keep. So calm our minds that fears may cease and rested bodies wake in peace. A healthy life we ask of you: the fire of love in us renew, and when the dawn new light will bring, your praise and glory we shall sing. Almighty Father, hear our cry through Jesus Christ, our Lord, most high, Whom with the Spirit we adore forever and for evermore. Amen.”

What is Juneteenth and Why Do We Celebrate on June 19?

Juneteenth is June 19

Because the Southern Confederacy viewed themselves as an independent nation, the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free all of the enslaved population because the Rebel governments would not enforce Lincoln’s proclamation. Texas became a stronghold of Confederate influence in the latter years of the Civil War as the slaveholding population ‘refugeed’ their slave property by migrating to Texas.

Consequently, more than 50,000 enslaved individuals were relocated to Texas, effectively prolonging slavery in a region far from the Civil War’s bloodshed, and out of the reach of freedom—the United States Army. Only after the Union army forced the surrender of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith at Galveston on June 2, 1865, would the emancipation of slaves in Texas be addressed and freedom granted. On June 19, 250,000 enslaved people were freed.

The issuing of General Order No. 3 on June 19, 1865, marked an official date of emancipation for the enslaved population. Nonetheless, those affected faced numerous barriers to their freedoms. General Order No. 3 stipulated that former slaves remain at their present homes, were barred from joining the military, and would not be supported in ‘idleness.’ Essentially, the formerly enslaved were granted nothing beyond the title of emancipation. The official end of slavery in the United States came with the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865.

After becoming emancipated, many former slaves left Texas in great numbers. Most members of this exodus had the goal of reuniting with lost family members and paving a path to success in postbellum America. This widespread migration of former slaves after June 19 became known as ‘the Scatter.’

Because the Southern Confederacy viewed themselves as an independent nation, the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free all of the enslaved population because the Rebel governments would not enforce Lincoln’s proclamation. Texas became a stronghold of Confederate influence in the latter years of the Civil War as the slaveholding population ‘refugeed’ their slave property by migrating to Texas. Consequently, more than 50,000 enslaved individuals were relocated to Texas, effectively prolonging slavery in a region far from the Civil War’s bloodshed, and out of the reach of freedom—the United States Army. Only after the Union army forced the surrender of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith at Galveston on June 2, 1865, would the emancipation of slaves in Texas be addressed and freedom granted. On June 19, 250,000 enslaved people were freed.

The issuing of General Order No. 3 on June 19, 1865, marked an official date of emancipation for the enslaved population. Nonetheless, those affected faced numerous barriers to their freedoms. General Order No. 3 stipulated that former slaves remain at their present homes, were barred from joining the military, and would not be supported in ‘idleness.’ Essentially, the formerly enslaved were granted nothing beyond the title of emancipation. The official end of slavery in the United States came with the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865.

After becoming emancipated, many former slaves left Texas in great numbers. Most members of this exodus had the goal of reuniting with lost family members and paving a path to success in postbellum America. This widespread migration of former slaves after June 19 became known as ‘the Scatter.’

World Refugee Day, June 20, 2022 – the Stats

UNHCR 2021 Global Trends Report – key data:

  • By May 2022, more than 100 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide by persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order.
  • At end 2021, the figure was 89.3 million, comprising:
    • 27.1 million refugees
      • 21.3 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate
      • 5.8 million Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate
    • 53.2 million internally displaced people
    • 4.6 million asylum seekers
    • 4.4 million Venezuelans displaced abroad
  • Among refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad in 2021:
    • Low- and middle-income countries hosted 83 per cent
    • Least Developed Countries provided asylum to 27 per cent of the total.
    • More than two thirds (69 per cent) of refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad came from just five countries: Syria (6.8 million), Venezuela (4.6 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.4 million) and Myanmar (1.2 million).

Definitions

1. Internally displaced People are people who have been forced to leave or abandon their homes, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized border

People flee within their own countries for example to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural- and human-made disasters. 

2. Asylum seekers

An asylum-seeker is someone whose request for sanctuary has yet to be processed. Every year, around one million people seek asylum.

3. Refugees

Refugees are people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country.

They often have had to flee with little more than the clothes on their back, leaving behind homes, possessions, jobs and loved ones. 

Arrivals climbed in Uganda, Chad and Sudan among others.

Most refugees were, once again, hosted by neighboring countries with few resources.

World Refugee Day in 2022 – a local ministry

A Local perspective

Much of the work is local once the refugees arrive.

