discern this

We are an Easter People, and even at the grave, Alleluia is our song.

A weekday Lenten sermon February 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — discernthis @ 10:37 am

From our liturgy last night, the Second Wednesday of Lent:

In the first reading, we hear the plot against Jeremiah, and we hear Jeremiah’s prayer to God. They set out to destroy Jeremiah based on his own words, words given from God, dangerous words, because they challenge the status quo.

And Jeremiah, then, pleading with God: Heed me, O Lord, listen to what my adversaries say. Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life? Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them.  Can you hear the parallels to Jesus’s journey?

Generations later, Jesus finds himself in the same predicament. We know that Jesus has the choice to say no, to turn away from the chalice. He knows how hard it will be, and he accepts it still. He willingly accepts this, the culmination of his journey here on Earth, his destiny.

Jesus tells his disciples what to expect. Condemnation to death. Given over to the Gentiles—in those days, few things could be worse. Mocked. Scourged. Crucified.

And raised on the third day.

Immediately after, we learn that James and John both want to take of the cup as well. They want the seats of honor, the bragging rights. Jesus challenges them, knowing what is in that cup.

They say they can take the cup. They say they will bear whatever comes their way in order to share in the honor. Jesus admonishes his friends, reminding them that to be great, one must be humble. One must do good not for the glory and the honor, but for Goodness’ sake. Jesus tells them that their reasoning is faulty. he again sets out what we must do to share in the glory. We must not look for our reward here. We must become servants. We must remember that we are least among all people.

In my social work coursework, we spent a lot of time talking about crises and crisis intervention. One of the greatest challenges in healing after a trauma is to repair what are known as core beliefs when they are shattered. A core belief is something that is deeply, deeply held, something ingrained in us so deeply that it is a very part of who we are. An example might be, ‘if I am a good person, if I do good deeds, if I help others, I will be rewarded.

Jesus is challenging one of the core beliefs of his disciples. He tells them their reward isn’t going to come any time soon, that he doesn’t make that determination. It’s a belief that many of us still hold on to today. Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? Where is my reward? Why aren’t good things happening to me?

Gently, always gently, Jesus tells us that it’s not for us to know or to question. Yes, he tells James and John, you will drink of this cup. You will know of this pain I will know. But what happens then, that is determined by God in Heaven. To get there, to be close to God, to have the seats of honor in Heaven, do not boost up yourself here in this life. The servant, the one who is the least valued and respected here on earth, that is the one who shall be first.

To be Christ-like, we must follow where Jesus walked. Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of Humanity, the one whom we would expect to receive all the highest praise, honor, blessings, and gifts, Jesus will be the ultimate servant.

 And as he told the twelve, he will be raised on the third day. There, always there, is our reward.

 

Amen.

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Deafening Silence February 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — discernthis @ 2:04 pm

 

An 18-year-old high school senior won an essay contest with his incredible essay entitled, “The Greatest Ethical Challenge: To Speak.”

Check it out here: http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/publications/articles_papers_reports/0145#.USyhYdEXGqg

 

A prayer for release from anxiety February 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — discernthis @ 11:52 am

Almighty God, you know my heart more deeply than I could ever imagine. You know my joys, my fears, my secrets, my worries, my gratitude. When the pressures of this world become overwhelming to me, when I get lost or bogged down in my anxiety, help me to remember that your yoke is easy, your burden light. Holding onto the worry does nothing to help my situation, but action may. Free me from the paralysis of fear that I may be able to reach out to you and thus find comfort. Then, I will find the ability to move forward and take steps to improve my situation, guided by your never-ending love and mercy. Amen.

 

Another milestone February 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — discernthis @ 11:10 pm

Today was my first Sunday to give the homily as a deacon. I decided to share it with anyone who wanted to read it. I more or less followed what’s here, though I added in a bit in a couple of places as the Spirit moved me. In my effort to constantly learn and grow, please share any feedback you might have; I’m not story-telling when I say that I truly value constructive criticism. I’ll add in other homilies, including my Ash Wednesday homily and some more general thoughts on Lent later this week. Peace to you.

Transforming: Second Sunday in Lent, 2013

As I rode with David last week, he rang the bell hanging from his rearview mirror, his “Anti-Rage Bell,” when someone cut him off in traffic. I’ve seen him do this many times over the years. But then he commented on how he’s been working on becoming a better driver over the past few years and on something he has noticed about himself as he does so. “When I am focused on improving myself, I don’t have time to worry about what other people are doing.” Then, as he often does, he added, “There’s a sermon in there somewhere.” I told him, “Actually, it’s my sermon for Sunday. Pretty please, may I steal this?” He agreed, so I guess he technically lent it to me.

So much of our lives, we focus on what other people are doing. We compare ourselves to others; we try to keep up with the Cosbys and the Cleavers and separate ourselves from the Simpsons and the Griffins. We feel notions of superiority when we avoid some pitfall that others don’t—even when it’s sheer luck, or There But for the Grace of God Go I that we aren’t in the same situation.

As a social worker, I interact with people every single day whose lives are in turmoil. Oftentimes, it seems people bring about their own troubles, that they are responsible for their own problems. It’s easier—and much more comfortable—to ignore the systemic malfunctions that factor in just as much, if not more. I forget the built-in advantages that I have in my life, the barriers I will never, ever face as an educated, straight, white, American woman. I forget the role I play in perpetuating these barriers and challenges every time I fail to do something to challenge them.

It’s not just big issues like that though. I do it every day. “Thanks for cutting me off, jerk!” I yell, conveniently forgetting that I just waved sheepishly to the driver behind me when I realized I was about to miss my turn and cut her off so I wouldn’t.

