Guest Preacher

Guest Preacher
 

The Rev. Anne K. Ellsworth

December 5, 2021

Advent 2, Year C

Church of the Transfiguration, Mesa

 

Good Morning,

 

On this second Sunday of Advent we remember the gift of Peace we have with and in Christ.

 

Peace is part of the mystery of Christmas. And Advent is the season we prepare our hearts to welcome the mystery of Christmas.

 

We are preparing our hearts for the Prince of Peace.

 

A baby born to Mary and Joseph who will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7).

There is a way many of us teach the mystery of Christmas to children using Godly Play. And it is told this way:

The King who was coming is still coming. This is full of mystery.

A mystery is hard to enter sometimes. That is why this time of Advent is so important.

Sometimes people can walk right through a mystery and not even know it is there. People become busy.

Maybe they don’t know how to prepare for the mystery of Christmas. Or, maybe they just forgot.

The Church learned a long time ago that people need a way to get ready to enter or even come close to a mystery like Christmas.

Christmas is such a great Mystery that it takes four weeks to get ready.

During this time, we are all on the way to Bethlehem. We are all making the journey. We are all getting ready to enter the Mystery of Christmas,

 

to make the journey that was not just back then but is also now.

And so, this morning, on the second Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of hope and the candle of peace.

This week, we remember the gift of Peace we have in Christ.

Peace is part of the mystery of Christmas. It is a gift that we must be prepared for and must work for.

When I think about the gift of peace, particularly in the context of Advent and Christmas, I immediately think of St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis is probably one of the best known—and best loved Saints in the Christian tradition.

There is a prayer, attributed to St. Francis, in our Book of Common Prayer. Prayer no. 62:

“Lord Make me an Instrument of Your Peace,

Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon…where there is despair, hope; where there is sadness, joy.”

St. Francis, a man born of means and prestige and who enjoyed a reckless and wild youth as well as a prominent military career—put down his sword and renounced his family’s wealth in order to follow the way of peace, the way of Christ.

The spirituality and theology of St. Francis is rooted in the Incarnation of Christ. Emmanuel. God with Us. The word made flesh. The baby Jesus born of Mary and Joseph: Fully Human and Fully Divine. The Prince of Peace.

In many ways, St. Francis is an Advent saint. One who helps us prepare to enter the mystery of Christmas.

****

Consider the manger scene that so many of us know by heart and display during Advent and through the Christmas season. Barnyard animals, hay, Mary and Joseph with the shepherds and the wisemen all gazing in awe at the sweet baby Jesus—sleeping away in the manger.

This scene captures the incarnation of God as a newborn baby. Anyone who knows the work of caring for a newborn also immediately knows the peace Mary and Joseph must be feeling as they gaze at their sleeping baby.

When we see a creche, we immediately know the story that is being told. The birth of Jesus.

But we haven’t always had the creche with us to help prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Francis loved Jesus—the fleshy, human, God-Among-Us-Born as an Infant-Jesus and it is this love that inspired the first manger scene on a Christmas Eve in 1223--

As Francis prepared to celebrate Christmas Eve mass in a small mountain side village,

he longed to help people enter the mystery of Christmas in a new way--to make the mystery of Christmas—of Emmanuel—of God with Us—come alive for those who came to Christmas Eve mass.

The love Francis had for the Baby Jesus, the tender incarnation of God, gave birth to the manger scene.

With permission from the Pope (so as to be taken seriously and not appear to be making fun of the Nativity story), Francis moved the mass outside, gathered animals nearby, oxen and sheep, added hay, and laid an infant child in the manger so that the people of God “could gain a fresh sense of wonder about the mystery of Christmas.”

The creche helps us prepare to enter the mystery of the incarnation.

And eight-hundred years later the symbol of the creche remains one of the most popular ways we prepare to enter the mystery of Christmas.

 

Peace is a gift from God through Christ that we must prepare our hearts to receive—so that we might become instruments of God’s peace.

