Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Sunday Next before Advent

 November 22, 2020

The Sunday Next before Advent

(1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Matthew 25:31-46)

It may strike some of us as hard to believe that one Sunday from today will be the beginning of the liturgical year – Advent. With all the turmoil we have had in this country the past year, is it surprising that we may not feel ready for the season upon us? We haven’t even got Covid-19 under control and we are nearly at Christmas!

Many a people have expressed a bit of hesitation in regard to Christmas being right around the corner. A year that has seen 1.3 milliondeaths around the globe, 250 plus thousand in our own country! Many fearing they too will get ill, all while many refuse to wear a mask – claiming it infringes on their rights. However, others have rights also – those who refuse to wear a mask are infringing on our rights by not wearing one and possibly infecting us.  Systemic racism running ramped with our leader seemingly encouraging it. People are out of work or only partially employed. A new report shows hundreds of cases in which the deported parents of migrant children who were taken from their families cannot be located. The country severely divided politically – vehemently in some cases, with some even calling for a civil war. Civil war! Let that sink in if you please. I used to think we were a civilized nation, but apparently some want to revert to old western days. Divine Messiah, please come - now!

It would seem that we need to stop and examine ourselves with a pause and prepare for the season ahead of us. It is a perfect time to bring some joy into our frustrated lives.

Our Epistle reading for today speaks of the joy of having our death through Adam turned to life through Jesus Christ. We who have lived with sin and death hanging over our heads like rain clouds, can rejoice that the sun will soon appear. Christ’s birth and then death and resurrection is our hope, our salvation, and our joy.

Our current chaos will be taken away and replaced with knowledge that this too will soon die, and a resurrection will push us back on our feet. We want and need Jesus, while our children need Santa and prepare for a better year.

During Advent, the book of Isaiah becomes a beckoner of souls craving for our redeemer to come. Isaiah reminds us that God is the final word, not this world, not this virus, not white supremacists, not even manipulative politicians. God’s final word is that Jesus is the Word, and as such we can be sure of our future regardless of how it may look now.

Isaiah tells us to be ready for our savior and to, “Cease to do evil, learn to do good” (Isaiah 1:16b-17a) He goes further in the next verse, “Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Our country has struggled many times during its almost 250 years, and we have always surmounted the challenges. Let us get past the challenge to our democracy and work together to get past this epidemic in the year we will soon have before us.

This coming Advent, we can throw all of our anguish and grief onto the rugged cross that our Blessed Lord defeated. We have these little crosses in our humble chapel that we offer to anyone who wants one. They are made in Israel out of olive wood. Quiet appropriate reminder of the wood our Blessed Lord died on to defeat death and sin for us. I have frequently encouraged people to take one of these crosses and when life is filled with turmoil and sorrow, squeeze that little cross tight. Force those turmoil’s and sorrows into the cross. Jesus takes all of these and tells us, “I got you. It will be okay. Just place those concerns at the foot of My cross, fore I will lighten your load! Let me in! Let me help you!”

Advent is also a time when we remember Our Lady Mary. She knew of what we suffer, for she too suffered. Mary once said to her followers after Christ’s death, “My son did not say that we wouldn’t suffer, fore we will indeed suffer. It is not a question of whether we will suffer by following Him, because we certainly will. What is important is who do you go to when you do suffer?!”

We go to her son - Our Lord. But, let us not forget Our Lady’s power and persuasion with her son. Jesus performed His first public miracle because of His mother Mary. She asked Him to create more wine for the wedding at Cana. At first, our Blessed Lord seemed to chastise her, but she was not fazed at all. She tells the servants to do as He says. I can just see Jesus shake His head and smile a smirky type of smile and tell the servants to fill the water jars full with water. The miracle takes place. The best wine ever was made! Jesus loves His mother and will always heed her call. He will fulfill any request she makes on our behalf. In fact, He has merely given her the checkbook with a bottomless bank account.

Let us take time this week to prepare for the season of Advent. It will not be quite like Advents of the past, but not to worry, God will use this to His advantage in some way and help us find the comfort and direction we need in these turbulent times. Ask Our Lady also for help, in the person of Our Lady, Untier of Knots. She will come to help with the scent of blessed roses and many Angels in tow.

And when Christmas arrives, and it surely will, let us be like those in Whoville, even though the Grinch may have stolen the decorations, gifts and feast, Christmas morning will bring us reason to rejoice. Rejoice, because we can hand over all the tribulation from this year over to Him and have a blessed day!

