Sunday Readings/Fr. Taylor’s Reflections

Reflection From Fr. David Taylor

Dear Church Family:

On this third Sunday of Lent we reflect upon the meaning of the suffering and death. During the Lenten season up to the Tridium we are able to observe and commemorate those things that happened in the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ. One big difference is he was not a sinner. He never did acts of sin and evil. Our human condition gives us freedom where we have to make choices every day, and we often make the wrong choices.

Some years ago a book was written: “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” This was an account to explain why there is trouble in the world. The book of Job tells us that no one is able to escape suffering and tragedy in this world. If God loves us why does He send us suffering? When tragedy strikes we are often tempted to go against God, and blame Him for the troubles of the world.

In the Gospel there is an attempt to try to understand pain and sorrow as a result of punishment for our sins, but the Lord reminds us this is not always the case. A good and honest look at our own life reveals that many of the troubles that we have are of our own making. They come from choices and decisions we have made.

In the book of Exodus, even though the Israelites suffered much, the Lord always listened to the affliction of the people and brought them to a new and better life. We have troubles, but trouble does not last always. The Jewish people found this out on the way to the Promised Land. They found out, as we do every day, that God is not a punishing God; He is a God who cares and comes to save us. Choices we have to make and consequences are always there, but our God is always in the mix.

As we continue our Lenten journey we might reflect this week on how some of our wrong choices have lead us into trouble and how the grace of Lent can help us to rise above them.

Readings: February 21, 2016, 2nd Sunday of Lent

All readings from the Message Bible   © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Genesis 15:5-12, 17-21

Then the Lord God took Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!”

And he believed! Believed God! God declared him “Set-Right-with-God.”

God continued, “I’m the same God who brought you from Ur of the Chaldees and gave you this land to own.”

Abram said, “Master God, how am I to know this, that it will all be mine?”

God said, “Bring me a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, and a dove and a young pigeon.”

He brought all these animals to him, split them down the middle, and laid the halves opposite each other. But he didn’t split the birds. Vultures swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram scared them off. As the sun went down a deep sleep overcame Abram and then a sense of dread, dark and heavy.

When the sun was down and it was dark, a smoking firepot and a flaming torch moved between the split carcasses. That’s when God made a covenant with Abram: “I’m giving this land to your children, from the Nile River in Egypt to the River Euphrates .”

  • Philippians 3:17-4:1

Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

My dear, dear friends! I love you so much. I do want the very best for you. You make me feel such joy, fill me with such pride. Don’t waver. Stay on track, steady in God.

  • Luke 9:28-36

     Jesus in His Glory

Jesus climbed the mountain to pray, taking Peter, John, and James along. While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white. At once two men were there talking with him. They turned out to be Moses and Elijah—and what a glorious appearance they made! They talked over his exodus, the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Peter and those with him were slumped over in sleep. When they came to, rubbing their eyes, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him. When Moses and Elijah had left, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking.

While he was babbling on like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: “This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to him.”

When the sound of the voice died away, they saw Jesus there alone. They were speechless. And they continued speechless, said not one thing to anyone during those days of what they had seen.

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: February 21, 2016, 2nd Sunday of Lent

Genesis 15:5-12,17-21      Philippians 3:17-4:1      Luke 9:28-36     

The late Dr. Martin Luther King is often quoted for his statement “I have been to the mountain top.”

Many of us in life have had experiences where we get insight into our life, what it is about and where we can go. It could happen at work, on a special retreat, at home with family or during a prayer experience. These special events in our life could be looked at as mountain top experiences.

Peter, James, and John had such an experience when they were on the mountain with Jesus. They could see with real clarity just who Jesus really is. As they saw Him in this moment they would also see Him during Passion Week. A voice came from Heaven saying “this is my son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” They recalled this later and knew that it was from the Lord on the mountain. In reality Jesus gave His friends a glimpse of this glory to help them through the most difficult times He knew that they would face ahead.

He still does this for us. We look at peak moments in our own life when God seems close. We know that this is not of our own doing, but of the Lord’s. Indeed sometimes these moments can come into our lives when we are very busy being involved in the lives of other people or struggling on behalf of justice and decency for others. We have to remember that these great moments are a blessing, but they are out of the ordinary. Peter, James, and John, as much as they would have liked to stay on the mountain had to go down into the real world.