“Lord, Make me an Instrument of your Peace.”

And I wonder, what does preparing our hearts for peace look like here, today, at the Church of the Transfiguration?

I believe it looks like many things:

The weaving of plastic bags into sleeping mats for those who have nowhere to lay their head at night. A modern-day manger: the incarnation of Christ in those experiencing homelessness.

What does peacemaking look like here, today at Transfiguration?

Peace looks like a crazy chile farm. Restoring and caring for God’s creation in the planting of native crops. Restoring relationship with Indigenous communities whose water supply has been diverted and diminished over many decades.

Preparing and working for the gift of peace at Transfiguration looks like the care and keeping of this sacred worship space by our altar guild and volunteers and Junior Warden—because it is here that pray with one another: “Forgive Us, Help Us, make us instruments of your peace.” And it here that we offer one another—and receive from one another—a sign of Christ’s peace.

 Peace sounds like our choir who faithfully lift-up their voices on Sunday mornings to help us praise God in song.

I invite all of us to reflect on where and how we see the work of peace around us.

There are many, many incarnations of the peace of Christ at work here in this community. Not just these that I’ve named.

And so, let us continue to prepare our hearts for the mystery of Christmas.

Let us give thanks to God for the gift of peace given to us through Jesus.  

May we continue to prepare our hearts for Emmanuel, God with us, by working for Christ’s peace in our relationships with one another, in our communities and in our world. “Lord, make us an instrument of your peace.” We ask this in the name of the baby born in Bethlehem, Jesus our Lord.  Amen. 

 

The Rev. Anne K. Ellsworth

Advent 1, Year C

November 28, 2021

Church of the Transfiguration

 

Good Morning.

It is a good and joyful thing to be with you here, this morning, on the First Sunday of Advent.

Advent is the beginning—

Advent marks the arrival of a new liturgical year--

We change liturgical colors from the green of Ordinary time and the white of Christ the King to the Blue of Advent—

Blue is the color of getting ready---

It is the color of the sky just before dawn

Blue is also the color of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

It is the color of expectation and of waiting—

Advent is a season of holy preparation for something divine

Something mysterious

And transformative
Something promised yet unknown--

Advent is the season of getting ready for the arrival of something promised long ago by the prophets of Israel, propehets like Jeremiah who we hear this morning, all spoke of the coming of Christ, of how a savior would be born, a king in the line of David.

They spoke of how this King would rule the world wisely and bless all nations.  

Advent is the season of waiting for the fulfillment of this promise.

I wonder what this could really mean for us here, now, today as Christians living in 2021, two thousand years after the birth of Jesus the Christ.

The Advent wreath is an important part of our preparations.

There is one here in our sanctuary and many of us light an advent wreath at home, too.

There is one candle for each Sunday in Advent—and there are always four Sundays of Advent in the church year—three blue candles and one pink candle.

Some add a fifth candle—a white candle in the center—to mark the arrival of Christmas.

Blue is the color of getting ready, pink is the color of Joy—the third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday—Joy Sunday—and white is the color of celebration and feasting.

With each week the light of the advent wreath grows brighter—

—and as the light of the wreath grows brighter, we grow closer to the arrival of the mystery of Christmas.

The mystery of the word made flesh—

The mystery of the birth of a king—

A king unlike any the world has ever known or expected—

A king with no wealth or status or privilege—no army or castle—

As the liturgical year begins again, we, too, begin a new year of preparing our hearts for the coming of God in new and unexpected ways—

And I wonder—

Can we pretend to forget everything we think we know about Jesus and God and Shepherds and Angels and Stars—

About Mary and Joseph and Bethlehem. About the Magi and their gifts?

How does it feel to imagine coming to this season as if we truly do not know what we are preparing for—

How can we experience this Advent with a beginner’s mind--marked by curiosity and openness—questions and not answers—

And, while it is the beginning of a new liturgical year—and we begin preparations for the mystery of Christmas—

It is also the beginning of a new year in the life of the community of the Church of the Transfiguration.

