NW Deanery Holy Eucharist Homily
April 21, 2018
Fr. Dan Tuton
In writing the first of his three letters, John describes what kind of life it is that reveals that one is God’s true child. And in this time immediately before we convene to elect a new Bishop for the Diocese of the Rio Grande, I think John’s main message is especially relevant to us here and now. It has to do with the priorities of God’s kingdom. So I’d like us to focus on that for the next few minutes. The epistle reading is 1 John 3:16-24, which may be found in your pew Bible on p. 188 of the New Testament portion, if you’re inclined to reference the text as we go along.
So we start off in verse 16 where John writes this: “We know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” This sounds very much like what Jesus himself said: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
How’s that for a first criterion for being Christ’s true child? Sometimes Christians are accused of taking the easy road. And unfortunately, for some Christians, that accusation seems not far from the mark. You see, in the heady freedom of grace, there’s a temptation: Once we’re baptized and being good churchgoers and all that, we may feel like our ticket to heaven is punched, and the rest is just kind of a negotiable afterthought. You know, all those things about loving your neighbor, staying in unity with your fellow believers, and so on.
It’s an especially strong temptation in a place like our own country, which has enjoyed the freedom to worship, more or less without fear (at least so far). In other words, it’s pretty rare in our culture to be faced with the threat of death for exercising our faith. But this isn’t the case in many places around the world. From Bonhoeffer to Martin Luther King, Jr., to the many anonymous martyrs nowadays in the Middle East and Africa, there are many in this world for whom John’s words in this important letter have held a keen edge. For them, being a disciple of Jesus does have a cost. More than anyone they know that love may demand from us the greatest sacrifice a person can make. This was modeled for us by Jesus, of whom John writes, “he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.”
Perhaps our greatest witness to the truth of the gospel comes from our willingness not to retaliate or to hate, but with dignity in our hearts and forgiveness on our lips, to refuse to let our pain feed the cycle of hatred. This isn’t just a practical instruction in the case of persecution, but really it’s a message about the transformation of the heart. It’s a decision to place ourselves in the healing radiance of God, and let the Spirit transform us into people of God’s peace. For the Christian, self-sacrifice for the love of others is a state of mind and even a way of life.
John writes of a related state of mind in the very next verse, and I’d like to spend a little time on this one. Because next he asks a piercing question: “How does God’s love
abide in anyone who has the world’s goods, and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?” John says our obligation is to help our brothers and sisters in need. And here it’s enlightening to look closely at that phrase “brothers and sisters”—which is the word adelphoi in the Greek. It’s been pointed out by many Bible scholars that, when Jesus and the New Testament writers use that word, they’re nearly always referring to fellow believers. Okay? “Sisters and brothers” generally equals “fellow believers”.
While there are many scripture passages mandating that we care for all of the needy (not just Christians), even in the oft-quoted passage in Matthew 25, where Jesus says, “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters, (these family members, these adelphoi) of mine, you did for me,” he’s talking mainly about believers—taking care of their needs. So the imperative to care for the less fortunate and the hurting is especially strong when it comes to fellow disciples of Jesus.
In the larger world this emphatically includes sheep not of this pasture. Syrian Christians, Egyptians, Armenians, Sudanese, Iraqis, the Palestinian Arab Christians in the Holy Land, and right on around the world in places where persecution is happening right now; these are our brothers and sisters. And John says, “How does God’s love abide in any who have the world’s goods (you know, wealth, safety, security and so on) and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?”
The Greek actually reads more like “…sees a brother or sister in need, yet isn’t moved with pity right down to their very gut.” We’re not just to say, “Well, I wish you a meaningful martyrdom. Thanks for taking one for the team. See you on the other side.” It’s our God-given responsibility to help in whatever way we can, and in whatever way that is pleasing to God. Praying and speaking up in advocacy are two such ways.
And that next line in John’s epistle drives the point home. He writes, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” Truth and action. So, applying this again to our persecuted sisters and brothers overseas and at home, we have two imperatives here that beg action from us. The first is nothing less than being willing to die for one another, and the second is to help our brothers and sisters in need, perhaps in the form of protecting them from suffering or even death.
Now here, again, I’d like to emphasize that the mandate to help, and especially to help our fellow believers, is a state of mind, and a high priority. What this means is that whatever differences we might have with each other, our unconditional, sacrificial and practical love for each other as siblings in Christ’s family is of utmost importance.