God Love You +++

++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA

We are beggars – As the epidemic continues (and even increases again) we continue to need your help. The virus keeps people away and thus donations are down, and bills pile up! Please helps, if you can, to keep our ministry alive and vibrant so that there is a place for the those needing respite from a troubled world! God Bless You +++

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity

 November 15, 2020

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity

(1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30)

Once again the Covid-19 virus has shut down houses of worship. Thus, we are back to online only sermons/messages. Please keep St. Francis in your prayers and consider a donation to help keep us alive while bodies are staying away, and God bless you+++!

Today’s Gospel tends to puzzle people. Why would our loving Lord say, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Why would Jesus seem to indicate that the rich will get more rich and the poor more poor, when His words elsewhere seems to not favor the rich? A bit disheartening to hear!

However, we are actually not understanding His parables. If we look at another of His parables (Matthew 13:12), we learn that Jesus may be using wealth in His stories, but wealth is merely a metaphor. In the New Testament – these passages (see Mt 25:29; Mk 4:25; Lk 8:18; 19:26) – use what is considered a use of axiom of practical “wisdom.” The true meaning is that God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away.

So, with that in mind, let us explore a way of putting this explanation to use by using an imaginative storyline.

Imagine there was a treasure hidden a familiar field. Imagine it was worth 100 times the value of everything you owned. And the field was for sale. The asking price was equal to everything you owned. So, you sell everything you have and purchase the field. Quite a deal! The treasure is now yours. How much did it cost you to for the treasure?

You might say that it cost you everything you had, but actually you’ll be wrong. It did not cost you anything. You might respond by saying that you paid for it with everything you had. However, what you actually bought was the field, not the treasure. The treasure was beyond your ability to buy, even with all your possessions. It was, in effect, priceless. But, yet it was free. It just happened to be within the field you actually purchased at a price of one-one hundredth of 100.

The story/example I have just told you was the parable that Jesus gave of a man who buys a field in order to gain the treasure hidden within it (Matthew 13). What do you think the treasure represents? Salvation? Eternal life? The blessings of God?

All of those things would be correct and more. You can never earn or warrant God’s blessings or His salvation or the eternal life He will give. A million years of perfect works couldn’t purchase it. It’s priceless and yet it’s given freely, apart from any work, undeserved, and solely by the grace of God. That’s the treasure. But there’s another side to this story. Though the treasure is free, it causes a man to go out and do everything he can, use everything he has, let go of everything he can let go of, and give everything he can give in response to having found the treasure. Think of cloistered nuns and monks who go behind walls and see the public again for the rest of their lives. They have given all for God, and pay for the treasure!

Salvation is a treasure beyond price and yet given freely to all who freely receive it. But the treasure is so great that if you truly receive it, if you realize what you have, it will lead you to do everything you can, to use everything you have, and give everything you can give in response to having found it. If you’ve truly found this treasure, then it must lead you to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love others as yourself, to forgive as you’ve been forgiven, to give as you have been given, to make your life a gift of love, and to do all this in joy in light of the treasure that is now come into your life. If you have found the treasure that is beyond price and freely given, then live a life that is of the upmost value and of the greatest worth,  and do so freely. This is the way you possess the priceless.

Now, part of this treasure is the one talent. God is well aware that we humans differ one from another. No two of us will comprehend the same. No two of us will have the same interests. No two of us will have the same drives. No two of us are the same, period. So, from this, we can further understand that God is aware that no two of us can handle the same amount of talents.

We each are given talents of wisdom to help us understand God and His kingdom. If we take this talent of wisdom and learn from it and use it wisely in our lives in seeking God, living His commandments, and loving others, we will double our talents we can offer back to God. God will bless us with more talents – more of His grace. We grow closer to our Creator and become better images of Him, just as we were created to be! And when our time on earth is done, we receive the full treasure of forgiveness and eternal life.

So, are you giving some of your time to God? Are you attempting to take the talents He has given you and increase them with more time spent with Him and His Word? Will you squander your talents, or double them? Let’s double them! Take the Bible off of the bottom shelf of your bookcase, dust it off and thumb through the pages. Time to double those talents!

