Christ the King Sunday

“Christ the King”

Matthew 25:31-46

 The Rev. Leonard Oakes

HCSM Daly City

 

35 more days!! 35 more days to go and it’s Christmas!! I can’t wait to sing my favorite song:

 “I’m dreaming of IPad Computer, It’s every preacher’s prayer these days.  I hope someone will listen and someone will give soon. Life will be merry and bright, I don’t have to print my sermons anymore”

That’s a result of not having the chance to sing last night with the Aurora Mandolin Orchestra and all the great singers. I’m just singing out loud and I plan to sing that song every Sunday hoping to un-wrap a wonderful gift this Christmas.

By the way, last night’s concert was a blast success!! Thanks to all the donors and supporters of the event. Everybody did a great job with all the tasking. The group commented that HCSM is a great community. Thanks be to God for this community of love. God’s kingdom continues to reign in this wonderful Church.

Today is the last Sunday of Pentecost. We are now entering into the season of Advent, a season to slow down and be more listening and paying attention to the coming of Christ the King.

It was said that the power behind every great husband is a smart wife. A story is told about husband who was boasting to his friends: “You know, in my house I am the king, and whenever my wife and I have a quarrel, my wife does the kneeling!” Upon overhearing this, the wife said: “You know why I kneel down? I kneel down to look for him under our bed where he is hiding!”

Today, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Jesus reminds us that He
alone is our King. Those of us who consider ourselves as kings, or act as
wannabe kings would do well to remember that on judgment day, all of us will be judged not so much by our power,
wealth, or stature, but by the good deeds we have done to one another.

It is a reality that no one stays at the top forever. The law of earth gravity says, “What comes up must come down” How futile are all our human efforts to hold on to power and influence, and hold on to life itself! Those who think of themselves or make of themselves kings or queens will sooner or later find out that earthly glory is passing and worldly power is fleeting. Save yourself and your family the trouble. The sooner you stop playing God, the better.

The Koreans have a beautiful custom of not harvesting all the fruits of a tree in autumn so that the birds will have something to eat in the forthcoming cold winter. This surely is an example worth emulating. They consider the needs of the helpless, the needy and the little ones. How much more should we, so-called Christians! We must be considerate, thoughtful, sensitive to the needs of the people around us, and respond generously. We must be on the lookout for ways and means to carry out the visions of Christ the King to serve humanity, and to preserve Mother Nature.

The spirit of Christmas is around us. As we busy ourselves to make Christmas happen in our own homes, please set aside something to make Christmas happen in the lives of other people.

 The best way to evaluate our Christian life is to kneel before Christ our King, and in humility ask Him how we are, and how we are doing. May we learn to be open, obedient and submissive to our King who made all things possible.

Tomorrow, our volunteers for the feeding the homeless program will be preparing bags of sandwiches and water, ready to seek the streets of San Francisco for the real poor in our society. Those who are pushing carts and carrying black garbage bags with their unwashed clothing; those who sleep on cardboards, they are the real homeless. Not those who beg on the streets with signs while they are smoking cigarettes.

After drawing fasting blood specimen on one of my patients in San Francisco, I drove into McDonald drive way on 3rd street for my breakfast when a pan handler was waiting with a sign, “Hungry, spare a change.” I ordered an extra burrito for the man but when I offered him the burrito, he refused and said “I need change” I wasn’t sure if he had enough breakfast burrito that morning from other customers or he is on diet or simply knows that fast food is not good for the health hence he doesn’t need another burrito. As I turn on the next street, a man was lying at the corner with just a cardboard and a thick blanket. I parked and offered him the burrito. He sat down and said, “Thank you and God bless you.”

There are so many real people in need in our society, let us give and share what we are blessed with. Jesus said, “Whatever you’ve done to the least of my people, you’ve done it for me.”

There are so many things to be thankful! We are blessed! So many in our world lack many of the things we take for granted. And it is all a gift from God. Give thanks then to God who is the author of all our blessings. Remember the bounty that was being celebrated at the first Thanksgiving  was made possible by the Native Americans who helped the Europeans in their hour of need.

