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The Rev. Richard Schaper, Diocesan Gift and Planning Officer at HCSM First Sunday in Lent A

A Lent I

Holy Child and St. Martin Episcopal Church

Daly City CA

Behind the Fig Leaf


“Open, O Lord, the eyes of all people to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works, that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may honor thee with our substance, and be faithful stewards of thy bounty.”


Do you know what this is?  (fig leaf)

Not very big, is it?  Sort of a fig leaf bikini, it seems to me.

It’s what Adam and Eve used, the first reading says, to try to hide from God.

But you know from the story that they were not successful.

God found them.  As God finds us.  Which is what this Lenten season is about—letting ourselves be found by God.

We just heard this story from the book of Beginnings, of Genesis, that tells the beginning of our trying to hide from God. Adam and Eve have done the one thing that they were told not to do.  Later there would be 10 commandments, but in the beginning there was only one: Don’t eat from the tree in the middle to the garden.  So what did we do?  We ate from the tree in the middle of the garden.

Then came the first “Uh-oh!”  And that’s when we first tried to hide the truth—with a fig leaf, Genesis says.

The next 3 verses after today’s reading ends continues the story of the first attempted cover-up:

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden and I was afraid so I hid myself.”  (Gen. 3: 8-10)

Clad in their fig leaves and taking cover behind the trees, they attempt to hide from God.  But God calls out to them: “Where arrrrrrre yooooou?”

Now once found out, Adam comes clean. – I know: in a few moments he will try to blame everything on the woman, and she will try to blame everything on the serpent.

But first off, Adam comes clean and confesses:  “I was afraid” he confesses, “so I hid myself.”

This is why any of us hide— because we are afraid.  Why else would we hide except when we are afraid, when there is something in our life that we would like to avoid facing.

            I was at a financial planning conference not long ago where I attended a seminar on “life planning.”   In the financial planning profession nationally, there is a movement among financial planners that is called “life planning.”  Life planning challenges the assumption that the role of a financial planner is to help the client to maximize their wealth.  Instead, it begins with the question, ‘What is the wealth for?” In other words, the role of the financial planner is not simply to help you to get more money; it is to ask you, “What is the money for???”

            Roy Dilberto, our former national CFP resident who has a practice in Kansas City, says that when they do an intake of new client, they have the client come in and they bring the client into a comfortable conference room and they ask the client three questions.  The first question is, “If you had all the money that you wanted, what would you do?”   The second question is, ‘If you knew that you only had 10 more years to live, how would you spend these next years ahead?’  And finally, “If you were to die at midnight tonight, what would be your biggest regrets?”  March 13, 2011. 

Here is where they bring out the box of tissues, for it is a question that stirs up deep feelings in us because it gets us in touch with places in our lives where we might want to make some adjustments.  If for a moment we consider our how we are living our life from the standpoint of its sudden and inevitable end—which is of course is the whole point of putting ashes on our heads to bring to stark awareness that “we are dust, and to dust we shall return”—if we can for a moment imagine how our life would look from the perspective of all our chances to do anything different being completely over: then what does it feel like to us?

Of course, by the grace of God, our lives are not yet over, and we have this season of repentance, of turning, in which we may still make some significant changes in order to bring our lives more into alignment with what we know is most important in life, and with what alone lasts forever.

This third and final question asked by this financial planner of his new prospective clients—if you were to die tonight, what would be your biggest regrets?—is an apt question for us as we enter a season of coming out from hiding and letting our secrets be exposed to God who is merciful and will love us into a happier path.

It should not escape our notice that the person, the professional advisor, who is asking these three questions is a FINANCIAL advisor.  He is someone who is seeking to help people come into more fruitful relationship with their money.  I don’t think that I have to point out to you how rare this is, that people come into a relationship with their money, their financial assets, that is positive and meaningful for their lives.

In my experience as a professional financial planner as well as a priest, I come into touch with a broad range of people in terms of their financial circumstances and I can reliably report to you that there seems to be no direct correlation whatsoever between net worth and net happiness. Financially wealthy or financially poor, the genuine happiness of a fulfilling life seems to be as remote or as accessible to one as to the other.  On a per capita basis, you may not find more happiness in Ross than you would in the Canal.  It all depends, I have found, on what relationship a person has found with life and with their money as an expression of their life.

Do you remember the old Jack Benny gag in which the penny-pinching Jack Benny is accosted by a mugger who sticks a gun in his face and demands, “Your money or your life!”  Finding no response, the mugger demands more urgently: “Your money or your life!”  Jack Benny replies, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking!”

Well, our money and our lives do get pretty twisted together, often in ways that we do not understand.  Unless we have had occasion to explore our feelings about money, we are likely to still be living out whatever the messages were about money in the family we grew up in when we were still tiny youngsters.  I won’t go into what these messages were in the household I grew up in, but I will encourage you to consider your own personal earliest experiences and how these may have blindly shaped how you feel about money today.