We are getting ready, together, for the arrival of a new rector.

And, while I promise you the new rector is NOT the second coming of Christ, preparing for the arrival of a new rector IS ADVENT work—

We are preparing for something and someone still unknown—

The alchemy of calling a new rector is a mystery. And it takes time.

The primary work of an Interim Rector, my vocation, is to prepare the Parish for the arrival of the new Rector.

Our time together is a season of preparation in the life of this faith community.

In our time together, God will reveal truth and wisdom to us in our shared discernment, prayer, and preparation.

You have called me as your Interim Rector and I am so grateful to be with you during this season of getting ready.

Not only just this specific liturgical season of Advent—but this season of preparation for the arrival of your new Rector.

Any of us who have prepared a dinner for a guest, prepared a home for a child, or prepared for a journey, knows this: preparation—waiting—watching—is not static work. We are not in a holding pattern.

It may feel still at times. Or slow. We may feel anxious at times. We may become impatient and want what we want when we want it.

But, God takes the time God takes.

As it is with the Prophets and the Holy Family and the Shepherds and the Magi: Ours is to remain faithful to the task at hand--to wait on God. To watch for God. And to prepare our hearts and this parish home for the presence of God in one another, and in the calling of a new rector.

And so, in hopeful anticipation, let us begin the start of this new year together.