What are we doing with our mountain top experiences?

 

 

 

 

 

Readings: February 14, 2016, 1st Sunday of Lent

February 17, 2013 1st Sunday of Lent

All readings from the Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Deuteronomy 26:4-11

Moses spoke to the people, saying:

The priest will take the basket from you and place it on the Altar of God, your God. And there in the Presence of God, your God, you will recite:

A wandering Aramean was my father, he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, he and just a handful of his brothers at first, but soon they became a great nation, mighty and many.

The Egyptians abused and battered us, in a cruel and savage slavery. We cried out to God, the God-of-Our-Fathers: He listened to our voice, he saw our destitution, our trouble, our cruel plight. And God took us out of Egypt with his strong hand and long arm, terrible and great, with signs and miracle-wonders. And he brought us to this place, gave us this land flowing with milk and honey. So here I am. I’ve brought the first fruits of what I’ve grown on this ground you gave me, O God.

Then place it in the Presence of God, your God. Prostrate yourselves in the Presence of God, your God. And rejoice! Celebrate all the good things that God, your God, has given you and your family; you and the Levite and the foreigner who lives with you.

  • Romans 10:8-13

Brothers and sisters:

What exactly was Moses saying? The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest.

It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it.

You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.”

  • Luke 4:1-13

        Tested by the Devil

Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.

The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.”

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to really live.”

For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”

Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”

For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?”

“Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’”

That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.

 

Scripture Reflection From Fr. Taylor: February 14, 2016, 1st Sunday of Lent

Deuteronomy 26:4-10, Romans 10:8-13, Luke 4:1-13    

My Dear Brothers and Sisters we have begun a very special journey called “The Lenten Season”. It is one that we walk through together, supporting each other, and reminding ourselves that God is always with us along the way. Hopefully you have had an opportunity to do some soul searching, and come up with a good plan for your Lenten Observance. We should be doing more than the few things that the church asks of us. Most important is to add things to our life which are not present. We can all pray more. We can all take care of our health more. All of us can be more involved in serving others, in social justice, in giving of ourselves to the poor. Jesus says that we do not live by bread alone. He is talking about all the things we seem to depend on and are not able to do without, such as new clothing, cars, TVs, computers, electronic travel, appliances, entertainment. Things we enjoy, but certainly things we can do without. Many think that the key to having enough of these things is the key to happiness. But life teaches us that this is not true. It is a limited view of what goes on into a meaningful life. For we can ignore the human spirit that yearns for something more than what money can buy. Hopefully many of us look to our faith and religion to satisfy this particular hunger. We can worship, pray, give alms, we serve the folks in the community. These things spark happiness in our life. There is nothing wrong with owning and enjoying things that make us happy. God wants us to enjoy the good things of this world but remember what we get from them is limited. Possessions, pleasures and power are nice things to have but when they define us, when they become the total of who we are, we become empty indeed. Jesus knew about all this when he went to the mountain to pray. Temptation could not enter Him for He knew the real meaning of life. He gives us these weeks to try to understand what it is all about. Lets use this Lenten Season to get below the surface of our lives.

 

 

 

 

Readings: February 7, 2016, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All Reading from the Message Bible  © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Isaiah 6:1-8

        Holy, Holy, Holy!

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master sitting on a throne—high, exalted!—and the train of his robes filled the Temple. Angel-seraphs hovered above him, each with six wings. And they called back and forth one to the other, “Holy, Holy, Holy is God-of-the-Angel-Armies. His bright glory fills the whole earth.”

The foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices, and then the whole house filled with smoke. I said, “Doom! It’s Doomsday! I’m as good as dead! Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted —

blasphemous even! And the people I live with talk the same way, using words that corrupt and desecrate. And here I’ve looked God in the face! The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!”

Then one of the angel-seraphs flew to me. He held a live coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with the coal and said, “Look. This coal has touched your lips. Gone your guilt, your sins wiped out.”

