Good Sam Blog

Pilgrimage Progress: Begin Walking

Fr. Steve and seven parishioners have begun walking the Portuguese Camino, beginning in Porto, Portugal, headed for Santiago, Spain. So far, their progress has taken them through the city and suburbs—in the rain, it looks like. They will be in the countryside this weekend, where they will be joined by two more parishioners.


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What Is the Narrative Installation?

Holy Week—the time starting on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter—is a week like no other. In this short week, we journey from the height of expectation, to the depths of loss, and into unfathomable joy. Fully entering into the journey of Holy Week, being present to all of the meaning, allows us to see our own lives clearly and encounter the depth of God’s love and presence in all the experiences of life. We hope you’ll join us for all of our Holy Week services as they are rich and beautiful liturgies.

New this year, we will be hosting a Narrative Holy Week Installation that gives an opportunity to explore the symbolism and meaning of Holy Week through creative and experiential activity. With prayer and meditation stations for each day of Holy Week, we’ll encounter Holy Week in new and powerful ways and discover the ways our own lives connect to this week as well. Come prepared for quiet, for candlelight, for new ways of seeing ancient practice, and for transformation as we encounter God’s love.

Blessings,

Fr. Brian+


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And on the sixth day…

Week 6 REST

 
The earliest recorded account of Creation (Genesis 1) shows us a pattern of labor and rest. Scripture tells us that for six days God created (worked), and on the seventh day, God rested. Other parts of the Old Testament tell us that the ancient people of God saw in the creation story a pattern of working and resting, and sought to instill that pattern in their own communal life. As the group discussed on Sunday at adult formation, the Sabbath was made for us, not us for the Sabbath. Dedicated time for restoration and wholeness is not only critical for our bodies and minds, it’s also an act of trust that God will take care of us, as well as all those things that occupy our time when we’re not resting.
 
As a priest, one of my greatest concerns for the spiritual life of my parishioners is schedules that are so full that there is little time left for God, community, and family life. Lent is a good time to reflect on our schedules and ask ourselves if we are really taking time during the day or the week to reflect, rest, and enjoy the blessings of life. Last Sunday, the formation group read the story of the Valley of the Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:1–14) and discussed how that related to Rest. Perhaps the lesson is that without intentional times of rest and renewal, our lives can end up dry and joyless.
 
Take a few moments this week to reflect on the passage, and these questions.
  • What gets in the way of practicing sabbath rest? Is it hard to rest? Why?
  • The act of rest and restoration is a part of the cycle of rebirth that is God’s hope for us and gift to us. What does this mean to you?
  • How can I encourage others to rest?
  • How do I practice sabbath rest within my body, mind, and soul and within communities and institutions?
 
Thanks to Philip Ballinger and Claire Nold-Glaser for leading adult formation last Sunday. Join us this Sunday for a discussion of how we can give witness to the love, justice, and truth of God by crossing boundaries.
 
—Fr. Steve+

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To Pray Is to Change

On Sunday, March 3, your new vestry met for its first official meeting. We always begin the meetings with a meditation and prayer, which I heartily recommend before any discussion of finances, building issues, the abandoned car in the parking lot, and why the copier keeps breaking down! At this meeting I read a paragraph from Peter Steinke’s A Door Set Open.

“Mission is the expression of the church’s deep, abiding beliefs. Mission provides the major standard against which all activities, services, and decisions are evaluated. Mission is the preserver of congregational integrity. It is about God’s love for the world, not about what I like or don’t like about my church” (p. 78).

Then I had the group list and discuss those things we deal with as vestry that would fall into the categories of “maintenance” and “mission.” We had a good discussion, then I led the group in prayer.

On the way home it occurred to me that we could have skipped the prayer I led, not because we didn’t need to pray but because we had already been praying! Having a conversation about how we lead the church in its mission was the prayer. If God is listening all the time, then God was a part of the conversation. And that’s what prayer is in its essence; conversation with God, talking, listening.

A few hours earlier on Sunday, we held our second session of “The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life” at the adult forum. The topic was PRAYER. We broke up into groups, then gathered back in the big group and had great discussion on some really practical questions and observations. The materials provided by the Presiding Bishop’s office describes prayer this way: “…when we pray we invite and dwell in God’s loving presence.” I shared with the group this quote about prayer from Richard Foster:

“To pray is to change. This is a great grace. How good of God to provide a path whereby our lives can be taken over by love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control” (Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 6).

My guess, if you’re like me, is this: “I want all the love and joy and peace I can get!” Conversation with God, dwelling in God’s loving presence, helps us grow in these virtues.

If you missed last Sunday, you’ll find the scripture passage we used for our discussion and some reflection questions. I hope you’ll join us this Sunday, 9:15 am, for the next step in our journey on the Way of Love.

Prayerfully,

Fr. Steve+


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What Is Worship?

