Aaron’s Letter for July 29

camp_photoI’m up at The Bishop’s Ranch today to visit with the Trinity folks attending BREAD Camp. This camp has a long tradition in our diocese with derivations like TOAST and READ. But even more than that the theme of Bread is relevant for our life together at Trinity.

Each week we celebrate the Eucharist together where we break bread baked from wheat grown at The Bishop’s Ranch. And each time we gather around our dining room tables, kitchen counters, and local eating establishments we embody and extend that Eucharistic presence of Christ out into the world.

Eucharist is our bodies at worship, gathered as the body of Christ, breaking the bread of heaven that is Jesus in our midst. Or as theologian M. Shawn Copeland profoundly notes, “The meaning of Eucharist not only lies beyond the immediacy of corporeality, it also joins the body’s ultimate transformation and the supernatural destiny of the human person.” (Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being, 2010)

And as I mentioned last week, we are headed into five weeks in the Gospel of John where we’ll ponder Bread in a myriad of ways. We begin this week with Jesus feeding the multitudes, “Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” (John 6:11-12)

Matthew is back this week and a reminder that if there is a pastoral need, please call the Pastoral Care Emergency Line at 650-326-8591.

Here’s the collection of poems in triptych series through the Gospel of Mark: Insist, Resist, Persist.

Bread for our Journey,
Aaron

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Persist.

Persist.

She takes off her burial shroud
Turns it inside out
And uses it like a matador’s cape
Daring death

She insists
wrestling free from the tangle of fabric
Reaching and grasping for life
For healing

Wheeling
Winding
Weaving her way
Through crowds
That
Press the flesh
Hot
And
Sticky

Smelling of bodies
And sweat
The disciples meander
with just a staff
and sandals
no bread
no money

They may,
perhaps, have
inclinations
to
flatter
a king

Or resist the sheen
Of varnished veneers

It seems
however

The king does not appear to be
Who he appears to be.

But

That wild eyed prophet
The fire bathing beauty
With untied sandals
He handles
The shambles of their failed
Conflagrations
And misspoke
Miseducations

And

The success of
their first
instigations
of a world full
of peregrinations
and
percolations of
expectation.

He says,

Come away with me
Come and rest
I
Have
Something
To
Teach
You.

And the only place you can learn it
Is the place after insistence
A place with the face of resistance
The place of persistence

The desert doesn’t give
a
damn.

It just stands there and demands
its
pound of flesh.

It persists.

It has something to teach you.
If you will let it.

It will teach you to persist.
Just like he persists
in the face of those who
question his legitimacy
his legality
his longevity.

It will teach you to persist.
It is content to let you resist.
It opens the way for you to insist.

But don’t be afraid.
He has gone there before.
He will lead you into it
and
Like a Mother
welcome you on the other side of it

Persist.

Your traveling cloak
will be your prayer shawl
your sleeping bag
your burial shroud
and
your matador’s cape

Daring even death.

Persist.

  • Aaron Klinefelter, final poem in triptych series: Insist, Resist, Persist.

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Aaron’s Letter for July 22

Luffs_AaronMatthew is continuing his well-deserved vacation and I am back from the conference in Cambridge. I had the wonderful fortune of visiting with Maggie and Gwilym Luff while in Cambridge. They send their love to Trinity, their California church.

I had an amazing learning experience in Cambridge. CDSP invited me to attend the Newbigin Summer Institute where we spent the week digging into the work of Lesslie Newbigin as it relates to interfaith dialog and relationships. Newbigin was a 20th century missionary and bishop from the UK who helped found the Church of South India (part of the Anglican Communion) and was involved in the early work of the World Council of Churches. The conference was sponsored by the Newbigin House of Studies and the Newbigin Centre.

The Rev. Beth Foote returns this Sunday to preside at both the 8 am and 10 am services.

A reminder that if there is a pastoral need, please call the Pastoral Care Emergency Line at 650-326-8591.

This Sunday’s Gospel reading continues our ongoing exploration of Mark’s narrative. In fact, this is the last week in the Gospel of Mark for a bit as August sends us on a journey in John’s Gospel and a meditation on bread. But this week we find Jesus having compassion on the crowds that followed him, “because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” This week concludes our 3-part series through Mark: Insist, Resist, and now, Persist. Each week I’ve written a poem to accompany our reflection on the Gospel of Mark. Here are links to those poems:

Peace in the midst,

Aaron

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Resist.

Resistance is futile
Says the king
Meaning
Moms you should lock up your daughters
And run screaming to the hills
To hide in caves
Cast in Plato’s fading light

Or perhaps you could
Lie awake at night
Scrolling on the endless loop
Of sensational headlines and cat videos
Wondering if
Perhaps
There is a better way to live.