St. George’s in Fredericksburg established a group Afghan Allies to minister to the Afghans, overrun by the Taliban by Aug. 2021. Afghan refugees were processed in Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and New Jersey. Article written by Cathy Barron a member of that group in April, 2022 

“Thank you, St. Georgians! You have shown hospitality to some of our community’s newest neighbors, families who were evacuated from Afghanistan. Using your gifts of financial aid, furniture, and household supplies, Afghan Allies of St. George’s has helped settle five families into apartments and townhouses. We worked with Catholic Charities, the U.S. government appointed liaison in this area to supply the basic needs of these families — tables, chairs, lamps, beds, pots, dishes, sheets, towels — and welcoming smiles. That’s where your gifts came in.

“However, often we had requests for additional items that would meet individuals’ needs. One woman requested a sewing machine and fabric because she and her family had fled with only the clothes they were wearing (as was often the case.) Another woman wanted fabric for curtains to soften the stark interior of her new home. One man needed a computer so that he could study English and look for a job. Children wanted toys (which St. George’s youth are helping to supply.) Occasionally our new neighbors talked about themselves and what they had left behind. More than one person was worried about relatives and friends left in Afghanistan.

“And always they were thankful. We saw people run their hands delightedly over a new-to-them desk or table. In addition, they wanted to show hospitality to us. We were always invited to sit and share tea or juice with the families.

were always invited to sit and share tea or juice with the families.

Role of Episcopal Migration Ministries

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) is the refugee resettlement program of the Episcopal Church, and a living example of the Church’s commitment to aid the stranger. Resettlement is the last option for any refugee, when it is not possible for the refugee to return home or to integrate into the country which first offered asylum. In 2020, EMM resettled 1,121 individuals from 29 counties to build new lives . They collaborated with local partner agencies in 10 Episcopal dioceses to welcome those fleeing persecution. 

Episcopal Migration Ministries is the church’s foremost response to refugee crises. Working in partnership with offices and groups within the church as well as with governments, non-government organizations (NGOs), and a network of affiliated offices, Episcopal Migration Ministries assures safe passage and provides vital services for thousands of refugee families upon their arrival in America: English language and cultural orientation classes, employment services, school enrollment, and initial assistance with housing and transportation. For each family, the goal is self-reliance and self-determination. After years of living in limbo, thanks to Episcopal Migration Ministries, refugees now have the opportunity to begin again on a strong foundation that honors their stories and dignity.

There are three durable solutions for refugees: repatriation, integration, and resettlement. Thankfully, in many cases, refugees are able to repatriate or return to their home countries once the conflicts there have ceased and civil society has stabilized. Other refugees, who may not be able to return home, are able instead to integrate into the country of first asylum – the country to which they fled for safety. The remaining group of refugees – less than 1 in 100 refugees – is resettled to another nation.

Bishop Susan Goff visited St. Peter’s, Sun June 19 for confirmation

Bishop Susan Goff’s visitation occurred on June 19. The last Bishop visit was Bishop Ihloff in 2019. She substituted for the Rt. Rev. Jennifer Brooke-Davidson who had a death in the family

Arthur Duke and Cornesha Howard were confirmed with a covered dish luncheon following the service.


Bishop visitation and confirmation June 19, 2022(full size gallery)

The Connection – Sunday, June 19’s Gospel, Juneteenth and World Refugee Day (June 20)

Luke 8:35–39

Image is from
Léonard Gaultier
 (artist) French, 1561 – 1641, Scenes from the New Testament

Sunday is Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, learned they were emancipated, although it had been the case since 1863. This observance is “about the journey and achievement of African Americans — from a horrific period of sanctioned enslavement to the pinnacle of human endeavors” (Juneteenth.com). So, it is fitting that Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 8:26-39) is about healing and freedom: A man possessed by demons, ostracized and “living in the tombs,” is made whole by Jesus. It’s the drowning pigs story

Today, we tend to understand demons as a metaphor for personal struggles — such as addiction, disease, or chronic illness. But demons can be systemic in society as well, such as our country’s addiction to guns, white supremacy, and income inequality. These societal demons perpetuate the fear that keeps us divided. We see systemic fear of freedom in Sunday’s Gospel as well. The Gerasa community is seized by fear at the man’s healing and restoration, and they banish Jesus, the healer and restorer.