God Love You +++

++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA

We are beggars – As the epidemic continues (and even increases again) we continue to need your help. The virus keeps people away and thus donations are down, and bills pile up! Please helps, if you can, to keep our ministry alive and vibrant so that there is a place for the those needing respite from a troubled world! God Bless You +++

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity

 November 8, 2020

The Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13)

The power nap.

Fifteen quick minutes in the late afternoon can battle back the post-lunch weariness of the busy worker, the stay-at-home parent or the student facing a term-paper deadline, especially while being cloistered in the house during the Covid-19 epidemic. While fifteen minutes is no siesta, it’s enough to restore vitality for the final push of the day.

But as for real effective snoozing, look no further than the black bear. Research is beginning to unpack the amazing slumber skills of these animals. They hibernate for up to four months during the winter, without ever waking up to eat, drink, relieve themselves or exercise. And while the catatonic inactivity of hibernating bears may drop their heart rate to as low as six beats per minute, they still burn an amazing 4,000 calories per day!

But what is truly amazing about these power-nappers is the ability to emerge from hibernation faster and stronger than a combat Humvee on a cold day — at almost the same level of physical strength and stamina as when they started their season-skipping siesta. Through daily regimens of muscle stimulation and contraction, bears are able to both maintain their constant body temperature and keep their massive muscles in working shape.

Take a person who is sick and bedridden for two months, his muscles will have become listless from passivity. Or take a football player and ask them to execute with the same precision and ability at training camp in July as they did in the playoffs in January. No way.

But hibernating bears? Their spell of complete inactivity is offset by the amazing ability to efficiently maintain their strength. So come spring, they bound out of their den at full speed ready to eat about anything in sight.

Four months off and good as new. That’s a true power nap. The way life is sometimes, I wouldn’t mind having the same ability!

Now researchers are hoping to learn the science behind the regenerating-while-napping black bear, hoping to apply their findings to the bedridden or to those with degenerative neuromuscular diseases. But while the deep sleep of hibernation is great for bears and may one day impact medical therapy, not all slumber is equally beneficial.

Fall asleep on Jesus, and you may not emerge feeling so rested and refreshed.

When Jesus talked about the kingdom of God, he used parables with illustrations from everyday life to make his point. In Matthew 25, he tells the story of 10 temperamental single virgins who go out to meet a prospective bridegroom. But the groom is running late, and so they all nod off for a while ... a power nap before the courting begins.

Eventually the Bachelor arrived, but not every Bachelorette got a rose that night. While all were eager for the opportunity to meet a potential quality mate, only five were eligible and invited to the party.

Now we know that Jesus was able to nap, even while frothy seas stormed around him (Luke 8:23). And the issue in this story is not the fact that the bridesmaids napped as well, because all 10 did so. The issue is that only five woke up prepared and ready to go in the middle of the night. Jesus is warning against bad kingdom catnaps; hibernating without remaining strong and ready to go.

As Christians living 2,000 years after the first coming of Christ, it might be too easy to forget that His second coming could happen on a day when we do not expect Him and at an hour we are not aware of. Winter will change to spring, and then there will be no more time for sleeping.

Unfortunately, our day goes by and we assume Jesus has not come. There have been no apocalyptic fireworks, no trumpets sounding, no clouds parting. No Parousia. No pileups on the freeways. No airplanes tumbling out of the skies. None of that.

But maybe Jesus came today, and we were so asleep that we didn’t notice, and if we were awake, our lamps were so dim that we couldn’t see Him.

Jesus was here today. Jesus was here yesterday. And Jesus is going to be here tomorrow.

So where will we find Him?

If we’re awake and alert, if our lamps are trimmed to shed some light, we’ll see Jesus in the prisons, along the highways, in our schools, in our neighborhoods, at the food bank, in the soup kitchen, at the office, in the hospital, and so on.

But if we’re lazy, if we’re sleepy, if we’ve lost muscle tone — there’s no chance that we’ll ever see Jesus.

Jesus warned against not being ready when He comes.

Five snooty virgins were ready. Five whiny virgins were un-bear like. They emerged from their hibernation and they weren’t prepared for the advent of the bridegroom. They had to run off to the market to buy oil in order to prepare their lamps for meeting him.

Are we so complacent with life as we currently have it that we don’t think Jesus will come in our lifetime? How prepared are we for the coming of the Lord? Can we awake during this delay prepared to meet Him, or must we still scramble to get pretty and party-worthy?

