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The Kingdom of God 4

The Kingdom in Our Midst the Rev. Jay George

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The Workshop James R. Dennis, O. P.

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At the Same Table Diane Thrush

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A Child of the King Sylvia Maddox

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The Forever Kingdom Barbara Duffield

14 Grace Given Rilda Baker

Read the magazine online at www.reflections-dwtx.org Fall/Winter 2012 Published by Department of Communications Episcopal Diocese of West Texas P. O. Box 6885 San Antonio, Texas 78209 www.dwtx.org Editor Marjorie George Communications Officer Laura Shaver Editorial assistant Barbara Duffield Bishop of West Texas The Rt. Rev. Gary R. Lillibridge Bishop Suffragan The Rt. Rev. David M. Reed

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Through the Camera Lens A sneak preview of Cathedral House Gallery

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Way Station Carla Pineda

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Partners with Christ The Rev. Dr. John Lewis

A Special Edition supplement to

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What Would Peter Do? The Rev. Dr. Jane Patterson

THE CHURCH NEWS (USPS 661-

In Every Issue

Offices are at The Bishop Jones Center 111 Torcido Dr. San Antonio, Texas, 78209 210/888-824-5387 www.dwtx.org The Church News family of publications 790) is published six times yearly – Jan, Mar, May, July, Sept, and Nov. with 2 Special Supplement Editions in May and November by The

3 From the Editor – Marjorie George 26 Resources 27 The Last Word – the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge

Episcopal Diocese of West Texas,

Reflections invites readers from every denomination or no denomination. To subscribe (there is no charge) send name, address, and e-mail address to barbara.duffield@dwtx.org or Diocese of West Texas, Attn: Barbara Duffield, P. O. Box 6885, San Antonio TX 78209. In 2012 Reflections will be published in May and November. Online at www.reflections-dwtx.org.

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P O Box 6885, San Antonio TX 78209. Periodicals postage paid at San Antonio TX. POSTMASTER: Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, P. O. Box 6885, San Antonio TX 78209.


From the editor by Marjorie George

The little boy on the elevator

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n the local TV news a couple of weeks ago there was an item about a little boy, a four-year-old, who was losing his battle with cancer. He came to the attention of the Make A Wish Foundation, which is an organization dedicated to helping children realize their final wish. Most kids wish for a trip to the World Series, or a ride on a fast roller coaster, or the chance to meet Tony Romo. This little boy’s wish was more simple – he just wanted to ride the elevator in a very tall building and push the buttons for every floor And so it was arranged. On the appointed day, the child – in his wheelchair – and his family gathered at the elevator in a building in downtown San Antonio and climbed aboard, whereupon the boy pushed the button for the first floor. But when the doors opened, heaven burst through. For at the first floor, and at every floor in the building, the office workers had gathered around the elevator and were clapping and cheering and waving balloons and banners and offering cookies and toys. The joy on the child’s face, and on that of his family, was a pearl of great price. If Christ had been there – and I, personally, think he was – he would have said something like, “The Kingdom of God is in your midst.” Often, when Christ talked about the Kingdom of God, it was in a situation of healing and hopefulness. A scribe came to Jesus and asked which is the greatest commandment. “Which do you say?” asked Christ. And when the scribe recited the Great Commandment – love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself – Christ responded, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34).

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Christ’s entire ministry was about proclaiming the Kingdom of God. “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also,” he said. “For that is why I was sent” (Luke 4:43). When he appeared to his followers after his resurrection, he spent his time talking about the Kingdom of God (Act 1:3). When he sent out his disciples, their task was to cure the sick and tell them “the Kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). What does it look like, this Kingdom of God? Well, it is not about eating well and having possessions, and wieldy power and influence. It is not a matter of arguing over who is right or of being puffed up by our own clever words. It is about “righteousness, peace and joy in the Spirit,” says Paul (Romans 14:17). We do not live in it by our own might or even our own good deeds. It is not some far-off heaven where we land when we die (if we have enough points). The Kingdom of God can’t be defined or described. But we can tell stories about it, and we can work to further it in our own day and time, and we can know it when we see it. We saw it a few weeks ago on the face of a little boy who just wanted to push the buttons on the elevator.

This story originally broadcast by KSAT news, San Antonio, on September 27, 2012.

Reach Marjorie at marjorie.george@dwtx.org.

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The Kingdom in our Midst by the Rev. Jay George

“Nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” - Lk 17:21 f we were to accept the admittedly implausible idea of heaven and hell as some sort of geographical-spiritual territories, might it be that earth is the border between them and that’s why we recognize them? Every post-modern author and director in the world strives desperately to convince us of our mixed spiritual heritage. Each bad cop a hero, every heroine with a tragic flaw.

Hell on earth is easy to imagine. And too easy to find. Carnage and death, oppression and pain, disease and destruction spill upon us from every arena. If you think Hell is only found in history or Hollywood then stop reading this and buy a plane ticket. Go anyplace where people live in fear. Afghanistan. Darfur. Drug-riddled neighborhoods. Alcohol-soaked homes. Abusive relationships. We know hell is no mythical realm of fire and brimstone because torture and torment are burning realities too particular to ignore.

The broken hero/redeemed villain characters speak so clearly to us because we recognize ourselves and our lives in their stories. We recognize

We’ve lived so long with the myth of “pie in sky in the great by and by” that we still struggle to

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too readily the images of our world given to us by media and social networks.

And what of Heaven?

