Monday, May 11, 2015

The people of Israel are reminded that God took care of them as they wandered through the desert for 40 years

The Old Testament reading appointed for today’s Daily Prayer comes from the Book of Deuteronomy (meaning the “second law”), wherein the people of Israel are reminded that God took care of them as they wandered through the desert for 40 years:
This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase, and go in and occupy the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. The clothes on your back did not wear out and your feet did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the Lord your God disciplines you. Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.  (Dt. 8:1-10).
God fed his people as they journeyed through the desert.  God provided them with water to drink.  God had more in store for them, a land of their own. You see, often times we need to be reminded that God is always at work, whether we know it or not, and whether we believe in him or not.  God takes care of us, His people.
Let us pray: Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Thursday, 21 May starting at 11 AM, the Seaside Seniors will meet in Sutton Hall for food and fellowship.
ESL every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening starting at 6 PM with our ESL instructor, Jack Hawley.
Please remember everyone on our Prayer List, especially Lee, his mother who is very ill, and his entire family.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550

Friday, May 8, 2015

Julian of Norwich

Image result for julian of norwich
Today the Church remembers the life and ministry of Julian of Norwich who was born around 1342 and died on this day in 1417.  When she was 30 and living at home, Julian suffered from a severe illness. She was on her deathbed when she had a series of intense visions of Jesus, and they ended by the time she recovered from her illness in May of 1373. Julian wrote about her visions immediately after they had happened; however, the text may not have been finished for some years. She wrote The Revelations of Divine Love, now known as The Short Text; and is about 11,000 words long. It is believed to be the earliest surviving book written in the English language by a woman.
Twenty to thirty years later, Julian began to write a theological exploration of the meaning of the visions, known as The Long Text, consisting of about 63,500 words. This work seems to have gone through many revisions before it was finished.
James Kiefer writes:
She was concerned that sometimes when we are faced with a difficult moral decision; it seems that no matter which way we decide, we will have acted from motives that are less then completely pure, so that neither decision is defensible. She finally wrote: "It is enough to be sure of the deed. Our courteous Lord will deign to redeem the motive." 
A matter that greatly troubled her was the fate of those who through no fault of their own had never heard the Gospel. She never received a direct answer to her questions about them, except to be told that whatever God does is done in Love, and therefore "that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well." 
Let us pray:  Lord God, who in your compassion granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.
Don’t forget Mother’s Day!  It is this Sunday.  “A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” Tenneva Jordan (1904-1988).
Seaside Seniors, Thursday, 21 May at 11 AM.

ESL on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.  If you know someone who could benefit from it, please let them know.  It is free.

Spanish speaking Al-anon every Wednesday evening.
Please remember everyone on our Prayer List.
Your servant in Christ,
The Rev. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Things They Don't Teach You in Seminary

“They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” (Jn. 14:21).

 It was one of those days they never prepared you for in seminary. The Eucharist was over, and the people were gathering in the parish hall for breakfast. As usual, I was just about the last one there, but I was ready to bless the food.

After the blessing, I was heading to take my vestments off when I spotted a man sitting in the corner. He was sitting at a table, about 45 years old, thin, African-American, wearing green shorts with a white t-shirt, and had his head buried in his hands. He looked as if he had been crying.

Someone came up to me and said the man in the corner wanted to talk to me. Just as I was finishing unvesting, the man came up to me. I asked him his name. “Terry,” he said. I asked him what we could do for him. Terry said, “I don’t need any money, and I don’t have any money to give, but I want to share something with the congregation. It might touch their hearts.”

All of my red flags went up. His eyes were red from sobbing. Terry wanted me to stop the breakfast and have him address the congregation. What would he say? Was he mentally ill? We have had regular visitors who were mentally ill during the liturgy and after during breakfast. Was he high on drugs? We have had visitors who were high before. But none of our visitors who were mentally ill or were high on drugs asked to address the congregation. This was a first.

“Terry, why don’t you have some breakfast, and we can talk,” I said. Tom sat down with him, and Jillian, Tom’s wife, brought him breakfast. Terry started to eat. I asked Terry if he was ok. “I have so many problems in my life, pain; my wife, my kids.” “Do you have a place to live?” I asked. “No.” “Where are your wife and kids?” Terry did not answer. “Can we help you find a place to live?” Terry answered, “no.” Then he said, “I need to talk to the people.” “What do you want to say to them?” I asked fearful of the answer, “can you give me a clue.” “Trust me,” he said, “I won’t say anything bad.”

“Trust me,” I thought. “Trust, you, I don’t even know you,” the thought continued, and I had just preached how we are all connected in Christ as followers in Christ, and I told them how Jesuit novices are given a bus ticket and $30 to go on pilgrimage to learn trust as they travel and they ask Christians, religious orders, to take them in as they make their pilgrimage into the world." “Trust me,” Terry said. My sermon came back on me. God has a way of doing that.

“Ok, Terry, I’ll trust you.” We got up from the table, and both of us walked over near the front door to the parish hall. “This is a bit unprecedented. Terry here would like to share something with you.” That was my introduction.

Terry spoke; fear clenched my heart. “We go through hard times in life. I don’t have any money to offer. My grandmother always told me that when things get hard, when life is difficult, you need to pray like this,” and Terry began singing the Lord’s Prayer. No one stirred. It was silent, except for Terry’s voice singing, clear and pure.

After he was done, everyone clapped. Tom and I prayed with Terry and then as Terry went back to his breakfast, others came to pray with him. “Trust me.” I was humbled. In the words of today's Gospel reading: “And those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”