Proper 13 Year C
The Rev’d Deacon Lynda Hurt
TO WANT more is a basic human instinct. Want for worldly goods is attached to an irrational fear that one day we will not have enough. And the irony is, IS THERE EVER ENOUGH???… enough seems to be just beyond what we have. However…we owe a lot to those that came before us for wanting more… our survival has been dependent on that. By desiring more, we have found ways over thousands of years to greatly improve our quality of life. It’s been said that without a thirst for more we would still be living in caves…OR….the inventions and discoveries in the field of medicine and science that make life more sustainable Human beings are inclined towards life and not destruction or death. So, we can attribute so much of our progress to our instinct for wanting more. But when do we decide we have enough? Or to put it another way, what happens when our desire for more becomes insatiable and isolating.
Jesus has much to say in the Gospels about money and possessions… neither of which are inherently bad. A capitalistic economy is not immoral, …in fact it may be one of the few systems that has the capacity for charity. But in a society where pursuit of self-interest and profit are idealized and even romanticized, it is easy for consumerism to go unchecked. It really comes down to matters of the heart and our willingness to be grateful for our abundance and share what we have.
Today’s Gospel reading is referred to as the parable of the rich fool. Jesus is talking to a crowd of people when he is interrupted by someone asking him to settle a dispute between he and his brother regarding the division of their family inheritance. In ancient times, it was the custom and birthright of the oldest son to receive double the portion of the family possessions…which for most of us might seem like a very good custom if you’re the oldest child. So, this assumably younger brother is asking Jesus to advocate for him and basic fairness as it pertains to his inheritance. After all, he’s not asking for more…just an equal shared, which sounds like a reasonable request. But Jesus recognizes a deeper issue here…one that points to an attitude of greed where one pins their hopes to the security of material things. Jesus rejects the role of arbitrator and instead uses the opportunity to illustrate that a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. (pause) He proceeds, as Jesus often does, to illustrate his point using a parable.
In it, we learn that the central figure, the rich fool, had land that produced abundantly. So much so, that it created a storage problem for him, so his only solution was to pull down his barns and build larger ones that will hold his crops. Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with pulling down your barns to make room for a bigger yield of crops or whatever you store in your barns. But, it is what he said next that reveals the true character of this man. After he has safely secured his crops in the new and bigger barn, he proceeds to say in a rather self-satisfied way, “I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ His words reflect an attitude of someone who believes they alone are responsible for their abundance and that it is the sole source of security.
It's tempting to think that God is condemning this man’s wealth. He is not. Possessions and wealth are not inherently bad. What he’s teaching here has to do with the blind attitude of the rich man who took for granted that his security and strength is tied up in the things he owns. His possessions became an extension of himself and in the process, he lost his sense of the fragility of life. We know from this parable that on that very night the rich man’s life would be demanded of him, he was going to die, and it is then that God asks him what will become of his things, because, as the saying goes, “he can’t take it with him”. God vigorously “disabuses the rich man of his notion that he is an … [a] self-created entity, and reminds him that life and breath are given (and taken) by divine dispensation”. 
The rich man's anxiety mirrors in many ways our own obsession with protecting our things…we have lockboxes and lifehacks to make sure people don’t have access to our stuff…bolts on our doors, passwords, guard dogs, alarms…it is a human obsession to protect what is ours. incidentally…it is not that such safeguards are wrong or are not needed. But when we become consumed with protecting our worldly possession in a way that destroys our connection to community and the Divine, we lose the part of us that enables us to truly be alive. We are deceived by the notion that wealth gives us freedom to “eat, drink and be merry”, when in fact it’s quite the opposite. The worry alone of losing our stuff can be debilitating and rob us of our freedom to live and love.
This parable challenges us to reflect on where we DO draw our strength and security…where does true peace of mind come from? I don’t think it’s STUFF. For the rich man, it DID revolve around his possessions. And what is striking in this passage, and a sad commentary on self-reliance is the dialogue that this man is having with himself. Let me read that part again. “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry”. This is a heartbreaking portrayal of loneliness. It appears that this man has no friends and paints the picture of a man who “does not need anyone else”. His material possessions have become the singular focus of his life’s pursuit with no need of the love of family or friends, nor of a community of support.
