Proper 27 – Year B
The Rev’d Charles Everson
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
October 31, 2021
Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Matthew 12:28-34
Today’s lessons call to mind a bit of liturgical history, for which I ask your brief indulgence. At the time of the Reformation, Thomas Cramner made some significant changes to the Eucharistic liturgy in his new Book of Common Prayer. He replaced the Kyrie (Lord, have mercy upon us) with the Ten Commandments, and to this day, those who follow the 1662 Book of Common Prayer hear all ten of them recited at every Sunday Eucharist. This may be because the Reformers wished to include in every Sunday liturgy the three things which were to be known by every child before confirmation: The Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments. From Elizabethan times, it was required that these three texts be displayed prominently before the people in every parish church, a custom which can still be seen sporadically throughout the English Church to this day. In the American prayer book revision of 1789, the Summary of the Law that we at St. Mary’s use at the beginning of the Mass was introduced for optional use after the Ten Commandments. The 1892 revision allowed it to be used in place of the Ten Commandments except at one Sunday service per month, a practice that continued with the 1928 BCP. While the Summary of the Law is optional in our prayer book, we observe it at every Eucharist.
“Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
The Summary of the Law comes from the Jewish prayer called the shema that we heard in the first reading from Deuteronomy, a prayer that is recited by observant Jews each morning and evening. This prayer serves the Jewish pledge of allegiance to God, if you will. It is such an important prayer to them that orthodox Jewish men wear a small box on their foreheads call that contain tiny scrolls of parchment with the shema, and other prayers written on them.
The commandment to love isn’t about feelings. Political treaties and other covenants in that time and area of the world used the word “love” to mark the proper attitude and behavior of parties toward each other, especially vassal subjects to their overlords. To love God as one would love a human king entails primarily action, not emotion. To love is to be faithful and loyal in fulfilling the obligations of the covenant. To love God means to obey God’s commandments with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. In other words, to offer your complete devotion. To be faithful to him in every part of your being, and in your choices and behavior.
In the gospel lesson, when the scribe asks Jesus which commandment is the first of all, Jesus responds with the shema which reminds them of the continual call to allegiance and complete devotion to the God of the Hebrews. This is the first and greatest commandment, according to Jesus. But the second is like unto it: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. This is another quote from the Torah, but this time from Leviticus chapter 19 which is all about how the holiness of God should be reflected in human beings. For many years in my own life, I understood the call to holiness to mean a call to be pure. Don’t hang out with “those people” [POINT] as they may lead you down the wrong path. Instead, surround yourself with other Christians who think as you do. Don’t let yourself be polluted by the thinking and behavior of those who don’t. In Leviticus 19, we see a very different way of understanding of holiness. It’s not as cut and dry, and it can be very messy. The call to holiness is an invitation to what one commentator calls “inclusive wholeness” in which “you shall not render an unjust judgment” or “go around as a slanderer” or “hate in your heart anyone of your kin.” While the word “neighbor” in most places in the Hebrew Bible refers to fellow Israelites, just a few verses later in Leviticus 19, we see where holiness finds it fulness: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” In other words, the ultimate expression of holiness is granting equal citizenship status to the resident alien.
And so at every Eucharist, day after day, week after week, we hear Our Savior’s call to love God with complete devotion, and to welcome the stranger as if he or she were a family member. To quote the scribe, “This is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.” Remarkably, the scribe get it. Jesus saw that he answered wisely and said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” He doesn’t say, “You will not inherit the kingdom of God,” but rather, you are not far from it. In other words, the scribe’s relationship with God’s kingdom is like ours. By our baptism, we are called to take concrete actions in our daily lives to care for the orphan and the stranger, to feed the poor, and to love our neighbors as ourselves now, not later. And yet, the fulness of this kingdom life we live is not yet fully realized. We continue to live in a world rife with discrimination, division based on economic status, persecution, racism and poverty. When will it all be made right? When Christ returns again with power and great glory, an event we call the “Second Coming” which we profess in the words of the Nicene Creed when we say, “he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.” It is only then that Christ’s victory over sin and death will be fully realized.
In the meantime, our relationship with God involves rituals and Sacraments – the Christian version of the “whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices" the scribes were responsible for in the Temple. Neither Jesus nor the scribe is saying that religious rituals and sacramental practices are bad things. The love of God and neighbor takes precedence over religious ritual and practice which is another way of saying what Jesus said earlier in Mark’s gospel: purity is determined by what is in a person’s heart, not by external ritual. And while it isn’t a perfect analogy, it’s much easier to view the Ten Commandments as a checklist of things to do and not to do than it is to devote ourselves entirely and completely to the God of all creation, and to strive for holiness by loving our neighbor as if he were a member of our family.
Dear friends, let us ask God for the grace to love him with our whole heart, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us strive for holiness, that like the scribe, God may find us “not far from the kingdom of God”, and that we may be found without fault at the day of his coming. And each time we hear Jesus’s Summary of the Law, let us renew our pledge of allegiance to the King whose reign shall never end. Amen.
 See Marian Hatchett’s “Commentary on the American Prayer Book,” pp. 310-311, and 319.
 Leviticus 19:33-34, Jewish Study Bible, p. 243.
 David Bartlett, and Barbara Brown. Taylor, eds. Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, 198.
 1979 BCP, p. 328, with the word “living” used in place of the word “quick,” as in Rite II.
 Mark 7:1-16, see NIB 513.
Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
The Rev’d Charles Everson
October 24, 2021
The year was 1854. The Town of Kansas had just been incorporated as Kansas City, and slavery was still legal in Missouri. A fledgling group of Episcopalians in Kansas City had no formal congregation and no clergy. Judge J.C. Ranson and his wife Elizabeth lived on Primrose Hill at what is now Admiral Blvd. and Tracy Avenue about a mile northeast of here, and one day late in 1854, Judge and Mrs. Ranson and a few other devoted Episcopalians met in a log cabin adjacent to the judge’s property with Deacon Joseph Corbyn, deacon-in-charge of Trinity Episcopal Church in Independence. Bishop Hawks had asked Trinity to share him with this budding parish in Kansas City that called itself St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Deacon Corbyn either rode his mule or walked each Sunday from Independence to officiate Morning Prayer and preach, sometimes with a congregation of no more than five in attendance.
I doubt that either Judge Ranson or Deacon Corbyn could have predicted that 18 years later, we would change our name to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, and then three years later, our rector Fr. Henry David Jardine, along with the Sister of the Holy Cross, would sponsor the organization of All Saints Hospital which eventually became the St. Luke’s Health System, a regional health provide that includes 16 hospitals and campuses, including a senior living community called St. Luke’s Bishop Spencer Place where I currently serve on the Board of Directors. Little did they know that by the power of the Holy Spirit, their small congregation would blossom into the flower that is our parish in our day, and that we would still be commemorating St. Luke nearly 170 years later, re-telling their stories of faith and ministry.
The scene in the appointed gospel for St. Luke’s Day is set in Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up. These folks knew Jesus, and they were not surprised that he went to the synagogue to read and to teach. At the beginning of the story, there had been no prior association of Jesus with the coming Messiah that Israel had been longing and waiting for. Jesus opens up the Hebrew Bible and reads this from the book of Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This passage from Isaiah had become associated with the Messiah the Jews were longing and waiting for, meaning when Jesus’s family and friends heard him read this passage, they immediately knew what he was talking about. After sitting down, he said to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
In this moment, Jesus reveals the agenda for his ministry. The term “agenda” is used by the late Baptist ethicist Robert Parham about this passage. Parham writes that “Luke 4:18-19 is one of the most ignored, watered down, spiritualized or glossed over texts in many [Baptist] pulpits, evading or emptying Jesus’ first statement of his [moral] agenda. Jesus said the gospel was for the poor and oppressed, speaking to those at the margins of society. Jesus was announcing that he came to liberate from real oppressive structures the marginalized – the impoverished, the war captives, the poor in health, the political prisoners. Jesus came to turn the economic structures upside down, instituting the year of Jubilee when crushing debts were forgiven and slaves were freed.”
Liberation, or freedom is often thought of as the ability to do whatever you wish. Economic freedom is commonly understood to mean being wealthy enough to not have to work. Freedom is also associated with political realities – being freed from the rule of a tyrannical king, or political leaders working to maintain freedoms in our country such as the freedom of speech or religion, or the freedom to live and work in a safe environment.
Jesus brings an entirely different kind of freedom to the world through the Holy Spirit, a freedom that is the release from captivity to death, and the will of the self. Jesus wants to liberate us from the shackles that keep us from being who we were intended to be – those shackles around our ankles are ourselves. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus comes to set us free from the captivity of living selfishly – free to live instead for God and for others. In chapter 9 of Luke’s gospel, Jesus says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it” (9:23-24).
I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past year in our archives at the Kansas City Public Library, and have seen many ways that this parish has brought freedom to the captive in our nearly 170 year history, particularly in the area of hunger relief, a ministry that continues to this day. We also have a long legacy of the physical healing provided by the doctors and nurses of the St. Luke’s Health System. Where might God be leading our parish in 2021 to bring freedom to the wider community in Kansas City? How might God be calling us to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of the sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor in new and fresh ways?
Our archives at the library are chock full of photos, and vestry minutes, newspaper clippings, and old service bulletins. After spending relatively little time perusing these documents, it is clear to me that God has used this little parish to do mighty things, and nearly all of the ministry we’ve done has been financed by the generosity of our parishioners. We’ve never been a wealthy parish. There have been at least a dozen times throughout our history that our parish has had so little money that we haven’t been able to afford a full-time priest, and at least half-dozen times when we’ve been so broke we’ve almost had to close the doors. Thanks to the steady, generous giving on the part of our parishioners, St. Mary’s is on more steady financial footing at the moment than we have been, but the growth trajectory we were on at the beginning of 2020 has been stunted somewhat by the complexity of the pandemic.
As we’re asking God for guidance on how he might want us to bring liberty to the captive in our own day, let us dream big dreams with our hearts and souls, and let us respond generously with the time, talent, and treasure the Lord has entrusted to each of us. Let us throw off the “freedom” offered to us by the world, and instead embrace the freedom of the kingdom of Heaven, getting rid of the shackles of selfishness around our ankles. By the power of the Spirit, let us lose our lives for the sake of the gospel, and in so doing, find healing and freedom for our souls, and the grace to proclaim healing for the sick and release to the captives to our friends and families and the wider Kansas City community. Amen.
 David Lyon Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B ed., vol. 4 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 287.
 Ibid 287.
The Rev’d Charles Everson
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
October 16, 2021
In the past couple of months throughout the gospel of Mark, we’ve heard Jesus predict his death and passion twice – today makes time number three. And his disciples still don’t get it. James and John ask him for the places of honor when Jesus enters into his glory, but to their dismay, Jesus points out that the place of his glory is ironically the cross…and that criminals will sit on his right and left there.
The two disciples seem to sense that their request is misguided. “Will you do for us whatever we ask?”, they inquire. Jesus didn’t buy their trickery for one second. And the other disciples don’t respond any more appropriately than James and John do. They get angry, and Jesus responds using a punchline that you and I have become used to hearing over the past few weeks: “Whoever wishes to becomes great among you must become your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” In other words, the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
But before he gets to the punchline, he says, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized.”
