Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
God does not keep a check list or score card to determine whether we believe in a required number of points of the creed. Nor do we forfeit points for every day we do not check in with a full quota.
Faith is not our gift to God, but God’s gift to us.
In this collect we acknowledge that our service to God is not something we do to earn God’s grace, but because we already have it. “[I]t is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service:
After I founded Integrity, I noticed that some, energized by experiencing wholeness for the first time, would give to this ministry substantially for a few years and move on to share their gifts elsewhere. I rejoiced in their time with us, and wished them well when they had completed this assignment.
I realized that the ministry also needed some of us to stay at it through thick and thin. So I made a clear commitment to God: I will stay with this ministry no matter what, even if the worst happens --- namely, even if I lose my faith.
To my suprise, and without my even asking for it, God has given me an unbounded supply of faith far beyond what I could ever have imagined.
Previously I had gone through occasional periods of doubt; that has rarely happened since I pledged to stay with the ministry.
I say this not to boast, because I have nothing to do with it. Some who have lost their faith live more faithfully than I do. I am humbled by the gift of faith and though too feeble at 71 (for a month more at least) to do much running, gladly pray that “without stumbling “ I may continue my commitment
God … without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites.This one of those Sundays the lay reader is glad she has prepared in advance. I have heard some unrepeatable mispronunciations, especially of “Hittites“ and “Girgashites.”
Although the miracle of God's holding back the flow of the Jordan River is dramatic, the text does not invite us to look at the price paid by those driven out -- the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites.
The Israelites claim entitlement to the land, with a deed written by God. The claim remains in dispute and is one of the most dangerous bits of real estate in our own time.
Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37
The exodus from Egypt, the 40 years in the desert, and the entry into the Promised Land become a metaphor for the spiritual journey of all believers.
Like the Israelites, we may cry to the Lord in our trouble
After founding Integrity, I did not give much thought to my deployment, nor have I ever felt it primarily my responsibility. I knew that many doors in academia would be closed to me, especially because I was as out in my lgbt scholarship as in my work for Integrity. I did not presume that God is involved in decisions of hiring committees of English departments, and I certainly knew it was my responsibility to publish, speak at academic meetings, qualify for various fellowships....
But I did these things out of the joy of doing them, not to keep myself ’marketable.’ I went to interviews galore before various moves, but always assumed that where I landed was where God wanted me to be.
I feel it was no accident that I was in black higher education when I started Integrity, at the time discovering my own wholeness from which racist entitlement had cut me off. It was no accident that Ernest and I next lived in Wisconsin in the Diocese of Fond du Lac and next worked in Beijing and Hong Kong. All of these were missionary experiences for me. Nor was it an accident that I was hired by Rutgers in Newark just as Bishop Spong was initiating the Oasis ministry with lgbt persons.
Man proposes, and God disposes, but we need to be very careful about dumping on God the responsibility that is our own.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
“We dealt with each one of you like a father with his children.” Indeed, even in this letter Saint is busy instructing them in good theological manners. He reminds them of his many gifts to them, as a parent might remind a child to say “thank you.” And he reinforces their good behavior by complimenting them on it:
“We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word, which is also at work in you believers.”
But this letter goes beyond lessons in ecclesiastical etiquette. When you know that the word you give is the word of God, you know too that for it to take root as God’s word, God must be at work in the hearts of those with whom you share it. Spiritual transformation takes place that cannot happen without God’s prompting.
We Christians need to spend time building up the faithful. Sometimes that is a matter of listening for God’s presence in the comments of others. When we see talented people at work in the church, we have the responsibility to put them in touch with a wide range of opportunity. “Would you like for me to sponsor you so that you can attend a conference the diocese is holding on……?” “Have you considered writing a book or some articles on ….?” “Might God be calling you to priesthood?”
Typically God uses our lips and our hands as her own. Not all that we say is what God would say, but God’s spirit moves in the world prompting discernment for all of us in our interactions with one another.
Quean Lutibelle’s rendering:
Jesus said to the Anglican Communion:
The Primates sit as an equal on Canterbury’s seat; therefore, pay close attention to what they say and where it does not violate your conscience or violate your brothers and sisters, do what they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.
- They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others, especially lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.
- They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for
- they buy their vestments from Whipple, Challwood, and Almy and sport much lace and expensive fabric.
- They love to have the place of honor at banquets and their thrones are the best seats in the churches,
- and [they love] to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces,
- and [they love] to have people call them “Your Grace.”
But you are not to be called “Your Grace,” for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father-- the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
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