The rich farmer is a fool not because he is wealthy or because he saves for the future, but because he appears to live only for himself. The land produced abundantly, yet the farmer expresses no sense of gratitude to God or to the workers who have helped him plant and harvest this bumper crop. How differently would his outlook be, if he saw God as the source of all he has.
God designed us to live and share with others in a community of love, not isolated from the world, gathering up earthly treasure to be hoarded. Materialism for the sake of our own self-preservation destroys our concern for our neighbor and our capacity to trust in God. Our true strength and security lie in the promises of God…it is where we find refuge when we have lost all else.
Feasting on the Gospels--Luke, Volume 2 (p. 39). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
 (Keck 2015, 212)
 Feasting on the Gospels--Luke, Volume 2 (p. 40). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
Text: Luke 11:1-13
Sean C. Kim
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
24 July 2022
As Christians, we often refer to ourselves as a family of faith. And we use terms that we ordinarily reserve for family members. We call one sisters and brothers. We are children of God, and the head of our family is our heavenly Father. These days, you may also hear God referred to as mother. We use these family terms to express the personal, intimate nature of the relationship we enjoy with God and with one another. We Christians do not think of God as some distant, aloof deity but as a loving and caring God.
In today’s Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus, surrounded by his disciples, reflects on what it means to call God “Our Father.” He presents two brief parables, both using the example of a father-child relationship. We read: “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Jesus employs the element of absurdity to convey his message. What father in his right mind would give a deadly snake to a child who asks for fish, or a scorpion instead of an egg? The parables point out that it is in the nature of fatherhood to provide for the needs of his children – in this case, food and nourishment.
Jesus uses the analogy of a caring human father to explain how we, too, can turn to God with our needs and wishes. God will listen and answer our prayers and supplications. Just as a father loves and provides for his child, God, our heavenly Father, loves and provides for us.
While this message may seem straightforward to us, Jesus’ original audience – his disciples – would have been surprised by this kind of portrait of fatherhood. A father’s love for a child is universal, but as in other ancient societies, first-century Jews viewed the father as primarily an authority figure, the head of the household, someone with absolute power over his family. The father was the one who gave orders and imposed discipline, and the role of the rest of the family – the wife and the children – was to obey without question. In contrast to this stern traditional image of fatherhood, Jesus emphasizes the loving and caring side, and uses it to explain the nature of God’s relationship to us.
Today, most of us no longer subscribe to a harsh, authoritarian view of fatherhood as we have in the past. I am going to date myself here, but my generation is the product of TV shows like “Leave It to Beaver” – reruns, of course – or “The Brady Bunch,” in which the father is warm and loving, wise and understanding, even all knowing - remember the show "Father Knows Best"? But we know that the fathers in these shows are idealizations created by Hollywood. They are fictional characters. How many Ward Cleaver’s and Mike Brady’s do you actually know? Sadly, these days, we even hear tragic stories of parents who abuse their children. Some of you may remember the disturbing news story from a few years ago of the parents in California who kept their thirteen children chained and padlocked to a bed, depriving them of food and other necessities. In spite of the idealization of parenthood and family life in our society, reality does not always match the expectations.
When Jesus draws the analogy between a human father and our heavenly Father in his parables, he recognizes the limits and problems in the comparison. Thus, he explains that while God is like a human father, God goes beyond a human father. We read: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Jesus reveals that God our heavenly Father is far more loving and generous than a human father can ever be. And the reason for that is God gives us a gift that far surpasses any human gift – the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What is this gift of the Holy Spirit? Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit is nothing less than God’s own presence dwelling in us. Thus, as our heavenly Father, God gives us, his children, his own spirit to fill our hearts and minds. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us, we are never alone. God is always with us, whether we are aware of this reality or not. In describing this divine presence in our lives, the Apostle Paul declares that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19). Just as God dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the temple that King Solomon built, God now resides in us, blessing and sanctifying our lives. In the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Comforter (John 16:7). When we experience times of trial or need, the Holy Spirit is there, helping us and giving us comfort and strength. Because of the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, we never have to face the challenges and problems in our lives alone. God is with us always. And when we are so overwhelmed that we cannot even find the words to pray, we are told that the Holy Spirit prays for us with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26-27). God understands our needs even without our asking.
