Author Archives: commcanon

Bishop Steve’s sermons from Holy Week

Bishop Steve Lane is spending this Holy Week with the congregations of York County. He’s posting his sermons from all services on this page.

From today’s Good Friday sermon preached at both St. George’s, Sanford, and St. David’s, Kennebunk.

Once Jesus began to proclaim that God had come among us, that God intended to pull down the mighty from their thrones, that God meant to lift up the poor and lowly, that God sought not sacrifice, but a humble and contrite heart, that love of God was revealed in love of neighbor and, even, of enemies – once Jesus had done that – then there was no place the story could end, but at Golgotha. And God could not stop it except by opposing force with force. And then Jesus’ words would not be true. Once begun Jesus’ journey led inevitably to the cross.

Follow the link above for more. Blessings to all as we approach Easter.

 

Palm Sunday: God meets us with the power of love

On Bishop Steve Lane’s first Sunday back from a four month sabbatical, he joins the people of St. George’s, Sanford, as the first stop with the churches of York County this Holy Week.

In his sermon, he had this, in part, to say:

What Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday truly is is an extended meditation on the nature and use of power – judicial power, religious power, military power, and divine power. It is a study of the contrasts between the power of the establishment, the power of empire, the power of religion, and the power of God. And the ironies are generated in the contrasts between appearances and reality. Only God arrives without the trappings of power – not on a warhorse, but on an ass. And only God behaves without the power of threat, without the power of coercion. Jesus has no centurions. Jesus bears no weapons. So who, truly, has power?

Read it all here.

Testifying to the hope that is within us

Last Sunday, Bishop Steve Lane visited St. Andrew’s, Newcastle, where he confirmed five people, preached and celebrated. In his sermon he had this, in part, to say:

To the extent that we believe that God is doing a new thing for ourselves – and the whole world – then we open ourselves to hope.

Such hope is most fully realized, most fully understood, in Jesus. Through all the things that happens to us, he is with us. And he is the sign that all these disasters, these wars and rumors of wars, do not have the last word. The last word belongs to God. The last word is life, and God will not let even a hair on our heads perish.

Do we believe that?

Read it all here.

Good beyond our imagining

This morning Bishop Steve Lane visited the people of Christ Church in Norway as they get ready to join with Trinity Lutheran Church in South Paris to call a new priest or pastor to serve the two congregations. Please hold the people of both churches in your prayers.

In his sermon, Bishop Lane had this to say:

I think we suffer the same sort of imaginative failure when we try to think about the future of the church. All we can think about is what we have known and loved. We can’t imagine the church without those things. We think something must be terribly wrong that what we’ve always done no longer seems to work. We think that a good church, a happy church, must be some better version of what we’ve known. We can’t imagine that God may have even better things in mind.

Read it all here.

What we do with money matters

On November 3, Bishop Lane visited with members of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Windham, to celebrate the initial ingathering of their capital campaign. In his sermon, he had this to say:

The story of Zacchaeus is actually the story of a great blessing, of a man who had done a great evil in his life discovering a new way of life and a new kingdom to live for. What God cares about is not how bad we’ve been, but how good we can be, how we can turn our lives around and align them more and more with our neighbors and with God. God cares about how we care for one another and our neighbors, our recognition that our neighbors are, in fact, “us.” God cares us about how we use the gifts God has given us to care for God’s children. And God lets us try over and over again to get it right.

Read it all here.

St. Peter’s, Portland, celebrates its 100th anniversary

On Saturday, October 19, the people of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Portland celebrated 100 years at their annual Harvest Home Dinner. Bishop Steve Lane was on hand to offer blessings and a homily. He said, in part:

As we celebrate 100 years of St. Peter’s today, we must also acknowledge that our assumptions about the church, about dioceses and parishes, have prevented us from recognizing the vast changes that have occurred around us and have inhibited our ability to adapt. We love the English Harvest Home festival. Most of the world hasn’t a clue, and isn’t interested.

and this

Jesus’ charge to us has not changed. The love of God is revealed in the feeding of God’s people. Those people will certainly not be English railroad workers. But they are beloved of God. They need to hear the Good News of God’s love. And we need to hear it as well.

Read it all here.

A statement from Bishop Lane on the government shutdown

October 10, 2013

The partial shutdown of the U.S. Government has led to significant dislocation for many of our fellow citizens. Apart from the 800,000 households who have lost their employment, many recipients of vital services, including women, infants and children, veterans, and food banks, have been shut out. The shutdown is beginning to affect the markets and the business community.

While there are many significant issues before our legislators and many disagreements among them, I believe it’s important that we as Christians say publicly that people are not nor should be bargaining chips. People’s need and the essential services that serve them may not be used as leverage to advance political positions. It is immoral to hold people as hostages for ransom.

