The Cold Springer - Week of February 17th
Sunday, February 17th, 2019 - Holy Eucharist
Blessed are you who are poor,
For yours is the Kingdom of God."
When I was in seminary a classmate of mine, Anne, told me a story about a relative who visited her one Spring. The two of them were walking South East on Bleecker St. when they encountered a homeless person. Her relative (I want to say it was her Aunt) stopped in her tracks and gave the person some bills.
It was pretty common for out-of-state students to have family visit us in the city. It was also often the case a relative would arrive only to surprise us with how Christian they were, as if our vocation had inspired them. “Who is this person blessing every person on the subway who sneezes, wears a gold crosses on the outside of their clothing and passes out one dollar bills to every homeless person they meet?”
Of course, these sorts of behaviors are lovely and would that all humans met one another with such compassion; there’s just a disconnect when these same relatives find it appropriate to spit beer in another human’s face at a college football game. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.
But it wasn’t the act of generosity that had Anne cocking her head, chin in hand. It was what her aunt said while walking away from the recent recipient of her charity: “There but for the grace of God go I.”
The implications of this common colloquialism got under Anne’s skin. It didn’t help that her aunt had been throwing out quasi-Christian sayings for the past two days (like: this too shall pass, cleanliness is next to godliness and God helps those who help themselves) but at its core this particular saying was pretty bad theology.
The premise is that good fortune is a sign of God’s grace; that grace benefits some and not others and that its signs are quantifiable: good health, financial stability or social status. These are the sorts of things that we might take stock of when we “Count our blessings.”
But when we read the Beatitudes, from Jesus’ sermon on the mount, these two sayings - “There but for the grace of God go I” and “Count your blessings” - are turned upside down. Blessed are the poor, the hungry and the reviled!
Maybe, in light of what Jesus teaches his disciples, we should count our blessings; ask ourselves in what ways are we poor and hungry and reviled. It’s an exercise that fosters a humble spirit, puts us in solidarity with those who are marginalized and may even open us to real experience of God’s grace: a dependency on God’s presence in our lives.
Of course, we should always be grateful for our health, for financial stability and the supportive communities in which we live. Prayers of thanks are a dialogue that also promote a certain humility and make room for God at the center of our universe. An “attitude of gratitude” serves to make us more aware of God working in our lives even if we are - in some ways - poor, hungry and reviled.
God’s grace is neither restricted or limited, but is real and limitless; revealed to us in humility and gratitude. May we open our eyes to its presence, active and working in our lives.
Yours in Christ,
The Reverend Jesse Lebus
This weekend is a Holiday weekend. Many of our families are away. This week we will have a combined class with fun activities and crafts. Look forward to seeing those of you who are around.
Pancake Party & Burning of the Palms
Tuesday, March 5
6pm - 8pm
Lent is coming so we've got to prepare...let's party! St. John's annual Fat Tuesday party is a festive parish wide event. All are invited. Pancakes, bacon, New Orleans beverages and a King Cake! Brought to you by the Vestry and this year's Confirmation Class. Evening ends with a brief liturgy as we burn the old palms for Ashes on Ash Wednesday.