One of the most difficult aspects of the parent-child relationship is experiencing the various moments and stages of separation. Looking back on my own life, I think of how difficult it was to leave my parents to go off to summer camp for the first time or to go off to college far away. Part of the painful process of growing up is to realize that we can’t live with our parents forever. And later in our lives, we have to confront the reality of aging and death that will separate our parents from us.
In our heavenly Father, we have no such worries of separation. God's presence in our lives is eternal. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God dwells in us now. And in the life to come, we will reunite with our beloved family and friends who have gone before us, we will join our brothers and sisters in the faith, and we will live forever in our heavenly Father’s kingdom. Amen.
Pentecost VI, Proper 11, Year C
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
The Rev’d Charles Everson
Born in 1980, I’ve seen a whole lot of technological advancement in my lifetime. From Atari to personal computers to cell phones to 3D printing – I can’t imagine where the world is going to be when I’m 80 years old in the year 2060, God willing, of course. I can’t remember a single one of these advancements causing much of an emotional reaction, but this past week, when the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope were released, Jay and I piped the images from the computer onto the big screen, and we sat there and cried. They were so beautiful! Jay said, “I can’t imagine how anyone could look at these images and believe that humanity is the only sentient life in the universe.” I said, “I can see that. I can’t imagine how anyone could look at these images and not believe in God.” I can’t. It is unfathomable to me that the distant galaxies and star-forming regions we beheld appeared as they were over 13 billion years ago. During those awe-inspiring moments, this verse from Psalm 19 came to my mind, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handy-work.”
Using the strongest language about the divinity of Christ in all of Scripture, the early Christian hymn we heard from Paul’s letter to the Church at Colossae declares that in Jesus, “all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers.” There was never a time – even 13 billion years ago – that Jesus didn’t exist. “All things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” From the subatomic forces in every single molecule and atom in your body to the Carina Nebula where stars are born – Christ is present even there, holding all things together.
But I imagine that the early Christians didn’t have the stars above in their heavenly courses in mind when they sang this hymn. They lived in a world in which the Roman Emperor ruled supreme, subjugating the various people groups he conquered, including the Jews and the early Christians who lived in Palestine. Scholars believe the letter to the Colossians was written around the same time as the Great Jewish Revolt of 66 AD when the Jews rebelled against their Roman overlords. This hymn, seen in that light, is subversive, even seditious.
In a world in which images of Caesar were everywhere, Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” In an imperial mythology in which the emperor is considered all but divine by virtue of his lineage, Christ is “the first born of all creation.” In a culture in which the emperor’s preeminence is embedded in socio-economic, political, and military structures, these Christians dared to cry out in song that “all things in heaven and on earth were created…through him and for him.” Even thrones, dominions, rulers, and powers are subject to his rule. Because of his bodily resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ is the one who will come to “have first place in everything.”
This reminds me of some of the hymns that enslaved black people sang that weren’t exactly what they appeared to be. “Wade in the water, children” told people how to escape in a way that the Master’s bloodhounds can’t pick up your scent. Wear black, said another verse, to escape detection. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” told slaves to find Ripley, Ohio, where a “band of angels” would bring a “sweet chariot” to carry them across the dangerous Ohio River to their freedom.
In a society that allows white people to own black people, Christ is the true Master who brings freedom and liberation to the captive! In an empire that views the emperor as the head of the body-politic, these early followers of Jesus sang that Christ “is the head of the body, the church.” Just as Jesus replaces Caesar, so does the church replace the empire.