And then I heard the voice of the Master: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” I spoke up, “I’ll go. Send me!”

  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

         Resurrection

Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time — this Message that I proclaimed and that you made your own; this Message on which you took your stand and by which your life has been saved. (I’m assuming, now, that your belief was the real thing and not a passing fancy, that you’re in this for good and holding fast.)

The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented

himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to /me/. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence.

But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it. So whether you heard it from me or from those others, it’s all the same: We spoke God’s truth and you entrusted your lives.

  • Luke 5:1-11

     Push Out into Deep Water

Once when he was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, the crowd was pushing in on him to better hear the Word of God. He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. He climbed into the boat that was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd.

When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”

Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.

Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.” When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him. It was the same with James and John, Zebedee’s

sons, coworkers with Simon.

Jesus said to Simon, “There is nothing to fear. From now on you’ll be fishing for men and women.” They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed him.

 

Readings: January 31, 2016, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from the Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Jeremiah 1:4-5

      Demolish, and Then Start Over

The word of the Lord came to me, saying:

“Before I shaped you in the womb,  I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations that’s what I had in mind for you.”

“But you—up on your feet and get dressed for work! Stand up and say your piece. Say exactly what I tell you to say. Don’t pull your punches or I’ll pull you out of the lineup.

“Stand at attention while I prepare you for your work. I’m making you as impregnable as a castle, immovable as a steel post, solid as a concrete block wall.

You’re a one-man defense system against this culture, against Judah’s kings and princes, against the priests and local leaders. They’ll fight you, but they won’t even scratch you. I’ll back you up every inch of the way, says the Lord.”

  •   1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13

Some of you keep competing for so-called “important”  spiritual gifts. But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.

      The Way of Love

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first”, doesn’t fly off the handle,, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back but keeps going to the end. Love never dies.

Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

  •  Luke 4:21-30

Jesus began speaking in the Synagogue. And he concluded: “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”

All who were there, watching and listening, were surprised at how well he spoke. But they also said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son, the one we’ve known since he was a youngster?”

He answered, “I suppose you’re going to quote the proverb, ‘Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.’ Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown. Isn’t it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian.”

That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.

 

Readings: January 24, 2016, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from the Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10

So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women—everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened—they were all ears—to the Book of The Revelation.

The scholar Ezra stood on a wooden platform constructed for the occasion. Ezra opened the book. Every eye was on him (he was standing on the raised platform) and as he opened the book everyone stood. Then Ezra praised God, the great God, and all the people responded, “Oh Yes! Yes!” with hands raised high. And then they fell to their knees in worship of God, their faces to the ground. Ezra translated the Book of The Revelation of God so the people could understand it and then explained the reading.

Nehemiah the governor, along with Ezra the priest and scholar and the Levites who were teaching the people, said to all the people, “This day is holy to God, your God. Don’t weep and carry on.” They said this because all the people were weeping as they heard the words of The Revelation.

He continued, “Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!”

  • 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Brothers and sisters:

You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.

You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.

  • Luke 1:1-4

So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the

reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught.

To Set the Burdened Free

Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure.

He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,

Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind,

To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”

 

Readings: January 17, 2015, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from the Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Isaiah 62:1-5

Look, Your Savior Comes!

Regarding Zion, I can’t keep my mouth shut, regarding Jerusalem, I can’t hold my tongue,

Until her righteousness blazes down like the sun, and her salvation flames up like a torch.

Foreign countries will see your righteousness, and world leaders your glory.

You’ll get a brand-new name straight from the mouth of God.

You’ll be a stunning crown in the palm of God’s hand, a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God.

No more will anyone call you Rejected, and your country will no more be called Ruined.

You’ll be called Hephzibah (My Delight), and your land Beulah (Married),

Because God delights in you and your land will be like a wedding celebration.

For as a young man marries his virgin bride, so your builder marries you,

And as a bridegroom is happy in his bride, so your God is happy with you.

  • 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all

originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is:

Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues.

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

  • John 2:1-11

From Water to Wine

Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.”

Jesus said, “Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.”

She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”

Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, “Fill the pots with water.” And they filled them to the brim.

“Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host,” Jesus said, and they did.

When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!”

This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.