Because, surely he’s not a prophet
Running headlong into the thick of it
Causing trouble
Bursting bubbles

Stumble
Tumble
Fumble
for the remote

I hope
That he won’t
Call the question
Derail the session

That’s out of order, man.
You’d think he’d understand
Doesn’t he realize we have a plan?

Why does he resist?

But, oh well, the system wins
In the end
Doesn’t it?

Raise your glass the troublemaker is gone
Headless and dead
Cast aside like an out of ink pen

I mean, he’s not Elijah
Is he?
Surely not a prophet
We don’t like their kind
around here.

Still. The rumor is that he’s back from
The
Dead.
Instead
It must be a mistakeThat his disciples came to take
His body
To lay in a tomb.

But those words he spoke
Of resistance and hope
As if they are one in the same.

The words that he spoke
Of resistance and hope

They rise like smoke
From the embers of dreams

It seems
That yet
The king
may not
be who
he appears
to be.

  • Aaron Klinefelter for Sunday July 15, 2018 based on Mark 6:14-29

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Insist.

Insist
she whispers
the breath just barely on her lips

and yet her grip

Jairus looks and sees with broken eyes
his daughter

he longs to see her wondering
playing
running

He longs to call out
Talitha cum
Little girl, get up
it’s time to go

And yet she lay here dying
And he, a person of power
a man of means
the one with a name
can
do
nothing

Talitha cum
Little girl, get up
his words fall flat

She is locked up
trapped in a cage
not of her own making

taking
shaking
sliding
slipping

through crowds
an invisible woman
plastered
punctured
with visible pain

shame
the same

cage
trapped
and
staid

she reaches out
grasping at cloaks and tassels
robes and ropes

reaching for the one
who promises hope…

she insists

“get up, little girl”
she hears the echo of a voice
Talitha cum

get up
have courage
do not be afraid
insist that the healer heal
insist that the prophet prophecy
insist that the weeper weep

queer this thing
this hope
this healing
this teacher who touches
go across to the other side
go to the desert place

cross boundaries
borders
bodies

it is as if…
but no…
yet, perhaps…
oh, happy chance…

“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice;

Talitha cum
indeed

insist

O daughters of Israel
insist and weep

How the mighty have fallen
but you,
you are
greatly beloved
your love
to me
is wonderful

Insist.

  • Aaron Klinefelter for Sunday July 1, 2018 based on Mark 5:21-43

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Rev. Matthew’s Letter for July 15

I am writing to you from Chicago, where my vacation is now about a week old and we are enjoying what the great city has to offer.  Chicago always impresses me — probably because it was the very first “big city” I ever visited as a child growing up in the Midwest.

While I continue to enjoy some time off, Aaron is wrapping up his week of study in England and will be back in Menlo Park on July 13.  He will be preaching at services on July 15.  The Rev. Beth Foote also returns this Sunday to preside at both the 8 am and 10 am services.

A reminder that during my vacation time, if there is a pastoral need, please call the Pastoral Care Emergency Line at 650-326-8591.

This Sunday’s Gospel reading tells the story of the death of John the Baptist, who was executed after offending the wife of King Herod. It is a story that, among other things, reminds us of what can happen when people of faith find it necessary to speak truth to power.

Peace,

Matthew+

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Rev. Matthew’s Letter for July 8

This Sunday, both Aaron and I will be away.  I am beginning my vacation, and will be back in church on Sunday, July 29.  Aaron is in England for a week-long study program to which he was invited several months ago, and will be back in Menlo Park on July 13.  If there is any pastoral need during this time, please call the Pastoral Care Emergency Line at 650-326-8591.

The Rev. Beth Foote will be presiding and preaching at services this Sunday, and she will be covering for me also on July 15 and 22.  I am grateful that Beth is able to be with us again.

This Sunday’s gospel reading is a story about how hard it is to go home again:  Jesus is back in his hometown, in his home synagogue, having become known as a healer and a prophet, and his hometown people just can’t see him in this way.   They remember him as a child, and they seem to have trouble getting beyond that.  So much so, that Mark tells us that he could do “no deed of power” there.

While I’m looking forward to some time away, I will also look forward to being back among you at the end of the month.  In the meantime, you will be in my prayers.