A Sermon Preached By
The Rev. Philip W. Stowell
November 14, 2021


      There once was a married couple, who after many  years of preparation, were flying in a small plane across the Pacific Ocean. Owing to a mishap in their calculation, the plane began to run out of gas. They saw an uninhabited island, and in the good providence of God, they were able to land the plane on the island. There they were, stranded and wondering if they ever would be rescued. They began to share with one another some of the things they had done of late. The woman turned to her husband and said, “One of the things that I did just before we left was to  make a very substantial gift to the church.” Her husband said, “Oh, really? Did you send them cash or did you make a pledge?”She replied, “I made a pledge.” “Magnificent!” said her husband. “Now I know that we’ll be found!”
      I should probably tell you that this story just proves why it is important for each and every one of us to make a pledge to the Church of the Transfiguration  next week on Stewardship Sunday, because if we ever get lost on a desert island or anywhere else for that matter, our parish will most certainly come looking for us so that we can honor our financial commitment to the parish. But that would be very poor stewardship theology, and it would be far from the truth. This is what some of my former parishioners commonly referred to as the “money sermon,” and I know that it makes some of you uneasy to hear someone speak about money from the pulpit every year. However, at the outset, I want to assure you of several things.
      First of all, we come here in a spirit of freedom and trust.  You and I are asked to make our pledges to the mission and ministry of this parish in good faith, realizing that sometimes our lives do change, and that we cannot always honor our commitment. Nor do we make our pledges out of a superstitious fear that God will then never let any harm or evil, like getting stranded on a desert island, ever befall us.  Many years ago, Fritz Kunkel wrote a commentary on Matthew’s gospel from a psychological point of view. When he came to that passage in which Jesus says, “Give to the emperor the things that are the  emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” he had this to say: “Jesus’ answer turns out to be not an answer, but a question. What is God’s? Is not everything God’s?  We are forced to make decisions well beyond our capacities. Jesus helps us by not helping us. He calls us to take steps to be independent, judging between   emperor and God.” We have a sacred freedom given to us by God.  Whatever we choose to give to the “emperor,” to our own secular concerns, we give in light of our deepest responsibility and obligation to the one who has given us everything.
      Secondly, the Church exists to absolve people of their guilt, not to make them feel guilty. No one here, especially me, wants to do anything to make you or anyone else in this parish feel guilty about the financial commitment that you will make here next week. Remember that you do not have to answer to the clergy, the Vestry, the Stewardship Committee, or  the congregation. You and I are creatures who possess a freedom of will and mind given to us by God, our creator. The financial commitments we decide to make are made in the quietude of our souls with our heavenly Father.
        And thirdly, if you doubt whether the giving of our money is a matter of spiritual or theological concern,  consider the witness of Jesus himself. He never hesitated to talk about the subject of money. More than one-third of all his parables focused on the relationship between a person and his money. There was the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Or the story of the rich farmer who built larger and larger barns, but whose soul was unexpectedly required of him.  Or how about the parable of the talents, in which everything the servants possess was given to them by a generous and demanding ruler? On one occasion Jesus held up as a model for living a poor widow, who had almost nothing, but who put in the temple coffers all that she had. On another occasion, Jesus called upon his disciples to give away one coat if they had two and saw someone in need. And the list goes on and on.
      Very simply stated, Jesus knew that the real key to a person’s character, the key to what a person is  really like, lies in how that person uses his or her possessions. Or, to state it another way, the chief sacrament of our souls, the clearest outward and visible sign of our inward and spiritual lives, are our possessions.  The primary values of our lives, the things we really value and cherish the most, will be reflected in  the way we use our possessions. We need only open our checkbooks for supporting evidence. Jesus said it very clearly: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Where we put our treasure is where our hearts will rest. It is as simple as that!
      The approach to Christian stewardship which makes the most sense to me, and the one which I have  advocated over the years, is that of proportionate giving. It is nothing new! Proportionate giving begins with a sense of gratitude for what we have been given, rather than a sense of guilt or obligation over the necessity of supporting the institution. A number of years ago, I came across a quote from a well-known preacher, John Claypool. I used it in the funeral homily for our son seven years ago.  I’m going to mention it here because I think it is worth your hearing. Claypool was an Episcopal priest when he died in 2005. His daughter had died of acute lymphatic  leukemia at the age of 10. After her death he wrote the following: “It came to me that Laura Lou had always been a gift. I had never deserved her for a single day. That I had gotten to be with her for a single hour was incredible, incredible good fortune. I realized that I could spend the rest of my life being angry that she had lived for so short a time, that so much of her promise in history was not fulfilled. Or I could spend the rest of my life being grateful that she had ever been born at all. I could glory in the fact that we did have the years that we had together. I decided to take the road of gratitude out of the valley of sorrow.”  He concluded, “Life is a gift, birth is windfall, and all is grace.” I would suggest to you this morning that the road of gratitude is the best and only way for us to view this mortal existence of ours and all that goes with it.  Life is a  gift, birth is windfall, and  all is grace.  Like John Claypool, our gratitude needs to be expressed. In spite of all that is going on around us in this world, and in our lives, we need to stand up and give thanks with our whole heart and mind and substance, hard as that may be at times. For we are reminded by the cross of Jesus Christ that  God uses all things, the best and the worst, the  weak as well as the strong, to accomplish his purpose, and to bring us closer to him.  Be thankful for the fact that your life is a gift.