When I get caught up in these traps, when I fail to see the log in my own eye because I’m too busy pointing out the speck in yours, I’m missing out. I’m not taking advantage of the opportunity to grow myself, to improve my own behaviors, to become more Christ-like, because I’m too busy judging someone else.

Paul implores us to be imitators of the life that Christ called us to. In the Gospel, we hear about Jesus being physically transformed, right in front of Peter, John, and James, his face changing, his clothes becoming dazzling white. We learn that the voice of God calls out to the disciples to tell them, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

We know from the Gospels of Matthew and Mark that Jesus admonished Peter, John, and James to be remain silent at what they’d heard. Jesus often instructed his followers to fast, to pray, and to do good deeds without drawing attention it, without seeking acknowledgment or praise for it. We aren’t to do these things for the attention of others, but for the glory of God.

I’m not gaining much when I wear my actions on my sleeve, when I do something and expect, consciously or unconsciously, to receive something in return for it. My transfiguration is something I can do inside my own life, in my own daily activities, inside the scary recesses of my own head.

Instead, our transfigurations come when we focus our attention on being good for the sake of being good, when we put others first. We have endless opportunities every day to share our gifts. We have talents and gifts that we may not even be aware of that will transfigure our lives, and the lives of those around us, if only we will permit it.

Let us use this Lent as a time to focus, a time to turn our energies to our own transfigurations. Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain can be an example to us, an invitation to transfigure ourselves into people who are closer to God, to transfigure our lives to more closely reflect the life of Christ.

Amen.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end. As a special treat, have some pictures of me and David. I promise I wasn’t mad. I just look that way when I’m in deep concentration, I think. I need to remember to smile more in the future.

Image

At table

Image

Sharing the gifts

 

Have some pictures, won’t you? February 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — discernthis @ 9:31 pm

I have finally gotten around to sorting through and uploading some pictures. Forgive the quality on some of them…I liked the picture enough to share it even if it wasn’t perfect. Do you have any pictures? I would love to have/see them!

The Church.

The Church.

The Parents.

The Parents.

The Sisters (minus one).

The Sisters (minus one).

The First Reading.

The First Reading.

The Calling of the Candidates.

The Calling of the Candidates.

The Sermon.

The Sermon.

The Scrutinies.

The Scrutinies.

The Scrutinies.

The Scrutinies.

The Prostration.

The Prostration.

The Laying On of Hands.

The Laying On of Hands.

The Laying On of Hands.

The Laying On of Hands.

The Receiving of the Book of The Gospels.

The Receiving of the Book of The Gospels.

The Blessing of the Deacons.

The Blessing of the Deacons.

The Bishop's Blessing.

The Bishop’s Blessing.

The Invitation to Share a Sign of Peace.

The Invitation to Share a Sign of Peace.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The Blood of Christ

The Blood of Christ.

The Sharing of the Cup...with Dad.

The Sharing of the Cup…with Dad.

The St. Sebastian's Clergy: Jon's Eyes Are Closed.

The St. Sebastian’s Clergy: Jon’s Eyes Are Closed.

The St. Sebastian's Clergy: Janet's Eyes Are Closed.

The St. Sebastian’s Clergy: Janet’s Eyes Are Closed.

The St. Sebastian Clergy: David's Tongue is Out.

The St. Sebastian Clergy: David’s Tongue is Out.

The Family.

The Family.

The Church Family.

The Church Family.

The Jangela.

The Jangela.

The Janet.

The Janet.

The Orchid, the Cheesing Deacon, and the Caren.

The Orchid, the Cheesing Deacon, and the Caren.

The Price SIsters.

The Price Sisters.

The Clergy.

The Clergy.

The Program.

The Program.

The Ice Cream Cake, complete with rainbow sprinkles, because my church is the best.

The Ice Cream Cake, complete with rainbow sprinkles, because my church is the best.

The Family of Kevin.

The Family of Kevin.

The Happy Couple.

The Happy Couple.

The New Deacon Jon and his Fiance Dan.

The New Deacon Jon and his Fiance Dan.

The Wacky Bishop.

The Wacky Bishop.

The New Deacons and Their Sponsors.

The New Deacons and Their Sponsors.

The Clergy.

The Clergy.

Special thanks to Mom and Robin for these pictures.

 

Beginnings February 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — discernthis @ 4:03 pm

I sit here trying to figure out what to say, but words fail me. My heart is happy. My soul is filled  with peace, yet quivering with excitement over what is yet to come. It has been a long journey, filled with apparent dead ends, with detours, with painful stumbling blocks, but all along the way I was supported by family and friends, who gathered beside me and helped me and kept me company as I traveled.

My journey is not complete. I have so much more to in this life, so many things I am looking forward to. Today, I am a deacon. Tomorrow, I am a social work graduate student, still a couple months shy of graduation, still unsure of my next steps. I am a daughter, sister, girlfriend, aunt, friend, colleague. I am a social worker, a mediator, a restorative justice practitioner, a knitter, an animal lover, a huge fan of The Princess Bride, a sacristan.

As I attempted to ward off panic over the past few days in particular, I kept falling back on the line which we say at every Mass: Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed. For me, it’s been, Lord, I am not worthy to be ordained your servant, but only say the word, and I shall be made whole. There is no way I could have done this on my own, and there is no way I can move forward on my own to do whatever it is I am supposed to do next . Still, as I promised yesterday obedience to the Spirit of God, who animates the Church through the tradition we have received, Holy Scripture, and the lived experience of our people, I am committed to what the future holds, and I know that I will be given access to the tools I need, the right people to guide and support me, and somehow, from somewhere, the strength and courage to do what comes next.

I am excited, encouraged, terrified.

I am forever seeking the Next Right Thing.

I am Reverend Ms. Janet Anne Theresa Price.

With the help of my loving God, I can do this.

Pics to come…I’ve been tagged in some on Facebook already.