LIsten to Father Manny’s sermon from Sunday, Feb 14, the first Sunday of Lent (and also Valentine’s Day).
A Day in the Life...
What does one do when it’s 2:05 in the morning, you can’t sleep, you’ve already read for an hour and are still pretty much wide awake? You watch television in the hopes it will make you sleepy enough to get the rest you desire and need.
So, I ventured downstairs, quietly and carefully descending the stairs in the darkness and silence of the early, morning stillness. Wrapping myself in a blanket, switched on the television and selected one of the PBS stations. A telecast on the Egyptian art of mummification of animals had just started. Immediately, I was captured. Rather than my eyelids getting heavy, I was drawn into the program, fascinated and intrigued. I had read some about this ancient art, this ritual, but this particular program enlightened me to facts both new and wondrous.
Ancient Egypt had many gods. The people prayed to the gods and goddesses for particular favors they desired. To Ma’at, the goddess of moral and physical law they would pray for guidance and direction regarding disputes and disagreements. To Ra, the god of the sun, they’d pray for light, guidance direction and to dispel the darkness. To Horas, the king of the gods, the people would pray for their pharaoh’s protection and success. There were other gods and goddesses who represented virtually all aspect of human life. The people wanted more; they desired to have a more “direct connection” with their deities. In order to provide such desired intimacy between god and humankind, the concept of offerings to the gods was created. The “farming” of animals, namely dogs and cats by the millions was established. These animals would be offered to the gods and mummified. Within the layers of cloth wrappings, coins, jewelry and other such trinkets were placed as offerings and tithing to the gods, so the gods would grant special favors and blessings to those who prayed to them.
Am I glad that we Christians never adopted such behavior and practice, you know, providing offerings to our God. Oh wait, I think we did and we still do. Sure, we don’t place our offerings, our gifts, our pledges inside a mummified pet nor do we burn our offerings as an oblation to our God and Creator. When we use incense, it is meant to be pleasing to God as it rises upwards to the heavens. We have become a much more sophisticated society, thank you very much. First of all, we are monotheistic: we believe in One True and Eternal God, Three Beings in One…Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As such, we worship our God with our participation and reception of the Sacraments, in the Holy Eucharist on weekends, feasts, holy days and special Church Seasons and occasions. We glorify the Lord our God with acts of mercy and kindness, with our visits to the home-bound and hospitalized, with active involvement in our community of faith. As 21st Century Christians and members of this Episcopal community of faith, we share our time, our talent and our treasure for God’s greater glory and the continued establishment, growth and spreading of the Good News of Christ.
At St. Nicholas, we are blessed with a wealth of generosity: so many who give in so many ways. A few weeks back as I was walked toward the church and there was Connie Nicholson hard at work in the gardens, planting mums and arranging things just so. This is a marvelous way of giving back to the Church and it finds favor by all who pass our way and take in the beauty of our gardens. The Williams Family, LeWayne, Earl and Eason were hard at work on Halloween day, scrubbing the bathrooms till they sparkled and vacuuming the carpets cleaner than clean. Bob Kalicki, Jeff Westerheide and Gary Lackey (who is not a member of this community) continue to make sure the Food Pantry is ready and waiting for our guests. The choir rehearses on Wednesday nights with Mary Fletcher-Gomez leading and directing. Cyndi DeBock makes sure the worship programs are set for our use on the weekend with Pat Kalicki and Tameica Williams contributing their wisdom and insight to the cause. The Order of St. Luke provides us healing and anointing on a monthly basis and now shares this sacred gift with the good people of Asbury Court. Jennifer Brundige, Tess Setchell, Ray Malecek and Bob Kalicki oversee our finances. Hank Mandziara tends to the building and grounds, checking things over and making sure all is as it should be. Douglas VanHouten, with watchful and skillful eye gets News From Nick set to mail out each week without fail.
There are those who share their faith with Varied Voices once a month. Tony Begonja and Hal Stratton share their musical gifts with us on various Saturdays at our 4:30 Liturgy. Val Gruenwald leads our young people and children in Formation. Connie Nicholas leads us in Bible Study and Steve Gruenwald shares his special gifts in our Contemporary Conversations and Issues once a month. So many others are lectors at our weekend Liturgies, proclaiming Sacred Scripture as the Living Word of God that it truly is. The Support Groups contribute their fair share in helping to sustain our church financially as well as mowing the lawns and taking care of the snow on weekends, too. The Bishop’s Committee, Building Committee, Outreach Committee, Liturgy Team and Altar Guild are all hard at work doing what is needed to ensure our future be bright and enduring. And there are others who pledge, contribute, tithe and provide as they can, when they can and as they can. All of us, each and every one of us is a blessing to this church and in turn, we are a blessing to one another. Forgive me if I have overlooked anyone. Truly, my desire and intent is to mention all of us, whether directly or indirectly, because we are all part of the body of Christ, that which makes this church alive, breathing and growing. My immense thanks to each and every one of us who contributes so much, so often and so lovingly.
No my friends, there are no mummies here. No burnt offerings to any deity whatsoever. No secret passageways that leads to any hidden chamber or anteroom. Rather, there is a living and breathing entity at 1072 Ridge Avenue that bears witness to the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of David…our God and the Son, Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit, all of whom we worship, give praise and thank for Their presence, Their love and Their gifts which are eternal and ever-lasting.