Week after week, as a deacon, I get to offer the dismissal at the end of the service, usually one of these from our prayer book:
Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
Twenty years ago, my cousin Susan and her husband Charles came up from Maryland for my ordination to the diaconate. Over dinner the night before, Charles leaned over and said, “We love our deacon. He’s the one who tells us when it’s time to go. No wonder we say ‘Thanks be to God’ at the end!” Then he winked. He was an active vestry member, and both he and Susan served their church and their community in a lively variety of ways.
Happy St. Francis Day, happy marriage & divorce day(??), happy blessing of the children day… We’ve got a pretty complicated trinity of themes to wrestle with this morning.
It was 21 years ago – October 8, 2000 –– that I last preached on this gospel. A whole lot has changed in our culture since then, but I need to begin by confessing that as a divorced, remarried person, even after 35 years in a second marriage that is one of the deepest blessings of my life, I still find Jesus’ words on marriage and divorce painful, while as a mother and now a grandmother, I continue to find Jesus’ blessing of the children deeply comforting. (And St. Francis? He’ll show up, too.)
As a little girl growing up in the nineties with many “girl power” stickers, posters, and tee shirts, I loved the movie, A League of Their Own. Which depicted a fictionalized telling of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that existed from 1943 to 1954. I rejoiced in 2012 when it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. I loved this movie so much I recall one fateful afternoon where I had a complete meltdown at our local library because despite my many thoughtful assertions as to why I should now be called “Kit”, like one of the characters in the movie, my entire family refused. There. Were. Tears. To be fair, I have never played baseball or softball and have to this day never successfully made it through watching an entire game. Thus, I remain “Katie”.
Just a little over eight years ago, with a lot of excitement and a little bit of fear, I wandered into St. John’s Chapel on the campus of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It would become one of the most sacred and formative places to ever hold me, but on this breezy day in mid to late August of 2013, I sat down in the Chapel for the first time for student orientation. After a welcoming prayer, we were told the story of Jonathan Daniels. In the early 60’s Daniels was a student at what was then Episcopal Theological School. He worshiped in this same chapel, ate in the same refectory, and studied in the same library we would shortly tour.
I had started my work as rector of Grace Church in Plainfield, New Jersey just three months before the September 11 attacks. Our town was on the commuter train line into New York City. The attacks happened on a Tuesday. By Friday, everyone in each of those towns was aware that the cars left in the commuter parking lots, were the cars of those killed in the Twin Towers that day.
Grace Church was located on 7th street, a major two-way county road that ran parallel to the train line. It was a very busy street. On September 11, we opened the doors to our beautiful place of prayer and held Evening Prayer that week. Friday that year was the Feast of the Holy Cross. That evening was most poignant because Christians believe that the cross of Jesus “draws the whole world to himself for our redemption…” and that we are called to “take up our cross and follow him…” That was an important message for us all.
In some bibles this passage in Mark’s gospel is called “The Hand-washing Controversy.” Yesterday, when I checked the number of cases of COVID in Maine, they had doubled in one day due to the Delta variant surge. You and I know that hand washing has taken on great importance as one of three practices that can stop the spread of the virus: hand-washing, mask-wearing and vaccination. For these 18 months or so I can still hear myself singing the doxology when I wash my hands. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” I sing it twice for the recommended 20 seconds of hand-washing!
Hand-washing is a best practice for sanitation and for controlling the spread of disease. It is not considered something that causes controversy!
Blessings to St. Paul’s Beloved Family Eucharist Congregation! Join us for Worship Join us this Sunday, February 21The First Sunday in Lent9:30 a.m. Rev. Katie Holicky and musician Susan Brown will lead us in a time of song, prayer, story, and sharing with our friends! Here is the link for the Zoom gathering. Click here for the 9:30 Family Worship Booklet 10:30 […]