Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday at St. Theodore's

I went out to Taber this morning to take the services at St. Theodore's and enjoyed it as I always do. They are a very warm parish and I miss going out there regularly. When they were without a priest I was out there about once a month and really enjoyed myself. This morning the music at the 10:30 service was especially wonderful.

One of the things I love about them is that they always welcome Robbie. He is pretty good about sitting up in a pew and listening to the service. As he's getting older he doesn't settle as well as he used to though and I worry more about him being a distraction. He loves it there though and I so enjoy seeing him enjoying being with people. Knowing that his time is limited makes these moment even more precious to me.

The Gospel this morning was the Lord's Prayer and I preached on the petition, "Give us this day our daily bread." As a part of my sermon I talked about Sara Miles' book, Take This Bread. I had read some reviews of this book and some discussion of it over on Father Jake's blog so ordered it. It came this week and I couldn't bear to put it down. It is a powerful story of a woman, left-wing, secular, journalist, gay, who walks into an Episcopal church on a whim, takes communion and is converted. She makes a deep connection between the food she had shared with the poor when she was working as a journalist in Central America, the Eucharist, and sharing food with the poor living in the area around the church. She starts a Food Pantry, which distributes groceries to over 200 people a week at the church. When she starts receiving major money to support the work she starts more Pantries in the neighbourhood. It is an amazing story.

Fr. Jake posted this quotation from the book:

...Service is thanksgiving, because it means not only giving freely, but understanding how greatly we’re loved. I remember an afternoon at the food pantry when I was trying to open up, while an impatient throng of people shouted at me and at each other in three languages. I’d been unloading crates of oranges as fast as I could, and bossing the volunteers around, but we were still behind schedule. We were short a crate of snacks, and the two old Cuban sisters who always show up hours early were out front, bickering noisily. Three hyper little kids were pestering me for candy, and the crazy guy with apocalyptic theories kept trying to corner me and explain the secret messages he’d received. Some visiting minister was standing around, but I couldn’t get a minute to talk to him; new volunteers kept asking me what to do, but somehow nothing was getting done. Everything felt hectic and irritating and on the verge of chaos, and my feet hurt. I was sick of poor people, sick of church people, utterly sick of myself.

And then a woman pushed her way to the front of the crowd. She was Chinese, with a quilted jacket, and she was thrusting a package at me. I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say, but she kept smiling and coming closer. “Here,” she said, and handed me a piece of fish wrapped in waxed paper, still warm. “Food, for you”...

You can see why I couldn't put it down. I made the link between Miles' experience of working at the Pantry with my own experience of feeding students at the college and university. St. Theo's has helped us with that by providing campus care parcels every term. In fact, they provide as many bags as they have people in church - pretty amazing participation.

So it has been a good day and now I'm going to read Descarte's Meditations for Paul's class on theodicy.

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