Peace,

Matthew+

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Rev. Matthew’s Letter for July 1

This Sunday, we hear a story from Mark’s Gospel that highlights the healing ministry of Jesus.  One is of a woman who had had a “hemorrage” for years, the other of the daughter of a prominent man, who dies before Jesus is able to reach her.  We often miss the fact that in many of these healing stories, there is much more going on than meets the eye.  The woman with the hemorrage would have been considered unclean in her time, which would have made her something of an outcast.  Her healing means restoration far beyond simply the removal of a medical condition.  And the raising of Jairus’s daughter points to the truth that God can reach us even in death.

Our hosting of Home and Hope this year comes to a conclusion this Sunday, and I am so grateful to our many volunteers who make our hosting of these families possible, and to our Outreach Commission — particularly Jim Bramlett and Barbara Newton — for continuing to offer this service opportunity to us.

In July, we will turn our attention to a new outreach project:  providing back-to-school backpacks and supplies to children at Redwood Family House and the Ecumenical Hunger Program.  Stay tuned for more details about how you can support this project.

As announced, I will be on vacation from July 6-28, which means I will not be in church on July 8, 15, and 22.  I’m deeply grateful to the Rev. Beth Foote, well known in our community, who will be presiding at services while I am away.  She will also be preaching on July 8.  Aaron will be in England from July 7-13 for a week of study in Cambridge to which he was invited a few months ago.  He will be preaching on July 15 and 22.   If there is a pastoral emergency while I am away, please call the emergency line at 650-326-8591.  Someone will either answer or you will be able to leave a message, and those on call to respond will do so right away.

Peace,

Matthew+

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Rev. Matthew’s Letter for June 24

This Sunday is the last of the month, and so is our alternative music Sunday at the 10 am service.  This month, the music will be led by our Bluegrass Band.  The readings this week include a passage from the book of Job, in which God questions Job in a way that makes it clear how much Job does not know about the deepest mysteries of life and of the universe, and a reading from Mark’s Gospel in which Jesus encounters the panic of his disciples in the midst of a storm.  Both of these stories, in different ways, invite us to examine our own relationship with the deep mystery of life, and whether or not we are willing to trust God with that mystery — and entrust ourselves to that mystery.

Summer is officially here now, and we are already slipping into its rhythms.  Church attendance will be lower as people take vacations, and the pace of life slows a bit.  Please remember that while people take vacations, expenses do not — so please try to keep your pledge up to date during the summer months.

I want to highlight two upcoming events:  the church camping trip to Big Sur the weekend of August 10-12, and our annual Bishop’s Ranch Retreat the weekend of September 28-30.  Registration for both events is open —  just click on the underlined words in this paragraph.  If you’re interested in participating, get these dates on your calendars now!

In closing, I want to express my appreciation to all those who are supporting our hosting of Home and Hope this month.  We began last Sunday evening, and continue through July 1.  A special thanks to Jim Bramlett and Barbara Newton who coordinate this for us.

Peace,

Matthew+

Please note that I will be on vacation from July 6-28.  The Rev. Beth Foote will be presiding and preaching at services in July 8, and presiding at services on July 15 and 22.  Aaron will be preaching on July 15 and 22.

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Rev. Matthew’s Letter for June 17

This Sunday is Father’s Day, of course — not a day that is found on the church calendar!  But we will certainly be giving thanks for fathers this Sunday, as well as keeping in mind that not everyone experiences this day in a positive way.

Our lessons this week continue the story of Saul and Samuel.  Last week, we heard the story of the desire of the ancient Israelites to have a king, despite the prophet’s warning that kingship might not be the best model of government.  This Sunday, we fast-forward a bit, to discover that Saul — Israel’s first king — had, indeed, not done well.  God now sends Samuel in search of David, to be annointed king in Saul’s place.  All this political intrigue from the Hebrew Bible is contrasted with the appointed passage from Mark’s Gospel, in which Jesus talks not about kings, but kingdoms.  Specifically, the kingdom of God, comparing it to a mustard seed — something that at first seems small and insignificant, but can grow to something of impressive size.  The readings invite us to reflect on the different understandings of power that lie behind the people of Israel’s desire to be ruled and the reign of God.

This Sunday evening, we begin our hosting of Home & Hope for the next two weeks.  Many of you have signed up to help host our guests — thank you so much!  We still have some slots unfilled.  If you can help out, please go here and sign up.

As we move into summer, and with Rev. Elizabeth’s departure, I want to let you know my vacation schedule, and who will be covering for me while I am gone.  I will be away from the evening of July 5 through July 27.   That means I will not be in church on July 8, 15, and 22.  On these Sunday, the Rev. Beth Foote has graciously agreed to be here to preside at our morning  Eucharists.   She will also be preaching on July 8, and Aaron will be preaching on July 15 and 22.

Peace,

Matthew+

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