Perhaps you’ve heard enough about money now and want to get back to the Bible.  Perhaps you recall the final words of Jesus from the Ash Wednesday gospel: “Where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.”  This is how Jesus concludes his counsel to us about how we are to engage in our spiritual disciplines, disciplines of praying, and fasting, and alms-giving.  Did I say alms-giving? Then we are back to money again.  But if we examine the teachings of Jesus, then it is hard for us to avoid this topic that often makes us feel uncomfortable, because fully 40% of Jesus’ sayings relate to money.

The only reason that Jesus talks so much about the M-word is because his concern is for our souls, our hearts, and—as he says—where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also.  We invest our money with such deep and often unexamined meaning.  I was a parish pastor for 12 years before I left parish ministry and became a financial planner.  These two occupations seemed poles apart to most people.  “So you abandoned God for Mammon!”, I was teased. But what I discovered is that there was about a 70% carryover from my skills as a pastor to my skills as a financial planner, from pastoral care and counseling to financial care and counseling. And this is because – as Jack Benny exemplified—there is a deep connection between our money and our life.

In one of the first interviews I was conducting as a financial planner, when the husband got up and left the room, the wife leaned forward and confided, “We tell you things that we haven’t even told our therapist!”   Yes, I was thinking, or your priest.

When we peek behind our own fig leaf at the things we try to hide from one another and from God, we may find there our relationship with money.  “I was afraid,” Adam explained, “so I hid.”  It is easy in our culture to be afraid of money.  We may be afraid that we do not have enough, or we may be afraid that we have too much, or that we are not managing it well, and so on and so on.

This is precisely where we want to listen for the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening, and calling out to us: “Where are you?”  Because the mercy of God is bigger than our fear, and the forgiveness of God is bigger than our sins, and God can lead us out into a new place of resurrection.  The direction is pointed to by Jesus when he speaks of getting our hearts and our treasure moving together in the same direction.

“If you were to die tonight, what would be your biggest regrets?” the financial planner asks. This is an exercise that can bring us to a clearer recognition of what it is that is most important to us.  What is it that matters most to you in your life, what is more precious to you than anything else—perhaps more than life itself?  The more clearly you can discern and name what is most important to you—your deepest values, your faith really—the more completely you can bring your life including your money into alignment with what gives your life meaning.

To the extent that we can get our lives and our money lined up with our hearts, we will know the genuine happiness that comes from knowing that we are on the right path, a path that leads to God and to being a blessing for others with whom we share this world during our brief pilgrimage on earth.  To the extent that we get our financial assets—our income, our capital and our estates—lined up with our souls, our money becomes an expression of our hearts and our heart’s devotion and a source of joy.  Imagine that: our money becoming a source not of anxiety, but rather of joy.

And the first step in this direction is precisely the step that we have already taken this morning of coming here to this place, before this Table, to come consciously into the presence of the one before whom all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hid.  –Before whom no fig leaves hold up.  The one who dealt with his temptations so that he might help us with ours.  The one who gave his life, and said, “Take eat, this is my body, given for you. Take and drink, this is my blood poured out for you, for the forgiveness of sins.”

            Our money or our life?  God wants them both.

            Thanks be to God!

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Ash Wednesday Sermon

Ash Wednesday

9 March 2011

Cathédrale Ste. Trinité, Port-au-Prince


The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church


We stand at the beginning of Lent, reminded that we are dust and that we shall return to dust at the last.  The people of Haiti know something about dust and ashes, particularly as a sign of destruction and of mourning.  People here are reminded of grief wherever we turn, grief that still sits heavy alongside the piles of ashes and dust.  When those piles really begin to disappear, hope emerges in their place.

 The ashes and dust of this day at the beginning Lent are a reminder that even though we may be destroyed, God continues to do a new thing.  Even the worst destruction that enters our lives cannot destroy what God is doing.  We start this journey of Lent by looking toward Jerusalem, where Jesus was killed by the political destroyers of his day.  Out of the destruction of his body, out of the dashed hopes of his disciples, out of the tomb where they laid his corpse, God continues to bring new life.

 How are the people of this land and this diocese today?  Some are still standing around outside the tomb, some are in the closed-up room with Thomas asking for proof that this is really Jesus.  Some are eating breakfast on the beach with the risen Jesus. 

 Last year, we encouraged you to understand that Lent had already come, and that the task was to look for resurrection everywhere.  This year, life is still hard and uncertain, yet there are solid signs of resurrection in the work Bishop Duracin and the leadership of this diocese have begun.  This cathedral will stand again.  Its art will once again feed the hearts and spirits of this nation – and of the world.  The many healing and teaching ministries of this diocese are beginning to re-emerge with new strength.  The body of Christ stands together in solidarity to do the work of re-building. 

 As we walk the journey of Lent this year, the old disciplines are going to help:  prayer, fasting, giving alms, examination of conscience, and meditating on God’s living word.  The gospel encourages us to turn outward – to not be so focused on our own experience, whether it’s the holiness of our personal prayer or the outward signs of ashes and fasting.  We are not the only people on this planet. 