Reflections

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wrap our arms round the simple proclamation of our Lord: “the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus doesn’t say maybe, or tomorrow, or over there. Jesus says here and now. Heaven doesn’t begin when we die. Heaven begins today. If only we will recognize the reality of its existence as quickly as we do that of Hell. For every death, there is birth. For every tear, laughter. For every addiction, sobriety. For every hunger, satisfaction. For every loneliness, relationship. For every sorrow, joy. For every darkness, light. For every sinner, redemption. Heaven isn’t something that will happen. Heaven is something that is happening. All around us. Every moment. Every day. Heaven is the abundant life we can choose to live in Christ. Whenever we seek first the Kingdom of God, we find Heaven. Wherever we love our neighbor, we find Heaven. However we allow Jesus to calm our storms and heal our blindness and carry our burdens, we find Heaven. If we dare to do unto others, unto the least of these, unto the orphan, the widow and the alien in the land, then we touch the Heavenly realm. Jesus didn’t give us the Holy Spirit so we could go to Heaven. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit just so we could be in Heaven. In redemption. In justice. In mercy. Wherever and whenever and however we find ourselves living in Christ, there we live in Heaven.

Photos by Marjorie George. Taken on a mission trip to Piedras Negras.

The Rev. Jay George is vicar of Grace Church, San Antonio. Reach him at Revjay@gracechurchsa.org.

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by James R. Dennis, O. P.

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hen I was a young boy, one afternoon I went with my father to visit the workshop of his friend, Luther Stewart. Dazzled by the remarkable care and organization of the place, I saw hammers and axes and pliers and power tools suspended on hooks across the wall. Hanging on one wall rested an entire row of screwdrivers and awls. Above a workbench I saw dozens and dozens of boxes containing screws and bolts, nuts and washers. The room was filled with the remarkable aroma of sawdust, solvents, and oils.

Mr. Stewart had carefully organized each of his tools and supplies for ready access and function. Very quickly, I recognized the structural genius of the room. His tools could be quickly located because a logical place had been created for them, and they were always returned to that place after their use. For many of us, our lives are like that workshop, with everything neatly tucked away in manageable, discrete locations. We have our professional lives, our families, our hobbies, our neighborhoods, our friends, our books, and the television programs we watch. And, for most of us, maybe we spend an hour or two on Sunday morning at church. By and large, these activities don’t seem to interact much with each other. Thus, we have segregated our lives into discrete, insular pockets. Like Mr. Stewart’s workshop, everything has a place, a hook upon which we hang the various components of our lives. We have segregated our politics, our religion, our sexuality, our social lives, and our entertainment. When it comes to religion, we look for a kind of instant faith, like instant oatmeal: a faith that

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can be ready in two minutes, upon demand. At most, we’re willing to surrender a couple of hours a week in the pursuit of sanctity. But most of us will find that the spiritual life, when lived deeply, simply doesn’t work that way. I think we encounter a few problems when we try to create that kind of a spiritual ghetto. First, when we encounter tough times, we may find that there’s just not enough there to keep us going. Like a well that’s not dug very deep, when we encounter a drought, there’s just nothing there to sustain life. For many of us, our prayer lives get squeezed out by the claims of work and home and family. We don’t have a strong objection to prayer, but so many other demands have taken us hostage. And sometimes, like the victims of Stockholm Syndrome, we’ve fallen in love with our captors. Secondly, we may find that the various components of our lives have very little to do with each other. Thus, it often doesn’t occur to us to ask forgiveness when we find a broken relationship at the workplace. We may not even consider the ethical implications of certain financial transactions. We may not see the connections between a strained family relationship and the difficulty we have in achieving a deep, loving relationship with the Almighty. We like to indulge ourselves in the assumption that God only cares about the “big issues,” that He’s only interested in times of crisis or those moments we consider religious. And yet, the scriptural witness teaches us again and again that God wants to be involved in the most minute details of our lives. C.S. Lewis once said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.” We cannot drink from the cup of rage and anger in our politics and expect to find peace when we walk into the doors of our church. We cannot continued on page 8

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● The Workshop from page 7

lead lives of deceit in the workplace and expect that honesty will fill us when we get home. We can choose to live in a world in which we are acutely aware of God’s presence in our lives, or we can lead lives in which the bulk of our days are spent without much regard for the spiritual ramifications of how we wander through the world.

We cannot lead lives of deceit in the workplace and expect that honesty will fill us when we get home. Jesus once asked, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade” (Mark 4:30-32). In part, Jesus suggests that our faith must be a living and growing thing. But a mustard plant is kind of like a subversive weed; it has very little respect for boundaries.

the Jewish community of that time. The Spirit, however, would not be contained; it spread to the Gentiles, then throughout the Empire and ultimately throughout the world. The Kingdom of God is like that: like a mustard seed it grows wildly, sometimes invading the places we try to keep apart from it. Many of us try to keep God within a small box that we’ve carefully labeled “Religion.” I think we will find that God will not remain within that box. And if He does stay put where we’ve placed Him, we might wonder whether that’s really God we’ve got in there.

James R. Dennis is a brother in the Order of Preachers (Dominican Order) and a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio TX. Read his blog at http://dominicanes.me.

As described in the Book of Acts, the early church initially tried to contain Jesus’ message to

I hope you’ve met at least one “Kingdom person” in your life. They are surrendered and trustful people. You sense that their life is okay at the core. They have given control to Another and are at peace, which paradoxically allows them to calmly be in control. A Kingdom person lives for what matters, for life in its deepest and lasting sense. There’s a kind of gentle absolutism about their lifestyle, an inner freedom to do what they have to do – joyfully. Kingdom people feel like grounded yet spacious people at the same time, the best of the conservative and the best of the progressive types at the same time. Kingdom people are anchored by their awareness of God’s love deep within them and deep within everyone else, too. They happily live on a level playing field, where even God has come to “pitch his tent” (the literal translation of John 1:14). - Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, Sept. 22, 2012. Read more of Richard’s daily meditations at the Center for Action and Contemplation, www.cac.org.