On Sunday the adult formation group had a lively discussion about worship. We explored these questions: what is worship, what is most meaningful to you in a service of worship, what does it mean to worship God in spirit and in truth, is regular attendance in corporate worship important? We just scratched the surface!
 
Worship of God is expressed in many forms. St. Paul urged the Roman Christians to present their bodies to God as a living sacrifice as an act of worship. Worship is something we do in private or small groups or in a larger congregation. It includes adoration, thanksgiving, hearing and reflecting on Scripture, and celebrating the sacraments. The discipline of worship in community is regularly gathering to thank, praise and dwell with God. Regular participation in worship with the community is not just about what we receive from it, but also what we are able to share with the larger group. Just our physical presence can be an encouragement to others. We read and discussed the following passages from Scripture:
  • John 4:7–24
  • Acts 2:44–47
  • 1 Corinthians 14:23–25
Reflect on these and on the questions listed above. As part of your Lenten journey, participate in corporate worship as much as possible. There are plenty of opportunities!
 
On the Way,
—Fr. Steve+
 

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The Deacon’s Corner: Celtic Spirituality

by Deacon Kathryn Ballinger
 
One of the primary marks of Celtic spirituality is its belief in the essential goodness of creation. It believes that the natural world is infinitely deep. Everything in creation has issued forth from the invisible and contains something of the unseen life of God; otherwise it would cease to exist. Because God’s life is like the heartbeat at the center of life, pulsating within, it sustains all that is. All created things are an expression of God for our souls to experience, to see and feel. God is forever communication his life and love in and through the outward forms of creation so we can come to a knowledge of God through the universe.
 
Join us at Celtic Evening Prayer on Sunday, March 17, at 6:30 pm.

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Statement on the Klahanie Graffiti Incident

Last week, several homes in the Klahanie neighborhood of Sammamish were spray-painted with racist graffiti. The police are investigating this incident as a hate crime. As our Baptismal Covenant states, we believe all human beings are formed in the image of God, and as such deserve respect, understanding, and protection from harm. Races, ethnicities, and the wide variety of human experience reflect the very character of God who delights in the richness of diversity. I am grateful that our parish exists in a community of diverse cultures and languages where we can learn from each other and grow in our own understanding of what it means to be part of the world which God created. In the Sammamish City Council’s statement, they observed that at least 27 languages are spoken in our city. Our preschool children reflect the diversity of our community, and it is with joy that every day we see children from all over the world learning and playing together. This, I believe, is God’s dream for the world. In the face of this incident and others throughout our nation in recent days, what can we do? I believe that each one of us, as the Baptized in Christ, not only has a responsibility to resist racism, but to actively engage in the work of justice and peace. There are several ways to do that in our context, and here are a few ideas:

  • Attend one of several peace events being held around our city in the coming days, one of which will be held on April 3 when State Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez comes to Sammamish to speak on racism and inclusion. Details to come soon on this event.
  • Of course, calling out racist statements when you hear them is another way to respond. Sure, it might be uncomfortable, especially if it’s a friend or family member, but as Christians it is the way we are “salt and light” in the world.
  • Reach out to neighbors, acquaintances, folks you meet at the grocery store who are from another country or of a race or religion different from your own. Get to know them; let them know that you are glad they are part of our community.
  • Join the conversation the Faith in Action Commission is having about partnership and ministry with our sisters and brothers at La Iglesia Episcopal de la Resurreccion in Mt. Vernon.
  • Join in the conversation on Sundays at 9:15 am as we explore Jesus’ Way of Love and how we more faithfully live into it. Pray. Pray for our country, for our leaders, for our community. Pray for justice and peace. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Prayer aligns us with the will and purposes of God, which is, as St. Paul declares, reconciliation with God and breaking down the barriers that divide us.

These are just a few ways to respond, you’ll think of others, I am sure. Speaking of prayer, this one from the Book of Common Prayer beautifully expresses our hope as Christians”

“O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Hopefully, Fr. Steve+


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The Deacon’s Corner: St. Patrick

by The Rev. Kathryn Ballinger

St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the most popular saints. He was born in Roman Britain in 387AD, and when he was about 14, he was captured by Irish pirates during a raiding party. He was taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. It was the land of Druids and pagans, but Patrick turned to God. He prayed in the woods and on the mountains, often through the night. Patrick’s captivity lasted until he was 20 when he escaped. He had a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. He found sailors who took him back to Britain, and he was reunited with his family. Years later he had a vision in which the people of Ireland cried out for him to come back and walk among them. The vision prompted his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest and later a bishop and sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland in 433AD. There are many legends and miracles surrounding him. Over 40 years of preaching, he converted thousands of people and built many churches across the country. And after years of living in poverty, traveling, and suffering, he died in 461AD. Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, with a love and total devotion and trust in God. “The Breastplate” is a poem of Patrick and of his faith in God.

Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ unguarded, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


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