Trinity Day Camp AUGUST 21-25

God is Love: How do we Love?

August 21-25, 2017      10am-12noon

Grade One:  4-6 years old
Grade Two:  7-9 years old
Grade Three:  10-12 Years old

REGISTER TODAY!
Call Donna Kropp at 518-797-5119

  • Learn to care for loved ones
  • Practice yoga to care for yourself
  • Sing Songs
  • Make crafts to give to loved ones
  • Snacks and beverages provided

Counsellors and Steering Committee:

Donna Kropp
Rosie Kuhar
Nancy Dyer
Kim Graff — Rville Library Director
Lee Ackerman – Sawyer – Assistant Librarian
Dennis Winslow — retired Episcopal Church priest

 

Lent 1 Sermon by Fr. Jerry Adinolfi

TESTED IN EVERY WAY

 

Prayer

Our readings today teach us about the lessons of temptation, and how they can work for good or for evil and sin

  • The Rev. Dr. Mickey Anders tells a story of a salesman making his biggest pitch in his boss’s office; can of 1000 BB’s
  • Adam and Eve had the same problem and bit the forbidden fruit
  • Jesus, fresh from the Spirit of God having descended upon him in the Jordan River during his baptism, is now led by the same Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted for forty days and forty nights
  • Temptation is pervasive; immortal; how do we escape it’s clutches or work with it? Endure it?
    • How do we know whether we are being tempted or tested?
    • The Greek word for testing and tempting is the same: peira.zw : and it has a contextual usage
  • our Lenten journey is always about choosing; making choices
    • Not every temptation is as obvious as the BB story above.  Nor is every failure is so embarrassing. But every temptation is a challenge with consequences.  Not even Jesus was spared the choosing. He chose obedience to God! And suffered for it.
    • Overcoming temptation requires self-control; will power; the desire to overcome; and most importantly, guidance and empowerment from the Holy Spirit
  • we can get help if we want it; it’s an internal attitude; our motive
    • “No testing (temptation) has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing (temptation) he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor 10:13)
  • Listen to Henry Nouwen’s words about temptation: What makes the power of temptation so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love he says. It seems easier to be god than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. Jesus asks, Do you love me? We ask, Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in your Kingdom? We have been tempted to replace love with power.

 

In our Old Testament lesson this morning, God provides trees that were pleasant to the sight and good for food

  • Eve noted they were good for food, a delight to the eyes, but added desirous to make one wise
  • Going beyond, disobeying, modifying, adding to, etc. God’s word is the beginning of sin for it becomes a subtle form of idolatry; we then proceed to blame someone else because of our guilt
  • Keep in mind these words of Scripture from the Letter of James:
    • “No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it.” (James 1:13-14)
      • we pray: lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
      • Jesus said that a person is defiled by what comes from their heart; hence in Psalm 32 today, the Psalmist shouts for joy to those who are true of heart, in whose spirit there is no guile.

 

Look at what those early Christians endured for the sake of the Gospel as reported in the Epistle this morning, in Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Because of what Christ did, we have the opportunity to become the righteousness of God by being reconciled to God. The temptations and trials of the Christian life were indeed enormous, but as ambassadors for Christ, as servants of God, Saint Paul and his followers could say to the Corinthians in another letter in the power of the Spirit that they had nothing yet possessed everything. The New English Bible translates it this way: “Penniless, we owned the world!” And why? Because God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not holding our sins against us. Thus when we are tempted, we retort not by revenge but by reconciliation and obedience, as in the footsteps of Christ.

 

In today’s Gospel, the devil tempts Jesus in three fundamental ways by appealing to his: 1) to physical needs/hunger;  2) safety/protection/fear;  and 3) life purpose/goal/fulfillment

  • clearly, the ends do not justify the means of these demonic temptations for to do them would be sin, and Jesus was sinless
    • the word devil is translated, diabolos, which means slanderer, or given to malicious gossip, or more literally, one who throws apart
      • the devil divides, creates division, scatters, causes chaos while God restores order by recreation and reconciliation
      • simply put, the devil is “D evil” or dee evil!
    • the devil tempts; God tests
      • “Remember the long way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, the Lord told the people of Israel, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)
      • As the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West. Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, “Are you trying to break this bridge?” “No,” the builder replied, “I’m trying to prove that the bridge won’t break.” In the same way, the temptations Jesus faced weren’t designed to see if He would sin, but to prove that He wouldn’t.

