Friday, September 16, 2016


Whose Life Really Matters to You?
 "Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It's not I love you for this or that reason, not I love you if you love me. It's love for no reason, love without an object." - Ram Dass


     Jesus was a Jew, one of God’s chosen people.  He was a Rabbi, a teacher of the Law.  He was a healer, imbued by the Spirit of God. He was a prophet, one who shines a light on the system and breaks open the status quo in order to see God in a new and bigger way. And all of these labels carried cultural expectations of what the Jewish people understood about who God was…and just as important who they were as a people group – a tribe. And all Jews DID agree on one thing…they were the “in” group with God and everyone else were outsiders. So there’s us and there’s them.  And the Jews saw the Messiah figure (another label for Jesus) as a King who would unite Israel under one God and of course cast everyone else out who didn’t belong or matter. 

     But the walls were built not only around Jerusalem…but also around their tribe… yet what Jesus was most concerned with, was the walls that God’s people built around their hearts. Throughout Luke’s Gospel this year we heard about enemy Roman soldiers who were faithful. We heard about the hated Samaritans and their goodness, we heard about the sinners witnessing God’s presence in the world...

     Jesus is comforting the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable – the “in group”.  Jesus is breaking down the walls that have been so carefully constructed to ensure that God’s people remained pure and apart. Jesus made sure to be “present” to everyone… especially those at the very margins of His society: to show them that Samaritan lives mattered, Lepers lives mattered, Women and Children’s lives mattered, even Roman’s lives mattered to God…all these people groups at the time of Jesus didn’t matter to the chosen people of God!  I wonder if anything has changed today?

     Isn’t that what we claim to be…the people of God? Jesus is saying there is no “outside” group to God! That we are all a part of a larger family where everyone belongs, everyone is worthy, everyone matters and everyone is loved. 

     Ultimately you get to choose what groups we belong to…but if you wish to follow Jesus then you are required to be Christ’s light in the world…to shine forth hope, love and grace into the dark recesses of the world where those at the margins are told by the world that they do not belong.

     What is the state of your heart?  That’s what all this comes down to.  Is your heart self-serving or focused on God and one another?  Is your heart closed or open?  What motivates you fear or love?

     In the end it’s not about slogans and clich├ęs’ - whose lives matter more or less.  I think deep down every Christian knows that ALL lives matter to God…and that is very good news indeed, especially to the who have been marginalized. But what Jesus came to ask God’s Chosen People was “what lives matter to you?”  The Christian response should always be a “one on one” affair of the heart…where one person shows another person - that your life matters to me. That is when Christ’s love is poured out into the world. Imagine what the world would be like if folks instead wore shirts that said YOUR LIFE MATTERS TO ME! Imagine if we treated ALL those we came in contact with as children of God. For God there is no outside group! You are all children of God and Jesus is challenging us to start acting like it.

     So may you have eyes to see those that the world has made invisible, and may you have the courage to be present with those who are hurting. It will cost you something, but that very act will gain you everything! For in seeking the lost, you will indeed be found!


Your faithful servant, carmen

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

God Talk Adult Formation 2016/2017
presents
The Heart of Discipleship

Come see & experience God's story and have the Bible and your faith come alive!

            The Heart of Discipleship is excited to present a Christian adult formation series of webinars that will enrich your understanding of the Bible as well as strengthen your relationship with God and others.

            Is God Relevant in your life? The Deacon Carmen J. Viola will be pointing us towards self-discovery and a bigger way of seeing and experiencing God. Let those who have eyes see! Carmen’s webinars will use visuals from his new book as well as images from his trips to Israel to make biblical concepts come alive.  Come join us.  If you sign up before Sept 30th you will also receive the PDF copy of The Heart of Discipleship for free.

            It has often been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” During the Middle Ages, churches used vivid imagery, including stained glass windows and paintings, to tell God’s story. Prior to the modern era, most people could not read or write so they relied on pictures and religious interpreters to understand the Bible. Pictures, for many of us, are still a powerful way to share stories and understand biblical context.

            The book by Carmen Viola is beautifully illustrated and involves you in the ongoing conversation and narrative of what it means to follow Jesus. The art in this book depict stories from the Bible to illuminate God's word. The images can be viewed by a child one level, while an adult can view the same image and be led into a more complex understanding of the Creator. Often seeing things from a different point of view can give us fresh insight into God's plan for our world and our lives. These stories of the ancient world come alive in pictures and show all of us why God’s word is still important and relevant today.

