SERMON ON PROVERBS 4:23 - FR. LANCE SCHMITZ, SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
“We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.” Paul is sitting in his jail cell penning a letter to this community of Christians in Ephesus reminding/warning/imploring them to not lose focus, to not forget who they are, to hold the line and not fall back. Paul is trying to keep this new peculiar community intact.
The Church in Ephesus was this community of Jew and Gentiles who had found a new identity/understanding in Jesus and Paul was working to keep them united. This community was a sign to the world that something wonderful had happened that two people, formerly in opposition were united in Jesus. The way of Jesus Christ had united these people who had been at odds with one another. Paul knows just how special/unique it is and how powerful the sign of these two groups coming together is as a testament to the power of Christ.
Paul, it sure seems, knows how very easy it is to drift away from the important things and lose sight of the greater goal. This letter is about teaching/reminding these Christians to not give in to their old ways/behaviors/practices that do not further but only do damage to the mission of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to a world that deeply needs it. The things we do matter profoundly, the lives we live determine who we are.
The way we live gives shape who/what we become and reveal what we value as the good. If I confess one thing with my lips but live in a way contrary to that utterance what does that show to those around me? Those things we give our attention to, guide us. The deeds we do, give shape to our passions. The practices we participate in, reveal our loves.
What we do with our lives shows what we value. We are human beings, but we are just as much human doers. The things we choose to do draw us towards God or repel us away, and do the same thing for others. Thinking all the “right” thoughts, having all the “correct” facts, worshipping in the “proper” way; doesn’t much matter for anything if it doesn’t change the way we interact with others. I can say I love Jesus and others all day long, but if my actions don’t match up what does it matter at all? If we gossip, slander, or talk bad about others, but still say we are Christian what message of hope are we projecting to the world? If we are mean spirited, judgmental, or engage others with a smug sense of superiority, what does that do to us as individuals?
How we act in any given circumstance ought be consistent regardless of the company we find ourselves in. Paul says “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.” He’s no dummy, he knows that our predilection/pattern/proclivity is to get distracted. He knows that unless we remain focused as people of purpose we will lose sight of the mission. We know how easily we can get caught up in patterns, behaviors, beliefs that pull us away from our mission to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Wittingly and unwittingly we are tempted, tested, and tried everyday to lose sight of the calling that has been placed upon us as disciples of Jesus Christ.
We have been called to be a certain type of people for the sake of the world around us. Whenever we drift away, we become people who think in their minds they are Christian but act in ways utterly contrary to the way of Christ. We are defined to ourselves and others not by what we think, but by how we act. One of the most destructive things we can do is pay attention to the wrong things, when we do that our behaviors and deeds are shaped and we end up looking nothing like the person of Jesus Christ. Instead we disciples need to take account and focus on our deeds and our habits because those are the things that . We oft pick up behaviors/notions/disposition without even recognizing it and we need help to correct/remediate those things.
So then fellow Christians how do we battle back against a world/culture that is trying to shape us into a people, who live contrary to Christ? How do we prevent ourselves from being tossed to and fro and blown about and tempted by trickery, craftiness, and scheming? It requires deliberate attention and a concerted focus that we use to examine our lives and our practices to ascertain/to see/to determine if we are looking at the wrong thing.
So from time to time in our efforts to be faithful witnesses to the world for Jesus Christ for us to engage in an audit of practices. As Christian disciples we need to be aware of what we are doing and what kind of people we are becoming. Take some time to reflect upon your life and see where you spend your time, energy, resources, and commitment.
What do you do everyday, every week, every month? What do you do that pulls you away from or draws you towards people? Are you attending to the ordinances of God? This is a very fancy way of saying Prayer, Eucharist, worship, confession, service to others. What behaviors do you need to, after reflection, cut out because they are shaping you to be a person contrary to Christ?……Perhaps you need to take account of the types of ways you talk about others and yourself.….
