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Second Sunday of Pentecost, June 14, 2009 A new cycle begins: the search for an ideal king and the story of David. Today we begin with a scene fraught with tension, secrecy, intrigue and deception. Tribal identity vs. national identity, Judges vs. monarchy, local vs. centralized authority. Political struggle with all its power and wealth and fear is constant in human existence. What amazes me is that that this people, who wrote the books, the songs and the poetry of Holy Scripture, came to believe that God was at work in the confusion and the ruddy last born son of Jesse with the sparkling eyes.

Homily by The Rev. Jonathan B. Appleyard

Easter homily by The Rev. Jonathan B. Appleyard, rector of St. Saviour's Parish.

Jonathan introduces the ancient narrative of Christ's passion and death as our central creedal statement, lying at the heart of our belief, like the beloved disciple lay at Jesus’ breast. Before the New Testament was written down, before the creeds evolved, before buildings were erected, it was the experience of this story that stirred hope out of despair and started lives out in a new direction. The impact of Jesus’ death draws all the characters and all our stories into a something larger… what might be called an obedience to downward mobility.

Ed Oechslie, the Executive Director of Acadia Family Center in Southwest Harbor, Maine, reflects about dying to one’s ego so that one can be one’s true self, the importance of positive imaging in recovery from addictive behavior and choices and the joy that gives hope to those in the deepest despair. Ed is a licensed Arts Therapist and a new friend of the St. Saviour’s community. Recovery and Addiction. Resiliency for youth and adults in community.

Stories about seeing are deceptive. Who is doing the looking and what is going on in life bends perception as surely as a star bends light. Seeing is surprisingly elusive in the wilderness, the place where human existence and eternal life intersect. Do the people of God, the children of Israel, come face to face with the venomous judgment of an angry God? They know that they have come to a dead end in that wild place. They seem to see things very clearly in the wilderness. They become resistant and rebellious. They suffer and die.

The human experience of desperate lostness leads to a kind of spiritual death in which, through fear, desperation and panic, we become children of wrath. Like Nicodemus, who comes in darkness, at night, in secret, we want to see what Jesus is up to, who Jesus is, but can we see through our fear, through our tears?

Today we prepare to close the parish house and end some outreach programs. This is part of discerning how we use our resources. May we see clearly what is ending and what remains and thank God for what continues to shine with the love of God.

-- Sermon by The Rev. Jonathan B. Appleyard, March 22, 2009

Taking religions language out of the sky and rooting it in our experience. Bringing the cross down to earth in three instances. There is no “them and us, only us, all of us. We are whom God loves.” The Sabbath is an invitation to be non-productive, to be mindful of joy and beauty, to be alive rather than making a living. Finally, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton show us in "Finding Freedom in Forgiveness," from This I Believe, what is at the heart of forgiveness and how God works in people like you and me.

The link to the full "This I Believe" is here: http://www.thisibelieve.org/dsp_ShowEssay.php?uid=61191&topessays=2&start=0

- The Rev. Jonathan B. Appleyard, March 15, 2009

March 8: Bewilderment

Bewilderment. How descriptive of our lives. To lose one’s bearing, to be in the wild, perplexed, to be confused by a multitude of considerations. The purpose of religion is not to answer life’s questions which are deep, searching questions with which women and men spend a life time wrestling. Why is Christian faith so demanding? Peter argued because Jesus’ declaration throws everything he knows into question, all of his life answers are thrown out the window.

Yet, the cross questions us. What is your attitude toward suffering and death, your own suffering and your own death? Do we seek to avoid them at all costs? Or might we consider Jesus’ life and death, may we enter into our own knowing that by God’s grace suffering is transformative, death is the beginning? -- The Rev. Jonathan B. Appleyard, March 8, 2009

Straightforward Mark: Much is said. Nothing is explained. No details about temptation, no chance for the preachers to theologize its nature. Not here in Mark. The Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness for a long time. Tempted by the Devil. With the wild beasts. Ministered to by angels.

The story of Noah and the flood. What does it tell us about God? Did God destroy all the peoples of the earth so God could begin start over? How does God make new life? In a wilderness. Slowly. Wrestling with temptation and wild beasts and ministered to by angels.

-- The Rev. Jonathan B. Appleyard, March 1, 2009

Set free to take aim and let fly. A Randy Pausch story from The Last Lecture: “A car, even a pristine gem like my new convertible, was just a thing.” Religion is not about human understandings or beliefs. It is about Relationship, a steadfast relationship often comforts us and sometimes it turns our life inside out and upside down! When Paul recalls the Transfiguration, he writes that God “has shone in our hearts to give the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Aware that God gives to each of all freedom and grace to live, we renew our yes until all together we say yes with every breath we breathe. -- The Rev. Jonathan B. Appleyard.

"I share a dream to open up the whole question of how are we doing in this economy, in this moment? And for what sort of healing can we hope? This is a chance to rethink Hanson's disease, how God heals and what separates us from wholeness, and is that another word for holiness? Wholeness comes without fanfare like my father-in-law Peter's visits to people with special needs." -- The Rev. Jonathan B. Appleyard, Rector of St. Saviour's Church, Bar Harbor, Maine, February 15, 2009.

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