Now, I’m sure it’s no news flash to you that our nation has become polarized, and that the extremes on both sides have created a shrill, angry environment in which true listening is increasingly shut down. In other words, we’ve gone tribal. With a little prodding from certain folks who gain some form of profit from our hostility, we’ve returned to that fallen human state of seeing the “other” as an enemy who needs to be defeated, rather than a fellow traveler in this life with whom we might share a whole lot more in common than we ever thought.
We’ve seen this happen not only in our nation, but also in our denomination. In my humble opinion this is something that we don’t want to see happen again, and I’m pretty confident that most of you feel the same way. Here’s the thing: Times of transition are very often times of stress. It’s then that we become especially sensitive to perceived threats to our own priorities and even to our own power. John knew that, and Jesus knew that. That’s why both focused on developing a firm disposition of generous and sacrificial love. And it’s this disposition that helps inoculate us against the disunity within the church for which Jesus prays to the Father on the night before his passion, in John 17. “Father, I pray that they may be one, as we are one.”
And in today’s epistle John writes, “And by this (by our love) we will know that we’re from the truth and will reassure our hearts before God whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and God knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.”
The wording here is a little complicated, but what this cooks down to is basically this: By our sacrificial love we know that we’re united with God, and we can be assured that God will work through us. He’ll give us what we need to do his work. God is greater than our anxious hearts, and he reassures us with his Grace. And it’s in this overflow of grace that we stay in healthy relationship with God and with each other.
Finally, in verse 23, John distills the prescriptions in this text down to the basics. He says, “This is God’s commandment: That we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he commanded us.” Believe and love. This formula is simple, but make no mistake, it’s also sweeping, and it may not always be easy. In the beauty of grace we have a job to do, and it entails work. We’re not required to jump through endless hoops to earn God’s love, but neither are we just to grab onto cheap grace, and idly wait for the train to heaven to come tootling down the track. Rather, we’re to channel our gratitude for God’s love into obedience and into the kind of humble service that guards us against unforgiveness and disunity.
John’s message in this week’s epistle reading speaks directly to us. “This is God’s commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.”
So, my prayer for us this day is that, especially as we close in on a very special Cinco de Mayo, we remember who we are, and we remember whose we are. And I pray that sacrificial and practical love will not only help us to harmoniously elect our next sub-shepherd for this Diocese, but will also unite us through the Spirit in a common mission built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. Amen.
~ Suicide Prevention Workshop ~
What do you say or not say when someone brings up suicide?
How should one respond when someone in your care expresses a loss
of hope or will to live that sounds serious? As trusted confidants,
we sometimes face such questions, but largely lack the psychological
or therapeutical training needed for responding well.
How can you know when it’s serious enough to call for help?
Join us on Tuesday, March 20th from 1-3 pm at St. Chad’s Episcopal Church
for a workshop with psychologist and mental health expert
Dr. Heather Wood.
We’ll discuss this topic and your questions as we strive
to better prepare ourselves for ministry in a hurting world.
St. Chad’s Episcopal Church is located at 7171 Tennyson NE, Albuquerque, NM
The workshop is open to all church staff of any denomination.
Bring a friend. Tell a colleague. Save a life.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org (505)-856-9200
Worth 2 hrs of CEUs
POVERTY & OUTREACH BOARD - EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF THE RIO GRANDE
Attached is a chart with a short synopsis of each POB grant application that was received. The top five applications were received by the original deadline and are ranked according to the vote at our Deanery Board meeting in October. We extended the deadline to Oct. 31, and the bottom four applications were received by then and ranked by vote this week. Please email Stephanie Padilla at email@example.com for the full applications.
Per Dean Robert's suggestion, I've attached is a chart with a short synopsis of each POB grant application that I received. The top five applications were received by the original deadline and are ranked according to the vote at our Deanery Board meeting in October. We extended the deadline to Oct 31, and the bottom four applications were received by then and ranked by vote this week. (I just continued with the numbering order here, since lettering them would have just confused everyone.) (In case anyone is curious, the results by vote totals were:
1- St Philip's Food Pantry
2- Epiphany Socorro Storehouse
3- St. Matthew's SVDP Food Pantry
4- St. Matthew's Angel Tree
Breakdown is as follows NW Deanery Bid Priority, Parish Sponsor, Program, 2018 Request, 2017 Grant
1 Epiphany Socorro Puerto Seguro Inc/Safe Harbour provides a day shelter, food, and clothing for impoverished residents in Socorro County. The goal of the Utility Assistance program is to meet client needs for heat and utility assistance that will enable them to stay in their homes instead of becoming homeless.