Juneteenth is a time to celebrate what has been done to make our world better for all and reminds us to recommit ourselves to the healing work we need to do before we can all truly be free. It also reminds us to attend to the systemic forces that prevent change, keep oppression in place, and distract us with the falsehood that one person’s freedom must be another person’s loss. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”—Ruth Frey

Jesus disturbed the comforted and comforted the disturbed – Ryan W. Clayton

The story of the Gerasene demoniac in Luke pushes us to reflect on questions of identity. Immediately preceding this story, Jesus calmed violent wind and raging waves with a word. His disciples ask, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25) Who is this, indeed? He masters the storm when the disciples cry out for help, he masters the demons when they cry out to be left alone. Junteenth gave a legal identity to those caught by slavery.

Juneteenth is also related to World Refugee Day.

Junetenth is about personal freedom. World Refugee Day also proclaims the value of each person as a unique child of God and commit ourselves to the healing and wholeness of all persons.

There is a community element as well. As the Bishop of Atlanta writes “God rejoices when we celebrate the truth-that we were made for each other and for God’s glory. “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters and siblings to dwell together in unity.”

Juneteenth also preserved the integrity of the family by allowing families to stick together without the possibility of being sold. World Refugee Day remembers and honors the families and individuals made homeless by disasters, wars, poverty, and intolerance around the world

Village Harvest – Behind the scenes, June 2022

We sometimes forget there is more than one team that makes the Village Harvest happen. These pictures were taken at the Healthy Harvest Food Bank in Montross on June 14, 2022, one day before the Harvest on June 15, 3pm to 5pm

Healthy Harvest’s mission is “To provide hope in the communities we serve through the right food and education . ” Serving six counties in Virginia’s Northern Neck and Upper Middle Peninsula as the only organization of its kind in the region, the food bank is committed to increasing its capacity to meet future demand, offer educational programs to children as well as clients with health-related dietary issues and increase the nutritional value of food provided locally and across the state of Virginia.”  One in eight neighbors in need struggle with food insecurity, making the services offered at the food bank critical for every struggling family, child and senior who deserves access to healthy, nutritious food.

The facility is modern. The picture shows the facility powered by solar panel. The food is gathered and this month placed in Helmut’s truck. (Cookie and Johnny who usually do this leg were away Wisconsin).

Thanks to Denise, Catherine, Andrea and Helmut who helped to gather the food in June.

A Collection of Daylilies

Luke 12:27 ESV
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”


Friday, June 17, 2022

The Village Harvest at June– increase in numbers

For the first six months of 2022, the Village Harvest served 543 people compared to 535 in 2021. Most of the shoppers came during first quarter through the 2nd quarter showed most of the increase. This is the first increase since 2019 during the first six months of the year

The actual pounds were down from 7,664 to 7,590. Pounds per person were also down from 14.33 to 13.98. However, we are above the level of the pre-pandemic period with the best figure then at 11.67. At $6 a pound, the 2022 figure is just under $84 in value.

Galatians on tap – June 19, 26, July 3

Introduction to Galatians

We will be reading Galatians as the Epistle on June 19, 26 and July 3. Here is some background to Paul’s letter.


In the face of Jewish opposition, the southern region of Galatia had been fertile soil for Paul’s ministry as he traveled with his companion, Barnabas, through cities recorded by Luke in Acts 13 and 14 . However, after Paul left the area of Galatia he received news that some trouble-makers were agitating the believers . Although Paul was not completely sure of the identity of his opponents (Galatians 5:10), apparently a group of Jewish Christians, or possibly local Jews, were teaching that submission to the Jewish law was a requirement of salvation. Paul’s letter to the Galatians was a result of the challenges the Galatians were facing, but also reflected a continuing debate regarding the applicability of the Torah in Jerusalem and Antioch in Syria.

Paul’s opponents viewed adherance to the law as an integral part of maintaining and, likely, procuring a relationship with God . In order to further their agenda, the agitators attempted to undermine Paul’s authority, claim Paul’s gospel was not true, and charge that the gospel preached by Paul would lead to immorality. Paul addressed the issues of the law with various arguments.

The crucial language utilized by Paul arguing for the sufficiency of the Christian faith climaxes with “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 5:20) which naturally leads to the recognition that righteousness, which the Jewish Christians were attempting to accomplish through the futility of human effort, can only be realized by grace via faith. In other words, “Christ in me” imputes righteousness not the Law, otherwise, “Christ died needlessly” (Galatians 5:21-3:2).

Longenecker in the book The Cambridge Companion to St Paul identifies four significant Pauline points which decimate the opponent’s gospel which, of course, is no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7):  

1 MoralityPaul emphasizes that a morality is central to a life with Christ. This righteousness frees believers from the need to acquire significance or justification from immoral idolatries such as human performance by realizing the very thing we are striving for already exists.