After you reflect upon your life, determine what behaviors/practices/commitments you need to cut back or cut out in order to remain steadfastly focused on your life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. What things might you need to take up? Maybe a renewed commitment to gathering with the faithful, service to the poor, prayer, worship, time with your loved ones. One of the practices that I have kept with greater degrees of faithfulness is keeping the hours of prayer. A practice of the church historic and contemporary. What does this mean? I make it a point to pause in my day every three hours to follow the offices of prayers of the church. Sometimes I just take a few minutes to pray during these times. If that seems daunting, try keeping some of the shorter offices of prayer in your BCP. Page 137. Something I’ve learned is that as I’ve done and kept these practices I have noticed a marked change in how I interact with the world around me and think of others and myself. My sense of God and God’s presence has grown stronger.
We are formed whether we want to be or not, our hearts and lives will be shaped by the things we do. If we aren’t careful it will be craftiness, trickery, and deceit which are fancy ways of saying, a life that is assuredly nothing like the way of Jesus Christ and only does damage to Christ’s Good name. Everyday our choices will either do good or harm to the way of Jesus. We have a choice, everyday. I hope you make the good one.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
~ Fr. Lance Schmitz, Saint Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 3:16-21 - ELIZABETH WALLINGFORD, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
God sent his only Son, the Light, into the world to save it. He was not sent to condemn it, but to love it. He was sent to bring light to the world. Seeking the Light is seeking truth. Believing in Jesus brings eternal life and light through God.
Dear God, thank you for the Light you provided through your one and only Son, Jesus, Amen.
Submitted by Elizabeth Wallingford, St, Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
THE CHICAGO-LAMBETH QUADRILATERAL - DR. GIL HAAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY
The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral was approved by the House of Bishops but not the House of Deputies at the 1886 Episcopal General Convention in Chicago. The document can be read on pages 876-7 of our Book of Common Prayer. It consisted of four points (hence the term quadrilateral): 1) The Old and New Testaments are the revealed word of God; 2) The Nicene creed is a sufficient statement of Christian Faith; 3) Baptism and Eucharist, “with unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution and the elements ordained by Him” are the two sacraments of the Church; and 4) the Historic Episcopate is the Church’s valid governing body. The document’s goal was to initiate the formation of a “Church of the Reconciliation” in America that would fulfill the desire, “That we all may be one”. These four points were considered a “sacred deposit” and “essential to the restoration of unity among the divided branches of Christendom” during discussions of Christian reunion. All other “preferences” were negotiable, and, if necessary for reunion, open to abandonment. The Quadrilateral was modified by the Anglican Communion’s representatives at the Lambeth Conference of 1888. Both Houses of the1895 Episcopal General Convention approved the Lambeth version.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 2:23 - JOHN 3:15 - ELIZABETH WALLINGFORD, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
Jesus wanted us to know the Kingdom of God. He said to Nicodemus “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” Jesus wanted us to become born again of the water and the Spirit so we could enter the Kingdom of God. For many it took his ultimate sacrifice, himself, for us to know of heavenly things.
Dear God, thank you your son, Jesus Christ. He was lifted up so we could know your Kingdom and have eternal life in you for ever and ever, Amen.
Submitted by Elizabeth Wallingford, Member, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 2:18-25 - ELIZABETH WALLINGFORD, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY
John 2: 18-25
The Jews then responded to him, "What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." They replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Many people require a sign; something they can see, hold, smell or hear, to have faith. Blind faith does not come without an ultimate sacrifice. Jesus knew many didn’t believe in his words, but he gave himself up for us anyway. He knew once he did that we would believe. He knows us and requires no explanation. His love is the ultimate love because it is God’s love and it requires nothing in return.
Dear God, thank you for your love and for your son, Jesus Christ, who gave himself up for us so we may believe in your words and walk in your ways forever and ever, Amen.
~Elizabeth Wallingford, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 2:1-12 - JEN MATIAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY
John 2: 1-12
“Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
The first miracle that Jesus performed was turning water into wine. I used to joke about this miracle with my grandmother, as she lived her entire life without enjoying a glass of anything fermented. After reaching adulthood, when I tried to convince her that she might enjoy it and even Jesus approves, as evidenced by this miracle in particular, she would smirk and say that in the lesser known but more accurate accounts, he actually turned the water into grape juice.
