Monday, June 1, 2020

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church as the body of Christ                                                        
                                 May 31, 2020

Pentecost is the Christian Church’s birthday.  It is the third great Feast of the Church.  The Holy Spirit at Pentecost is poured out on all flesh. This Spirit is the breath of charity, the tongue of truth. It is the fire of compassion that heals human life. It is the language of Love.
During the 25 weeks that mark the Sundays in the liturgical year after the Day of Pentecost, we will seek to understand ourselves as a people of God who are born of compassion who love all creation with a limitless hospitality and with boundless mercy.  We seek to hear and to follow God’s higher callings to love Him whole-heartedly, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

We hope to grow spiritually as a Pentecostal people, a holy community whose holiness is measured only by its compassionate hospitality for all God's children and all of God's creation. 

For the Spirit already has set us on fire with the wonder that He sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that it might be saved through Him.  This same Spirit kindles our lives with healing powers that make us whole and at one with all of creation.
At Christmas we hear that "God is with us. Immanuel."  At Easter we hear that Christ is risen...God with us still.  At Pentecost we hear that the Holy Spirit, God is within us forever.
Joel 2:28-32
The Lord said to his people:
    I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
….Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' " 

2020 Calendar for Pentecost

June 7
Trinity Sunday 1st Sunday after Pentecost
June 14
2nd Sunday After Pentecost [SAP]
June 21
3rd SAP  Beth Clarke Preach and Father   Celebrate
June 28
4th SAPDr. Jonathan Preach and  Father Lee  Celebrate
July 5
5th SAP Father Herbert Barker. Preach and Celebrate
July 12
6th SAP  Father Herbert Preach and Celebrate
July 19
7th Sunday SAP Beth Clarke Preach, Father Lee Celebrate
July 26
8th SAP Father Keith Lee Preach and Celebrate
August 2
9th SAP Father Barker Preach and Celebrate
August 9
10th SAP   Father Barker  Preach and Celebrate
August 16
11th SAP  Beth Clarke Preach,  Father Lee Celebrate
August 23
August 30
12th SAP Dr. John McCall Preach, Father Lee Celebrate
13th SAP Father Barker, Preach and Celebrate
Sept 6-27 Oct 4-25
14-17 SAP Father Herbert Preach and Celebrate
18-21 SAP Father Herbert Preach and Celebrate
Nov 1-15  
All Saints Sunday 22nd, 23rd, 24th SAP Father Barker
Nov 22  
Christ the King Last Sunday After Pentecost
Nov 29  
1st Sunday in Advent

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Lent : 2020 The Church of the Good Shepherd, Shilin, Taipei, Taiwan

Since Lent is a period of turning, let us make a radical turn this year! 
When most of us think about Lent, “giving up” things come to mind.  I was challenged by a colleague during lunch this week with, “What are you giving up for Lent?  From how you are eating, it looks like you will be giving up fasting in Lent!”
My irreligious response was: “I’ll be feasting this lent in celebration of the Fest that awaits me at Easter!”
After thinking about that response, I realized that ironically, Lent is open to an understanding that it is a time for embracing deep gratitude for Christ’s mercies.  And gratitude can surely lead us into thanksgiving feasts, rather than leading us to fasting and meditations that highlight our shortcomings, or failures, or our rebellion, or our being a fugitive from God’s love and grace, we could consider a return home during these 40 days as a journey of festive celebrations!  No?  Let us consider it.
We all know that Lent is 40 days of preparation to ready us to share in the Passion of Christ----Holy Week, His Death and His Resurrection.  Through disciplines of prayer, self-examination, self-denial, repentance, and almsgiving (mercy gifts) we prepare to turn from our self-centered life to one that is centered upon The Other (God) and others.
In short, this is a period to turn toward Home.  Lent is a time for us to turn toward our true self.  Lent is the moment when we are called to lift our head and eyes beyond our broken promises and broken dreams and to look toward forgiveness, and healing, and reunion with Love that transcends all understanding.  It is not only Thomas Wolf that calls angles to look homeward.  Jesus calls us to look homeward as angels, and brothers, and sisters.  
Think I’m going home!  Think I’m going back to the place where I belong!  No more thinking “about” going home; I’m going home!  Now!
It is not in sadness that you and I face going home.  I remember when I was “let out” from class each day; and I headed home after school that it was with a sense of excitement and joy.  I remember that the closer that I got to home that I began to skip, and then at the last, I would begin to run to Mom’s kitchen where she was ready to embrace me, and where gingerbread and milk beckoned me to feast. 
I repeat that going home became a time for growing gladness and joyful expectation of homecoming’s loving embrace.  Going home gave no space or time for guilt or shame or self-incriminations.  As I walked, skipped, ran, all these fell away along the trek to my mother’s open kitchen door.
I do believe that during our Lenten’s meditations, and ruminations of the “place and condition” of our lives that rather than turning inward to navel gaze, because that is where we are obsessively trapped already; let us turn outward toward God the Father and reflect upon going toward His Way and ways!  Let us reflect about God the Father running to meet us as He sees us from afar.
A few years ago, I lead our elders’ English Bible class in a study of Henri J. M. Nouwen’s book, “The Return of the Prodigal Son”.  As I have been meditating on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, I see that it is a wonderful framework or foundation upon which to consider a new posture for Lent.  It is a posture of coming to our senses and realizing that life is better at home in His fields and gardens than hanging out around pig pens where we slop mostly in our self-made suffering. 

Now in Lent is a movement to begin to walk, then skip, then run home to Our Heavenly Father.  The skipping, the rejoicing, Yes, and gratefully, recklessly feasting in anticipation is in character with the expectations of the extravagant feast that our welcoming Father is readying for us. 

With this posture of running home toward love and grace, is a liberating one from self-indulgence.  I believe that Lent’s journey homeward is not framed in self-denial, but is indulging in affirmation of belonging to a loving Father who eagerly searches the horizon for a glimpse of us making our way home.

Our Heavenly Parent awaits our home coming.  That stance can truly prepare us to walk with Jesus, His Son, toward Heaven’s resurrection’s gate to ever- lasting life in union with the Father, with the Son, and with the Holy Spirit.

No longer ask yourself, or others, “What am I, or you, giving up for Lent?”  Declare instead, I am dropping everything, letting go of everything, letting loose of everything!  I’m heading home!

Repent!  Turn around for home this Lent!  Amen.