2 The Law -Paul explains the entirety of the Law is fulfilled in one word: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). In other words, through “service to others the expectations of the law are fully concretized in unrivalled fashion.” Self-giving is magnified completely fulfilling the Law in an unbridled extension of love for others.

3. Walk in the Spirit. Paul refers metaphorically to the purpose of the law as pedagogue (Galatians 3:24) which is “relieved of its duty once the child comes of age,” just as the function of the law terminated with Christ’s arrival Accordingly, Paul now directs us to “walk by the Spirit” not by the Law, for if led by the Spirit, we are not under the Law (Galatians 5:16-17).

4. Finally, Paul plunges a dagger into the motivation of his opponents by accusing them of championing teaching of the law for the purpose of self-promotion Galatians 4:17).

Commentary, June 19, 2022, Pentecost 2

Today’s readings focus on the understanding of how Jesus’ presence changes our lives. Isaiah describes God’s necessary judgment and promise of final deliverance and cleansing for the people. The psalmist yearns for God’s presence, especially in times of suffering. Paul writes to the Galatians of their unity and freedom in Christ Jesus. Jesus’ begins his mission to the Gentiles with the expulsion of many demons.

1. Old Testament – Isaiah 65:1-9

Today’s reading comes from near the end of the second part of Isaiah’s prophecy (chapters 40-66) that is primarily composed of words of consolation and encouragement for the exiled Jews. But even here, the Jews are reminded that they must show the proper reverence for God. The long history of improper conduct in response to God’s sacred presence in their midst cannot be forgotten. It will certainly bring God’s judgment.

But as Isaiah emphasizes over and over, this moment of judgment will give way to a time of blessing and restoration for the chosen people and their land. God’s loving faithfulness overrides the demand for judgment and punishment. So, despite the long catalogue of the people’s failures in relation to God, Isaiah once again affirms God’s promise of fidelity and restoration.

2. Epistle -Galatians 3:23-29

This passage is part of Paul’s message that faith in Christ fulfills the law of Moses. Through baptism into Christ, all are now “children of God” (v. 26), the Old Testament designation given to anointed kings (Psalm 2:7) and to the whole people of Israel (Exodus 4:22).

Verses 28-29 are probably based upon a baptismal liturgy. The baptized clothe themselves with Christ and adopt a new personality and a new way of life. Even today the new white baptismal garment reminds us of our incorporation into Christ’s body, the church. Baptism makes us all God’s children and so heirs of the promises to Abraham made long before the law was given to Moses.

The sermon in 2019 took up the above passages.

“What brings God joy? God’s great hope is that we come to know, through Jesus, that all our divisions have come to an end and that we are ONE in Christ Jesus.

Paul says it this way. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are ONE in Christ Jesus.”

“I like this idea that we are all one in Christ Jesus, because our oneness points toward the Trinitarian nature of God—one in three and three in one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“When we are one in Christ Jesus, we are showing to the world what God is like—God, Son and Holy Spirit dwelling in eternal intimacy, One God. That’s why Paul says that we in the church are clothed in Christ. Christ Jesus and his healing, freeing love—Christ Jesus is our uniform. The man possessed by demons in today’s gospel who ran around naked and lived in the tombs ends up clothed and in his right mind at the feet of Jesus after Jesus sends the demons out of him. Jesus has clothed this man with healing love.

“Since the days of the early church, people who decided to follow Jesus and to become a part of the church spent several years in preparation, and when the day of their baptisms came, they took off their old clothes, and entered the water naked. After their baptisms, they came out of the water and were clothed in white robes. Everyone could see that they were now clothed in Christ. And everyone rejoiced.”

“Baptisms are joyful. We are celebrating because we get to witness the person being baptized getting dressed up in Christ. The person being baptized gets to put on the uniform that we are already wearing.

“Yes, good news, a cause for celebration, now and in the world to come! Our places are waiting for us, and our robes are ready.

“The Good News is news we want to share, like the man who has been freed of his demons and clothed in Jesus’ healing love, who goes and proclaims throughout the city how much Jesus has done for him.

“So remember, when we rejoice in our ONENESS, God rejoices too! And God’s joy makes our joy complete.”

3. Gospel – Luke 8:26-39

Jesus turns his attention to the Gentiles by crossing the Sea of Galilee into their territory. From the Jewish perspective, such a ministry would demand enormous cleansing since Gentile territory would have many possible sources of ritual impurity or “uncleanness” that would prohibit Jews from taking part in worship services. Thus it is not surprising that Jesus confronts a man who is possessed by a multitude of demons—so many that they are identified as a legion (the name for a large Roman military unit of 3000 to 6000 men).

