Author Topic: It is all about love....  (Read 612 times)

J. Thomas Shelley

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It is all about love....
« on: April 24, 2020, 10:23:51 PM »
The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Commemoration of Cyrial & Methodius, Apostles to the Slavs
14 February AD 2010


Dear Esther:

It is all about love, this day.

Certainly Hallmark and every retail florist and almost any restaurant (a bit fancier than Wendy’s) isn’t about to let us forget that!   Displays of confections and plush toys and shiny balloons make the celebration of human love of Valentine’s Day inescapable.

Yet what little we know concerning the life of Saint Valentine (who is, after all, more mythological than historical) reveals that he was all about love:  First and foremost, love for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; second, love for the people of God entrusted to his care.   Supposedly, his first love was so great that he suffered imprisonment, later martyrdom for his faith; his second love was so strong that along that final journey--from prison--he would send notes of encouragement signed, ”your Valentine.”.

It is all about love, this day.

The missionary Bishops Cyril and his brother, Methodius, were filled to overflowing with the same love of God which led them to love neighbors that they had never met.   They were sent as missionaries to the people of Moravia (yes, the ancestors of the Moravian church); and found that in order to teach the Gospel to the people it was first necessary to create a written alphabet.  Their “Cyrillic” alphabet became the basis of the written languages of much of Eastern Europe--including the Russian which is used in the title space of these Icons.   Cyril undertook this work with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength--just 50 days after completing that work, and presenting it to the Bishop of Rome he entered into Life on the 14th day of February.

It is all about love, this day.

What kind of love inspires people to give--to use the words of the 16th President whose birthday was fleetingly remembered two days ago--”their last full measure of devotion”?    It is a love unshaken by death; grounded in Christ, the Son of the living God.   It is a love that has glimpsed the dazzling beauty of Resurrected life.  It is a love that is established in faith and built up in hope--filled with a sure confidence that sufferings of this age are as nothing when compared with the glory that is to be revealed in Jesus Christ.

Such confidence and trust filled Moses the law-giver when he was privileged to glimpse the glorious land promised to his patriarch forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; although he knew that, according to God’s command, he must now depart this life even as people made ready to depart from Moab.

It is all about love, this day.

Departure and death are closely interwoven with the festival of the Transfiguration.    Certainly because the two appearing with Jesus on the holy mountain are two who did not experience a normal death:  Moses, buried by God in Moab in a grave unknown; and Elijah, taken up in a whirlwind with the chariots of fire.  And most especially because the subject of the conversation between the representatives of the Law and the Prophets is Jesus’s own departure, which Luke the Evangelist tells us “was to take place at Jerusalem”.

Said Leo the Great concerning this feast, “The great reason for this transfiguration  was to remove the scandal of the cross from the hearts of his disciples, and to prevent the humiliation of his voluntary suffering from disturbing the faith of those who had witnessed the surpassing glory that lay concealed.”    Out of love for Peter and James and John, Christ allows them to see that His coming Passion would not be God’s final word for Him, for them--for us.

It is all about love, this day.

Esther, your arrival at this congregation came in a season of departure.  You arrived with two tow-headed youngsters on the Sunday when we blessed seeds for their departure into the soil; a celebration that was bittersweet in that year of our Lord 1997 because just three weeks before (and just  two days apart) we had planted in God’s garden the holy seeds of the resurrection in the persons of two faithful, farmer-neighbors Lester Shaffer and Wilmer Glatfelter.

About a year later I saw a deeper dimension of your love on the morning of our first-ever Memorial Day liturgy.   To be precise, I did not see that dimension until long after we had been bade to “go in peace” and “serve the Lord”--for as I was locking the church door and heading to my car I noticed that you and Bill were showing Jenn and Will every Veteran’s grave in both Cemeteries.  I was so moved that I wrote about that experience a year later in this parish newsletter--and thousands have read of that day through the posting of that newsletter article on the web site of usmemorialday.org.

It is all about love, this day.

Esther, your gifts for teaching the young were nurtured first within your own family.    I hope I can always remember the time that your parents were attending a Fire Police meeting far away, and you asked me to help with the evening milking.   You insisted that I get to Zeigler’s Church Rd in time for supper; and before we tucked in to pork chops with horseradish Will led us in a grace that began “Hush little rooster.....”

That is when I began to notice you with an eye for this ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ.

You began to serve in many wonderful ways; Choir, Council, Council Secretary, Christian Education Co-Chair.   

And then, during the meeting held three years ago envisioning our future; you asked a good question--which only served as further evidence of God’s call on your life--”why are there only three Deacons”?

It is all about love, this day.

The answer to the question is found in today’s Feast, in following the pattern set down by Jesus Christ.   While He was surrounded by great crowds, He had chosen just twelve Apostles; and, even within that Apostolic circle He had chosen three (no more, no less) to be witnesses of great things kept from all the rest.  It was only  Peter, James, and John, who witnessed the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law; it was only Peter, James, and John who witnessed the raising of the daughter of Jarius; and it was only Peter, James, and John who witnessed the glorious Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor.

