In the perennial seasonal epic, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the final exchange between Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present is both profoundly brooding, as it is chillingly expositive. In this scene, Scrooge is confronted by two figures of children who cling to the legs of the Ghost of Christmas Present. They are described as, “yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility.” The Ghost names and remarks upon them: “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all, beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom unless the writing is erased.” The echo of the Specter’s warning reverberates and lingers in all places where ignorance gives way to hatred and violence and want devolves into anguish and despair. Is there any means, one may wonder, to effectively and decisively confront these Dickensian realities?
For the Christian believer, this question is boldly answered, “Yes!” in the celebration of the first two days of November: the Solemnity of All Saints, and All Souls. These days, each, in turn, expresses the two foundational principles around which revolves the liturgical year and toward which develops the daily life perspective of the Christian. To the folly of ignorance, the Solemnity of All Saints responds with memory; to the scourge of want, All Souls offers hope. Memory and hope are the pillars of Christian liturgical and daily life and are the dynamic actions through which ignorance and want are defeated.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus heals a blind man. It is the man’s faith which gives him his sight. The rules of religion understood blindness to be caused by sin, so this man was excluded from the life of the people. Jesus, however, welcomes him, heals him, and includes him among his followers.
Job hears God’s reply that God is unknowable. Realizing how small and weak he is and how presumptuous he was to question God, Jobnow repents. God’s response is to undo all the trouble Job had and to restore him and his family to their former good fortune. This little fictional story represents a deepening of the Jewish conception of God during the last few centuries before the time of Jesus.
Our second reading continues the letter to Jewish Christians. This was probably written after Jerusalem and its Temple was destroyed, thus there were no more sacrifices offered. The writer is reminding his readers that Jesus’ own self-offering makes continued sacrifices of animals by fallible human priests no longer necessary. Jesus’ one sacrifice of himself is eternally effective for all humanity.
In the Eucharist, our use of physical bread and wine as the elements of spiritual communion with God remind us of this truth. We become part of the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus so that we can live in his life eternally. We cannot live apart from God or apart from moral responsibility to all people. In baptism, our spiritual blindness is healed, and we are called to grow into a Body of people committed to justice, reconciliation, and righteous living.
The liturgy today centers on two themes of the Christian message about Jesus. Both are found in today’s Gospel: Jesus’ messiahship is revealed not in his power but in his life of serving others and his suffering and death, and he calls us to a like ministry of self-giving love.
The Old Testament reading is again from Job. Last week we heard this innocent sufferer complaining that he cannot face God and seek an answer to his suffering. Suddenly God speaks, but God is the questioner. Who are you to question the source of the entire universe? God will explain his actions and plan only if Job can explain God, clearly an impossible task.
Today’s passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews expresses the redemptive suffering of Christ as his eternal priestly sacrifice, which replaces the sacrifices of the temple. We are assured that our own suffering and our own self-giving ministry receive redemptive value by virtue of our baptismal union with Jesus’ own sacrifice.
We, the people of God, gather to celebrate the Eucharist, which is one aspect of our work. In song, story, Word, and Sacrament, the dying and rising of Jesus and his ministry to us are revealed and made present. We become sharers in his life by our participation and are prepared and enabled to carry out the other aspect of our work in sacrificial, servant ministry to others.
In the themes of the Sundays in this part of the year, we face some of the strongest challenges presented by our faith. We have reached the portion of the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus, nearing the final conflict, is preparing his followers for what lies ahead, not only for him but also for them in the remainder of their lives. So today’s Gospel is the account of the rich young man who discovers that there is more to salvation than following the Law. Jesus calls for a complete submission to God, even to the point of giving up everything. Only then can we gain what we really need.
The Old Testament reading from the prophet Amos presents a situation in which those who control Israel are so caught up in amassing personal wealth that they ignore the needs of the poor. That social injustice, God warns, will lead to the destruction of the society.
We are reading through the Epistle to the Hebrews during this period. This letter to early Christians presents Jesus as Savior, as high priest, and as the model for Christian living. In today’s passage the writer tells us that although God’s judgment lays all our failure open to God, we know that God’s response is that of the merciful high priest and therefore we may approach God with confidence.
Today’s liturgy is filled with challenge and with hope. We are faced with the demands of the Gospel and also with its promise of salvation to those who persevere. We are called to enter into the painful yet joyful project of God in bringing the kingdom into the lives of all people in our time.
The primary theme today in the Gospel is marriage. Here we are not to think simplistically of the varied forms of the human institution of marriage found in different periods of history. We are instead focused on the biblical understanding of God’s will for marriage as a union between two people which creates a new, complex personality out of the two. Jesus’ disapproval of divorce is clear and uncompromising. We may note that, in the words ofProfessor Reginald Fuller, “It is often the current institutionalized form of marriage that many people are really rejecting, not marriage as intended byGod.”
The first reading continues our exploration of the part of the Hebrew scriptures known as the Writings. Today we begin reading the Book of Job, a brief story that seeks to understand why bad things happen to good people. We are introduced to Job and to the strange wager between God and Satan that leads to the testing of righteous Job’s faith.
In our second reading, we begin reading the Letter to the Hebrews. This early Christian work seems to have been intended particularly for Jewish Christians to assist them in understanding the work of Christ in images familiar to them. In today’s passage, the full humanity of Jesus and his suffering and death are explained as essential to his role of redeeming all humanity, as illustrated by quotations from the psalms.
We find in our worship that the Christian message is a call to put aside the conventions of human society and to take up the new life of God’s kingdom. That new life calls us to rethink all aspects of our ways of living, even our views of marriage. Those who live in committed lifetime relationships must be certain that what they seek is the relationship God wills and not simply the conventional understanding of the world.