The dramatic healing is only the prelude, though, to the further development of the characteristics of Jesus’ mission. Jesus confronts the demons, requires that they reveal their name—thus giving Jesus power over them—and then grants their wish to infest a herd of swine rather than return to the underworld.

The community is rightly afraid of a man like Jesus who has demonstrated the power and control over demons. This kind of power could be very upsetting to their community and its traditions. So because of their fear, they ask Jesus to leave. The healed man, knowing how his life has been changed for the better, wants to follow Jesus and continue to be with him. Jesus, however, speaks the words that might become the guideline for all his followers, reminding them that the first and most obvious place for their mission is their own household.

So What does this say to us ? Lutheran minister David Lose wrote the following this week:

“I was struck very much by the tail-end of verse 27: “he did not live in a house but in the tombs.” The details of this man’s life are already bleak. Completely dominated by what has mastered him, unable to restrain himself or be restrained, naked and alone, we discover he is also homeless, abandoned, and lives among the tombs; that is, among the dead, in a wasteland, in territory considered unclean, unsafe, and unapproachable

“Horrible. And yet, if we’re honest, not unfamiliar. There are very likely folks in your congregation who have experienced homelessness or been on the brink of that experience. Others “live in the tombs” and in the place of death more metaphorically, but no less painfully. Those trapped by mental illness or addiction. Those in abusive relationships. Those who feel terribly alone. Those who feel that something they’ve done, or something that has been done to them, disqualifies them from acceptance. Those who have been rejected because they do not conform to the norms and identities with which we are most comfortable. Those who struggle to find any sense of value in themselves or purpose in life.

“And the list goes on. Indeed, broadening what it means to “live in the tombs” in this way, there is likely not a single person who has not had this experience.

“What’s easy to overlook in this odd story of eventual healing is that this whole encounter between Jesus and this man lost and living in the tombs is the result of a nearly inexplicable and totally unnecessary detour. This larger scene is set in motion by Jesus’ decision to cross to the other side of the lake. Luke’s narration makes it sound so incredibly happenstance: “One day, Jesus got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let’s go across to the other side of the lake’” (v. 22). That’s it. No rationale, like pressing crowds or the need for rest. It’s not a shortcut to some ultimate destination. And no plan or purpose is made apparent. Just a desire to cross from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from the known countryside of Capernaum and Galilee to the land of the Gerasenes… and to this man.

“Which may mean that Jesus’ whole point with this detour is to seek him out. To rescue him from his occupation, to return to him his life. While it may seem utterly unnecessary to us, that is, it is absolutely necessary, even crucial, to Jesus and his mission. This is what Jesus does – seeks out and finds the lost. Even more, this is who Jesus is – the one who is: the one who brings good news to the poor, proclaims release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and lets the oppressed go free (4:18).

“And here’s the thing: Jesus is still doing that. He is still going out of his way, still taking the long route, still crossing boundaries, still daring to meet us in the middle of our tombs, in order to heal and restore us. To put it another way, if Jesus goes so far out of his way to encounter this one man, what will keep him from seeking us out, from meeting us where we are and accepting us as we are, from inviting us to come out of the tombs, from daring us to imagine life in abundance, from bidding us to share the news of what has been done for us. The answer, in short, is nothing. Nothing will keep Jesus from reaching out to us, finding us, accepting us, releasing us, calling us, loving us. Nothing.”

World Refugee Day, June 20

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:2

World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000 to honor the contributions of those we do not know, refugees throughout the world, and to raise awareness about the growing refugee crisis in places like Syria and Central Africa and to focus on ways to improve the lives of refugees.  It is a day that builds empathy and awareness of the plight of these people.

What is a refugee? Refugee” is a legal term used to define an individual who:

“…owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” (1951 Geneva Refugee Convention.) 

Many of the characters we know in the Bible were refugees – Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Lot, Hagar and Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Naomi, Ruth, David, Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Mordecai, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, John and much of the Early Church.

Scripture supports refugees.  “So, show your love for the alien.”- Deuteronomy 10:17-19.

“Be a safe place for those on the run from the killing fields.” Isaiah 16:4

The Old Testament, particularly the first five books, is covered with references to the “stranger”.

An important New Testament passage about strangers is Matthew 25:31-40.” for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me”.

Scholars have argued that in the New Testament, “stranger” and “neighbor” are in fact synonymous. Thus, the Golden Rule, “love your neighbor as yourself,” refers not just to people whom you know—your “neighbors” in a conventional sense—but also to people whom you do not know.