To do so, we’ve got to keep the lamps trimmed. Putting our spiritual lives in order is not something to be put off till a later day. The day to be ready for the bridegroom is today and not tomorrow.

So, what is the oil we are short of? How might we scramble around to get ready for confronting Christ today?

Oil in Scripture is often a symbol for the Holy Spirit. Maybe we try to spring into action without submitting our work, our intentions, our purpose to the Holy Spirit so that God’s Spirit can fill our deeds with power and effectiveness.

Maybe we’re short of the oil of kindness and compassion. Maybe we’re short of the oil of patience and long-suffering. To be prepared for the party, we’re to trim our lamps daily.

But aren’t we used to plenty of second chances? Kids cry out “do-overs” if they don’t like the outcome of a game played with friends. High-school students can retake the SAT to improve their scores. The delete key on our computers quickly offers the chance to “ficks meestakes” (bad spelling intentional) that an old typewriter never could. In fact, the love and grace of God offer plenty of second chances ... even seven times 70 chances if necessary.

But there is an eventual end point at which these second chances are no more. Lazarus knew it. One of the thieves on the cross knew it. And Jesus obviously knew it as well. When the bridegroom does return, the opportunities to prepare for him are no longer available.

Jesus sounds a loving warning: “Live a spiritual life that is already prepared for my return.”

How then do we respond to this parable?

We might take a spiritual inventory of our lives. What areas can we see that would be like the untrimmed lamp? What oil do we need to go and buy now? In our devotional lives ... in our workplace ... in our friendships with pre-Christians ... in the way we treat our families ... in the choices we make when nobody else is looking?

The parable illustrates a deep reality for us as believers. Not only do we need to be expecting God’s call at any moment, but we also need to prepare spiritually by leading lives bolstered by spiritual works of service. Christ calls us to possess an active faith, not a passive one.

Because it’s a metaphor, eventually it’s going to break down when held up to the light of other parables and teachings of Jesus. For instance, a bunch of snooty virgins not sharing and another group of whiny virgins getting locked out of the party doesn’t seem to jive with the parable of the lost sheep or the very clear teaching, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

The symbolism we already know; the bridegroom represents Christ, and the bride represents the Church (all churches). The virgins are those ready in the Church. The oil is the embodiment of good works (sacrifice, obedience, prayer, etc.). The wise virgins are Christians who have nourished their faith and bolstered the Church community by living lives characterized by good works. The foolish virgins are those who are Christians, but only intellectually. They have failed to nourish their faith with prayer, penance, and sacrifice for others. Those who consider religion as “private,” fall into this last category. Christ calls us to be active and to live and show our faith. As I have often said in the past, “Catholicism is a way of life, not just a religion.” We have to live it, not keep it private and hence not be ready.

As for the snooty wise virgins who won’t share their oil when the time comes; they don’t share their oil with the foolish virgins because they now can’t. When it comes to our immortal souls, each person’s salvation is his or her own responsibility. No attempt to borrow on the good works of others can make up for our lack of active faith throughout your own life. We can’t transfer some of our soul’s credit to another soul.

When the busy week is over and we are getting ready to go to a party at a friend’s house, that is a good thing. It is fun anticipation. There is no motivation of panic or obligation. We look forward to the community of friends we will be with and we anticipate the festivities that we are getting ready for.

Jesus didn’t tell a parable of 10 virgins preparing for a dreaded IRS tax audit. It was a party. And the party Jesus calls us to is worth getting ready for ... it will be a banquet of unending satisfaction.

Although we should take a lesson from the black bear and always wake up prepared to go. But the next time someone tells you this parable is only about how we need to “stay awake,” you can perform a work of mercy and let them know it’s also about keeping our faith alive and active, not passive. It’s about living out your Catholic faith, not simply saying a private prayer here and there.

Oh, and tell them they can’t borrow any of your oil! (Wink, wink)

Let us pray.

We are reminded in today’s Gospel that we know neither the day nor the hour when our Lord will call us to His divine presence. We pray that we always remain aware of this and be prepared to meet Him joyfully when He call us. We pray to the Lord.

We pray that, like the wise bridesmaids in today’s parable, we keep the light of the Gospel forever burning so that we and those who come after us will see the true light and follow Jesus into the Lord’s banquet in Heaven. We pray to the Lord.