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Reflections

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At the Same Table by Diane Thrush

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ll my adult life has been about integrating my spiritual ancestry. On my mother’s side I inherited Anglican roots that go back hundreds of years to England. On my father’s side are Baptist roots that date back hundreds of years to its origins in Europe. While I was raised in the richness of the Episcopal Church, family gatherings with the Baptist Woodring clan always included worship and robust singing of the old Gospel favorites.

Yet, during the service I was uncomfortable wondering what my Baptist cousins were thinking about this service that was so different from their practice. When we went up for communion, I looked around the railing to see my family gathered, all of them, the Anglicans and the Baptists. I was overwhelmed with the realization that this was what the Kingdom of God was like – all of God’s children gathered at the Banquet. What branch of Christ’s body didn’t matter as we gathered to receive Him. At the table we were one. Later, my Baptist family told me how beautiful the service was. They said they didn’t understand all that was going on, but they knew Gary would have loved it and that was what mattered to them. What a grace-filled attitude! This last August I was reminded of this as we gathered once again around that same railing to receive the Body and Blood of Christ at my mother’s funeral. Before the service I shared with my cousins about my experience of seeing the Kingdom of God, and I know as we looked around that day, we were experiencing the Kingdom again.

As I grew into my adult years I always thought I had to choose one denomination or the other, one way or the other of living out my faith. I didn’t understand that as an adult I could be “both/and.”

Diane Thrush is a chaplain at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio and a member of St. Luke’s, San Antonio. Reach her at diane.thrush@MHShealth.com

It has been a long journey to an integration of these roots. These days I am likely to have Anglican chant and Ralph Vaughan Williams alongside “Blessed Assurance” on my playlist. When my brother died in 2002, we gathered for his funeral. My brother was Anglo Catholic to the fullest, and his funeral was a Solemn High Eucharist that reflected all that he loved.

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A Child of the by Sylvia Maddox

Ki n g

Spiritual Practices for Kingdom Living

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hen I was a little girl, we had a church drama in which people in the congregation would stand up representing the lures of the world such as wealth, power, andbysuccess trying to bargain for Sylvia Maddox my life. My role was to stand confidently in front of these “lurers” and sing “I’m a child of the king.” It’s interesting how profoundly our early memories shape our faith. I have carried that image with me through the twists and turns of my spiritual journey. In that image, I learned at an early age the sense of God’s abiding love and blessing. And with that blessing of identity came vocation.

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Reflections

– Fall/Winter 2012


When Jesus described our role in the kingdom, he often used images of the culture saying to his followers, “you are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.” No longer could they say, “I am a Gentile; I am a prostitute; I am a leper.” Now their role was not only named but blessed. Our core identity shapes our role. Whether we are pre-school teachers, or academic scholars, missionaries or bus drivers, we all have a unique role in the kingdom of God. There are days when our role is very clear. However, with the lens of our earthly life, we can often be overcome with the burdens of sad disappointments, or hopeless situations where reconciliation and justice seem far away. Even in our doing good work, we can become blinded with zealous productivity. It is at these moments, when we realize our lens have become cloudy, that we need to return to our true self and our true calling. How do we live this wonderful gift of the kingdom? Here are some practices that have been helpful to me.

1. Prayer Every day when we return to the center of our spiritual life, we are reminded of our home, of our unique roles. St. Augustine called prayer “the soul’s breathing.” The more our souls are at one with God, the more we learn to will what God wills. Prayer is a reminder that we are living in the kingdom and gives us the hearty encouragement to persevere in faithfulness.

2. Learning to see with the eyes of Christ. Even in our good work as Christians, we often get trapped into looking at the world with the lens of judgment, or discouragement, powerlessness, or guilt. In the eyes of the world, we may see someone as contentious. With the eyes of Christ, we see someone with a desperate longing. We see strangers and outcasts in a different way. We don’t pass by and ignore the marginalized. Seeing with the eyes of Christ makes the kingdom more vivid as we begin to see all of

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creation as filled with God’s love. It is this vision that leads us into personal involvement of listening, tending the sick, working for reconciliation.

3. Discernment How we serve in the kingdom is often influenced by our gifts, our abilities, and all the needs around us. To practice discernment is to pay attention in prayer and in our actions to the places we feel most profoundly that we are being the mind and hands of Christ. We also have to be aware that this may change along the journey. One year, it may have been leading Bible studies; another year, it may be digging water wells; another year it may be tending an elderly parent. The sacred questions are not where will my work be most successful, but where can I most love as Jesus loved? Where can I bring active hope?

4. Taking Risks Sometimes it is easy to settle into our comfort zone, but it’s important to always be ready to stand continued on page 12

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● A Child of the King from page 11

up in a situation that may be awkward to some but where the truth needs to be spoken. We begin to welcome situations that are demanding and, in taking risks, we also can claim the joys of knowing we are true followers of Christ.

to be aware of places in which we have seen the kingdom and the power of things to come. To practice joy is to return to gratitude in all things, and this can often be the most powerful witness. May we all honor our special roles in the kingdom by living out their deepest meaning and in all things giving thanks for this immeasurable gift of life in Christ.

5. Taking time to celebrate and rejoice

Sylvia Maddox is a writer and educator. She is a member of Church of Reconciliation, San Antonio TX. Reach her at sylmaddox@aol.com.