        Adolphe Monod, a leading French Protestant pastor and preacher of the 19th century, who died in 1856, expressed it this way: “There is no portion of our time that is our time and the rest God’s; there is no portion of money that is our money and the rest God’s money. It is all His; He made it all, gives it all, and He has simply trusted it to us for His service.” This is the theme that runs throughout  both the Old and New Testaments: God’s ownership and our trusteeship. Whatever we possess: money, skills, opportunities, creative talents, education; brains with which to think, bodies with which to work, raw materials of the earth with which to create, life itself— all these we possess because we have been given them by God’s hand.  Our giving therefore, should be in thankful response to God for all the gifts he has given us.  It is the most direct way we have of expressing our thanksgiving. We give because we have been given to. If everyone gave for that reason alone, we would never have to worry about meeting a parish budget, and thereby supporting the mission and ministry which is the heart of what we do here in this parish. Our pledge to this parish is really a spiritual response to what we have already received.  Now, the exact  portion that we choose to return to God may amount to 3%, 5%, 10%, 15%, or more of our total taxable income. The Bible, by the way, is very clear about the tithe being 10%. If you haven’t done it already, find out what percentage you are giving to God now, and try to increase it for next year. If you are not accustomed to proportionate giving, a gradual increase each  year is the best way to begin, until you arrive at what you consider to be a reasonable proportion. Bear in mind, also, that giving to the church is different from charitable giving: one comes off the top, the other comes after we have taken care of our own necessities. Proportionate giving, then, as I see it, accomplishes two major goals. First, it allows our giving to rise out of our level of income. Secondly, it allows us to enter into a new relationship with our God. For the simple fact of the matter is that we cannot follow Him, and not have our lives change, too. It will affect our money. As someone once said, “You cannot join your life to the Lord, and keep your pocketbook to yourself.”
       At the risk of making all of this sound like an economic request to meet the needs of a parish budget, instead of the spiritual response which it really is, I want to emphasize a few of the statistics of our parish giving, which I think you need to be aware of each year from a practical point of view: Your 2022 pledge dollar will go directly toward supporting the many ongoing programs and ministries of the  Church of the Transfiguration, which are part of our operating budget. The areas covered in this approach include: outreach, Christian education, music, worship, fellowship, Diocesan support, administration, and property. What we do depends directly on the amount we  receive through your pledges and contributions. There is  no magic fund that spins off interest to cover any short-fall. There are no magic fairies either. This past year we had 70 households pledging about $173,000. So far, for 2022, we have $65,675 in pledged income. As you can see, we still have a long way to go. This will be an especially difficult year because without a rector, income traditionally declines until a new  rector is called. Why that is, I am not really sure, because one’s giving to the church should not be based on the how  much you love your rector. It is based instead on how thankful you are for all that life has given you, and your intention to share a portion of what God has given you with others through the ministry of the church. Now I understand that there are always some individuals who do not pledge, but who contribute in some  regular or identifiable fashion through the offering plate or various gifts throughout the year. That is all well and good; however, if everyone gave in this way, we would not be able to plan for the coming year or have a budget at all, and the church would probably come to a grinding halt. Now you know where we stand. There is always room for improvement.
     In his book, The Man Nobody Knows, Bruce Barton gives a description of the two seas in Palestine, the  Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea. One sea is fresh and clear and is filled with fish. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees abound and children play on its sandy beaches, beside the blue and clean waters. This is the Sea of Galilee. To the north, the Jordan River flows into it, and to the south, the Jordan River flows out of it. Farther to the south, there is another sea. The Jordan River flows into it also. It is called the Dead Sea. But here there is no splash of fish, no green abounding, no trees, and no children playing on its banks. The air hangs heavy over the sea and no one drinks of its acid-like water. And what is the difference between the two seas? The  Sea of Galilee receives, but does not keep the Jordan River; for every drop that flows in, another is given out. But the other sea is different than that. The Jordan River flows in, but it does not flow out; there are no springs flowing out either. Every drop
it gets, it keeps. The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. The other sea gives nothing, and it is dead.  Our lives, your life and mine, and our pledging, very much resemble those two seas. The parallels are
obvious.
      So, as you consider the pledge that you will make to the Church of the Transfiguration next week, if you  have not done so already, (and you can always revise your pledge), remember that you and I are called to be not just program and budget supporters, but rather the Lord is calling us to be Christian stewards. Consider proportionate giving, and how it enables us to make a conscientious and thankful return to God out of what we have been given. And then, finally, remember those two Palestinian seas. Like the Dead Sea, will we be stagnant and spiritually die? Or like the Sea of Galilee, will we give and live?     
                                                                                       Amen.