Our worship together is the clearest sign that we are responding to God’s call to be different from the world even as we live in it. A gathering of people which welcomes everyone to a common table is not conventional. It is a sign of God’s kingdom.
The first service of the St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Mission was held in April 1905. In December of that year, a lot, no. 331 Hawthorne Street was obtained for the purpose of erecting a church building.
Although the building was intended, initially, to contain two floors, only the basement level was completed and that space served as the place of worship for over eighty years of the church’s existence. Until improved finances afforded the erection of the edifice they envisioned, the fledging congregation constructed the basement, erected a roof over it and “finished off the interior” to serve as worship space snugly fitting two hundred congregants.
The structure we are now worshiping in was constructed in 1991. Through the diligence and hard work of the clergy and the people, in 2016 an additional wing was added housing the conference room and Rector’s office.
As the congregation of the early twentieth century, the congregation of today is, in large part, made up of immigrants and first-generation Americans. Unlike the earlier congregants who came, in the main, from Europe, those now attending are from the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, and the United States.
Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish as we celebrate REVIVAL 2018.
Our Presiding Bishop The Most Rev. Michael Curry, continues to remind us that we are all part of the Jesus Movement. This allows us to be partakers of an Evangelistic Crusade within the Episcopal Church. The period of Revival calls to mind this mandate given to us by the Presiding Bishop.
Every year we at St. Gabriel’s, celebrate a Revival at the end ofSeptember. In some other jurisdictions, this time is celebrated as Patronal Festival or Feast of Title celebrations. It is normally a week of Revival Services when we celebrate God’s love with the community. Persons areinvited to witness to God in word as they proclaim the message of salvation throughout the week.
This year 2018 we are pleased to welcome The Rev. Beverley Sealy Knight, Rector of St. James Parish Church, Barbados as our Missioner during our week of Revival 2018.
Our theme is the ‘’Five Marks of Mission’’ as we continue to beevangelists in this modern era.
Please join us through the week as we celebrate the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. The week culminates with our outdoor procession of witness and International Day ceremonies. This includes a 10am celebration of the Mass followed by our cultural diversity in the culinary arts.
This year too, it is Father Eddie’s last celebration with us and the day ends with a 4pm service of Leave-Taking. Please join us throughout the week as we move Jesus forward.
The Gospel reading is Peter’s acknowledgement of Jesus asthe Messiah, which was followed by Jesus’ first prediction ofhis crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus calls his followers to pattern their own lives on his, sharing in the self-giving love which leads to the Cross.
In the Wisdom writings of the Hebrew Scriptures which we are using in our first readings during this period, the term“wisdom” is not simply a function of thought but is thepersonification of God. Strikingly, God, as Holy Wisdom, is feminine. The person who would be truly wise will live in God. God, Holy Wisdom, will give us her counsel and guidance.
The second lesson is again drawn from the Epistle of James,an intensely practical discourse on Christian living. In today’sreading, James exhorts us to learn self-control, especially in our speaking. The tongue, when disciplined, is used to glorify God, but when undisciplined, can cause hurt and damage.
The People of God enact in song, story, and sacrament their unity with Jesus dying and rising in their midst. In baptism and Eucharist we join him in his death and resurrection. We speak and sing our praise to him in our worship and in our lives of ministry, acceptance, and love for all people.
The Gospel reading today contains two healing stories. In the first, Jesus astounds the disciples by healing the daughter of a Gentile woman, an act unheard of in his day. Then he heals a man who is deaf and mute. These healings, like the others in the Gospel, is forMark a sign that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus’ attempt to preventthe healing being made known, and the crowd’s amazement at this event, is a characteristic of Mark’s Gospel. Also characteristic ofMark is that the people healed are in every case people who were rejected by traditional religious leaders.
In our first reading, we continue to read portions of the Wisdom writings. Proverbs is one of the more important of those writings. Today we are reminded that the wise person is concerned for a good name more than for riches. To do good for those in need is the way of Wisdom.
Today we continue reading the Epistle of James. This brief letter,ascribed to Jesus’ brother, is strikingly similar in tone and contentto the Sermon on the Mount. James is particularly concerned that belief in God be accompanied by conduct congruent with that faith. Above all, James is concerned lest we settle for faith which does not produce good works for others, especially the poor and helpless. Faith without good works is an empty faith.
The People of God gather, week by week, to meet Christ, dying and rising in our midst. His presence is revealed in our liturgical gatherings in Word and Sacrament, and in us, as members of his Body, by our daily lives of ministry to others in concrete acts of love and caring.
The teaching of Jesus which caused the greatest offense to his disciples was his discourse on himself as the bread of life. When he extended that beyond a spiritual feeding to a sacramental feeding, “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed,” many of his followers left him. The inner group, “the Twelve,” were also disturbed, but through Peter, they reaffirmed their faith.
Today we also conclude our reading of the story of David. The one goal David did not achieve was to build a temple forGod in Jerusalem. David’s son, Solomon, did build the temple and today we hear Solomon’s prayer of dedication. He prays that it will be a sign of God to all people, the place where God dwells among the human race.
We complete our reading of the Epistle to the Ephesians today. Paul calls on us to find our strength in God to stand up against the powers that oppose God’s will and plan. Weare to live in that strength and to persevere in prayer for all people.
We are called to be a people who belong to Christ. This call is often in direct conflict with our own wishes, habits, or opinions. We gather in liturgy as more than passive hearers and observers. We gather to enter into an encounter withGod in Christ, which will remake us as people of Gods kingdom.