We pray for all those who are enduring mental stress and hardship due to Covid -19 restrictions and lockdown, that in their darkest moments the love and care of friends and neighbors may bring them relief and peace of mind. We pray to the Lord.

We pray for the people of our nation that, at this time, we are blessed with peace, tolerance and unity of purpose so that we can repair the divisiveness manifesting in our midst. We pray to the Lord.

For newly elected leaders, especially President Elect Joseph Biden, that they may rely on God’s divine law as a source of wisdom and build a spirit of cooperation that promotes peace and healing in our country. We pray to the Lord.

For those on our parish prayer list, that they may receive swift answers to their needs and that they may find consolation through Christ’s healing presence. We pray to the Lord.

We bow our heads and remember in silence our own personal intentions and the intentions of those who have asked for our prayers (pause). We pray to the Lord.

O patient and ever-present God, shake us from the slumber of apathy and routine, and awaken us to the promise of this day, fresh and full of possibility. Ground us in your presence and steadfast love; center us in the knowledge of your grace. Kindle in us a new excitement for this awesome journey to which you call us.

Help our nation to accept the election results with humility and dignity and wipe away the stay of accusations, and disappointed loses. Help us to know that democracy is only successful when we exercise the rights afforded by our constitution and accept the results of our fellow Americans who voted along side of us. Now is a time to heal and grow. There is more to what guides us than divides us.

In the name of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the journey, and the guide. Amen.

God Love You +++

++ The Most rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA

We are beggars – As the epidemic continues (and even increases again) we continue to need your help. The virus keeps people away and thus donations are down, and bills pile up! Please helps, if you can, to keep our ministry alive and vibrant so that there is a place for the those needing respite from a troubled world! God Bless You +++


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Sunday Sermon

 November 1, 2020

All Saints/All Souls Sunday

(Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Matthew 5:1-12)

All Saints. All Hallows Day. A Christian solemnity celebrated in honor of all the saints, known and unknown. The liturgical celebration begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October, All Hallows' Eve (All Saints' Eve), and ends at the close of 1 November. In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven – known and unknown (or to say known only to God).

One would need to be a saint, sometimes, to be able to tolerate life today. For all of our advances - social, political, medical, theological and otherwise - we still seem to have the same problems. Problems that saints before us fought, sometimes with their very lives, to ease or eliminate. Yet, we always seem to come full circle.

With the pending election, political wars are flowing in all directions. Many were up in arms about the latest Supreme court nominee, and with good reason. Even the Supreme Court Justices, apart from one, did not attend the swearing in of the new justice. That speaks volumes. The potential changes to abortion, same-sex marriages, health care for all, are especially heightened and divisive.

And during this period, I have been asked on more than a couple of occasions about the statement from Pope Francis that was recently revealed in a documentary of him. I found it interesting timing, given the Supreme Court rhetoric having one of those topics being the same regarding what some are up in arms about over the Pope’s alleged statement. Given I have been asked on multiple occasions the past couple of weeks, I felt maybe it was time to have a little sermon on the topic. I am sure I will get some nasty Facebook comments, but c’est la vie!

The alleged statement by Pope Francis, regarding civil unions for gays and lesbians, in which he says, “What we ought to have is a civil Union law, that way they are legally covered.” Of course, there are multiple conservative priests and bishops and laity out there who are already condemning this like they do some of the other things that this present Pope has been saying. Be that as it may, it is certainly a different direction than any previous pope.

The interesting thing for the statement he made, is if you really listen to what he said, it really was kind of a safe statement. Reason I say “safe” is because he is stating civil union which is nothing more than a governmental law. He is not talking about anything from the church in this statement. He is not speaking of doctrine change. (Though it will force discussion on it.) So, we have people in church who are up in arms over statement he was making about civil law. Not about church law. He has not changed doctrine.

Well, we are not Roman Catholic, so I really do not care if they do not change, even if I think they should.

The problem here I think is something that is not going to go away any time soon; although it would seem that we are making progress. Yet if all these nightmare stories that people are saying about the political issue with the Supreme Court, in regard to a potential challenge to same sex marriages and what have you, I suppose there is some reason for the concern.

The Roman Catholic Church has frequently stated that homosexuality is disordered. This is not overly striking. We know the church is slow to change. It is like a large oil tanker at sea – it takes time to shift course (though they have not even turned the wheel). Although, it is amazing that given the American Psychiatric Association removed it as a mental disease back in the 70’s.