Fr Henry Way, our guest priest does not write his sermons.  But it can be viewed on YouTube at this link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocKWgYtWU40

 

Father Harry Way was our guest preacher today.  It was a wonderful homily, but it was not available in written format.  If you would like to listen to it, it's available via the YouTube link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLsTuaP8-54

 

Fr Steven Carroll was our guest preacher today.  He does not write his homily down, so we are posting the You Tube video link of the 10 am service so that you can listen to the service.  

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mfnk1ZJNUCA

 

Fr Steven Carroll was our guest preacher today.  He does not write his homily down, so we are posting the You Tube video link of the 10 am service so that you can listen to the service.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfzEJUz7X0w

 

Father Harry Way was our guest preacher today.  It was a wonderful homily, but it was not available in written format.  If you would like to listen to it, it's available via the YouTube link below.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqIueM8PGKc

 

 

Father Harry Way was our guest preacher today.  It was a wonderful homily, but it was not available in written format.  If you would like to listen to it, it's available via the YouTube link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBDCq_SL24c

Looking forward to hearing his homely next week.

Good morning everyone!  It is wonderful to be back here once again!

A few years back, I was attending a spiritual retreat at a monastery.   One day, one of the retreat leaders was giving a class & speaking to us.  Now, I can’t remember WHY she was talking about sexually transmitted diseases, but yes… she was talking about sexually transmitted diseases.  And while she was speaking, she meant to say “sexually transmitted diseases”, but mistakenly said “spiritually transmitted diseases“!  

Unaware of her mistake, she just kept on talking about spiritually transmitted diseases!   

We all couldn’t help but bust out laughing!    Later in the evening at social time, we all got talking.  Are there “spiritual diseases”?  And if so, what are they?

Last week & today’s scripture readings mention many “spiritual diseases”; bitter envy, selfish ambition, boastfulness, false truth, conflicts, disputes, war, craving, disorder, wickedness, arguing who is the greatest, being afraid, terrified, anger, rage, evil, etc. 

But much like many physical ailments & illnesses, spiritual ailments are really just symptoms of something much deeper. And much like physical ailments, we can either just put a “band-aid” on it, but it is not a cure for what is really the cause of the illness, & we will never really heal.  It will continue to fester & most likely get worse, cause us a lot pain & suffering…& a lot of band-aids.

Or, we can try to get to the root , or the source of what is causing us to not feel well.  And once we discover what the root cause of an illness really is, then with the right medicine, treatment & proper care, we may truly heal. 

Now, how many of us know “that person”, you know, that difficult person that always seems to be wherever we go? The person who likes to point out other people’s flaws…is argumentative, snarky, & sarcastic?  They tend to be full of themselves, have little empathy for others, tend to be stubborn, & have to have their way.  Oh, & they tend to interrupt a lot.  And, they are always right.  Right?   They tend to be full of anger & project it onto everyone else, & on it goes.   In short, these people tend to wreak havoc & dissension wherever they go, & are usually oblivious to their shortcomings.

These people are in every class, every organization, place of work, in our neighborhoods, etc!  But, that person is always someone else, never us, right?  

So, as for these “spiritual diseases & ailments”, these negative thoughts, emotions & actions, what do you suppose is the root cause, or source?   

Yes, the root of all this, is FEAR!  Yes, FEAR.  Fear is the root of all these spiritual diseases! 

Fear is also at the root of hate, racismsexism, homophobia, “Us” vs. “them” / black & white / polarized thinking, doubt, jealousyshame…& the like, …

All of these things are based, & rooted in fear.   

Now to be sure, there are times when fear is needed.  So let us distinguish between healthy fear & unhealthy fear

Our healthy fears keep us safe, to sense & avoid dangerous situations.  For example, I felt fear & trepidation this last week when I had to go to the dentist for dental surgery!   

But unhealthy fears cause all kinds of suffering in our lives as well those around us,.  The above mentioned spiritual diseases, are all unhealthy fears.

Now to be sure, we have all experienced a heightened level of fear the past year & a half or so due to world events & the pandemic.  I am sure most of us are ready to be done with fear & start enjoying life again.  I know I sure am.

