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September 16, 2018 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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Proverbs 1:20-33; Psalm 19; James 3:1-12; Mark 8:27-38       The Rev. Linda Spiers
17th Sunday after Pentecost – Year B – September 16, 2018   Trinity Episcopal Church

Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27). They responded with a variety of things—John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets. And then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter steps up and says, “You are the Messiah,” He got the right answer. He won the prize! Jesus sternly orders the disciples not to tell anyone about him. On first hearing this it seems antithetical or at least confusing. What about the notion of spreading the good news of God in Jesus Christ?
The story goes on as Jesus reveals to the disciples that he must undergo great suffering, be rejected by the religious authorities of his day, be killed, and after three days rise again. Peter had a hard time understanding that news, and Jesus rebuked him—don’t set your mind on human things, rather focus on divine things. His words point back to the suffering servant in Isaiah. Then Jesus called out to the larger crowd gathered with the disciples and continued to teach them. “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34).
Yesterday we had another North Central Region Convocation. It was planned for a number of months and sadly conflicted with Trinity’s Tag Sale and with Canton’s Walk for Food and Fuel. I still struggle when I want to be in multiple places at once and just cannot figure out how to do that. We were at St. Alban’s, Simsbury, and gathered 48 people from 16 of our 35 North Central Region churches. In the early part of our meeting, we had people pick a reasonably friendly stranger to get to know. In twos we spent about 4 minutes telling the other about ourselves, and then we switched. At the end we were to introduce to the whole group our new friend. With our packed agenda, we had to alter the introductions to include just the person’s name and the church where they worship.
I met a woman from Trinity, Wethersfield, who had grown up in the church, moved away for a number of years, and in recent years returned. She shared about how much she loved dogs. For 41 years she has had a dog, with the exception of six weeks, in her life. I learned a lot about Kathy in those few minutes. The buzz in the room kept getting louder and louder as people got to know one another a little. At the convocation we learned about and shared ministries that were going on in our churches. We did a Dwelling in the Word around the scripture passage from Matthew’s Gospel that is a parallel story to today’s gospel. We chose Matthew’s version, so as not to get stuck on the suffering servant part of the story we just heard. The essence of yesterday’s story, just as with this one, is around Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?”
There is so much more that we can do to answer that question as we come into community. We bring together the wisdom of others, the hearts of others, the passions of others, the things tried on and experienced—things that were successes and things that couldn’t be done because a church is too small.
We had some fun when Rebekah Hatch engaged us in some silly questions about the Episcopal Church in CT, about Annual Convention, and about General Convention. We had important information to convey and she helped lighten the load with her playful creativity and silly prizes for the wrong answers or the right ones!
We also introduced Flat Jesus to the gathered group—this wonderful little character I met at General Convention. Where’s Flat Jesus in the region? We had folks color a Flat Jesus to take back to their parish and enter into a region-wide experiment with Flat Jesus. Take Flat Jesus with you wherever you go, take a picture of the two of you, and think about the many ways that Jesus is with us in and through all things. Flat Jesus is modeled off of the children’s book Flat Stanley—the story of a little boy who has a bulletin board fall on him and crush him in the middle of the night. He becomes flat and discovers a whole new way of being. He travels by getting mailed in an envelope to his friend in California!
Theresa has introduced this to our children and young people who are in process of coloring a bunch of Flat Jesus images. We’ll laminate them and invite you to take one with you, take a photograph of Flat Jesus and you, and journal or share where you were together.
Jesus invites us all to answer this lifelong question, “Who do you say that I am?” I’m not suggesting that taking Flat Jesus around with you will give you the definitive answer, and yet it may give you a glimpse into the ways we are called to see Jesus with new eyes. When we meet another person, we learn a little about the essence of the person. We learn whether they are trustworthy, what makes them tick, what’s important in their lives, what sets their soul on fire, what their passions are, how they treat others in their lives. The disciples spent face time with Jesus and learned from him with every encounter. In Jesus they came to see the world differently—to honor all people as children of God. They learned from Jesus how to live as God intended them to live and treat one another. As our relationship with Jesus deepens, we learn to keep our mind focused on divine things vs. only on human things. We find a way of being that is different from the way of the world. We find a way of being that is centered on this person of Jesus.
There’s no reason we can’t have some fun along the way with a Flat Jesus!

September 9, 2018 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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April 29, 2018 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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January 7, 2018 - The Rev. Linda Spiers


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