            What if you could see the world as God sees it – not only with an open mind, but with an open heart? Come! Discover what God has been trying to show us all along. God will meet you wherever and however you are…Right Here, Right Now!

            We invite you to participate in this series of Free webinars and on-line discussions. The Webinars will “go-live” every Monday evening beginning on Sept 26th through on-line invitation.  The time is from 8PM to 9PM.  To sign up please email us at theheartofdiscipleship@gmail.com  You will be given an invitation link and the syllabus for the year as well as the free color PDF of the book. Missed seminars can be seen on YouTube at The Heart of Discipleship channel.


Grace & Peace!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

St. Philomena Church Trip to See SAMSON

               ST. PHILOMENA CHURCH
              and Touriffic Travel present:

Sight & Sound Millennium Theatre

Lancaster, Pa


           TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2016




The world’s first superhero … the strongest man who ever lived…. He killed a lion with his bare hands and defeated a thousand soldiers … but he’s not a hero because of the strength of his hands, he’s a hero because of the faith in his heart! One of the most captivating stories in the Bible, SAMSON is filled with colorful characters, extraordinary feats of strength, and amazing special effects that your whole family will love. When Samson stands between two colossal columns in a godless temple and starts to push – it’s an immersive scene that literally brings the house down! A message of hope for the wayward, comfort to the weary and the incredible grace of God that enables us to truly be strong in Him!

Daytrip Itinerary:
10:00am         Depart St. Philomena Church via deluxe Celebrity Motorcoach
11:30am         Arrive at Shady Maple. Enjoy a bountiful Smorgasbord Lunch. Lancaster County's     largest smorgasbord featuring authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. You won’t go away hungry! Make sure to visit their spectacular gift shop afterwards.
1:15pm           Depart for the Theatre
2:00pm           Arrive at Theatre – Take your Center Orchestra Seat!
2:45pm           Show begins. Enjoy!
5:15pm           Departure from Theatre
7:00pm           (Approx.) Return Home
                                                            $ 106.00 Per Person
For Reservations, please contact Marie Chenoweth - (610) 622-0972 marie_chenoweth@hotmail.com

Booking Information: Payment is required as soon as possible to confirm your reservation. Sign-up Early!! No refunds unless a replacement is made. Show tickets are non-refundable. Gratuity to driver is included. Touriffic Travel, their employees, representatives and suppliers act solely as agents in arranging for transportation and other services and do not assume any liability whatsoever for injury, damage, loss, death, accident or delay due to any act, negligence or default of any company or person engaged in rendering any services for any tour.

             Make your check payable to St. Philomena Church and remit with coupon to:
                         Marie Chenoweth - 307 Lincoln Avenue - Lansdowne, PA 19050
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
St. Philomena Church/Touriffic Travel/Sight & Sound-Samson/10-18-16
NAME(S)________________________________________________Telephone:________________
ADDRESS_________________________________
CITY/STATE/ZIP________________________________________
Traveling With:_____________________________________
CELL #______________________________________
Emergency Contact:____________________________________
Telephone:____________________________

Announcing "God Talk" Webinar Series


God Talk 2016/2017


The Heart of Discipleship



Come see and experience God's story and have the Bible and your faith come alive!


            The Heart of Discipleship is excited to present a Christian adult formation series of webinars that will enrich your understanding of the Bible as well as strengthen your relationship with God and others.


            Is God Relevant in your life? The Deacon Carmen J. Viola will be pointing us towards self-discovery and a bigger way of seeing and experiencing God. Let those who have eyes see! Carmen’s webinars will use visuals from his new book as well as images from his trips to Israel to make biblical concepts come alive.  Come join us.  If you sign up before Sept 30th you will also receive the PDF copy of The Heart of Discipleship for free.


            It has often been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” During the Middle Ages, churches used vivid imagery, including stained glass windows and paintings, to tell God’s story. Prior to the modern era, most people could not read or write so they relied on pictures and religious interpreters to understand the Bible. Pictures, for many of us, are still a powerful way to share stories and understand biblical context. 