Through their witness, the faith of the others--and through their witness, the faith of all who follow Christ was to be strengthened.  To continue the reflection of Leo the Great:  With no less forethought he was also providing a firm foundation for the hope of his holy church.  The whole body of Christ was to understand the kind of transformation that it would receive as his give.  The members of that body were to look forward to a share in that glory which had first blazed out in Christ their head.

It is all about love, this day.

And it is not about us.   Or more precisely, it is only about us insofar as we are, in the words of St. Paul, “slaves for Christ’s sake”.  And Esther, you have lived that all your life, following the good examples of your parents Nelson and Judy; your Aunt Barb of blessed memory, and, as I have come to learn, the example of Grandpa Milton in serving county and community with no regard for self.

So then, let us pray with John Henry Newman:

   Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as thou shinest;
   so to shine as light to others.
   The light, O Jesus, will be all from thee,
   None of it will be mine.
   No merit to me,
   It will be thou who shinest through me upon others.
   O let me thus praise thee, in the way which thou doest love best,
      by shining on all those around me.
   Give light to them as well as me;
      light them with me, through me.
   Teach me to follow forth thy praise, thy truth, thy will.
   Make me preach thee without preaching--
      not by words, but by my example and by the catching force,
      the sympathizing influence
      of what I do--
   By my visible resemblance to thy saints,
      and the evident fullness of the love which my heart bears to thee.

AMEN.
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: It is all about love....
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2020, 10:38:08 PM »
John Henry Newman's prayer took on a new layer of meaning tonight when I learned that Esther the Deacon has now been placed under Hospice care in a facility which will, mercifully, allow immediate family to share her final hours.

She continued to serve actively in the ministry she received that Valentine's Day a decade ago until her health made such service impossible....yes, she offered her "last full measure of devotion".

Please pray for Esther, her husband Bill, and their adult children Jennie (husband Chuck) and Will. 

Pray for her siblings Daisy, Murray, Neil, Tim, "Junior" and their families.  She will be first.

Pray especially for Esther's octogenarion widowed father Nelson, who will soon be facing what no parent should.

Pray also for me.   What happened a decade ago was an emergency irregularity of Order perpetrated at the hands of one whose own Ordinal pedigree was born of emergency irregularity.   

There are few who can understand this very unique and personal grief.  I have mourned the passing of some who I Baptized, some who I Confirmed, some whom I united in Marriage. 

But never this.

Kyrie eleison.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2020, 11:01:00 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: It is all about love....
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2020, 10:53:13 AM »
Update from Bill Clark, Saturday of Renewal ("Bright") Week, April 25:

Quote
Esther was called home this morning at 8:25.  She went peacefully.   I was getting ready to leave the house when I got the call.  She was in no distress.  We are going to do a cremation and have a memorial service later in the year.   My love to all.   Bill


Among the spirits of the righteous perfected in faith, give rest, O Savior, to the soul of Your servant. Bestow upon it the blessed life which is from You, O loving One.

Within Your peace, O Lord, where all Your saints repose, give rest also to the soul of Your servant, for You alone are immortal.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.


You are our God who descended into Hades and loosened the pains of those who were chained. Grant rest also, O Savior, to the soul of Your servant.

Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen
.

Most pure and spotless Virgin, who ineffably gave birth to God, intercede with Him for the salvation of the soul of your servant.

O God of spirits and of all flesh, You have trampled down death and have abolished the power of the devil, giving life to Your world. Give rest to the soul of Your departed servant Esther in a place of light, in a place of repose, in a place of refreshment, where there is no pain, sorrow, and suffering. As a good and loving God, forgive every sin she has committed in thought, word or deed, for there is no one who lives and is sinless. You alone are without sin. Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your word is truth. For You are the resurrection, the life and the repose of Your departed servant Esther,Christ our God, and to You we give glory, with Your eternal Father and Your all holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages, Amen.

May her Memory be Eternal!
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015

peter_speckhard

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Re: It is all about love....
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2020, 11:04:26 AM »
So sorry to hear about such a personal loss. I know it is a hard relationship to explain, but it is clear this cuts to the bone. God be with you in your grief and comfort you with Easter news of the resurrection.

Dave Benke

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Re: It is all about love....
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2020, 06:52:48 PM »
Tom, your heart for this special saint and for your vocation of care and compassion come through as that most precious Christian commodity, love.

Be at peace,

Dave Benke

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: It is all about love....
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2020, 08:23:16 PM »
Thank you, brothers.
Greek Orthodox-Ecumenical Patriarchate

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

Chrismated Antiochian Orthodox, eve of Mary of Egypt Sunday, A.D. 2015