When we claim our role in the kingdom, we enter an amazing story of hope. When we use our imagination to pray “thy kingdom come” we begin

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we

want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:35-38) In response to Jesus’ teaching, James and John want to have some assurance of their primary role in Jesus’ kingdom. You don’t have to spend very long in the Church to see this kind of behavior. They’re concerned about their own position, their own authority and welfare. Jesus challenges them with a critical question, a question He asks you and me as well: ”Can you drink from the cup from which I drink?” In other words, “Just exactly how much are you willing to share in my life?” How much are we willing to let go of our own self-image, our authority, and the stuff that makes up the content of our lives in following Jesus?

wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” I wonder how we’d impact the ranks of our church leadership if we used that particular job description. Think of how many terms in our language are associated with primacy: first-place, first-class, and first-rate. The Gospel is about the losers, about becoming a nobody. In the world, the hierarchical structure achieves its goals through power and domination. In the Kingdom, we must learn to abandon these and accomplish through love, and love alone. Jesus’ call to become servants isn’t necessarily about the tasks we perform; it’s about the kind of people we are to become. Jesus radically redefines “greatness” as servanthood. That’s a hard road. It leads straight to the Cross.

James R. Dennis, O.P.

James R. Dennis is a brother in the Order of Preachers (Dominican Order) and a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio TX. Read more of his reflections at http://dominicanes.me.

Jesus introduces the disciples to the topsy-turvy hierarchy of Christianity. He tells them, “whoever

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Reflections

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The Forever Kingdom by Barbara Duffield

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he kingdom of God was in an ICU unit last week. Family and a few friends had been standing watch for just over a month following a friend’s cancer diagnosis, as we prayed for the miracle that we all hoped for. We weren’t ready for her to leave us. She was only 52 and had survived so many health issues over the years that she seemed indestructible. The doctors and nurses grieved her impending loss as well. The night before she was moved to the ICU several nurses came in and told her goodbye as they left following their shifts. Some would not be back for several days, and we now know she would be gone before they returned. She was blind, and yet saw more with her beautiful, sightless, blue eyes than most of us do with two perfectly good ones. She was, according to a doctor when she was a child, “the best conartist” he had ever seen. She heard everything, and if a comment was made in her presence about a beautiful blue sweater, or an amazing sunset, she would wait and then bring the comment out later as her own. She fooled many people, including me, when first meeting. Her older sister spoke of a heart of gold within the body of a woman who had so little and yet would have given anything she had if someone mentioned they wanted it. She was fiercely independent and loved her husband with a love that knew no bounds. They were high school sweethearts who lost touch, and then just 12 years ago they met again. After two years of getting reacquainted they were married and for ten years had a beautiful and strong marriage. They had

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their moments, to be sure, said her husband. He laughed at one point that she was the most stubborn woman he had ever known. And as she heard him say it, she smiled as if to say, “Yes, it’s true, I am.” That stubbornness aside, the time came when she agreed that it was time to say goodbye. We stood by as the equipment that had invaded her body was removed and she said her hoarse goodbyes to those she loved. She finally was left alone with her husband and he sat vigil until 12 hours later when she was finally and completely healed. There were moments of such holiness in the time of waiting - times you could feel the Spirit in the room. And then times when the noisy hospital corridors brought the world crashing back in. And all of that – the holiness and the noise, the sense of the Spirit’s presence and the pain of knowing that her earthly journey was nearing its end – all of that is part of the Kingdom of God. All of that is part of the Trinity that we know and sometimes even slightly understand. The Father is grieving with us in our pain, the Son is present to hold us if we will but reach out, and the Spirit is there to whisper to us of God’s love as He takes our friend to her forever home – her home in the Kingdom of God. Barbara Duffield works in the diocesan communications department and is a member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Universal City. Reach her at barbara.duffield@dwtx.org.

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Grace Given:

A Reflection on Spiritual Gifts


“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

by Rilda Baker

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ver 50 years ago, when I began to study Spanish (a language no one in my family spoke or had ever mentioned), my Oklahoma Southern Baptist grandmother confided her concern that studying Spanish might make me “lose my faith.” She needn’t have worried, for my high

school Spanish teacher had given me a copy of the Bible in Spanish as a graduation gift. And so it was that I began to read in my second language those passages of Scripture that I had known all my life only in English. That was how I learned the word don. This is not the don used to acknowledge someone’s social standing (like Don Quixote) or to name restaurants, such as Don Pedro’s, Don Beto’s, or Don Marcelino’s. Rather, it’s the don of which Paul speaks in his letters to the Christians in Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus when he tells them about “spiritual gifts” or “gifts of the spirit.” Don is not the word used when talking about gifts that we exchange with one another (regalos). Don refers only to gifts originating with God in Judeo-Christian tradition or with the Divine in other traditions. For us Christians, these dones are God’s generosity to each one and all of us – unmerited and unsought gifts, freely given, non-tangible – but nonetheless real and intended to be used, as Paul says, “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7, NRSV). The word don has the same Latin root as the English word donate. The Spanish word, then, would suggest that God “donates” gifts to us so that we may “donate” them to others -- gifts freely given both by God to us and by us to others. The Articles of Religion in our Book of Common Prayer (XXVII) tell us that in baptism we are “grafted into the Church.” Thus, living the life of the baptized requires us to discover

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and activate that gift or those gifts God has already “installed” in us as our contribution to community life – “the common good.” One of my spiritual companions is the Rev. Katie Long, Director of Wesley Foundation at Baylor University. (Some of you may know her from her time as Director of Religious Education at St. Luke’s, San Antonio.) Over the past couple of weeks, Katie and I have shared a lively e-mail conversation about spiritual gifts – what they are, how we come to know our gifts, and how they are to be used. Early on, Katie commented that Paul was writing prescriptively to the churches of his time, working to shape them by saying, “Here’s what you do well; do more of that. Here’s what you don’t; quit that.” Paul was not starting from square one with these faith communities, saying, “Here’s how to organize a church.” List-maker that he was, he was compiling an inventory of “manifestations of the Spirit” so that these early Christians could look at one another and know that they were already equipped to further the Kingdom of God. As a lay person, I have found myself sometimes using Paul’s lists to search for my own gift or gifts (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10; continued on page 16

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● Gifts Given from page 13

Romans 12: 6-8; Ephesians 4:11; and 1 Peter 4:11). However, most scholars agree that those lists were not meant to be either exhaustive or exclusive catalogs. Rather, Paul is enumerating traits, dispositions, “manifestations of the Spirit,” that will build up the Church as it was developing in his time. Contemporary needs in the Church, in our diocese, and in our congregations may present different aspects than those Paul observed in those early churches. So we would probably do well to regard these lists not as job descriptions but as “brainstorming prompts” to fuel conversation in our worship communities and reflection on our own lives.