Being baptized involves going to the cross, with everything that entails. Death. Suffering. Similarly, sharing at the cup at the altar means we share with Jesus in his crucifixion. Both baptism and Holy Communion lead us to suffering and death with our Lord.
Yet this passage must be seen in light of James’ and John’s motivations as displayed a few verses earlier: “Those who followed Jesus were afraid.”
Seen in light of their fear, Jesus’s message is actually one of hope. Yes, you have to die to yourself in order to follow Christ. But the promise is that you don’t need to be driven by your fears and your need for security. Rather, Jesus says to us, you will be given everything you need to be able to take up your cross and follow me.
One of my spiritual mentors is the author Fr. Henri Nouwen, a Dutch priest who spent the most meaningful part of his ministry serving severely mentally disabled people at L’Arche Community in Torono, Canada – feeding them, bathing them, doing whatever it took to take care of them. Nouwen wrote, “The greatest block in the spiritual life is fear. Prayer, meditation, and education cannot come forth out of fear. God is perfect love, and as John the Evangelist writes, “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). Jesus’ central message is that God loves us with an unconditional love and desires our love, free from all fear, in return.”
What are you afraid of? What keeps you up at night? What triggers you to the point that you begin to feel insecure and frightened?
Today, Jesus is calling us to face our fears by following him to the cross…by putting aside our own insecurities and living a life of servanthood. By acknowledging that God loves us unconditionally with a love that conquers all fear. Following Jesus means following him right to the awfulness of Good Friday. But in so doing, we are released from our fears and insecurities, and given the hope of resurrection on Easter Sunday. Amen.
 David Lyon Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B ed., vol. 4 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 189.
 Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, meditation for February 29.
The service leaflet can be found here, and the video recording can be found here.
Seth Jones and Chris Steinauer Renewal of Vows
October 15, 2021
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
The Rev’d Charles Everson
Seth and Chris, we are here tonight because you two said yes to each other. It is your yes that brought just a few of us during a difficult time during the pandemic into this little chapel to witness your marriage, and it is your yes that brings us all here tonight as we celebrate with all the pomp and circumstance we can muster.
I’m pretty sure that you could tell a lot of stories about all that has happened since the day you met – stories that include friends and family, new and old; choices you’ve made together like buying a house and raising a pig; even the suffering and pain of health scares and hospital stays.
Through it all, you’ve continued to say yes to one another.
The various wedding delays you’ve experienced because of the pandemic do not diminish or take away the yes from the day of your wedding day, nor from the yes of tonight. The delay only deepens and strengthens your yes. Tonight is even more sweet and beautiful because of it.
Another way to think about your continued yes to each other is that it is like a flower that blooms from another yes that you both have made, the yes to follow Christ in baptism. Seth, your journey of faith within Christianity has been more complex and included more twists and turns. Chris, I remember with joy I baptized you in that baptismal font on All Saints Day in late 2018. Saying yes to Christ means being buried with him by baptism into death, and saying yes to each other sometimes means intentionally enduring suffering and hardship for each other’s sake. Yes, I will forgive you when you’ve hurt me. Yes, I will take care of you when we grow old and you need help eating and drinking. Yes, I will remain faithful to you as long as we both shall live, even when we get to the point when it might be fun to trade you in for a younger model.
St. Paul says that we are buried with Christ by baptism into death so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. By saying yes to each other each and every day until you are parted by death, by suffering together through the hardships of life, you experience the joy of the resurrection as well. The same yes that led you, Seth, to take care of Chris as he recovered after being hit by a car is the same yes that leads the two of you to echo the words we heard in Solomon’s love song, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
I can’t promise you that the suffering and the joy will be of equal proportion to one another. That’s part of the wonderful adventure that is marriage, but it only works when you say yes. Yes, without condition, yes without holding back, yes no matter the cost.
I am indebted to The Rev’d Michael Marsh for his rhetorical use of the word “yes” in this sermon: https://interruptingthesilence.com/2019/12/08/the-double-yes-of-marriage-a-wedding-sermon-on-song-of-solomon-210-13-86-7/.
 Romans 6:4.
 Song of Solomon 2:10
St. Francis Day
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
October 9, 2021
The Rev’d Charles Everson
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
This passage from the gospel of Matthew ends with one of the most beautiful statements our Lord ever made: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.
Just a few chapters before, in the very same discourse, Matthew recounts Jesus saying things like “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” And “I have come to set a man against his father, and daughter against her mother.” Sounds like two different people talking, but in both of these passages, Jesus is inviting us to a life of discipleship.
Discipleship means “to learn”, and thus disciples of Jesus are called to learn from Jesus how to live. As part of discipleship, we are called to be obedient to our Lord, but not in the way we typically think of obedience in which one person submits to another person because they have power over them and are afraid of them and are thus obedient. Rather, Christian obedience is to listen intently, and to respond, not only to those who have formal authority over us, but also to the voices of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The call to discipleship is a call to radical obedience – a call to listen to the voice of God, wherever it may be found, and to respond. Unhesitating obedience to Christ often costs us dearly and can cause division in our families, in our friendships, and even in our parish.
To understand the sweet promise of “rest” we heard this morning, we have to start from the understanding that discipleship is hard work and can ultimately lead to division and strife that we don’t expect.
When Jesus says “Take my yoke and learn from me”, he’s using a word that has the same root as “disciple”, which means “learner.” This isn’t about learning new academic knowledge; Jesus is asking us to take up a way of life. A disciple loves the Lord with all of their heart, soul and body. Living this life of discipleship means we have to give up some things that we want, and instead put love of God and neighbor ahead of our own desires. But in doing so, we are given rest.