–        Jesus’ victory over his temptations resulted in his being able to help us today, as the author of the Book of Hebrews so eloquently states:

  • “Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” (Hebrews 2:18)
  • “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
    • How comforting to know that “he has been there, done that”
  • ironically, the very angels which the devil said would catch Jesus if he succumbed to the second temptation came to him and ministered to him after his trial of obedience
    • might that remind us to wait upon the Lord and his refreshment!
  • recall Jesus’ parable about the seed falling on the rock (Luke 8:13): “The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.”
    • At a time of testing, such as Lent 2017
    • Making mistakes often catapults us from arrogance to humility and then renders us teachable, pliable, malleable, useful to God
      • In the 1991 movie The Doctor starring William Hurt who plays Dr. Jack MacKee who had it all, until he himself becomes a patient in his own hospital
      • he was tempted by the power he had as a top cardiac surgeon until he yielded to the needs of others, thereby being humbled and made useful

 

Our Collect this morning serves as a good summary and closing for these Lenten thoughts

  • “….come quickly to help us, Lord, who are assaulted by many temptations, and as you know the weakness of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save”
  • In the words of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah in his tenth chapter, “…I know, O Lord, that man’s ways are not of his own choosing; nor is it for a man to determine his course in life. Correct us, O Lord, but with justice, not in anger, lest thou bring us almost to nothing.”
  • as you saved your Son Jesus in the Wilderness, so save us now.

AMEN

Epiphany 2 Sermon by Linda Anderson

Jan 15, 2017

 

“Being called by name”

Linda Anderson

 


1:38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

1:39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.

One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed).

He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

John 1:37-42

 

What must it have felt like for Simon to have gone to see this Anointed, this Messiah, this Lamb of God, and for this Jesus to look at him and say, “I know you?” What a strange, intimate moment.   Only the day before John had testified

“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.

I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

John 1:32-34

Imagine that you were Simon, your brother had just come to tell you that he had found the Messiah.  And you went post-haste to see him.  And this Messiah turned to you and said, “You are Simon.  I recognize you.  I know you so well, that I am going to give you a new name to signify who I really know you to be, a name with new possibilities!  A name to indicate a new direction!”

Names are important.  Knowing someone’s name and using it to greet them can enlarge our concept of “home”.  Like a verbal warm embrace, greeting someone by name is a gesture that says, “Welcome.  Join me.  Let us be together.  We are part of a community.”

I have always felt valued when someone knows my name.   Many years ago, I worked in a small town and frequented Lenny’s Pizzeria.  Lenny was known not only for his pizza, but also for his friendly, warm nature.  He would always greet me, “Miss Lin!  How are you today!”  Some may say that he was just a good business man practicing good business, but I like to think that he was truly happy to see me, that he cared about me and how I was doing.   Eating there was as comfortable to me as sitting in my own kitchen.  In fact, it was better, because I was surrounded by the warmth that Lenny created.

Today I have an auto mechanic, Lou, that smiles and greets me with a warm and familiar, “Hey Lin, how’re you doing?”  Lou was a huge help to me when I first moved to this area.  My car had died, in a snowstorm, in the dark, on Rt 32.  My cell phone had no service and I was stranded.  A kind man offered to let me use his phone and told me, “Tell them to bring the car to Lou.  He’s a good guy.  He’ll take care of you.”  And so I did.   And he did.   Now, thirteen years later, I still bring my car to Lou.  He has helped me through some drama and real trauma – the time I fell asleep and drove off the road, puncturing the radiator.  The time my car was hit by a trailer, I was dragged and my car was totaled.  So many miles, so many car stories!   I would always take my dog, Winston, with me when I had my car serviced.  Lou knew his name, too, and would always make a fuss over him.   What a gift to be received in this way!  To be welcomed warmly and to know that I would be cared for!

There is also something about the way these two people called me “Lin” as opposed to “Linda” that made me feel at home.   Only my family and close friends called me Lin, so by using that name, my familial nickname, unbeknownst to them, they joined my extended family of people who affectionately call me by that name

Unfortunately, some people are given names that do not affirm their worth.  A friend shared with me an article about a group of girls in India that took part in a ceremony to shed their unwanted names.  At birth, these girls had been given names that mean “unwanted” in Hindi.  The naming ceremony was one effort to fight gender discrimination against girls in a society where the birth of a girl promises to be a financial burden.   Families can go into debt to provide a huge dowry to marry off their daughters.  Sons, on the other hand, bring in money by marrying a girl with a large dowry.   Their community was attempting to fight a societal trend in which girl fetuses were being aborted, and baby girls died from lack of attention.  This community provided a way for the girls to value themselves, be valued and provide a hopeful future in which the mere statement of their name would be life affirming.  In the ceremony, these 285 “unwanted” girls wearing their best outfits with barrettes, braids and bows in their hair — lined up to receive certificates with their new names along with small flower bouquets from Satara district officials in Maharashtra state.

“Now in school, my classmates and friends will be calling me this new name, and that makes me very happy,” said a 15-year-old girl who had been named Nakusa [unwanted] by a grandfather disappointed by her birth. She chose the new name “Ashmita,” which means “very tough” or “rock hard” in Hindi.