The word “don” has the same Latin root as the English word donate. The Spanish word, then, would suggest that God “donates” gifts to us so that we may “donate” them to others -- gifts freely given both by God to us and by us to others. During one email exchange, Katie commented: “An overall lens of the Kingdom of God helps move us beyond the understanding that gifts ‘for the common good’ are meant solely to nurture those inside the church. Our common good is that we are being built up as a church to do mission. So gifts offered within the church prepare its members for their mission outside the church.” Engaging our spiritual gifts enables us to live into that baptismal promise to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves.” In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.” Sometimes it is through conversations or shared experiences that a particular gift is revealed. Sometimes what I consider simply a daily routine or behavior may be received with deep gratitude and regarded as a “spiritual gift” by a co-worker, a friend, or a fellow parishioner. Likewise, I may perceive a “manifestation of the Spirit” in someone else,

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an attribute of which that person is completely unaware. Serving Christ in that person may mean that I must be the one to bring this spiritual gift to his or her attention. I wonder how many people feel “spiritually ungifted” simply because no one in their lives has ever aided in the discovery of their spiritual gifts. At another point in our virtual conversation, Katie observed: “When Jesus speaks about the Kingdom of God, it’s about small things – mustard seeds, yeast – that make a huge difference, or about hidden things like a pearl that are worth spending everything on. Buy the field just to get the pearl. So our gifts are seeds of the Kingdom of God and they may be worth much more than we think they are.” I wonder what gifts each of us carries within us that we are reluctant (or afraid) to cultivate – gifts which might be the very leavening needed in the life of a family, in a neighborhood, in a workplace, or in a church. After Eucharist last Sunday, I became curious about what word the Spanish Book of Common Prayer uses in the Eucharistic invitation: “The Gifts of God for the People of God.” As I suspected, it is translated as “Los Dones de Dios para el Pueblo de Dios.” The word pueblo for “people” emphasizes an aspect of “People of God” that is not so evident in English because in Spanish there are two words for people. La gente means persons regarded as a group, as in “people of good will” (gente de buena voluntad). El pueblo is used only when the group is bound together by shared beliefs or other shared characteristics, as in the phrase “American people” (el pueblo americano). Curiously enough, pueblo also means a village or small town, a community where people share a common life. This understanding leads me to suggest that at each Eucharist spiritual gifts are being held up as essential components for our life in community – world. At the next Eucharist, when you hear the priest intone, “The Gifts of God for the People

Reflections

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of God” (or “Los Dones de Dios para el Pueblo de Dios”), take a moment to receive that invitation in a new way. Hear in those words an assurance, an affirmation that there are indeed manifestations of the Spirit – spiritual gifts – before your very eyes, in yourself and in those about to share communion with you. These gifts lie waiting for you to notice them, to call them out, to embrace them as the grace God intended them to be. These gifts are given to you and to all of us to nourish our life together so that we may become the Body of Christ in the world.

The scene is the waiting room of a doctor’s office on a Wednesday morning. Several people are seated around the

room in uncomfortable chairs, reading magazines or checking email on their iPhones, waiting for the nurse to emerge from the door to the right of the receptionist’s desk and call their name. Suddenly the outer door bursts open; a foot begins to be visible, then the tires of a wheelchair, then the rest of the wheelchair glides through, its power buttons on the right chair arm under the command of a caricature of a man. A woman leaps up and rushes to the door to hold it open. “I get it, I get it,” says the man in the chair. He offers her a crooked smile, adding, “But you ah vewy kind.” The man’s body slumps in the chair, mostly gathered up in the sagging seat. Arms are twisted around each other like a pretzel, legs extend in unnatural positions. His face is contorted, his head leans onto his left shoulder. Speech is thick, slurred; words come out in jumbles. He approaches the receptionist’s desk. “Good morning Mr. Kimble,” she sings to him.

Rilda Baker is a teacher, writer, and Spanish translator. She codirects the Diocesan Retreat Society and is a member of St. Paul’s in San Antonio. Reach her at drrildabaker@gmail.com.

“You do it fo me?” he asks slowly. “Sure,” smiles the receptionist. The man has fumbled to reach his wallet and his insurance cards. He drops it on the floor. “Can I help?” I say. “I get it, I get it,” he replies, but he is smiling at me. “But you ah vewy kind.” If he could, he would wink at me. Soon his name is called and he maneuvers the chair through the inner door, clipping the corner of a wall as he heads down the hallway. A few minutes later, another man in the waiting room gets up from his chair and approaches the receptionist’s desk, demanding attention. “I’ve been waiting 40 minutes,” he insists. “My appointment was at ten-ten. Is the doctor even in?” A few minutes later his name is called.

“Goo mohning.”

And Christ asks us: “For which of these has the Kingdom of God come near?”

“I need you to update your information,” says the woman.

Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

- Marjorie George

www.reflections-dwtx.org

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In conjunction with this issue of Reflections, Cathedral House Gallery will host a photography exhibit on the same topic. The exhibit will

The Kingdom of God

welcome during normal business hours – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. (Closed Nov. 22 and 23 for Thanksgiving.)