In our day, there are many things that hold us captive, but perhaps nothing holds so many who call themselves Christian in this country captive than white Christian nationalism. I’m not talking about patriotism, or love of country, but rather the view that Christian and American identities are somehow one and the same. Christian nationalists believe that the tenants of their version of the Christian faith should influence both our national identity and public policy, even for those who don’t hold that same faith. This view is almost exclusively held by white people, and is deeply embedded in American society, expressing itself in everything from the seemingly innocuous “In God we Trust” on our money to a violent insurrection at the US Capitol Building. We should definitely love and pray for our country, but Christian identity transcends all ethnic and cultural claims and practices. We are Christian before we’re American, and the two are not the same thing. The Church embraces “every creature under heaven” including “Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, and free.” It includes those who identify as American, Canadian, El Salvadorian, black, white, brown, gay, straight, men, women, trans, rich, and poor, even when the law of the land excludes and marginalizes them. Jesus Christ, “the firstborn of all creation, is the head of the body, the church” – a church that transcends all human divisions. Through Christ, “God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”
The early Christians in Colossae needed to be reconciled with God because they were “estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil things,” Paul says. This indictment of their sinfulness isn’t unique to the Colossians, of course, but applies to all of humanity, including you and me. We are all sinners in need of reconciliation with God. This reconciliation isn’t forced by political leaders with the fear of being crucified on a cross as it was in the Roman Empire, nor is it brought about by Christians attempting to impose it on citizens of this country who hold different religious views. It is accomplished through Jesus’s fleshly body, the firstborn of the dead – through being buried with him in baptism and being raised to newness of life in his resurrection. Having reconciled us in his fleshly body, Jesus now presents us to the Father “holy and blameless and irreproachable…provided that [we] continue securely established and steadfast in the faith…”
What does it mean to “continue securely established and steadfast in the faith?” Paul fleshes this out in the next chapter which we will hear next Sunday, but Paul’s desire that the Church continue in allegiance to Christ is the motivation for this letter. Eternal salvation is not a thing that happens once-for-all when you ask Jesus to enter your heart and forgive you your sins, it’s the result of an ongoing, day-after-day journey of faith that begins with baptism and ends with the death of our bodies. Day by day, we struggle with the old self that died in baptism, and when that old self haunts us and we let us win, we turn back to Jesus, confess our sins, receive his pardon and peace, and continue onward on our way toward “the hope promised by the gospel we have heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.” Creature means all the elements of creation, not only human beings. From the subatomic forces in every single molecule and atom in your body to the Carina Nebula where stars are born – Christ is present even there, holding all things together.
The early Church sang their subversive, even seditious hymn that proclaimed allegiance to Jesus over Caesar, and Church over Empire. Like the hymns sung by enslaved black people before the Civil War in this country, this hymn wasn’t what it appeared to be. The hymn that we will sing in a moment just before the consecration of the elements, the Sanctus, “Holy, holy, holy” also isn’t what it appears to be. Even though we’re singing it in 2022 in Kansas City in this place, we are joining with the Angels and Archangels, and all the company of heaven in singing their everlasting hymn before God’s throne. In the Eucharistic sacrifice, time as we know it stands still as earth and heaven are joined, and we are transported to that green hill called Calvary, and Calvary is brought here. When we receive our Lord into our bodies, our sins are forgiven, our union with Christ and the Church is strengthened, our loyalties are confirmed, and we experience a foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life.
The Church invites us to come to this altar, no matter what is holding us captive, laying aside our earthly allegiances to king and country, to renew our allegiance to the firstborn of all creation, the head of the church, and the author of our salvation. We marvel at the beauty of the distant galaxies and star-forming regions he created so many billions of years ago, and we behold him in the beauty of the simple creatures of bread and wine. Let us come and receive the One who reconciles us to God us with his own body and blood, receiving the grace we need to “continue securely established and steadfast in the faith.” Amen.
 Psalm 19:1, Coverdale translation.
 Brian Walsh: https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/ordinary-16-3/commentary-on-colossians-115-28-2.
 Col. 1:28
 Col. 3:11.
 Col. 1:23
 Col. 2:6-20.