 This year, remember the people of Christchurch, New Zealand, who have also suffered a devastating series of earthquakes.  That diocese was among the first to respond when the earthquake happened here – their bishop challenged her people to raise $100,000 for relief work here.  Their cathedral now lies in ruins as well.  As you pray for them, what would the people of Haiti tell the people of Christchurch about the healing work of the last year?  What you’ve learned in this journey?  God is certainly building a new bridge between us all, reminding us that we are part of the same body of Christ, living on a fragile earth that moves and creaks and groans, and a world that is connected heart to heart, when we treasure each other.  This world is being continually reshaped as mountains are created – or leveled.  The works we construct on this earth are but dust, and at the same time we seek shelter in the palm of God’s hand, knowing that we are beloved.

 What do we treasure?  Where do our hearts focus?  These buildings are precious, yet this body is even more precious, as it seeks healing for itself and the world around it.  May we be rebuilders and repairers of this broken body. 

 The ashes we will receive in a few minutes are a sign of that brokenness.  Yet they are also precious reminder that we are all created out of the same dust – we share a common humanity with all other people who have ever walked this earth, including Jesus of Nazareth.  We have a common part with all of creation.  We are made of the same dust and ashes as the stars in the heavens.  And all of it is precious in God’s sight.  May the ashes on our forehead remind us of the cross made there, in the same place, when we were baptized.  Those crosses are a sign that we, too, are meant to be light to the world.  May those crosses shine with hope for rebuilding and repair, hope for love to heal this world.

Last Sunday after Epiphany/Transfiguration

Last Sunday after Epiphany A

Transfiguration Sunday

Matthew 17:1-9

March 5, 2011


As I stand before you in this elevated pulpit of Holy Child and St. Martin, also stand today on a rather higher elevated pulpit at Grace Cathedral, the good Nobel Peace Prize Recipient, ArchBishop Desmond Tutu. As much as I would not like to be compared to the good ArchBishop, I can’t help but with joy, like Peter in the Gospel, say, “We’ll both share our own mountain top experiences in light of the Transfiguration story,”  with a goal that your own mountain top experiences will also come to be realized.

The Transfiguration account begins with the phrase, “Six days later, after Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus took Peter, James and John to a high mountain” Why would Jesus take only the three and not the twelve? These brothers must have some bothersome issues they have been keeping inside them and that Jesus would like to show them something before their very eyes which could make them realize and understand sooner or later the meaning of all their questioning. For six days, they carried this news of Jesus’ impending death around inside of them. For six days it soaked into their souls. For six days they secretly grieved for the inconceivable death of their Savior. What would they do without Jesus? For six days they walked in a daze between denial and acceptance of the most unacceptable news they had ever heard. On the seventh day, Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain. And suddenly on that “Sabbath” day, the day of God’s favor, the glory of God was revealed to them in Christ. His clothes and his face glowed. Heavenly light shown from him. And that wasn’t all. Moses and Elijah appeared. The two greatest Prophets of God right there with Jesus. Then a cloud overshadowed them and a voice came from heaven and said, “This is my Beloved Son, with him I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

Jesus and the apostles are alone again and make their way down the mountain together. The apostles do not understand what they just experienced and therefore do not say anything to anyone. They do not, however, forget. They speak of it again after the resurrection, and they interpret the resurrection in light of their experience on Tabor.  

Great and significant events in Jesus’ life take place on a mountain. It is a place of manifestation for Matthew. In Matthew’s gospel the temptation of Jesus, the beatitudes, the sending of the apostles on the mission of the church, were all mountain top events. The Lord will usher those who are his own into the light of glory on a high mountain at the end of time.

After my ordination to the diaconate in 1993, I was assigned to a remote area in Mawigue, Conner Apayao north of Philippines. The road was rough, rugged and muddy during rainy season. Not even a boot can move me up for an hour and a half hike up to the mountain. Most of the times, I had to walk with my bare feet and sharpened great toes to keep me from sliding down a hill. But there’s a big mango tree in the middle of that hill that most people would stop and rest. The feeling was revitalizing as I scroll my eyes to the panoramic view of the village. The banana and coffee trees, the wild animals and fresh water stream were just wonderful to see. The village people were pure and humble in spirit. I had wished that I  stayed there for the rest of my life, but I realized that I had to come down and tell the others and my family the wonders of God in that place. I told my bishop, “come and see.” The next day, the bishop put on his boot and tracked the rugged road with me. Just as we arrived on that mango tree area, he had an asthma attack, the cool wind came brushing his face and felt better. The whole village people gathered at the small chapel on a hill for dedication. It was a transfiguration experience I will never forget.