Now, to answer the repeated question I have been asked since the reveal of the Pope’s alleged statement. Let me say this mostly for those people who read my sermons on Facebook, not so much here at the parish, because most people here who come every Sunday already know what our church's stance is on those of the LGBTQ community.

We do not view anyone with the same sex attraction any differently than we do someone who is heterosexual. Our church has never really had any firm stance on the topic with the exception that they are simply accepted! Our church does not treat them, or teach about them, any differently than we do about anyone else. We will always welcome people of the LGBTQ community.

I think it is abhorrent, especially in this day and age, that we still have this issue. To refer to someone as “disordered” or having an “unnatural” inclination is quite sinful, in my opinion. These people no more wake up in the morning and suddenly decide to be same sex attracted or transgendered than anyone else in the world. It is ludicrous to think they would, given the negative stigma they receive from prejudicial and discriminatory people.

We insult God by insisting on the notion, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” or that the “natural order is to procreate.” Obviously, the time of Adam and Eve is far different from our current time. Let us be clear; the story of Adam and Eve was not written as a ‘sex-ed’ class! It is merely the story of God creating our existence. Sure, He wanted us to populate the earth, but to insist sex between two parties must be open to procreation is an insult to God’s infinite wisdom and omnipotence! Do we really to need to “populate” the earth currently?! Not hardly. Some areas are overpopulated. Not to mention that His original design got a little off track after the forbidden fruit episode!

It is repugnant to listen to the religious right call same-sex couples as “objectively immoral relationships.” Let us be clear, sex trafficking, prostitution, or promiscuity may be immoral, but loving committed relationships are not.

Further still, many will use various passages to claim that LGBTQ people are going against Sacred Scripture. Although, I will not enumerate them all, as I am sure many have heard them ad nauseam, but I can gladly follow-up with passages for those who really want them. However, when it comes to this, there appears to be a problem with interpretation, theology and context, to name a few. Many of the passages used are done so in a prejudiced manner without doing some research and listening to other very valid arguments that tend to make the passages questionable to downright misinterpreted. I will explore merely one example.

In the 16th chapter of the prophet Ezekiel, The Lord says to the city of Jerusalem, “Now look at the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were proud, sated with food, complacent in prosperity. They did not give any help to the poor and needy. Instead, they became arrogant and committed abominations before me; then, as you have seen, I removed them.”

This is not the spiritual inventory that many of us would expect. Ezekiel does not even mention the specific nature of Sodom’s sexual sin. Sodom’s fate was determined before the incident with the men and the angels!

Modern scholarship, particularly in Judaism and certain branches of Christianity, has proposed that it is the inhabitants’ lack of hospitality, not their homosexuality, that gives offence to God. According to this view, the mob’s demands to rape the angelic guests reveals their deep-seated violence and inhospitality and is meant to stand in striking contrast to the gracious hospitality given by both Abraham and Lot to those same strangers. To further this claim, some cite the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:14–15:

“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”

Here, Christ is implying that the grave sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of any towns that refuse His disciples, is that of inhospitality. Additionally, Ezekiel 16:49 mentions the inhabitants’ refusal to care for the poor despite their prosperity, which is taken as further evidence that homosexuality is not the cause of their damnation. If it were about homosexuality, surely Jesus would have made that clear – or certainly the writers of the Gospels would have. We all know that Jesus was certainly not bashful; He was more than forthright about anything He felt was a sin and we needed to change, and yet an issue that so many think has been condemned by God, was nowhere spoken by Jesus.

A final thought. I want to ask everyone here present today this question: Does God make mistakes? It is a simple question. You need not look at me strange. It is a valid question. How about, is a child born with Down Syndrome God’s mistake? How about a still birth?

Okay, now if we do not blame God for these things and we love and cherish these babies who become adults, should we blame God for LGBTQ people? Medical and psychiatric science has along ago determined that same-sex attractions are already present at birth. (Of course, given our current leader of our country and some of his followers seem to think they are smarter than the scientists, I suspect some will not agree with this logic!) If they are born this way, and it is supposedly “intrinsically disordered,” as many clergy think, then God must make mistakes! Right? Wrong!