Unwanted children are not found only in India.  I once spoke to a man who ran a farm here in NY.  He and his wife, who was a social worker, decided to open their farm to visits from at-risk children, hoping that their interactions with the animals on the farm would provide a positive environment for them.  One day, as the farmer was working, he overheard a little girl, maybe 6 or 7, who was talking to a cow.   She didn’t think anyone else could hear her, and she said to the cow, “I don’t know my real name.  At home they just call me “whore” and I don’t even know what that word means.”

I don’t have words to comment on such tragedy.  I will just take a moment to let the significance of that sink in.

There are so many tragic stories in this life.  Fr. Mark and I went to a conference this past week entitled, “Joining Forces: Reducing and Responding to Sexual Assault Across Disciplines”.   The main speaker told her story of an assault that she suffered, brutally raped and beaten by four men.   She was found in the trunk of a car by an off-duty policeman who felt “a nudge” to go back out a drive around a bit.   When she heard his voice outside the trunk of the car, and heard him say his name, “My name is Officer Billings.  I am a police officer and I am going to get you out” she began to feel some hope.  Her story was a nightmare of a story.  Yet there she was, standing in front of us, wanting to share it to help us help others who have been assaulted.  I was so moved by her story.  I got chills when she told of her rescue and the saving power at the mention of his name.  The police officer was hailed as a hero.  He said, “I was just doing my job.  If you had seen what she went through, you would call her the hero.”

We are blessed to be called by name and to be known by Jesus.  This man, this Son of God, whom we call our Messiah, walked the earth validating people from all walks of life.  He validated men.  He validated women.  The sick, the lame, the desperate.  He gave them hope and healing by greeting them by name.

I would like to share a quote by the dancer and choreographer Agnes De Mille who said

“A teacher is someone who calls you by your true name, and says

‘Go forth’.”  

 We call our teacher Jesus.  He knows us, values us and calls each of us by our true name.  He sends us forth.

 

Mother Nancy Betz’s Christmas Eve Sermon

Christmas Eve, Year A, Trinity Rensselaerville, 2016

 

 

Recently, three men were nervously waiting in the father’s room at the Good Samaritan Hospital as their wives prepared to give birth to their first children. The men were much too scared to be in the delivery room.

Soon, the head nurse arrived with good news from the birthing rooms. She said to the first father-to-be, “sir, you are a father of twins!”

“That’s great, he said. “I’m a baseball player and I am going to sign a contract with the Minnesota Twins. This will be great press.”

Soon, the nurse arrived and said to the second father-to-be, “Sir” you are the father of triplets.”

“Fantastic,” he said, “Because I work for the 3M Company. This will be great press.”

The third father-to-be got up and ran out of the room. He was moving so fast that he did not bother to take the elevator. Finally, the nurse yelled out the window as the man entered the nearby parking lot. The nurse cried out, “What’s wrong! Where are you going?”

He said, “I’ve got to resign real fast. I am the Vice-President of Seven-Up.”

That poor father-to-be was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I imagine just like the husbands and wives we have read about in the news who have given birth to six and seven babies. In truth I think that many people feel overwhelmed especially during the Christmas season. They are ready to just hang it all up.

Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve had just about all the bad news you can stand? On occasion that feeling grips me. Sometimes it feels like I am just recovering from one disaster when another one comes barreling in like a tidal wave.

You can’t turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper without being bombarded with the bad news of the bombings in Aleppo, the acts of terrorism in Berlin, Belgium, France just to name a few.  The incidences of domestic violence, drugs and child abuse seem never ending. There are times when the news just leaves me numb and I say to myself, come Lord Jesus come.

Every major holy day I go into a panic wondering what to say that has not already been said by far greater preachers then I. This year was no exception. While I was expressing this concern or maybe I was whining to my friend in Minnesota the other night he said to just keep telling the good news. He reminded me that we need to hear it over and over until it becomes an integral part of our very being.

So what is this good news that we need to hear over and over again? God loves us. God loves us so much that over two thousand years ago God sent his son into the world. God sent his son into the world to bring Light to a dark and troubled world. God sent his son into the world in order to implement God’s plan for divine salvation.

Now our Gospel reading for this evening certainly brought a proclamation of good news for tough times in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. But what about today? How does that holy event that took pace so long ago impact our lives today?

Every year I hear someone make the statement that this Christmas is going to be different. I remember hearing one father say that they were going to manage their time better and they were going to curtail excessive spending on gifts. They were determined to make this the best Christmas ever! His youngest son after hearing his father make such a motivational speech spoke up and said, “But dad, I don’t see how we could ever improve on the first Christmas.” That is one very astute young boy!