2018 request: $5,000 2017 Grant: $3,000
2 St. John's Farmington The 20 Children in the Four Corners Home Ranch Program come from situations of abuse and neglect causing emotional and behavioral issues. They benefit from receiving counseling and the animal therapy provided by our Ranch Program. Both help to foster healing within these children. 2018 Request: $5,000 2017 Grant: $4,000
3 St. Mary’s Albuquerque St. Mary’s Food Pantry provides food to those in the apartments in our neighborhood. The demographic is mostly elderly or disabled folks, with a few families with children. We serve approximately 24 individuals per week. 2018 Request: $3,000 2017 Grant: $3,000
4 St. Chad's Albuquerque Casa Q currently provides safe living options and services for 8 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, and allies who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Casa Q is located in a repurposed single family home with limited storage. We are requesting funds to purchase two locking cabinets to provide extra needed storage.
2018 Request: $1,000 2017 Grant: N/A
5 St. Michael & All Angels Albuquerque Casa San Miguel provides food, free of charge, to people at or below the poverty level of income as well as people who are experiencing financial distress. In 2017, through August, we have served 1,863 families and individuals 2018 Request: $3,000 2017 Grant: $2,000
6 St. Philips Rio Communities We provide a weekly food pantry program for the disadvantaged in our community, striving to be a reliable source of nourishment for approximately 600 people who experience hunger and food insecurity in Valencia County. 2018 Request: $2,000 2017 Grant: $2,400
7 Epiphany Socorro The Socorro Storehouse provides emergency food to 505 of the most impoverished households of Socorro County. A 1600 cubic foot storage container for equipment and supplies would free up space inside the building for more food, as well as alleviate overcrowding in our food distribution area.
2018 Request: $4,000 2017 Grant: N/A
8 St. Matthew's Los Lunas The St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry covers most of the northern half of Valencia county, serving approximately 8800 of those most at-risk and in need, including children, the elderly and the handicapped/disabled. 2018 Request: $5,000 2017 Grant: $1,200
9 St. Matthew's Los Lunas The Angel Tree program aims to show the presence of Christ during the Season of the Nativity by providing two gifts (one practical and one fun) to approximately 200 children in the name of their incarcerated parents. The key secondary benefit is the aid to reconciliation of the children to the incarcerated parent(s) 2018 Request: .$2,000 2017 Grant: $2,000
Total Requests: $30,000
For all entries, allow space to expand to accommodate your response. Please be as succinct as possible. Do not leave any section blank. If the information is not available or not applicable, enter ‘NA.’
Name of Ministry/Program:
Sponsoring Congregation & City:
Request Approved by Vestry/Bishop’s Committee at meeting held on _____________.
Request Approved by Deanery at meeting held on ________________.
Deanery Ranking _______________
Area of Ministry or Service: Describe how your ministry or program supports the funding priorities of poverty or outreach established by the Poverty and Outreach Board. You need not support all of the priorities to be considered.
Amount of Grant requested from Poverty & Outreach $
Enter an "X" to indicate the level of impact on the Ministry/Program if the requested funds are not received: Please make a genuine assessment. Requests that are small fractions of a program's budget will be considered if a specific activity is identified for support.
Minimal: Moderate: Significant Without this funding program will be terminated:
Briefly describe the primary goal of the Ministry/Program. Clear, specific goals are preferred. In order to maximize the impact of POB funds, a well-targeted effort is preferred over broader programs. Even better is a well-targeted effort that has positive secondary benefits.
Briefly describe participation in Ministry/Program by sponsoring congregation. The sponsoring congregation does not need to be the primary contributor to the activity. Evidence that the congregation sees the activity as a significant ministry is desired.
Indicate percent of the total revenue provided by sponsoring congregation: %.
How will the funds provided be used to achieve the goal of the Ministry/Program? Clear, specific links between the funding and a particular goal are desired.
Enter the number of individuals who will be served by the funds.
Who will be served by the Ministry/Program and how will they benefit? Be as specific as possible.
Describe the future plans for this Ministry/Program, if applicable. The POB is interested in whether or not the funds provided are meant as seed money for a larger, stand-alone effort or if ongoing support will be required. Either may be appropriate depending on the nature of the Ministry/Program.
Provide any other information the POB should consider with respect to this request. Confirm adequate liability insurance coverage (provider, amount, expiration date) in this section.
Please insert (paste) below the requested financial information for your Ministry/Program, following the templates found as appendices to this application. Information should be summarized, not provided as full detailed statements. DO NOT ATTACH STATEMENTS AS "FILES" as these are difficult for evaluators to open and review.