            The book by Carmen Viola is beautifully illustrated and involves you in the ongoing conversation and narrative of what it means to follow Jesus. The illustrations in this book depict stories from the Bible to illuminate God's word. The images can be viewed by a child one level, while an adult can view the same image and be led into a more complex understanding of the Creator. Often seeing things from a different point of view can give us fresh insight into God's plan for our world and our lives. These stories of the ancient world come alive in pictures and show all of us why God’s word is still important and relevant today.


            What if you could see the world as God sees it – not only with an open mind, but with an open heart? Come! Discover what God has been trying to show us all along. God will meet you wherever and however you are…Right Here, Right Now!


            We invite you to participate in this series of Free webinars and on-line discussions. The Webinars will “go-live” every Monday evening beginning on Sept 26th through on-line invitation.  The time is from 8PM to 9PM.  To sign up please email us at heartofdiscipleship@gmail.com. You will be given an invitation link and the syllabus for the year as well as the free color PDF of the book. Missed seminars can be seen on YouTube at The Heart of Discipleship channel.


Grace & Peace!










Fragile Vessels



Fragile Vessels
 http://heartofdiscipleship.com/index.html

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience 
but spiritual beings having a human experience"
- Pierre Telhard Chardin



     We are all fragile vessels created by the potter. We all get cracked and broken occasionally. People hurt us, abandon us, betray us, disappoint us. We disappoint us. And we break. But it is through those fractures, through those breaks that the grace of God can enter in and help heal us. 

     God does not make mistakes. There is a reason for everything even if we do not see it immediately. I have always found that when you reach the lowest point in the valley, that the only way to go is up. And slowly we find our way again. 

    One thing that we all need to remember, as Christian, is that Christ unconditionally forgave us through his sacrifice. He gave us the perfect examples of how we should live our lives in order to reach heaven. I believe that unconditional forgiveness is one of the key examples.

    We need to forgive those who we feel have caused us injury and we need to do it unconditionally with no expectation of recompense.  There is an axiom that ‘Hurt people, hurt people’.  Understanding this we may better understand that the offender may, themselves, have been hurt or are hurting.  Forgiveness to them can have a profound impact on their being and for that matter could have an impact on their future generations. To take forgiveness a step further, most times the only one hurt by your withholding forgiveness is you.  That wound is still open and until you truly forgive, it may never heal.  

     There is also one other individual that we tend to forget when it comes to forgiveness.  We need to forgive ourselves.  We all make mistakes, bad choices even if no one else is aware and we all beat ourselves up time and time again.  We need to forgive ourselves.  The past is the past and we cannot change it.  However, today and hopefully tomorrow could be brighter and more alive if we just let it go….and let God!
 
Grace and Peace,
tom

Friday, June 24, 2016





Grace and Peace

Seems that there are two types of sermons you will hear on any given Sunday.  One type tells us that it’s all OK; that you are already worthy of God’s love.  You are a child of God.  You are enough!  You are a Human Being not a Human Doing.  Be still and know that I am God.  Just breathe!  This is a message about grace – a gift given freely that was not earned.  A pure gift, just like your breath and your life, it pours out upon you unceasingly each day.  You receive grace with a heart of appreciation.  Then there is the sermon about getting off your butt and bringing about some change in the world.  A message about you doing something to bring reconciliation and wholeness to the world.  You each have a unique gift.  You have something the world needs and it’s time to get off the couch and do your work in the world!  The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom.  It’s not peace in the absence of negativity.  The word shalom has a much deeper meaning.  This is a peace felt when one is in right relationship with yourself, your neighbors and the planet.  It is the peace of being whole and it involves action.  So go out and bring about peace.  Be an agent of change and social justice.  Bring about the kingdom of God!  It is here that you now provide grace to others.

There are two types of messages - one about grace and one about peace.  When things are crazy in your life and you can’t seem to catch your breath.  When you feel out of control and tossed about by your circumstances.  Then you need a message about grace.  But when you are bored and you don’t seem to have a clear purpose or direction.  When you sit waiting for God to move you.  This is when you need a message of Shalom.  Grace and Peace to you!