Through the camera lens

hang Nov. 11 through Dec. 7 and visitors are

Cathedral House Gallery is located at the Bishop Jones Center, the headquarters for the Diocese of West Texas in San Antonio, at 111 Torcido Dr. The purpose of Cathedral House Gallery is to showcase the work of artists within the Diocese of West Texas and to give visitors an opportunity to connect with God through art. These pages offer a sneak preview of just a few of the works in the exhibit.

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Reflections

– Fall/Winter 2012


Cathedral House Gallery At the Bishop Jones Center 111 Torcido San Antonio TX 78209 For more information: 210-824-5387 Or go to www.reflections-dwtx.org and click on the “Gallery� tab.

Clockwise from top left: Beside Restful Waters by Maureen Leech Come Enter the Silence by Maureen Leech Desert Tower Ceiling by Peter Szarmach Testament by Barbara Digby These photographers and more will have works on display at Cathedral House Gallery, November 11 to December 7. For more info: 210-824-5387 or www.reflections-dwtx.org.

Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

www.reflections-dwtx.org

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Way Station by Carla Pineda

Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

www.reflections-dwtx.org

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L

uke 17:21 tells us that the kingdom of God is among us - not here it is or there it is. Romans

14:17 says “it is in the midst of us.” The Kingdom of God is not something that can be seen, at least with the eyes. It is hard to describe in words. But I know it is real and I experience it daily. For me, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of my workplace, ¡Viva! Bookstore. You may ask, “How can the Kingdom of God be in a bookstore?” Stores of any kind are places where we go to make a transaction, a stopping off place to purchase something we need or want. We go in, we purchase what we went in for, pay for it and are on our way. Yes, there likely will be the customary exchanges of “How can I help you?” to “Thank you for shopping with us” and “Have a nice day.” Those are expected. That is the way things should be done in a retail establishment. They are important. But this is not what I am talking about. I am thinking about the times when someone steps through the front door of ¡Viva! and asks, “What is this place?” “I’ve seen your sign before but I just had to stop today.” “How long have you been here?” “This place feels very special.” “This is not just a bookstore, is it?” Or, when a regular customer comes in, finds that special chair or climbs the stairs to “the Upper Room” and loses herself in peace and quiet even when the noise of regular business is going on at the foot of the stairs. I am talking about the times when a customer comes in looking for something and ends up sharing deeply and personally with a staff person about what is going in his life or the life of his family. Or when someone tells us that !Viva! was where a healing began. ¡Viva! is a kind of a way station, a stopping off spot, a place for refreshment and renewal. It is a little slice of heaven on earth. It is a place where the sacredness of community, of relationship, of

Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

being present for a fellow human being can be and is often lived out. This way station, this little slice of heaven on earth, must be nurtured and tended. Of course, there are the times when the customer who is a challenge comes in, when no matter what I say or do, it’s not what they want to hear, or when I cannot provide what they need or want. There are the times when a customer who needs special time or attention shows up, and the last thing I have is the time or energy to meet those needs. It is at these times that I try to remember I am called to find – and deliver – “the peace which passes all understanding,” to hold the sacred space open for God to show me a way to be more than just the person behind the counter, more than just a bookseller. It is working from the heart, answering a call. It is doing more than just a job. The kingdom of God is a place among us, a space in the midst of us where sustenance for the journey is provided. I do not provide the sustenance – God does. At this way station I am just the instrument. When I can remember this, things go easier than when I want to be the one in charge, when I want to be done with the interchange so I can move on. In this “hurry and get it done, going through the motions” culture that we live in, with things like the “to do” list to check off and too few hours in the day, way stations are often few and far between. Yet, I wonder if there aren’t more of them than we are aware of - right under our feet, in front of our faces.

Carla Pineda is a writer and retreat leader. She is a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio TX. Reach her at carlaleedpineda@gmail. com.

www.reflections-dwtx.org

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Partners with

Chris t momentarily breaks into our world through various acts of service grounded in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

M

ost of us are familiar with the ways Jesus proclaimed the presence and nearness of the Kingdom of God

in his own deeds of power such as healings, feedings, and exorcisms (see, for instance, Luke 11:20). We’re also generally aware that Jesus sent out his disciples to continue his ministry (see Luke 17:21; Matthew 10:7-8). We are probably less aware, however, that in the decades after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the apostle Paul also spread the good news of the nearness and presence of the Kingdom of God. He, too, understood that the Kingdom of God

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Paul tells his congregations that they have an important role to play in making the Kingdom of God known in the world. He uses language that bears the imprint of his own unique theological perspective: “As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you walk worthily of God, the one calling you into his own Kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). For Paul, God is the one who, from generation to generation, “calls” people into the Kingdom. Believers experience God’s “calling” in the course of “walking worthily of God,” which means walking in the footsteps of Jesus. As believers continue to carry out Christ’s ministry in the world, their faithful service opens the door for moments of the Kingdom to be revealed. Paul draws on the business concept of partnership to explain how this works in a short but complex statement: “Faithful is God, by whom you were called into the partnership of his son