Throughout the New Testament, the Greek word “rest” can refer to Sabbath rest, the rest of death, or rest from war when Israel’s enemies have been subdued. More importantly, the idea of “rest” functions as an image of salvation, of what will be when the world is finally ordered according to God’s purposes and enjoys its full and complete Sabbath. In promising us “rest,” Jesus promises life under God’s reign in the new world that he is bringing. This is the “rest” we pray for when we pray “thy kingdom come” in the Lord’s Prayer – it’s not just a “rest” that will come when we get to heaven, but “rest” here and now. It’s the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven to earth. When God’s kingdom comes, we receive this “rest” from Jesus, and God’s space and ours are finally married and integrated at last.
What are we given rest from? Jesus says he will give rest to those who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens. The original crowds who heard this were suffering under religious oppression from the Pharisees on the one hand, and from the Roman imperial system in which the ruling elite secure wealth, status, and power at the expense of the everyday Joe on the other hand. He promises them rest from those things. But for all of us here today – what is it in our lives that makes us weary?
What heaven burdens are you bearing in your life?
Jesus is calling you to come to him. To take up his yoke upon you and learn from him. To be his disciple. But this call to be Jesus’s disciple isn’t a call to try to merely imitate some man who lived on earth 2,000 years ago and has left us. We are called to be his disciple by relying on the ongoing presence of Jesus in the world today. This ongoing presence is also included in what Jesus means by “rest.” This ongoing presence of Jesus manifests itself in the world through prayer, in silence and contemplation, through community and fellowship with fellow Christians, in recreational activities. More poignantly yet mysteriously, we receive this rest at the altar rail. In a moment, I will ask the Holy Spirit to set aside bread and wine to be for us the Body and Blood of Christ, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. And then we will come forward and receive the refreshing nourishment that he offers us in the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation. We will receive a rest more profound and more complete than we possibly could by putting up our feet after a long, exhausting day, or drinking a cold beer on a warm, summer afternoon. In the Eucharist, God’s heavenly kingdom breaks into our earthly world and nourishes us with the rest and refreshment that only Jesus can offer. Put another way, in the Eucharist, heaven kisses earth. And it is only after we are fed with this heavenly food and drink that we are sent out into the world so that we may “continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as he has prepared for us to walk in.”
St. Francis, whose feast we celebrate today, is best known for his love for animals and nature, but the very foundation of his faith was the Holy Eucharist. At the end of his life, St. Francis (ordained deacon but not priest) dictated a document that has remained a primary expression of his understanding of the Gospel. He says:
“…the Lord gave me, and gives me still, such faith in priests who live according to the rite of the holy Church because of their orders that, were they to persecute me, I would still want to have recourse to them…..And I act in this way because, in this world, I see nothing physically of the most high Son of God except His most holy Body and Blood which they receive and they alone administer to others. I want to have these most holy mysteries honored and venerated above all things and I want to reserve them in precious places.” (emphasis mine)
For Francis, the Eucharist is the primary way in which we see the ongoing presence of Jesus in the world today. His life was plagued by trial, illness, and great physical pain, and it was in the Body and Blood of Christ that he found rest.
Friends, I invite you this morning to bring your weariness and burdens to Jesus at this altar. To take up his yoke and learn from him. To live the life of a disciple, following our Lord throughout the ups and downs of life. Thankfully, we are not left to do this alone. Week after week, even day after day, we are invited to the altar to receive our Lord in the bread and wine of Holy Communion, receiving rest for our souls, and the grace we need to love and serve God and our neighbor. Amen.
 N. T. Wright, The Lord and His Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014), 24.
The Rev’d Charles Everson
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
September 26, 2021
Today, we the apostle James tells us to pray – whether we’re suffering or cheerful, sick or sinful, prayer is the proper response of the people of God. This isn’t just a call for us as individuals to pray for one another, it’s a communal call for “the elders of the church” – the presbyters, or priests – to pray on behalf of the entire body of Christ.
James doesn’t stop with intangible, spiritual action like prayer. He calls sick Christians to ask the elders of the church to “pray over them” – a phrase that is linked elsewhere in the New Testament with the idea of the physical action of the “laying on of hands.” Likewise, the elders are to anoint the sick with oil, a practice that was quite common in most cultures in the 1st century Ancient Near East. To you and me, this passage seems to be saying that when we get sick, we should go to a priest, not a doctor. The priest will treat your sickness with prayer, the laying on of hands, and holy oil, and presuming the prayer is made in faith, the Lord will heal your body.
But that presumes an understanding of illness that you and I have – that scientific analysis alone is able to assess your state of health. St James tells us that prayer, anointing of the sick, and the laying on of hands will, in the words of one Biblical translator, “restore the weary,” which is substantially more than prescribing antibiotics can do. 
The restoration promised here is much more than physical healing, it’s a restoration of the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. This is why James links the healing of the body with the forgiveness of sins in verse 15. Physical illness, in the minds of those hearing this letter, wasn’t limited to the body. For the body and the spirit weren’t separated in the way our worldview seems to assume they are. Illness of the body and the soul – physical sickness and sin – were flip sides of the same coin. The restoration of the whole person promised here is nothing other than salvation.
And salvation flows from the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ in the manger at Christmas. Christ became incarnate to save us, and the sacraments are the means by which God works out our salvation. God didn’t send a spirit into the world to save us, he sent his Son to be physically born of a human being. To become one of us. It was only in becoming one of us that he could redeem us. And this redemption – this restoration – isn’t merely a spiritual restoration, it’s a restoration of the whole person. Christ became incarnate to save our bodies, our minds, and our spirits – and the continual physical interaction with God through the Sacraments of the Church is the way God works out this salvation in our lives.
What are the Sacraments of the Church? According to the catechism, the “two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church are Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.” But the catechism doesn’t stop there. It says other sacramental rites which evolved in the Church include confirmation, ordination, marriage, confession, and the anointing of the sick. Though the prayer book doesn’t say it this way, it’s safe to say that throughout history, in the East and the West, these are the seven rites that are generally agreed upon as the sacraments of the Church.