Each member of congress vows to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; … and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Should this partial shutdown continue through the end of October, about 26,000 Mainers will go without TANF – Temporary Aid to Needy Families – and WIC – Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Unless this crisis is resolved, November 1 will usher in the heating season and the Maine State Housing Authority will not have federal funds in place to begin distributing assistance to eligible low-income families. It is our treatment of the least in our society that is the measure our maturity as a civilization.

Our Baptismal Covenant asks “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” and we respond. “I will, with God’s help.” It is time for us to speak up from a place of deep faith and commitment to our neighbors whose voices may not be heard. Please be in touch with our congressional leaders to express your views and your hopes for their work. I encourage you to offer them your prayers as they fulfill their duties to the people of Maine and the people of the United States.

God holds no one hostage, but gives freely from a heart of love. So must we.

The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine

___

Senator Susan Collins

collins.senate.gov – 202.224.2523

Senator Angus King

king.senate.gov/contact – 202.224.5344

Representative Michael Michaud

michaud.house.gov/contact  – 202.225.6306

Representative Chellie Pingree
pingree.house.gov/contact – 202.225.6116

The Foolishness of Divine Economy

On Sunday, Bishop Lane visited the people of St. John Baptist, Thomaston. In his sermon, he had this, in part, to say:

“I don’t know about you, but what I really want is to be found by God. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I go to church. There is truly no one who does not need God. There is truly no one who cannot grow in grace. There is truly no one who cannot offer greater service. And there is no meaningful distinction between those who are members of the church – the scribes and pharisees – and those who are not.”

Read it all here.

Talking about War and Peace

Watching the nightly news, it’s difficult not to be staggered by the suffering imposed on the people of Syria by the combatants of that civil war. In one report I heard, the reporter casually announced that there are now seven million refugees! And the Syrian government stands accused of using nerve gas on its own people. Lord, have mercy…

Many people of good conscience are deeply concerned about how the civilized world might respond. It seems impossible that such suffering should be allowed to continue. Yet, with the wisdom born of more than ten years of war, many Americans are skeptical that a military intervention will do anything but deepen the misery. War is the original land of unintended consequences, and few trust that there is any military intervention that is “clean,” “limited,” and “surgical.”

I’m delighted that our President has asked for a public debate on the use of military force. It’s appropriate both in terms of our democratic system of checks and balances and because we, the public, will join in taking the risk should our country decide to use force. I hope you will contact the President and our legislators commending them for taking the time to engage in this conversation.

I hope you will also feel free to express your convictions as a member of Christ’s body. While nations have often argued about “just war” theory, Christ talked about love and reconciliation. Nations may choose to go to war, but the separation, alienation and destruction of human beings is contrary to the will of God. Once the shooting stops, we will still be faced with the need to heal the wounds and reunite the Syrian people with the family of nations.

I invite your thoughtful reflection and deep prayer for all involved in the debate going on in the halls of Congress. I invite your prayers for the Syrian people, for all the combatants, and for those who may soon join that struggle. I invite your prayers for peace. And pray that our hard won wisdom as the American people may temper the desire to strike down one evil with another.

+stl
The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Maine

9.4.13

Secularizing of St. Matthias

service2Yesterday, I “secularized” the church building of St. Matthias’ Episcopal Church in Richmond. It was a bittersweet occasion, both sad and satisfying. It was sad because a building that has been used by the church since 1895 will no longer be used for that purpose. It was satisfying because we have been able to fulfill the deep desire of the people of St. Matthias’ that the church building and parish hall be used to serve the community. Just before the service of secularization, Canon Terry Reimer turned the buildings over to the Town of Richmond to be used by the community food pantry and for gatherings of senior citizens. The ministry of St. Matthias’ will continue.

“Secularization” is such an odd and churchy term. In our understanding, things are made holy, are consecrated, by their use. Holy things become holy because holy people use them. So St. Matthias’ was made holy not only by formal, liturgical consecration, but by the presence of so many holy people over 118 years. The Episcopal Church will no longer use the building for worship, so it was formally released from the bishop’s control, but… holy things will continue to happen: hungry people will be fed, lonely people will find friends and fellowship, and community meetings will take place. The church does not have a corner on the holy or on God’s presence.

And I was starkly reminded by the words of the secularization service that a church building is not a church. It is a building set apart for the ministry of word and sacrament; it’s a place where the church meets, but it isn’t the church. The church continues, in other buildings and other places, to serve God and God’s people.

I suppose the most normative event in the history of the Christian Church, after the planting of churches, is the closing of churches. The Church of Jesus Christ follows God’s people, planting churches wherever they go and closing churches when they leave.  Around the world new cities are built on the rubble of old cities, and the rubble includes uncounted churches. Neither the cities nor the churches contain God’s people, but only serve them for a time – God’s time.

I left yesterday’s service of secularization feeling oddly uplifted. God is with us and goes before us. We are God’s stewards for this time.  The closing of a church is sad – and one more step on our pilgrimage. God has more in store for us.