Sermons on “Luke”


Walking in the Fifth Gospel

It’s been another active, wonderful week at Emmanuel. We had the EDS Pumpkin Parade Tuesday, and the churchyard was filled with amazing jackolanterns and whole families dressed in coordinating costumes. One of my favorites was our EDS student dressed as a rainbow – creatively made of bent pool noodles nested in a cloud of cotton batting, all worn on the back of her pink spangly dress. Mom was the sun, complete with a crown and wide wings of rays, and Dad was dressed as a parachuter, with helmet and front parachute pack carrying the infant sister.

I hadn’t had the foresight to plan a costume, and so was delighted to re-discover my black Wippell’s clerical cloak in my closet. I sailed out into the night with a miniature dragon and a Ninja Turtle concealed in its folds – who jumped out periodically to surprise parents and other unicorns, pirates, and princesses. I was a six-footed, cloaked Abouna, as the children call me, for Halloween.

From Halloween – All Hallows’ Eve – we look forward to All Saints’ Day, one of the major feast days of the church. All Saints’ Day occurs naturally on November 1, but as a major feast day of the church, takes precedence over The Lord’s Day, our weekly Sunday feast day, so we will actually celebrate All Saints’ Day on Sunday – November 3.

All Saints’ Day is the day when we remember that we are part of the communion of saints, as we say we believe in the Nicene Creed – all those holy ones who lived in ages past and are with us now and always. As one of the seven major feast days in The Episcopal Church, All Saints’ Day is also a time for baptism – and we will baptize a new member of the Christian community on Sunday!

I mentioned that the EDS children call me Abouna – and the reason they do is that Abouna is Arabic for priest. I just returned in June from a year’s fellowship at St. George’s College in Jerusalem, the holiest city in the world for Christians and Jews, and the third holiest city in the world – after Mecca and Medina – for Muslims.

In the Holy Land of the three Abrahamic faiths – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – you often hear people speak of the land itself as the Fifth Gospel. The holy land gives us new insight into scripture and how God is trying to interact with us.

The particular rocks, dirt, caves, places, and homes – the actual physical surroundings of the holy family and other characters of scripture – provide resonance and context when we see where they lived, how they might have walked, how warm or cold – or wet or dry – it might have been, and what they might have had to eat, or seen along the roadside as they walked.

I am very grateful that we will welcome my dear friend, The Rev. Susan Lukens, Associate Dean Emerita of St. George’s College, Jerusalem, to join me to preach and concelebrate (a specific church word meaning co-preside at the Eucharist) on All Saints’ Day. Please join us Sunday as we welcome the newest member of our Christian family in baptism, discuss our experience with the Fifth Gospel, and explore our living relationship with the communion of saints and all our family we encounter in Christ.

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Even the Sparrow Has Found Her a House

I was so very grateful for the Emmanuel community last Tuesday night! Emmanuel really turned out for Dinner With Della+, and it was a wonderful chance for us to talk a little and get to know each other better. I look forward to many more opportunities like that in the coming months.

Dinner With Della+ was the kickoff dinner for Emmanuel’s Foyer Groups – the small group dinners we plan to have at Emmanuel that were called Firesides in another incarnation at Emmanuel.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Foyer Groups originated from Coventry Cathedral’s International Ministry of Reconciliation, which arose after the Cathedral was destroyed in the Blitz. Shortly after the bombing, the Cathedral Provost was sifting through the rubble of the cathedral and found many of the old roof nails that had fallen among the ruins. He saw potential for redemption and reconciliation in the ruins and was inspired to have them twisted together to
form a cross.

This cross of nails and the words “Father, Forgive” became the unifying symbol of the Community of the Cross of Nails, the energy behind Coventry Cathedral’s International Ministry of Reconciliation. CCN, as the group is called, believes that understanding between peoples, nations, and ideologies can come only when people meet and know each other as individuals.

In 1967, the staff of the Coventry Cathedral began meeting together in small informal groups as a way of bridging the differences among us that can separate us from each other. They noticed that a powerful bond formed among the group, which they referred to as a foyer group. Foyer is French for home, or hearthside.

People had become more separated and isolated during the war, especially with the violence and destruction of the bombings. People’s differences got magnified, so people noticed more about how they were different than how they were alike. But in the small dinner groups, people got to know each other better – as fellow human beings – and they became fast friends. They spent time. They talked. They listened. And they shared a meal.

The Foyer movement spread first to the congregation of Coventry Cathedral and then out into the Anglican Communion. Today, many Episcopal churches throughout the United States have foyer groups that are great ways for people in the church to get together and get to know each other better – sharing experiences and common interests within friendly home surroundings, in a Christian context and while breaking bread together.

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Bishop Knisely celebrates on Sunday Nov. 22 at 10:00 am Facebook Live