We’re quite used to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist simple because it’s celebrated here at St. Mary’s every day, and perhaps less so, Holy Baptism, though most if not everyone here has been baptized. When was the last time a priest anointed you with oil? When is the last time you went to confession?
The apostle James not only lays the foundation for the sacrament of anointing of the sick in this passage, he also alludes to confession when he continues, “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” In my evangelical days, I understood this to simply mean that we should confess our sins to any other Christian, and that we should all pray for each other. But James says this in the context of the previous verses in which he calls church to call upon the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil. In the gospel of John, Jesus says to his apostles, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” That authority to forgive sins, and the authority to bind and loose Jesus gave his apostles in Matthew 16, has been passed down from bishop to bishop throughout the centuries, and ultimately to priests like me when the bishop laid his or her hands on our head. In The Episcopal Church, private confession is optional, not required as it is in the Roman Church. But just because it’s optional, and perhaps even foreign to your personal piety, it doesn’t make it any less powerful a means of grace for the average Christian.
Confession and anointing of the sick are by far the most underutilized sacraments of the church. Friends, I’m here to tell you, there is a lot of grace to be had in these two sacraments. All the baptized have access to the riches of God’s grace in these two sacraments, and yet very few take advantage of them. One of the reasons I’ve heard people say they don’t is practical: they aren’t publicly scheduled, and “I don’t want to bother you, Father. I know you have a busy schedule.”
Let’s clear that up right here and now. I’m busy, yes, but never too busy to administer the sacraments of the church. Beyond preaching God’s word, the main duty of the priest is to rightly and duly administer the sacraments of the church. If it’s an emergency, I’ll drop everything to bring the sacraments to you. If it can wait, sure, we’ll schedule a meeting at a convenient time for both of us, but administering the sacraments is not a burden to me. It is a joy.
And speaking of scheduling, we do have a regularly scheduled time for private confession: 5:00 on Wednesdays. It’s available by appointment too, but the church is open with a priest here at 5:00 on Wednesdays waiting to hear your confession, offer counsel, and grant absolution. And beginning this Wednesday, we will begin offering the anointing of the sick each week during the 6 p.m. Wednesday Mass.
Are any among you suffering? You should pray. Are any among you cheerful? You should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? Call me. I’m happy to pray over you and anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord. Are any of you stuck in a cycle of sin, or have committed a sin that is particularly weighty upon your conscience? Come on Wednesday evenings, or call me to make an appointment. If you prefer to go to confession with a different priest, that won’t hurt my feelings at all. I’m happy to connect you with another priest, either from St. Mary’s or from the wider diocese.
Friends, avail yourself of God’s unconditional love and grace in the sacraments of the Church. For in the sacraments, our salvation is literally fleshed out and we are restored to wholeness of body and mind and spirit. Restored and refreshed by God’s grace, we are given the strength we need to choose to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world and bring about restoration and wholeness to all of creation. Amen.
 David Lyon Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B ed., vol. 4 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 113.
 Andrew Davison, Why Sacraments? (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2013), 1.
 BCP 858-860.
 John 20:30
Proper 19, Year B
The Rev. Charles Everson
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
September 12, 2021
I’ve been reminded this week of the long history of our parish, and specifically, this building. We are under construction! From the flood in the parish hall and the upcoming construction to make things as they were, to the 41 bags of pigeon carcasses and droppings that have been removed from the tower, it has been a busy two weeks. The tower has been sealed up to prevent future avian infestations, all the organ pipes in the tower and many of them behind the reredos have been removed for refurbishment, over 100 years’ worth of redundant or failed organ equipment has been deposed of in the blue dumpster in the parking lot, the small organ has been hoisted into its permanent location in the northwest gallery, and the sanctuary lamp has been reinstalled in its place.
There is plenty of lore to go around at St. Mary’s, including the story of the origins of the sanctuary lamp the very same sanctuary lamp. It is said that this piece was part of Catherine of Aragon’s dowry given in exchange for her nuptials with a certain Henry VIII, and that it was brought to this land by Christopher Columbus on the Mayflower.
One of the stories more likely to be true that has become part of our history was told to me shortly after I arrived by Deacon Gerry, and you may have heard me tell this story before. Shortly after his ordination to the diaconate, he preached his first sermon from this very pulpit. After the service, he stood in the back to greet people, and an older woman walked up to him and said, quite firmly, “You can go straight to hell.” She continued, “Who are you to ask me to change? Who do you think you are? I don’t need to change, I’m fine just the way I am. Maybe you’re the one who needs to change.”
This woman may have been rude and unseemly, but I empathize with her. Many come to church to feel good, not to be told that they need to change. We humans surround ourselves with people who are positive and affirm the beliefs and attitudes that they affirm. I’ve often heard people say, “I stopped going to such-and-such church because I wasn’t getting anything out of the preacher’s sermons.” Or, when someone moves to a new city and starts looking for a church, they may say, “I am looking for a place that feeds my soul and makes me feel good.” In other words, “What’s in it for me?”
We often approach Jesus in this way too. There are cultural ideas about Jesus that we learn from movies and art and even verbally from our parents. If you were taught you that Jesus is always meek and mild and kind, it might be unsettling to hear him say what he said to his friend Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
When Jesus asked him, “Who do you say that I am,” Peter responded, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus was apparently fine with this response. But he proceeded to describe a very different Messiah than Peter had in mind. Peter, along with the bulk of first-century Jews, assumed the Messiah would be a monarch – a king who would come with great power and ultimately overthrow the Emperor, free the Israelites from Roman oppression and domination, and “make Israel great again” in the sight of the other nations. Jesus turns Peter’s preconceived ideas of what the Messiah will be upside down, and says that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering...and be killed.