When I’ve read this passage in the past, or heard a sermon reflecting on it, it has always been with the emphasis on the counter-cultural nature of Jesus’s wine being even better than the one served first. Today, however, it’s not the wine but rather the water that makes an impression. The jars that were filled with water were used for cleansing. It seems poetic and symbolic and purposeful. Each jar held 20 or 30 gallons each, and there were six of them. As a Kindergarten teacher, I come equipped with the math skills to deduce that it took the servants many trips to fill, carry, and methodically pour nearly 180 gallons of water that day. But they did, because a woman told them to listen to her son and do what he told them to do. They did, because they were desperate, and he was their only hope. And Jesus exceeded everything they could have hoped for...
This past year more than any, I think we all understand a little bit better what it is to be desperate for hope. I know I do. Hope for an end to a pandemic. Hope for all people to be treated fairly and equally. Hope for peace amidst what seem to be new tensions every day.
In the face of problems that seem insurmountable, we are called to continue on with the work entrusted to us even when we don’t yet understand why. We trust that even the smallest thing, done with great love, can make a difference. And so we continue pouring, over and over again, believing that Christ can cleanse us and transform our collective desperation into salvation sweeter than anything we could imagine.
Lord, help us to be faithful in whatever we find before us today. Empower us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly every step of the way. We trust you to be our hope, and to work through us today. Amen.
~Jen Matias, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 1:43-51 - JEN MATIAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY
The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
Jesus said, “You believe[a] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
I hear the sarcasm in Nathanael’s question almost as clearly as my own snide thoughts sometimes... “Can anything good come from there?” he quips.
How quick we are to judge. As much as we might like to think we’re accepting of everyone, the innate nature of our cynical thoughts begs to differ.
“How could she possibly support that politician?” “How could he think that?” “What kind of person would raise their child that way?”
We infer who someone must be because of circumstances we don’t fully know or understand.
Jesus sees all that we are, our faults and our snide remarks, and he accepts us with arms wide open. He implores us to open our eyes to the “greater things” that await us as we accept and love one another with the same unconditional love he offers us as well.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred (and fear, and anger, and division) let me sow love.
~Jen Matias, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
LITURGY WE LIVE - PARTS OF THE CHURCH - DR. GIL HAAS, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY
Liturgy We Live - Parts of the Church
We enter our church through the narthex (Greek for “small case”). Historically, it was a porch occupied by unbaptized catechumens. The congregation sits in the nave, derived from the Greek word “navis” for ship (albeit upside-down in its “sailing” posture). The nave is separated in some churches from the chancel (particularly in Orthodox churches) by a screen. Naves in the Middle Ages lacked pews and were used for dancing, eating, and plays. The chancel (Latin for “lattice” associated with the chancel rail) is the raised area containing the altar. In many Anglican churches, the chancel also contains the lectern, pulpit, credence table (the small table for wine and bread), and sedilia (seats for ministers), and the choir. In our church, a hexagonal chancel rail separates the nave from the chancel. In English churches, the nave’s upkeep was the congregation’s responsibility, but the chancel’s repair was the lay rector’s responsibility. His family was allowed a special pew there. “Sanctuary” has a double meaning since historically it was a safe haven for criminals, implying that the church was above the world’s powers. In the Old Testament, it was a haven for one who killed without intent.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
The Psalms refer to Egypt as “the land of Ham”. Ham was the middle son of Noah. He was born when Noah was 500 years old; Noah was 600 years old at the time of the flood. After Noah’s ark was grounded on Mount Araret, each of Noah’s three sons was told to repopulate one-third of the earth. Ham was told to procreate descendants in the lands west of the Nile River. Before Ham left for his inheritance, he “saw” the naked body of his drunken father, Noah. Talmudic scholars deduce that either Ham castrated his drunken father (to prevent a fourth son) or sodomized him (based upon the use of the word, “saw”, in other Old Testament scenarios). When Noah awoke and realized what had happened, he did not curse Ham directly, but instead he cursed Ham’s fourth son, Canaan, to be forever “a servant of servants”. When the nations were scattered following the Tower of Babel debacle, Ham’s family (except for Canaan) journeyed to their allotment which was to become Egypt and all of Africa. Taken together, these passages concerning the cursed Biblical heritage of Ham’s descendants were later used to justify their enslavement.