As you get ready to start the summer, reflect upon whether you need grace or peace in your life right now.  Is there Sabbath and rest needed in your life or do you require passion and purpose?  Grace and Peace are different sides of the same coin reflected in our faith.  The apostle Paul closed each letter to the early Christian churches with this phrase.  Paul himself was either on the road evangelizing by bringing a message of God’s hope for reconciling the world or he was in prison silently reflecting upon the grace of God.  Life reflects this cycle of receiving and giving.  First you receive grace – you breathe in.  When you are full and overflowing you give – you breathe out.  You are either receiving or you are giving to another.  You receive grace or you’re providing grace to someone else.  You receive what you need; then you give from your abundance that which someone else is missing.  It’s a wave - a cycle that you are always in.  You must learn to recognize where you are at in your life.

Each Sunday we provide a message of grace and/or of peace.  Each Sunday we celebrate our common life in Christ together.  Notice that throughout the Service we both give and receive.  We reflect the nature of our interdependent life together as we share in the grace of Jesus’ life poured out for us.  The deacon then dismisses us with the charge of now bring that message of hope and reconciliation to a hurting world through us – “the Body of Christ.”  So be aware that all of us are either in need of grace or peace at any given time.  Be aware of how we both receive from and then serve one another.  Grace and Peace to us all!


Your faithful servant,

carmen


Wednesday, May 11, 2016




Love One another as I have loved you…Not so simple!

     All you need is love.  The Beatles sang those words in the turbulent times of the 60’s.  Reaction came in two forms: and enthusiastic embrace as the simple solution for all of the worlds’ problems or a critical rejection of a dreamy emotion that distracts us from real world solutions.  Today we still get these same reactions:  One side cries out can’t we all just get along?  And the other side demands a clear-eyed acknowledgement of and a forceful response to the base motives and evil intent of others.  Neither one finds much support in Jesus’ mandate to love one another.  Jesus certainly praises love – it is a gift from God, an excellence of character, and a way of life; nothing here dismisses it as a flight of fancy.  On the other hand the word love is highly ambiguous.  Jesus can’t just leave it at Love one another!  He needs to describe this love and offer examples.  As beautiful as love may be, we too often throw the word around lightly.

     I Love my wife, I love my children, I love my pet, I love chocolate, I love this pillow…I find it ironic that the English language has so many words for many mundane things like the color red for instance: Carnelian, Vermillion, Carmine, Crimson, yet only one word for love. 

     In the Greek language, that language that the Bible is written in, the word love translates into several Greek words.  Even in Greek the words for love do not offer mutually exclusive definitions.  For example: it is not the case that eros and epithymia are always focused on desire, or that agape and philia are always free of this element.  Nor are some of these words associated only with God, while others are reserved for humanity.  In this particular command, however, the word love is always translated from agape.  Love in this sense is seen as a virtue, an excellence of character that God has by nature and in which we participate through grace.  Such love is primarily interested in the good of the other person, rather than one’s self.  It does not attempt to possess or dominate the other.  Nor is it limited by the scarcities that are imposed by time and place: one can have a few good friends and fewer lovers, but one can have agape for all.

     For Christians, the true archetype of love is found within the inner life of God.  According to Jesus’ analogy, the disciples’ relationship to one another should conform to their relationship to Jesus, which in turn finds its ultimate example in the Word’s relationship to the Source.  The love among the persons of the trinity helps us to understand what a truly wondrous love this is: concerned about others first; not possessive or subordinating or judgmental - thus allowing genuine space for the other to just be; and superabundant - such that can be offered without reserve.  One of the many analogies that St. Augustine offers for helping us to understand the nature of the trinity is that God is the lover, the beloved, and the love that unites them.

     The love that structures the inner life of God gives us a sense for the pattern of Christian love.  Far from a mere feeling of Euphoria, it is a disciplined habit of care and concern that, like all virtues can only be perfected over one’s lifetime.  As Jesus demonstrates - this love is so deeply woven into our lives that we may even find ourselves called to die for it.

      Thus when Jesus says “you are my friends if you do what I command you”, he’s not merely offering a useful or pleasurable friendship to those who have done his bidding.  He is describing this deep and abiding agape as we then are invited into this kind of relationship with Jesus and thereby God.  So part of our goal as Christian’s is to take on God’s own characteristics as our own – and to love one another as God loves us…then, all we will truly need is love (agape)!

Your faithful servant,

carmen