This was so upsetting to Peter that he began to rebuke his Lord. For what Jesus said was scandalous. The gospel of Jesus Christ is in and of itself scandalous because it offers the startling and inexplicable claim that this person Jesus of Nazareth is both a real human being and God incarnate. But the specific scandal we heard about today is the claim that the Messiah must suffer humiliation, torture, and death rather than overthrow the government and wear royal robes. Jesus says, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering…and be killed.” This is scandalous because it means that God experiences suffering and pain and even death, just like we do. This doesn’t fit with many of our notions about the Divine. The scandal doesn’t stop there. Jesus not only up-ends Peter and the other disciples’ notions about God and the Messiah, he tells them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Taking up our cross means being willing to suffer the consequences for following Jesus faithfully, whatever those consequences might be. It means putting Jesus’ priorities and purposes ahead of our own comfort and security. It means daily struggling to reorient our entire value system to put the values and priorities of Jesus’s kingdom ahead of the values of this world. It means being willing to lose our lives by living for others -- using our time, resources, gifts, and energy so that others might experience God’s love made known in Jesus Christ.
This radical re-ordering of values and priorities doesn’t just happen the moment we’re baptized. It takes a conscious effort – an intentional putting on of our baptism – day in and day out, until the day we breathe our last breath. The woman who commented about Deacon Gerry’s sermon honestly didn’t grasp that in order to follow Jesus Christ, she would have to change.
It is only in losing our life that we save it. Following Christ means that we choose – day after day – to follow Jesus all the way to the cross with its suffering and shame. But just as Jesus’s story didn’t end with the Good Friday, neither does ours. Jesus rose victoriously over sin and death when he rose from the grave, and we too rise up from our baptism with the grace we need to resist temptation and to reorient our value system from the values of this world to the values of God’s kingdom.
Well, I’m not sure what I’m more likely to hear after the service. “Nice sermon, Father” or “You can go straight to hell.” Either way, the call to you and me this morning, to quote our closing hymn, is this: “Take up your cross, then, in his strength, and calmly every danger brave: it guides you to abundant life and leads to victory o’er the grave.” Amen.
 Verse 33.
 Verse 31.
 Much of this paragraph comes from David Lyon Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B ed., vol. 4 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 68-69.
 The Hymnal 1982, hymn 675.
Proper 18, Year B
The Rev’d Charles Everson
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
James 2:1-14, 17
September 5, 2021
A few years ago, a young man came to our church for the first time. He was homeless for a number of reasons, and he found St. Mary’s to be a welcoming place, kept coming week after week. One time, he told me about an experience he had when visiting another church here in town. He told me that they required the homeless to sit in a designated area of the church. Yeah. They segregated the homeless people in church.
In the epistle lesson from the book of James, we see a hypothetical scene unfold in which a rich person and a poor person show up in the assembly of early Jewish Christians. The rich man comes into the assembly wearing two markers of status in that culture: The gold rings on his fingers are not only indicative of wealth, but that he’s in the upper echelons of Roman nobility. In contrast to this rich, important figure, the poor person wore filthy rags. One can imagine him smelling as if he hadn’t bathed in weeks, and living in a perpetual state of humiliation because he has no money, or social standing, or place to call home. The greeter in this early Christian assembly responded to the rich man by rolling out the red carpet and seating him in a prominent and important place, while the poor person was told to stand off to the side or to sit on the floor by the greeter’s feet.
The greeter made a distinction between the rich man and the poor man, a distinction that society continues to make in our day. The values represented by the rich man in this story – political and social status and wealth and outward beauty – these are the values of this world. The kingdom of heaven has an entirely different value system. The kingdom of heaven is the reality of existence brought about by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in which the poor have been chosen to be rich in faith – in which the last shall be first and the first shall be last. The most important in the kingdom of heaven are the worthless rags of earth. We experience this kingdom partially now, but the powers of this world are not yet vanquished. The distinctions made in this story between rich and poor represent the spiritual forces of evil we fight as we battle on for the advancement of God’s kingdo here on earth. As we use our weapons of kindness and tenderness and love to fight this battle, we fight the urge within ourselves to make distinctions. To show partiality. To play favorites. Our ultimate goal in this battle is to fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
When people ask me, “What is the congregation like at St. Mary’s,” I usually find myself talking about how diverse we are – from a socioeconomic perspective, sexual orientation, age, etc. It’s one of the things I love most about this place – that the distinctions that human beings usually use to build barriers are the very least less important in this community. But before we pat ourselves on the back too quickly, let us ask ourselves this question: what values of the world do we hold too dear? With whom do we play favorites? Where do we even give the appearance of making distinctions?
James’s challenge sounds so simple and cliché: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The word “love” here is agape in Greek, which means “divine love.” This kind of love is far above and beyond all other forms of love and is distinctive to Christianity. This divine love trumps conditional love and partiality. But in much of our lives, partiality appears to win the day over agape love. St. James reminds us today that we are called to resist the urge to play favorites and make distinctions: we are called to unconditionally love others just as Christ loved us.
Many in our congregation bear a certain level of privilege. I don’t just mean those who have plenty of money, but many in our congregation have family members who love them, a steady and meaningful job, a shelter to go home to, plenty of food, and so on. St. James’ point isn’t to make anyone feel guilty for the privilege that we have, for whatever reason. For as the writer of our lesson from Proverbs said, “The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord is the maker of them all.” We are being reminded this morning that when we were baptized, we were buried with Christ in his death, and we began to share with Christ in his resurrection. In baptism, we signed on to the values of the kingdom of heaven, and committed to fulfill the royal law, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” – to unconditionally love everyone. And every time you walk through the doors of St. Mary’s, you’re at least given the opportunity to dip your fingers in the holy water stoop, make the sign of the cross, and put on your baptism once again. And in so doing, recommit yourself to joining in the spiritual battle with all of your fellow misfits here at St. Mary’s using the weapons of kindness, tenderness, truth, and love to build a parish – even a world – where there is no favoritism, distinction, or partiality.