You too have your own mountain top experiences. Every day, every work, and every challenge is our mountain top experience. Thanks be to God for the Sabbath, a time to regain strength and be transfigured by God’s grace through Jesus Christ who would remind us, “Do not be afraid, get up and be strong.” We may not be able to explain fully the beauty of God’s love however we can describe them and we will never forget. To be at a highest peak on earth is one of the most wonderful experiences one could ever have. The panoramic view, and the realization that all that beauty is God’s creation makes the heart leap in glory. The mere experience of watching clouds float by at eye level simply makes one feel close to God on a mountain. Try to put yourself on the wings of the eagle or the hawk gliding gracefully from above high mountains and feel the wind brush your face, oh what a feeling.

Singer and Song Writer John Denver wrote the song Eagle and Hawk with the following words: “Come dance with the West wind, and touch on the mountaintops, sail o’er the canyons, and up to the stars. And reach for the heavens, and hope for the future, and all that we can be, not what we are.” John Denver simply knows the feeling of being in the mountain top and be alone with God. He had a vision of a better place after that mountain top experience.

Before he climbed the highest peak on earth in 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary, a new Zealand mountaineer and explorer, envisioned success and fulfillment of his goal with humble determination to reach the peak of Mt. Everest of the Himalayas. Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Tibetan mountain climber, gave hope to the world that there’s no highest mountain impossible for man to climb. Today, hundreds of mountain climbers reach the peak of Mt. Everest and had a glimpse of the panoramic view of God’s creation and coming down, their hearts were filled with wonders and with great joy to share the world.

 American Heartthrob Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus rendered a beautiful and inspiring song, “The climb” Heather and Hailey would compete songs of their own American Idol version at home singing these lines,

(May I ask all young ones to sing it for us)

“There’s always going to be another mountain, I’m always going to want to make it move, always going to be an uphill battle sometimes I’m going to have to lose. Ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb. The struggles I’m facing the chances I’m taking, sometimes they might knock me down but, no I’m not breaking. I may not know it, but these are the moments that I’m going to remember most yes, just got to keep going and I, I got to be strong, just keep on pushing on…”

(Thank you children)

Life, especially the life of faith, is an uphill battle. There are rocks and pits in the trail and at times it gets steep. As we trudge up the trail we are met with disappointments and doubts. Even though we have confessed Christ as the Son of God, our Lord and Savior, it gets difficult. And we are troubled by doubts and dilemmas. Why does God let innocent children suffer? Why does God allow faithful people to die of cancer. Why does God let the suffering of the world touch me? Why does God let me suffer? Why would God allow people to easily push down further those people who are already in the mud, and humiliate them?  It’s like a kick in the teeth. “Hey, wait a minute Jesus, remember me, I was the one who said you are the Son of Living God, and now you do this. You can’t go die on a cross for me, I won’t let you.” And we sit and stew in our disappointment. We grieve over a loss that we can’t seem to accept. We keep poking the sore spot to see if it is any better. And we doubt. For six long days, or months, or years, or decades, we sit in the darkness of a cloud that overshadows us. And our spiritual vision never goes beyond our hurts and doubts. But in faith we sit where the Lord has called us to be. But then the seventh comes, the Sabbath day, the day of God’s choosing. What then? Then the Glory of the Lord is revealed. On the Sabbath day Jesus stands transfigured, glowing with a heavenly radiance, right before our eyes. On the Sabbath day the voice of God speaks out of the cloud itself. I don’t know where you are. Perhaps you are in a valley or in darkness. Or maybe you are going up a mountain, or coming down the mountain. Wherever you are remember that God’s people have been there before. And when the time was right, when God decided the time was right; the glory of the Lord enveloped them. When the trail gets steep remember that God’s glory is always revealed at the right time. Hold on to the glory that you have seen and the promise of the glory that you will see. Balance it with the truth that the trials of the past have shown you. And let it prepare you for the desert places and trials ahead. If we hold on together, to that glory and the voice, it will enable us to face the memories of the past and the troubles of the future just as Moses and Peter did. The mountain may be steep, but remember that God is with us and God’s glory will meet us at the top.

May this day lead us all to a deeper transformation with God as we welcome Lent and come to that victorious day in Easter where all our doubts will be washed away through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amen

March 2011 Announcement


 March 7, 2011, First Monday of the month Feeding the Hungry program. Please make donations to HCSM/Feeding the hungry. We need sandwiches, water, cookies, zip locks  and your love.

 March 8, 2011, 6-10 P.M. Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras Dinner. Come and Celebrate with us. Pancake, sausage, eggs, bacon, tea, coffee, hot chocolate with Music and Entertainment. Cost is $7.50

 March 9, 2011, Ash Wednesday. Imposition of ashes with Eucharist at 7 a.m; 12:30 noon; 7 p.m.)

 March 13, Sunday at 9:00 am and 10:30 am., The Rev. Richard Schaper, Diocesan Gift Officer  will visit Holy Child and St. Martin and grace us with homily. Daylight Savings Time Begins.

 March 17, 24, 31, April 7 and 14 2011 ,Thursday evenings at 7 PM, Ruth Hoppin, author of Pricilla’s Letter is inviting everyone to a Lenten Bible Study here at Church Library. A registration form is at the back for you to fill out.