Reflections

– Fall/Winter 2012


by The Rev. Dr. John Lewis

Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:9). There are two distinct aspects of this divine-human partnership. First, God calls each of us to partner with Jesus Christ by walking in his footsteps and carrying out his ministry in all the distinct contexts of our own everyday lives. We partner with Christ by using our imaginations to think with the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5), determining how we can best embody Jesus in any given situation; how we can incarnate his ministry in settings as diverse as our homes, workplaces, and churches. Second, as we “walk worthily of God,” partnering with Christ to carry out his ministry in our daily lives, God faithfully works through us to bring healing and reconciliation to a broken and divided world. It is this very power of God at work through Christ’s ministry, embodied by us, that brings peace, joy, and fruitfulness to the world, rather than chaos, destruction, and death. Paul calls these experiences of enriched life the “Kingdom of God.” Two examples from his letters illustrate the point. Addressing congregants in his church in Corinth, Paul says “the Kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). They are speaking arrogantly to one another, rather than “walking worthily of God.” Paul plans to go to Corinth to “find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power” (1 Corinthians 4:19). In other words, Paul will point out to them the obvious, chaotic results of this destructive power being unleashed in the community through their arrogant talk. Such behavior also blocks their experience of the peace and joy that characterizes the Kingdom of God. Similarly, in Romans, Paul writes to Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus in the churches of Rome. They are arguing with each other about

Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

whether everyone must eat Jewish kosher food when they gather for the Lord’s Supper. The Jewish community members are passing judgment on the Gentiles for not eating kosher food. From this point of view, the Gentiles are breaking the Jewish Law, so judgment seems appropriate. Conversely, the Gentile church members are looking down on Jewish members who insist on eating only kosher food. “Don’t you know that Christ has delivered us into freedom from the Jewish Law?” they must be asking the others. As a result of this bickering, relationships in the community are damaged or broken. Paul’s assessment? They “are no longer walking in love” (Romans 14:15). “For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). We partner faithfully with Jesus Christ when we “walk worthily of God” in our own daily lives. As we do, God works powerfully through our embodiment of Christ to bring healing and life to others with all sorts of colors and beauty, relieving all despair and hopelessness. In all of these various moments, the Kingdom of God breaks into our world. We are truly partners with Christ in the Kingdom of God. What a “calling.”

The Rev. Dr. John G. Lewis is CoDirector of The Work+Shop in San Antonio, Texas. Reach him at jlewis@theworkshop-sa.org.

Art, left page: photo by Kat Gambs. More of Kat’s work will be part of the upcoming photo exhibit at Cathedral House Gallery. See page 18 for details.

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by the Rev. Dr. Jane Patterson

What would Peter and Andrew and Martha

do?

I

s it “Christian” to go on a vacation to Europe? to vote the party line? to fire a

problematic employee? How do we know how to decide these things, when neither Jesus nor his disciples went on any vacations that we can tell, didn’t cast a vote, and didn’t hire or fire anyone? Twenty years ago, I was taught a very simple method for reflecting theologically and faithfully on practically any issue. This method doesn’t solve every problem in decision-making, but it does help us to gain clarity about what we are doing, and why, and it often challenges the preliminary decision we came in with. In this method, you ask yourself (or your community asks) three questions: Is it Christian? Is it true? Is it appropriate in this context?

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Is it Christian? Whether or not a course of action is Christian has to do with how it appears in the light of the biblical scriptures and the traditions of the Church. For example, let’s say that I want to buy a pair of black pants. Do the scriptures say anything about clothing? Do they say anything about the spending of money? Do they say anything about being satisfied with what you have? Notice the different kinds of issues that might have bearing on my purchase, not the least of which would be what I might do with the money if I were not spending it on another pair of black pants. What does the Christian tradition have to say about clothing? About what is “enough”? About what money is for? I might turn to the Benedictine Rule, which speaks about the clothing for the monks. How relevant to my case are the rules for clothing monks in the 6th century? But perhaps there is a principle behind the Rule of

Reflections

– Fall/Winter 2012


Benedict that would be applicable for me. For instance, it is clear that the true needs of each monk are respected, but desires are kept in check. How would that principle relate to my proposed purchase?

Is it true? This is a more subtle area of questioning. It usually involves other spheres of knowledge, for instance science or philosophy or psychology. Is it true that I need a new pair of black pants for a particular occasion? Does that occasion really require black pants in the first place? Think of a more substantive issue, like how you cast your vote. Have you really checked up on the facts your candidate is using? Are your values for society coherent with your values for yourself? This can be a very rich area for reflection. It holds us accountable to the same standards of integrity and coherence that we are likely to hold others to.

Is it appropriate for this context? Back to my new black pants. Perhaps we’ve come to the conclusion that they are so essential that they constitute God’s basic care for clothing and feeding human beings, and they are not out of line with a Christian’s call to simplicity. But what if I can’t afford them? Then they would not be a good purchase for someone in my circumstances.

longer. In the case of a new ministry that a church is considering, the vestry might decide to do a little more discerning of the ministry before it is enacted, might try to find out how many members feel called to the ministry, or might decide to raise some money for it before launching the new effort. In the case of voting for a candidate, there might be two that you were deciding between, but one seems to have the best plans for your city or country at this particular time, and that insight might tip the balance for you. This simple method is useful for all kinds of issues, both large and small, that face us as disciples of Christ. In my experience, the use of this method raises the sticky issue that most of us do not know our scriptures or our traditions thoroughly or flexibly enough to access them for decision-making. But then that in itself is another issue for faithful reflection.

The Rev. Dr. Jane Lancaster Patterson is an educator, retreat leader, writer, and co-director of The Work+Shop in San Antonio TX. Reach her at jpatterson@theworkshop-sa.org.