Budget for Coming Year (this Funding Request year):
Current Revenue & Expenses (Year-to-Date for current year), if applicable:
Revenue & Expenses (for Prior Year of operation), if applicable:
Contact Person for Ministry/Program:
Name to Appear on Checks Sent to Ministry/Program:
Mailing Address to Which Checks Should be Sent:
Poverty and Outreach Board Action on ________________
Approved Denied Amount of POB Grant Awarded: $_____________
Once again we are looking for ready and capable leaders to Diocesan positions/elections to be held later in October. Clergy in the NW Deanery can contact me via email for endorsement at firstname.lastname@example.org Here is the list of positions open for this year's ballot and then a description of the duties for each of them.
The 65th annual Convention will convene October 19-21, 2017, at the El Paso Marriott Hotel, 1600 Airway Boulevard. Among the duties required of the Convention will be the election of offices.
The Cathedral and Area Deans will be acting as the Nomination Committee. Persons wishing to stand for election should contact their dean to place their name in nomination. Nomination requires complete the biographical form, answering the questions provided, and submitting an electronic (jpeg) mugshot for publication. The forms will be posted on the Diocesan website in June.
Diocesan Offices to be Elected - 2017
One Lay Person or Clergy for a three-year term
Commission on Ministry of the Baptized (COMB)
One Clergy Person for a four-year term
One Lay Person for a three-year term
One Clergy for a three-year term
One Lay Person for a two-year term
One Clergy for a two-year term
One Lay Person for a one-year term
One Lay Person for a four-year term
One Clergy for a four-year term
About the Diocesan Positions Open
Cathedral Chapter – Though by Canon this body functions as the governing body for the Cathedral, the Cathedral Vestry is responsible for the ordinary operations of the Cathedral parish. The Chapter is the canonical body that serves in the capacity of the search committee when the office of Dean of the Cathedral is vacant. The Cathedral Vestry and Wardens are members of the Chapter, as are the Bishop and Dean, along with three (3) at-large members, elected for three-year terms. This Convention we will elect one (1) lay or clergy person for a three (3) year term. Meets as called.
Commission on Ministry of the Baptized – Shall advise and assist the Bishop with the implementation of Title III of the Canons of The Episcopal Church, determine the present and future opportunities and needs for ministry of all baptized persons, and in the design and oversight of the ongoing process for recruitment, discernment, formation for ministry and assessment of readiness therefore. This Convention we will elect one (1) clergy person for a four (4) year term. Meets 3 times a year, or as called.
Standing Committee / Trustees of the Property – the council of advice for the Bishop. Consists of equal numbers of lay (3) and clergy (3) members with staggered terms; there is a two-term limit. Lay members must have been adult communicants in good standing in this Diocese for at least one (1) year. If there is no bishop, this body governs the Diocese and arranges for an election. It determines certification of candidates for Holy Orders according to the Canons, supervises secular legal functions, manages diocesan properties, advises on diocesan personnel decisions, and carries out work asked of it by Diocesan Convention. This Convention we will elect one (1) Lay person and one (1) Clergy person for three (3) year terms.
Diocesan Council – Reviews diocesan mission, vision, plans, programs and goals, determines Fair Share policy and levels, and prepares and presents the budget to diocesan convention. It consists of members at large (two clergy and two lay persons elected by Convention), the Diocesan Treasurer, a member of the Standing Committee appointed annually by the Standing Committee, the Deans and Vice-Deans of each Deanery and the Bishop. The Canon the Ordinary, or the Assistant to the Bishop, if there be one, as well as the Cathedral Dean, are members with voice but no vote. The two-year terms of the members at large are staggered. The Lay members must be adult communicants in good standing for at least one year prior to election; there is a two-term limit. This Convention we will elect (1) clergy person and (1) lay person for two (2) year terms and one (1) lay person for a one (1) year term. Meets 6 times per year, or as called.
Disciplinary Board – The specific duties, functions and responsibilities are set forth in Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church. Briefly, the Church and each Diocese shall support their members in their life in Christ and seek to resolve conflicts by promoting healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among all involved or affected. Proceedings represent the responsibility of the Church to determine who shall serve as Members of the Clergy of the Church, reflecting the polity and order of this hierarchical church. The Board is composed of nine (9) members, four (4) Lay and five (5) clergy elected for four-year terms. This Convention we will elect one (1) lay person and one (1) clergy person for a four (4) year terms. Meets once a year, or as called.
Blessings, at our next meeting in Grants/Milan the primary business of the day will the presentation of the Diocesan Budget for 2018. Currently the Diocesan Council has approved a budget that includes a .5% Fair Share increase. Community input is important in the budget process, so if you want to be heard this is the venue to do that regarding next year's budget. The agenda for the meeting can be found by using the "NEXT MEETING" button on the upper right. Peace, Robert+