 March 26, 2011 at 6:30 AM, a whole day trip to Colusa California. Come and try the Season’s Buffet at $8.95 per person with senior discount. Free breakfast!!! Seats are available for reservation. Please call Maja Milanes at (415) 244-7010 or (650) 991-1560.

 Congratulations to our newly elected members of the Bishop Committee: Nina Browne, Lois Downs, Maja Milanes, Mirela Pumacayo.

And to our Deanery and Diocesan Representatives: Lydia Sawachi, Ruth Hoppin, Yvonne Ah You and Stewart Hoppin.

Eight Sunday After Epiphany A 2011

Eight Sunday after Epiphany A 2011

Matthew 6:24-34

Someone called me one day saying, “Fr. I am worried about not being able to find job these days. There are just too much unemployed people waiting in line just like me. I am worried about not being able to pay my rent and end up nowhere.”

Another person called me on the phone saying, “Fr. I am worried about losing my family because I am not able to pay my monthly house rent. I have received an eviction notice and if I am not able to move out from the house by next week, the sheriff will take my family away from me and it will surely destroy our very foundation and being.”

And yet, another call I received two weeks ago saying, “Fr. Have you heard about the prediction of the end of the world in May 2011, an earlier prediction than the previous one from the Mayan calendar December 2012? It looks real and surely is happening around the world.”


I was sharing my own worries to Lynn one day, “I’m worried that I will have an early dementia due to stress. And she told hers, “I can’t find my phone and my keys, they were just here a few moments ago.”

 We all worry. We worry about the economy we worry about our health and our families. Worry seems to be the basic state of people in our society. If people are not worried about one thing they are worried about another. They worry about global unemployment and life security. I once had someone tell me they were worried because they had nothing to worry about and that there must be something they should be worrying about but had forgotten and that worried them.

The end result of all this worrying is sleeplessness and high blood pressure. Most of the time what we worry about, we can do nothing about, so worrying just robs us of joy.

I once told my Nephrology Doctor about my worry of not being able to get life insurance because of a significant amount of protein in my urine test which disqualifies me from the standard insurance requirements. My doctor scolded me saying, “Your life insurance is when you modify your diet regimen and lose weight. When you do that, you will live your life to its fullest.” She is right!!!

Our Lord Jesus Christ is right too when he said, “Don’t worry about how you will live” Jesus is not saying that we should just take on an optimistic attitude that ignores the very real problems and dangers of our world. However he does tell us not to worry. At the same time he tells us not to worry for a reason. He gives some very good reasons.

So what reasons do Christians have for not worrying? One is that life is more than food and the body more than clothing. We know that there is something greater than this material world. We know that there is spiritual reality that is deeper and more meaningful than these things. We know that things like love, compassion, faith and hope are more basic to human existence than mere food and clothing. So we don’t ignore the dangers that we may lose the physical things we need. Rather we look beyond those physical needs to more basic things.

We also know that there is a life beyond this one. I can’t imagine how people who don’t believe in an after life face death. To them the prospect of starvation must always loom over them. If the world were to come to end by nuclear war or natural disaster, to them that would be the end of their existence. But we know that there is more to life than this mortal existence. There is an eternity of life after this body turns to dust.

Don’t worry. What is the worst that can happen? The world economy falls apart and we starve. But we know that the source of love and hope and faith, Jesus Christ, is not dependent upon things as fragile as the environment. God will always be there for us. And when we die, whether by violence, natural disaster or extreme old age, we have an eternity of peace and light waiting for us. That sounds like a good reason not to worry!

Jesus gives us another good reason not to worry. In fact he seems to make the same point twice in this passage. First he says, “Look at the birds. They don’t worry about their next paycheck and yet they have plenty to eat.” God takes care of them. If God is going to go to the trouble of feeding the birds that are a dime a dozen, isn’t He going to care for us? Then he says, “Look at the wild flowers. They don’t read fashion magazines or run to the mall all the time; they don’t get chemical peels and face lifts and tummy tucks, but they are more beautifully clothed than all the movies stars in Hollywood.” God made them beautiful. If God goes to the trouble of making mere grass beautiful how much more will he cloth you in beauty?

The point is: God will provide. God made you. He will provide for the material things you need. You may not have all the luxury items that the world likes. But what God provides will be more beautiful and meaningful in its simplicity.  Worrying often accomplishes nothing. In fact it just seems to make matters worse. If you worry about being sick you will make yourself sick. If you worry that your life will not have meaning or good quality, you will rob yourself of quality and meaning in life. Worry is useless.

Now I think this is a good time to make a distinction between worry and concern. There are definitely things to be concerned about. We should be concerned about what we eat and how we will eat and have clothing and shelter. But if we have concerns we should act on these concerns and do something about it. The problem is we often have concerns about things that we can’t control, like rouge nations or the global environment or economy. And so we worry about those things. If you can do something about a concern then do it. Eat healthy, get involved with the community. If you have a concern and you can’t do anything about it, give it to the Lord. He is bigger than any problem you are worried about. He can handle global warming, nuclear proliferation and the hole in the ozone layer before breakfast. Do what you can about the small things with God’s help, and let God worry about the big things. If you can do something about a concern then do it. We have to start modifying our way of expending our resources. Do not spend more than you earn. Remove fast foods on your list of places, cook at home instead. Avoid delinquencies in your house payment, you will find the overcharges to be overwhelming. Avoid promises that may not be accomplished, they will destroy relationships. Be patient in your search for job and do not lose hope. Walk with faith in your heart.

