Rite II Spiritual Communion
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 27
Collect for Proper 21

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.   Amen.

Readings for today can be found here.

Rite II, Spiritual Communion & Meditation

Rev. Bambi Willis and Barry Holliday have coordinated our service for this morning. The service can be found here: https://youtu.be/Aqc0KNYlI1M

We will be doing Rite II and you can follow along starting on page 355 in the Book of Common Prayer. The of Common Prayer (BCP) can be found here. The Psalm for this morning is Psalm 78:1-4,12-16 found on page 694 in the BCP. The readings are Exodus 17:1-7; Philippians 2:1-13; and Matthew 21:23-32.

A Meditation for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

In our reading from Philippians this morning Saint Paul shares with us a hymn to love.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited, 
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, 
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross. 

These words were most probably from an early Christian hymn, a hymn making a Christological confession, the confession that Christ came down from heaven and lived and died as one of us to save us. Paul points to Jesus’ willingness to take on human nature, leaving aside his divinity, to implore the Philippians to look to the interests of others before their own. Saint Paul is writing to a community that is struggling with some unknown difficulty, beseeching them to love others as Christ loved us. 

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, Paul ends.

I have read this passage many times but do not believe the heights and depths of this hymn to love were seared into my soul until this week when I read Holly Feliciano’s newsletter meditation this week. Allan Feliciano has brain cancer and he recently was able to travel for the first time in two years. Allan’s cancer leaves him susceptible to seizures and Holly was afraid. Allan did have a seizure while out for a meal and a gracious waitress helped him through. 

I cried and I cheered as I read Holly’s meditation. I heard courage and hope and gratitude. I came to learn something about self-emptying (which is how Saint Paul describes what Christ did) I had not fully appreciated before. Self-emptying is not about leaving aside who we but is much more about taking up who we are as human beings – our hopes, our dreams and the gifts God has given to us. Jesus came among us to show us what it means to be human and to show us what loving looks like. 

Loving in this age of a pandemic, a contentious election season and a time of calls for racial and economic justice is both radically necessary and undeniably not easy. I am finding this time to be intense and an invitation to be more self reflective. I am learning a lot about what I deem to be essential and what I do not deem to be essential. Having a roof over my head is
essential. How do I help others keep roofs over their heads? Eating is essential. How can I help others eat? Dignity is essential. How can I help others experience their worth?

Essential is not the clothes I wear or the places I choose to vacation. Essential this year may not even be a family gathering in person on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Essential this year as always is that we learn to love.  Thanks Holly and Allan for your witness to love. 

Please remember all those on our prayer list this week found here or in the Good News Daily found here.

The Rev. Bambi Willis

* * * * * * *
Sermon from the Bishop's Chapel
The Rev. Dr. Mary Brennan Thorpe
Canon to the Ordinary

The written version can be found here.
The YouTube version can be found here.