What if buying them would keep me from being able to pay my tithe to the church? What if buying them would mean that my child could not have a new jacket? There might be lots of contextual reasons for not doing something, even if it is both Christian and true. This is also the area that might raise issues that would cause you to postpone something, or to do more work on it before you act. In the case of the pants, I might save my money a little

Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

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Resources The work of spiritual formation is often a combination of hearing God through others’ voices and taking what is heard inward. These spiritual formation sites offer meditations, online classes, retreats, and other practices in an online community. These are only a sample of spiritual formation websites; we hope you will share with us sites that you know of. Websites we recommend: Abbey of the Arts: Explore contemplative spirituality, an ancient tradition that embraces practices and rhythms that invite one into a deeper way of life, drawing on the Celtic, Benedictine, and desert traditions. Programs include: Being A Monk in the World, Selecting a Guiding Word for the Year, online retreats and classes. www.abbeyofthearts.com Sacred life-arts: Join an online community for women’s spirituality. Visit the online sanctuary, classroom, and resource center that are devoted to bringing creative inspiration and spiritual illumination to women. The online community explores, expresses, and imagines new spiritual practices and creative wisdom for inspired living. Programs include online classes, independent studies, spiritual direction, and other resources. www.sacredlifearts.com Lumunos: Explore your own call and how you can live your everyday life in response to God’s vision for you and the world around you. Lumunos believes that the more people seek to listen for God’s call, the better the world becomes. Lumunos is a continuation of Faith at Work, founded in 1927 by the Rev. Sam Shoemaker of Calvary (Episcopal) Church in New York. http://www.lumunos.org Explorefaith: Read excellent articles and other resources at this site that is versified but modeled upon the Episcopal Church approach to Christianity (open, experiential, ecumenical, emphasizing grace, forgiveness, and God’s love), with a concurrent belief that through Jesus Christ we can experience the heart of God. www.explorefaith.org Center for Action and Contemplation: Founded by Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation is a site for experiential education that combines action and contemplation. Rooted in the Gospels, CAC encourages the transformation of human consciousness through contemplation and by equipping people to be instruments of peaceful change in the world. www.cac.org Always worth reading - blogs we follow (not all of these bloggers post on a regular basis): Domini Canes by Brother James R. Dennis, OP, a site for Anglican dominican study and reflection. The author is a brother in the Order of Preachers who lives in San Antonio TX. http://dominicanes.me/ Interrupting the Silence the Rev. Mike Marsh, rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Uvalde TX http://interruptingthesilence.com The Church Whisperer Blake Coffee, church mediator, San Antonio TX www.churchwhisperer.com Grace Under Pressure the Rev. Jay George, Grace Church, San Antonio TX. http://revjayg.wordpress.com/ ReflectionsOnline our own spiritual formation blogsite. Find dozens of articles on spirituality topics, posts from a variety of writers, special studies such as our recent study of The NiceneDiocese Creed, and every Texas issue of Reflections magazine. www.reflections-dwtx.org Episcopal of West www.reflections-dwtx.org

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The last word by the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge

A Kingdom of Grace

R

ecently, two of our Sunday Collects have us praying for “the fullness of (God’s) grace” (Proper 21); and asking that God’s grace “may always precede and follow us” (Proper 23). Both of these Collects continue their petitions acknowledging that there is a purpose for asking for a full measure of God’s grace, namely that we “may become partakers of (God’s) heavenly treasure” (Proper 21), and that we “may continually be given to good works” (Proper 23). This got me to thinking about what a life full of God’s grace might look like. (The “propers” are the assigned readings for the day, including the Collects.) Grace is a churchy word that sounds refreshing, but how often have we actually paused to consider what we mean when we say it or hear it? The word can mean many things, including “pleasing quality, favor, thoughtfulness towards others, a short prayer at meals, a special virtue given to a person by God, the condition of a person thus influenced” and so on. The Book of Common Prayer defines grace as “God’s favor toward us, unearned and undeserved” (page 858). Presumably, if I am a follower of Jesus – God’s ultimate vessel of grace – I am going to try to pattern my life after Jesus’ example. His life, ministry, death, and resurrection are the very definition of the word grace, and so if I am praying for “the fullness of God’s grace” and I want this grace to “precede and follow me,” I need to think about the things that are important to Christ, care about the things that God cares about, and do the things that the Holy Spirit did and continues to do.

Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

I can’t be praying for the fullness of God’s grace unless I am inclined to act with favor towards others, whether they have earned it or whether they deserve it (see earlier prayer book definition). My grace is supposed to be God’s grace, put into action in my thoughts, words, and deeds. St. Paul writes that we are to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5.1). We will be imitators, even if imperfectly, when we strive for a full measure of God’s grace by acting like Christ. John’s Gospel recounts the story of some Greeks appearing before the disciple Philip with a simple request: “We would like to see Jesus” (12.21). People are still longing to see Jesus, and it is our privilege and our responsibility to do all in our power to be imitators of God, full of grace, so that they may see Jesus made manifest in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Think and care about what God thinks and cares about, and you will see people differently. As a result, you won’t be able to do anything other than “be given to good works” because you’ll understand that the heavenly treasure means loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul; and loving your neighbors as yourself –– right here and right now.

The Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.

www.reflections-dwtx.org

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Episcopal Diocese of West Texas P O Box 6885 San Antonio TX 78209 www.dwtx.org Send address changes to The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, P O Box 6885, San Antonio TX 78209

Recycle Reflections When you are finished with your copy of Reflections, why not pass it on to a friend or neighbor?

It doesn’t have to end like this . . . Reflections continues online at www.reflections-dwtx.org Where you can • find more resources about The Kingdom of God • talk back to the authors • comment on the articles • join the conversation about finding the holy in your ordinary life

. . . with our QR link. Download a QR reader app to your smart phone (we recommend i-nigma or TapMedia), then click on the app and position your phone over this symbol (as if you were taking a photo). When it comes into focus it will go to www.reflections-dwtx.org.

Profile for Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

Reflections magazine fa//winter 2012  

The fall/winter issue of Reflections magazine, the spiritual formation magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.

Reflections magazine fa//winter 2012  

The fall/winter issue of Reflections magazine, the spiritual formation magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.

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