“Why worry”, goes the song of Dire Straits, “There should be laughter after pain, there should be sunshine after rain, these things have always been the same. Some people can be bad, the things they do the things they say, but why worry now?”

 Let us continue to do the will of God. Compassion is what our people need, give them compassion instead of breaking them into pieces, for what profits a person if he/she gains everything because of power and pride but lose them all when we meet before the Lord our maker. If you can do something about a concern then do it. Peace be with you all, peace that surpasses all understanding may soothe your hearts and souls even when man persecute and revile you. Come, be at peace with your God, let tomorrow worry about itself. Come be one in the body of Christ and gain your strength from the very root that sustains you, the love of God through His Son Jesus Christ and in the fellowship of the Holy spirit, Come, we are here for you. Come with a smile in your face. Amen.



Sermon on Sixth Sunday After Epiphany A February 13, 2011

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany A  February 13, 2011
The Rev. Leonard B. Oakes                                                          

Holy Child and St. Martin’s Episcopal Church
777 Southgate avenue Daly City, CA 94015

Matthew 5:21-37

Today, I want you to feel you are loved and I ask you to love each other. Know that you are welcome in this blessed place and that you were sent here for a reason. Seek further for that reason and you will find that it is because of the love of God that you were found and indeed you found others in this place.

There is so much hate, anxiety and uncertainties that we see happen around us and around the world and we are hurting our relationship with God so much as we hurt our relationship with each other, our country and ourselves. Love, when it gets in our way will take us all in the stream where God wants us to be. So I want you to feel that space where you feel fit, comfortable and in the care of our loving God.

Love each other – not with the love that depends on mood, and feelings – nor even with the love that depends on the behavior of others, but love each other with the kind of love that Christ refers to in today’s reading from the Gospel. Our Lord Jesus Christ came not to destroy the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them. Not what one man says, “Walk the talk” but does not do it, but rather “tend my sheep and find those who are lost”

The love that I mean is the love that goes beyond what seems right according to the letter of the law, and enters into the Spirit of what God wants for us, the love that enters into feeding others, into healing others, into showing grace to others, into giving peace to others, the love that values others, regardless of who they are or what they have or have not done. The love that does not despise others when the going gets tough, a true love and compassion to those who needed us the most when confronted with difficulties in life, in their struggle to protect and find shelter for their family. For what profits a man if he gains everything but will lose his soul in the end because he has no love and compassion.

With love – my friends – there is no loophole, no escape hatch, no clauses that say the deal can be revoked if this or that condition is not met. Love is total – it is unconditional – or it is not love at all. Feel the words of Jesus we heard read this morning. They were words addressed to a people used to compromising – to altering love’s demands as they are found in the law of God so that those demands would be easier to fulfill. In each of the four cases presented in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus sets for his followers higher standards than the Pharisees. Such might have shocked his disciples because the Pharisees were considered by all to be righteous. Yet, Jesus interpretation of the law called for a far greater righteousness which included outward behavior and inner motive. Jesus’ statement implies an imperfection and incompleteness. Each of the contrasting ideas presented in the Gospel is introduced by the formal “You have heard the commandment” and followed by a verbatim quotation of the law with this, “But I say to you” Jesus pushed for a broader interpretation and wider application than the letter of the law. Jesus was clear in saying; he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill them. His aim is at the motivating force behind one’s actions. You have heard that it was said “you shall not murder” –Jesus elaborated this by saying, “but I say to you that if you are angry with your brother or sister – you will be liable to judgment.” “You have heard that it was said, “you shall not commit adultery,” “but I tell you that everyone who looks with lust at another has already committed adultery…” “You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool.” “It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” “But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery;

Now, if I may add, you have heard that it was said, “Walk the talk” But I say unto you, “Do it! And don’t be saying something that comes from the side of your mouth, or say something contradictory behind your back.”

There are no loopholes to be found in Jesus’ words, no compromises, No deals, No escape hatches. What Jesus does is crystallize the issues involved in loving God and our neighbors so that we can know – without doubt – just where we stand, and exactly what we need to aim for. Think about where you stand for a minute – Think about how you love others and ask yourself – is my love up to the standards set by Christ? We greet those who greet us, we do good to those who do good to us, we lend to those who will pay back, We welcome those who welcome us. As for everyone else – well – if asked, most of us have a reason for what we do, and an excuse for what we do not do. What we aim for as Christians – is to break through the limitations of our excuses, we aim to destroy all reasons that we might offer to treat one person as less than another and to enter into relationships with each other that are based upon our equality before God.