~Dr. Gil Haas, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
LIVING AS DISCIPLES OF CHRIST - FR. LANCE SCHMITZ, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of each of our
hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O God; our strength, our
redeemer, and our one and hope. AMEN
A fastball -
If feels like every moment of our day is filled by all manner of
information being hurled at us faster than a major leaguer throws
When you stop to think about it, how many times everyday
are you confronted/accosted by people, places, and things telling
you what you need to buy, believe, purchase, belong to; so that
you can be a happy person, an included person, a valuable
It comes at us through tv, radio, websites, apps, social
media. Everyone, everything, everywhere is begging to lay claim
to a piece/moment of your attention. It is exhausting and
Political parties, organizations, products, advertisers are all
needing/wanting/begging you to buy/believe/take hold of whatever
they are selling.
They need you to be formed/shaped by their story so you
can be counted on as a reliable consumer of whatever product,
person, ideology they’re selling.
This isn’t wild eyed conspiracy, but it feels like that
sometimes. It is just a business/political model that works really
When you harness the power to shape opinions / you shape
persons, when you shape advertising / you shape consumption.
When people are shaped they become another reliable and
usable consumer to further a cause, belief, or bottom line.
We swim everyday in these deep warm waters of subtle
manipulation, we drink unknowingly from these seemingly
refreshing wells and the end result is they craft who we are and
the ways we think.
It is with the introduction of computer algorithms these
questions of belief/identity get even more muddled and
Algorithms are computer programs that take large swaths of
data about a person based on all manner of things. They are
super helpful with helping us to figure out things, but there is a
shadow side to these things.
This gathered information is interpreted; sold and used by all
sorts of groups and some of them harness this information to
identify and manipulate you as a person/consumer/citizen.
Our information that we voluntarily and sometimes
unwittingly give up is used to sell, shape, and motivate us in ways
we don’t/can’t fully understand.
The purchase we make, the places we go, the websites we
visit, the news we watch/listen too, everything we do puts out to
the world information about us and projects an image of who we
This data we give up gives energy/information to groups,
business, and people who deeply want our attention. It is subtle,
it is nuanced, and it moves in mysterious ways we don’t often
We often become who we are not though one or two big
choices but the culmination of a bunch of little things.
Sin works like that too, it is the poor/bad choices we make
each day that nudge us slowly down a road where one day we
wake up and ask “How did I end up like this?”
The impressions we give, shapes the information we
receive. The way we live shape how we are perceived.
All of this attention stealing/grabbing will shape/inform/
reinforce how we interact with the world around us and what we
give back will either be joy or pain to the world.
We disciples of Jesus Christ have made a choice...been
commanded to live into a certain way of life, that is shaped by the
person of Jesus Christ.
We know we are called to be a specific type of people/
person for the sake of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ;
and oft we fall short.
We know that we are to be shaped into a way of life informed
by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Disciples of Jesus have been called to lives of meaning and
purpose where we give and share the good news of God’s love
and forgiveness to a world around us.
Let’s be honest, it is hard to live into this way of life. It is
difficult because everyday/everywhere images and information
are coming at us telling us this is what it means to be a good
“person, citizen, consumer, political party member, etcetera
We haven’t often seen the way of Christ modeled well, so it
becomes easier and easier to live into another way of being that
is contrary to Christ.
It leaves us weary to the point of exhaustion; so much of the
time we are running as fast as we can to stay in place.