 Michael D. Coogan, Marc Zvi Brettler, Carol A. Newsom, and Pheme Perkins, The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version : With the Apocrypha : An Ecumenical Study Bible. 4th ed. (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford UP, 2010), 2069.
 Amy-Jill Levine and Zvi Marc Brettler, eds. The Jewish Annotated New Testament: New Revised Standard Version Bible Translation. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2017, 411.
 1979 BCP 860.
Feast of the Dedication
The Rev’d Charles Everson
July 10, 2022
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
Throughout the week, I often find myself accompanying someone into this building who has never been here before. Sometimes it’s a vendor, sometimes it’s a visiting organist, sometimes it’s a Episcopalian from another parish coming to the noon Mass. Usually, we walk in through the parish hall and come in right over here, but I’ve learned to make it a point to pay attention to the person’s face.
No matter their religious beliefs or socio-economic status, there is a look of awe and wonder on their face. No matter what their duties may be that day, they always take a few moments to take in the beauty of what they see. And sometimes, the person’s facial expression begins to look almost uncomfortable as if the building is too ornate, or too extravagant.
Why do so many Christians around the world decide to spend the money and resources on such structures rather than worshipping in plain, inexpensive spaces? In order to answer that question, we must look to the One that St. Peter called “a living stone” in our second lesson, and specifically to the doctrine that the Church calls the “incarnation.”
There are many controversies and disagreements amongst Christians, but belief in the incarnation isn’t usually one of them at this point in history. According to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, the doctrine of the incarnation affirms that the eternal Son of God took flesh from his human mother and that the historical person of Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully human. This means that God didn’t temporarily appear in human form, but asserts an abiding union in the Person of Christ of Godhead and manhood without the integrity or permanence of either being impaired. It also assigns the beginnings of this union to a definitive date in human history. Using back-of-the-napkin math, I calculate that 97.48% of Christians worldwide belong to a church that affirms the traditional understanding of the incarnation. It is the doctrine of the incarnation that lays the theological groundwork for the sacraments of the Church.
From about age 11 to age 22, I was Southern Baptist, and was taught that normal way to commune intimately with God by having what they called “a quiet time,” meaning time by yourself in a room with a Bible, praying and studying the Word. Yes, they believe that God inhabits the praises of his people and is present by the Spirit in public worship, but the quiet time was the most important thing to grow deeper in the faith and get closer to God. I was taught that God’s grace invisibly washes away your sin when you ask Jesus to come into your heart. My freshman year in college, much to my Baptist religion professors’ chagrin, I began reading the Church Fathers – the earliest Christian theologians whose writings we still have – and I became aware that practically all Christians in the 1500 years leading up to the Protestant Reformation believed that the grace of God is primarily communicated to humanity via the Sacraments of the Church, most importantly in Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. And I subsequently learned that the vast majority of Christians alive today believe that too! Yes, private prayer is important, but the incarnation of God did not stop or disappear when Jesus ascended into heaven. Jesus didn’t die to save our souls, he died to save all of creation, our bodies included. And thanks be to God, Jesus he kept his promise to be with us always, even unto the end of the ages, when he sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day who continues to breathe life into the Church by the Word of God preached and Sacraments duly and rightly administered.
And this brings us to today’s feast. We are celebrating the dedication and consecration of this building. The earliest church buildings were not formally set apart with any particular liturgical rite, but rather, the consecration of the building seems to have consisted of the first celebration of the Eucharist within the building (a consecration by use, if you will). As with most of the liturgies of the Church, special and impressive rites developed in both the East and the West over time, and while the celebration of the Eucharist always remained the central and essential element of the rites, there were elaborate processions, the asperging of the church with holy water, and the anointing of the altar with chrism oil. As early as the fourth century, the dedication of the church began to be commemorated annually in many places.
Our building was dedicated by Bishop Atwill on June 17, 1888, but it wasn’t formally consecrated until June 19, 1938 – 50 years later. And this is because the building was completed during a strange time between 1868 and 1979 when The Episcopal Church had broken from Tradition and required that all church property be mortgage-free before it is consecrated. Milder dedication rites were developed for use when the building was complete, but since 1979, we’ve been back to a single dedication and consecration service when the building begins to be used regardless of any debt.