HCSM continues to be connected with different charitable organizations like Seton Medical Center in Daly City. Did you know that Seton’s Daughters of Charity is spending millions of dollars giving free services to the uninsured and the poor of Daly City community and beyond? We are also blessed to be an ally of ALLICE Alliance on campaign against domestic violence and strive for better family and community. We are partners with San Mateo County
Health and Environment concerns. We have expanded our connections with the Peninsula Clergy Network on issues of health, disaster management and others. We have increased in volunteers in our bread for the community program every Monday morning and have expanded our health and wellness program providing free Taichi and Zumba sessions. We plan to expand our free blood pressure monitoring to the community. Our children ministry plan to entertain seniors at convalescent hospitals and senior centers with their cultural dance and music. We now have connections with YMCA to expand the knowledge of our youth and young adult. We have connections!! By coordinating our efforts and pooling our resources there is much we can do the least of God’s people.

With these tasks we have at hand, I invite you all to enter into the season of advent with prayers and meditations and continue to sing your songs to Christ our King. Amen.

 

You are the best gift God has ever made

You are the best
gift God has ever made

The Rev.
Leonard B. Oakes, HCSM

November 13,
2011

Matthew 25:
14-30

 

Three years ago, this month, God answered the prayers of Holy Child and St. Martin Congregation by calling The Rev. Leonard Oakes as their third Vicar. The Bishop of California and HCSM Senior Warder asked me if I was willing to serve. I answered “Yes”. I did not regret accepting the call for I knew that God called me here for a purpose. I can say I had been faithful to God by listening to His voice or at least I can say I was not afraid to do His command by multiplying the talents He has given me with great expectation that it will grow not only twice or five times but 10 times or a hundred times more.

The Gospel today tells us that he who was given five talents made five talents more, and he who had two made two more, but he who had only one hid his money in the ground and therefore did not earn anything. Now, prior to the economic downturn, a lot of people would criticize the person who hid his talent. However, when you start to lose your 401k and other stocks, maybe we can say he is wise. But perhaps there was a deeper reason why the man with one talent buried the gift that was given him. If we examine it closely, this is what he said, “I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.”

“I was afraid….” That sounds very revealing, and it may well be the reason for the way he acted. He was afraid.

There is no denying that fear is a common human experience. Fear of dying, fear of losing home, fear of losing jobs, and fear of losing your stocks. Fear of losing friends because you cannot give back or do what you promised and soon will result to estranged relationships. Fear of failing in school. Fear of losing your love ones and most of all we are always afraid- afraid of something or somebody.

This kind of fear is normal part of our existence and it has some positive functions. It prevents us from being too happy-go-lucky; it challenges us to resist the feeling of over-confidence; it hinders us from being too sure and too careless. It is fear that we can control; it can be made into an asset. But when fear controls us, when it paralyzes us into uselessness, laziness, then it becomes woefully dehumanizing, and that was why the man in the parable buried his talent. He was afraid. He was frozen with fear and did not venture at all.

When people cannot do anything because of fear, even their ability to think for themselves is greatly weakened. But something within us makes us realize that human development requires that we be enabled to overcome our fear and thus create an atmosphere where people can act out of their honest convictions.

The tragic mistake of the man with one talent was of being afraid to fail and he did not try at all. He failed the test of the master. The master wanted to know if the man was willing to face the risks. And that is one test we will always have in life. And as Christians, we should have the courage to face the test. We may not always succeed; sometimes we may fail, but failure need not be dishonorable. It is the failure of courage that is dishonorable.  When the master commended the men entrusted with five and two talents, he did not say, “Good and successful servants;” he said, “Good and faithful servants.” Whatever importance we may attach to success, success is not the most important thing in the eyes of God, it is faithfulness. Our calling is to be faithful. Faithfulness may lead us to success; it may also lead us to failure but it is faithfulness that counts.

 

How about you? Have you discovered the talents God has given you? Kindly ask the person next to you, “What talent have you discovered of yourself?” Beauty? Brain? Arts? Giver?” Are there things that you can do well or specific areas in which you excel? Don’t take them for granted. It may be singing, altar serving, altar guild, gardening, leadership; Greeter?
That’s one of the wonderful talent one could have, to be able to greet someone who comes in to the church, old and new and be able to extend that even after church, to sit down with that person at the coffee hour and make the person feel at home. Whatever it is, don’t belittle the talent God has given you. You are called here for a purpose. That may well be precisely what God has hardwired into you. It may be an important part of your destiny. Make sure that you explore it to the fullest, keeping in mind that what seems boring to one person may be exhilarating to another for whom that area is part of his or her destiny.

Remember, “God has given each of you the talents to do certain things well.” Focus on your strengths. When you are truly in your destiny, it is not a constant struggle. It just feels right.

