May 6, 2012

A Blessed Easter and Welcome to St. Mary’s Church!

 Cropwalk: TODAY: May 6th: We are collecting donations for the Church World Service Cropwalk, a program to feed people all around the world beginning right here in West Harlem. Please help out with a generous contribution; there is an envelope provided in the bulletin today. Please see Bonnie Phelps or Lisa Slocum for more information.

 The Vestry will meet today, following the 10:00 am service for a quick update on transitional ministries. . All are invited.

 Peace of Pizza: Wednesday, May 9th at 7:00 pm, come join us for our monthly fellowship and discussion with the members of the New York Intern Program. The topic we’ll discuss is, “Parting is such sweet sorrow…stories of happy departures.” Come and share your story with us!

 Eccelsia: Marcus Garvey Park: St. Mary’s is the lead congregation on the first and fifth Sunday each month. Today we need some volunteers to help prepare the “Second Meal.”Also: St. Mary’s Homeless Street Outreach: Saturdays, 12:00 noon preparation and 2:00 pm Street Outreach. Please let us know if you can help and keep the Homeless Street Outreach in your prayers.

 Movies at St. Mary’s: 6:00 pm on Fridays. Come for the fellowship, the popcorn and the FUN!!  Also, we need volunteers to help.  May 11th: detective dee and the mystery of the phantom flame (2010, action/mystery, pg-13), an inventive martial arts mystery by famed hong kong director hark tsui;  May 18th: glory (1989, drama, r) moving story of the civil war’s first all-black volunteer company. with denzel washington, morgan freeman & matthew broderick. one of fr. earl’s all-time favorites!

 St. Mary’s “Urban Farm” is growing and greening. If you’d like to help, please let us know. Speak with Kym Roberts, Billy Adams or Stephen Thake.

 Prison Re-entry Program:  Monday, May 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm – “How to become a Welcoming Community to Congregants Returning From Prison” Training with Rev. Darren Ferguson and others. Infinity Mennonite Church, 2252 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd – to RSVP please e-mail Darren@interfaithcenter.org This training will be to prepare congregations to be ready to welcome those returning from jail and prison. Each of our welcoming conger-gations is being asked to identify point persons who will serve as a “greeter” for any of our charges that may come to visit you at your house of worship

 Preaching schedule: May 13: Mothers’ Day, The Rev. Earl Kooperkamp; May 20th, The Rev. Earl Kooperkamp’s last Sunday at St. Mary’s; May 27th, Pentecost, The Rev. Chloe Breyer

 Reflections on Today’s Scripture Lessons by Arthur Cash:

 First Reading Acts: 8: 26 – 40

    Tradition holds that the Ethiopian eunuch was the first gentile to be baptized. The tradition is true only if one does not consider the Samaritans to be gentiles, for numerous Samaritans were already baptized because of Philip’s teaching (8:12). The Samaritans were a splinter Judaism, and the Torah (Pentateuch) was their holy book.

    At that time, main-line Jews welcomed to their synagogues gentiles who came to worship Yahweh but would not convert because circumcision was dangerous and painful. When these “God-fearers” learned that Christians worshiped the same God, but did not ask for circumcision, they came to be baptized in large numbers; it may be that the Ethiopian eunuch was the first God-fearer to be baptized. We know nothing about him, not his nation, because the name “Ethiopia” was Used so variously, nor his queen, for “Candace” was a title, not a name.      

    The passage from Isaiah that the eunuch was reading (aloud, no less), was 53:7-8, from the song of the Suffering Servant, of which I spoke a month ago. It is interesting that this minister of the very early church who was a Jew and had grown up with the Law and the Prophets as his holy books should new do an about face as to their meaning and interpret them as prophecies of Christ. 

 Second Reading:  1 John 4: 7 – 21

    In our reading, John the Elder makes one of the most striking and critically important statements for Judaism and Christianity: “God is love.” Love is an abundant idea in both Old and New Testaments – God’s love for humankind, and the ideals of human love for God and love of one another, yet this passage is the only place in the entire collection of documents we call the Bible, where it is said that God is love.

     For John the Elder, love is not a matter of talk, but of the heart. It is made real only in acts of love for fellow humans. The supreme example is Jesus, who out of love for humankind suffered and died on the cross. We can’t know God through our sensors, but if we love one another, “God lives in us.”

    I and many others call this great theologian John the Elder, to distinguish him from John the Baptist, John the Apostle, and John the Divine (the author of the gospel). We know nothing about him except that his “letters” (more like sermons) seems to be written for some early Christian colony largely influenced by the gospel of John.

 

 

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