In our daily prayers God was every manner of image and metaphor and meaning, and always, "God the Father." We never ever prayed to "God our Mother." What were women in the economy of God? The answer was only too painful: We were invisible. I had given my life to a God who did not see me, did not include me, did not touch my nature with God's own....Joan Chittister, "Called to Question"

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Baptism of Jesus

 A reflection on the readings for the Baptism of Jesus: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 by the Rev. Terri C. Pilarski

Our reading this morning conveys a key theme in the Gospel of Luke – prayer. Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets, helps us understand how to pray

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.   (Mary Oliver ~ Thirst)

Oliver reminds us to keep it simple, patch a few words together, don’t try to be too elaborate, give thanks and let there be some silence so God can speak too.

Jesus, after his baptism went off to pray, something Jesus does a lot of in the Gospel of Luke. Prayer is central to who Jesus is and how he lives out his ministry. Prayer is central to our faith life too and how we are invited to live out our various ministries.

 In the Bible Jesus gives us a simple prayer to pray, we call it The Lord’s Prayer. There are two versions of it in our Book of Common Prayer which you can find if you turn to page

There are also two versions of the Lord’s Prayer found in the Bible – one is in the sixth chapter of Gospel of Matthew  and it goes like this:

 “ Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you;  (Matthew 6:9-14)

And, one in the Gospel of Luke and it goes like this:

(Jesus) said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”  (Luke 11:1-4)

The versions of the Lord’s Prayer that we have in the Book of Common Prayer are similar, one to the Gospel of Matthew – which we use most of the year and call it the traditional version – and the other to the Gospel of Luke – which we use in the summer and call it the Contemporary version. Both versions are based on how Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray. 

N.T. Wright, a Bishop of Durham in the Church of England and a New Testament scholar says this about the Lord’s Prayer: “(it)is not so much a command as an invitation: an invitation to share in the prayer-life of Jesus himself…..”[i]

All Prayer is an invitation into the inner life of the Divine one and brings with it an opportunity to experience something of that divine life. Prayer is an invitation into mystery and the idea that there is something at play in the world that is bigger than we are. This something we call God – the divine source of all creation, the one who brought forth all life and called it good. We, being made in the image of that divine source are made good to do good.

For Christians baptism is the invitation into the life of Christ. An invitation into prayer, an invitation into an understanding of life that helps us make meaning out our lives, helps us navigate the challenges of life, a life of community and faith, a life in which we are never alone.  In baptism we are given the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gifts which become our strengths, the gifts which define our lives. Jesus’ gift is teacher – he teaches us how to live as God desires, how to live as Jesus did, a life of boundless compassion, love, mercy, and grace for all people, all creation.

Mary Oliver has something to say about the mystery of life and prayer in another poem, The Summer Day. Here is a portion of that poem:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,….
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Today we have come to baptize Lexi into her new life in Christ.

 As a parish family we have been praying for Lexi and her parents  and godparents, for many months – all during the adoption process. Now today we join our prayer with her prayer and offer our lifelong commitment to nurture her in her life in Christ. Every person we baptize we embrace with delight their potential, their new life in Christ, and we look forward to finding out just:
“What is they will do with their one wild and precious life!”  

 Let us now prepare to welcome Lexi into her new life…


Sunday, January 6, 2013


The Epiphany of Our Lord: a reflection on the readings - Isaiah 60.1-6, Psalm 72.1-7, 10-14, Ephesians 3. 1-12, Matthew 2.1-12 By the Rev. Dr. Sarah Rogers

Well I woke up this morning, and over my cup of coffee began thinking about what I needed to get done today and as the caffeine kicked in realised that I hadn’t written my reflection for this blog.  So, I have sat down with a second cup of coffee to write it.  Apologies for the lateness, it should have been done by Saturday, I don’t really have an excuse, I simply forgot.  It seems that it is easy to forget things at this time of year, everything is so different...our normal routine is thrown out of kilter, the children are off school, family we haven’t seen for months come and visit, there are all Christmas parties and Church services.  One of my parishioners completely forgot to come to church last Wednesday as she would usually do because she’d had the family around on New Year’s Day for a roast dinner and so thought it was Monday...everything is in a muddle.  For me, I had an ‘Open House’ on Saturday, a Christmas celebration at the vicarage for my Parishioners, and because the first Sunday in the month is always Family Service, I wasn’t preaching as such yesterday. 

It is entirely appropriate that at this time of year our routine is disrupted, the coming of the Messiah is an event that should cause disruption even today as we recall that great event.  Mary and Joseph had the upheaval of going to Bethlehem, the shepherds were sent out of the fields by the angels to find the Christ-child, and the appearance of a great star in the sky brought the Wise Men from distant lands to worship the baby Jesus.  The arrival of this new baby, the king of the Jews also frightened Herod leading him to order the execution of all baby boys under the age of three, we can only imagine what agony that brought to their mothers and fathers, life for them would never be the same again.

We don’t know how many Wise Men there were, all we know is that there was more than one and that they brought three gifts, so we assume there were three, each of them bringing a gift.  They are called Wise Men because they were star-gazers, but they are also known as ‘Kings’.  Tradition has it that Melchior was a Persian scholar, Caspar an Indian scholar and Balthazar an Arabian scholar.  These traditions have come about as scholars over the last 2000 years have attempted to find out who these mysterious Wise Men were.  They must have been reasonably wealthy to offer gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and they were obviously quite distinguished gentlemen.  I can’t help wondering whether they really travelled alone or whether they had an entourage with them, did they bring wives and servants, who else greeted the baby Jesus. In reality it doesn’t really matter, we can get too bogged down with the nitty gritty of working out who these Wise Men were, what really matters is WHY they came. 

They came because God sent them, leading them by a star to Bethlehem.  God has been playing a very long game, beginning with Abraham, gradually building a nation.  But Jesus was not just for that nation, God was sending him into the world for everyone.  So, the Wise Men come to represent us all.  They remind us that it doesn’t matter where we come from, what we look like, who are parents were or what language we speak.  Everyone can know God.  The Wise Men represented all the nations, so God not only welcomed them, but us as well.
Now that Christmas is over life is getting back to normal.  The children are returning to school, work routines are back to normal.  But, let us not forget the disruption that the arrival of the Messiah caused as we welcomed him again at Christmas.  Over the next few weeks the Messiah will be revealed to us when John Baptises his cousin, through the first miracle at the wedding at Cana when water is changed into wine, when Jesus reveals that he is the fulfilment of the scripture in the synagogue in Nazareth and finally in the Temple at Candlemas when Simeon and Anna see Jesus they recognise the child as the Messiah, but not just the Messiah of Israel but as Simeon says ‘a light for revelation to the Gentiles.’  For those who witnessed these events there must have been great confusion, they must have been disturbed, unsettled.  As our routines get back to normal, let us continue to be disturbed by God, but also to make sure that in all we do we make sure that the presence of God disturbs those around us as well.