Thoughts & Homilies from our Rector
Rev. Eric L. Miller
March 3, 2023
Once again, Lent is upon us. We held two beautiful Ash Wednesday liturgies, and the First Sunday in Lent is under our belt. We were blessed to have Hawley Todd preach and lead our first adult forum on healing. Our attendance for the adult forum was overflowing, while Hawley held a lovely introductory session on healing prayer. I hope you are able to make it for the rest of our Lenten Formation Series.
This year's Lenten series is "Heal Yourself, Heal the World" for a couple of reasons. First, it shouldn't come as a shock when I write there is much hurt in the world today. Most of us have gone through the hurt of grief, but there's much more than our grieving. We know there are all sorts of illnesses, political discord, wars, and so on. To be certain, there is much beauty and joy, too. But, we all are in need of healing at some point in our lives, at many points actually.
The idea behind "healing ourselves" and then "healing the world" is that we all have our part to play. When we allow Christ to heal us, we become our most authentic selves, beloved children of God who experience wholeness. When we know and experience healing, we are then capable of offering healing to another. Healing another doesn't require ordination or special degrees, but rather, healing involves opening ourselves to receiving the Holy Spirit and becoming conduits of Love. Words can be spoken or unspoken. There might be a light touch on the shoulder, or there might not be any touch. Eyes can be open or closed. I’m not talking about some sort of Vulcan mind game. What we need to become healers are open hearts and open minds. We need to suspend judgment. We need to have a right-sized ego. And, we need to acknowledge our dependence upon God. When we're able to do these things we are capable of moving mountains.
Our Lenten formation is also about healing because we are trying to get our own parish healing prayer ministries started. Every second Sunday of the month Nancy Kes and Linda Church offer healing prayers in our church hallway for any desiring prayer. We would love to have more folks come out for prayers and more folks who want to join our new healing prayer team. It is an exciting time at Ascension & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. I feel the Holy Spirit moving in new directions, and I'm excited to see where it takes us.
Ascension & Holy Trinity is preparing for Easter through a focus on healing. How are you preparing your hearts for the cross and resurrection? I am overjoyed to be part of our Lenten journey. I pray you know the abundance of Christ's love through our worship, formation, and outreach. I'll see you in the pews and on the streets.
In God’s Grace,
The Rev. Eric L. Miller+
February 7, 2023
I’m reading a new book and enjoying how it’s making me think in different ways. The InnerGround Railroad: A 40 Day Journey to Remembering Soul & Spirit by Quanita Roberson & Amy Howton gives me pause to reconsider what I think I know; and, pausing is a good practice in the spiritual life.
At the top of page 35, the co-authors quote an African Proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Oh, how I yearn to "go fast" to see quick, clear results in ministry. But, while "fast" and "alone" can carry deliverables, they do so at the risk of neglecting the building and fostering of relationships.
“…If you want to go far, go together." Going together is challenging work. A child of the ’80s and '90s, I listened to pop singer Paula Abdul belt out in her hit “Opposites Attract,” "I take two steps forward. I take two steps back. We come together ‘cause opposites attract.”
Taking two steps forward and two steps back doesn't make much sense, but slowing to yield more meaningful work often doesn’t seem like the best sense either. To be in relationship is to slow down and choose to see Christ in the other intentionally; this soul-sight is a gift as well as work. There are moments when the divine spark of Spirit shines brightly within and radiates throughout. And, there are periods when ego and fear disrupt the flow of Spirit within. For certain, Spirit is always ever burning within, but our human condition can disrupt. The trick is to check one’s intentions, to check one’s heart. Is whatever we’re about to do more about God’s will for us or our ego needs? Is our will in alignment with God’s will, with God’s way of Love in the world? Or, are we self-seeking, acting, and reacting from a position of fear?
Being church today is to forgo the quick and fast work of going life alone and intentionally choosing to go together, to be a community of "we" rather than a community of "me." And yes, going farther by going together is much slower work, a much slower process than going it alone; however, the result is a transformation into the heart of God, not any deliverable product at business day’s end.
I invite you to form relationships with Jesus through developing relationships with one another. The way to develop relationships is through worshiping together, talking and listening to one another during coffee hour, attending formation opportunities like our 9:00 am Sunday Bible Study and our upcoming Lenten formation series, serving on the altar guild and choir together, calling when you know someone’s having a rough time, calling when someone is celebrating a milestone, joining in an outreach opportunity, teaching Sunday school, having your children attend Sunday school, praying for one another, and so many more ways of connecting.
How will Ascension & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church become the farther-reaching ministry of going together into the faith community and into the world today?
In God’s Grace,
Eric L. Miller+