 An old pilgrim was making his way to the Himalayan Mountains in the bitter cold of winter when it began to rain. An inn keeper said to him, “How will you ever get there in this kind of weather my good man?”  The old man answered cheerfully – “My heart got there first, so it’s easy for the rest of me to follow.” The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that we can meet all the demands of love that are expressed in the law in one way – and only in one way – we can do so if we our hearts go there first.

Today – this day of Love – I urge you – let your hearts go -love God and love each other as deeply as you can. When you do – you will find, no matter how many mistakes you may make on the way, that goodness and blessedness will blossom along your path, and all that God has planned will come to pass. Let neither fear nor anxiety deceive and make you turn your heart away from God. But Love one another.

Today is also youth and young adult Sunday. Let me tell you that I have been on that road before. Youth is life’s summertime. It is the period of time when one feels strongly the tender throbs of life. But it is also a time of pain, hurt, disappointments, frustrations, fear of failures. Most of it is because of the absence of the love of Christ. A young person’s life is not complete without Christ. Let Christ lead you and you will find the greatest adventure of your generation in the company of Jesus, to be the agents of his love than can set the heart of man on fire for God. This Church is a house of prayer for you. When life is so unfair, come and be at peace with your God. Do something out from your love and offer it as an offering to God. Be at peace and feel secure here. Dream together as a youth and explore every possibility of doing service to others as your way of serving God. Do you feel being called to visit the elderly at home and in long term facilities by offering them your time to read news papers, sing songs or simply just being there to listen? Do you feel called to teach our young children who are following you as their models? These are just few of many things that you can possibly offer to God. I ask you my dear young friends to open your hearts to every possibility of loving God, your neighbor and yourself in this place.

Now to amplify more of what I said today, and just to make sure that the message has touched your heart, let me say that in the form of song to make you feel better and inspired. I love to sing you the song, “All you need is love” from the Beatles;

(Sung) “Love, Love, Love. All you need is love, love is all you need.
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done. Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
It’s easy.

Nothing you can make that can’t be made. No one you can save that can’t be saved.Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.
It’s easy.  All you need is love. All you need is love. Love is all you need.

My friends let us love one another and walk humbly with our God. Be at peace with one another before you come and receive the body and blood of Christ. Be transformed with that love and go out from this place renewed and tell others the miracle that made you whole. Amen.

February-March 2011 dates to remember

February 9 & 23, Cultural dance lesson with Ms. Christle Arriola. (Pandanggo sa ilaw, Tinikling)

February 12, 2011 at 6:30 PM, Valentine’s Sitdown Dinner at HCSM hosted by The Episcopal Church Women (ECW). Fr. Leonard to entertain with vocal & guitar serenade. The Rev. Dr Lynn Bowdish, Mariterie Adams and Maja Milanes to lead the Hula dance. Come one, come all.

February 13, 2011- Youth and Young adult recognition day 10:30 am service.

February 27, 2011- HCSM General meeting at 12 noon with Lunch. (Election of new Bishop Committee members, Diocesan and Deanery representatives; budget   proposal for 2011 approval).

March 8, 2011 at 6 PM, Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras)

March 9, 2011, Ash Wednesday

March 17, 24, 31, April 7, 14, 2011 at 7 PM- Lenten Bible study with Ruth Hoppin, author of Precilla’s Letter. HCSM Church Hall.


Fifth Sunday after Epiphany A 2011

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany A 2011
The Rev. Leonard B. Oakes
Holy Child and St. Martin’s Episcopal Church
777 Southgate avenue Daly City, CA 94015

Matthew 5:13-20 “You are the salt and light of the earth”

Good Morning!! I can see a sea of lights present in every pew today!! Your presence gave brightness to our coming together to worship God.

Allow me to be your teacher in Christianity this morning. The first lesson today is; “You are the salt of the earth.”

Now I don’t know about you but I like salty foods. I love Binagoongang rice, adobo and kilawin and anything that has salt on it (Although I prefer now low salt diet to control my blood pressure). When you hear the word “salt” the first thing the comes to mind  is the flavor. And to relate that to the words of Jesus, we immediately say he is  saying that Christians should give flavor to life.

But there is more to Jesus’ statement than just flavor. While Jesus and his hearers might have thought of the flavoring aspect of salt, that probably was not their first thought. You see in Jesus’ day, they didn’t have ways of preserving food like we do. And one of the major sources of protein in Israel was fish. Most of the fish that I have in my house is either frozen Bangus or canned Sardines. I would be lucky if we have a left over canned Igat or eel from Apayao. You know they do that now and you must be clever enough to escape the strict inspectors at the airport customs.

Back in Jesus’ day they didn’t have freezers or, to my knowledge, canning. They used salt to preserve their fish. And the salt preserved the fish by killing bacteria. This we do also back in the Philippines when we dry and preserve our food meat by spreading salt to prevent the germination of bacteria. Hence we have etag or salted meat.