And that is the truth my friends. We sure can’t improve on the very first Christmas but we can improve on the way we celebrate it today. There are two truths that came out of that first Christmas that can never be improved upon.

The first is, God himself entered into time and space. The Gospel writer John tells us that the Word became flesh and lives among us-full of grace and truth.

You see God is no longer just a theological nicety or an abstract concept. God became human in the person of Jesus Christ. I receive many Christmas cards and I am grateful for the thoughtfulness of so many. But I can’t help notice that many of the cards I receive have no relevance to what we really celebrate tonight. There are cards with beautiful scenes of snow-covered forests, lovely flowers specific to this season or cards with Santa Claus as the main focus. And when we do send cards that depict the miracle, we sanitize and romanticize the stable, and we forget the pain and agony of childbirth that was endured by a frightened peasant girl named Mary. The event we celebrate today was real with real people experiencing pain and unspeakable joy and fear that eventually drove them from their homeland.

In the book entitled God Came Near by Max Lucado, he writes, “The omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit-became pierceable. He who was larger than the universe had become an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl.”

“God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The Creator of life being created.” It takes more than a simple country priest such as I, to do justice to such a wonderful and holy event. But friends the glorious truth is God has come into human life. For many this is an uncomfortable thing to accept. It is always easier to keep God at a distance. See if we keep God at a distance, God can’t mess up our life. We can stay just the way we are. We can be victims of our circumstances!

It is only when we let God be human and enter into our humanity, let God into our brokenness, then and only then can we allow God to pull us out of the darkness into the light that is Christ.

One of my favorite books is a short book called Little Pieces of Light by Joyce Rupp. The book begins by describing a Native American ritual that she was taking part in while at a retreat. In this ritual the room had to be in total darkness. The participants prepared the room by taping heavy black plastic over all the windows to keep out the light. When the room was prepared, the facilitator turned out the lights and the room was put into complete darkness. Joyce said it wasn’t long before she realized that in the darkness there were pinpoints of light coming from areas of the black plastic. It seemed that no matter how hard they tried, the light found a place to shine through. This reminded me that even in the most difficult times of my life there was always a trace of light to guide me out of my sense of dark despair. Christ as the light of the world always shines through and illuminates the way for me to find the goodness that is waiting to be uncovered.

You see God in Christ does not run away from the darkness. Quite the contrary. God sets up residence right smack dab in the middle of it. If we let the light of Christ in, then our fear of the darkness will dissipate. The light of Christ can change the darkest of the dark.

Bret Harte, in his classic short story The Luck of Roaring Camp, tells of the birth of a baby on the American frontier – a baby that made a radical change in a rough-and tumble mining camp. The only woman in the camp, Cherokee Sal, a disreputable woman at best, died in childbirth, leaving a healthy young baby boy to be raised by the now all-male camp.

These rough, hard men made a decision that would reflect changes that would come later. They considered hiring a woman nurse to care for the baby but eventually decided not to. Their logic was this: a nice nurse wouldn’t come to their camp, and they didn’t want any more women who weren’t nice hanging around their baby. And so the work of regeneration began in Roaring Camp.

The cabin assigned to little “Tommy Luck,” as they called him, was kept scrupulously clean and whitewashed. The beautiful rosewood cradle that they purchased for the baby made the rest of the cabin look wretched, so they had to fix up the rest of the furniture in the room. Then quarantine was imposed on those who wanted to hold little Tommy Luck so they had to clean up for that privilege.

Each act of cleanliness exposed that much more dirt and filth in the vicinity so that new measures were taken to keep an ever-wider expanse of the camp clean. Since the baby needed rest, the camp became quieter and more dignified, less noisy and boisterous, no longer the “Roaring Camp” of the story’s title. The story of the baby of Roaring Camp is the story of the regeneration of a people. A baby changed the whole atmosphere of Roaring Camp. Two thousand years ago, a baby changed the atmosphere for all who have come to know him.

In the person of Jesus Christ, light has come to a darkened world. Jesus, later on in his ministry said, “I am the light of the world.” He commissioned his disciples, which includes you and me to share the light of the world.

Someone has put it like this: “Christmas is a joyous day for children. For parents, peace on earth comes several days later – when all the batteries wear out!”

Well, the message of the first Christmas is that “Peace on earth comes to everyone when Christ enters into our lives – into the brokenness of it all – Christ came to us – he did not run away!

The message of Jesus Christ never wears out. It is offered to all who seek peace with God. Jesus’ light shines in the darkness and all who follow the light go home giving God praise and thanksgiving for the gift of life they have received in him. This my friends is the good news that comes to those of us who, like the Seven-up man, feel overwhelmed by our circumstances. Know that the Christmas story is for today what it was for Bethlehem two thousand years ago – Good News for tough Times. Amen.