Here's the story about the debt. This building was completed in 1887, and when the congregation first moved in, it was known by all that the church was built on the bank of a buried creek. But it wasn’t discovered until the tower was erected that it had been constructed too close to the underground spring which fed the old creek. The water from the spring began to undermine the tower’s foundation, causing it to lean dangerously. Rather than sue the architect, a fellow Episcopalian, the Vestry decided to borrow $12,000, rebuild the tower, and finish the building. $12,000 sounds like no big deal today, but it took the congregation 50 years to pay it off, which is when the building was finally consecrated by Bishop Spencer on June 19, 1938.
For over 134 years, the Holy Eucharist has been celebrated in this building most days of the year. The incarnation of God in Jesus Christ that began with Mary’s Annunciation continues to this day on the altars handed down to us by our forebears. We continue to come down this aisle (and the one in St. George’s Chapel) to receive the Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation and continue to encounter the One that St. Peter called “a living stone” in this place day after day, week after week.
Yes, God can be found in the beauty of nature. We can pray from anywhere in the known universe and commune with God. But we firmly believe in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus keeps his promise to be with us, even to the end of the age. We believe this so deeply, so strongly, that we build buildings that reflect the heights and the riches and the beauty of that faith. The beauty and wonder that we see and hear in this place is physical, and it should find its spiritual counterpart in our hearts. We see here the finished product of stone, wood, brick, wrought iron, and marble; so too our lives should reveal the extravagance of God’s grace that we’ve received here time and time again.
This point was brought home in my heart on April 19, 2019, a day you might remember – a day I’ve talked about a few times in sermons. On that day, the world watched in horror as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned. I was confirmed at Notre Dame, and it represents the heart of Christianity in France, so it was a rather emotional moment for me. During the fire, Fr. Fournier, the chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade, risked his life to go into the burning cathedral to rescue the relic believed to be the Crown of Thorns Jesus wore at his crucifixion, but more importantly, to rescue the Blessed Sacrament – the consecrated bread reserved in the tabernacle above the altar.
In the subsequent days, some were surprised – even shocked – that so many people showed such deep emotion for a building made by human hands when so many people are suffering in the world. Some have decried the amount of money needed to rebuild it. And some, I’m sure, have thought that it’s ridiculous for a man to risk his life to save a piece of bread.
The Archbishop of Paris said put it this way in a sermon shortly after the fire:
"We must ask why Notre Dame was constructed. Why this human genius? Because they could have done something functional. It's far more than functional. And why? Because what is honored there is absolutely splendid, that's what we believe. And if you want to ask the real question, what jewel is this jewel box for? It's not for the Crown of Thorns. It's for a piece of bread. It's astonishing. How can one construct such a work of art for a piece of bread? That piece of bread is the Body of Christ. And that endures. Nobody will ever be able to destroy it."
Dear friends, we are all stewards of this glorious building. It is not worthy of our worship, and our faith would not be in vain if a tornado were to destroy it. We are stewards of this work of human hands that serves as a jewel box for the One who is the living stone – the One who came not only to save our souls, but also our bodies – the One who loved us so much that he died to set us free – the One who stoops to this altar day after day and feeds us with his very self.
The beauty and wonder that we see and hear in this place is physical, and may it find its spiritual counterpart in our hearts. We see here the finished product of stone, wood, brick, wrought iron, and marble; may our lives reveal the extravagance of God’s grace that we’ve received in this place time and time again. In the words of Joshua our forbear, “How awesome is this place! It is none other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven.”
 F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 872., altered slightly by me.
 Marion Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book, Seabury Press, New York: 1980, 540-543.
 Origen, Homily 9 on Joshua the Son of Nun 1-2: SC 71 244-246 as quoted in J. Robert Wright’s “Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church”, Church Pension Fund, New York: 1991, slightly altered by me.
 Paraphrase of Genesis 28:17, NRSV.
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