But it is important to not just sweep fear under the rug.  Or harbor fears we are totally unaware of.  Because when we do, they can manifest as “spiritual diseases”.

And fear just begets more fear.  “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.  Fear is the path to the dark side...

However, fortunately & thankfully, there is an antidote to fear

The scripture readings for today mention many positive thoughts, emotions & actions,:  Joy, peace, wisdom, gentleness, mercy, good fruits, willing to yield, faith, happiness, hope… etc.

All good things!  And what is the root of all good things?   [responses]  

Love!   Yes, love!    Love is the root of all good things.      And so essentially, all of our thoughts, emotions & choices can be traced to two sources: love & fear!   Love grows our spirit, fear, not so much!

Love is the medicine, the antidote for fear.    

Now, of course overcoming our fear is no easy thing.  It is in fact one of the biggest spiritual & emotional hurdles in life.  

But how do we do this?     Well, the first step is to face, or acknowledge our fear.  And I know, not at all a pleasant or easy thing to do! 

Most of us are afraid to face our fears.  It’s much easier to avoid, or blame everyone else for all that is wrong in the world.   Yes, much easier to busy ourselves with distractions & not face our fears! 

For many, it is just too much to even think about. Face my fear?  Run away, run away! 

But if we cannot face our fears, we become “stuck” & may fall prey to spiritual diseases.  We are not ready for the next part of our spiritual path. 

And this goes not only for individuals, but also groups of people, whether they be organizations, clubs, places of business, schools, & (ahem), yes, even churches fall prey to spiritually transmitted diseases!

One thing is for sure, facing our fears & overcoming fear is nearly impossible to do alone.  

It will take every ounce of strength and support we can muster & call upon.  We will need God’s help, the help of others, & all good things rooted in love.

But if we can do this, the rewards are immeasurable!  Your spiritual life & awareness will grow & expand more than you can possibly imagine!  And you will be happy, whole, & at peace.  Believe me, I have seen it happen!

I saw this in many patients when I worked as a chaplain at the VA hospital & in the military. Dealing with a life threatening illness or injury is very, very scary.  Terrifying in fact.  As they were faced with their illness, they also faced their fear.  And in the process, I watched many of them grow spiritually by leaps & bounds. 

And then, it happened to me too… when I went through my time of illness, & experienced true fear!

As I lay in the hospital bed, recovering the day after the major surgery that helped save my life, I remember being visited by one of the hospital chaplains. 

I was pretty much in & out of consciousness, & not able to open my eyes & talk with her.  But I could feel her presence.  And it was a kind, loving & gentle presence.  She approached me & whispered in my ear.  I cannot remember exactly what she said, just that her presence was very comforting.   

3D17DD2A-5E42-4232-BB57-DA2665EF551DShe left a card on the stand next to my hospital bed that said Courage is fear that has said its prayers.   I still have this card to this day & it is visibly posted in my kitchen, where I see it every day, & am reminded of this wisdom from above.

Yes, we all face fears every day.  All kinds, all levels & all forms.  It does not matter the type, intensity or variety.  Fear is fear

And the only way out of it, is through it

There are numerous spiritual practices & prayers that can help us deal with our fears.  And there are many good & kind people who can help us along the path of life. 

  • Listen, & pray.
  • Ask God for help in overcoming your fears…
  • Ask God to help guide you to the right person or people that can help you on the path…

Fear is the root of all spiritual disease.  It is THE stumbling block to spiritual awareness, growth, & health & wellness in body, mind & spirit.  Left unchecked, it leads to much suffering. 

The way out is thru love.  Yes, it will take a lot of work.  Yes, it will take time.  It will not be easy. 

But with God all things are possible! 

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.

May we think & pray on these things!    

Amen.

The Rev. Laura Adelia is an Episcopal priest, retired USAF Chaplain, college teacher & musician

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