So Jesus and his followers probably thought about the preservative qualities of salt. Jesus is saying that it is our job to preserve people. It is our job to put them in touch with God, so that they can live forever and not rot with the Devil. Some would even say that we preserve the world because only our presence prevents God from destroying this sinful place. But it is more than just preserving. Here is where the flavor comes in. When someone comes to Christ, they not only are cleansed of their sins and preserved for eternal life; they are also given an eternal quality of life. Jesus spices up their life as well as preserving it. So like salt we should preserve and spice up people’s lives. That we always do when we come together to renew our relationship with God and each other and when we meet new friends at church and everywhere.

Salt was also an important part of sacrifices in the Old Testament. So when they heard “salt” they probably thought of the salt added to sacrifices. This was the “salt of the covenant” and represented holiness. So just as the priests salt sacrifices to make them holy, we are to spread holiness and salt the world.

What is the next thing Jesus says? Look back in verse 13 again: “if the salt has lost its taste how can its saltiness be restored?”

While it may be hard for us to imagine, salt can lose its taste. It can become contaminated so that it is no longer of any use for flavoring or preserving food. Have any of you seen road quality salt? That is, salt that is not good for human consumption. It looks like granite. It is gray with white streaks. Because it has other minerals in it, it lacks flavor and would probably make you sick. It’s only use is to throw in the road to melt snow. In one sense such salt is no longer salt. It’s just sand.

In Israel it wouldn’t even be good for that because they don’t get much snow in the holy land. You wouldn’t want to throw it away in your garden so you would throw it on the road and use it like sand. That’s what a Christian is who has lost his or her flavor for life. If they are no longer doing their job they are useless. They are like salt without any salt in it. Do you think you are likened to that kind of salt?

So Jesus’ first lesson in being a Christian is that we are like salt. We are supposed to be holy so that we can spread holiness. And by spreading holiness we purify and preserve the world. And if we aren’t doing that, then we are good for nothing. In a sense, a Christian who no longer lives Christ is no longer a Christian, at least not in the way they live their life. They are no longer Christians in the same way that salt which has lost its flavor is no longer salt.

The second point in Jesus’ opening lecture on Christianity is, “You are the light of the world.”

Many people, including myself, look at this and think it is saying the same thing as the first lecture. And it is close, but there is more emphasis here on doing.

Jesus goes on to say that you don’t light a candle to cover it up but to place it high so that many can see. In the book of Revelation the churches are symbolized as lamp stands. The church holds up the light of Christ just as a lamp stand holds up a lamp. Some people use a lighthouse as a symbol or metaphor for the church. The purpose of the lighthouse is to shine a light in the darkness so that ships don’t hit a reef or rocky shore.

Jesus says that like a lamp we must shine our light before people so that they see our good works and glorify God. Jesus is not talking about showing off. He deals with that kind of false piety later in the course. Here he is talking about true acts of love and mercy and justice. As Christians, we should live so that others see what we do and give glory to God.

There’s a story of a church that was built way in the highest mountains of Switzerland.  It was a beautiful church that had been built with great care by the villagers who lived nearby.  But there was one thing that the church didn’t have.  It didn’t have any lights.  You couldn’t just go into the church and switch on the lights like we do here.  Yet every Sunday evening the people who lived on the mountain side opposite the tiny church saw something magic happen.  The church bell would ring and worshippers would wend their way up the mountainside towards the church.  They would enter the church and then all of a sudden the church would light up brightly.  Yes – you see, the people had to bring light with them – so they brought lanterns.  When they arrived at church they would light their lanterns and hang them around the church on pegs set in the walls, so the light would spread all around.  If only a few people came to church the light would be very dim because there would only be a few lanterns.  But when lots of people came to church there would be plenty of light.  After the service the villagers would take their lanterns home.  At this time, to those who watched from a distance, it was as if a stream of light poured out of the church and over the mountainside.  For many it was a sign that all was well.  God’s light was with them and in them.  The only time the little church lit up was when people were there.  That’s when it truly became a church.  That’s when the light shown most brightly. So it is here today – we carry in us the light of God – and we gather here – this place truly becomes a church – a place in which God’s light is seen.  Jesus says that we are the light of the world – and he asks us to show his love to everyone when we leave here so that his light might give hope to those who see us.

The points therefore to remember are these: #1 You are the salt of the earth. It is your purpose in life to be a holy influence in the society at large and bring others to eternal life in Christ. If you don’t, you are like salt that has lost its flavor. #2 You are the light of the world. You are supposed to shine God’s light through your good deeds. That way people can see them and be saved from destruction.

I was told to shorten my sermon today due to the superbowl event, but I think I covered so far what you need to know and do for the rest of the week. So, thank you for your time, class. I will see you next week.  Don’t forget to read your textbook in the mean time. Oh, by the way, there will be a test on the contents of today’s lecture. It begins right now and lasts for the rest of your life. Your next assignment is to read Matthew 5:21-37.

Happy Superbowl to everyone, Please take low salt diet and be a bright shining light among others, even when your football team losses.