Let us ask the Lord to open our eyes to the opportunities we have this week to love others unconditionally – without partiality, without distinction, without favoritism. And let us ask the Lord to show us how we can continue to break down man-made barriers and welcome all in Christ’s name here at St. Mary’s Church. Amen.
 Vs. 5.
 Vs. 8
 David Lyon Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, eds., Feasting on the Word. Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 40.
.Proper 13, Year B
The Rev’d Charles Everson
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15; John 6:24-35
August 1, 2021
In this story from the book of Exodus, the Israelites are out in the middle of the desert with nothing to eat. God had promised to provide for them, but they are hungry…so hungry that they wished they were back in Egypt. It is better to live in slavery with full stomachs than to die of starvation, right? The Israelites don’t have the courage to confront God directly and accuse him of betraying them, but instead grumble to their leaders Moses and Aaron.
I’m not sure about you, but were I faced with being in the desert with no food, especially after God had promised to provide for me, I would likely feel resentful toward God. God had set them free from the evil yoke of slavery they had been under in Egypt, but they were still far from trusting him. They thought God would let them die of starvation. Faced with this deep fear , they didn’t seem to remember God’s loving promise to Abraham and his descendants to bring them safely into the Promised Land.
Despite their resentful attitude, God responds not in anger, but by generously fulfilling his original promise. He immediately commits to satisfying their physical hunger by giving them meat in the evening and bread in the morning. The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction.” Yes, God provided food to satisfy their physical hunger, but he does it in part to test their obedience and trust in his providence. This story is more about faith and trusting in God’s promise than it is about physical food.
Fast forward nearly 1,300 years to this scene from John’s gospel. As we heard last week, Jesus had just fed 5,000 people with five loves and a couple of fish, and he has literally walked on water to get to this scene. So the crowd’s first question is a bit strange: they ask him when he had arrived. Instead of answering their bizarre question, Jesus shows that he knows their true motive in seeking him out. He says, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” The crowd didn’t get the purpose of the loaves and the fish – they responded to that miracle by trying to kidnap him and make him king by force! Likewise, they don’t get it when he says to them, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
Despite the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 – despite Jesus’ having walked on water – they still demand some greater miracle! They remind him that during the Exodus, God supplied their ancestors with daily bread from heaven, not only for one meal but for forty years. The crowd still doesn’t get it. They are looking for physical sustenance, like the manna God provided the Hebrews in the desert, to provide for their physical needs. They certainly didn’t expect to hear that God sent his son Jesus to provide the world with food that endures for eternal life.
The key to this passage is verse 29 when Jesus said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him who has sent me.” Believe! John never uses the Greek noun for faith but always its verbal form which is translated here “to believe.” Biblical scholar Raymond Brown defines its use in John as denoting an active commitment to a person, especially Jesus. Significantly, 74 out of 98 uses of this verb in John are in the first thirteen chapters where Jesus invites people to have continuing and active trust in him.
Jesus finally corrects the crowd’s misunderstanding. They demand, “Sir, give us this bread always.” What they demand is what they already have in the presence of Jesus: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”.
Like the crowd, we too are far from trusting in God. No matter how many times God tells us, we still fall back into thinking that we can only receive God’s grace by working hard – by pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps. We often think that God loves good people and doesn’t love bad people, and since we often behave badly, God doesn’t love us. We often fear that God won’t provide for our physical or emotional needs. Like the ancient Israelites in the desert, we are far from trusting him.
When God reassured the Hebrews that he would indeed fulfil his promise to them, he told them only to take enough bread for that day. Later in Exodus chapter 16, we learn that despite Moses telling them to not “leave any of it over until morning,” not all of them listen, with some trying to store some of the bread until morning only to find the excess the next morning to be spoiled and foul.
Like the manna that fed the Hebrews in the desert, God’s grace cannot be stockpiled. We can’t build up reserves of grace to be used whenever we need it, but only receive it moment by moment as part the daily bread we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer.
The only way we can actively trust in God is to live in the present moment. We have no hold on the past – we can’t change the slightest bit of it. We often try to relive past events that we consider to be failures – “I should have done this, I should have done that” – but these imaginary scenarios are fantasies: it isn’t possible to change a thing that is past. Likewise, we have very little hold on the future. Despite all of our planning and foresight, everything can change in the blink of an eye. Who would have thought that we’d be in the situation we are in with COVID-19 in July 2021 with rising cases and a new mask mandate despite a nearly limitless supply of vaccine!?!? We can’t program our lives in advance, but can only receive it moment by moment. It is only in the present moment that we can actively trust God to provide for our every need.
Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him who has sent me.” Dear friends, let us believe – let us actively trust our Lord, moment by moment, to provide for our every need. Let us ask God for our daily bread – for the grace we need in this moment, and when he provides it to us in the bread and wine at the communion rail, let us receive with joy and gladness this food that endures for eternal life. And let us recommit ourselves to trusting in him today and every day until we are brought at last to the Promised Land of heaven. Amen.
 John 6:26.
 John 6:14.
 John 6:27.
 https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/ordinary-18-2/commentary-on-john-624-35-5, quoting Raymond Brown.
 John 6:35.
 Ex. 16:20
 Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom, trans. Helena Scott (New York, NY: Scepter, 2007), 88.
 Most of this paragraph is from Philippe 81-82.