You are called to make sure that you are fulfilling the dreams that God has placed in your heart. You are the best gift God has ever given. Are you tapping into the potential that’s on the inside? Have you discovered what you do best, what comes naturally? Are you excelling in that area?

If at school you are a leader in your class, don’t stop there, you are able to share time for school, share time for church as well. Remember, those opportunities were not there in the first place had it not been because of God who made things possible for you. Find time to come and pray and regain strength from God every time you come to receive the Holy Communion and be able to go out ready to do the task waiting for
you in the world.

If you are at a stay home person or mom, do it to the best of your ability. Don’t allow society to pressure you into some career simply because your friends are doing it. Recognize your purpose and do it well.

If you are gifted in the area of nursing and patient care, don’t frequent your sick calls. Remember that those elderly need your tender loving care. Get into the area of your gifting, and do it to the best of your ability. They need your compassion, show it to them, be the light to the rest of your co-workers showing them the proper way to care for your patients.

If you’re called to teach children, excel in it and you honor God. Whatever you are called to do, if you’ll do it to the best of your ability and excel at it, you are honoring God.

I challenge you all especially the youth and young adult, the young mothers and fathers, to find one thing that you’re passionate about and start giving yourself to it. And God will lead you one step at a time.

Remember, God is faithful and just, He wants us to do the same. He called you here in this place for a purpose. Follow God’s divine destiny for your life, discover your calling, and stay in your purpose. Make a decision to keep pressing forward, keep believing, and keep stretching until you see your dreams fulfilled. Then one day, you will look back and say with confidence, “Thank God for all your blessings, thanks for showing me the way that I reached my destiny without fear, thanks for making me an instrument of your love.”

Today, we also remember our Veterans who sacrificed their lives and families for our freedom. Let us offer them a prayer:

God of compassion, God of dignity and strength, We remember before you our Veterans. Watch over them O Lord, in recognition of their loyal service to our nation. Bless them with wholeness and love. Shelter them. Heal their wounds, Comfort their hearts. Grant them peace.

 Bless O God these men and women of courage and valor, With a deep and abiding understanding Of our profound gratitude. Protect them and their families from loneliness and want. Grant them lives of joy and bounty. May their dedication and honor be remembered as a blessing from generation to generation. Amen.

 

All Saints Day

All Saint’s Day At HCSM with Dr. Rod Dugliss

November 6, 2011: Year A- All Saint’s Sunday

Holy Child and St. Martin’s Daly City, CA

Revelation 7:9-17

1 John 3:1-3

Matthew 5: 1—12

IN THE NAME OF THE HOLY ONE WE KNOW AS ABBA, WORD, AND SPIRIT: AMEN

Some of you here may know St. Patrick’s Church on Mission Street just across from
Yerba Buena Park and the Moscone Center. I think it is the only church left in
the financial district. One year when I worked downtown I went by on a Good
Friday to have a bit of church on my lunch hour. When I first stepped into the
building, I was overwhelmed by the huge stained glass windows. From front to
back on both sides of the nave Irish saint after Irish saint all a full story
high and all dressed like medieval bishops. Even the one female figure was
dressed like a bishop—I mean they had to include Bridget somehow. To be in that
space was to be surrounded by the holy history of Ireland. Some years later, on
another lunch hour escape, I went to St. Patrick’s. What a change! The widows
are still there but now up and down the aisles, at every pillar and post and
in-between are statutes of saints: all sorts of saints—from Francis of Assisi
to Mother Elizabeth Seton to Santo Niño de Cebu. To step into St. Patrick’s
today is to be overwhelmingly surrounded by saints. Every day at St. Patrick’s
is All Saints Day. It is truly an experience of a cloud of witnesses.

