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Readings for Sunday, August 7 2011 Presented by staff and friends of Sunshine Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church affiliated with the Center for Progressive.

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Presentation on theme: "Readings for Sunday, August 7 2011 Presented by staff and friends of Sunshine Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church affiliated with the Center for Progressive."— Presentation transcript:

1 Readings for Sunday, August 7 2011 Presented by staff and friends of Sunshine Cathedral Metropolitan Community Church affiliated with the Center for Progressive Christianity Ft Lauderdale, Florida, USA

2 Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin Sunshine Cathedral Chief Programming Minister Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Senior Pastor Sunshine Cathedral Rev. Dr. Mona West Director, Office of Formation and Leadership Development Metropolitan Community Churches Rev. BK Hipsher Virtual Chaplain Sunshine Cathedral Director of Sunshine Cathedral in Second Life Rev. Brian Hutchison Sunshine Cathedral Director of Volunteer Ministries & Assistant to the Senior Pastor

3 August 7: John Mason Neale (1818-1866)— Liturgical reformer and hymn writer. A priest of the Church of England, Neale was a leader in the Oxford Movement, which revived Anglo-Catholic, ‘High Church,’ ideals of church architecture and ceremony. He organized charitable work for suffering women and girls. A scholar and skilled poet, he is best known for his extensive work as a hymn writer and translator of ancient hymn texts into singable English.

4 Isaiah 52.7 (New American Bible) “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of one who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying…’Your God [reigns]!’”

5 The Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”

6 Matthew 14.22-31 (New Jerusalem Bible) 22 At once Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he sent the crowds away. 23 After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 while the boat, by now some furlongs from land, was hard pressed by rough waves, for there was a head-wind. 25 In the fourth watch of the night he came towards them, walking on the sea, 26 and when the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.

7 Matthew 14.22-31 (New Jerusalem Bible) 27 But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It’s me! Don’t be afraid.’ 28 It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ 29 Jesus said, ‘Come.’ Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, 30 but then noticing the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord,’ he cried, ‘save me!’ 31 Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘You have so little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’

8 Rev. BK Hipsher Ponderings Our feet keep us grounded to the earth and therefore to creation Walking is how we get somewhere Being present and fully alive Fear is faith in evil rather than faith in good – Kahlil Gibran Being distracted from our goals

9 Reflections Reflections Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Exegetical Reflection Isaiah 52.7 : Feet upon the mountains: A metaphor for a grounded spirituality that is focused on joy, peace, optimism, and wholeness. A mountain in scripture often symbolizes the divine presence. Feet on a mountain, on holy ground represent the person who is aware of the divine omnipresence and is comforted, empowered, enriched, and filled with peace by the experience of such deep spiritual communion and who further wishes to share the experience with others. Thich Nhat Hanh : The bridge between the Isaiah reading and the Gospel reading is this saying by Vietnamese Zen Monk Thich Nhat Hanh, “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” Isaiah offers an image of feet on a mountain, Matthew of feet on the sea; both suggest an experience of the Sacred. “Thay” suggests that any mindful moment is a Sacred moment.

10 Reflections Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Exegetical Reflection Walking on Water (Matthew 14.22-31) : Peter, a commercial fisher, one who made his living from the sea, was undoubtedly an expert swimmer. His friends, also swimmers (with ropes and nets no doubt), were near by. How odd that he would panic when sinking! Why not simply swim back to the boat or call to his friends to throw him a line? Of course, the story is probably allegorical rather than historical. Our fears (phantoms, ghosts, demons…the disciples thought they saw a ghost) sabotage our success. If we focus on the perceived monsters, they will seem more real to us than the power of hope, or the presence of Spirit, or the reserves of courage deep within us. When Peter attempted the impossible, he had a measure of success. When he became overwhelmed by his success and doubted he could continue, he started to sink (the waters of chaos overwhelmed him). The metaphor seems to suggest that if we focus on possibilities, more is possible. If we focus on limitations, then we seem to have fewer possibilities available to us. The storms don’t disappear, but our attitude toward them determines if we rise above them or start to drown in them.

11 Reflections Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Exegetical Reflection Examining the Symbols: Jesus walking on the water brings to mind images of Yahweh walking on/through the water – “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” Psalm 77.19; “Yahweh alone…treads on the waves of the sea.” Job 9.8 Jesus, filled with the light and power of God, can face the chaotic challenges of life (and thereby show us how we can as well). If sea represents Roman powers, Jesus proving to be Lord of the sea (“Lord save me!” Peter cried, and Jesus rescued him from the sea) suggests that even though Rome executed Jesus, his significance didn’t end and in some way he continued to live in their hearts to offer hope and encouragement (Resurrection). Turbulent waters = chaos, troubles, powers of destruction. The sea represented great power (for good…giving fish for food and trade, but also the potential for destruction). The deep sea could be navigated but not controlled or even predicted. In this instance, it represents danger (possibly the danger of Empire as Matthew is writing decades after Jesus’ crucifixion), but it is a danger than can’t have the last word (“…there no longer was any sea” Revelation 21.1).

12 Reflections Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Exegetical Reflection Peter means “the Rock.” There is a bit of humor as we see the Rock sinking like a stone! Charles Fillmore, founder of the Unity School of Christianity, thought of Peter as a symbol of faith, representing the quality of faith in our own lives. Of course, at times we don’t seem to have great faith, but through spiritual practice our faith can grow. In this story, Peter is chastised for having little faith, but later we will see him as a major figure in the early Church. Before Matthew 14, we read in Matthew 9 “your faith has made you whole” (v. 22) and “according to your faith it is done to you” (v. 29). Matthew continues to repeat the theme that even when things are difficult, we can trust (have faith) in the power of God even when things are clearly beyond our control. By showing Jesus, filled with the spirit of God, overcoming the turbulent sea, we are encouraged to have faith in God to help us face the changes, challenges, and uncertainties of life. When Jesus says, “It is me” that Greek phrase can also be translated, “I am.” I AM is a way to understand the name “Yahweh” who walked through the sea at the Exodus (Psalm 77) or even over it (Job 9). The power of God in us/with us (Emmanuel means “God with us”) is greater than the power of chaos (the sea).

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