This Week – September 7, 2018
The Knights ignite the grills in fewer than 48 hours! Yahoo!
Rain or shine, the PARISH PICNIC welcomes all and will be at least as much fun as ever.
All the customary jackpots will be here for the enjoying – outstanding fellowship, terrific food from the grill and desserts from the parishioners, excellent music, the volleyball mob/game that kicks off the Youth Group’s new year, and the Big Kahuna waterslide.
In addition to all the usual highlights, this year’s picnic will feature – through the efforts of the Heifer Project and the kindness of the Kafka Group – a petting zoo for the little kids and the kids. Big kids and taxpayers are also encouraged to visit the animals. The current list of visiting animals includes an alpaca, a miniature cow, some sheep, and some goats. Only by attending the picnic can you learn if the sheep really stay to the right and the goats to the left. There are also unverified rumors of a pony and a pig. So bring the entire family – including your grandchildren even if they are not St. Joe’s folk – and let the happy afternoon unfold.
Please join me in extending an extra special welcome to our newest parishioners. Their name tags have little gold seals. And a word of encouragement to long-time parishioners, to wear a name sticker to make it easier for people, especially our newest parishioners, to remember your name.
Thanks and hope to see you there!
(P.S. – Something tells me this is MY year in the croquet tournament – challengers welcome!)
THIS WEEK IN PRAYER
- Men’s Prayer Group — The Monday night men’s prayer group – a joining of last year’s Cornerstone group and the men’s Meeting Christ in Prayer group – reconvenes this Monday, 9/10 at 7:30 pm in the Hospitality Room. The fall sessions run from 9/10 through 10/22. The tentative plan is to focus on the readings for Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you have any questions, please contact Bill Grimmer at email@example.com
- Meeting Christ in Prayer – The fall section of “Meeting Christ in Prayer” starts Monday 10/29 – the Monday after the men’s group ends. The last of the eight Monday-night sessions will meet on Monday, 12/17. The program, which focuses on a small number of prayer practices and involves small group conversation, is based on The Spiritual Exercises. The only pre-req for this series is a desire for a deeper connection with Jesus in prayer. There are still four open spots for the fall section. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to sign up.
- Spiritual Exercises – The dates for the 2018/19 offering of The Spiritual Exercises are now set. The sessions will meet on the following Wednesdays: October 10 and 24; November 7 and 21; December 5 and 19; January 2, 16 and 30; February 13 and 27; March 13 and 27; April 10 and 24, and; May 8 and 22. The basic requirements for the program are the ability to commit to (a) ten minutes of prayer every evening, (b) 40 minutes of prayer five times a week and (c) missing no more than two of the Wednesday meetings. Everyone who can do these three things and who has completed “Meeting Christ in Prayer” is encouraged to consider The Exercises. If you would like to make The Exercises but have not completed “Meeting Christ in Prayer,” let me know if you have had other prayer or retreat experiences that have prepared you for meditative prayer. There are still four openings for The Exercises. Email me at email@example.com if you want to sign up.
- Walking With Purpose – Walking with Purpose – our very highly praised bible study for women – is gearing up for its 4th year and will be offering two studies (Keeping in Balance AND Opening Your Heart) and two meeting times (Monday evenings AND Tuesday mornings). Information and registration forms will be available in the gathering space on the weekends of 9/15-9/16 and 9/22-9/23.
- Sunday’s Homily – “Ephphatha, Part 1: “Rising above the listening hurdles”
- To listen to the homily, click here.
- To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.
THIS WEEK IN SERVICE
- CCD Classes – 40 of our 44 classes are already covered! Four still need a teacher and/or an aid. This amount of coverage at this part of September is actually a terrific success rate. The success is a great credit to the parish in general and to the volunteers in particular. Good for you! If you can see your way to filling one of the open slots, to helping share the faith as a CCD teacher, please contact Mr. Jim Jungels, our Religious Ed director, at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks and more thanks.
- Adult Ministries – After some very impressive efforts by the Parish Council’s Planning Group, we are about to start advertising a part-time position for a coordinator for all our programs and services for adults – ages 35 and over. The job description is undergoing final edits and will be posted by month’s end.