Year B, Proper 10
The Rev’d Charles Everson
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
July 11, 2021
We continue on in Mark’s gospel, as we will most Sundays between now and Advent. Last week, Jesus sent his disciples out to do the ministry of casting out demons and healing the sick and inviting everyone to repent believe in the Good News! Mark’s gospel is filled with dramatic, almost apocalyptic stores of demons and exorcisms, but today’s scene from chapter 6 is more of a tale of gruesome, political drama.
It begins with Herod, the Roman ruler of the region of Galilee, who had just heard about the disciples’ healing of the sick and casting out of demons. He had a flashback of sorts of the time when he had ordered the execution of John the Baptist.
Herod’s half-brother Philip had died, and he proceeded to marry Philip’s widow Herodias. According to Levitical law, marrying your brother’s widow was illegal, and Herodias had developed a grudge against John the Baptist for simply telling Herod the truth about the matter. The marriage of high-ranking Roman officials often had an international political component, and this one was no different. John’s prophecy against this marriage was less than politically desirable for both Herod and Herodias, and surely John was aware of the potential consequences.
Upon the occasion of his birthday, Herod organizes a banquet for the local political leaders and others in the upper echelons of society. He bestows an honor on his daughter by making a public oath promising to grant her any request. The problem is that she asks for something he really doesn’t want to give. Herod likes John the Baptist, despite throwing him in prison for getting in this middle of his marriage and political life, but he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. He can either do what is shameful and break a public promise he’s made, or do what is shameful and do something he knows is morally wrong.
She asks for her mother’s opinion on what she should ask her father for, and Herodias responds, “The head of John the baptizer.” Herod delivers on his promise, and Mark gives us the painful description of what happened in gruesome detail. He orders one of his soldiers to bring him John’s head. The soldier goes to the jail where he is imprisoned and beheads him, bringing his head on a platter, and presenting it to the girl who then gives it to her mother. This was no ordinary political execution – it is nasty.
In the end Herod, didn’t have the moral courage to choose do the right thing. He chose to honor his oath to his daughter so that he wouldn’t look bad in front of the others. It is difficult to come away from this story without feeling that these people are monsters.
They killed John the Baptist for telling the truth. Yes, Jesus says that the truth will make you free, but as we heard in today’s gospel reading, telling the truth might get you arrested and even killed. This is a paradox that is difficult to accept. Of course, there are times that call for prudence and caution, but there are times that call for uncompromising and unwavering truth telling, consequences be as they may.
It’s somewhat like the paradox we see in the gospel itself. Jesus Christ died to set us free from our sins, but in order to join with him in his resurrection, we have to die to our old selves. To experience the joy of Easter, we must first suffer through the devastation and heartache of Good Friday.
Last week, I talked about how disciples of Jesus are called to die to our old selves. After Mass, one of our dear parishioners asked me if I’d consider expounding on this concept of dying to one’s old self. Like most preachers, the common feedback I get is, “Nice sermon, Father” or something of the sort, and on the rare occasion I receive a “request” like this, I’m more than happy to oblige.
St. Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “we are baptized into Christ’s death…For if we are united with him in a death like this, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” The baptismal life is a daily cycle of dying to the old self and rising to a new life filled with the hope of resurrection. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul describes the process of dying to self like this: dying to self means being “crucified with Christ,” and now I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Paul’s old life, in which he chose to follow the ways of the world as opposed to the ways of God, is dead, and the new Paul is the dwelling place of Christ who lives in and through him. This is not to say that when we die to self we become automatons, nor do we feel ourselves to be dead. Rather, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, most especially choosing to sin as our nature bids us to do. Paul says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Dying to self means choosing to form habits that lead us to naturally choose the good of others before our own good. To choose that which pleases God rather than gratifying ourselves.
Put another way, the cycle of dying and rising is the pattern of sin, repentance, confession, absolution, and forgiveness. This cycle is daily because despite putting to death our old selves at our baptisms, our old selves don’t stay dead, at least on this side of the grave. Our propensity to sin does not go away at baptism, but through baptism, we are “reborn by the Holy Spirit.” By the help of the Holy Spirit, and through the grace we receive in the Sacraments of the Church, we are given the grace we need to face an evil tyrant and stand up for the truth, no matter the consequences. In the Sacraments, especially in the bread and wine of Holy Communion, we are given the grace we need to resist temptation and choose to put others before ourselves. When we fail in matters great or small, when we stumble in our footsteps, when we put our own sinful desires before those of the Lord, the cycle begins once again. We confess our sins to God, arise from the baptismal water absolved and forgiven and transformed, and we go on about our business of loving God with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves.
Whether it’s this week or next, you and I will find ourselves faced with a paradox like John the Baptist was: do we tell the truth, despite the potential consequences, or do we remain silent? While I hope that speaking the truth doesn’t result in your head being served as the last course at a local politicians’ house, I hope and pray that you face the situation with a firm conviction that you’ve died to your old self and that Christ is dwelling in you. Be courageous in your truth telling, for you are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus! Know that in receiving the grace given in the bread and wine of Holy Communion, you have become participants of the divine nature and transformed (just a little) into the image of Jesus himself.
And so, I invite you to come to this table, not because you must but because you may. Not because you have reached your goal of holiness but because you are on the way there and need food for the journey. Not because you love the Lord a lot, but because you love him a little and would like to love him more. Come.
 John 8:32.
 Romans 6:3-5.
 Galatians 2:20.
 Galatians 5:24
 Much of this paragraph comes from https://www.gotquestions.org/dying-to-self.html, accessed 7/10/2021.
 BCP 306.
 Romans 6:11.
 2 Peter 1:4.
 This invitation to communion is Scottish in origin, and I learned it over a decade ago from The Rev’d Canon Andy Griffiths, currently Continuing Ministerial Development Adviser for the Diocese of Chelmsford.
The sermons preached at High Mass at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Kansas City, are posted here!