People we think of as holy—whatever that might mean for you or me—have been part of
the Christian story from the announcement of Jesus’ birth to this moment. And
we want more than the story. We want to see them, so we honor holy lives
through picture, and statute, and window. It is how we get some sense of a
communion of saints. For many years The Episcopal Church held that the only
persons we could regard as saints were figures named in the Bible. All Saints
Day covered the rest. Forty years ago, we created a small volume called Lesser
Feasts and Fasts that put into our calendar of remembrance a number of mostly
men we wanted to honor in our story. At our last General Convention we approved
for trial use a thick volume called Holy Women Holy Men that proposes hundreds
of more persons. For us, the company of holy companions is getting bigger and
bigger. One of the main reasons for the new names is to make it easier for us
to see that holiness can be found in people like you and me. Maybe easier, but
my experience at St. Patrick’s points to an underlying problem. When we try to
depict any of these holy ones we put them “up there.” Up in the stained glass
window, up on a pedestal surrounded by candles. When we add to that our
fascination with the ones I call the super saints—Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
Archbishop Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King Jr—we admire, perhaps in awe, but
then say to ourselves, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” The whole point of having
saints—to inspire us all to do that—is lost. When Dorothy Day, the amazing
woman who began the Catholic Worker movement, heard people talking about her as
“a saint.’ She bristled. “Don’t call me a saint,” she said, “ I don’t want to
be dismissed that easily.” She understood that we make saints objects of
reverence, not as real role models for life and ministry. If she was to be
thought of as a saint, I think she would have much preferred to be seen in the
way today’s [All Saints] lays it out.

Instead of stories of heroic action or intense piety we are given Jesus’ teaching we
know as the Beatitudes. These statements naming blessed ones give us a very
different sense of sainthood. These saints are as unexpected, even puzzling,
for us as they were for those listening to Jesus. What an odd collection to be
the great cloud of witnesses we are to learn from and become!

The poor, especially poor in spirit.

The grieving.

The meek.

Those who are so consumed with a desire for a right relationship with God that
they are said to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Those who show mercy.

The pure in heart—in a world of divided hearts.

Peacemakers.

The persecuted, the put down, the bullied, those dismissed because of their
faith.

No warriors here. No fine robed bishops. No spiritual superheroes. It is
basically a list of those that a vocal segment of our society today scorns as
weak, whiners, unproductive, burdens. Losers—every one of them!.

Yet Jesus holds them up as the blessed, our role models for life. The
Franciscan Richard Rohr (OFM) sees even greater implications for us. It is in
the title of his book, The Beatitudes: Jesus’ Plan for a New World. Jesus
preached and taught about a kingdom—a way of being with God and with each other
that realizes how things could be if we lived into to love that we are offered
without condition. As Rohr says, the Beatitudes are downright revolutionary.
This is not just an casual observation. It means that whether we know it or
not, we have already signed up to be revolutionaries. You might well ask, “When
did we do that?” Every time we renew the vows of our Baptismal Covenant. A
every Baptism, at Easter, and Pentecost, and sometimes even on All Saints
Sunday, we promise to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in
Christ, to seek and serve the Christ in all persons, loving neighbor as self,
to strive for justice and peace, to respect the dignity of every human being.
That is how God’s kingdom comes to be. In the Beatitudes, Jesus names the
qualities we are to honor and try to live that will make the revolutionary work
of building the kingdom possible. And it is all possible. It is not easy and
certainly not acceptable to those who currently wield power and influence in
our very broken and deeply hurting world.

When we celebrate all the saints in this way, those named blessed do not urge
us to pursue our own singular spiritual path. We are not to try to be and act
holy on our own. The beatitudes are not a charter for super saints to be
admired and imitated from afar. Instead, those the world calls losers, place
our understanding and our celebration of All Saints in the heart of this
community where we live, and pray, and do ministry, together in sharp contrast
to the values and behavior of the world around us: a world driven by isolating
individualism, fear, greed, and anger.

Each blessing raises questions for us. Who are the meek, the poor in spirit,
and how shall we first learn from them and then act in their spirit to make a
better world? Where are the peacemakers? How will grief strengthen us? Where
will we find the capacity to be merciful? Big questions, but our lives and
those of our children who will inherit this earth, in whatever condition we
leave it, lie in the answers we find. We must pay attention to the questions
and try to wrestle with them, not just for ourselves but to do our part,
however small, to bring the promised kingdom near.

This may sound overwhelming. I can add a bit of Good News. The church in her
wisdom gives us people to help us do that wrestling and to work with us to
bring God’s Holy Reign closer and closer. They are our deacons. No, they don’t
have all the answers. No, they are not miracle workers who go “out there” and
do the work for us. Rather, they can help us see and understand what God’s
reign might look like right here in this small corner of the complex world and
help us do the work for it that we promise at Baptism.

Blessed are you, each and everyone here. Claim your blessing and all that the
beatitudes promise will be yours. AMEN

Dr. Rod Dugliss is the Dean of The School for Deacons, Berkeley California