- Youth Ministries - It’s going to be another great year for our high school aged youth. The season kicks off at the Parish Picnic. The first “regular” meeting will be on Sept. 16th including a few pies in the face. See the September - December calendar on our website.
THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:
- New Parishioners – God continues to bless us with new parishioners. Please join me in welcoming
- Lisa Cimpko
- Marianne Fleischman
- Ismael and Tara Garcia and their children Abigail and Jacob
- John and Diane Rosig
- Tech Upgrades – Thanks to the generosity of some very generous parishioners, we are about to complete two long-awaited upgrades – (a) New Wifi in the Hospitality Room and environs and better Wifi in the parish hall neighborhood and (b) new AV equipment in half the CCD classrooms. Thanks to the many who have supported the effort. It opens up many inspired opportunities.
The news in and around the parish is very good. God continues to bless us in countless ways. God’s goodness continues to enable us to grow as priests (people of prayer who speak to God and listen to God), as prophets (people of service who console and challenge others) and as kings (people who do what we can to build up our communities according to God’s hopes). Thanks to God’s goodness and yours, we are “a church that does what a church should do . . . “ We are blessed with firm foundations and we have plenty of opportunities to grow and improve.
And in addition to the good news on Yorktown Road, we remain aware of the dreadful news from so many places. We do what we can to grasp the horrible realities and we pray that we and all church leaders will formulate wise and effective replies to the victims of every sort. We strive for clear thinking about our clergy’s sins and crimes and we remember that God has always sent wise and loving people to rescue our church from its darkest choices. We stay mindful of our current darkness and God’s eternal light.
With blessings for each parishioner – especially those who return to school (on both sides of the desk!)
Summary of September 2 Homily:
Ephphatha, Part One: Rising above the listening hurdles
God’s voice always calls us in the same direction, toward greater peace. God sometimes calls us along paths that wind through rough terrain that scares or disorient us, but the destination is always the same, greater peace.
Throughout our salvation history, we have fallen for the fallacy that we might be better off not listening to God, at least not right now. Time and again we convince ourselves that God might be calling us away from peace rather than smack dab into it. Sunday’s readings describe three of the very appealing deceits that cause us to resist God’s voice.
The first reading, from Deuteronomy’s fourth chapter, conveys part of Moses’ lengthy message to the people who are about to enter the Promised Land: Keep listening to God. Moses knows well that the people frequently convince themselves that God opposes their happiness. Moses also knows that when they do that, they stop listening to God and start making hair-brained, self-destructive choices. Shortly before Sunday’s passage, in Deuteronomy 1:27 Moses reminds the people that during the Exodus the people refused to listen to or obey God because “You set to murmuring in your tents, ‘Out of hatred for us the LORD has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the power of the Amorites and destroy us.’” When the people doubt God’s benevolence when they doubt that God is calling them to peace, when they convince themselves that God is hostile, they get in trouble.
Sunday’s Gospel passage from Mark 7 describes two other delusions that reduce our desire to listen to God. The first is routine. Mark uses the word “tradition” five times in Sunday’s passage. Jesus makes it clear that traditions are good if they do not become sacred routines that we value above all else. If we value our routine more than we value God’s invitations, we tend not to listen to God. We can get ourselves frantic wondering if God’s call will separate us from our sacred routines. That frenzy dials down our desire to listen to God.
Finally, in listing the sins that come out of a person, Jesus cautions us about our gut reactions. Jesus mentions those twelve sins knowing how appealing they can become in the heat of the battle, and how urgently we sometimes want to indulge them when we would be better off – i.e., more likely to experience true and lasting peace – if we paused and tried to listen to Jesus’ invitation. God reactions can sometimes be powerful forces that lead us away from peace.
So what about you? When have you risen above these impediments? When have you overcome these inclinations to tune God out? When have you received and used well the grace to know what God wants, want what God wants, and do what God wants, even when something was telling you to tune God out? Was there a time when you thought maybe God opposed your true happiness? Was there a time when you so enjoyed your routine that you did what you could do to protect it from God’s love? Has there been a time when you had a very strong gut reaction but put it on hold as you contemplated God’s desire? You surely have overcome the hurdles that made you not want to listen to God? Jesus has said “Ephphatha,” be opened, and you have complied. When have you done that and what does that success say about your future?