No, all LGBTQ people are as equally loved by God as anyone else. It is not a “tendency,” or a “condition,” or an “inclination.” No one in their right mind, given the horrible treatment some churches dish out toward them, would choose to be so. That is what “tendency,” or a “condition,” or an “inclination,” implies. They do not choose to live this way; they choose to accept who they were born as. They do not wake up and suddenly feel this way any more than anyone else.

Pass this along – literally everyone – pass this along – our denomination does not and will not discriminate or ostracize any LGBTQ person. We may use an older traditional form of worship service (that I think is magnificent when you truly focus mystically during it), but we have very progressive understandings and believe in the radical love of Jesus! We may speak of “sexual” sins but being LGBTQ and in loving relationships is not one of those sins. It is not a sin at all. If anyone in this community feels their church looks down on them, treats them like pariah, will not baptize their children, will not officiate at their wedding, or whatever aspect that their church does not treat them as equal to everyone else, you tell them Archbishop Robert said they are welcome here, we will do those things for them and to join us! Amen. Praise the Lord! Let us pray!

Let us pray.

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us how as Christians we should live our lives. We pray for the insight to listen to his words and in our own lives to be patient, generous, forgiving, compassionate and non-judgmental. We pray also that we love our enemies, do good to those who hate us and bless those who curse us.  We pray to the Lord.

On today, the Feast of All Saints, we remember those who have lived their lives in the footsteps of our Savior, Jesus Christ and we pray that through following their example, we ourselves may also gain the rewards which the Lord has bestowed on them. We pray to the Lord.

We pray for all who have gone before us in faith, especially those of our own families and of this parish that they may stand with the saints before the throne of the Lamb. We pray to the Lord.

We pray to our merciful God, that when we ourselves come before him in judgement, we too may be the recipients of his infinite love and be accepted by Him into glory with all his holy saints. We pray to the Lord.

That our Lord will show us how to help people see His face and we be led to pray for those whom need our prayers. We pray to the Lord.

That we be led to the ones our Lord wants us to reach, that we be shown how our church can better serve God and to organize ourselves to serve Him always and that we be allowed to be a part of what He desires to do next. We pray to the Lord.

We pray for health workers throughout the world and particularly in our own country, who at great personal risk and sacrifice are attending to the needs of victims of this devastating global pandemic. We pray that the Lord bless them with safety in their work and reward their personal sacrifices with success in their labors. We pray to the Lord.

For those on our parish prayer list, that they may receive swift answers to their needs and that they may find consolation through Christ’s healing presence. We pray to the Lord.

We bow our heads and remember in silence our own personal intentions and the intentions of those who have asked for our prayers (pause). We pray to the Lord.

Eternal God, there is a prayer that goes like this, “From the cowardice that dares not face new truth, from the laziness that is contented with half-truth, from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, Good Lord, deliver us.”  Eternal God we indeed ask You to deliver us from our unwillingness to wake up to Your truth and accept that sometimes our doctrine is wrong and needs Your Holy Spirit to breathe new life into old beliefs. We ask Your blessing on all LGBTQ people throughout Your creation. May they feel Your love and grace in their hearts and may all Your people treat them as complete equals in all facets of life.

Loving God, You surround us in a warm embrace, and in Your love teach us how to love others. In Your Spirit, we ask for guidance and remind us always of Your compassion for all humankind. Help us to keep our eyes and our lives focused on our perfect guide in Jesus Christ. Enable us to follow the teachings of Jesus above our own way and will.

Help us, too, loving God, to work for growth in Your kingdom. Sometimes it is difficult to speak a word of hope and help to those in need. With the encouragement of your Spirit, may we be faithful builders of Your eternal kingdom.

Lastly Dear Father, as we prepare for the national & local elections, in the midst of a global pandemic, may our political engagement be guided by Your Spirit. We thank you for the opportunity to have a voice in the way our government runs, while there are still countries in which peoples are not given this right. During this time of debate, diffusion, and decision-making, please have Your sovereign hand over this country. Please keep our country healthy during this season. Give us the peace that passes understanding about the vote, and the outcome. You change the times and the seasons, so You are in control of this election, we ask that our nation would see You in it. We ask all these things through Christ our Lord. Amen.

God Love You +++

++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA

We are beggars – As the epidemic continues (and even increases again) we continue to need your help. The virus keeps people away and thus donations are down, and bills pile up! Please helps, if you can, to keep our ministry alive and vibrant so that there is a place for the those needing respite from a troubled world! God Bless You +++