We live in a world that seems wired to create and craft
peculiar boundaries and troubling systems that keep people and
persons in their place. We have economies and structures that
thrive on tidy partitions that keep folks apart.
There are indeed forces at work in this world that have been
created by us and used by us to do certain sorts of things, and
ofttimes these creations end up controlling us, and we aren’t even
aware of it.
So how then do we as Christian people, as good news
sharing disciples of Jesus/ Christ live? How do we live authentic
lives of deep mercy and flagrant hope?
How do we swim against the raging current of a world hellbent on
destruction? What shall we do to confound the world with the life
changing nonviolent revolution begun by Jesus Christ?
Living as disciples of Jesus Christ means live intentionally,
we live lives that confound and confuse.
We lives lives that go against the grain, and we confound the
algorithms, voices, and parties who seek to call us to a way of
being that looks nothing like the person of Jesus Christ.
We confuse the machinations of a violent world by
remembering our true calling as disciples and live into our story/
our calling as purveyors of grace in a world bent on vengeance.
When we as disciples of Jesus Christ take seriously the call
to remember and live out the hope of Deuteronomy we stand firm
against the raging tide of a world gone mad in its lust for power,
wealth, violence, and excess.
Sisters and Brothers...God is our God, a deeply relational
being. God isn’t some far off deity, God has chosen to be in
relationship with us and hasn’t left us to ourselves.
God knows that our lives are hard and God has called us to
shave away the thick calluses from our heart and because it is far
to easy for us to harden our hearts to the world and forget to love.
It is easy to forget these world shaping truths we find in
Deuteronomy, we lose sight who we are and we ignore that God
doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t call us to either.
God won’t and neither should we get caught up in messy
sketchy dealings, that take advantage of others or defraud others
in the name of protecting the bottom line.
To live as disciples of Jesus Christ and living out the truth of
our reading from Deuteronomy means that we ensure that
orphans and widows(a poetic and truthful way to say those
without power) are treated fairly.
We are called to defy the way things are and live into the
ways things ought to be by extending loving care towards those
people who others have deemed damnable to the margins of
acceptable society and making sure that they receive those good
things which they are due as children of God.
Jesus helps us to be who we are called to be as God
created children of the most high. Jesus our teacher, our guide,
our messiah, and God in the flesh gives us THE way to live.
We have been called by Jesus to give no heed to the world
shaping lie/algorithm/opinions that say ‘Love your friend,’ and its
unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’
Jesus challenges that, Jesus goes way off script is and tells
us to love our enemies. In our efforts to love the keepers of the
status quo will challenge us and our response ought bring out the
best in us, not the worst.
Stop reacting with hostility when someone causes you a
hard time, and instead respond with crafty moves of prayer/grace.
When we respond in grace/love/peace we conspire with God
to defy the way things are and live into our true selves, our God-
created selves and heal the world.
Loving the wounded, the hurt, and the forgotten that is what
God does. God gives God’s grace to everyone, regardless: the
good and bad, the beautiful and ugly, the worthy and unworthy.
If all we do is welcome the lovable, does that make us any
Anyone can love the lovable that is our default. If we simply
treat well those we like, do we expect a medal?
We have been called by God in Jesus to stand in a stark
opposition to the way that things have always been and deepen
our connection to God by living into our calling as disciples.
As we do this we learn to love ourselves and others more,
and we get better at it. Our commissioning as disciples of Jesus
Christ means that we resist/confront the powers and principalities
of this age that do deep harm to persons/creation.
Sisters and brother we have been drafted/conscripted/invited
into the way of life that goes against the grain/defying the opinion
and world shaping algorithms. My hope this day is for you to live,
and live well as disciples of Jesus Christ.
I say to you what the prophet, poet, and singer Rich Mullins would say often.
"So go out and live real good and I promise you'll get beat up
real bad. But, in a little while after you're dead, you'll be rotted
away anyway. It's not gonna matter if you have a few scars. It will
matter if you didn't live.
It’ll matter if you didn’t live." AMEN
~Fr. Lance Schmitz, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.